Even Death can feel a little lonely.
A rather infamous artistic motif that has lasted since the Renaissance and maybe before that, Death and the Maiden has been popular in mediums ranging from visual art to plays, music and even film.
The details are simple: feature the personification of Death with a beautiful, nubile human woman. Easy peasy. How this formula differs depends on the medium. Death is often presented as a skeleton with wings or a cloak and scythe or maybe just a wilting corpse. The woman is often nude or at least partially so. Their interactions vary as well, the maiden reacting with fear or arousal at Death's touch, while Death caresses, kills and/or whatever else the woman in question. It is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
This motif is commonly seen as an erotic one, two lovers making a connection in a way that even the viewer can only have limited comprehension of. Others can see it as a symbolic one, Death representing mortality and... well... you know, while the woman represents life and how the two dance in a delicate balance, being equal and opposite to one another.
A common variant of the Beast and Beauty trope.
- In the Black Butler OVA "The Tales of Will the Grim Reaper", aspiring writer Thomas Wallis is inspired by William T. Spears to write a novel with this very premise.
- The Irregular at Magic High School combines this trope with Apocalypse Maiden. Tatsuya, a grim-faced soldier with apocalyptic power, always follows Miyuki. Both of them prefer it that way- in part because it's Miyuki's duty to subdue Tatsuya if he becomes too much of a threat to the world.
- Death and the Maiden (Der Tod und das Mädchen) by Adolf Hering.
- Death of a Maiden◊ by Elna Borch.
- Death and the Maiden by Hans Baldung Grien.
- Death and the Maiden by lorna
- Death and the Maiden by Egon Schiele.
- One of the sculptures in the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno.
- Countless examples in medieval "Totentanz" series, since that dance is a very democratic thing and Death makes no exception for girls either. Here he gets a queen.
- Hades and Persephone from the Hades & Seph Saga operate under this. Hades rules over the Underworld and possesses a touch of death a power that his son Thanatos would possess in spades, while Persephone creates plant life (creating various breeds of flowers that flourish in the Underworld), can reincarnate souls and is given the title of "Goddess of Life" when she is given her title.
- Crimson Peak Features Edith, who has a light, colorful motif of butterflies, in love with Thomas Sharpe the bluebeard who is complicit in serial murders, and has a dark motif of moths (who eat butterflies I'm afraid)
- Death Takes a Holiday features Death who takes human form and falls in love with a young woman named Grazia. This very same plot would later be remade in the 1998 fantasy romance Meet Joe Black.
- Inspired the title of Tod und Mädchen, a biopic of Egon Schiele which concentrates on his unhappy relationships with women and the near-simultaneous deaths of himself and his wife in the 1918 influenza pandemic.
- The frequently-anthologized Joyce Carol Oates story "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" was originally titled "Death and the Maiden." In the story, a fifteen-year-old girl named Connie is visited by a smooth-talking, vaguely sinister stranger named Arnold Friend who offers her a ride in his car. Initially attracted to him, she slowly begins to realize that he is much older than he pretends to be.
- Keturah and Lord Death is a novel about a maiden who slowly realizes her feelings for Death.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy's relationship with Angel has overtones of this, especially given that being with 'death' isolates Buffy from her (human) friends and even her moral code. Both she and Angel note that their relationship is dangerous and hurtful to both of them.
Angel: This isn't some fairy tale. When I kiss you, you don't wake up from a deep sleep and live happily ever after.
Buffy: No. When you kiss me I want to die.
- Gender-Flipped in the song She Was So Beautiful by the Russian rock-band Splean, in which the narrator (supposedly male) meets a personification of Death who happens to be the very beautiful woman. Narrator wants to date her, but she says to him who she really is, and then leaves, saying "see you later" and "until the better days". note
- Cellar Darling's sophomore album The Spell centers around a take on this trope wherein the maiden falls in love with Death, and thus Death casts an Immortality spell on her in response. The maiden then attempts suicide after suicide just to get him to reverse the spell so she could finally be with him.
- Hades and Persephone from Greco-Roman Mythology have shades of this, Hades being the God of the Underworld and the Lord of the Dead, Persephone being the daughter of the Goddess of the Harvest and the bringer of spring.
- In Hindu Mythology, this trope is the reason Daksha didn't understand why his daughter wanted to marry Shiva, the god of the dead. Turns out Shiva's actually a pretty nice guy, in the sense that death is just natural and a necessary part of the karmic system.
- Elisabeth has Death and Sisi in the same pose as the picture at the end (both are fully clothed in white), after he's kissed her.
- In Final Fantasy XII, the Esper Zalera the Death Seraph is depicted as a horned Lich-like monster carrying a semi-naked woman in his right arm. According to the lore surrounding him, he was tasked with judging the souls of the damned but rebelled against the gods, and the woman is a shamaness who he abducted in a bid to increase his powers.
- Death and the Maiden: The Girl had a Near-Death Experience and is thus aware of how Death works (he needs to be called by a name). So when she picks him accidentally up as he hitchhikes across the country, she decides to run, causing him to be alarmed and dedicated to reap what he couldn't in the past. What sounds terrifying is actually a hilarious comedy, not only because Death tries to cheat wherever he can and regularily runs amok, the girl is also a brilliant Deadpan Snarker. Belligerent Sexual Tension ensues. They actually begin to fall in love towards the end, causing Death to commit a mass murder to drive her away.
- In Grim Tales from Down Below, Grim haunts Mandy's life, having fallen in love with her and the evil she has accomplished into adulthood. He finally faces her and gives her a choice; marry him or finally face death. She agrees and becomes his wife, even having children with him even though they aren't actually ''his'' kids.
- Deconstructed in Homestuck: Lord English, the monsterous skeletal being who is known as the apocalypse-bringer and lord of the angels of death, always has a woman as his dragon. It's made clear however, that both of the ones we see loath him and what he uses them for, and it's implied that the reason he chooses women to serve him in destroying reality is because a complex stemming from his hatred of his "weak" sister whom he murdered to gain control of their shared body.
- In the The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Grim In Love", Grim falls in love with a Goth woman named Malaria. She shares his sadistic sense of humor and they both enjoy their company. By the end, he reveals to her that he is the real Grim Reaper and that all of his friends are actual monsters, leading her to run away in sheer terror.
- Odd example in Adventure Time: Death is dating Life, a snake-woman with two heads. He tries to make a mixtape for her.