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Black Widow

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A little chop of Reginald, end his life
A little chop of Ivan by me, his wife
Ah, little bits of Joshua are all over the floor
A little bit of murder is what I adore

"Husbands should be like Kleenex: soft, strong, and disposable."
Mrs. White, Clue

The maneater, the woman whose husbands/Love Interests keep on dying.

Usually, a Black Widow is a cross between a Con Artist and a Serial Killer, a woman who seduces, marries, and then murders men for their money, always using a different name and identity each time to keep the police and her intended victims from twigging to her real identity. She's very much a highly successful vamp.

Black Widows' methods may vary, but poisoning is often favored: it doesn't demand superior strength or leave obvious marks, and it's traditional for wives to do the cooking for their husbands. Also, many types of poisoning have symptoms similar to those of common illnesses, which makes it easier for a Black Widow to collect life insurance money (a very common motivation).

There are too many Truth in Television instances to count.

Occasionally there are more nefarious methods.

The name "black widow" comes from the official FBI designation for this kind of killer and from the black widow spider, which is so named because of the occasional habit of female black widow spiders (particularly the Australian redback spiders and the southern black widows) to devour their mates after mating. For this reason, the trope may be paired with Arachnid Appearance and Attire to really drive the spider metaphor home.

A Sub-Trope of Sleeping Their Way to the Top, Til Murder Do Us Part, and Gold Digger (this one prefers to kill her Meal Ticket instead of living with him).

A Sister Trope to The Bluebeard (the Spear Counterpart).

Compare Yandere, Comforting the Widow, Will and Inheritance Tropes, and Cartwright Curse. When pregnancy is involved, this intersects with Conceive and Kill. See also Literal Maneater, which is an actual monster that uses the disguise of a woman to lure in its prey, and Mantis Mating Meal, for another animal notorious for the female killing the male.

Not to be confused with Out with a Bang or any of the many characters named "The Black Widow", including the comic book character or female Chechen suicide bombers.


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  • A commercial for the New Yorker has the admittedly sexy widow dress in a variety of erotic lingerie in order to induce a heart attack in her elderly victim, and then casually lean out a balcony sipping champagne after he does so. (For obvious reasons, it was banned.)
  • What's cooler than a Luger pistol? A Black Widow Luger! The Black Widow is a version of the Luger that was made by Mauser during the middle years of World War Two and has black plastic hand grips and a dark finish on the metal. It belongs under "Advertising" because the name was invented by a US gun dealer in the 1960s to make a mass-produced gun sound sexier. Details in this video by Forgotten Weapons.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Fujiko from Ana Satsujin has killed at least three of her husbands after checking out large life insurance claims for them. She is constantly getting underground plastic surgery to fool the police but she has noticeable beauty marks on her shoulder. Rio wants to kill her.
  • Case Closed: Gender-flipped example when it's revealed that the groom of the story's wedding is actually the real villain. His plan was to seduce the bride, get married, and then kill her somewhere discreet after sucking her finances dry. His partner disagreed and just wanted to rob the girl's house, so he murdered his own partner in front of the girl and played it off as a rescue attempt against a serial killer to get her to fall for him.
  • Roxanne in Claymore was a low-ranked warrior, who consistently would become the best friend of a higher-ranked warrior, learn her techniques through Yoki synchronization, and kill her to get reassigned to someone better. This continued until she became one of the strongest and most notorious Claymores in history.note 
  • In The Kindaichi Case Files — 20 Years Later series, this is the first Serial Killer Kindaichi captures. However, neither of her two victims in that arc is her actual target—the first one is a rival for her target's affections, while the second one is one of her former husbands who recognizes her. Fortunately, Kindaichi manages to catch her before she could actually hit her mark.
  • In Junji Ito's Tomie series, the title character does, indeed, go after the money like a typical Black Widow... Except she gives men an odd feeling of wanting to kill her.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: In the plane of Eldraine, Ayara, the queen of the black castle Locthwain, chooses a knight to be her champion every year, marries them, and then sends them off on an inevitably fatal quest. Once they're confirmed dead or A Year and a Day has passed, she begins courting her next champion/spouse. She also doesn't care much about the gender of her doomed spouses.
  • Twilight Sparkle's Secret Shipfic Folder has Black Widow Rarity, who apparently stars in a Casablanca parody.

    Comic Books 
  • A Batman storynote  has Bruce Wayne meet, fall for, and almost marry a woman who turns out to be this. He figures it out in time. As for why he'd nearly wed a woman in such short order, it turned out he was unknowingly affected by the Scarecrow's fear gas in a previous fight, and it made him afraid of spending his life alone. Before she can complete her next murder, Bruce has a note slipped to her ordering her to confess to all her crimes. Seeing the Bat Symbol on the note, she quickly decides to comply.
  • Black Widow used to be this trope when she was a spy for the KGB. To quote Pepper Potts, "she mates and then she kills."
  • Just Imagine... Stan Lee Creating the DC Universe: This continuity's take on the villain Parasite is a woman named Lucinda Radama who, prior to gaining her powers, is facing a death sentence for killing every man she married.
  • In a Nightwing Annual, Dick suspects a young woman who's buried three husbands in three years of being one of these, and decides to investigate by pretending to marry her. The killer is actually her former best friend, as it turns out.
  • One of the women at the Serial Killer Convention complains about female serial killers being stereotyped as nothing but black widows and killer nurses in The Sandman (1989) book The Doll's House. This is made all the more amusing because she says this while participating in a panel discussion on "Women In Serial Killing"... whose fellow panelists are a Black Widow and a Killer Nurse who are visibly annoyed with her. And for extra laughs, she's complaining about stereotypes despite being an Asian working under the nom de guerre of "Dog Soup".
  • Ava Lord from Sin City turns out to be one, though she's not above having other people do her dirty work (such as Dwight McCarthy, who she tricks into murdering her innocent husband so that she can get her hands on all his money).

    Fairy Tales 
  • In The One-Handed Girl, the heroine's brother accuses her of this.
    "By the kindness of your heart have you been deceived, O king," said he. "Your son has married a girl who has lost a hand. Do you know why she had lost it? She was a witch and has wedded three husbands, and each husband she has put to death with her arts. Then the people of the town cut off her hand and turned her into the forest. And what I say is true, for her town is my town also."

    Fan Fiction 
  • Bad Alert: The Extreme, while mostly a fan's response to the way a few villains are portrayed in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, is partly based on the theory that Lady Tremaine murdered Cinderella's father after marrying him for his money.
  • In this paranormal Emergency! fic, Chet is infected with a shapeshifter virus by one of these. She hates humans and gets her kicks off biting them and watching them die. Chet gets lucky though; Johnny already lived through an accidental bite from his mate, and Dr. Brackett is a member of an old shifter family. They know what to do to keep Chet alive until he recovers.
  • Cora, in Freeze on the Stones, kills both her husbands, Henry and Leopold, for power.
  • Gravity Falls Rule 63 has widowed mother Bonnie Gleeful, who claimed her husband died on the day her daughter, Jennifer, was born. However...
    (talks to a photo of her dead husband while playfully holding a blood-stained knife) "All I needed was for you to help me conceive a child. That precious car lot of yours was a nice little bonus. Nothing personal, dear. It was all part of the plan."
  • Many Harry Potter fanfics embrace what in canon is only implied about Blaise Zabini's mother (as mentioned in the Literature section below). Here for example:
    Blaise: *says something about his mother*
    Draco: And how is husband number nine?
    Blaise: Still breathing.
    Pansy: For now.
    • When in Doubt, Obliviate exaggerates this to the degree that Blaise can't keep track of the names of his stepfathers - or doesn't, intentionally, in order to be less affected by their deaths.
    • Hail Odysseus not only has this happen, but Blaise intends to become the male version of this. At least, until Harry and Ginny kill him.
    • Black Sky shows her under a more heroic light, as she was Happily Married to her first husband... who died because of the Death Eaters. She didn't take it well and decided to marry, bankrupt, and kill his killers one by one. Her home country Sabina considers her a heroine for this.
  • In Let the Galaxy Burn, Asha Greyjoy picks up this reputation after her first two husbands, Ser Philip Rosekeeper and Ser Dorian Cypress, die before the bedding ceremony. The actual truth is more nuanced — Asha didn't have any choice in marrying either husband, the Tyrells forced her, and both Philip and Dorian were horrible (and much older) men that at best only cared for the dowry she could bring. As such, when some of the Tyrells are implied to have tried to invoke this trope by forcing Asha to marry Samwell Tarly, a kind young man who has no problem with Asha speaking her mind and was as forced into the marriage as Asha was, it falls flat (the marriage even ends up fairly happy).
  • In Discworld Why and were, Assassin Ruth N'Kweze proves herself worthy of her Guild membership when she effectively has to inhume her own husband - moments after marrying him. As she is from Howondaland, Vetinari later reflects that this literally as well as metaphorically makes her into a Black Widow.
  • In Dragons, Butterflies, And Who Knows What Else?, Hiccup jokes that the "boyfriend" that Mirabel "makes goo-goo eyes at" (according to Isabela, anyway) won't last because she would kill him.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live Action 
  • Debbie Jellinsky from Addams Family Values is one of these. It's only her latest M.O., as she's been killing since childhood, and often gets rid of people who fail to meet her needs (usually money-related), starting with her parents, whom she killed for not giving her a Ballerina Barbie for her birthday. She gets her claws into Fester and marries him, but, Fester being one of the Addams clan, she doesn't quite succeed at the killing part. Once the Addamses understand the depths of her issues, they all start to really empathize with her and regret not really getting to know her. After she dies, she is buried with honors in the family graveyard.
  • Ajnabee: Vicky is a rare male example, a Con Man who married a rich woman just so he can kill her, pin the murder on someone else and get her life insurance money.
  • Basic Instinct's Catherine. Every single one of her lovers ends up dead, either by her hand or through her manipulation of the situation. Beth also, assuming she's responsible for her husband's death.
  • Black Widow (1987), played by Theresa Russell as Catharine, a serial killer of rich men she married for their money. She continues to do this long after she'd be wealthy though, implying her reasons are psychological rather than monetary.
  • In A Blueprint for Murder, Lynne Cameron fatally poisons her husband and stepdaughter, and attempts to poison her stepson in order to inherit her husband's entire estate.
  • Body of Evidence: After inheriting a fortune from her old, wealthy lover, Rebecca Carlson is put on trial after allegations that she had been going after rich men with health problems so she could continually have sex with them until their hearts gave out.
  • This is Mrs. White's backstory in Clue. She's had five husbands, and we learn the fate of two. One was an illusionist who disappeared and never reappeared ("He wasn't a very good illusionist"). As for the other, according to Mrs. White, someone "had cut off his head and his, well, you know."
    Men should be like Kleenex, soft, strong, and disposable.
  • The Condemned (2007): Yasantwa's file reveals that she was on death row for murdering men who she seduced. On the island, she manages to do the same with Kreston.
  • In The Fourth Man, bisexual writer Gerard Revé meets cosmetologist Christine Halsslag while giving a presentation for a literary society in the coastal town of Vlissingen, and after spending the night with her, he stays on so he can meet her current boyfriend, Herman. However, upon learning that Christine has been widowed three times, he becomes paranoid that she murdered her husbands and is currently planning to make either Herman or Gerard himself her fourth victim. Whether Christine's husbands were murdered or, as most of the townsfolk believe, died in freak accidents is left ambiguous.
  • Heatwave (2022): Eve has her husband Scott murdered for his money. Then she also tries to murder her girlfriend Claire too so she'll take the fall after being framed for it.
  • In Legend of the Black Scorpion, the empress only married for power. Once she was in position, she murdered her husband.
  • Steve Martin marries one in The Man with Two Brains.
  • In the Laurel and Hardy short film Oliver the Eighth Ollie courts a wealthy widow - only to discover on the wedding night that she has murdered her seven previous husbands who were all named Oliver. Partly a subversion, since it is Ollie who was hoping to benefit financially from the marriage.
  • In Onibaba, Kichi's mother makes her living by preying on passing soldiers.
  • Queen Ravenna of Snow White & the Huntsman, who marries Snow White's father the king to become queen, and kills him in bed so she can rule his kingdom.
  • Mike Myers parodies the trope in So I Married an Axe Murderer — his character believes he is dating the mysterious "Mrs. X." She's not. Turns out her sister was an insane Clingy Jealous Girl who murdered all of the poor girl's previous husbands (she thought they had all just up and left her).
  • Stepmonster. There was also a screwed-up bit of Gift of the Magi in there, as the monster is a comic book creature and only a specific, very rare, and very valuable issue explained how the monster can be defeated. So the kid pawns the violin his dad gave him to buy the comic book; unfortunately, his dad has something serious against comic books and rips it up, not realizing its significance (or value), and it's not until the kid finds the one missing piece - that's right, one panel out of the entire comic book divulged the monster's weakness - that the kid realizes how screwed he is. The dad redeems himself at the movie's climax in a Big Damn Heroes moment where it turns out he bought back the violin and proceeds to dispatch the monster.
  • Another unwilling comedic example is Shirley MacLaine's protagonist in What a Way to Go!.
  • Jackie in What Keeps You Alive is a lesbian example, and one who doesn't do it for the money, despite what her wife Jules initially assumes; she's just a stone-cold sociopath who enjoys murder.

  • The Duchess D'Longeville from The Darksword Trilogy.
    Simkin: I decided a change was in order, as the Duchess D'Longeville said when she married her fourth husband. Or was it her fifth? Not that it matters. He'll be dead like the others before long. Never take tea with the Duchess D'Longeville. Or, if you do, make certain she doesn't serve you from the same pot she serves her husband.
  • The Assassins' Guild School in the Discworld, after going co-educational, has named a House of Study for its girl pupils Black Widow House, no doubt to concentrate and focus the minds of its young ladies as to the possibilities.
  • The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home: Eleanor zigzags the trope - she truly loves Theodore but has decided that after a lifetime of being controlled by her father, the relative freedom of being a rich widow is worth the cost of murdering her husband.
  • Joanna in Ben Bova's Grand Tour series loses no fewer than three husbands in such a way.
  • Implied in Harry Potter—a minor Slytherin named Blaise Zabini apparently has a famously beautiful mother who's been married seven times, with each husband dying under mysterious circumstances and leaving her a lot of money.
  • A real-life example is in the non-fiction book 'Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets' (later made into the popular TV drama Homicide: Life on the Street) which goes into detail on the case of Geraldine Parish, who was murdering her husbands and relatives (using a contract killer) for insurance money. An FBI profile mentions that the typical "black widow" killer is an older and less attractive woman than the beautiful young fatales of Hollywood stereotype.
  • Howl of the Werewolf have the Cadre Infernal member, Arachnea the seductress, who uses her beauty and charms to seduce men before systematically killing them for their wealth. As a result of a curse, she becomes a literal Black Widow Spider People, resembling a gigantic black widow spider fused with her human body.
  • Nora Roberts, the main character in James Patterson's Honeymoon, is one of these. She kills two rich guys a short while after they propose to her with her two-piece signature dish: an omelet laced with one poison, and sparkle water mixed with a second poison.
  • In SY Agnon's famous short story "The Lady and The Peddler", a rich gentile lady offers lodging to a poor Jewish peddler if he will thatch the leaking roof of her barn. They grow closer over time and he eventually becomes her lover. Yet, he is continuously puzzled by the fact that he has never seen her eat. When he asks her about it, she answers sarcasticly that she eats human flesh, and jokingly suggests she ate all of her former husbands in fits of Consuming Passion. He only finds out she wasn't kidding when she tries to kill and eat him.
  • Marcus Didius Falco (a private investigator in Ancient Rome) investigates professional widow Severina Zotica in the novel Venus in Copper.
  • Alison, the wicked stepmother character from Mercedes Lackey's Cinderella retelling, Phoenix and Ashes. Eleanor's father and the father of the stepsisters were merely the bookends of a long career of using and killing men.
  • Played with but averted in The Sworn Sword with Lady Rohanne Webber aka the "Red Widow". She is undeniably a Femme Fatale, but all her husbands really did die of war or natural causes. Her reputation is a combination of a smear campaign and the ruthless front she maintains to survive as a female ruler of her lands.
  • Julia Valerian is widowed twice in A Voice in the Wind, having poisoned her violent second husband; her significantly older first husband technically died of a heart attack/fall from his horse, but it’s implied that Julia’s resentment towards him, rebelliousness, and flirtations with other men contributed to his weak health.
  • Madame Olympia in Eva Ibbotson's Which Witch?

    Live-Action TV 
  • Batman (1966):
    • Batman once had to capture a criminal known as the Black Widow. Her deceased husband's name was Max Black (yes, she really is "the Black widow"). However, instead of having to prevent her from killing husbands for money, he had to prevent her from robbing banks.
    • In a two-parter featuring a villain known as the Sandman who plans to marry and rob a rich insomniac widow (he's posing as a sleep doctor). However, when she starts prattling on about the fates of her previous four husbands the viewer is left to wonder if she's a Black Widow or just ridiculously unlucky.
  • The Brady Bunch: That's how Carol Brady's first husband died. At least according to Florence Henderson, as seen here. (Hopefully, it's just her own private interpretation.)
  • An episode of Bull starts with a Gold Digger first demanding that her (much older and wealthier) husband renegotiate her contract/prenup, only for him to point out how stupid that would be from a business standpoint. She then grabs a knife and stabs herself several times (it's later revealed that she used to major in anatomy, so she knows where to stab so it looks serious but ultimately not fatal), before grabbing her husband's gun and shooting him "in self-defense". It takes Bull one conversation with the "poor victim" to realize she's lying. Apparently, her prenup doubles her payout every year she stays with her husband and performs certain obligations (including those of sexual nature), which would already equal $16 million. However, since her husband's net worth is around $6 billion, $16 million seemed like a pittance (she also refused the company's lawyers' attempts to buy her out for half a billion).
  • The Villain of the Week of the second Columbo pilot was one of these. An Amoral Attorney, Wicked Stepmother, and Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who murdered her attorney husband after manipulating him into springboarding her career as part of an attempt to take over his law firm before he could divorce her after she showed her true colors.
  • Community: Played for Laughs. During the absurdly serious paintball game in "Modern Warfare," Jeff and Britta have sex. She immediately turns on him (though they get interrupted before she can "kill" him) so that she can win the game. She insists that she didn't sleep with him to kill him, she slept with him, and now, unrelated, she is going to kill him. He notes that it's suspicious how skilled she is at putting on her panties with one hand while holding a gun in the other.
  • The Coroner: In "The Deep Freeze", a Gold Digger who has already buried two husbands becomes an obvious suspect when her third husband dies in a suspicious 'accident'. The actual killer was counting on her reputation making her the most likely suspect to divert attention from themselves. Jane is convinced that she murdered her first two husbands but cannot prove it.
  • CSI:
    • Minus the wealth part, in one episode the youngest daughter of a compulsive hoarder seduced boys from the halfway house where her brother worked and after she killed them to make sure they wouldn't leave she hid them around her mother's cluttered house. When mom found out what was happening she handcuffed her daughter to her bed and barricaded her behind a wall of boxes, and when her other daughter found one of the bodies she got hit on the head and left to die in a pile of newspapers.
    • They also did an episode where two women conspired to act as wife and secretary for their victim and poisoned him with Selenium (and further investigation revealed they had done the same previously). The wife actually fell in love with her husband, despite his numerous infidelities, and was considering backing out of the deal. Unusually, our heroes weren't able to prove either of them guilty.
  • The Dead Man's Gun episode "The Black Widow". After inheriting the gun from her deceased husband, a "black widow" killer plans to strike again...only to learn that her husband has a secret of his own.
  • Get Smart's Maxwell Smart had to marry a KAOS agent who used this as her modus operandi for knocking off CONTROL agents in the episode "Widow Often Annie." 99 was not amused, as Max had already married her.
  • Gotham has Oswald Cobblepot's stepmother. She and her (adult) kids are trying to kill Ozzie's real father by tampering with his medication. After Oswald comes into the picture, he becomes his father's favourite (he is his only real son) and his most likely heir. This causes the step-mom to poison Ozzie's drink, only for his dad to drink it instead. (Un)fortunately, Oz later finds the poison, and bad things happen to the step-family.
  • Grimm has a literal example; a type of Wesen called a Spinnetod (Death Spider), who will suffer from premature aging (and possibly death) if she doesn't take the life force from men. They don't actually have to marry or have sex with their victims, but the one in the episode seduces them, just as a way to get them to a secluded location for the kill. Ironically enough, she is married, but loves her husband too much to kill him.
  • In the two-part final episode of Highlander, it's shown that if Duncan were never born, this is what would have become of Amanda.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street had the case of Calpurnia Church, who had numerous husbands and other relations murdered after taking out life insurance. Her family, including her latest husband, were well aware of this, but they were convinced she had voodoo powers and could not be stopped. The case was loosely based on the real case of Geraldine Parrish, which David Simon had written about in his book Homicide: A Year On the Killing Streets.
  • Jake and the Fatman: In "The Tender Trap", Derek suspects his uncle's fiancee is a black widow, and she may have already spun her web.
  • Jessie: Mrs. Chesterfield married six different husbands solely for their money and got rid of them when she was done with them. Many of her husbands are implied to be dead and she still seeks more rich husbands.
  • Kickin' It: Bobby Wasabi almost married one in the episode "Wedding Crashers".
    Leona: Some girls scrapbook. Others marry, then eliminate, martial arts millionaires. Don't get me wrong, I scrapbook too.
  • Leverage: "The Lonely Hearts Job" had the team discover a team of these.
  • Lovecraft Country: Byung Ho was killed by Ji-Ah right after he had sex with her (and all the other men like him were too).
  • In the Made in Canada episode "Veronica's Friend", a former school friend of Pyramid production adviser Veronica is implied to have murdered two rich husbands, and has set her sights on clueless Pyramid CEO Alan as Husband No.3. She is steered instead toward the "Plumbing King of Pennsylvania", who is hoarding the logical domain names for the planned Pyramid website and asking unreasonable sale prices; by the end of the episode, he has indeed become Husband, and Victim, No.3 (but not before being persuaded to sell the domain names at reasonable prices).
  • Monk had this in the episode "Mr. Monk Goes to a Wedding". Natalie's brother was about to marry a Black Widow, and she murdered the photographer after he recognized her.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: The It Lives by Night episode ends with Pearl Forrester regaling Professor Bobo and Brain Guy with slides from her numerous honeymoons, and descriptions of the untimely demises that each of her husbands and fiancés met with.
    • Pearl's granddaughter Kinga forces Jonah to marry her towards the end of season 11 by threatening to cut off his oxygen, and at the wedding, he's eaten by a robot monster unleashed by a jealous TV's Son of TV's Frank.
  • Maggie O'Connell in Northern Exposure. She doesn't kill any of them; her boyfriends just seem to keep dying on her. One was hit by a falling satellite.
  • The Practice had an episode where they defended a woman accused of being a black widow, due to her habit of marrying much older men. Her most recent husband had died of a heart attack induced by Viagra.
  • In one episode of Sledge Hammer!, Hammer and his partner tracked down a criminal like this who targeted used car dealers, not because she was after their money or anything else they had, but because she really hated used car dealers. In fact, when finally caught, she hissed to her most recent intended victim, "Is it really a crime to rid the world of car dealers?"
  • An episode of Special Unit 2 deals with a nest of Links that all look like attractive women, except they appear to be human/spider hybrids. Typical of the trope, they lure men to their den, then eat them. Nick ends up trying to protect a woman the black widow Links are after and falls for her. Both he and Kate quickly figure out that she's also a Link of that kind, just from another city, trying to muscle in on the local den's territory.
  • Stargate SG-1: It is not an actual example of the trope, she actually has a pretty effective Cartwright Curse instead (And provides a page quote), but Samantha Carter's boyfriends all seem to wind up six feet under in pretty short order (Unless you're MacGyver). DVD audio commentary reveals that the writers actually called her "Black Widow Carter" and were going to title an episode as such until they went with Chimera.
  • From an episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody:
    Carey Martin: You know you're heartless.
    Miss Klotz: Didn't bother me when my four ex-husbands said it; Doesn't bother me when you say it.
    Carey Martin: You've been divorced four times?
    Miss Klotz: Oh, no, no...widowed.
  • White Collar: In "Veiled Threat", Neal, Peter, and Jones go undercover as wealthy bachelors to snare a black widow. She latches onto Peter, much to his consternation (what with his adorable attachment to Elizabeth).
  • Faye Cochrane in Wings was thought to be one of these in one episode, what with the mysterious deaths of all her husbands George. Although that may have been a coincidence, considering all the angst over the likely fate of her latest fiancée George during the show.

  • "Black Widow" by Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora uses this trope to the fullest. The spider imagery is scattered throughout the lyrics. And one particular line is quite interesting:
    "So baby, now rest in peace."
  • "Black Widow" by Booty Luv, with so many spider metaphors that it almost becomes a description of the real thing.note  Verse 2 really drives it home:
    I'm gonna be the last, last love of your life
    Trapped in my world and there's no way to escape
    Caught in my clutches and I'm having my way
    I'm leaving him with nothing to say
    My bitter kiss will be the last thing he tastes
  • The 1975 Alice Cooper song "The Black Widow" depicts this with an opening spoken-word part (by Vincent Price) carefully describing the female black widow spider's lethality and mating habits. Unfortunately, the song itself negates this lesson both by making the spider character male and by depicting him as a Depraved Bisexual.
  • "Dark Horse" by Katy Perry has the singer warning men who fall in love with her that once they do, "There's no going back." The music video reinforces this trope, with Katy Perry playing an ancient Egyptian queen who is approached by several suitors bearing gifts. She accepts the gifts... after using magic to disintegrate the suitors into piles of sand.
  • Though it's not spelled out in so many words, "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" by Herman's Hermits could be interpreted as being about this from the perspective of the latest victim. Which would also make the song a classic of Lyrical Dissonance. (It's also amusing considering the real-life Henry VIII is considered this trope's Distaff Counterpart, The Bluebeard.)
  • The music video for No Doubt's cover of "It's My Life" casts Gwen Stefani as a Black Widow who seduces the three male members of the band and murders them when she gets tired of them. The video is framed by scenes of her being put on trial and eventually executed for her crimes.
  • They Might Be Giants: In the music video for "Mrs. Bluebeard", the eponymous Mrs. is the killer, and the singer is the ghost of her latest murdered husband. She gets her comeuppance when a séance summons the ghosts of her dead husbands, and Mrs. Bluebeard and her accomplices get each other killed in a panic.
  • "Spiderweb" by Haley Reinhart uses aggressive spider imagery as a metaphor for the singer luring in men... And the lyrics imply her intentions aren't exactly benevolent:
    But nobody's here to save you
    The more that you fight
    The more that you're mine
    I'll keep you forever
  • To Keep My Love Alive: The narrator went through at least 15 husbands.
  • "The Wound that Never Heals" by Jim White is about a woman who does this, though the title refers to her having been molested by her father and no less than five uncles as a child.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Garfield: Jon got connected to a woman through a dating service. He asks her if she has a nickname and gets the reply "Widow maker".

  • Victoria from WHO dunnit (1995) has already buried two husbands by the time she begins to plot against her third.

  • The relative efficacy and efficiency of female serial killers, who are often motivated by economic gain and tend to target their husbands and dependent children, is a primary point of discussion in the Phantom of Heilbronn episode of Fat, French and Fabulous.
    "I am a strong independent woman with an unquenchable thirst for blood!"

  • Round the Horne: Mrs. Cunterblast, many times. Many, many times. Many, many many times. And it's something she freely admits to, though by the time she does, it's several decades after the fact.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • Subverted in the Book of Tobit: a woman named Sarah has lost seven husbands before any of her marriages could be consummated, but it's because a demon named Asmodeus is in lust with her and doesn't like the competition. The Archangel Raphael fixes this problem by advising her cousin, Tobias, to marry her, and teaching him how to drive Asmodeus away.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: Natasha Kerensky is actually a subversion. She became known by her moniker after her lover (who was one of the founders of the renowned Wolf's Dragoons) was taken hostage and later killed by Anton Marik, due to a fallout in relations. She reacted violently to this and lead her unit to storm Marik's stronghold and kill him and his remaining forces. She's also of Clan Wolf and descended from genetic material they acquired when they Absorbed Clan Widowmaker (the widowmaker spider being an even deadlier variant of black widow spider). Using spider iconography is a link to her heritage.
  • The Dark Eye: Alara Paligan, widow of Emperor Hal and grandmother of the current Empress. Though she's not actually a self-made widow, she is a grand weaver of intrigue, and her soul animal is a black widow spider.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Forgotten Realms: In 2nd Edition, weredragons — a species of dragon who spend most of their lives in human form — provide for themselves by marrying rich suitors and then killing them.
    • Ravenloft uses this trope with Ivana Boritsi (who's even called "the Black Widow") and her mother Camille, who are both murderers with a tendency to poison their lovers (not helped by the fact Ivana is a Poisonous Person with Power Incontinence). Also done with the red widow monster, which seduces men in their guise as gorgeous redheads, then paralyze them and fill their bodies with eggs after they have been fertilised. Ermordenungs, though it's not the focus of their character, are naturally made to be Black Widows and Bluebeards, since they are invariably very beautiful and they're all as poisonous as their creator Ivana Boritsi.
  • Ironclaw: Lady Amalsand Jakoba, widow of the most recent High King of House Rinaldi, who was found gruesomely murdered along with his eldest son barely a month after marrying her, and three days after announcing their divorce. And given that she has an adult son, whom she intends to put on the throne, it's presumed that she has been married at least once before. And did I mention that she's a Necromancer?
  • Warhammer: Lucrezzia Belladonna is a Tilean princess who has married several mercenary generals to protect her city, who tend to meet untimely deaths after making a major military or political misstep.
  • Wahammer Age Of Sigmar: In life, Lady Ollynder routinely married rich and powerful men, only to murder them in secret to inherit their estates, then put on a grand show of mourning each of them in public. On her death, Nagash forced her spirit to become leader of his Nighthaunt Processions, giving her the title Mortarch Of Grief: since she had faked her grief in life, she was now forced to feel all of the collective grief of everyone in the Mortal Realms. This being a Warhammer setting, that's a lot.

  • In Chicago, the five of the Six Merry Murderesses who actually did it are all in jail for killing their husband or lover, and even though they only killed one each (well, Velma Kelly also killed her sister) they may qualify for this trope on sheer...merriment. They show no remorse at all and say things like "He ran into my knife ten times" and "I fired two warning shots. Into. His. Head."
  • The song "To Keep My Love Alive", from the Rodgers and Hart musical A Connecticut Yankee is all about this trope.
  • In Hello, Dolly!, Dolly tries to dissuade Mr. Vandergelder from marrying Mrs. Molloy by hinting that she poisoned her previous husband and is making plans for a repeat performance.
  • "Cleopatterer" from the Guy Bolton/P. G. Wodehouse/Jerome Kern musical Leave It To Jane:
    She couldn't stand, by any means,
    Reproachful, stormy farewell scenes,
    To such coarse stuff she would not stoop,
    So she put poison in his soup!
    When out with Cleopatterer
    Men always made their wills.
    They knew there was no time to waste
    When the gumbo had that funny taste.
    They'd take her hand and squeeze it,
    They'd murmur, "Oh, you kid!"
    But they never liked to start to feed
    Till Cleopatterer did.

    Theme Parks 
  • The Haunted Mansion at the Disney Theme Parks replaced its indefinite Bride character with Constance Hatchaway, nicknamed "The Black Widow Bride". She resides in the attic filled with wedding mementos from each of her five marriages. As you pass the wedding portraits, the heads briefly disappear from the husbands' shoulders, and Constance herself speaks twisted wedding vows while showing off her shiny axe.
  • The band My X was the main attraction at Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream 2010. It used to be called XY, but female lead Sylvie took over the band and renamed it when the male lead/her (apparently abusive) boyfriend mysteriously vanished. Now Sylvie spends her nights picking out guys from the concert crowd, hooking up with them backstage, and bringing them to her dressing room where she hangs them up, chops off their fingers, and kills them. Check out their signature song. (My X was actually an unsigned band from Tampa; they renamed the band and wrote three new songs for the park's Halloween special.)

    Video Games 
  • 2Dark: Adelaide, one of the crazy women in the final level is this. You can overhear her recount before a painting of herself how "Franciso was old. So I killed him. Andre was fat. So I killed him. Max was dumb. So I killed him."
  • The Age of Decadence: Lady Lorenza Calani, a Maadoran noble, has married five times — and all five of her husbands have died under mysterious circumstances, leaving her with enormous wealth and power. She's revealed to be very cold and manipulative, having trained her ladies-in-waiting to use deadly poison against anyone she deems a threat. The Boatmen of Styx mission involving her is even titled "The Black Widow".
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations: The Big Bad Dahlia Hawthorn is one. She has had three known boyfriends and at least attempted to kill all three when they outlived their usefulness, only stopping because Mia Fey managed to get her convicted of murdering her second boyfriend. She convinced Terry Fawles to commit suicide, got Doug Swallow electrocuted, and poisoned Phoenix's cold medicine- which he only didn't take because Dahlia stole it and used it to frame him for Doug's murder.
  • Mad Moxxi in Borderlands. Her partners tend to still be alive until the vault hunters see to that. Her first husband forced her to kill him after threatening to enslave their daughter as the "clan wife", her second husband was a serial killer taken down by the players (and emotionally mourned by Moxxi), her third husband is the amoral gun runner supplying to the players, and various lovers were murdered either by the players or Moxxi's son. Less a black widow, more a dubious judge of character.
  • Deadbolt has Madam Stela, a narcissistic vampire who is stated to have gone through several husbands, killing them for incredibly frivolous reasons. Of the two mentioned in the game, the one before her current husband was killed for not enjoying dance (while Stela loves to dance), and the one before that for liking the undead, who Stela hates despite being a vampire herself. It's unclear how many husbands she's gone through by the time the game takes place, though since she's an ancient vampire that number could potentially be very high indeed.
  • Fallout:
    • In Fallout 3, your female character can learn an ability by this name, which allows you to charm and manipulate members of the opposite sex with ease. Also, this perk grants a minor combat damage increase against male characters. Lady Killer is essentially the inverse perk for men. It's also the moniker of Penelope Chase, former leader of the Slavers.
    • Fallout: New Vegas as well. You can even seduce Benny and kill him in his sleep if you have the perk. New Vegas also adds Cherchez La Femme (for female PCs) and Confirmed Bachelor (for male PCs), which are isosexual versions (other females if you're female, other males if you're male).
  • Ghostbusters: The Video Game. On the second visit to the Hotel Sedgewick you fight the "Spider Witch", the ghost of a woman who murdered her previous husbands who takes the form of a giant spider. She hung them upside down and drained them of all their blood in the service of Gozer's cult. It's not clear if she did this before or after she killed them.
  • The Furies attempt a trick like this against Kratos in God of War: Ascension, where Tisiphone creates an illusion of a house full of lovely nymphs who try to seduce him, hoping to lead him into an ambush. Fortunately for Kratos, he realizes it's a trap when he sees one of them (Tisiphone herself) wearing his wife Lysandra's ring.
  • Abigail Mathers in Grand Theft Auto V. She seduces a rich TV producer away from his family and tampers with the airlock in a submarine he was testing in order to kill him for the insurance money. She then hires Michael into salvaging what's left of the submarine to prove his death to the insurance company. It turns out she's conning Michael, paying him chump change and an autograph, and flees to the airport to skip town unless killed by the player.
  • Lady D from Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure, who hangs around a graveyard swamp and stands on a giant wedding cake/fort, shooting skulls out of a fake groom at anyone who rejects her.
  • In Hidden City, the Mistress of the Manor is revealed to have gotten her influence this way. An Impoverished Patrician whose family lost their wealth in a fire accident, the girl who would become the Mistress sought to return to her former life of luxury through marriage. She then used black magic to make herself become a desirable bride. She married at least 6 noblemen, all of whom disappeared shortly after the wedding, and became richer and more powerful with each marriage.
  • The talking black widow spider in King's Quest VI. Needless to say, Alexander can Have a Nice Death if he makes the mistake of giving her his hand.
  • Layton Brothers: The second case, full-stop. The killer is clearly seasoned in the con game as she has multiple dead husbands on record and seduced a lottery winner before he was stabbed to death but hadn't actually been convicted outright. It turns out she made an icicle knife and melted it in her cooking pot when she was done, but she made a simple yet critical mistake; she never learned how to cook spaghetti, meaning her laughably lackluster attempt at 'cooking' was clearly not meant for making food.
  • Mass Effect 2 reveals that a small percentage of Asari suffer from a genetic defect that causes their Mind Meld-esque mating to kill their partners. Ardat-Yakshi("Demon of the Night Winds") who kill in this manner experience an addictive rush when this occurs, as well as an increase in biotic ability. They are a variant of this trope because most Ardat-Yakshi hunt for victims to satiate their addiction rather than for money. Morinth is the first example, and a highly successful one, having done this for 400 years. She seeks out interesting individuals, generally strong, clever, or artistic, and seduces them. She rarely stays in one location for long, both due to the number of bodies she leaves behind and the Justiciar dedicated to killing her. According to Liara, Morinth was barely getting started.
  • There's a player challenge for The Sims 2 that revolves around creating one of these. See it here.
    • Also in the pre-made neighborhood Strangetown, Olive Specter is implied to be one of these. And for the bonus Visual Pun, she is indeed black.
    • The Sims 4 includes an official "Black Widow" player achievement. To earn it a player sim must outlive five spouses.
  • The Contessa of Sly 2: Band of Thieves is heavily implied to be this. While it is never explicitly stated that she killed her wealthy husband, she definitely used his money for illegal purposes after his death. She also plays the term literally by being an anthropomorphic spider.
  • In A Vampyre Story, the Baroness, the witch grandmistress of the castle which the protagonist is currently imprisoned in, is heavily implied to be one of these; that, or crazy unlucky in marriage. In her old bedroom is a shelf full of funerary urns, each containing the remains of a husband. It's unknown if she is incompatible or simply spent so little time actually married, but she had to resort to excruciating rituals to create a child, namely the Humanoid Abomination villain of the piece.
  • In World of Warcraft, it's implied that Elder Crone Magatha Grimtotem murdered her husband, the chief of the Grimtotem clan of tauren, to claim his leadership position.
  • Lucrezia Flathead of Zork Zero was married eighteen times, and none of the husbands lasted more than ten months. Fourteen of them died on the wedding night. Some of the details provided in her biography make it pretty obvious that the deaths were not accidental, though nobody at the time (Including the biographer) was able to figure this out.


    Western Animation 
  • On Alvin and the Chipmunks, Dave's old friend has more than a dozen dead husbands. Theodore assumes she poisoned them and runs out when she offers him something to drink.
  • Subverted on American Dad! — ever since Stan's dad walked out on her, his mother's new beaus always disappear after their third date. Francine and Roger believe that she's killing them, when actually Stan is kidnapping them to make sure she never has her heart broken again.
    • Played straight later on when she ends up dating one of Roger's personas and "kills" him for the insurance money.
  • Poison Ivy in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series. She figures, why seduce one billionaire herself when she can create a small squad of male and female plant clones, have them seduce dozens of rich bachelors and bachelorettes at once, then have said clones lead them to their doom upon a yacht that she sinks? Through her clones, she'd inherit multiple fortunes. Her only flaw here: Bruce Wayne is one of her targets.
    • She attempted this solo in her debut episode. First seducing Harvey Dent before giving him a tainted goodnight kiss which sends him into a life-threatening coma. Then, when his best friend Bruce Wayne tries to console a sobbing, grief-stricken Isley she briefly tries to put the moves on him, complimenting Wayne on his loyalty to Dent and leaning in for a friendly smooch on the lips, which Bruce quickly turns into a hug instead.
  • Blackarachnia (who is an actual black widow spider, or at least turns into one) threatens to do this to Silverbolt in Beast Wars, citing her beast mode's predilection towards eating their mates. The fact that he still refuses to stop loving her both endears Silverbolt to her and makes her think he's a moron.
    • Hilariously, she's right on both counts.
  • Bob's Burgers: In "Housetrap", the Belchers help Teddy work on a woman's beach house and Linda comes to the conclusion that she killed her rich husband after seducing him away from his first wife by loosening the railings on his widow's walk. The ending implies that she actually did do it, as she admits that she didn't like her husband and Bob notices an old toolbox buried after she claimed she didn't own any tools (but he was too high on painkillers to draw the proper conclusion).
  • In Code Monkeys, Mr. Larrity is a rare, repeatedly successful male example. How he can keep this success when he profits obscenely off of it and stuffs his wives to keep in his office, we don't know.
  • Agnes Delrooney from Duckman mentions that she's killed all her husbands.
  • Sideshow Bob in The Simpsons became a rare (but unsuccessful) male example when he married Marge's sister Selma and attempted to kill her for her money, only to be found out by Bart.
  • Piella Bakewell of Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death, marries bakers, then kills them, to get a "baker's dozen". Naturally, she tries to kill Wallace.


Video Example(s):


Debbie's Victims

Debbie lists the many people who have hurt her by not satisfying her reasonable material wants. They really brought their deaths on themselves.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / BlackWidow

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