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Cartwright Curse

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“Why are heroes doomed to die or live alone? No matter where among the many galaxies, heroes never have standard families. And when they cobble one together, they’re taken away.”
Captain America, Returning the Stones

Being paired up with a badass never ends well for the other person.

Any Love Interest that the hero meets will be either killed off or otherwise removed forever from his or her life by the end of the episode or arc. Named for the hunky Cartwright family, father and three sons, of Bonanza. This also happened in the case of any love interest of the males on Bonanza's competitor, The Big Valley (or maybe not just the males; after all, their mother was a widow when the show opened and their sister wasn't exactly lucky in love herself). If the two of them wind up getting married, it's even worse — chances are that the Love Interest won't even make it to the honeymoon, or even through the ceremony! Often a case of women in refrigerators.

If they're together at the end of an arc, be prepared for Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome in the next one. If the show has any amount of spy intrigue, there is at least a 50% chance that the new love interest is working for the other side and/or milking the relationship for intel; on intrigue-heavy shows such as 24 and Alias, this probability approaches 100%, and odds are good that the hero will be required to personally contribute to his or her sweetie's demise.

Puts the "Temporary" in Temporary Love Interest and serves as the "Yank" in Yank the Dog's Chain. Don't expect these widow(er)s to be particularly shook up at this untimely parting.

The reason for all this romance being cut short (besides an authorial inclination for their heroes to stay single and available) is the fact that many villains just can't resist tormenting the hero however they can, particularly by going after friends, family and loved ones (and even the Team Pet!) of the hero. It's little wonder that many Celibate Heroes (who have likely been through this multiple times) have an "It's Not You, It's My Enemies" speech handy. Doom Magnets suffer this by definition, but it isn't limited to romantic relationships — anyone who gets close to them is doomed.

Perhaps the greatest reason why heroes never find lasting love is that having a loved one around will smooth down the rough edges that make them such a hit with the crowd, and character decay gradually — though not always — sets in. Some authors would rather leave a character to deal with their struggles on their own to show how hardened they are, rather than using love to deal with these issues because they have a sweetheart to go to that can make it all better. However, if the character is enhanced by the presence of their beloved, the opposite can happen, where they really are Happily Married, usually after a drawn-out period of toying with the idea, and the two go on to have children who have their own challenges ahead of them, thus breaking the curse.

In TV series, this is often caused by the closely related trope Status Quo Is God. Fatal Attractor is a variation of this, except that the love interests in question usually survive, but prove to be woefully unsuitable for the hero in some way, if they don't turn out to be bad guys. Sometimes the two of these are combined, making for a character who really can't catch a break in the romantic department. In long running shows, Long-Runner Cast Turnover will virtually guarantee this. (See the Trope Namer, Bonanza, for an example.)

Compare Her Heart Will Go On, a variation where the love interest is killed off to show how strong and empowered a female protagonist is. Expect the Crusading Widow to have new potential love interests die to not distract them from their vengeance, or grow disgusted with the edgy nature of the character and ultimately be turned off of him.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Black Jack seems to have this problem: all the women he loves either die, are already spoken for or, in one case, change their identity to male after a complete hysterectomy.
  • A female example, and portrayed as an actual curse in Bleach, aptly called the "Curse of Ise". Only females are born in the Ise Clan, so the women must bring in husbands from other families into the clan. However, it is said that any man who joins the Ise Clan will die an early death, even if a family member left the family and married into another, as Nanao's mother tried to do. It was believed by her mother that the clan's sacred treasure, the Shinken Hakkyōken, was the source of the curse, and tried to cast it away by having her brother-in-law, Shunsui hide it. However, she was soon executed for its loss.
  • Miwako Sato from Case Closed believes herself to have this curse because her tragic First Love Jinpei Matsuda died at the hands of a Mad Bomber and her prospect Second Love Wataru Takagi almost dies at least twice, prompting her to try breaking off with the second so he won't be harmed. After Matsuda's murder is resolved and Takagi stops Sato from killing the murderer, she works past her issues and stops thinking of herself as "cursed"; the other times Takagi is about to die in the line of duty, this trope doesn't come up.
  • Lelouch vi Britannia from Code Geass has three love interests in C.C., Kallen Kozuki, and Shirley Fenette (the main ones, at least; there are many more). Shirley ended up dead, and he turns Kallen against him, so she tries to kill him. In the end, though, it doesn't matter, because he couldn't be with any of them anyway. Also Nunnally and Euphemia, who were both childhood crushes despite being his sisters. He accidentally caused the death of Euphemia, and the apparent death of Nunnally. If one counts the Ho Yay Lelouch has with two guys in the series, it's not much better: Rolo Haliburton (Lamperouge) — his "adopted brother" — is the one who kills Shirley on the grounds that she knew too much for her own good and had plans to off Nunnally, but then ends up redeeming himself through pulling a Heroic Sacrifice to save Lelouch. And for all effects, Suzaku Kururugi has secretly assumed the identity of Zero by the end of the series... while everyone else believes he is dead. Oh, and on top of it all, Lelouch plans his own death at Suzaku's hands at the end of the series. So even C.C. is denied a chance with him.
  • Devil Hunter Yohko: Yohko had a hard enough time asking guys out to begin with. But, after becoming the next Devil Hunter in the Mano Family line, anyone she takes a romantic interest in either dies or ends up possessed by demonkind, to ensure she never has children, so she won't be able to continue the bloodline.
  • Jun of Devilman Lady suffers this trope. Only one of her male love interests whom she doesn't end up with is immune.
  • Terry Bogard in the anime version of Fatal Fury suffered from this. His first love interest, Lily McGuire, is killed by his nemesis Geese during the first TV special, while his second love interest, Sulia, ends up sacrificing herself to defeat her brother at the end of The Motion Picture. The video games averted this completely, by pairing Terry up with Blue Mary, who can take care of herself.
  • Masaru Katou from Gantz has really bad luck with women, as all the girls that show interest in him tend to die. Might be why he prefers to cultivate his True Companions, particularly his bonds with his best friend.
  • Shu Ouma from Guilty Crown, both of his love interests wounded up dead via Heroic Sacrifice. While he had three, though the third was rather ambiguous and she survived in the end.
  • Almost any woman who falls in love with a Gundam pilot is doomed to die.
    • Averted with Lacus and Cagalli from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Lunamaria and Meyrin from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny but played straight with Fllay and Stella.
    • Also largely avoided in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing and Mobile Fighter G Gundam.
    • It's more of a love/extremely close female friend who dies mid-season to spurn the protagonist to greater heights, though almost exclusively in early UC and SEED. Mobile Suit Gundam has Lalah and Sayla for Amuro (though she doesn't die, due to problems with her VA, she was dropped rather than recast), Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam has Beltorchika for Amuro (vanished, though only in the animenote , and returned in Unicorn) and Four and Rosamia for Kamille (dead due to enormous, as opposed to giant, robot), Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ has Puru and Puru two, whom both die due to enormous robot. SEED has Flay for Kira, who dies, and Destiny has Stella for Shinn, once more due to enormous robot. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans has Carta Issue, dead due to enormous robot, except her case was a betrayal staged by none other than her love interest.
      • The problems with Beltorchika were more due to the extremely Troubled Production nature of Zeta and less due to anything pertaining to the plot. Her voice actress Maria Kawamura ended up being a tip of a Love Triangle between the director/scriptwriter Yoshiyuki Tomino and art director/character designer Mamoru Nagano, both (in)famous for being difficult to work with, and who, to add injury to the insult, constantly clashed due to the Creative Differences. She was cut out simply to ease things a bit. In the Tomino's original novels, the character ended up as Amuro's wife after all.
    • Turns out it's not limited to women either, as Bernard Wiseman found out.
    • Nor is it even limited to protagonists either, as two of the examples above involve antagonists: Carta Issue and her love interest are both antagonists, while Lalah is simultaneously this for both protagonist Amuro AND antagonist Char.
    • Then there's Jerid, to whom this happens at least twice in the same series. And he's the one that ends up killing Four as well.
  • All four of the protagonists of Knight Hunters suffer from this curse, given that all four of them are massive Doom Magnets, but Ken and Yoji get the worst of it; Ken has to give one prospective love interest the It's Not You, It's My Enemies treatment, and both of them end up having to personally kill their lovers at least once.
  • The protagonist in Let's Start An Inn On The Dungeon Island has relationships that never last. While the girls he hooks up with don't actually die, they do inevitably get separated from him for various reasons, and are never seen again. So even if they're not dead, it's not exactly an improvement.
  • Lupin III: Given that the lack of continuity for this series/franchise means that none of the characters ever have a long-term relationship, all five characters qualify. In this series, Love Interest means potential corpse. The only exception is Fujiko and Lupin's relationship. This curse is probably the reason Lupin will never get what he wants from her, though.
  • Only one of Madlax's love interests or would-be love interests is still alive at the end of the series. Apart from the survivor, only one of them was still alive at the end of the episode he/she was introduced in. Two of them died shortly after Madlax agreed to go on a date with them, but before the date could actually happen.
  • Likewise, Tsunade of Naruto also seems to suffer from this, ranging from her brother Nawaki to her lover Dan and finally to Jiraiya.
  • In Nightschool, Alex has a literal curse on her that kills anyone or anything she says she likes, let alone loves (to demonstrate, she says "I really like pasta" and a bowl of pasta immediately explodes). This is the main cause of her Friendless Background, and brings up Fridge Horror when you wonder why she lives alone with her sister (and why her sister is still alive).
  • In Sailor Moon:
    • Anyone who genuinely falls in love with Usagi tends to die a lot. Mamoru/Endymion how many times now (though he always gets better). Prince Diamond/Dimande/Demand. And even Seiya is killed in the manga... Seems the only person who ever got spared for liking Usagi even the slightest bit was Umino who later moved on to Usagi's Best Friend in the first anime, and filler character Ali/Ail/Alan (but in his case, his sister/love interest commits a Heroic Sacrifice in order to save him, so he very nearly missed the mark there...).
    • And to further drive the point home, Mamoru himself also seems to have his share of dead love interests... Usagi/Serenity, Beryl, just goes on... Lucky for Usagi and Mamoru that they aren't allowed by the story to stay dead, otherwise they'd have never lasted long enough to actually get together.
    • Ami/Sailor Mercury of the first anime has Urawa (Greg in the DiC English dub), who transfers to Juuban at the start of the episode and moves away by the end. He does get a second appearance for one episode later in the season, where he and Ami actually go on a date, but after the first season's Grand Finale, he's never mentioned again. In the finale, he was only seen as an illusion cast by the enemy to distract Ami and kill her.)
  • In Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Joe Asakura falls for one woman while on the racetrack who ends up being a Devil Star in disguise. He ends up killing her in a showdown as Joe the Condor being unaware of her identity and is heartbroken when she doesn't show up later for a race they had planned. Just to rub it in further, it is revealed much later in the show that the woman was the fiancee of his priest childhood friend Alan.
    • Another woman accompanies him on an endurance race in one episode. She is shown to have a past with Joe and is a pretty assertive and confident lady, showing off her skills with her Cool Gun. However she is revealed to not only be from Galactor but also a cyborg and after learning of her treachery of trying to leave them, Galactor remotely self-destructs her. Damn...
  • Used as an actual curse to devastating effect in The Seven Deadly Sins. Meliodas and Elizabeth were punished for bringing the warring Demon and Goddess races together through their forbidden love by the rulers of both races, and cursed for their efforts. Meliodas is cursed with "Eternal Life", where he no longer ages, and every time he dies, he will come back to life, but lose a little more of his benevolence each time this happens. Elizabeth is cursed with "Perpetual Reincarnation", where she will come back to life in a new body with no memory of her past lives. However, she is bound by fate to always fall in love with Meliodas and potentially regain her memories, but if that happens and her memories fully resurface, in exactly three days, her life will be cut short by something disastrous while Meliodas watches, and the cycle will start all over again (According to the anime, in one incarnation she didn't get her memories back, but all that changed was that he had to watch her eventually die of old age). 3,000 years have gone by for Meliodas, and 106 different incarnations of Elizabeth have lived and died on him, with the current one born from Druids being #107. And Meliodas will feel inevitable heartbreak ad infinitum as long as the curses prevail. Worse, his sanity is on the decline from the instances where he's been killed, and the last time one of the Elizabeths died, he snapped from all the repeated losses and wiped out an entire kingdom in one massive outburst of rage, leading to his self-imposed branding as the Sin of Wrath.
  • As for Sara's love interests in Str.A.In.: Strategic Armored Infantry, both get killed off in battle just as the relationship with Sara was getting serious.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann had the female version of this. Shortly after Yoko Littner and Kamina kiss, promising to begin their relationship after the upcoming battle... Kamina dies. In fact, both characters who kiss Yoko die shortly thereafter, though in fairness the second one (Kittan) went on a suicide mission knowing he'd die.
    • Averted in the High School AU, where Kamina is spared even after he kisses Yoko.
    • Curiously, the same thing happens to Simon as Nia fades away right when he marries and kisses her, but Simon doesn't get a nickname since it happened once.

    Comic Books 
  • Green Lantern has Kyle Rayner. His first girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, was the Trope Namer of Stuffed into the Fridge (as well as Women in Refrigerators). His other two superhero girlfriends also died not long after each other (though they both got better). And what happened to the boy who had a crush on him... Or the girl who he had a one-night stand with who committed suicide. In fact during Blackest Night, one of his dead love interests taunts his current girlfriend by saying that she'll eventually end up like the rest of them.
  • Wolverine is "the best there is at what he does", and as he tells us what he does "isn't very nice", which apparently means what he does is "bury love interests"note . The fact that he's functionally immortal means that he's accumulated a lot of them. To be fair, one of them actually is still alive, but she is a crazy killer cyborg that wants to kill him.
    • Lampshaded in an old issue of Marvel Comics Presents, when Wolverine is tied up next to otherwise bland wannabe-Sabretooth villain Cyber:
      Cyber: Did you know you recite the names of your dead girlfriends when you're unconscious?
      Wolverine: You should know, you killed one of 'em!
      Cyber: Ahhh, who hasn't?
    • It turns out Mystique (another virtual immortal) was another ex and just didn't mention it until Wolverine got his memories back. Apparently forgetting they were lovers for a few decades was enough to spare her from the curse.
    • Jean Grey does not count, since the relationship never really got anywhere (despite what some insist), save for the Ultimate Universe and the Age of Apocalypse universe.
    • One of them was killed by Spider-Man of all people. To be fair that wasn't his fault, he thought she was Wolverine. She was trying to commit "suicide by cop"; she sneaks up behind him while he's still freaked out from fighting Wolvie. He spider-senses her, and instinctively lashes out (with his superhuman strength) without looking.
    • It seems the secret is to stay away from him for the rest of your life. One comic has Wolverine called by a woman he knew, and fell in love with, 50 years before. They go on a mission together, and several pages later she's lying dead in the wreckage of their plane.
    • It seems every other year, Logan discovers another dead Asian wife. Why nobody hung a lampshade on this yet is a mystery.
  • Daredevil has had his share; four of his major love interests have died, and a fair number have gone insane.
    • The exception being Black Widow, though the same thing has happened to a few of her lovers. They probably just cancel each other out.
    • In the fourth volume of Daredevil, it's revealed that Matt Murdock wasn't ready to take the next step with his now-girlfriend Kristen McDuffie because he was aware of his bad luck with love interests, or to be more accurate, his love interests' bad luck.
  • Semi-example: her love interests are fine, but Renee Montoya's partners/best friends tend to die tragically (see: Crispus Allen and Vic Sage). Harvey Bullock gets off easy with just leaving the police force in disgrace. Crispus later came back as the new Spectre.
  • John Constantine frequently hangs the ol' lampshade on this as a defense mechanism for his utter despair and self-loathing. Though you don't need to sleep with Constantine for this to happen — everyone who knows him goes this way...
  • This trope applies itself in-universe to the main character, Alex, in Nightschool. When she was young, her best friend was driven to suicide and blamed Alex for it in her suicide note. The girl's mother, in a fit of grief-stricken rage, cursed Alex with something called a Neren Hex at her funeral, which functions as a literal Cartwright Curse. Anything she expresses even the slightest bit of affection for is instantly pulverized. Apparently, she's terrified of getting close to people in case she slips up and something horrible happens to them.
  • Starfire doesn't catch a break in her romantic life since every love interest she had other than Dick Grayson died:
    • Her first human boyfriend before Dick was an undercover H.I.V.E. agent ordered to spy on the Titans, but he was executed due to genuinely falling in love with her (though Starfire never found out the truth about him).
    • She would be widowed twice, and both times with Tamaranean men: the first one was an Arranged Marriage with Prince Karras forced by her sister Blackfire to secure a political alliance, which caused no small amount of angst due to both Kory and Karras being in love with their own someone else. Even though they were married, Starfire returned to Earth to be with the Titans with Karras' approval and he would later die fighting his sister-turned-evil. Later on, she married General Phy'zzon and their union worked out a little better in no small part to her relationship with Dick being severely shaken, but he would sacrifice his life to save countless others.
    • Though Dick Grayson remains alive of all her love interests, the ever cruel fate works to keep them apart since they were engaged and nearly married once before the ceremony was interrupted by Trigon possessing Raven. Even though he had moved on to many other women and leaving poor Kory alone, she will always have a place in her heart for him.
  • Being a girlfriend of Dylan Dog is really dangerous.
  • Fall for Jonah Hex, and odds are you will be eating a bullet by issue's end, usually by trying to help him and getting shot accidentally or for 'betrayal'. And if you don't die in that issue, then you'll die in the next issue you show up. Somewhat funnily, one of the two women who escaped this fate is the only one Hex married (she left him; the other was as hardened and skilled a gunfighter and bounty hunter as Hex and could take care of herself).
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye has poor Chromedome who has lost a total of four husbands over his life. Although thankfully the last time is sort of reversed with Rewind 2.
    • A variation with Cyclonus, who got to experience Tailgate, who he'd fallen in love with, come very close to dying something like four or five times over the course of MTMTE/Lost Light. Even when it appeared that Tailgate was actually dead, the universe managed to bring him back just to make Cyclonus go through it one more time. It took a lot of different new developments and at least one intervention by Eldritch Abominations, but Tailgate manages to survive the whole thing, and eventually, the two get married.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dick Tracy's Junior was subject to this twice first with Model Jones in the '50s (killed by her hoodlum brother) and then in the '70s with Moon Maid (killed by a car bomb aimed at Dick).
  • Referenced in this Dilbert strip.

    Fan Works 
  • The Stargate SG-1 fanfic series What You Already Know - Ship Version has this as the main reason Samantha Carter resists the idea that she might have feelings for Daniel Jackson after he admits that he's in love with her; even though she acknowledges that it’s unscientific and stupid, she has trouble getting past the fact that every man she’s ever expressed an explicit interest in has died, to the point where she muses that Jack O'Neill was ‘safe’ because she never actually told him how she felt. This reasoning comes to a head when Sam is left tearfully telling the seemingly-dead Daniel that she loves him after he's apparently sacrificed himself to save the world, privately vowing as she cries in his office that Daniel will be the last man she lets herself have feelings for, only to do a complete 180 when Jack reveals that Daniel isn’t dead.
  • This video applies the trope to Shuichi Saihara from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, who starts off after having lost his canonical Love Interest Kaede (like in canon) and then attempts to hook up with the other girls in the cast (and Kaito), only for them to die, one-by-one as he hooks up with them. When he learns that his last girl Tsumugi is the Big Bad responsible for it all, he basically gives up.
  • Some Fairy Tail fan-writers speculate that every woman who marries into the Dreyar family suffers Death by Childbirth upon the birth of her first son, for precisely this reason, (and that's why no female characters ever have Dreyar for a surname, or if they do, they don't last long). Shipping fics that pair Laxus off with a female guildmate (most often with Lucy, Mirajane, or Cana) often cause him to suffer much angst when his Love Interest announces that she is pregnant because he fears that she, too, will succumb to the curse.
  • Marvel Universe fanfic A Prize for Three Empires has Carol Danvers. Most of her potential or actual lovers end up dead. Those who don't die are Wolverine -a "friend with benefits" with a healing factor- and Gladiator (a Superman Substitute).
  • In Once Upon a Supernatural Time, Sam Winchester and Ruby (AKA Red Riding Hood) end up bonding over their own experiences in this department, particularly regarding Sam having to kill Madison when she learned that she was a werewolf and Ruby accidentally killing Peter when she transformed in his presence.
  • In fernwithy's The Hunger Games stories, beginning with The End of the World [1] Haymitch has this pretty bad. Maysilee, who was reaped with him and who he may have had platonic feelings for, dies while they're in the Hunger Games together. His actual girlfriend Digger is murdered by the Peacekeepers shortly after he gets home. Three years later (when he's almost nineteen), he has a couple of dates with the local tailor's seventeen-year-old daughter, but she breaks up with him for his drinking and then is reaped into the Games anyway as a way of tormenting him. A Capitol woman he dates ends up committing suicide and his attempts at relationships with canon characters Effie Trinket and Hazelle Hawthorne experience a lot of bumps, although he does ultimately end up with one of them.
  • In The Home We Built Together, before Stoick married Valka, he was married to a girl named Inger. His father had them arranged so that there was someone to rein him in and she died of illness before they could ever have children. Now Valka is gone and he is arranging Hiccup with Astrid to ensure that it would change both of them for the better.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Don't fall in love with John Wayne, or let him fall in love with you. You can be his friend, his surrogate daughter, or his friendly antagonist. You can even fall in love with one of his friends. But if you fall in love with The Duke himself, your chances of death are upped considerably. Your chances only improve if 1.) You and the Duke are an estranged couple, looking for reconciliation, 2.) You're played by Maureen O'Hara, or 3.) You marry another character, thus giving the Duke something else to angst about. John Wayne appeared in so many movies that there are actually many aversions, including some of his best-known films like Stagecoach, Angel and the Badman, Rio Bravo, El Dorado, Hatari!, and The Shootist. And 3.) did not quite work out for Martha in The Searchers.
  • Duncan and Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod of Highlander. Having people with swords hunting you for your power doesn't help, and neither does outliving everyone you date!
  • Getting in bed with James Bond is, under Massachusetts state law, Assisted Suicide. Tracy, the one woman whom he married in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, didn't even make it to her honeymoon—and really, how cruel is that? Why else would anyone marry James Bond if not for the experience of the honeymoon? Even Dominique Paradis, the first girl in video game NightFire, gets kicked off a roof for her trouble. Generally speaking, it's best to be the second woman Bond hooks up with during the course of a mission, or possibly the bit character he has a fling with before the mission even starts and is only present in that one scene. More often than not, the first woman he sleeps with is killed while the second survives. As an overall statistic, as of No Time to Die, sleeping with Bond brings with it a 31.03% (18 out of 58) chance of dying before the end of the movie. Of course, the death rate varies from Bond to Bond:
    • Sean Connery: 26.67% (4 out of 15)
    • George Lazenby: 33.33% (1 out of 3)
    • Roger Moore: 26.32% (5 out of 19)
    • Timothy Dalton: 0% (0 out of 4, but Felix gets married in Licence To Kill and guess what happens to his wife)
    • Pierce Brosnan: 30% (3 out of 10)
    • Daniel Craig (as of No Time To Die): 42.86% (3 out of 7, and the first survivor wasn't until his third film. Ladies, don't kiss him unless your will is in order).
    • It was implied Leiter's wife was an ex of Bond and there were still feelings. Which means even Dalton's survival rate is < 100%, if you count pre-movie nookie.
  • Gender Flipped example in Practical Magic: the women in the Owens family are cursed so that their husbands will always die tragically.
  • Starting with the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Elizabeth Swann seems to bring death to anyone she kisses. Sometimes within 30 seconds (depending on what you consider dead). Lampshaded by Jack in the third movie, who refuses a kiss. Once is quite enough, indeed.
  • In Rambo: First Blood Part II, the female lead is gunned down within seconds after their first kiss. You can spare her in the (surprisingly decent) NES Game Of The Movie by simply running past her without speaking during a certain cut scene cue. Naturally, the Game gives you no clue that this is even possible, let alone a good idea. This happens again in Rambo: Last Blood with the death of Gabriela.
  • To a lesser extent, this happens to Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) in the Lethal Weapon saga. His wife died in a car crash (actually murdered) before the first film, and his love interest in Lethal Weapon 2 slept with the fishes. Even Lorna Cole (Rene Russo) in Lethal Weapon 3 almost bought the farm, but ultimately subverted the curse.
  • The Death Wish movies were pretty notorious for this trope. Any woman Paul Kersey loved, be it his wife in the first movie, his daughter in the second one, or his girlfriends in the other three movies, were doomed to be killed off in vicious fashion in order to start up the Roaring Rampage of Revenge all over again. The only major woman he was involved with who didn't get killed off was his Love Interest in the second movie, who dumped him after finding out that he was a vigilante, and she was originally going to be brought Back for the Dead in the third or fourth movie.
  • A Gender Flip is the core of the plot of the '60s Shirley MacLaine comedy What a Way to Go! She plays a wealthy widow telling a psychiatrist her past 'luck' with her various husbands, each of whom dies after gaining great financial success after marrying her. Subverted at the end, after she marries her old formerly-rich hometown suitor. It appears he's struck it rich as well, but she becomes relieved when it's shown he hasn't.
  • Wolverine in the X-Men Film Series. First Silverfox, then Jean (though she's later saved via Cosmic Retcon). Averted, surprisingly, with Mariko, who was killed off in the comics.
  • Sidney Prescott from Scream is a walking Doom Magnet to everyone she loves. Her first boyfriend Billy Loomis is one of the first Ghostfaces and dies by her hand. Her second boyfriend Derek Feldman is a genuinely Nice Guy who sadly dies because Sidney can't bring herself to trust him after the debacle with Billy. It gets to the point that Scream 3 opens with her living in isolation, and although she comes out by the end of it, she has never dated another man again for the rest of the series, presumably because of this trope.

  • The extremely spiteful demon-king Asmodeus, and his habit of killing anyone who wanted to marry his victim. Since Asmodeus originates in the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit, this makes this trope Older Than Feudalism.
  • In Dragon Bones, all the lovers of Queen Tehedra are killed by her husband Jakoven. It's not that he's jealous, he's gay and shares his bed with young men. He just wants to torment her, and/or prevent her lovers from gaining any political influence. It is implied that he orders the young men to start an affair with her in the first place. The Queen herself is a kind woman, and mourns the fates of her lovers, but is unable to do anything about it, as if she complained, she would be the next one to die.
  • Alex Cross has fallen victim to this. The women he loves have been murdered, turned out to be evil, or left him. Sometimes even his exes aren't safe. However, this pattern seems to have ended when he marries his girlfriend Brianna Stone.
  • Richard Sharpe, from the Sharpe books gets a new girlfriend frequently. They always leave, either by running away with his money, dying, or otherwise being written out.
  • If Sinklar Fist, one of the protagonists in Michael Gear's Forbidden Borders series, has anything in which he truly excels over his father and lifetime rival, Staffa Kar Terma, it's his bad luck with women. Whoever he gets romantically attached to, ends up dead, often for no discernible reason at all. Sink is well aware of this curse and tries not to get too close to anyone by the end of the series, but, well, he's The Woobie...
  • A Song of Ice and Fire. Any man engaged/married to Margaery Tyrell ends up dead. She married Lord Renly Baratheon, who was later assassinated, and Joffrey Baratheon, who was assassinated on their wedding day. It's plausible that, after five books and three marriages, she's still a virgin. It's lampshaded when one character mentions that marrying Margaery is a death sentence.
    • Given that her third husband is prophesied to die before his mother, he's likely to die soon too.
    • For extra kick, there's initially a scheme to get King Robert to cast aside Cersei and marry Margaery instead; also, Catelyn Stark at some point muses in passing that she wishes Robb had fallen for and married Margaery (and the large military support her family could provide) instead of his wife. Both turn up dead shortly after!
  • Nick Carter's spouse Ethel perished in Nick Carter Weekly #384, 7 May 1904, during a drawn-out battle with Dazaar.
  • Poor, poor Arsčne Lupin can't keep a wife to save his or her life. Every woman he marries or otherwise hooks up with tends to not survive the book. (Or disappear between books.) Averted in The Teeth of the Tiger; it ends with Lupin happily married and retired, albeit under another name.
  • Burke suffers from this to an extent; the majority of his love interests are Put on a Bus, but Belle was shot to death by the cops while covering Burke's getaway at the end of Blue Belle and Crystal Beth was killed in an apparent homophobic attack on a gay rights rally (that turned out to be something else entirely). Belinda Roberts and Candy were killed by Burke himself (or Max acting on his behalf, in the latter case). They had it coming.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden. One ex he thought was both dead and evil (she came back, briefly), one woman who was turned halfway into a monster (and who he has to kill in a Human Sacrifice in Changes), the shadow of a Fallen Angel who sacrificed herself to save him right as she realized she had fallen in love with him, and a woman who was revealed to have been brainwashed into falling for him. And when the poor guy makes a date for drinks and maybe some casual sex, he's the one to get killed. Finally after years of Will They or Won't They?, his best friend and current lover gets shot by a panicking dumbass. Guy can't catch a break.
    Given that my only long-term girlfriends had faked their own death, died, and broken free of enslaving enchantments to end the relationship, the empirical evidence seemed to indicate that [Thomas] knew something I didn't.
    • And whatever you do, ladies, do not have a child by Harry Dresden. That's a sure death sentence. Granted he'll have someone to remember you by.
  • A few of Jessica's love interests in the Sweet Valley High series.
  • Lampshaded in Redshirts, when one of the titular Red Shirts starts dating one of the head officers of the ship. Once she understands what's going on with the ship (Namely, that she is a bit character in a third-rate rip off of Star Trek, with the negligible odds of survival that this implies), she comes to the conclusion that her purpose is to make said officer depressed after she gets killed in some unlikely manner.
  • Bert Kling in Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series. The poor guy just can't catch a break. His girlfriends either end up dying, having too many issues to cope with a relationship, going off with another man, or just getting fed up with him.
  • The trope doesn't apply to Clary from The Mortal Instruments, although when she meets Sebastian/Jonathan for the first time she describes him as looking like a character from her manga who was this.
  • The House of Night seems to be heading in this direction. Out of Zoey's 4 lovers, two have died and one seems to be turning on her. The remaining relationship ain't lookin' so hot either, as of Revealed.
  • Star Wars Legends has a very unfunny tendency to kill off any and all women that Obi-Wan Kenobi ever has feelings for. There are four women that he has admitted to loving- Cerasi, Siri Tachi, Taria Damsin, and Satine Kryze- of which Taria is the only one not to have died in his arms. However, considering that she was dying from a terminal illness in her last appearance, it's only a matter of time. Luke Skywalker's loves (Mara Jade, Callista, Shire Brie/Lumina, etc..) also fall under this trope.
  • Felix Jaeger in Gotrek & Felix has two main settings in his relationships with women: either they leave him, or they die. He loses a girlfriend to a madman in a short story in "Trollslayer", his girlfriend in "Skavenslayer" leaves him for an old boyfriend, and Ulrika Straghof still exists, but as a vampire, so it's a little hard to rule on whether or not she counts as "alive", at least until he permanently kills her during the End Times. His wife also dies during the End Times, but then again, so does he.
  • A variation that just doesn't cover Love Interests in The Infernal Devices. When he was younger, Will opened a Pyxis and ended up being cursed such that anybody who cares for him will die. Or at least, that's what the demon told him.
  • In Midnight’s Children, Saleem believes he has this to the extreme, as everyone directly connected to his family, even through something as minor as a betrothal, dies by the story's end. When Padma makes her marriage offer, he fears that she will suffer this fate as well, but acquiesces. We never see what comes of it.
  • Towards the end of Petals on the Wind, as Cathy and Chris embark on their new life together, she wonders why Chris isn't afraid to be with her, given that "behind me lay a trail of dead men" (husband Julian, lover Bart, and husband Paul). And Chris does die himself, albeit decades later.
  • Robert Olen Butler has a book of short stories based on tabloid headlines, one of which is "Every Man She Kisses Dies."
  • Joe Pickett: Every woman who gets involved with Nate Romanowski - the series' resident badass - meets an untimely end.
  • The Cat Who... Series: Supporting character Iris Cobb was married three times, and all three of her husbands predeceased her — her first one (and the father of her only son) died of food poisoning, C. C. Cobb was murdered in the book where he and Iris were introduced, and Herb Hackpole died in a fire he set just a day or so after their wedding in book 7.
  • Peter Carrington has a slight case of this in I Heard That Song Before. His college girlfriend Susan disappeared after he drove her home from a party at his family's estate; she eventually turns up dead. Then his wife Grace drowned in their pool. It's Played for Drama, as a lot of people think he was responsible for their deaths. His second wife Kay nearly ends up dead as well, at the hands of the same man who killed Susan and Grace, but is fortunately saved at the last minute.
  • In Nevers, Odette's mother Anneline has accidentally killed seven consecutive husbands with her borderline supernatural clumsiness, which is why they're constantly moving from town to town. She eventually hits it off with Clément, the local blacksmith who has a history of cheating death.

    Live-Action TV 
  • From 24, we have Jack Bauer. Let's go down the list: Teri died, Nina was The Mole, Kate dumped him, Claudia died, Audrey was made to believe Jack had died, Diane broke up with him when he got back together with Audrey, who was then tortured to insanity, and Renee got sniped off less than an hour after sleeping with Jack. Geez, this guy can't catch a break.
    • It extends beyond just Jack. Tony had also been in a relationship with Nina, then had Michelle divorce him, then get murdered shortly after they remarried and she became pregnant with their son. Every president that is shown with an on-screen spouse ends up divorced after one season David Palmer after Season 1, Charles Logan after Season 5 (though he first appeared late in season 4), and Allison Taylor after season 7, and David Palmer had a later girlfriend break up with him due to an inability to handle the limelight of being involved with the president. Audrey Raines was on the verge of reconciling with her husband when he died from injuries sustained when he took a bullet for Jack, the man she'd been involved with during her separation from him, then is led to believe Jack is dead, then finds out he's alive just before he gets taken prisoner by the Chinese and never really learns otherwise due to the aforementioned torture she gets after going to China to look for him. Even Kim had this for a while, as her first boyfriend was incarcerated, her second broke up with her after losing a leg as the result of her actions, and her third broke up with her after she was led to believe that her father died and may or may not have died offscreen a few seasons after his final appearance. She at least finally gets a happy ending, getting married and having a daughter at some point between seasons 6 and 7.
    • Audrey, after finding Jack was alive, gets taken out in the last episode of the mini-series.
  • Pretty much the entire cast of The 100 suffers from this. Not including casual hookups and crushes that don't go anywhere, by the end of Season 3 there have been 11 romantic relationships involving Regular characters, and 7 of them have ended with one of the characters involved in the relationship dying. Of the remaining 4, 1 ended with an offscreen breakup due to the actor for one of the characters getting fired between seasons, and 3 are still ongoing as of the Season 3 finale. Of note is that all 3 of those ongoing relationships started sometime during Season 3. Clarke, however, has it especially bad. She has had 3 love interests: Wells (who loved her so much he was willing to get sent down to Earth with her, although she saw them as Just Friends), Finn (whom she had a relationship with when they first landed on the ground), and Lexa (whom she grows closer to in season 3 and finally has sex with in "Thirteen"), and all of them ended up dying.
  • This happens a lot in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • Skye/Daisy: First love interest compromised a classified data feed to a HYDRA subsidiary, and got dumped and abandoned thousands of miles from his actual home. Second love interest turned out to be a HYDRA mole, who caused problems for the team for a good season and a half after being exposed before he was killed. And then his corpse was taken over by an ancient Inhuman boogieman, who would continue causing problems for another half a season. Third love interest made a Heroic Sacrifice to kill said boogieman, the Survivor's Guilt of which still haunts her two seasons later. Her final love interest in the last season ends happily though.
    • May: Had Skye's love interest #2 as a casual lover until he was exposed as a traitor. Second love interest was her ex-husband, who she was trying to reconcile with when he got turned into an extremely violent Inhuman, who was killed by one of the henchmen of the previously mentioned Inhuman boogieman. Love interest #3 ends up with an incurable condition right after they decide to give romance a try. Only Fitz dies at the end of Season 5.
    • Coulson: Had to leave first love interest after his death (and offscreen resurrection) in the movies. Second love interest was sniped by Skye's love interest #2. And then the treatment that brought him back to life starts breaking down.
    • Simmons: First love interest was killed by the Inhuman boogieman (Most of these love interest deaths trace back to Ward and/or Hive. Maybe now that they're both dead the team will have better luck?). The second is Fitz (After nearly three entire seasons of Ship Tease), which appears stable... for now. Fitz dies at the end of Season 5 except the heroes already know that there is a second Fitz out there with almost all of the same memories due to time travel shenanigans and he and Simmons get together again and finally get their happy ending.
  • Stringfellow Hawke points out in the pilot episode of Airwolf that he's afraid of getting into a relationship with a woman since every single one of his former girlfriends died.
  • As mentioned in the description, Alias's Sydney Bristow is particularly adept at this trope right out of the gate (sorry, Danny).
  • In Arrow, both Oliver and Laurel suffer from this:
    • Oliver: Sara Lance survives two near deaths only to die for real after being shot by three arrows, falling six stories and smashing her head on a dumpster, Helena Bertinelli starts killing everyone who gets in the way of her killing her father until Oliver tries to put an arrow in her, McKenna Hall gets shot by Helena and has to move to Coast City to get the physical therapy she needs and Shado is shot in the head due to a Sadistic Choice. Felicity and Oliver get a relationship upgrade only to have the restaurant they're in blown up by an RPG. Felicity survives but the relationship ends soon after.
    • Laurel: Oliver gets stranded on an island for five years and Tommy is killed saving her life. In season two she starts dating Sebastian Blood who turns out to be the villain Brother Blood. The Ravager kills him in the season finale.
  • In The Avengers, one episode featured a race where participants were assigned to partners. Steed's partner was a young woman who recounted the tragic deaths of her many husbands, apparently by bad luck, as Steed grew more disconcerted each time she revealed a new former spouse.
  • Susan Ivanova of Babylon 5. First lover to appear on the screen survives but turns out to be an evil neo-Nazi terrorist. Second gets her personality permanently overwritten with an evil implanted artificial personality just after they slept together for the first time, and may possibly die offscreen afterwards. Third dies in a Heroic Sacrifice by using an alien medical device to give her all his Life Energy when she's mortally wounded. And if Claudia Christian hadn't left the show, she'd then have moved on to a cult leader who killed himself with all his followers.
  • Battlestar Galactica. Apollo in the second half of the episode "Lost Planet of the Gods".
    • His new series counterpart, Lee "Apollo" Adama is likewise cursed. Starbuck married someone else, then ascended to a higher plane of existence. Dee left him, then committed suicide. "Black Market" mentioned something about a pregnant girlfriend who died in the Cylon attack, but we're not certain that episode is canon.
    • Chief Tyrol doesn't fare any better.
      • First love interest: Tory Foster. They forget all about being in love and planning to get married after Cavil kills them and resurrects them with Fake Memories. She kills Cally and he kills her for it.
      • Second love interest: Boomer. She turns out to be a sleeper agent and is killed by Cally (but resurrects). He verbally hates on her. They are on opposite sides on New Caprica but don't see much of each other. When they next meet, she manipulates him into setting her free so that she can intentionally betray the whole ship. He verbally hates on her, again, and never sees her again. Though she redeems herself, she is killed right after. Oh, and he's kind of her dad, anyway.
      • Third love interest: Cally. She shot Boomer. She was sleeping with Hotdog before she got together with the Chief, and does not tell Chief that Nicky isn't his biological son. They argue a lot but are genuinely in love. After finding that he is a Cylon, she attacks him and tries to commit murder-suicide with Nicky. Tory talks her out of it to get Nicky and then kills her. He verbally hates on her, and beats her when she picks the wrong time to wake him up.
    • According to Word of God, averting this trope is part of the reason for the creation of Laura Roslin's character in nBSG. Ronald D. Moore wanted a female co-lead to counterbalance Adama, so that way the show wouldn't spend time trying to pair Adama with various women of the week.
  • Avon of Blake's 7 suffered from this one; Paul Darrow, the actor playing him, says he became known as the "kiss of death". In fact one actress was truly furious to learn that he was going to kiss her because she had been hoping to stay on for another episode.
  • Bonanza is the Trope Namer. Ben Cartwright, the patriarch of the Cartwright family, has three sons from three different women. One of his wives died in childbirth, another died after falling from a horse, while the other one was killed in an Indian attack. Each Cartwright man has a string of girlfriends over 14 seasons, many of whom do not survive the experience. The worst man to flirt with, statistically, was the youngest, Little Joe Cartwright: over 14 seasons, he had 39 girlfriends, 25.6% of whom died. His girlfriend mortality rate became so legendary that other TV shows started to lampshade it. (For example, on Happy Days, Mrs. Cunningham refuses to watch any episode where Little Joe gets engaged, simply because "that girl is headed straight for Boot Hill!")
  • Homelander in The Boys is a villainous example. His first Love Interest Stillwell he killed personally, and his second Stormfront, as well as Becca, the mother of his son, were both killed by the aforementioned son.
  • Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad lost both of his love interests, Jane and Andrea, throughout the series.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Xander Harris. Of his four major love interests, three are dead: Cordelia, Anya, and Renee, and all his other possible love interests turn out to be demons trying to kill him. (To be fair, only Renee died while they were lovers; Anya survived a year after the split, and Cordelia about five years.) Hopefully Dawn will have better luck.
    • Poor Buffy's luck isn't much better. Her first Love Interest turned evil and had to be killed (and then was revived and left her...long story), her second was a jerk who dumped her as soon as they had sex, her third left because he couldn't handle being weaker than her, and her fourth and final one died in a Heroic Sacrifice (but got better). In three seasons since then, she still hasn't dared to enter a serious relationship.
    • Angel over in the spinoff has a hard time of it, too. His liaison with Buffy ends poorly, Darla dies in a Heroic Sacrifice, and Cordelia is forcibly killed and ascended to a higher plane of existence. The last is still watching over him as a Guardian Angel, but it's a cold comfort when he can't see, touch, or hear her.
    • Cordelia herself counts. She had some Ship Tease with Jesse in the first episode before he gets turned into a vampire, her boyfriend Kevin is murdered by vampires in the first season finale and her love interest Doyle sacrifices himself just as she accepted a first date. One of her boyfriends also tried to sacrifice her to a demon.
  • Any of Charles Bartowski's love interests on Chuck. If the episode doesn't fixate on the UST with his handler Sarah (and sometimes even then), his disastrous love life will be a major plot point. A former girlfriend gave him another chance, only to be revealed as a spy for Fulcrum. A nice, cute, normal girl he meets can't deal with his second job as a spy. In the course of his work as a spy he has met several Vamps. Chuck is a nerd, so this phenomenon is remarked upon in-universe even by those who don't know about the spy work.
  • Lessons for a Perfect Detective Story uses this in inverted form, where Tenkaichi scolds Fujii for asking him out on a date, saying that as it's the finale that's sure to get him killed. He is somewhat correct, as he dies protecting her. Well, sort of.
  • Any love interest (except for Lady Elizabeth) for the hunky father and sons, and hot daughter, of the knightly Grey family on Covington Cross.
  • Horatio Caine has this problem on CSI: Miami.
  • Alma Garret (Molly Parker) on Deadwood. First, her husband gets murdered. Then, she and the sheriff start a really hot and heavy affair, but his wife shows up. So, she gets married again, and her new husband is murdered as well.
  • Bree from Desperate Housewives. You'd think guys would get the message by now.
  • Doctor Who: This frequently happens to the Doctor, especially the Eighth and Tenth incarnations:
    • "Girl in the Fireplace": Madame de Pompadour. Just found romance, offered her companionship, then he went through the fireplace only to find that he'd just missed her funeral. He should have paid more attention to the old fairy tales.
      • To be fair, Madame de Pompadour is a real historical figure and her death is probably a fixed point in time, so her death was inevitable. The fact that every time the Doctor visited, several years had passed, set him up for this disappointment even if he didn't realise it.
    • "Voyage of the Damned": Astrid Peth. He just offered her companionship. However, she died saving his life by pushing Max Capricorn into the vortex of a Nuclear Storm Drive several minutes later.
    • "Forest of the Dead" puts a twist on it - thanks to time travel, he sees River die before their relationship has even started from his perspective. The pre-Library River then becomes a recurring character, meaning they both know a lot about the other's future that they can't divulge.
    • "Death in Heaven": After Osgood shows a new preference for bowties and manages to quickly figure out something the Doctor himself missed, he (not in so many words) offers her a spot in the TARDIS. Unfortunately, he does this within the earshot of Missy / the Master. This might be one of the reasons she chooses to kill Osgood after breaking free.
    • As a general rule of thumb, if the Doctor offers to let someone travel with them at any time before the very end of the episode, that person has an excellent chance of being dead before they have a chance to set foot in the TARDIS (see Lynda, Astrid, Jenny, Reinette, etc.). This rule doesn't apply if the same offer is made just before the credits roll. Rory later notes this, remarking to Amy, "Whenever the Doctor gets matey with someone, I get the urge to inform their next of kin."
    • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe novels, he also has a dead male love interest. And one he was just a big jerk to and ran off on after being a bitch to him all the time. Plus one dead female love interest and one who gave him a taste of his own medicine and was just impossible. He also acquires a companion, Fitz, who has at the very least three dead, evil, or vanished love interests to everyone the Doctor has (plus a few male Not-Love Interestsor are they?— who meet bad ends, too), and who enforces this trope upon himself by preferring traveling with the Doctor to staying with anyone. Seriously, fuck either of them and you'd better hope they just lose interest before they jinx you to death.
    • Ace also had this effect on people she became close to — such as Mike Smith, Gwendoline Pritchard, Captain Sorin and Karra. In the Doctor Who New Adventures she carried on the trend.
      • The only person Ace has ever had a relationship with who didn't meet a bad end was Sabolom Glitz, and even then their relationship was retconned later by the producer after it had to be cut from the one episode in which they both appear.
  • Farscape seems to have gone out of its way to ensure John Crichton never has any competition. Aeryn's potential lovers meet a variety of crappy fates:
    • 1. Velorek. Tortured and killed thanks to Aeryn.
    • 2. Peacekeeper Guy of the Week gets taken over by an evil bug and stabs her before dying.
    • 3. Crais shows interest. So he makes a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • 4. John himself (during the period where there were two of him and the group split up) dies of radiation poisoning, complete with tearful deathbed scene.
  • Caitlin Snow from Arrow's spin-off The Flash (2014) doesn't fare much better. Her first love interest, Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell), is dead at the start of the show, comes back, and then sacrifices himself to save the world. Her second love interest, Jay Garrick, dies violently in front of her a while later - but it later turns out that he faked his death because he's actually the season's main villain, Zoom (Hunter Zolomon). He kidnaps her, gets defeated by the good guys, and is murdered by Time Wraiths.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In "Breaker of Chains", Margaery seems perturbed that her husbands have a habit of dying gruesomely, even though it's clear she didn't love them (well, the first two at least, the third is more ambiguous). Then again, considering the amount of political maneuvering and payoffs she and her family have to go through to get these marriages, she's probably frustrated at the extra amount of work she has to keep putting in. She is survived by her third and final husband… for a few hours at most; then he commits suicide, not in small part because of his grief for her death.
    • Daenerys' beloved husband Khal Drogo dies, and so does her intended Hizdahr zo Loraq before the political marriage takes place. There's also Jorah Mormont whose one-sided love for her culminates with him dying in her arms after protecting her in battle against the White Walkers.
    • Although Jon Snow only has two notable love interests on the show, Ygritte and Daenerys, both end up dead not long after getting together with him, Daenerys by Jon's own hand.
  • Rose from The Golden Girls. For a long time, it was a painful and embarrassing secret for her that her husband Charlie died of a heart attack while they were making love. This kept her from getting intimate with another man for nearly two decades afterwards until she finally is able to move on early in the series. Then, in a later episode, she brings a new boyfriend home and he also dies in bed with her (and turns out to have been married as well). At the end of the latter episode, when Rose must once again move on with a new man, she actually experiments with a little Gallows Humor on this. She convinces Dorothy and Blanche that she went to bed with her new lover while they were away. And he died. And the sheriff didn't believe her about the curse, so she slept with him to prove it. And he died. Rose then bursts into laughter and admits she made that up.
  • Alex Karev of Grey's Anatomy is not someone you want to date. He's had five serious relationships, two of which ended in marriage. The first girlfriend was an already-married amnesiac who wound up in the Psych ward. His first wife got cancer, had ghost sex with her dead crush, and got fired. He ditched his third relationship after she landed in Psych ward after a breakdown, then she died. His fourth left for Africa. His fifth girlfriend and second wife also developed mental issues and (voluntarily) wound up in Psych, though she got better and most of the issue was discovering that she was a child of rape and then treating a rape victim the next day.
  • On Haven, all of Duke's love interests end up dying, with the exception of Audrey. His estranged wife Evi is Killed to Uphold the Masquerade and Jennifer sacrifices her life trying to save Haven.
  • Both of Hercules' wives died in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The first after living long enough to give him three children (who were killed along with her) the second after they were married for probably a few weeks. Both were murdered by angry gods. Iolaus had a wife in the first film-length episode, but she died (supposedly in childbirth) and was never mentioned again.
  • Hiro Nakamura of Heroes has absolutely zero luck in the love department. His first love interest, Charlie, ends up killed by Sylar almost the moment they figure out they have something. He tries to use his time travel to save her, but ends up six months in the past instead, setting up the Tie-In Novel Saving Charlie (which reveals that most previous women in his life have simply opted to avoid interacting with him whenever they can). Hiro takes The Slow Path back to the present and forms a relationship with Charlie over those six months, but then has to allow her to be killed again because her death is what caused him to take that leap back in time in the first place. Hiro's Second Love, Yaeko from Hollywood Medieval Japan, doesn't actively die on screen, but he can't be with her because that would break the timeline and he might end up his own ancestor - oh, and there's the whole deal with his hero Kensei being extremely jealous (did we mention Kensei is immortal and takes The Slow Path back to the present to hunt down Hiro for daring to steal his destined girl?). Then, Hiro manages to figure out a way to convince Sylar to actually save Charlie from an aneurysm instead of killing her for her Photographic Memory, but Charlie gets ripped out of his life again by evil carnie Samuel and sent back to the 1940s using his own time traveler - but, without knowing where or when she ended up, Hiro couldn't save her. She ended up building her own life without him, only meeting him again briefly when she's dying of old age.
  • Being 5000 years old, Methos on Highlander is the king of this trope. Aside from Cassandra, who was more a slave, he had 60 wives through the years. The other immortals fall into it too (see Film)
  • Mark Gordon in Highway to Heaven meets a woman, falls in love with her, and she dies of cancer, all in one episode.
  • Common in Inspector Morse, where Morse's love interests usually turn out to be either the next victim or the murderer. The spinoff Lewis carries on the trend.
  • Liv, the protagonist from iZombie has terrible luck in the romance department. First of all, as a zombie, she can only be with other zombies, or she risks spreading the virus. Secondly, of the five major love interests she dates during the series, three end up dead, while the other two end with really bad breakups. In the final season, one surviving ex is killed after committing a Face–Heel Turn. The curse finally breaks when Major, the main Love Interest throughout the series, seemingly dies... but then turns out to have survived. The series ends with the two together.
    Liv: Does he know about my other boyfriends?
    Ravi: They are like the drummers in Spinal Tap.
  • All the False Romantic Leads for Sarah "Mac" Mackenzie from JAG died one way or another. The curse also affected Harmon "Harm" Rabb, Jr. too, but with the difference that only one of them died. And the one who died? Portrayed by the same actress who went on to play Mac in the rest of the series.
  • In Kamen Rider Agito, any woman who doesn't want to get killed by an Unknown would better avoid Ryoo/Gills. The only one who survived was his FORMER girlfriend. Looks like she left him just in time!
  • Michael Knight, of Knight Rider fame, once got married... for approximately 30 seconds. Then she died taking a bullet for him. One wonders why the sentient car wasn't scanning the scene and reporting it and why they were stupid enough to hold a wedding in open place when the guy had a bounty on his head in the first place.
  • Stan and Xev in Lexx. They are desperately Ready for Lovemaking with anyone their spaceship encounters, whether human, alien, robot, or Anything That Moves. Even when they find willing partners, they almost never get laid before their prospective lovers die.
  • Something of a reversal/subversion of this trope: the series Life On Mars ends with main character Sam Tyler returning to the world of the story - and his love interest - by jumping off a rooftop and committing suicide. The name of said love interest? Annie Cartwright.
  • Sleeping with Sayid on Lost is an excellent way to get dead. Dating someone to whom Sayid gives dating advice is an excellent way to get dead within one episode.
  • Bo in Lost Girl has this issue as she is a succubus who drains her partners' life force. Subverted later on when she learns to control her powers and finds a love interest with a Healing Factor.
  • In The Mentalist, Van Pelt has had two love interests apart from Rigsby (who she always liked, but wasn't allowed to date for most of the series). The first turned out to be the son of a man whose life Jane had ruined, and tried to kill her and Jane. The second, whom she was engaged to, turned out to be one of Red John's friends and tried to kill her and Lisbon. She had to shoot him herself. Thankfully, the Time Skip allowed her to get married to her partner Rigsby. They now have two kids (one of their own and one from Rigsby's previous relationship) and their own successful security firm. The story eventually had them Put on a Bus to their Happily Ever After.
  • In the old Mike Hammer series any woman he showed an interest in invariably either died or turned out to be a villain. Lampshaded by the DA who once referred to him as "the angel of death".
  • Mission: Impossible was inconsistent about this. In one episode Jim Phelps fell in love with a beautiful double agent who died protecting him from the bad guy. When the same thing happened to Paris in a later episode, he was able to rescue her at the end, though she was never seen again... although in the A Day in the Limelight episode "My Friend, My Enemy" it's shown that Paris fell in love with a magician's assistant who was killed by the jealous magician during his act. Dude can't catch a break.
  • Mortal Kombat: Conquest once killed off Temporary Love Interests for all three of the main characters within a two-episode span (much to Phelous's annoyance).
  • On The Musketeers, Aramis falls into this trope. Adele, the Cardinal's mistress, ends up being shot to death on the cardinal's orders in the pilot episode (although Aramis doesn't find this out until the next season). His First Love, Isabel, who he was almost forced to marry in a Shotgun Wedding, ends up Taking the Veil. He runs into her again in season 1 only for her to die shortly after. In the season 2 premiere, he worries that this fate will befall the Queen.
  • Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs of NCIS. His first wife was murdered, and the next three were divorced. Any woman he is seen to be in a relationship with is usually in one shot and is gone by the end of the episode.
    • Sadly, Ex-wife #2, Diane, was murdered as well.
    • Even ex-girlfriends aren't safe. Case in point: Jenny Shepard, possibly Lara Macy (their interactions in the Poorly-Disguised Pilot for NCIS: Los Angeles heavily imply a prior relationship or romantic feelings at the very least), and Ellen Wallace, who broke off their engagement the day before being killed in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.
    • Even non girlfriends aren't safe—he was arguably very attracted to Kate, and flashbacks to his boot camp days show that he had a crush on a female recruit. Even though it never went beyond flirtation, he clearly felt enough to be devastated when she herself was killed and still remembers her years later.
    • Samantha Ryan and Hollis Mann seem to be doing all right so far, though Gibbs specifically keeps avoiding an Unretired Hollis after Diane dies out of fear of this trope.
    • Actually fits Ziva of NCIS just as well or better - Langer, who she's implied to be in a relationship with, is shot by her coworker Lee, the man she falls in love with dies of radiation poisoning, and her serious boyfriend Michael is shot by her coworker and love interest Tony. So far, her relationships are lucky to last an episode. Her longest-lasting boyfriend, Ray, went on and off for a couple seasons before he proposed to her. Then she arrested him for murder. Her final relationship was a one-night stand with Tony, which resulted in a child, which DiNozzo didn't learn about until her house was blown up with her in it, leaving Tony to raise their one-year-old daughter alone. It later turned out that she survived, but had to go into hiding. Now that everyone behind the attempt on her life is dead or imprisoned, she's free to reunite with Tony and Tali.
    • Speaking of Tony, this trope applies to him as well, with a significant amount of women who he's been attracted to or involved with meeting an untimely death—Kate, Paula, a victim in the episode "Obsession", and Ziva herself Though it turns out, she's alive, and is implied to be coming back to him now that her final mission is over.
    • Agent McGee is also an excellent fit, as (with the exception of Abby) anyone he's even shown an interest in either dies or turns out to be the murderer-of-the-week. The cute computer programmer he flirts with for half an episode is strangled right in front of him. A Petty Officer he had a thing for in training turns out to be a lesbian AND is the episode's killer to boot. A cute girl he picks up in a coffee shop ends up being a foreign national who holds him at gunpoint for information and is shot seconds later. His most recent girlfriend Delilah was caught in a terrorist bombing, lost the ability to walk, and then took a transfer to Dubai. She eventually moved back and married him at the end of season 14, and is still alive and with him several years later.
    • And then there's Ellie Bishop, who has seen her happy marriage go kaput thanks to her husband's infidelity and her new boyfriend/would-have-been fiance shot and killed. Then she left NCIS in disgrace after framing herself for leaking classified data so she could go on a long-term deep cover operation, leaving a fledgling relationship with teammate Nick Torres behind.
    • Palmer has only had three on-screen girlfriends. He eventually broke up with Agent Lee, who later was gunned down during a case, and he married Breena, who ended up an offscreen victim of the COVID pandemic. As of Season 19 he's started up a relationship with Agent Knight.
  • Lampshaded in the first few seasons of Northern Exposure: everyone who ever got lucky with Maggie had eventually died in some freakish way (ate tainted potato salad, took a wrong turn into a missile range, fell asleep on a glacier and froze, was hit by a falling satellite shortly after learning he didn't have cancer). Main character Joel later escapes the curse, but whenever they get frisky a gun spontaneously goes off nearby.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Ruby/Red, who loses three boyfriends: Peter (her true love; killed by her in wolf form before she knew what was going on), Quinn (a fellow werewolf who teaches her to maintain control; killed by guards who are after Snow) and Billy (a man who had a crush on her in Storybrooke; killed to frame her). Oddly enough, the one love that seems to sticknote  for her is a woman, an adult-Dorothy Gale.
    • Heroine Emma isn't doing much better. Out of five potential love interests, three have been killed (with one revived as a child), and another turned out to be a monster in disguise sent after her before he seemingly dies. All that dying has left her so emotionally scarred that she almost pushes away her final Love Interest, Hook, out of terror that she's going to lose him too. And she does. Twice.
    • Regina had much the same problem. Her Tragic Backstory is that her mother Cora murdered Regina's True Love, a simple farmhand, because Regina planned to run off with the boy, ruining Cora's plan to marry her off to a king; this prompted Regina's descent into villainy. Regina's Heel–Face Turn is well underway when she falls in love with Robin Hood, her canonical replacement soulmate; they overcome a forced separation only for him to be killed by Hades. Regina does pretty well as a loner after that, but in the final season (of which she is a main protagonist) she resumes a prior casual relationship with Dr. Facilier; there seems to be the potential for more, but then he is unceremoniously murdered and stashed in a closet. She doesn't even really get any time to deal with that, since the show is racing toward the series finale by then.
  • One Life to Live's Bo Buchannan had so many of his love interests killed off that when it was obvious that he was going to be paired with new character Nora—given that they couldn't stand each other—fans actually pleaded for them NOT to be paired, despite their excellent chemistry, because Nora had rapidly become a favorite and fans did not want her to meet the fate of Bo's other lovers. Luckily, the writers decided it was time Bo had some luck in the romance department and Nora was allowed to live.
  • Played with by Cadet Annie Metford in Police Academy: The Series, whose newlywed husband died in their bed while they were making love. All subsequent attempts of anyone getting close to her result in serious bodily harm. Fortunately for the guys, it seems that a direct sexual relationship and/or marriage seems the only way to trigger this trope to its fullest extent.
  • Used three times in Red Dwarf:
    • First with Kryten's fellow droid love interest Camille, who turned out to be a GELF that changes appearance depending on the viewer's true love (causing the rest of the crew to also fall for her), and her true form was an enormous green blob. She had to leave due to her husband Victor finally being reunited with her. Kryten lampshades the plot of the episode: "It's the old, old story. Droid meets droid, droid becomes chameleon, droid loses chameleon, chameleon becomes blob, droid gets blob back again, blob meets blob, blob runs away with blob and droid loses blob, chameleon and droid! How many times have we heard that story?"
    • This was used a second time with Rimmer's love interest Nirvana Crane, who gives up her position onboard the Holoship Enlightenment (and thus losing her life in the process) so that Rimmer can fulfill his dream of having a place on the ship. When Rimmer hears of this, he immediately resigns and returns to Red Dwarf, in order that she can continue living, despite the fact that the two will never see each other again. Rimmer says "We won't be apart, we just... won't be together. [Beat] I cannot believe I just said that!"
      • Notice the obvious solution: Switch 'em. Rimmer would get his dream job and Nirvana would get to... join... the... crew. Erm. Okay, Rimmer must definitely love her to be willing to spare her that fate, and the writers must have figured that we'd think that was an option, because the remaining crew of Red Dwarf spent their portion of the episode interviewing other dead crewmates to take his slot, and each declined. As one pointed out:
        Candidate: No, I think I'm better off where I am, actually.
        Cat (?): But you're dead!
        Candidate: And meeting you three has helped me appreciate that a whole lot more.
    • Series X, in keeping with Rimmer's luck, introduces his perfect match - one of the greatest erroneous reasoners in the known Universe - and promptly chucks her out of an airlock.
  • In the 1970s BBC series Secret Army, both of Natalie Chantrens' love interests — Francois and Nick Bradley — died horrible deaths.
  • In Smallville, Kyla and Alicia both died after being involved with Clark Kent.
  • In Snowpiercer, Ruth has an unfortunate tendency of falling for men who try to stage coups and end up dead when they fail: Nolan Grey in season 1 and Pike in season 3.
  • The protagonist of Spartacus: Blood and Sand has a bad case of this. Basically, if you are a woman and he is even remotely into you, your odds of survival of extremely slim.
  • Samantha "Black Widow" Carter of Stargate SG-1. One behind-the-scenes even had her asking the writers if she could get a boyfriend who didn't die.
    "I feel compelled to warn you, most of the guys I've dated recently have died."
    • Her teammate, Daniel Jackson, suffered from a modified form; his love interests tended to turn evil, be evil already, or (most often) get snaked.
    • Now consider that Daniel has come back from the dead multiple times, and Carter got snaked in season two.
    • Carter goes above and beyond the call of duty for this trope, as the men interested in her rarely die alone. Jonas (not Jonas Quinn), who leads one of the teams, murdered a teammate, set himself up as a god, then died with his Dragon when SG-1 incited a rebellion. Lantash, a Tok'Ra, took two hosts with him, the first when Carter had to Shoot the Dog, the second and Lantash himself in a Heroic Sacrifice. And Martouf, Lantash's first host who had been involved with the Tok'Ra who snaked Carter and transferred some of that affection to Carter, turned out to be a Manchurian Agent and was killed trying to assassinate the president in the abovementioned Shoot the Dog incident. Ambassador Joe Faxon let himself get captured to allow her to escape the Aschen, but then probably died with them if they dialed the black hole address. Nerim was just one death in the genocide of the Tollan. And Fifth not only let RepliCarter loose on the galaxy, but was her first kill.
    • Even Alternate Universe versions of Carter are not immune: two that married O'Neill had him get killed defending their version of the SGC from Apophis' invasion.
  • Shtisel: Both of Elisheva's previous husbands died soon after she married them (though she did get Someone to Remember Him By from at least one of them), which is one reason she's hesitant to start a relationship with Akiva.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Both of Kirk's true loves, slum-Angel Edith Keeler and his pregnant wife Miramanee the Indian priestess, meet bad ends. Usually, though, any Green-Skinned Space Babe who tries to hook up with Kirk survives, they just don't stick around. See Girl of the Week.
    • This was lampshaded in The Movie, where Kirk slept with Uhura's roommate, implying this sort of thing happened a lot.
      • To be fair, she actually was green.
      • And she was even implied to have been killed later on.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Worf gets into two serious relationships with the second ending in marriage. Naturally, both women wind up being killed by recurring villains before long.
    • Maybe the reason Troi broke up with him offscreen and got back with Riker was that she was smart?
  • Any woman who sleeps with Sam on Supernatural.
    • Ruby survived a whole season after snaring him, but in the finale learned that explaining your plan to your Unwitting Pawn is a bad idea.
    • Played with in "Sex and Violence," when the boys are tracking a shape-shifting siren who manifests as the victim's perfect mate and fantasy. When Sam sleeps with a hot doctor, the audience assumes she will turn out to be the siren and will be killed by the boys. It's not Sam's pretty doctor. The real siren is targeting Dean, and it manifests as a man.
      • There may be an element of attempting to protect her from this effect in Sam's 'eh, why bother to say goodbye' reaction before they leave town. But mostly he honestly doesn't care much about her, which is a trauma-induced departure from his previous characterization; Dean hooks up, Sam dates. Only he doesn't, much, because it's not terribly compatible with their lifestyle and he's usually in mourning for someone. And when he does? Dean has actually killed two of Sam's more romantic partners himself. (Sorry, Kaylee - turns out the Winchesters CAN take the sky from you.)
    • He seemed to have gotten away from it for a little while. But then made up for it with four women in one episode.
    • In the season seven episode "Time For A Wedding" Dean called the trope when trying to talk sense into a love-potioned Sam with the line: "Have you forgotten the average lifespan of your hookups?"
    • Sam was already aware of this in season one, but Sarah Blake managed to avoid it...until it came back to bite her seven seasons later, all because Crowley felt like making a point. Ladies, avoid Sam Winchester at all costs.
    • In the episode, "Rock and a Hard Place", The Brothers Winchester become born-again virgins as part of an investigation. When asked why he wanted to be a virgin again, Sam replied:
      Sam: Well, I guess because every woman I've...ever... had relations with,'t ended well.
      Dean: He ain't lying.
    • There are even two fan names for the phenomenon. The "Peen of Death", or the "Dick of Doom". (It is generally accepted, however, that if you have to die in that crapsack universe, it's definitely not a bad way to go out. If that sounds dubious, go back and watch the season 2 episode "Heart" again.)
    • Dean doesn't fare much better. Most of his casual hookups make it out okay, but if he actually falls in love with you emotionally, watch yourself! Just ask Anna or Jo. Lisa had a huge chunk of her memory wiped, which is probably the only reason she's still breathing, effectively rendering her "dead" to Dean. And depending on your interpretation, note that Castiel has kicked the bucket a few times himself by now.
    • Castiel's now the deadliest to sleep with, simply because he's had sex once, and... she died. So he's running at 100%.
    • Misha Collins has said at a convention that (paraphrased) Charlie most likely will not die - because she's a lesbian, and is therefore not a sexual risk or attainable partner for the boys. She died anyway.
    • It's not just sexual partners either-anyone who befriends or helps one or both of the Winchester brothers (including Sam and Dean themselves, numerous times) tends to get killed off.
  • Amaka Okoh from Tinsel: first her husband, Reginald, then her boyfriend Sunom Idibia.
  • Torchwood: Let's pause to examine the fates of Toshiko Sato's love interests:
    • 1. Mary turned out to be a Psycho Lesbian, wound up teleported into the sun.
    • 2. Tommy went mad in war, executed for cowardice.
    • 3. Adam was actually her rapist and had brainwashed her with Fake Memories. Removed from existence when everyone forgot him via Laser-Guided Amnesia.
    • 4. Owen suffered a meaningless death in a shootout, was returned to life as an asexual zombie, and finally was incinerated in a nuclear meltdown.
    • In short, Gwen is really lucky she kept it in subtext. Well, apart from that time she shagged Owen...
    • Considering Jack's immortality, he will outlive any and all love interests.
      • Ianto, unlike Gwen, couldn't keep it in subtext. He bites the dust in the Children Of Earth special.
      • Speaking of Ianto, there's also his girlfriend Lisa, who we don't find out about until the episode where she gets transformed into a Cyberman.
    • Torchwood: Miracle Day has Rex sleep with Vera who winds up incinerated.
  • Lex from The Tribe has a curious version of this: women can and do survive sleeping with him, but if they say "I do" they're signing their own death warrant. First wife Zandra is killed in the explosion at Eagle Mountain (end of season 1), second wife Tai-San is kidnapped by an invading tribe and assassinated (off-screen) when her attempt to infiltrate them is revealed (season 5), and third wife Siva is shot dead by her own sister (end of season 5).
  • Jason Stackhouse in True Blood. To be fair, this IS a plot point. The town murderer keeps attacking the women he's been with.
  • While far too early to tell, this may be an affliction of a certain female crime-fighter/terrorist in the newest V TV series.
  • The Vampire Diaries:
    • Jeremy dates two girls in one season, both of whom die shortly after they commit to each other. In the next season, another girl dies shortly after it's revealed that she has a crush on him. The curse seemingly breaks when he dates Bonnie, another main character, but then it gets Zig-Zagged when Jeremy dies, which is followed by Bonnie dying while bringing him back to life. Fortunately, she comes back as well and both characters survive the series. The trope is lampshaded by Jeremy himself, and it's the reason he is initially reluctant to date Bonnie:
      Jeremy: You know, I don't have the best luck in the girlfriend department.
    • Alaric also has this problem. His first wife, Isobel, left him to become a vampire (although he at first thought she'd been murdered) and is dead by mid-season 2. His second love Jenna is turned into a vampire against her will and is dead by the end of season 2 as well. His second wife, Jo, is brutally murdered by her insane twin brother at their wedding. All in all, the only woman who has dated Alaric and not bit it is Meredith (who was simply written out of the show).
  • Most if not all of the cast of The Walking Dead (2010) have lost someone as this is a zombie show with plentiful gore and violence. The current tally:
    • Rick loses his wife Lori and later love interest Jessie.
    • Beth's two boyfriends, Jimmy and Zach, wind up as zombie chow.
    • Sasha's two boyfriends, Bob and Abraham, perish mere days after entering into a relationship with her.
    • Tara loses two girlfriends, Alisha in Season 4 and Denise in Season 6.
    • Three of Rosita's romantic partners have all met their ends as of mid-Season 10: Abraham, Spencer, and Siddiq.
    • Enid loses two love interests: Ron and Carl.
    • Also played with when it comes to Maggie and Carol. Maggie loses a family member for three consecutive seasons while Carol has become a maternal figure to several children only for them to die a season later.
  • On Weeds, if you marry Nancy Botwin you will die. It's an axiom of nature.
  • Neal Caffrey of White Collar is one woman named Sarah away from having the full-on curse.
  • On the sitcom Wings, Fay has buried three husbands named George. In one episode she meets a nice man named Lyle, and they decide to get married since they're both old and don't have a lot of time left. Right before the wedding, she finds out his name is actually George (Lyle is his middle name) and panics because she's afraid she's cursed. He starts trying to insist otherwise, despite suddenly starting to lose his vision and all the feeling down the left side of his body. The moment she calls off the wedding, he recovers.
  • Sara Pezzini from Witchblade is a very bad woman to court. In a short two seasons:
    • Conchabar, a man she loved in a past life, gets stabbed through the chest with her own Witchblade when she gave it up in a bid to save his life.
      • He then gets resurrected thanks to the Reset Button Ending, only to wind up in a coma shortly after meeting her again. He was also kidnapped and shot in the leg while unconscious. He had not regained consciousness by the time the series ended.
    • Jake, her partner who has expressed romantic interest in her, gets strangled and killed by an evil clone of Ian Nottingham. He also got beat to a pulp surprisingly regularly on the show.
    • Daniel lasted even shorter than any of the other men in her life since he tracked her down with the express purpose of getting her to kill him, as she's the only one who can. He didn't plan on falling in love with her, but he doesn't let that stop him.
    • Gabriel finally makes a move in the season two finale. He promptly gets possessed by Kenneth Irons and helps try to kill Sara. It's implied in the ending that he is either still possessed or there are side effects.
  • The writers of Wizards of Waverly Place have played with our expectations by leading us to believe that Justin and Juliet, as well as Mason and Alex, might actually go the distance. Mason goes from werewolf to full wolf, and Juliet gives new meaning to "showing her age".
  • Xena: Warrior Princess:
    • All of Gabrielle's male love interests end up either dead or disappeared by the end of the episode.
    • With the exception of Hercules, Xena's male lovers didn't fare too well, either.
    • Ares seemed to be going pretty strong, too. Although it's debatable whether he actually slept with her, just granted her "boons" for being a great Lady of War and explained it in a sleazy way, or if he's actually her father. Although, knowing Greek Mythology, that last one wouldn't have stopped him.

  • According to Pop Up Video, the video for Paula Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait" is about an immortal woman who keeps outliving her significant others. Which is ironic because in the song lyrics, her significant other comes home from the war and lives to see his granddaughters.
  • Eternal Loser by Leslie Fish is about a space hero whose love interest dies at the end of each "episode." By the end of the song, he's afraid his ship will leave him too.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In The Bible (well, the Book of Tobit, which is in some Bibles) a woman named Sarah has a bad case of this—she is married seven times, but each groom dies before the marriage can be consummated. It turns out a demon named Asmodeus is in lust with her, and killing all his competition; the hero (her cousin, Tobias), marries her and is able to drive the demon away following instructions from the disguised Archangel Raphael. He survives the wedding night, to the immense surprise of his new father-in-law, who had spent the night digging his grave; meanwhile, Raphael seals Asmodeus away, and the couple lives Happily Ever After.
    • In another example, from the Book of Genesis, a woman named Tamar is married to Er, but he dies without leaving any heirs, so she is married off to his younger brother Onan: common practice among many ancient Middle Eastern peoples—including, historically, the Hebrews—known as levirate marriage. The first child of a levirate marriage is considered to be the child and heir of the deceased first brother. Onan doesn't want to father children on someone else's behalf, so he uses coitus interruptus, which his death is attributed to. Their father Judah, has one young son named Shelah left, and fears for Shelah's life since he believes Tamar to be cursed; Judah tells her that he'll give Shelah to her when the boy grows up... but when Shelah grows up, he is not married off to Tamar as promised, so she impersonates a shrine prostitute and sleeps with Judah so she can get pregnant and continue the bloodline, with the precaution of taking some of Judah's belonging as "payment" — which she shows to Judah before explaining herself. Judah realises Tamar is in the right and accepts responsibility, with Tamar's twin kids being acknowledged as part of the family.
    • In The Four Gospels, this is implied to be the case with the Samaritan woman Jesus encounters at the well. She's been married five times, but it is unknown whether she was widowed several times or divorced several times. (It's likely, however, that at least some of these marriages ended in the husband's death.) And she's living with a boyfriend, who is generally interpreted to already have a wife, making her The Mistress. Because of the social stigma she might have endured because of this trope, she goes to the well by herself at high noon, rather than at dawn or at dusk like most women of her village would.
  • In Classical Mythology, Orpheus is a musician whose music can charm the forces of nature. He is married to Eurydice, until one day, Eurydice is fatally bitten on the foot by a viper and dies, going towards Hades. Orpheus undertakes an epic journey through the Underworlds and Hades in an attempt to retrieve Eurydice's soul. Hades decides to allow Orpheus to take Eurydice back to the world of the living, provided Orpheus and Eurydice don't look back before they've crossed the threshold. Eurydice, who is recovering from her fatal wound, stumbles as she beholds the sun's rays as she and Orpheus are approaching the threshold of Hades. Orpheus turns to Eurydice to see what's wrong with her, but since they haven't crossed the threshold, Eurydice vanishes away and becomes a ghost. Charon refuses to allow Orpheus to enter Hades a second time, leaving Orpheus to lament the loss of his beloved Eurydice.


    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: To be a member of the Assassin Brotherhood seems to carry a heavy risk of catching the curse. Altair loses his wife Maria, Ezio's First Love Cristina dies on his arms, Edward Kenway's first wife Caroline passes away while he's out pirating, Arno's girlfriend Elise meets an untimely end, and, finally, Desmond and Lucy's budding romance does not have a happy ending.
  • In the PC game series Dark Parables, Prince James suffers from a form of this in the second game. He's The Frog Prince, and he's immortal... so he's had to watch everyone he loves die, including the five fairy tale princesses he married.
  • Dead to Rights: Every woman in the series ends up getting killed, usually in an ignoble and pointless manner, and at least two are used as Collateral Angst. It takes until the 4th game in the series for a female character to survive to the end, and she gets shot in the gut about 3/4ths of the way through. The 4th game is a Continuity Reboot anyway, so perhaps one of the things discarded was the series's major Stuffed Into The Fridge trend.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Zevran from Dragon Age: Origins. His previous love interest, Rinna, died as part of his backstory. Later in the game, you have to kill his other lover, Taliesen, as part of an unavoidable Random Encounter. Plus, there's the scores of romantic partners who either died or were murdered from his time in the Antivan Crows. You can also romance him as a Warden who commits a Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the game, meaning that every significant lover he's ever had is dead.
    • Played for Laughs in Dragon Age: Inquisition. During the quest "Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts", the player can overhear a dowager detail the deaths of nine different husbands, each death more ridiculous than the last. At least a few are so out there, you have to wonder if she's a Black Widow.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon has the in-universe legend of Artemis' Curse - whenever a hero takes up the eponymous Fire Emblem to save the world, he or she is doomed to never be with his or her true love. This goes even worse for the direct descendants of the Archanean royal family, who are cursed to forever live lives of tragedy and doomed relationships due to the founder of Archanea being a thief who stole the Fire Emblem from its sacred temple and sold its pieces to fund his rebellion against the Dolhrian Empire. While Marth manages to dodge the curse and marry his beloved Caeda despite using the Emblem, Princess Nyna of Archanea (who can't use it but hands it to Marth) is hit point blank and loses her two love interests, Hardin and Camus; Marth's descendants Chrom and Lucina, who both wield the Emblem in one way or another, have mixed results since the ones from the Bad Future play it completely straight, whereas those from the main story put an end it since their main goal is to avert said Bad Future.
    • Lon'qu from Fire Emblem: Awakening ( who can potentially marry Marth's descendant Lissa) deconstructs this. His first friend was a young girl his age, Ke'ri, who was killed by bandits (and apparently in a Heroic Sacrifice to save him) while he couldn't do anything to rescue her, becoming his Lost Lenore. As a result, he started to believe he suffered from this trope to the point where he developed gynophobia: he does not hate anyone of the opposite gender per se, and he leaves it very clear whenever he's asked about it, but cannot bring himself to get close to them out of the deep fear that he will get them killed. The only girls he'll approach without much trouble will be either his girlfriend/wife (who generally have to be VERY persistent towards him) and a prospect daughter fathered by him.
  • Lowell from The Last Story is revealed to suffer from this in an easily-missed optional scene. Every woman he's ever gotten serious with has died in some way or another, be it from an unprecedented bandit raid, suddenly contracting a fatal illness, or something else. This "living hell", as he describes it, has haunted him for most of his life, breaking him more than once, and he lives in constant fear of falling in love with someone (or someone else falling in love with him) and them subsequently dying horribly. Rather than isolate himself and spend his life alone, he's resolved himself to be a playboy who flirts around but never lets anything "deep or serious" come of it. It doesn't last. Although, nothing bad happens to his new love interest.
  • Some trivia for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time states that in early drafts of the game, there was going to be a Dating Sim element, which was eventually dropped from the game. Unfortunately for poor Link, his potential love interests were not dropped along with it, and so the player gets to see every relationship he has torn apart.
    • Saria, Ruto, and Nabooru are lost when they become Sages and don't get to live on the same plane of existence as him.
    • Zelda and Malon are lost when Link is sent back in time to before he met either of them, a necessary precaution to stop Ganondorf before his plan ever came to fruition. Made worse when he can't make another try at them, as he is charged with safeguarding the Ocarina of Time by taking it far away from Hyrule to prevent someone like Ganondorf from ever coming to power again.
    • Navi was lost when she, the last remaining person with feelings for him, up and left without a word. The lead-in for Majora's Mask was Link searching for her in his travels. He never finds her.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The series contains a very unique and interesting example since the curse is actually an unintentional (or intentional) result of certain decisions the player makes. It's only played straight if you leave your love interest to die on Virmire in the first game and if your choices get your second love interest killed during the suicide mission in the second. Then, in the third game, if you go into the final attack on earth with a low war asset value and bring your love interest in the squad for the final level, they get fried by Harbinger's beam. It is therefore possible to make Shepard fall in love with, and lose, a different person in each of the three games.
    • If your Femshep romanced Kaidan and chose to leave him to die on Virmire, and then moved on to Thane in the second game, you are guaranteed to lose two lovers, since there is genuinely no way to have Thane make it out of Mass Effect 3. To be fair, one of the first things he tells Shepard is that he's dying of an incurable respiratory condition, meaning that Shepard really only has herself to blame in that case.
    • It's possible for the player to inflict this on Steve Cortez (whose husband died in the Collector attacks) or Jack (who's had past lovers die or backstab her on a grimly regular basis) if they pick an ending where The Hero Dies.
  • This seems to happen in Max Payne too, except if you pass the second game on Dead on Arrival, in which Mona survives. Sadly non-canon in Max Payne 3.
  • If you're female, in a Metal Gear game, and Otacon likes you, international companies will deny you life insurance. Prepare to die in a mind-blowingly cruel (if beautiful) way, just so that Otacon can suffer beautifully.
    • In fact, just 'if Otacon likes you'. Look at what Snake went through in Metal Gear Solid 4. Sure, it didn't KILL him, but it definitely put him through the wringer.
    • By Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Codec conversations with Sunny indicate that despite becoming more popular with the ladies, Otacon has been keeping women at a distance – likely due to this trope.
  • Characters who bear the Magician Arcana in the Persona series are generally doomed to have short-lived romances. Junpei's love interest Chidori canonically dies saving his life and Yosuke's crush Saki is the second victim of the Serial Killer that serves as the main villain. And while they don't die, Kenji Tomochika's crush on his teacher ends with her shutting him down in the most brutal way possible by him overhearing her bitching about him to her fiancé, and Morgana's obvious crush on Ann Takamaki is completely ignored by her (though, given Morgana is a cat, it's probably for the best). The only female representative of the Magician Arcana, Yuka is coincidentally the only one whose romantic life doesn't end in tragedy.
  • Claire Redfield from Resident Evil has horrible luck with men, which may be why she doesn't seem actively interested in dating. In Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, her would-be boyfriend Steve Burnside ends up first turned into a mutant monster, and then killed saving her from an even bigger monster. In Resident Evil: Revelations 2, her boss Neil Fisher, whom she has a crush on, first turns out to be The Mole working to unleash bio-terror attacks to force the restoration of the disgraced FBC, and then he gets turned into a mutant monster she has to kill in order to save herself. Then in ''Degeneration'', the WilPharma Head Researcher, Frederic Downing, is constantly flirting with Claire but turns out to have been behind the outbreaks in order to secretly drum up interest for both the T- and G-Viruses and his newly invented antivirals on the black market. He ends up in a Federal prison.
  • In World of Warcraft Jaina Proudmoore's luck SUCKS. Seriously. She was desired by Kael'thas Sunstrider for quite some time. Nothing ever came of this, as she was already beginning a relationship with Prince Arthas Menethil. If you've only played World of Warcraft, you may know him as the Lich King. Kael'thas himself was utterly crazy by the time of Burning Crusade. Given all that, this does not favor her most recent love interest (the blue dragon Kalecgos) at all.

    Visual Novels 
  • Acting Lessons:
    • Episode 6 will always end with either Megan or Melissa dying while your house is set ablaze. Played with in the sense that you have to save Megan if you rejected Melissa before this point, meaning that the one who died isn't one of your love interests, but rather a very close friend. Played completely straight if the player does not reject Melissa and dates both her and Megan, as they will then have the option to save one or the other, resulting in one of your love interests dying and the other being launched into crippling depression.
    • Leah, who can die if you make choices that result in Peter's gun being present in Leah's room when you and your girlfriend get kidnapped.
  • It's a good rule of thumb for a lot, if not all, of Key/Visual Arts stories that the canonical girl who hooks up with the protagonist dies in some way, with Nagisa and Misuzu being prime examples.
    • Little Busters! is an interesting case: technically it goes even further than the other examples, as almost all of the other characters in the story turn out to have been something close to Dead All Along... except the main girl. So in some ways, this is an inversion!
  • In Kanon, Makoto "dies" at the conclusion of her arc, Mai and Sayuri are hospitalized for the remainder of the school year, Shiori has a terminal illness, Akiko gets hit by an out-of-control vehicle, and Ayu was Dead All Along (or better said, comatose all along).
  • As if Larry Butz from Ace Attorney wasn't a big enough Butt-Monkey as is, he tends to lose his dates because they either leave him or end up dead, as seen in the first trial of the series.
  • An in-universe female version in Corpse Party. It's revealed in BoS and Blood Drive that men who marry into the Shinozaki line are doomed to die from a curse. At least they live long enough to enjoy the honeymoon?

  • Elf from Schlock Mercenary. She even managed to kill off Captain Tagon in an alternate timeline. At one point, several other troops point this out when a Mauve Shirt demolitions expert tries hitting on her. Guess what happens to him...
    • To discredit this, she gives a kiss to each of the other men on her squad and then tells them that now they are doomed they can bloody well start marching. Apparently, that didn't count since they survived. (Except for one who died much, much later.)
    • Almost immediately after Kevyn dated her, he got killed, and only his blood nanites managed to bring him back from the dead.
    • Considering that he keeps a running count of the number of times he's cheated death, this is similar to the Stargate example above, except canon.
    • To wit, Elf is now five for six for killing men she's kissed. As has been mentioned, Tagon was an alternate reality, and Kevyn got better, but the only survivor of Elf's kissing (Nick) had a good chunk of a story-arc dedicated to "breaking the curse."
  • Torg from Sluggy Freelance has a pretty bad track record when it comes to girlfriends. One was an evil vampire who he had to kill. Another is a psychotic and assassin who keeps dying and coming back. Another was driven insane after being traumatized by satanic kittens. And a fourth was killed by a demon lord trying to catch him. With all this Torg's inability to tell Zoe he loves her is perfectly justified. Eventually Zoe came to the realization that not only was Torg in love with her, but she also loved him back! Which directly resulted in Oasis using pyrokinetic powers and almost killing her. She spent some time on life support. She was completely restored, except for the memory of the day in which she realized that she and Torg were in love and ended up getting incinerated by Oasis.
  • In Charby the Vampirate all of Menulis' early dating attempts end with the death of his date during their first date. Luckily his eventual girlfriend is functionally immortal, especially considering she's not immune to this luck and ends up decapitated on their first date.
  • Girl Genius: Agatha's suitors have all wound up dead, shot, or deathly ill and turning funny colors. Or all three, though luckily Tarvek was in a lab with Gil and Agatha nearby to re-vivify him.
  • Sollux Captor from Homestuck can be said to suffer from this, as both Aradia and Feferi have died at least once during the story. Feferi has, so far, stayed dead, but Aradia got better eventually—but not before dying twice. Really, the poor guy can't catch a break in this regard. Aradia's first death involved Vriska mind-controlling Sollux into murdering her, and her second death involved her robot body exploding right after she gave Sollux a (seemingly) final goodbye hug—though, as mentioned above, she recovered. Feferi, meanwhile, died at Eridan's hands, having rushed to avenge Sollux after Eridan blinded him.
  • Gender inverted in one strip of Monster of the Week: Flirty Science Guys dies few scenes after being flirty with Scully, prompting her Big "NO!".

    Web Original 
  • Sapphire: Somewhat. Ivanka gets killed, but only five years after she marries Alec, which in turn was four years since they first met.
  • The SCP Foundation has an example of this with King Dyrmud the Ageless, the former ruler of the island of Hy-Brasil. Dyrmud had seven wives, each of whom died within a year of their marriage. Their causes of death range from the relatively mundane (falling off a horse) to the unusual (dying from laughter) to the downright bizarre (giving birth to a dozen babies all at once).
  • In Doubt Academy, Misaki Watanabe has lost two boyfriends Jack Myōji and Kuu Fukubaka to Monobear's killing game.
  • It's both inverted and played straight on NoPixel with Deputies Mikey Dias and Lauren Forcer. Inverted in that Dias, a heroic badass, is the one killed. Played straight in that Lauren is also a heroic badass.

    Western Animation 
  • Possibly genetic with the Water Tribe siblings on Avatar: The Last Airbender: Jet, one of Katara's first love interests? Turns out to be evil, but then by next season, reforms and ends up dead. And Aang is killed or nearly so in the season two finale, but then got brought back to life with magic water and Katara's healing powers... only to eventually die of natural causes as a middle-aged man, leaving Katara to outlive him by decades, as shown in The Legend of Korra. Sokka's love interest, Yue? Died to save the Moon Spirit by becoming it herself. His other love interest, Suki? Ended up tortured in a Fire Nation prison, with the audience and the main characters not even sure if she was alive. But as revealed in the Season 3 episode "The Boiling Rock," she was! Hooray!
    • It even traces back to their parents and grandparents! We never hear a word about Kanna's first husband, and Hakoda's wife Kya... well...
  • DC Super Hero Girls 2019: In "The Bird and the Bee", Hawkman, the incarnation of Khufu, is haunted by memories of his true love, Princess Chay-Ara. Sadly, the sorcerer Hath-Set has cast a curse on Hawkman and Chay-Ara so that anytime they fall in love, they end up dying. Bumblebee discovers that Chay-Ara has been reincarnated into singer Shiera Saunders, and tries to set up a date between Carter and Shiera, only for Carter to get cold feet. He eventually decides to ask her out on a date, which never happens as a thief steals a knife from the museum, and attacks Hawkman. Hawkman recognizes the thief as Hath-Set, the sorcerer who has cursed Hawkman's and Chay-Ara's relationship. After Hawkman mentions that he and Chay-Ara have not become lovers yet, Carter eventually opts to break the date to prevent the doomed cycle of ill-fated lovers, and Hath-Set vows to destroy Hawkman and Chay-Ara once they should fall in love.
  • Dizzy invokes this trope in Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles as the reason she won't admit to loving Rico.
  • The Boondocks episode "It's Goin' Down" parodies 24. The character known as Jack Flowers had this problem with his relationships: The first woman had her head sliced off by a sword, the second woman was flung off a building only to explode by a bomb strapped to her before hitting the ground, and the last woman was tied to a rocket.
  • Played for Laughsvery darkly— on Metalocalypse, where anyone or anything Toki Wartooth loves will die before the end of the episode. Fans, music teachers, pets, even children can die this way. Only Doctor Rockso the cocaine-snorting rock and roll clown has survived so far due to Joker Immunity. Even his family is not immune; he has despised his parents his whole life for their cold, religious zealot way of raising him and his father subsequently died the instant Toki forgave him.
  • Every time Samurai Jack tries to get a love interest, it ends so badly because Aku always gets involved. First, he meets a lady named Ikra who accompanies him to get the episode's MacGuffin, and Jack sympathizes with her because of her story about how Aku ravaged her hometown. Then, she turns out to be Aku and destroys the MacGuffin. Finally, he falls in love with a female assassin named Ashi in the final season. Then, we find out she's Aku's daughter, and he forces her to betray Jack. She does regain control and Jack finally makes it back with her to the past to destroy Aku. The real kicker? Because Jack killed Aku in the past, Ashi cannot exist and tragically disappears, though this is ultimately subverted in the post-finale video game Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time.
  • Ned Flanders from The Simpsons is a widower twice over: his first wife, Maude, was accidentally killed due to Homer's stupidity, and his second wife, Edna Krabappel, was Killed Offscreen after her voice actress Marcia Wallace passed away.
  • Robot Chicken takes this to ridiculous, parodying lengths in "Paris and Nicole's Prison Break". Nicole Richie deliberately gets herself incarcerated so she can spring Paris Hilton out, the duo undertaking a plan that involves seducing a guard to poison him, steal his keys and escape. Not five seconds after the two have sex with a guard, he falls over as his flesh burns off of his skeleton... and then Nicole realizes she forgot to give him the poison. Turns out that just happens to people Paris sleeps with.
    Nicole: You should really see a gynecologist.
  • In a non-romantic example, the Autobots in Transformers: Prime seem to have stopped assigning Arcee Cybertronian partners after the deaths of Tailgate (thanks to Airachnid) and Cliffjumper (thanks to Starscream). Jack seems to be immune, at least, possibly because he's not a Cybertronian, possibly because he's a major character, possibly because Prime is not really a series that can get away with killing off human recurring characters willy-nilly.
  • In The Great North, Season 1 "Romantic Meat-Based Adventure", when Beef tries asking Dell out on a date, she rejects him, but not because she isn't interested in him but because she sees herself as cursed because her previous husbands died in horrific accidents and she doesn't want him to die like them. Her first husband froze to death in their freezer ("He wasn't very bright"), the next two husbands died falling into holes, the fourth husband was in a plane crash and survived but was eaten by his friend, and her recent husband died in a fishing accident where a dock line wrapped around his neck, pulled him into the water, and then popped his head clean off.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Sudden Girlfriend Death Syndrome, Cartright Curse


Jack Flowers

Notice how whenever Jacks' girlfriends steadily get blacker, the killers get whiter?

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / CartwrightCurse

Media sources: