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Crusading Widower

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Death did them part. Now the plot can start.
"My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next."
Maximus, Gladiator

What a glorious day! Officer Bob has just retired, and can spend time with his happy and completely innocent family! Just in time too, his job was driving a wedge between him and his family. Yep, nothing could possibly go wrong!

In what is possibly the mother of Dark And Troubled Pasts, Officer Bob will find that his spouse, and/or his children have been killed. The cause behind the killing varies, but it is always connected to a person or group of persons: the trope earns the "crusading" part of its name from the surviving family member's ensuing quest to hunt down and either apprehend or kill the people responsible, regardless of how tangentially they are connected to the crime. The lost family member doesn't need to specifically be a spouse: the character might have no kids at all and not even be married, but the death of their girlfriend/boyfriend or fiancé(e) will nevertheless motivate them to seek justice or vengeance. In rare cases, the family will die in a horrible but blameless accident. In those cases, he will either blame himself for their deaths or blame God.


This trope is often used when the author wants to go for broke and create a character with "nothing and no one to live for". After all, the combination of a burning drive for revenge and a lack of emotional attachments holding him back makes for a singularly terrifying individual: the loss of a loved one happens to be a great personal motivator, and often comes with Survivor's Guilt.

For obvious reasons, this character is usually on the low end of the Idealism/Cynicism scale, tending towards Anti-Hero, Anti-Villain, or villain. Very, very rarely will the Crusading Widower be The Hero. Also, while this trope can happen to women, it happens much more often to men.

Sometimes the kids actually survive, and need to be protected... that doesn't necessarily mean that they will in any way stop their parent from making messes of a whole mess of people. There's also the possibility that the child is someone the parent will try to mold into a weapon of vengeance, either by working with them or by having the child carry on in their stead. Of course, he might abandon the child to be raised by someone else entirely, or do the revenging in secret. He may also try to drown his sorrows at first, only to be "rescued" by a friend who will motivate him with an offer to somehow atone for his mistake, or catch the culprits. If it's a fantasy or sci-fi setting, a third goal may present itself: bringing them back to life. This is rarely a good thing: his loved ones will probably beg him not to, or he will choose not to resurrect them as part of a Friend or Idol Decision.


They Were Holding You Back and Disposable Woman are related tropes, and Vengeful Widow is the (usually evil) Distaff Counterpart.

No Zero-Context Examples, please.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk: Guts, whose True Companions were slaughtered by demons and his Love Interest sent insane during the Eclipse.
  • Heito in Daimons Hate. Poor guy had all of his former "friends" turn on him and kill his wife and daughter because he wouldn't join the plot to use the nanotechnology they developped for warring purposes. After barely surviving the Cold-Blooded Torture that cost him his two arms, he suggested himself to Training from Hell under a Mad Scientist, developped Psychic Powers with the Power Of Hate, and learned to control mechanical arms through it. Before going on a crusade to murder all of his former "friends".
  • Heroic example in Tiger & Bunny, in that widower Kotetsu is inspired by his late wife to continue his work as a superhero, because he promised her that he would. This choice causes serious conflict with his daughter Kaede - who doesn't know what her father does - and later in the series when Kotetsu's promise makes it even harder for him to face the prospect of giving up his heroics as 'Wild Tiger' due to the gradual loss of his powers.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple: Tsutomu Tanaka is hell-bent on revenge against Isshinsai Ogata for murdering both his father-in-law martial arts master and his pregnant wife.
  • Van from GUN×SWORD. His wife-to-be was killed by a man with a claw for a right hand, and the entire show is basically him searching for this man so he can kill him in return.
    • Ray had his wife killed by the same man, though he serves as a darker example than Van, as his hunt for revenge causes him to commit more morally dubious acts and push everyone away, including his own brother before it finally costs him his life.
  • The Thunder Soldier aka Kyros in One Piece is one. His wife, Scarlett, the heiress to the Dressrosan throne was killed by one of Doflamingo's top men, as Doflamingo didn't want any of King Riku's blood messing his chances. Also he was one of the first toys ever of Sugar, which meant he couldn't save his wife from them. He will spend the next 10 years plotting vengeance against Doflamingo and his crew, culminating in Operation SOP, one of the major events that become the crux of the downfall of the Donquixote Pirates, and personally defeats Scarlett's killer during the Battle for Dressrosa.
  • Yuuichirou Minamoto was about to become this in Private Actress, as his girlfriend Misaki was cruelly Driven to Suicide. But Misaki's killer, Satoka, turned out to be very savvy... and Yuuichirou ends dying instead.
  • Kureo Mado from Tokyo Ghoul. His wife was one of the many victims of the One-Eyed Owl, and he has devoted the last decade of his life to massing an armory of Quinque weapons. Though a devoted single-father, he does encourage Akira to follow in his footsteps and become a Ghoul Investigator. After his death, she considers continuing both his Quinque Research and quest for revenge against the Owl important.
  • Stefan Levin from Captain Tsubasa is as close to this trope as sports manga allow. He promised his girlfriend Karin that he'd be the best soccer player in the world... as she lay dying in an hospital bed. And after she died, he decided to fulfill the promise at all costs. But unlike many examples, Levin manages to work through his issues and get better.
  • Yoriichi Tsugikuni in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. After his wife, Uta, and their unborn child were killed by a demon, he dedicated his life to becoming a Demon Slayer. His skills were so great that he singlehandedly caused the Demon Slayer Corps to put a hierarchy system in place, and managed to nearly kill Muzan Kibutsuji.

    Comic Books 
  • Big Daddy from Kick-Ass:
    • The film version trains his daughter to get revenge on the drug lord who sent him to prison and left his depressed wife to OD on drugs. In contrast to the comic, the story appears to be real.
    • The comic version trains his daughter to get revenge on the drug lord who murdered his wife. It's a lie: she's really alive and he made the whole thing up to brainwash his daughter into becoming a vengeful superhero out of boredom with his pathetic life.
  • The Punisher, where the protagonist seeks vengeance then effects genocide on the American criminal element for the murder of his family during a botched mob hit.
    • In the "Widowmaker" arc of The Punisher MAX, several wives of high-level mafioso Frank Castle killed come together to take vengeance on him. Before Frank can come up against the potentially morally interesting decision of how to deal with them, they are interrupted by another Mafia widow. This widow is thankful to Frank for killing her husband, who she regarded as a diabolically vile monster, and has nothing but contempt for the other widows who cruelly abused her. Thus Frank is freed of any blame or responsibility.
  • Captain Marvel foe Black Adam. He's an interesting variation, because he was originally (in ancient Egypt) a hero, but then the power went to his head and he had a Face–Heel Turn. After several thousand years of being a villain, he had a Heel–Face Turn... sorta, several thousand years of being a villain apparently twists your understanding of "heroism" a bit. Still, he was at least trying, a lot of which was for the sake of his new wife, whom he'd shared his powers with and who was genuinely a good person. And then she got killed. Adam didn't take it well.
  • Preacher has The Saint of Killers while he was alive. He finally gets his vengeance in the final book, two hundred-odd years after the fact.
  • Kal-El in Superman & Batman: Generations, after his first wife Lois Lane was killed by the Ultra-Humanite posing as Lex Luthor. He also loses his daughter Kara to his son Joel, who dies shortly afterward on the same day.
  • In the second Atari Force series, Martin Champion becomes a widower when his wife Lydia died giving birth to their son Christopher, and spends much of that series going after her real killer, the Dark Destroyer.
  • In Jon Sable, Freelance, Jon's transformation to soldier-of-fortune happens when his wife and children are murdered by Evil Poachers. His first act is go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the poachers, although he does not catch up to their real boss until years later.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures: The last regular story arc introduced a wolf-man called Mokoshan, and one of the major characters, Ninjara, left the cast to join him and his tribe. Eventually the latter received her own, short-lived spin-off (unfinished due to the real life issues of the artist at time). It started with Mokoshan getting murdered, prompting Ninjara to seek revenge against the killers while also trying to take care of her and Mokoshan's daughter.
  • We Stand on Guard: Dunn, a member of the Two-Fours freedom fighter group, lost his husband in the Battle of Brunswick.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Paula von Gunther at first appeared to be a loyal Nazi spy, but after the reveal that the Nazis had murdered her husband and kidnapped her daughter to force her to comply and Diana saved her daughter Paula quickly switched to dedicating herself to aiding the Allies and Wonder Woman against the Nazis. So she went from a cruel cold Vengeful Widow who took out her anger on everyone she could while being forced to work for her husband's killers, to a heroic woman fighting those who had killed him.
  • X-Wing Rogue Squadron: Elscol saw her mother, sister, and husband all killed by the Empire, and she sets up La Résistance to fight back. She insists that the man responsible goes to the courts instead of letting her companion kill him, but this doesn't put her at peace. When she leaves her world and joins Rogue Squadron, taking a suboordinate role chafes at her, and she tends to be reckless and disregard orders. Her commander soon sees this isn't working and lets her leave the squadron to form and lead resistance cells again.
  • In Femforce, Colt became a superheroine after her husband (a spy) was murdered and she felt the organisation she and he worked for did not do enough to catch the killer. She quit and used her skills to become a vigilante.
  • Saga gives us a pair of examples: Dengo, a man who wants to avenge the death of his young son against the royal family whose brutal reign indirectly caused it - and, later, Prince Robot IV, who chases after Dengo with a vengeance after Dengo kills his wife and kidnaps his son.
  • In Judge Colt, one of the reasons Mark Colt became a Circuit Judge is because he is looking for members of the gang that killed his wife during a bank robbery 10 years earlier. He managed to bring one of them to justice before the series ended.
  • Flashpoint Aquaman's war against the Amazons is in part motivated by Wonder Woman killing his wife Mera before the story.

    Fan Works 
  • In Dead of Night, this is how Finas met Casimiro. His wife and daughter were killed in the night by vampires, leading to him joining Casimiro as a full-time vampire hunter.
  • In the lost Fire Emblem Awakening webcomic Future of Despair, Henry becomes this after his wife Panne is accidentally killed. Not everyone liked that.
  • Sean Cassidy in Child of the Storm is a surprisingly cheerful, happy go lucky variant, a Cool Teacher and a Reasonable Authority Figure. However, it is stated that he's had over a decade to grieve, whatever he did with his Compelling Voice during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge still occasionally gives Nick Fury nightmares and he's got a taste for Revenge, one that he does his bet to keep a lid on. Also you really don't want to cross him.
  • The Mansionverse's version of Melanie Ravenswood rose up against the Phantom when she learnt he was the murderer of her fiancé, though in practice there is not much she can do against him.

    Films — Animated 
  • Mr. Incredible in The Incredibles develops this, despite it not actually being the case. Regardless, he still believes that his family is dead and for a little while, he definitely becomes the angry, vengeful, miserable Crusading Widower.
  • Manfred ("Manny") the mammoth from Ice Age. The death of his mate and child at the hands of human hunters leaves him grumpy and miserable at the beginning of the film, and it's possible that he was heading north to commit suicide since life wasn't worth living without them. The tragic nature of his backstory is finally revealed when the ragtag misfit "herd" that he's found stumble across a series of cave paintings that bring it to light. Notably, the Villain Protagonist, Diego, is highly moved by seeing this, especially since this moment causes him to forgive his murders because of the baby he is protecting - from Diego himself.
  • The Kingpin in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a villainous example. After his wife and son were killed in a car crash, he became desperate to obtain Replacement Goldfish in the form of their Alternate Universe equivalents, and built a dimensional portal under Brooklyn despite his scientists' warnings that it could destroy New York. He also blamed Spider-Man for their deaths since them walking in on one of their fights caused them to leave in the first place, and kills him with his bare hands in a fit of rage when he tries to explain to him that his plan won't work.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Sgt. Calhoun being Widowed at the Wedding is part of her Dark and Troubled Past to drive her to kill all Cy-bugs.
  • Resident Evil: Vendetta: Glenn Arias, the main antagonist of this movie, was just an arms dealer, albeit a powerful one, until a certain government dropped a bomb on his wedding, killing his wife and almost all his friends and family, turning him into a terrorist out for revenge.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • James Bond goes on a rampage in frantic search for Ernst Stavro Blofeld at the beginning of Diamonds Are Forever. His newlywed wife Tracy was murdered by Blofeld and his henchwoman Irma Bunt in a drive-by right at the end of the previous film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, though Tracy is not mentioned in Diamonds are Forever at all, and terminating Blofeld is also Bond's assignment at that moment.
  • Damon / Big Daddy in Kick-Ass. He actually trains his daughter to help him seek revenge.
  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Khan blamed Kirk for the death of his wife while his people were marooned. He expressed his bitterness enough to make it an overshadowing motivation. Despite his loathing for Kirk and all of Starfleet, he wears a Starfleet badge around his neck - because Marla McGivers was a former Starfleet officer.
    • Star Trek: Generations. Dr. Tolian Soran's family was killed during the Borg assimilation of El-Auria. He spends the movie trying to get into the Nexus so he can be with them again, even though doing so requires destroying a star and killing hundreds of millions of sentient aliens.
    • Star Trek (2009): Nero, who lost his family and planet in the old timeline, and is out for revenge in the new/different/whatever one.
  • In The Suppressor, Blake Bradley attacks criminals as a means of lashing out against the addicts who killed his wife. When Max Bentley, AKA "Vince the Prince", had seen Blake defending a prostitute, he exploited Blake's rage to get rid of his competitors.
  • This is the basis of Kill Bill, demonstrating that women get a shot at nihilistic murderous despair at least once in a while.
  • In the film Patriot Games, while they're not killed, the near-fatal attack on his wife and daughter spurs Jack Ryan to rejoin the CIA in order to find the people responsible.
  • Clyde from Law Abiding Citizen lost his wife and daughter to an assault early on and spends the rest of the movie going after the killers.
  • Jodie Foster's character from The Brave One becomes a vigilante after her fiance is killed.
  • In Harry Brown, the title character is specifically avenging the death of his friend, but the death of his sick wife early in the film frees him up to act, as he has nothing left to lose.
  • Subverted in Rolling Thunder. While Major Ranes' wife and son are both murdered by the gang, he says to his friend Johnny he found the men who killed his son. While he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, Rane's wife started a relationship with another man, and he seems to feel she's already dead to him prior to her actual death.
  • The Mariachi becomes this in Once Upon a Time in Mexico following the murder of Carolina and their daughter by Marquez.
  • Riggs in Lethal Weapon is reasonably heroic, but he's also suicidal and is considered crazy by everyone who knows him. He slowly becomes less unhinged as he opens up to his partner Murtagh.
  • Drax the Destroyer from Guardians of the Galaxy plots revenge against Ronan for killing his wife and daughter. After Drax helps the other Guardians defeat Ronan, he declares Thanos his next target, since Thanos assigned Ronan with killing Drax's family.
  • In Batman Begins, Henri Ducard claims the death of his wife is part of what led him to want to punish criminals with death and vengeance.
  • In The Dark Knight, Rachel Dawes's death serves as the catalyst for Harvey Dent to snap and get revenge on the Gotham police who didn't manage to save her, turning him into the villain Two-Face.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: After Erik loses his wife and daughter, he takes up Apocalypse's offer to get the ultimate revenge against a world which has been cruel to him, a world which he feels deserves to be destroyed.
    Magneto: They took everything away from me. Now, we'll take everything from them.
  • In Final Girl the untimely death of his wife at the hands of a serial killer is what drives William to turn a young girl into a weapon against all of them.
  • The titular John Doe: Vigilante is revealed to be this at the end of his killing spree when his final victim turns out to be the man who raped and murdered his wife and daughter. The viewer then recalls that most of his previous victims have been abusers of women and children.
  • Richard Kimble of The Fugitive. His efforts to find his wife's killer are just as much—if not moreso—about avenging her as they are about clearing his name.
  • Deewaar: Although technically not a widower as they didn't have time to get married, Vijay sets out for revenge after Anita is killed.
  • Peppermint is about Riley North, a wife who witnessed her husband and child get murdered in front of her during a driveby shooting. Even worse, she watched the men responsible get aquitted in a staged trial by a corrupt judge and attorneys on both sides. She decides to take the law in her own hands. And after years of training and planning, she returns to get revenge on everyone who wronged her and her family, including going after an entire drug cartel.
  • The Revengers: When John Benedict's wife and family are murdered by a raiding party of Indians and Comancheros, killing the raiding party's leader becomes his sole goal. He sells off his cattle herd, has his ranch boarded up, and recruits six convicts to accompany him on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • In Triple Threat (2019), the villager Jaka pursues the band of mercenaries who slaughtered his village, including his wife.
  • In the wuxia film Vengeful Beauty, the titular beauty is an assassin who's after the warlord who killed her husband. And a Pregnant Badass, to boot!
  • In the Bad Future of Zack Snyder's Justice League, Mera goes on a crusade against Darkseid to avenge the murder of her love, Aquaman, by the Evil Overlord of Apokolips.
  • The Bravados: After his wife is raped and murdered, Jim Douglass spends six months hunting the four outlaws he believes responsible. When they escape from jail before their execution, he pursues them all the way to Mexico.
  • In One Foot in Hell, after his wife dies, Mitch Barrett starts on a long term plan to take revenge on the town he blames for her death.
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Wenwu reformed the criminal Ten Rings to get revenge for his wife. The entire plot is driven by his belief he can bring back his wife and the extremes he's willing to go to accomplish it.
  • The Hitman's Bodyguard: The dissident who was forced to watch his family be murdered by Dukhovich is one of the eyewitnesses who testifies against the dictator in his trial. Unfortunately the defense convinces the ICC to strike his entire testimony as hearsay. Which is not remotely how hearsay works.
  • In the 1983 Made-for-TV Movie adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, the titular character is a disfigured former opera conductor whose wife was a singer Driven to Suicide by scathing reviews of her performance. He is out for revenge against the critics who mocked her.

  • The Cemeteries of Amalo: The first mystery in The Grief of the Stones involves an aristocrat who rightfully believes his wife of fifty years and only source of happiness has been murdered and passionately requests official action to avenge her. After the killer's trial and conviction, he commits suicide due to feeling he has nothing left to live for.
  • Michael Edwards in Red Storm Rising intervenes to stop the rape of Vigdis Augustdotir in part because of the brutal murder of his fiancee when he was attending the US Air Force Academy.
  • Lucas Trask in H. Beam Piper's Space Viking trades in his family estates for a starship to chase after his wife's killer. He then continues to fund his crusade by a) nuking and looting cities, and b) offering cities the chance to pay him not to nuke them, and sometimes to nuke and loot someone else. As he begins to recover from the trauma, he begins working on c) trade and d) lighting the blue touch paper on what might become a new Federation.
  • Canoc Caspro barely averts this in Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin. It's only his responsibilities as brantor that keep him from riding up to Drummant alone to avenge his wife's murder.
  • Neshi, the Tech Detective and lead character of The Wandering, becomes this after the death of his wife Etarina, made all the more heartbreaking when he found out that she was pregnant.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, Piotr Pierre Vorkosigan becomes this following the assassination of his wife, eldest son and youngest daughter by Mad Emperor Yuri, with only his second son surviving. Piotr then kicks off a two-year civil war to depose Yuri, and replace him with his old friend and protege; he succeeds, and the war ends with Piotr helping to dismember Yuri.
  • Older Than Print: Kriemhild in the Nibelungenlied becomes a Crusading Widow after Hagen murders her husband Siegfried. To get her revenge, she marries Etzel and lurse the Burgundians to his court. The situation is not improved when Hagen also murders Kriemhild's and Etzel's son.
  • Luke Skywalker in the later part of Legacy of the Force. As a Jedi, he's above simple revenge killing, but he is definitely determined to find out who killed Mara and bring him to justice. Ben, Luke's son, gets in on trying to take out Jacen after the Embrace of Pain incident, but ultimately, it's Jacen's own sister who strikes him down.
  • In the Sheriff Joanna Brady mysteries by J.A. Jance, Joanna takes up her Andy's mission to become sheriff of Cochise County and clean out the corruption in the county after he is killed just before the election and then framed as a Dirty Cop.
  • The grade-school teacher protagonist of the Stephen King story "Dolan's Cadilliac" obsessively plots to kill the eponymous mob boss after he has the teacher's wife killed to prevent her from testifying against him.
  • 1632; Charles I decides to prevent the English Civil War by rounding up Oliver Cromwell and his future revolutionaries and imprisoning/executing them. Thing is, at this point in history (1634) Cromwell was still a loyal servant of the crown and hadn't even considered rebelling against Charles, but when Charles kills his wife and son in the process of arresting him Cromwell decides to start planning that revolution far ahead of schedule.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Chuck has Anti-Hero Daniel Shaw undergo a Face–Heel Turn into a Woobie Anti-Villain after finding out that his beloved wife was killed by his current lover, Sarah. After learning this information he defects from the CIA to The Ring and devotes himself entirely to ensuring that Sarah suffers.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Catelyn Stark vows revenge after her husband's death at the Lannisters' hands: "We will kill them all." Unfortunately, that didn't happened due to the Red Wedding and since her resurrected version from the books as the vengeful Lady Stoneheart is Adapted Out, we will never get to see it fulfilled. Her daughter Arya avenges her family instead by assasinating all of House Frey (who murdered Cat, Robb and Talisa at the Red Wedding) and killing Littlefinger, the man who betrayed her father first and started this mess; the Lannisters end up doing a good job of destroying each other.
    • In the History and Lore vid for the Brotherhood Without Banners, Thoros of Myr describes the organization as this due to recruiting all men that lost everything after the War of the Five Kings.
      Thoros of Myr: Our war wasn't over. The generals had gone home but the soldiers stayed. Either they had no homes to return to or they'd gotten a taste for other people's. The Brotherhood was the people's only defense. We became the brothers of murdered siblings, husbands of murdered wives and fathers of murdered children.
  • Hell on Wheels has:
    • Bohannon, for the first season at least, who opens up the show with tracking down the Union soldiers who killed his wife and son
    • Lily Bell as a Crusading Widow who following her husbands murder (right in front of her - she avoided the same fate by killing his murderer minutes after) makes it her mission to see that the railroad he died making plans for is completed.
  • Spartacus in the Starz series of the same name. So much so that he is offered the life of the wife responsible for his wife's slavery in order to stop his crusade and "balance the scales". He doesn't take it, because while he began his Slave Revolt in his wife's name, he doesn't believe anyone should have to suffer in slavery and is now determined to free all of Rome's slaves (making him a comparatively more idealistic version of this trope).
  • Sam Winchester's fiancee-to-be's murder in the pilot episode of Supernatural makes him obsess over hunting her killer. Twenty-two years earlier, the boys' father, John Winchester became a widower when his wife died in the same way. And he spent the rest of his life hunting down her killer, including training his sons into the human weapons that make such fascinating television. He died first, but his spirit helped his eldest son off the bastard a season later.
  • Wyatt Cain in Tin Man. All he wants once he's been freed is to kill Zero, avenge his family, and die in a blaze of glory. Fortunately for him, his former boss forces him into a promise to guard DG "at all costs."
  • The Criminal Minds episode "Roadkill" features an unsub who targets people who drive red coupes, out of revenge for his wife's death. The red coupe driver who caused the accident was him. He was so twisted with guilt that it warped his memory.
  • 24:
    • Jack Bauer, who found his wife dead at the end of the first season, murdered by his mistress.
    • For much darker examples, there's Tony Almeida when he looks to avenge the murder of his wife and unborn son in season seven and Jack when he becomes one again in the final season after his current love interest is killed.
  • Leo Dalton in Silent Witness, after a car crashed into a restaurant and killed his wife and daughter.
  • Horatio Caine, from CSI: Miami, who had his wife shot and dying in his arms.
  • Two examples from CSI NY: Mac Taylor (who lost his wife on 9/11) and Don Flack (whose girlfriend was killed when a witness she was helping protect was kidnapped).
  • Robbie Lewis in Lewis was married in the predecessor series Inspector Morse, but in between the two series his wife was killed by a hit and run driver.
  • Jack Halford in New Tricks whose wife was killed in a hit and run prompting his retirement. When he comes out of his Heroic BSoD he uses his new job at UCOS to help him track down her killer.
  • Adrian Monk. His wife's murder is both the reason for the way he is, and his motivation for his work. He finally solves her murder in the Series Finale.
  • Homeland Security agent Mark Fallon, who appeared on two episodes of Castle. His wife was killed on 9/11.
  • Merlin (2008):
    • Queen Annis, who seeks revenge for the death of her husband at King Arthur's hands.
    • Also Uther and his anti-magic crusade brought on by Ygraine's death.
  • Noah Bennet's backstory on Heroes reveals that his first wife was killed in a botched home invasion by a special who had telekinetically flung her into a glass table. This sets him off on a quest to kill that special and others like him, which brought him on the radar of the Company. In the years since, he's cooled down a bit, but still harbors suspicious feelings about specials.
  • William Boone in the first season of Earth: Final Conflict. He figures out pretty quickly that the Taelons had his wife killed in order to "free" him to work for them (he previously refused because he wanted to spend more time with his wife). He seems to have settled down after Sandoval admits that he was the one who ordered her death to "spare" her. The second season opener reveals that Da'an was the one who ordered Sandoval to do that. In fact, Da'an never explicitly denied it to Boone, only telling him that he "did not wish her death", which isn't the same as ordering it.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Commander Benjamin Sisko's wife was killed by the Borg at Wolf 359, and he channeled his anger into designing a new breed of warship, the Defiant. Unfortunately, with no further contact with the Borg for the next few years, Starfleet shelved the Defiant-class project, which sent Sisko into a bit of a tailspin until he was reassigned to command Deep Space 9 at the start of the series.
    • Justified in "Image in the Sand". With Jadzia having been murdered in the previous season finale, Worf fears that she won't be allowed into Klingon Heaven unless he wins a great victory in her name.
  • In the first episode of Alias, the death of Sydney Bristow's fiance initially just causes her to take a lot of time off work. Unfortunately, her shady employers eventually decide she's becoming a liability and attempt to have her killed. This prompts her father to save her from a Professional Killer and explain that her employers are actually the bad guys. She spends the next few seasons nursing a virulent loathing for Arvin Sloane, her boss, and entire seasons later, she makes it clear that she will never forgive him for having her fiance killed.
  • Gibbs from NCIS. His first wife and daughter were murdered by a drug dealer, and he got his revenge.
  • Sam Hanna from NCIS: Los Angeles after his wife is kidnapped and suffocated. He also gets his revenge.
  • Cole in the first episode of Tracker. The alien he's initially sent to find is the killer of his wife and daughter.
  • Doctor Who often treats the Doctor's companions as his significant other (the occasional hint of romance does no harm either). Following the death of Clara Oswald, the Doctor enters into this mode to seek revenge of those ultimately responsible, threatening to become the Implacable Man.
    • Although it is not explicitly stated, the Doctor likely feels this way towards the Daleks too, given that it was probably the time war that cost him his children and the rest of his family. As if he didn't have enough reasons to hate those tin can murder machines...
  • Michael Knight in what was originally supposed to be the series finale of Knight Rider. Having just burned out at his job after the last case, he plans to quit the Foundation and is reunited with Stevie Mason, his fiance from his previous "life" as Michael Long. Just after Michael announces his retirement, they get married... only to have the bad guy chasing Michael kill her (while aiming for him) just minutes after they were wed. After that, the rest of the episode has Michael on a warpath to get his revenge.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger's backstory includes a fiancée who was murdered. A friend later reveals that he promptly threw himself into his police work both to distract himself from his grief and to find her killer.
  • Richard Kimble of The Fugitive.
    • Kimble and Gerard in the 2000 remake. The latter has now been given a backstory of his first wife dying in a car accident. It soon becomes obvious that his lingering grief and guilt is the reason he's so hell bent on catching Kimble.
  • Inspector Lewis Erskine, from The F.B.I.. He was targeted for an ambush that killed his wife; he periodically cites this as a motivation for his work.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Private Channel", Mr. Williams plans to blow up the plane because his wife and daughter were killed in a plane crash caused by the company's negligence.
  • Strong Medicine's Dylan West fell into such a Heroic B So D after his fiancée's death that he nearly gave up his medical career. He snapped himself out of it and decided to honor her by switching to her specialty—women's health—and throwing himself into it.

  • Magnus of The Adventure Zone: Balance, who's vowed vengeance on Governor Kalen, who killed his wife and father-in-law, and destroyed his town. Interestingly, he never completes his vengeance arc, as he forgets the memory of Governor Kalen in Wonderland. While Magnus begins the story as a more typical example of this arc, with a bit of a death wish, he learns to find happiness in his life, living as his late wife would have wanted him to.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Necromunda: After the brutal assassination of her husband on their wedding day, Belladonna De'Escher left her family and took up work as a Bounty Hunter, searching for clues to the identity of those responsible for her beloved Tzakwon's death.

    Video Games 
  • Senua of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a rare female example. The game follows her journey To Hell and Back to save the soul of her slain lover Dillion, as she cuts through anything between them. As the game progresses, it explores the psychological and emotional problems that stem from refusing to let a loved one go.
  • Gabriel Belmont from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow fits this trope to a cut and dried tee, and a latent prospect of reviving his childhood sweetheart, Marie, by reassembling a Dismantled MacGuffin is his original – and afterwards, only – motivation throughout the entirety of the story. He jumps off the slippery slope as a result.
  • Kivan from the first Baldur's Gate is an impassive and ruthless archer who had launched a campaign against the local brigands after their leader, Tazok, murdered his wife, Deherianna. According to the man himself, his need for revenge is what is giving him the strength to go on.
  • Kratos from God of War kills his own family and spends the rest of the series haunted by the memory and seeking revenge on the Gods for making him do so and for otherwise being colossal jerkasses.
  • Max Payne spends the first game on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the big conspiracy that killed his wife and newborn girl. It takes a while for him to get started (primarily due to spending most of the game trying to find out who murdered his partner and set him up to take the fall for it), but when he does...
  • Carth Onasi in Knights of the Old Republic. His primary motive is killing his treasonous commanding officer who announced his defection to the Sith by bombing Carth's homeworld, and among the casualties...
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Thane's work as an assassin led to his wife being killed. He was pretty changed by it. Deconstructed as leaving on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge as opposed to being there for their son when he most needed it drove a massive wedge between them and became Thanes greatest regret.
    • Notable that even if she wasn't romanced in the first game, Liara still has a subtle vibe of this. After Shepard's death, she handed his/her remains over to Cerberus in order to bring them back, then went and waged war for two years against The Shadow Broker for trying to sell Shepard's corpse to the Collectors. Keep in mind, before this, she was a shy and mild-mannered archaeologist.
  • Boone from Fallout: New Vegas. Interesting in that while he is motivated by his wife's death, it's not the strongest guiding force in his life or even the reason he feels that fate's only keeping him alive to toy with him.
  • Fallout 4 has several. Among the more notable:
    • The main character, the Sole Survivor, witnesses his/her spouse killed right in front of them and their son kidnapped, but are trapped in a cryogenic pod and unable to stop it. Upon finally emerging, they vow to get their son back and avenge their spouse's death.
    • Deacon, one of game's companions, works with the Railroad because his late wife, Barbara, was a synth. She was killed by an anti-synth gang, the same gang that Deacon ran with in his youth; he realized that he had been horrifically bigoted all along once they actually killed one. His old gang eventually found him and killed Barbara for being a synth — he proceeded to slaughter every single one of them. He seeks to atone for her death and his former bigotry by helping as many synths as he can.
  • Varian Wrynn in World of Warcraft, though he's fortunate enough to keep his son as a Protectorate (if often enough a reluctant one). He still blames himself for not being able to save her, though a bit less so as of the novel Wolfheart, and holds a very long and violent grudge against the Defias for their part in his wife's death. While, granted, he does tend to have pretty terrible luck with loved ones in general, Tiffin's death much more than others really threw him into gritty Anti-Hero territory... at least once he finally snapped out of his depression from it.
    • Mankrik is an Orc questgiver who went on the warpath after his wife was killed by quillboars, sending players on quests to massacre them en-masse.
  • Cyan Garamonde in Final Fantasy VI goes berserk when his wife and son are killed, followed by a long period of soul-agonizing Corner of Woe. But he eventually gets better, regaining his sense of purpose and becoming a formidable warrior. note  The game's story plays this straight, but in game battles he can seldom outperform most of his comrades in special skills, except maybe as Psycho Cyan.
  • Subverted in Persona 4. Yu's detective uncle Dojima obsessed for years over finding the person responsible for killing his wife in a hit-and-run accident to the point where he became a depressed workaholic and neglected his young daughter, Nanako. His Social Link revolves around Yu helping him come to terms with her passing and let go of his need for revenge so he can focus on being a better father to Nanako. He does assert that he's going to continue his search for her killer, but this time because it's his job.
  • The Big Bad of Arc One in Wizard101 is Malistaire, who used to be the professor of the Death school of magic before his wife Sylvia, who was the professor of the Life school, passed away from an incurable illness. He was selfless, highly skilled in his school of magic, and deeply admired across the Spiral, but he went off the deep end soon after she died and went on a mission to bring her back by any means necessary, enacting a plot to steal a book of powerful magic in order to awaken the Dragon Titan, who has the power to resurrect the dead. In the process, he's left multiple worlds across the Spiral in violent chaos, which you'll now have to traverse and repair to eventually get to him and stop his plan, because the Dragon Titan is extremely dangerous and will quickly lay waste to the land again if awoken.
  • James Sunderland of Silent Hill 2 is a particularly dark example; after his wife Mary dies ( supposedly) of terminal illness, James is driven deeply enough into desperation to believe she's still alive, and seeks her in the monster-infested hellhole that is Silent Hill. Of course, the intensity of his Survivor Guilt makes more sense when the player realizes he killed Mary himself.
    • It gets even darker. Though it varies depending on the player's actions, most Fanon agrees that this crusade ends in James's suicide.
  • Fiora's death in Xenoblade Chronicles is what inspires Shulk to want to hunt down Metal Face, and by extension, the Mechon. She turns out to have been Not Quite Dead, though.
  • Arcania starts off with the player character's love interest being killed at the end of the tutorial, when the troops of Rhobar III invade his home island. Her death becomes his motivation to travel to the main island of Southern Islands and seek revenge on Rhobar III.
  • Justified with Ch'gren, the Klingon Defense Force player character's free engineering bridge officer, in Star Trek Online. His wife Doran was the first officer on your ship during the tutorial, and being backstabbed by Captain Jurlek when she tried to do a Klingon Promotion meant her soul went to Gre'thor (i.e. Fire and Brimstone Hell). He wants to win a great victory in her name so that she can enter Sto'vo'kor (Klingon Valhalla).
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Possible deconstruction: the Tharja from the Bad Future in Fire Emblem Awakening, who never was the most stable person but went completely over the edge upon being widowed.
    • It's revealed in the Revelation route of Fire Emblem Fates that Cool Old Guy Gunter's wife and child were murdered by Garon and his army, along with his entire hometown.
    • In Fire Emblem Gaiden and its remake Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Valbar's entire family (parents, wife, child, younger siblings) were murdered by pirates. He, his best friend Leon and the hired sellsword Kamui can be recruited if they survive the battle they first appear in, and from then on he fights for Celica's cause.
  • Just how upset does the City Elf Warden get when she and her family and friends are kidnapped, raped and her betrothed murdered? A picture says a thousand words.
  • Talion from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor saw his entire family sacrificed in a blood magic ritual by Sauron's minions on the night the Dark Lord returned to Mordor. Saved by the intervention of an elven wraith, he intends to exact retribution on ALL the denizens of Mordor.
  • Ryudo from Eternal Twilight was an imperial soldier until his empire kidnapped and killed his wife and child because of their anti-magi policies, leading him to defect and seek revenge on the empire. When an imperial officer mocks him for marrying a magi, Ryudo gets angry enough to relearn his Instinct mode.
  • Invoked in Bayonetta 2: The plot of the game (and by extension, the first game) is set in motion when Loptr disguises himself as Loki, murders Balder's lover Rosa, and sends him on a quest for revenge as part of a plan to obtain the Sovereign Power and the Eyes of the World.
  • One of the Ambitions in Fallen London is Nemesis, which has the protagonist brought down into the Neath in order to avenge a fallen loved one. Two of the options for who this loved one was are a lover or a spouse.
  • In Dragalia Lost Grace doesn't seek her own death anymore and now seek the death of the Syndicate organization for killing her husband. The Master of the Syndicate is one exception due to Grace believing herself that she is not powerful enough.

    Web Animation 
  • Peepenstock from Of Weasels And Chickens. It is revealed in Episode Three that a weasel (Prima) killed his love interest, Willa. This fuels his previously inexplicable hatred towards Marcus the weasel throughout the musical.


    Web Original 
  • Serina: The warmonger matriarch is left blinded when the grieving mate of one of the soldiers she sent into battle stalks her after she fled the angry mob and stabs her in her good eye with a broken shaft from one of the gravedigger's spears.

    Web Video 
  • 3rd Life SMP: Scott was fairly neutral on the server, only tentatively allying with Grian and Scar out of necessity after his relations with Dogwarts soured. However, after Jimmy was Killed Off for Real in the Battle of the Red Desert on Day 7, Scott teamed up with the Red Desert faction and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge to take out as many Dogwarts members as he could. While this ultimately ends with Scott getting ultimately hunted down and killed on Day 8, his series' ending shows the two "Flower Husbands" being Together in Death in a Ghost Reunion Ending.
  • Critical Role: Orym was married to a fellow Air Ashari guard, Will, who was killed in an attack on the tribe and their leader. Six years later, he is on his current mission to seek revenge for his fallen husband.

    Western Animation 
  • Sky Dancers gives us Queen Skyla, who takes up her husband's mantle after he is killed but not really by his elder brother.
  • While not exactly a widower (because his wife Eliza is in a stasis chamber until her psychocrystal can be retrieved), Zachary Foxx in Galaxy Rangers has some warning flags of this trope. Rare in that he is a straight-up heroic example, but the topic of Eliza is still his Berserk Button.
  • J'onn J'onzz in Justice League is a downplayed version. His planet is dead, he's frequently tormented with his dead wife and children, and he is a member of the Justice League. Now he may have been this on Mars (as he was a member of the Resistance) but when the series starts he's calmed down a bit to warn Earth/protect people in general.
  • Dracula in Castlevania (2017) is an villainous example. His wife Lisa is burned at the stake as an witch for merely helping people with medicine and incensed by her death and the townsfolk's ungratefulness, he declares an genocidal war against mankind, unleashing The Legions of Hell to destroy everything in its path.
  • The short film Fuelled centers on a widow trying to track down the robber that killed her husband, and nearly killed her as well. However, her car runs out of fuel before reaching its destination, and her resulting desperation causes tragedy.
  • In the Season 5 finale of Rick and Morty, it is revealed that Rick spent most of his life trying (and eventually failing) to hunt down the Rick that killed his wife.

    Real Life 
  • Vitaly Kaloyev, a Russian architect who lost his wife and children in a flight accident in 2002. The accident was caused by a flight controller error, and the flight controller (a Danish man named Peter Nielsen) had been working for 16 hours continuously due to being an outsourced employee. Kaloyev tracked Nielsen to his house and stabbed him to death in front of his wife and children in 2004.
  • Piers Gerlofs Donia was a Frisian rebel, pirate and a massive giant of a man whose village was plundered by Habsburg-working mercenaries that also killed his kids and raped and murdered his wife. Not content with killing those responsible, he vowed to be a thorn on the Habsburgs' side, sinking 138 ships, burning two castles and destroying an army of 300 men. Despite these victories, he was unable to defeat a nation and retired disillusioned.
  • Peter I of Portugal was deeply in love with his wife's lady-in-waiting, noblewoman Inês de Castro, while he was still crown prince. They're known as the Romeo and Juliet of Portugal, for good reason. Their love affair didn't sit well in the court — especially after his wife died and he tried to marry Ines and legitimize their kids — and resulted in her getting assassinated by other scheming nobles in front of their children no less. Enraged, Peter found those responsible after ascending to the throne and ripped out their hearts, saying they had destroyed his so they didn't deserve to have any. As if that wasn't enough, legends say that he exhumed her body and had her dressed as a queen and forced the nobles to kiss her hand. It's because of these deeds that he is known as "Peter the Cruel". The coronation story may be apocryphal, but what we do know is that Peter claimed they had been secretly marriednote , officially making her queen. He then had her body taken from its burial place in Coimbra and enshrined in the Royal Monastery in a beautifully carved tomb, not next to his own but opposite — facing each other across the gallery. This way, at the Resurrection, when everyone gets re-bodied, the first thing Pedro and Ines will see is each other. Awww.

Alternative Title(s): Widower Hero