A subcategory of Romantic Comedy, where the Official Couple were once married, but have divorced each other. Eventually they decide that they want to be married to each other after all. A major staple of the classic Hollywood Screwball Comedy, many examples of this genre owe their existence to The Hays Code, although the trope existed before that. Since the Code prohibited depictions of infidelity, it was necessary to have the characters divorce, then fool around with other people, then get back together.
This last also had the advantage that it made it easier to avoid either one having to be the 'villain' in the previous divorce, and for some, makes them easier to like.
It's practically a given that either the ex-wife or ex-husband has a Disposable Fiancé.
See also Divorce Is Temporary.
- His Girl Friday is one of the classic examples.
- The Philadelphia Story and its musical update High Society.
- The Palm Beach Story: Gerry goes to Palm Beach to begin divorce proceedings and is determined to make Hackensacker her new husband while Tom tries to persuade her to come back to him.
- The Awful Truth, although the couple never quite gets divorced.
- In My Favorite Wife, the husband (Cary Grant) isn't divorced, but wrongly believes his long-missing wife to be dead and is all set to commit bigamy.
- The same goes for its remake starring Doris Day, Move Over, Darling.
- In Alfred Hitchcock's Mr and Mrs Smith, Ann and David Smith find out they aren't technically married, and the plot revolves around David trying to win Ann back.
- In Midnight, Eve and Tibor aren't married, but they have to pretend to be, and once they have to file for a phony divorce, this trope comes into play.
- It's Love I'm After has Joyce and Basil torn apart because of a Fangirl.
- Phffft! has Jack Lemmon and Judy Holliday playing out this ever-popular trope.
- Kiss Me Kate is a musical Comedy of Remarriage.
- The Parent Trap, although there it is the kids working to get them back together.
- Sweet Home Alabama, even though they weren't technically divorced.
- Twister, the divorce is in progress. Jo never signed the papers, so Bill tracks her down, dragging his current fiancee along. On their first meeting it takes the viewers about two seconds to realize that Bill and Jo are going to get back together.
- Subverted in Mrs. Doubtfire, where Robin Williams' character wants to get back together with his ex-wife (or is at least annoyed to see her with another man), but they never do. Interestingly, Executive Meddling at one point tried to change the ending to play this trope straight only for Robin Williams and Sally Field to convince them otherwise, claiming it would not only be unrealistic, but could potentially cause false hope in children of divorced parents who saw the film. The Happy Ending of the movie is that everyone comes to terms with the divorce and Williams' character at least gets to remain a part of his children's lives.
- In O Brother, Where Art Thou?, George Clooney plays a convict who escapes from jail to reconcile with his wife, who divorced him out of shame after his conviction. After all manner of shenanigans, they get back together.
- Though it's just a subplot, Ocean's Eleven also has George Clooney as a convict, although this time a paroled one, trying to patch things up with his wife, who divorced him out of shame after his conviction. He wins her back while committing even more crime.
- Mc Clintock is this in Western form.
- Liar Liar, though a little more realistic to be fair, since the scene where Max's parents are interested in each other again is about a year after the main plot has been resolved.
- Subverted in The Auteur. Arturo eventually accepts that Fiona won't return to him, because of his "highly addictive personality" and "insanely jealous nature"; but she forgives him his past, and they do manage to become friends again.
- The Radioland Murders has this as a major subplot - it's mainly a zany romp through, oddly enough, radio shows and serial killing.
- 1934 film Smarty is a decidely odd take on this in which the divorce and the romantic hijinks happen because—uh, because Vicki likes being smacked around and Tony won't do it. The Happy Ending comes when they get back together and he hits her. Really.
- Three Smart Girls is a comedy in which the divorced couple's three daughters do all the work, breaking up the father's romance and getting the mother to sail from Europe to America so they can be reunited.
- Paula, in The Ex-Mrs. Bradford, tries to get her husband back by making him help her solve a murder.
- Jude the Obscure is something of a tragedy of remarriage. (It also works the other way round: they both get married to different people, then live together, get divorced from their respective spouses, then separate and get married to their previous spouses again).
- Emergency Couple is a Korean Drama about two divorcees who independently go to medical school, and find themselves working together as interns, six years after their divorce.
- Scrubs plays this in reverse with Dr. Cox and Jordan: first they were married, then got divorced, then started living together again after having a child together, but didn't get remarried. Then they find out that due to a clerical error, they're still married. Due to their extremely screwed-up personalities, this fact causes them no end of torment and so they decide to divorce again to save their relationship.
- The Orville is playing pinball with this trope. Ed Mercer was married, but walked in on his wife having sex with another guy It's not clear if the whole thing was actually consensual. A nasty divorce and a Heroic BSoD later, he's assigned to captain the titular ship...with his ex-wife as his Number Two. There's plenty of Ship Tease, but they also get on each other's nerves as only a pair of exes can.
- On The Newsroom Mackenzie McHale and Will MacAvoy were close to getting married (Will had gotten a ring and all) but broke up. It is often alluded that there are still feelings, leading to a Will They or Won't They?
- Curtains has Georgia and Aaron, songwriters and former married couple. They get back together with some suberb acting by some of the other cast members, who wanted the two back together.
- Some endings of Silent Hill 2 ("In Water" and "Rebirth", also possibly "Leave") are somewhat like a horror version of this trope, considering the couple in question didn't seperate through divorce...
- Hey Arnold! played with this trope in one episode, with Coach Jack Wittenberg remarrying Tish Wittenberg (helped muchly by Arnold's matchmaking prowess).
- On Gargoyles, Oberon and Titania remarry after a 1,001-year divorce. Word of God says that Oberon had had two kids with mortals in the meantime (one of whom was Merlin), while Titania married Halcyon Renard and became the mother of Fox.
- In a The Simpsons episode where Milhouse's parents divorce, Homer and Marge start to question the sanity of their own marriage. Homer begins to feel that the wedding and marriage he provided for Marge was less than she deserved, so he gets divorce papers...and then throws a special wedding in the house, so that they could say their marriage was great from the start. Several seasons later, it turns out that Rev. Lovejoy, who officiated, was not legally (or religiously) able to do so at the time because of a technicality, so Marge and Homer end up having another "real" wedding, and Marge becomes a Bridezilla. Milhouse's parents remain divorced for many seasons, but eventually rekindle their relationship and get back together.
- Invoked in American Dad!—Stan is self-conscious when he realizes that Francine used to Really Get Around while he lost his virginity to her. Francine is fine with letting him have a brief affair, but since he refuses to cheat, they agree to divorce and then remarry after he's had sex with somebody else. Hilarity Ensues when Stan proves unwilling to just sleep with someone too quickly, and winds up marrying another woman instead.