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Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?
Primarily a film and literature trope, though not impossible in television.

Our romantic couple breaks up for some reason. We know, however, that everything will work out well in the end; misunderstandings will be solved, mistakes forgiven, they will end up happily together.

Sometimes one of the partners comes off as more of an ass than intended and reconciliation breaks the willing suspension of disbelief that the wounded partner would ever take the wounder back. We are forced to root for them, even if we feel that not only would the "hero" not be taken back - they absolutely shouldn't be.

Note that despite the title, this trope can happen with any gender combination, even if the majority of examples seem to be a woman taking back a dodgy man.

This trope is often matched up with Love Martyr and/or All Take and No Give. Very much a defining feature of the Lifetime Movie of the Week brand of entertainment.

A sister trope to No Accounting for Taste. See also What Does She See in Him?. For when there's a much better suitor involved, see Derailing Love Interests. Very often a case of Strangled by the Red String.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • Hot Gimmick with Ryoki and Hatsumi's relationship. They break up and get back together countless times. It mostly ends with Ryoki going to Hatsumi, demanding her to ask for forgiveness and tell him she wants to become his girlfriend again. Which she does each time, without fail. This is also the reason why so many fans hated the ending. The author decided to make a novel continuation where Hatsumi ends up with a much nicer man.
  • At the end of the Area 88 manga, Ryoko and Shin reunite, after Shin has repeatedly broken Ryoko's heart. Then again, this is Ryoko we're talking about.
    • Keep in mind though that at the series finale Shin has suffered total amnesia after the final battle. He doesn't remember Area 88 or that he treated Ryoko like shit. Ryoko sees this as a Relationship Reset Button, and that's how things end up for them.
  • Haruto keeps taking back Yuzuki in Kimi No Iru Machi. She never tells him anything, takes on things that require him to go out of his way to save her, flat out lies to him, breaks up with him without a word, and now after an argument over a misunderstanding on her part (again) she storms out of Haruto's house, blocks his number, leaving him to file a missing persons report with how he can't get in contact with her and no one has seen her. For some reason he does everything he can to keep her.
    • Seo Kouji seems to love this trope, with his earlier work Suzuka featuring a girl who does just about all the same things as the female lead of Kimi No Iru Machi, but worse. Her ability to never admit anything or try to fix any relationship issues they face, leaving any and all such acts to the boyfriend she abuses and abandons constantly are the entire cause of relationship issues they face throughout the story. And the male lead comes back every single fucking time, usually being viewed as the one at fault in a situation obviously not his own.
  • Hatori and Chiaki from Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi are shown to be the most unstable pairing in the series constantly fighting and accusing each other of cheating on one another. Yet at the end of the episode, they end up making up (at the expense of poor Yuu).

    Film 
  • Ellen agreeing to go out with Vlad at the end of the movie Camp definitely smacks of this, though they technically weren't dating before - he was leading her on while he had a girlfriend outside of camp, slept with another girl in camp, and moments before asking Ellen to date him, had been offering himself to their gay friend.
  • The heroine of The Devil Wears Prada should not have taken back her boyfriend - or indeed her entire group of friends. It's worse in that she's presented as being in the wrong all along while they treated her work commitments (and her daring to speak to a man that wasn't her boyfriend) as a personal betrayal. While she didn't need to obsess over her job to the point that she was blowing off an evening with her father to book Miranda a flight out of Miami in a hurricane, her friends generally berated and abused her for even attempting to stay employed - in New York City no less. Note that her boyfriend, as a chef, would likely be working the same crazy unpredictable hours as well, so this just comes off as a Double Standard. Then that incredibly dicky bit where she gives them all that nice stuff and they pay her back by stealing her phone when she's taking a work call. Ironically, in the book, her friends were much more sympathetic - and one of them actually encouraged her to talk to the guy.
  • The film Life/Drawing. Mark Ruffalo's 'hero', a struggling artist is a complete ass to the female lead when they are together, being patronising, insulting and indifferent/hostile to her life and beliefs as a member of the USAF while she tries to take an interest in his - her worst and only crime is being Book Dumb and (mildly) ditzy.
  • The Heartbreak Kid, but at least it knew it.
  • In Notting Hill, Anna is the one that constantly assumes the worst of William and ditches him without explanation. Yet it is William who has to scour London and basically beg her to come back to him at the end of the film.
    • That does ignore the preceding scene where she came crawling to his shop to beg him to take her back and he turned her down quite resoundingly (he kept the Chagall original she brought him, though).
  • Good Luck Chuck outright deconstructs this trope by having our "good guy" Chuck veer off in a tear of obsessive, controlling, paranoid and downright creepy-stalker behavior after spending the night with Cam. Eventually he stops, is willing to set up a date with another man for her, and later explains himself and apologizes, sincerely saying he's willing to leave her life if she wants him too. In most movies, his crazy actions would just win the girl over, but here he actually has to work at it.
  • Semi-averted in Crazy Heart. Bad Blake is a good guy, but after he gets drunk and loses his girlfriend's four-year-old son in a shopping mall, it's hard to disagree with her when she never wants to see him again, even after the kid is found. When Bad stops drinking and generally puts his life together, he finds she's moved on and is engaged, but the two of them manage to still be friends.
  • In Flubber: Professor Brainard blows off his wedding to Dr. Reynolds because he was he lost track of things discovering Flubber. Problem: This is the third time he's done that and apparently the first TWO times, the reason was "I forgot." They're back together by the beginning of the third act. They do get married at the end of the movie... where Prof. Brainard is there by video proxy, meaning he made a conscious effort not to show up this time.
    • Flubber is a remake of the film The Absent Minded Professor, and the idea of Brainard abandoning his fiancée appeared in that film as well - meaning that when John Hughes sought to rewrite the script in the 90s for Flubber, he didn't think this was enough of a problem to alter it for the remake.
  • A double example in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, in which both partners start the relationship under false pretenses and with ulterior motives, since she's trying to get dumped and he's trying to hang on and keep his job. Both halves of the deception are revealed; both parties are hypocritically furious and dump each other, then decide in the end that they're meant to be together after all.
  • A Bronx Tale, featuring a taboo-breaking interracial relationship in the eponymous New York borough in The Sixties, has the white protagonist Easily Forgiven by his black girlfriend for calling her brother the n-word.
  • The gender-flipped version of the trope is in most of Buster Keaton's films. A common scenario is his love interest will flat-out refuse him at the beginning unless he "makes it big". With few exceptions he always wins her heart in the end, with broken ribs and concussions in the process.
    • In The General, even after he saved the girl from the enemy, and stopped an invasion, it appeared as if she was still going to dump him when he was forced to take off his uniform at the end. But then he gets a shiny new Lieutenant's uniform, causing her to run into his arms.
    • In COPS, when the girl refuses him at the end he commits suicide. At least it's implied because the "The End" card has a tombstone.
  • In The Boat That Rocked / Pirate Radio, Carl takes Marianne back after she sleeps with Dave. She ran off to sleep with him in the five minutes it took Carl to run upstairs and ask Gavin for a condom. Later on, Dave makes mention that they did it three or four times, suggesting that after Carl caught them together, they decided to keep at it until she left the next morning. All the while with Carl heartbroken right across the hallway. And he takes her back.
  • In Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the protagonist is in a relationship with Gordon Gecko's daughter Winnie. When he meets Gecko, she refuses to have a relationship with her father, and warns the protagonist about him. The protagonist then starts to see him behind Winnie's back, and the pair plot to win her over. The protagonist then finds out that Winnie has a fortune on a foreign bank account and persuades her into giving all of it to his pet project. They're then double crossed by Gordon, the truth is discovered, and Winnie promptly dumps the protagonist. So far so good, but here's the kicker: the protagonist hunts down Gordon and literally trades access to his and Winnie's unborn child in return for him giving the money back - money that Winnie doesn't care about, mind you. The movie ends with Gordon hunting the crazy kids down and giving a speech asking Winnie to take the protagonist back. In that speech he also lets slip that he not only knows the child's gender, but that the protagonist is its father too, effectively telling Winnie that her ex betrayed not only her yet again, but their son as well. What happens next? Happily ever after of course!
  • In Dreamscape, Jane is rather forgiving of Alex after he essentially raped her by inserting himself into her dreams to have sex with her, intentionally deluding her into thinking it was just a fantasy.
  • The end of Highlander: Endgame has Duncan reunite with his Immortal Psycho Ex, Kate. Kate, who hated him and tried to kill him repeatedly throughout the TV series. Kate, whom he will inevitably have to fight to claim The Prize, anyway. Kate, who was actively helping the Big Bad of the film mostly to spite him. Note that this only happens in the extended DVD version. In the theatrical release, she's Deader than Dead.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Selina Kyle betrays Bruce/Batman repeatedly, and pretty much ruins his life. Because of her deliberate actions, his fortune is gone, he is captured and given a crippling No-Holds-Barred Beatdown by Bane, and spends months in a prison so horrible it's called Hell On Earth. Once he returns to Gotham and meets her again, he immediately offers her free deletion of her criminal record in exchange for her doing him a favor, though he still has no good reason to trust her! In the epilogue, they're in a relationship, and both left their lives in Gotham behind.
  • Failure To Launch is a rare Gender Flip version; the man is expected to take back his girlfriend, even though said girl had only pretended to be in love with him to drive him out of his parents' home (see, if you boost a man's self-esteem by dating him, he'll start doing things for himself and it'll stick even if you dump him later on) and he's understandably pissed when he finds out.
    • On top of that: Not only was she only pretending to be in love with him for most of the movie, but there's also the fact that EVERY SINGLE THING he knew about her was a lie she made in order to seem more interesting to him, including that she had a dog that had to be sacrificed. Near the beginning, she said that the only thing she didn't do was have sex with the people she "helped". Guess what she does the moment she learns that he's about to dump her? Yeah, exactly. Also, even by the ending of the movie, she never actually regrets the fact that she made a living out of lying to people, only this one, and only because he found out and got enraged. His friends and family then go as far as tying him to a chair and locking him in a closet in order to force him to take her back. They try to tell the viewer that she's also stuck there since the doors to the house are locked, but said doors are mostly made of glass. If anything, she could at least have untied him so he could break the glass with the chair.
  • Hitch has the reporter Sara, who spends most of the film trying to expose the title's "Date Doctor" while (unknowingly) going out with him. She ends up exposing him, destroying his anonymity and business, and almost destroys another relationship. She does so under the misguided belief that Hitch only helped jerks get laid based on one incident where she only had half the facts (the jerk acted on his own) where a friend of hers got hurt, proving she is a lousy, not to mention unethical, reporter; you don't write a story with one viewpoint, and you don't write a story you're personally involved in. All of which Hitch calls her out on, as well women like her making dating impossible for ordinary guys. Although she later gives him a heartfelt apology, Hitch very deservedly refuses to accept it. What should have turned out to be a Crowning Moment of Awesome, ends in a major cliche—when Hitch later goes to her door to beg for her forgiveness! After that she responds to his begging for forgiveness by basically just deliberately jerking him around for awhile. Just for her own sadistic amusement. It's only after she further breaks his heart and makes him plead a bit more that she finally takes him back.
  • Some have wondered why Sarah Walker would take Mark Watson back at the end of Soul Man. He takes the scholarship that would otherwise have gone to her by essentially dressing up in blackface to fool everyone. Although he does make restitution after his Heel Realization, it seems strange that she would still find him endearing at all.
  • Woman On Top has the main character break up with her boy friend because he cheated on her, merely because she always had to be the one on top during sex (she got motion sickness otherwise) meant he was looked at as less of a man. He sings her some songs and she immediately accepts him back. (Not helped by the fact that her love interest for most of the story is a good man, and she broke up with him after what comes down to a simple lovers spat, but was treated like it was violation of trust.)
  • Another Gender Flip example: towards the end of Catch And Release new lovers Grey and Fritz have split up, mostly because he overheard her declaring that the relationship is less than nothing. (Her attempts to explain are... markedly inadequate.) Despite this, as soon as she shows up at his place, he doesn't even let her get halfway through an apology before the big kiss ensues.

    Literature 
  • When Edward leaves Bella in New Moon, she goes into a catatonic state for months, and is slowly restored to normal only with the help of her best friend Jacob, who is also in love with her. After Edward returns, she takes him back as if nothing had happened. Really, there are quite a few points in Twilight where many readers were left wondering why Bella puts up with Edward. He frequently belittles, controls and manipulates her well into the last book, and she hardly ever calls him up on it. And Edward continues his controlling behavior even after he and Bella are married and she's a vampire, meaning that she's just as powerful and fast and able to take care of herself. In one memorable scene, Bella comes back from a shopping trip and full-out admits to herself that she knows that Edward will be breaking into her car and checking her odometer to see if she told him the truth about where she went out to. And she shows no emotion over this, though it is hard to find anything she shows emotion over.
    • Bella can be pretty emotionally manipulative to Edward too, though not anywhere near as bad as he is to her. The mere idea that they might break up causes her to flip out and she makes him promise that he will never hurt or leave her as long as she wants him around. During their temporary break-up in New Moon, she puts herself in several life-threatening situations because she doesn't want to live if she can't have him. When they do get back together, she feels the need to bring up her exploits on quite a few occasions and unleashes the guilt trip. She treats it as if it would have been HIS fault if she killed herself because it's clearly entirely his fault that she wasn't able to handle the break-up. Never mind that the only reason he broke up with her was for her safety. He didn't want to accidentally lose control of his vampire instincts and subsequently hurt or kill her.
      • She does the same thing about sex and wanting to become a vampire. It would be decent of her to respect Edward's desire not to have sex before marriage and stop constantly pushing him, because he did explain that it was important to him. If the genders were reversed and he was pressuring her for sex, even with Edward's stalking and controlling behaviour, Bella would probably be seen as the bigger creep.
    • Also played with when it comes to Jacob Black. He's introduced as one of the nicest and out-and-out most good people in the series, who is actually friends with Bella due to common interests and helped bring her out of her depressive shell after Edward ran off in New Moon. Jacob eventually develops feelings for Bella, but she's still hung up on Edward, and the moment he re-enters her life she drops Jacob. That's when his ugly side starts coming through, since he gets insanely jealous of Edward on numerous occasions and tends to take his jealousy out on Bella. He forces her to kiss him three times in Eclipse with a not-so-subtle rape overtone to the interactions and in Breaking Dawn he gets so angry with her that he starts to violently shake her, resulting in Edward AND Jacob's own pack having to intervene. Bella doesn't see anything wrong with this. Edward might have the emotional abuse down but Jacob is prime for the physical abuse. Really, it's a wonder Bella puts up with either of these two.
  • In Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult you kind of get this feeling with both characters. The book is about a woman, Paige, who leaves her doctor husband Nicholas and young son because her mother did the same and she didn't know how to mother. On Nicholas' point of view, why would you take back a woman who just leaves a young baby with and doesn't comes back for 2 months? On Paige's side, why would you get back with someone who was ready to divorce you and get a restraining order?
  • In Death series: Siobahn Brody and Patrick Roarke. Patrick beat up Brody a lot. She had a kid - Roarke - and wanted Patrick to marry her and make a proper family. Unfortunately, she supposedly didn't find out until later that he was already married, and was just using her to bear him a son. She was taken to an abuse shelter along with Roarke. However, she ended up going back to Patrick with Roarke, because she wanted her son to have a father. Unfortunately, Patrick was furious that she ran away from him and with his son. So in a combination of fury and You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, he murdered her. Roarke was unhappy when he discovered all this years later.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Played with in The Jury. Karl Woodley and Paula Woodley do not love each other, in fact, they loathe each other. Karl abused Paula, and broke every bone in her body! The Vigilantes, upon finding this out, go to Karl's house and break every bone in his body! Despite the fact that Paula apparently had had it with his abuse, and despite the fact that the book even had an Author Filibuster on Domestic Abuse, Paula went back to Karl! You can be sure at least one reviewer thought the title of this trope. However, Collateral Damage either reveals or retcons this by saying that Paula did not actually take Karl back so much as the US government pretty much dumping him into her hands! Karl happens to be best pals with the President of the United States, as well as his National Security Advisor. It is not clear if the government knew what Karl was doing, or if they turned a blind eye to it, but it certainly makes the government come off as stupid and thoughtless. Karl did have to resign thanks to becoming wheelchair-bound. Paula ends up taking great pleasure tormenting him for all the years he tormented her! Not once does divorce or seeing a psychologist come up in any of this, not once!

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Would you date a guy who made a sexbot version of you, tried to kill you multiple times, and attempted to rape you? If the answer is yes, you should be a Slayer! And as a Gender Flip: would you remain hopelessly in love with a woman who constantly belittled and beat the crap out of you while leading you on with routine rough sex play? If the answer is yes, you should date a Slayer! Different than most of these examples, in that the characters in universe call them out on this, and it is ultimately a very destructive, unhealthy relationship, mostly coming out of Buffy's inability to cope with being pulled out of heaven by her friends. Also worth noting that most of the destructive parts of their relationship occurred when Spike was literally a soulless monster, and therefore was incapable of moral reasoning. He later gets his soul back, and their interactions become much healthier.
  • Lily dumps Marshall shortly before their wedding and runs off to San Francisco at the end of season 1 of How I Met Your Mother. She returns, begging forgiveness at the beginning of Season II. To the show's credit, the damage she caused Marshall isn't Hand Waved, and she spends much of the beginning of season 2 getting back into Marshall's and Ted's good graces. But since the show is told in flashback, we already know Marsh and Lily end up together.
    • Done particularly well in the X-Mas episode after they get back together. Lily is cleaning up, plugs the answering machine back in, and hears Ted calling her an offensive word in old message for Marshal (left during the break-up period). Ted tries to apologize and explain, but Lily won't hear it, so he takes back the apology and calls her out on abandoning not just Marshal, but him and all their friends, and never having apologized to Ted about the way she acted.
    • It's a Running Gag that Marshall's mother never forgave Lily for this.
    • The rest of the group asks this of Ted when he considers getting back together with Zoey at the end of season 6 of How I Met Your Mother. You know, the woman who tried to destroy your career, manipulated you, lied to you, and secretly taped your conversations so that she could screw you over? Why wouldn't you take her back?
    • Robin and her ex-boyfriend Simon, who waited to dump her after she helped him load all his band's equipment into his van and then told her he was leaving her for Louise Marsh because her parents had a pool. Despite all her friends telling her she shouldn't go back to him, she still does and at the end of the episode, Simon dumped her the same way he did the first time - after moving his band's equipment to his van and for the same girl Louise Marsh because now her parents have a jacuzzi.
    • Ted and Jeanette. Jeanette was a crazy stalker who frequently broke Ted's things over minor offenses. After they break up, Ted wanted to get back together with her, much to the disappointment and frustration of his friends. Future!Ted admits this was a big mistake and their second break up ends with Jeanette setting most of Ted's belongings on fire.
      • Also lessened somewhat by various dialogues during this time. Ted admits on several occasions that his positive outlook on romance has been taken hits over the years, and he is starting to feel outright despair that he'll never find someone to love. Part of his thinking is that Jeanette obviously is attracted to him, so maybe he can make it work if he tries hard enough.
    • Barney and Robin. Barney lied consistently and didn't apologize for his lies simply stating the fact that the man who Robin fell in love with was a liar and that magic, lies, and illusions are part of his charm so she should just accept that. I'm paraphrasing of course. It was a clever way of getting her forgiveness without actually apologizing. He also did a cute magic trick with flowers so that makes all the lying okay.
    • And finally, Ted and Robin in the finale. While a good point is made that Ted always had feelings for her, her behavior throughout the episode, which is basically tantamount to abandoning her friends because she was no longer comfortable with their dynamic, simply does not sit well with a lot of fans.
  • Sex and the City star Carrie is constantly taking back Mr. Big no matter how many times he bails on her or is an ass to her. In this case it is presented more that she has a constant lust and chemistry with him that she knows rationally will not end well. Carrie's friends even call her out on it when she gets back with him the second time.
    • Carrie as well, when she cheats on Aiden with Big. Repeatedly and with no apparent sense of guilt. She does confess to Aiden, and begs him to forgive her, even saying "You have to forgive me!" He briefly takes her back after some hesitation due to her violating his trust once, but they end up breaking up permanently, probably in part because she never did anything to make him believe she was sincere.
  • Veronica Mars reunited with her ex, Duncan Kane, despite the fact that he dumped her without an explanation, ignored her every time she asked him why and sat idly by as their peer group turned on her. She later finds out why Duncan broke it off: He thought she was his half-sister. But he slept with her anyway. But Veronica had been accidentally roofied as well, so she didn't remember consenting and spent an entire year thinking she'd been raped (Turns out she had been. But that's a whole different issue). Granted, it doesn't last. Mostly because she fell for Duncan's best friend, Logan Echols - the son of the man who murdered Lily Kane, Veronica's best friend and one of the ringleaders of the "Treat Veronica Like Trash" brigade, and the same guy who had been starting to sexually assault her with a bunch of other guys before Duncan saved her. This is a non-issue to her for some reason.
  • Played with when it comes to Phoebe/Cole on Charmed, as after Phoebe kills Cole to vanquish The Source of All Evil inside him, he steals powers from the Demonic Wasteland to return to life and get back with Phoebe, only to have her keep saying, "You're evil, you're evil, you're evil." This is a guy who became a DA to put criminals in jail and counter the demonic side he was born with, helped Phoebe escape the Underworld, ultimately had his demonic side vanquished, became The Source only as a side effect of helping slay the previous Source, came back from the dead solely because of his love for Phoebe and kept trying to prove he was a good person, only giving up completely after she and her sisters tried to kill him again. There's a reason many fans referred to Phoebe as Phoe Me after Season Five, and in this case the main question fans had was why Cole would take her back.
  • Leo on Will and Grace. He keeps leaving on doctor's missions in Africa after marrying Grace, pays her no attention when she finally decides to go with him, and cheats on her after she leaves, leading to their divorce. She keeps going back to him and ultimately has his baby.
  • The writers of Gossip Girl managed to turn their Super Couple into this. Most fans still want Chuck and Blair to get back together, but it's difficult to see how Blair will be able to forgive Chuck for selling her to his creepy uncle in exchange for a hotel.
    • Somehow they actually managed to turn it around into fans questioning why Chuck would ever take Blair back. This due to massive Character Development on his part while she became increasingly self-centered and unlikeable. Also, that he was a complete Love Martyr for her for several seasons while she constantly toyed with his emotions.
  • In Degrassi The Next Generation Johnny DiMarco dumps Alli because he doesn't want to admit to Holly J that he's dating a ninth grader. She takes him back after this and continues to pine after him.
    • Also, Ashley takes Craig back after he cheats on her with Manny and attempts to justify it by calling her a prude.
    • Terri gets back with Rick because he apologized for abusing her.
    • Mia gets back with Lucas who blew her off the second she got pregnant, several years prior.
  • In Frasier, when Niles' marriage to Maris begins falling apart, there are several occasions where Maris tries to win him back, often causing Martin and Frasier to pretty much ask this question. Differs in that Niles generally listens to them, or had concluded that he didn't want to get back with her on his own after the first time he did take her back right at the end of their marriage, only for her to promptly turn around and cheat on him with their marriage counselor. This was the straw that broke the camel's back, and he never seriously considered taking her back again. Later on, when they've almost finalized their divorce, Maris begs him once again to reconcile, sending him gifts and love letters, only for him to explicitly invoke this trope to her face. She tries to sue him for every cent he has in retaliation. Yeah, there's a reason the writers felt there was no way any actress could do her character justice.
  • In LOST during a flash-forward Jack, while engaged to and living with Kate, has a bad day. He then goes home, sends the nanny home early and proceeds to get drunk and high while home alone with her adopted three year old son. When she gets home he demands to know where she's been. She tells him she's been doing something for Sawyer, his former romantic rival, but won't tell him what it is out of loyalty to him. Jack yells at her, telling her that Sawyer "chose" to stay on the island and it was Jack who saved her. In a later episode we learn that is patently untrue. Sawyer jumped out of the chopper because it was too heavy and swam back to the island. He had no reason to believe that they would not be able to come back for him. And then, to cap off the argument, when Kate tells him quite reasonably that if he has a drug problem he needs to leave and get help because she can't have him like that around her son, he yells at her, telling her that he's not really her son, she's not even related to him, with the implied meaning that because he is Aaron's biological uncle, he has more of a right to raise him than her, even though she's been mothering him since he was a few months old and clearly loves him and only wants what's best for him. In the show's end she tells him she loves him and they get back together in the afterlife.
    • Also worthy of mention, one night, post breakup, Kate shows up in Jacks bed, lying practically catatonic. He asks her what happened to Aaron and she tells him to never mention Aaron to her again. It's clear that she's gone through something traumatic. She kisses him and he doesn't stop her. He proceeds to take advantage of her exceedingly vulnerable state and has sex with her. He also shows no concern for what happened to his nephew.
  • In the first season of Glee, Finn breaks up with Quinn once he realises that she lied to him about him being the father of her baby, and the fact that she cheated on him with his best friend. So, when he breaks up with Rachel in season two, and actually gets back together with Quinn, his excuse of "when we kissed, there were fireworks" just doesn't seem good enough to justify it. The trope is played with when Finn admits that he doesn't really trust Quinn AT ALL due to her track record (she cheated on Finn with Puck, and in getting together with Finn, she cheated on Sam), and that he can't quite justify why he's actually with her again. This trope could also be applied with Finn and Rachel, since they break up and get back together more times than you can count, and they usually break up over something stupid - the break up that caused Finn to date Quinn again, for example, was caused when Rachel found out that Finn lost his virginity to Santana (while they weren't together, mind), and she decided to cheat on him with Puck to get her own back. The audience knows that they're going to keep getting back together, but you have to wonder why they keep doing it.
  • In Doctor Who, Amy Pond skips out on fiancee, childhood friend, and all-around Dogged Nice Guy Rory to gallivant around the universe with a dashing young (looking) Gallifreyan. Granted, in a time machine, so she should have no trouble making it back in time for the wedding, so that's not TOO bad... until she kisses and attempts to seduce the Doctor. Even this alone wouldn't be quite enough to qualify for this trope— relationships can survive infidelity— but Rory has to hear about it from the Doctor, not Amy, and she never apologizes or takes any responsibility for her attempted dalliance. When confronted, her response is along the lines of, "Well, we never really did anything." Right...only that's because the Doctor rejected her, not for lack of trying on her part. Rory expresses understandable concern about the lack of loyalty his prospective wife displays, but being the Extreme Doormat that he is, nothing ever comes of it, and the whole incident is seldom mentioned again.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Andy Capp, Flo occasionally throws Andy out (whenever she grows a spine), but always takes him back later. In one strip she feels depressed, seemingly for no specific reason. Then Andy comes by the door and asks her to take him back. She accepts, and adds to herself: "I might as well 'ave a reason!"
  • Popeye: While Olive Oyl can be flighty in the cartoons, in the newspaper comic, she's outright bipolar, dumping him on a literal whim, coming back to him at the end of the arc like nothing happened, and making insane demands on Popeye in between. And Popeye never considers not taking Olive back.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Believe it or not, this trope is tangentially responsible for naming the X-Pac Heat trope. After DeGeneration X had broken up, X-Pac had feuded with the members of the stable who had turned heel (Triple H, Chyna, Billy Gunn) and started a tag team with Kane. There was absolutely no reason for him to go back to working for Triple H when he'd been getting standing ovations for kicking Trips in the face. But X-Pac rejoined D-X and backstabbed Kane for no damn reason. His career never really recovered from this ill-timed heel turn.
  • Another Non-Romantic example is with CM Punk and the New Nexus. On the Raw before Wrestlemania 27, he buried them, saying that they were just pawns for him to use and to dispose once their usefulness ends. Two weeks later, the New Nexus is still under Punk's leadership.

    Theater 
  • Much Ado About Nothing's (allegedly) main plot has Claudio, with no faith in Hero and only the most superficial idea of love for her, but their reconciliation is meant to be a good thing anyway. After the Friar's speech, though, the Friar-suggested Zany Scheme goes into full effect and Claudio realizes that he truly did love Hero to the point where he happily takes her back in the finale. Much of this trope is invoked if Claudio overplays the pivotal moments in Act 4, Scene 1 - if he's being a Jerk Ass there, it's understandable, but if he's playing a deceived man who shall punish himself further, then it averts this trope. Definitely a case of the actor portraying Claudio.
    • The BBC series Shakespeare Re-told didn't change that much of the politically incorrect The Taming of the Shrew, they did change the ending of their adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing because the way Claudio attacks Hero and shames her in front of her family is really beyond the pale. Specifically, Hero doesn't take Claude back after he humiliates her in front of her friends and family.
  • Alls Well That Ends Well is worse. The entire point of the play is that Bertram is an insufferable boor who reneges on his promise and gives a series of impossible demands on his betrothed. Then, at the climax when she reveals that she has completed his impossible tasks (which included pretending to be another woman so she could get pregnant with his child), he somehow declares that he loves her. The only sympathetic version that I've seen has him get seriously injured in between the last two scenes, giving a reason for his change of heart.
  • The Winter'sTale is worst of all. King Leontes, from out of nowhere and with absolutely no evidence, suddenly becomes convinced that his faithful wife Hermonie is cheating on him with his old friend King Polixenes. Dead set on believing the worst of his wife despite all the world around him telling he's dead wrong, Leontes' mad efforts to prove Hermonie unfaithful lead to their son Mamillius deliberately starving himself to death out of heartbreak over his father's actions, their second child Perdita being abandoned to die in another country, and Hermonie herself apparently dying from grief and shock over Mamillius' death. Finally, after his cruel foolishness costs him everything, Leontes belatedly realizes just how badly he's messed things up, and is subsequently left alone to grieve over how much he's ruined his own, once happy life. Yet years later, Hermonie and Perdita are miraculously restored to him, and neither woman shows any hatred or bitterness toward the man who tried to destroy them. This is treated as a happy ending for all three of them—but while Perdita forgiving her father is more understandable given that she was only a baby when he tried to kill her, and therefore has no memory of the actual events, Hermonie's attitude is much more baffling, especially given that they'll always have the death of Mamillius between them. Given all that he put her through, it makes one wonder why Hermonie doesn't leave him for good.
  • Originally averted in Ibsen's A Dolls House, in which after the conflict is settled, the lead character recognizes her husband's poor character and leaves him. However, Ibsen was forced to change the ending because people were outraged by a wife leaving. The changed ending has Nora fighting with her husband and is then led to her children, where she collapses and decides to stay, playing this trope straight. At least one contemporary troupe reverted to the original after public protest; it's fair to say the altered ending isn't produced much these days.
  • At the end of The Marriage of Figaro, after the Count has been shown up by Figaro, Susanna and Countess Rosina, he asks his wife to forgive him. She does. This despite the fact that:
    • He's been chasing after another woman for most of the opera,
    • He's had enough of an affair with Barbarina, a servant girl, that she's able to blackmail him,
    • He's repeatedly tried to ruin the wedding of Susanna, the Countess's best friend and confidante, besides attempting to blackmail her into sleeping with him,
    • The guy whom Susanna loves and wants to marry is actually Figaro, who in The Barber of Seville was the person who helped the Count to marry his wife and is now the Count's Number Two
    • The Countess sunk to the new low of having to conspire with servants to teach him a lesson, which was pretty... bad in said cases (seriously, she actually has a song about how terrible this is)
    • And please, let's not forget that whole section in Act Two where he was trying to find out who was in her wardrobe, and calls her a lot of unpleasant names in the process as well as threatening to scrag her relatively innocent godson Cherubino. Yes, he had a reason for it, and he does apologise for that one at the time, but that doesn't do much to excuse his behavior (in some productions he even hits her!).
    • All this means that, despite the Values Dissonance of the time the opera was written, she'd be perfectly within her rights to have him dance the humiliation conga some more. But, because she's 'kinder than him', she forgives him almost right off the bat, and admittedly the music makes it a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. (One only wonders how long he's going to stay faithful this time...)
      • In Beaumarchais' third Figaro play The Guilty Mother (1792), which is set 20 years after the "Marriage", it turns out that in the interim the Countess had an son with Cherubin (who died in battle), while the Count had an illegitimate daughter. Wacky hijinks ensue, not least because the two children fall in love with each other. This third part of the trilogy however was only turned into an opera in 1966 (by Darius Milhaud).
  • In A Street Car Named Desire, Stella runs off from Stanley after he beats her up, however, seconds after that scene, she runs back to him. Blanche calls her out for it and even asks her what she sees in him. It's been implied that this happened several times. The Film subverts it as in the end, she runs off from Stanley after what he did to Blanche.

     Video Games 
  • Magical Diary: The player character's friends not only wonder this, but are furious if they find out that you've taken up with Damien again. Considering that, by this point, he's come close to killing you - and certainly not for lack of trying - it's a wonder that they don't ask that you be locked up for your own safety. Potsdam herself isn't thrilled by your asking to let him back in for the May Dance either, pointing out that she's given him four years' worth of second chances and some things are beyond redemption. Notable in that Damien himself doesn't try to argue that he should be forgiven for his actions or that he even can redeem himself for them.
  • Throughout the Monkey Island series protagonist Guybrush Threepwood has a rather rocky relationship with his eventual wife Elaine. Although she has affection for him it is clear that she also doesn't respect him very much, and she makes it clear that she has an important job and that Guybrush can barely be trusted with even basic errands. This comes to a head in the episodic Tales of Monkey Island, where she grows increasingly frustrated with her useless husband and prefers to spend her time helping the resurrected and apparently reformed LeChuck, forgiving him for past abduction attempts and clearly taking a shine to him though it is possible that there is some sort of voodoo hypnosis involved in her behavior. Meanwhile Guybrush encounters potential alternative love interest Morgan who is younger, more attractive and considerably less abrasive. In the end Elaine, apparently willingly, allows Lechuck to transform her into his evil undead queen and she assists in his attempts to destroy Guybrush's soul forever. Only with the aid of a heroic sacrifice from Morgan is Guybrush able to ward off Lechuck and restore Elaine to her original form. At this point Guybrush apparently forgets all about Morgan and meekly accepts his wife back despite her, supposedly brainwashed, attempts to destroy him. WHY?
    • Though keep in mind: the only reason she accepted the transformation was so she could wield the Cutlass of Kaflu, knowing full well Guybrush would figure out how to change her back.

    Webcomics 
  • In Errant Story, Sarine aggressively resolves the Unresolved Sexual Tension between her and Jon during a vulnerable moment. The next morning, she doesn't want to deal with the emotional fallout, so she uses magic to wipe his memory of it. When Jon figures it out later, he's utterly disgusted with her for the Mind Rape and leaves at the nearest opportunity. Circumstances force them to adventure together later, and they sort-of become Vitriolic Best Buds throughout the rest of the story. They have a Big Damn Kiss at the story's climax (appropriately lampshaded), and the epilogue reveals they stayed together until Jon's death, and had a daughter.

     Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: Any episode where Marge considers leaving Homer only to take him back. A memorable incident is is "The War of the Simpsons" when they go to a marriage retreat and Marge has a Long List of her husband's faults and even Rev. Lovejoy agrees with her. Homer throws back the fish he caught and that is enough to make up for everything else, as the two happily head home. This was seasons before he became a Jerkass. While the fish was meant to be a symbol that he actually did love her more than anything else, the example still holds up. It also goes both ways. Marge has repeatedly done things to Homer that show her to be petty and vindictive, and with a bit of a wandering heart/eye.
    • The Movie has Homer's selfish behavior finally catch up with him, with Marge taking the kids and leaving, even recording a "Dear John" message over the video of their wedding. However, Homer realizes what he's done and race to win back Marge's love by proving that he really does care about more than just himself.
    • Then there's Apu and Manjula. In her first episode it looks like they have a Perfectly Arranged Marriage. Then they have eight babies, which is understandably stressful. But Apu cheats on her because they'd become distant due to the stress of raising their children, which caused them both to act in ways that were unacceptable and detrimental to their relationship. When the affair is discovered it's a wonder either of them takes the other back, all of which is Something In Hindsight when you again recall that first episode, where Manjula herself says "If it doesn't work out, we can always get a divorce."
      • Though children change the dynamic in any marriage; there's suddenly more motivation to make it work, and as the two of them combined hardly have enough time for all their children, neither one of them on their own would be able to take care of all of them.
    • As the main entry states, Marge isn't safe from this either. In a newer episode, Bart and Milhouse try to get Milhouse's parents to split up again by placing one of Marge's bras in Kirk's bed, which Luanne finds and shows Homer who, understandably upset, confronts Marge, who then kicks him out of his own home. There's also the fact that, any time Homer is involved in a plot where it looks like he may cheat, he's incredibly upset at the prospect, whereas Marge was actually contemplating cheating on Homer with Jacques.
  • Duncan to Courtney in Total Drama Action and then vice versa in World Tour.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Harley Quinn to The Joker. She is head over her heels in love, goes mad, gives up her life as a psychiatrist for a life of crime all for her "Mr. J" and he can't take a few moments out of his day to "rev up his Harley". He abandons her, rats her out, abuses her, tries to kill her, and yet she always ends up by his side again sooner or later. However, she's actively called out on this by pretty much the whole rest of the cast, especially Batman and Poison Ivy, but is too far into Mad Love to really understand why he's bad for her.
  • Hey Arnold! gives us Oskar and Suzie Kokoshka. Suzie works hard, while Oskar is consistently unemployed, whiny, and only cares about himself. Many times she has attempted to walk out on him, but she always comes back.


Visit by Divorced DadThe Ex IndexWorking with the Ex
Umbrella of TogethernessRomance ArcDid Not Get the Girl
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?Unisex TropesYou Can Keep Her
WangstDouble StandardYamato Nadeshiko
Wheelchair WoobieYMMVWin Back the Crowd
Wheelchair WoobieYMMV/Home PageWin Back the Crowd
Where Da White Women At?Love TropesWindow Love
Why Fandom Can't Have Nice ThingsUnexpected Reactions to This IndexX-Pac Heat

alternative title(s): Why Would Anyone Take Her Back
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