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Desperately Craves Affection

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Sarah Packard: I love you.
Eddie Felton: You need the words?
Sarah Packard: Yes, I need them very much. If you ever say them, I'll never let you take them back.

Humans need affection (physical as well as verbal) to thrive. This trope is about characters who have been deprived of affection for so long that they desperately crave it. While this can be interpreted as the opposite of Hates Being Touched, it doesn't have to be: sometimes the person Hates Being Touched but wants affection anyway, or even more because of it. Sometimes, a character who's like this could become so vulnerable/naïve that they are willing to accept affection from anyone despite the fact the person may only be using them for their own personal gain. I Just Want to Have Friends is a Sub-Trope.

In extreme cases, this trope may or may not lead to the person exhibiting No Sense of Personal Space or Yandere traits, as well as not being good with rejection. This trope can easily overlap with Hates Being Alone or Because You Were Nice to Me.

Compare Love Hungry, where the character wants to force others to love them, and Attention Whore, where a character acts out but not necessarily for affection.

If a person has been very isolated from people and human contact, they may also Go Mad from the Isolation. See Clingy Child for children who cling to others because they seek affection.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Adekan:
    • Kojiro appears to be a Living Emotional Crutch for Shiro with all the Ho Yay implications attached and Shiro actively allows Kojiro to get close to him most of the time stemming from his Dark and Troubled Past and as a kid was very close to Anri who served as a Living Emotional Crutch for him before Kojiro came into the picture. It's even said outright that since Shiro had his humanity stripped away from him he's learning to be kind and care about people again ever since he got close to Kojiro, given how Kojiro himself is such a kindhearted guy. It's also implied to be the reason he's clingy around women too.
    • Anri calls Shiro to complain when a panda he's attracted to rejects him. Shiro states that Anri does so every time he's rejected. It's also implied to be the reason he's such a Crazy Jealous Guy about Shiro because Shiro keeps pushing him away compared to their time as children when he was much warmer towards Anri.
  • Guts and Griffith (before he became Femto, anyway) in Berserk are both painfully starved for genuine affection and intimacy. Guts is also a combination of this and Hates Being Touched, though he makes an exception for Casca. Following the Eclipse, Guts has a full-on case of this for Casca, which Casca cannot reciprocate because of her Eclipse-induced madness, which makes him miserable in a big way and is one of the key motivators of his quest to Find the Cure!.
  • Black Butler:
    • Ciel is implied to be like this at times, stemming from the loss of his parents at a young age and being put to torture in a cage before Sebastian rescued him. Although he claimed he Hates Being Touched, there are times where he seeks attention from Sebastian and from his fiancée Elizabeth. In particular, he misses his parents incredibly and still loves them, wanting to get revenge for them.
    • Alois Trancy. His tendency to act out is because his demonic servants are completely incapable of providing the type of affection he needs.
  • Bleach: Yukio Hans Vorarlberna. His sadism might've been biological, but he would've been far less homicidal if his parents gave enough of a damn to raise him properly. Fully explained in chapter 471: he was a former Cute Mute who was kept locked away by his parents due to his speech impediment and was so lonely that he first used his powers to recreate images of his parents as sort-of Imaginary Friends.
  • Rolo in Code Geass seems to be this way in his relationship with his brother Lelouch. He's really clingy towards Lelouch, tries to Murder the Hypotenuse so he can remain Lelouch's brother, and sacrifices himself for Lelouch, telling him that even if Lelouch betrayed him, their relationship was real to him.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, this is an integral part of Zenitsu's character, used for both comedic and dramatic effect, as he grew up as a lonely orphan nurturing a strong need of belonging, wanting to be needed by those around him and eventually be loved by a significant other. Early on, this is shown in his comedic failed attempts to charm girls, while the dramatic side is shown through all the challenges Zenitsu is pushed to overcome his flaws, like his cowardly behavior, in order to grow as a demon slayer, hoping others will appreciate him as their hero.
  • Descendants of Darkness: Tsuzuki finally confides in Hisoka that he's not human, and then he attempts to stab out his eyes with a shard of glass because it was the color of his eyes that made the people in his life mistreat and abuse him. Hisoka is absolutely furious that they would treat him like this, and that even after that Tsuzuki still craved their acceptance because he was so starved for love.
  • Durarara!!: Shizuo Heiwajima doesn't see affection as a weakness or liability - he craves human contact more than anything else, romantic or otherwise - but experience has taught him that he's dangerously prone to hospitalizing people he wants to be close to.
  • Elfen Lied:
    • Played for Drama with Lucy. This flaw is her desperate need for affection. Having had a horrible life, she wants someone to love her so much that if she even suspects a betrayal, heads will roll. Literally. This flaw led her to commit the greatest mistake of her life which is killing Kouta's parents and leaving him severely traumatized. Sure, he did lie about the gender of his cousin in order to spare her feelings, but he is also unaware of what Lucy had gone through before meeting him so there is no excuse for Lucy to do such a horrible deed.
    • Mayu had it tough with her Abusive Parents, and her stepfather who raped her. She was going to commit suicide because of this hardship, but the sound of a puppy barking and the attention it paid to her made her choose not to.
  • Quite a few characters in Fruits Basket. Look no further than Hatori's reaction to being accepted by Kana even after she finds out about his curse and vice versa with Kyo and Tohru.
  • Girls Bravo: Yukina The Big Bad falls for Yukinari because Yukinari is the only guy that does not trigger her allergy to men. By the end of the series, she takes every opportunity to cling to him to make up for a lifetime of being starved of physical intimacy.
  • In Hetalia: Axis Powers, it's implied that Russia is this. Unfortunately, he tends to scare people away.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War:
    • Given that Miko's parents have been absent for most of her life due to their careers, she is starved for affection, and it's reflected in just about every aspect of her character from her hobbies (listening to CDs of guys whispering words of encouragement and reading web novels designed for self-inserts), her habit of promoting justice (as it makes her feel closer to her parents that do humanitarian aid and work as a judge), and even her sleeping habits (using a giant teddy bear as a bed because lying in its arms gives her the feeling of a princess carry). She is also very quick to warm up to people who give her even the most basic of compliments, even if it's clear that they don't have the best of intentions.
    • Hayasaka wishes she could spend more time with her mother, wants friends, and increasingly gets more frustrated the more she hears about Kaguya and Shirogane dating, to the point that she tried to give a Forceful Kiss to Fujiwara and writes down in a notebook what her ideal date would look like. When she allows Kaguya to show Ishigami her notes to help with his upcoming date with Tsubame, he comments that whoever wrote it must really want to be kissed and has no experience in dating at all.
  • A Man and His Cat: Fukumaru spent a very long time in the shelter, watching younger kittens get adopted while he languished alone. As a result, he's happy for anyone to give him the time of day.
  • Naruto:
    • Unsurprisingly, the title character has this trait. Being an orphan and the village pariah for something beyond his control, Naruto acted out in desperate attempts to be validated and not seen as a monster, with hateful eyes. He fortunately gains friends and loved ones (though even then, he does not shake off the loneliness as seen in a prequel manga to Road to Ninja, which shows him playing cards with his Shadow Clones, indicating he's not that close to his friends.) However, he does become Happily Married.
    • Gaara to a lesser extent was this but also went mad before Naruto set him on the right path. By Shippuden, he has become the beloved village leader while repairing his bonds with his older siblings.
    • In The Last movie, Toneri desires to take Hinata away from the world before he destroys it so he will no longer be alone.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Generally, much of the cast suffer from deprivation of love, be it familial, romantic, or both. Here are some cases that particularly stand out:
    • Shinji Ikari is an odd mixture of this trope and Hates Being Touched. He desperately wants love and affection but is so terrified of being hurt by rejection that he pushes everyone away regardless. Unfortunately, just when it seems he finally found what he wanted in Kaworu Nagisa, he lost him in one of the most horribly heart-breaking ways imaginable.
    • In spite of her narcissism, all Asuka really wants is admiration for her skills as a pilot, Kaji's respect, and Shinji's affection. Her struggle in getting them puts her in a downward spiral.
  • No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!: Tomoko Kuroki, the unkempt Otaku protagonist, has it as her mission in life to become popular- a mission she repeatedly fails due to having No Social Skills. To the point of Brother–Sister Incest overtones in her interactions with Tomoki, with Tomoki none too pleased. Also part of why she's so attached to her only real friend Yuu, besides the Homoerotic Subtext.
  • One Piece:
    • Chopper had this, most evidently shown when he intentionally injured himself so that Hiriluk - the only person who was ever kind to him - would let him stay just a bit longer.
    • Ace. Having been neglected and told he shouldn't have been born, Ace was love-starved and spent most of his childhood wondering if he should have been born. His last words were "Thank you for loving me".
    • Baby-5, one of Doflamingo's top fighters, has this to an insane degree. She was abandoned by her own mother for being useless, so anyone showing her kindness and interest, even if it is blatantly false, will receive her loyalty. If a person says they like her and asks for a load of cash, she will give them that cash without hesitation. Another member of her own crew admits this fact makes her easy to manipulate and keep in line. She is finally defeated and turns away from Doflamingo when a man named Sai, not knowing the depth of her condition, inadvertently showed her some kindness in their fight and she fell for him. At his words, those who serve Doflamingo should die, she is willing to blow her own head off. Sai stops her and says he will take her away, make her his wife, and always treat her with respect.
  • Seraph of the End: Though he initially acts the opposite, Yuu craves to have a family and for people to love him ever since he lost his family at a young age. It's even stated in the manga that Yuu desires to be loved by others.
  • Tokyo Ghoul:
    • The protagonist Ken Kaneki more or less requires his loved ones around him to maintain his resolve and well-being. His best friend Hide in particular is his Living Emotional Crutch.
    • Karren desires affection from Tsukiyama and even sacrifices herself at the cost of her own life to save him after he acknowledges her feelings. She even thinks about how she wants to be loved.
    • Shiro and Kurona once lived a happy life with a loving family who they lost to a ghoul. They went from being happy and optimistic to being nihilistic and cold. They develop an attachment to the Mad Scientist Kanou because he is willing to change them into ghouls so they can get their revenge and they think being humans living in a "twisted world" is the cause of all their suffering. Eto manages to Break Them by Talking by cruelly stating that no matter how much they cling to each other and Kanou they can't fill the emptiness left behind as a result of their loving parents dying.
    • After Hinami loses her parents she states she's very sad and turns to Kaneki and Touka for affection and comfort as a way to keep from succumbing to loneliness. She needs constant contact from the people she loves and when they pull away (Kaneki), she gets very sad indeed.
    • Torso's backstory reveals he grew up isolated from others and was abused by his father. He states the best time of his life was when he made his first female friend. When his father killed her he killed him. He also desires love and affection from Mutsuki, though he resorts to unscrupulous means to do so.
  • In the Trigun manga, a Murder the Hypotenuse ploy turns out to have been over half the point of the entire Gung-Ho Guns plotline. Legato was jealous of Vash. Because Knives was preoccupied with his twin, the only person on the planet he didn't intend to kill, and Legato apparently felt that if Knives had no one living to care about, he might find some scrap of affection for his chief minion. And Knives breaks his spine when he finds out.
  • Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest: A strange example can be found in Konuma in chapter 85 that has a lot of Fridge Brilliance and Fridge Horror attached: after trying to get Inugami to sleep with her and eventually trying to blackmail him with Aoshika's whereabouts, she finally gets Inugami to push her down on to Aoshika's bed(!) and kiss her. In a startling moment of clarity, Konuma muses that no matter what she did, she couldn't get a reaction from Inugami but if it's for Aoshika, he would do anything to Konuma. She even points out that he couldn't give a rat's ass about how that feels to her and he agrees. It's one of the few times that Konuma shows any true humanity. What makes it worse is that for all the disturbing characters in this manga, Konuma is the only one that NO ONE CARES ABOUT. Inugami has Aoshika's love, Chiba's mutual respect and is the focus of Haguro's obsession, Haguro has the respect and fear of most of his subordinates and the Kurodas had each other. She is, at best, a biological means to an end for Haguro and an annoyance at all other times. Granted, much of this is the result of her personality (which includes her masturbating after a massacre just to feel something) and the company she keeps but it's still quite tragic. Don't worry, though; the sympathetic feels will completely disappear in the next chapter where she tries and fails to kill Inugami.
  • An extremely tragic example in Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS. 10 years before the events of the series, Dr. Kogami initiated Project Ignis to create the world's first fully sapient AI. It involved kidnapping 6 very young children and locking them in separate rooms each with nothing but a VR headset that has a single-player Dueling Program installed. They were only fed when they won a duel against the AI and were given agonizing electric shocks if they lost. This went on for 6 months and only ended because Kogami's son, who wasn't much older than they were, couldn't stand the screams anymore and called the police. 5 of the 6 children understandably view it as an incredibly traumatic event that ruined their lives. The 6th child, a boy known to the audience only as Specter, viewed it as the best thing that ever happened to him because he was a neglected orphan who viewed a literal tree as his only family and being brutally tortured for 6 months was the most attention he had ever received in his short life.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): San very much has a case of this, having never gotten anything but abuse and the scarcest shred of respect from his brothers (Ghidorah's other two heads) throughout Ghidorah's eons-long life. It leads to him seeking affection Ichi and Ni never gave him from his new sister Vivienne when he fuses to her to form Monster X. This trope also applies to San's Alternate Self, who never underwent the main San's post-fusion-to-Vivienne Character Development.
  • In My Hero Academia fanfic Conversations with a Cryptid, after being kept away from their family for so long and being denied human contact, All For One is very affectionate with their son Izuku, including giving him a hug and later even cuddle the kid to sleep. This creeps out Izuku very much since he knows All For One is still a murderous supervillain.
  • Weiss in Craving the Sky is an interesting case where this trope overlaps with Hates Being Touched. Thanks to a mostly loveless and emotionally abusive upbringing, the girl is absolutely starved of affection, however this same abuse combined with various other issues has also left her extremely uncomfortable with physical contact. She regularly struggles with these two opposing impulses, and will often change her mind about which one she wants mid-conversation.
  • In My Hero Academia fanfic Daymare, Izuku due to having endured a decade of abuse, ridicule, and social ostracization due to his status as 'Quirkless' latches onto anyone who is nice to him.
  • Denounce the Evils portrays Jessie as this due to her abandonment issues. She finds it hard to get close to people and let her walls down, but once she does do this she attaches hard.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: This is part of the reason Italy loves to glomp both Germany and Japan. With his horrible anxiety, he really needed to be loved by others. He had been deprived of affection for hundreds of years due to Austria's abuse of him while he was a child.
  • Mukuro in the Reborn! (2004) fanfic "Homecoming" due to him being kept asleep for so long since he's a prisoner. This leads to him frequently sexually harassing Tsuna.
  • In Lucina Reacts, Tharja is revealed to be this.
  • A Moth to a Flame: Marcy admits she always felt starved of attention and affection from even her parents and best friends. The Core takes advantage of this by giving her Affectionate Gesture to the Head plenty of times.
  • In Marked, Tara, having never received any affection from her birth family, quickly latches on to Xander once he saves her, to the extent of ignoring food in order to cuddle with him, deciding that physical hunger was less important than emotional hunger.
  • Syaoran in Shatterheart becomes desperate for any sort of affection after being kept isolated for years and because his friends started to shun him for his clone's betrayal.
  • In Sol Invictus, Garp secretly yearns for open affection, which makes him especially close to Fem!Luffy.
  • In A Triangle in the Stars, Bill Cipher grows into this after his Character Development, but he's a very minor case. This was shown in Chapter Thirty-One, where he silently wished the hug from Steven lasted longer and even got a little sad. He also wants people to trust and love him, wanting to move on.
  • Watchmen: Fanworks like to portray Rorsarch this way, despite that the canonical Rorsarch is unlikely to respond positively to affection of any kind.

    Films — Animated 
  • Frozen has Anna who is so love-starved from her palace isolation that she agrees to marry Prince Hans the same day she meets him, right after Love at First Sight and a duet with him. Both her sister and new acquaintance Kristoff are aghast at her supposed impulsiveness, though Anna seems rightly afraid she'll never get another chance to meet someone like that. Unfortunately it turns out that her supposed true love doesn't really love her at all and when combined with Elsa's actions at the ice castle, it seemed that nobody really loved her. But then as soon as Olaf reveals that Kristoff loved her, Anna is so overjoyed at the prospect of someone loving her that she immediately runs for him to get a True Love's Kiss not just to thaw her frozen heart but also implying that she wants to have someone that doesn't either shut her out or use her for their ends.
  • The titular character of Megamind has spent most of his life feeling unloved simply because of how they viewed him. After spending years embracing the role of the villain, he starts pursuing a relationship with Roxanne while pretending to be Bernard. His pretense was initially to avoid being seen by her, but after receiving a hug from her the second he put on the disguise, it’s clear Megamind was so overjoyed to have some kind of affection that he kept pretending just to feel loved.
  • Maui from Moana, whose many world-changing acts for humanity were spurned on by this. This apparently stems from his parents trying to kill him when he was a baby.
  • WALL•E: Evident in his relationship with EVE. It's probably the unavoidable consequence of spending 700 years alone.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 saw himself as an invisible nobody after having been treated as an outcast his whole life, and ultimately and desperately desired to have friends and genuine human bonding. As a result, he easily latches onto people when they show some amount of decent human interaction towards him. Even the simple act of acknowledging his first name makes him latch onto people such as with Spider-Man, and Gwen for a brief moment. After becoming Electro, this desire takes on a more dangerous level.
  • Babel: This is the basis for Chieko's storyline. After her mother's death, her father became distant, and she craves affection so badly that even sexual attention from strangers seems like an acceptable substitute for the parental love she's no longer getting.
  • In Cast Away, our hero ends up talking to a volleyball... which, according to the survival specialist consultants on the film, saved his life from going mad from isolation. It becomes clear that our hero has become more attached to it than can be considered strictly sane when he risks his life to "rescue" it when it falls overboard off of a raft. His reason for the attachment to "Wilson" is probably due to his desperation for anything to talk to or have contact with due to him missing the love of his life and longing for her via looking at her picture while on the island.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Credence is vulnerable to emotional manipulation by Graves because of his having to hide his magic from his magic-hating mother who abuses him in her bigotry. Graves is unusually affectionate towards Credence for his own gain and the novel describes Credence as being "utterly enthralled" by Graves.
  • Fish Tank: Mia has a very prickly nature, but her bravado and belligerence mask a deep need for meaningful human connection. Her mother is an abusive alcoholic, she doesn’t get along with her little sister, and she’s fallen out with her only female friend.
  • Sarah Packard from The Hustler (1961), whose desperation is only held in check by her constant drinking. It becomes more obvious when she starts falling in love with Eddie.
  • In Ophelia, Queen Gertrude has this problem, on account of being neglected by her husband and fearing she's growing old and unattractive. As a result, she falls right into Claudius' arms due to him showering her with attention and compliments, and swiftly marries him after her first husband's untimely death so she won't be alone.
  • Star Wars: One of Anakin Skywalker's greatest flaws is his inability to let go of the people he loves. He can't bear to see them hurt or parted from him, constantly tries to gain others' affection or approval, and is eventually driven to extreme lengths to protect his wife. It's not helping that as a boy, he was separated from his mother and then found out that his father figure Qui-Gon Jinn died, leaving him as a ward to the Jedi. By the time he returns for his mother, he's unable to prevent her from dying, which he blames himself for. Upon marrying Padmé Amidala, who becomes the only family he has left, he grows paranoid about losing her, which Palpatine heavily exploits.
    • This is extended in the Clone Wars series, in which he had a padawan, Ahsoka Tano. After some unfortunate and completely avoidable events, she abandoned the Jedi Order and his side, which likely contributed to the frustration and rage against the Jedi Council we see in Revenge of the Sith.
  • Seemingly the case in The Sure Thing for the eponymous Sure Thing. Gib is thrown at the end of his 3000-mile Quest for Sex when the Sure Thing asks him to say that he loves her before they have sex.
  • Thor: Loki. On the one hand, he's a conniving, power-hungry liar, willing to betray his brother and doom him to permanent banishment while he took over the throne. On the other hand, he's a deeply damaged young man who's convinced he's The Un-Favourite, especially after finding out he was not only adopted, but from an enemy race, and is desperate for his father's approval and affection. It's made even sadder because he already had his father's acceptance and fondness, but convinced himself otherwise.
  • Lillie in Wild Orchids can't get her Married to the Job husband to give her affection or even attention. She winds up succumbing to the handsome prince that's been chasing her, mostly because he's the only one showing interest.
  • Wish You Were Here (1987): The basis for Lynda's storyline. In the absence of a mother and left with an inattentive, distant father, Lynda searches for love, affection, and attention where she can find it.
  • X-Men Film Series: Xavier, who is by nature a very sensitive individual who wears his heart on his sleeve, had developed severe abandonment issues through a combination of growing up as a Lonely Rich Kid and being left behind by his best friend Erik and his foster sister Raven at the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This culminates in him becoming a clinically depressed, Addled Addict for a whole decade. Hank takes care of Charles 24/7, and they are frightfully codependent because McCoy enables his friend's substance abuse after he produces a serum that dulls Xavier's mutant ability. They're excessively clingy on an emotional level, being each other's Only Friend and Living Emotional Crutch. Professor X's mental state vastly improves after 1973, yet he still craves affection, and it's expressed through his doting parenting style with his students. It's not adequate for him to merely be an educator; he also wants to be their adored and revered father figure, which is why he devotes so much of his time and energy assisting with their psychological well-being.

  • Gone Girl: Both Amy and Nick seem starved for affection in their dysfunctional relationship.
  • Psycho: Norman Bates in all adaptions has Mommy Issues which make him afraid of getting close to women for fear of his mother's disapproval, though he desperately longs to be intimate with a woman. So he settles for watching them while they're in a state of undress.
  • In the book Push, from which the movie Precious is adapted, the protagonist Precious is sexually abused by her father and is implied to have had the same thing happen to her by her mother, who also piles emotional and physical abuse on her including telling her nobody is ever going to love her. She receives no genuine familial affection from her family so Precious finds a way out of her traumatic daily life by escaping into daydreams. In her mind, she has created an alternate world where she is loved and appreciated.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Barry, the titular Hitman with a Heart was raised by a single father and a distant surrogate father after his death, leading him to develop a pathological need to be accepted by others that results in him becoming an Extreme Doormat in a codependent relationship with his Love Interest.
  • Bates Motel: Several characters try to battle their twisted psyches and loneliness by reaching out for physical contact with their loved ones.
  • The Big Bang Theory: In his backstory, Leonard was so deprived of affection from his mother as a child that he built a hugging machine... which his dad would borrow sometimes.
  • In one episode of Bones, Hodgins knew the Victim of the Week, Trent McNamara, when they were both children. They had a sleepover, and Mr. and Mrs. Hodgins' display of affection for their son confused Trent, as his parents only said they loved him if he'd done something to "deserve" it, which young Jack found deeply unsettling. There was no second sleepover.
  • Over the seasons of Breaking Bad, it becomes clear that this is one of Jesse's weaknesses - Jane, Gus, and most of all Walt are all able to manipulate him by giving him the mild signs of affection or praise that he lacks from anyone else in his life. It's particularly obvious with Walt - mid-season 3, he goes into a long rant about how he's lost absolutely everything he ever valued in his life because of Walt and wants to quit and never go back... but ends up returning to cook with him just because Walt tells him that his meth was actually really good.
  • Doctor Who: In "New Earth", the cloned disease carriers suffer from this and it's partly what makes them so dangerous. After being bred and treated as less than cattle by cold-hearted nuns, knowing nothing but containment pods all their lives, they're so desperate to feel the simple touch of another human once they get out that they don't seem to notice their touch is deadly to other people.
  • Footman Thomas Barrow of Downton Abbey is, for all his cold-hearted and dastardly ways, a lonely man in a world where people of his persuasion don't usually get a happy ending.
  • Hannibal:
    • Franklyn mostly just really wants a friend, as shown when he becomes attached to Hannibal.
    • Will is desperate for attachment to people due to the loneliness brought on by his mental illness. It's evident also in his heartbroken expression when Dr. Bloom turns down his offer at a relationship because she thinks he's unstable. He appears to fall deeper into Sanity Slippage afterwards.
  • The Office (US):
    • This is a major motivation for Michael, and the main reason he manages to be a sympathetic character for so many: yes, he's crass, oblivious, and a major Attention Whore with all the subtlety of a brick, but all those attributes make him exactly as unpopular as you'd expect him to be, and on some deep-down level, he knows it. Even his most selfish actions usually stem from a fundamental desire to be liked and have friends, however misguided his methods may be. The ultimate proof of this trope comes in a flashback to when Michael was a child and, in answer to the question of whether he plans to have children when he grows up, he responds that he'll have a hundred kids so they'll all have to be his friend and he'll have a hundred friends. Even the TV presenter is stunned into silence by the sadness of that declaration.
    • While he started the show as a Professional Butt-Kisser with an anger problem, it's eventually made clear that Andy is like this as well. Even aside from his many stories of watching others make friends from the sidelines when he was younger, or his painfully one-sided relationship with Angela, his father is an absolute asshole who openly favours his younger brother (to the point that they changed Andy's name when his brother was born so he'd no longer be named after his dad) and reacts with disgust at the idea of Andy seeking his approval. As the other characters point out, just about anyone would turn out desperate for everyone to like them with an upbringing like that.
  • Several guards and prisoners in Orange Is the New Black. It's mentioned that several women are so lonely and cut off in prison that they turn to desperate measures for affection.
    • Healy hasn't got any real friends, his wife is a mail-order bride who mostly ignores him and he looks genuinely heartbroken when he overhears Soso mentioning that none of the girls like him. Like Mendez, a lot of Healy's jerkassery appears to come from the fact he really is a very lonely person. It's also revealed that Healy had a troubled childhood, his issues with women stem from the fact his mother was clinically insane, he had to try to take care of her from a very young age, and he never received any affection from her. Later, we have him calling Katya and leaving a heartfelt message because he just wants someone to talk to. Then he proceeds to walk deeper into the ocean as if he's ready to kill himself, only to be stopped when he hears his phone ring. He goes back, probably thinking Katya is answering him, but it's just work. He may have done some shitty things before, but after witnessing how crappy his life was growing up and how lonely he is, you really can't help but feel bad for him.
    • Piper mentions to a new inmate that she is probably like Piper in that she can't survive in prison without somebody to hold and love. It's probably why she kept jumping back and forth between Larry and Alex as well.
    • Alex is heartbroken after Piper leaves her and mentions how she turned to heroin afterward which was like the "perfect girlfriend" for her.
    • Pennsatucky's former clique shuns her and she struggles to become a better person and become friends with them again because she is lonely. She also reaches out to Healy because he's kind to her and another guard before the guard rapes her.
    • Soso nearly commits suicide out of loneliness and depression but Poussey offers her genuine friendship which saves her.
    • "Fucksgiving": In Sophia's salon, Piper is getting her hair done while Sister Ingalls waits alongside. When Sophia begins to wash her hair, Piper starts to become emotional, explaining, "It's just being touched by another person. . . . It's not even sex, you know? I just...I miss contact." Sophia agrees, "Human beings aren't supposed to live like this. I've been in almost two years and there's still nights I reach out for my wife."
  • Ryan O'Reily of Oz. Evident in his relationship with Dr. Nathan.
    • Numerous inmates in Oz are this way. Keller in particular mentions how it's not just sex. He just genuinely longs to touch/feel another person, like Beecher, but the sad thing is his manipulative and destructive tendencies end up pushing Beecher away.
  • Rectify: Daniel, being isolated and raped while in prison, craves positive human contact which explains his attachment to his mother and his feelings for Tawney which jump-started when she was shown to be genuinely nice and interested in him. He even inappropriately asks to kiss her in one scene despite knowing she's already married before he apologizes.
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of Scrubs: because he'd been single for too long, JD became so touch-starved that when he accidentally bumped into a random coworker in the hallway, he leaned in with a blissful look on his face and just sort of stopped to savor the moment for a bit.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017): The Baudelaire children. It's pretty much a given with them losing their parents and from then on losing every potential parent figure and friend figure who gave them a scrap of affection. It also explains their protectiveness and neediness over each other because they are all they have left in the world.
  • Succession: The Roy siblings want to become the CEO of Waystar not because of the money or the power it brings, but rather because they equate it with finally getting their father's love and approval, the lack of which has made all of them extremely dysfunctional and emotionally stunted well into adulthood.
  • Supernatural: It is clear that Dean is very co-dependent with Sam and needs constant human contact, approval, and love from others. Sam ends up dealing with the brunt of this. It gets even sadder when you consider he's repeatedly told Cas he needs him and yet, from Dean's point of view, Cas keeps leaving him. In season 9, it's actually Dean who pushes Cas away in a (misguided) attempt to save Sam, which ends up worsening his already fragile emotional state even further.
  • Two and a Half Men: Alan finds himself having sex with a woman every two episodes or so, but his bad luck with maintaining a relationship stems from his crippling insecurity and neediness, Mommy Issues, and his tendency to gravitate towards emotionally damaged women. He also fell into a relationship with Rose despite knowing the risk of hooking up with her because he was so happy she seemed to genuinely like him. She winded up being too obsessive over being in contact with him 24/7 that when he tried to put boundaries in place, she glued one of his toy cars to his chest. And his love for toy cars? It's described that he's so lonely he needs something to occupy his time which is why Charlie's girlfriend took pity on him and set him up with Rose. He also sometimes tries to interact and keep things civil with Charlie despite the latter always shutting him out. His neediness may also possibly be a result of a lousy childhood where he didn't receive much affection from his mother, losing girlfriends occasionally due to Charlie, and his ex-wife kicking him out as an adult.
  • Logan Echolls on Veronica Mars has such a sucky home life that he tends to look to friends and love interests for comfort and affection. Which means that his girlfriend's murder and the subsequent unravelling of his close-knit clique really did a number on him.

  • "Lovefool" by The Cardigans can certainly be interpreted as this, especially the chorus:
    Love me, love, say that you love me.
    Fool me, fool me, go on and fool me.
    Love me, love me, pretend that you love me.
    Lead me, lead me, just say that you need me.
  • "How Soon Is Now?" by The Smiths:
    You shut your mouth,
    How can you say,
    I go about things the wrong way?
    I am human and I need to be loved
    Just like everybody else does.
  • "Old Man" by Neil Young:
    Old man take a look at my life, I'm a lot like you.
    I need someone to love me the whole day through.
    Ah, one look in my eyes and you can tell that's true.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppets: Fozzie Bear is, in his own words, "needy, insecure and desperate to buy the affection of others with laughter." Which is why he makes his terrible, terrible jokes. Which just makes the problem worse.

  • The Phantom of the Opera (as well as in the original book).
  • The title character of the Victor Herbert comic opera The Princess Pat had the song "I Need Affection."
  • Played for absolute tragedy by Katherine Howard in Six. Despite her historical reputation as a not-too-bright tramp, she's shown to have sincere romantic feelings for each of her (much older) lovers, painfully unaware that they're just using her for sex. Even Henry, who she isn't exactly passionately in love with, she convinces herself is the guy for her because he seems to care for her and treat her kindly. When she finds that being the King's wife isn't all it's cracked up to be, she's so desperate for genuine love and affection, she doesn't even care about romantic love anymore — when Thomas Culpeper seems to want to be her friend, she's perfectly happy with that. When she finds out Thomas, who has become her confidant and best friend, is really just trying to sleep with her, she's devastated.
    Katherine: (about Henry) He starts saying all this stuff... He cares so much. He calls me "love." He says we have a connection... I guess it's not so different?
  • Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire struggles with becoming a relic of a bygone era, and is Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, hoping to prove she is still as desirable as she was in her youth, but she also fears this will make her Defiled Forever.
  • Implied to be the case with Herbert von Krolock in Tanz Der Vampire, an extroverted vampire living in a castle with only his brooding father and their servant Koukol as company. He immediately falls for Alfred and doesn't take it kindly when Alfred declines his advances.

    Video Games 
  • Karlach of Baldur's Gate III has an Infernal Engine replacing her heart, which makes her literally Hot as Hell: her body runs so hot that she risks hurting people when making physical contact, whether in battle or simply wanting to hold someone's hand. The situation is made all the worse from the fact that the engine was never meant to function outside of Avernus, causing it to run hotter than normal. Her personal quest entails finding a means to try to fix her engine, or failing that, at least cool her down enough that she can touch another person — you, especially, if you pursue romance with her. If you succeed in successfully cooling her down, she is elated beyond all measure that you can hug her, hold her hand, and kiss her.
  • Cloud Strife is a heartbreaking case of this deep down in Final Fantasy VII Remake. Thanks to his horrific past (hometown burned down, mother killed and best friend gunned down) he tends to keep his allies at arm’s length as a Stoic Woobie, brushing off the cuddly affections which love interests Aerith and Jessie give him, as if he’s above such things. However, following the destruction of Sector 7, when his childhood crush Tifa breaks down and cries into his chest after losing their livelihoods for a second time, Cloud finally gives in and hugs Tifa tightly in response—so tightly in fact that Tifa says he’s hurting her.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: One of Manuela's defining characteristics; she's been something of an Old Maid for some time, and despite her constant flirting and even dating, she has yet to catch a man all her own, something that she can get quite depressed about.
  • Zagreus of Hades has what his father derisively refers to as "a constant need of affirmation" to keep his self-worth afloat and is thus prone to unrelenting, unsolicited (and sometimes unwelcome) generosity towards anyone willing to give it.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: The "You could get used to this" scene was an amusing, Accidental Pervert aside, until you factor in Link's whole life: he grew up somewhat ostracized from the Kokiri, and despite all he went through since then, it's likely he hasn't had much physical contact with another person outside of battle ever. Double that with the fact that he knows his mother died when he was a baby, and hugs are said to originate from being held by our mothers as infants. So what is the "this" that he could get used to? Basic human affection. Then you consider later games in the franchise, where Link has warm, nurturing backgrounds with caring families, either biological (like in The Wind Waker) or surrogate (like in Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword). Those versions of Link are much more expressive. No wonder, then, Link has a blank expression. Besides instinctive surprise/horror, he literally doesn't know how to convey emotions as anyone else would.
  • Brad Armstrong from LISA. Just before he dies, he begs Buddy to hold him because he wants to know what it is like.
  • Mileena of Mortal Kombat heartbreakingly has this as a central character trait and it's no wonder why. She was created as an Evil Knock Off of Kitana using Tarkatan DNA giving her Scary Teeth and pretty much everyone who knows her, with only a handful of exceptions treats her like an ugly freak of nature with her clone sister Kitana in particular constantly rejecting her much to Mileena's upset. Literally anyone who shows her any affection like Shao Kahn, Sindel, Tanya, or in the MKX comic Reiko (though it was feigned), Mileena lovingly dotes on in response. Her MK11 ending shows she's a loving mother to her baby daughter simply because her child looks at her with love rather than fear or hatred.
  • One of the bosses in NieR: Automata fits this - namely, as revealed in Route B, Beauvoir/Simone, who journeyed far and wide and committed atrocities so she could be more attractive for Sartre/Jean-Paul, a philosophical robot with no interest in romance. Realizing that she'll never get his affection, she's Maddened Into Misanthropy at how meaningless her existence had become.
  • Oswald in Odin Sphere is driven by a desperate need for someone - anyone - to love him, after learning that the adoptive father he thought cared for him really only saw him as a tool. This need is what leads him to agree to slay the dragon Wagner for Odin once Odin promises him the hand of his daughter Gwendolyn in marriage. However, he's not so desperate that he would force someone to love him, as he balks when he learns that Gwendolyn is apparently under a spell that will make her fall in love with the one who awakens her and expresses a desire to find a way to break the enchantment first until he learns the truth.
  • Eddie Gluskin from the Whistleblower DLC of Outlast is a Love Hungry Serial Killer who hunts down any man in the asylum who catches his eye and mutilates them to make them biologically female, since he views them as misshapen women who can become a loving, doting wife once they look the way he wants. He scrawls saccharine witticisms about marriage on the walls, sews wedding dresses in his workshop, and sings love songs as he chases you through all the viscera he's left behind. It all makes much more sense when you come across a patient report document that reveals that when he was growing up he was regularly sexually abused by his father and uncle, which the report describes as "traumatically violent". Eddie denies this and dissociates from it so hard that he unironically claims to have grown up in Leave It to Beaver. When shown the photos his abusers took of him, he responds "with a mixture of laughter and rage" and he had to be physically restrained.

    Visual Novels 
  • Mikan Tsumiki from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, who was bullied so severely throughout her life that she's become convinced that the only way anyone will pay her the slightest bit of mind is to humiliate herself in front of them. As a result, she exaggerates her Cute Clumsy Girl nature. It's also played much more darkly when she turns out to be the murderer in Chapter 3, and she claims that she murdered Mioda and Saionji for the sake of someone she loves. Later on, this person is revealed to be Junko Enoshima.
  • From Dies Irae this trope is the core source of the internal conflict for Wolfgang Schreiber. While he utterly disdains the idea of physical contact, deep down he just wants to be loved and embraced. This contradiction mixed with his gender identity and parental issues is a driving force behind his violent insanity.
  • Haruka from Little Busters!, due to her Big, Screwed-Up Family being pretty horrible to her and making her feel worthless, is absolutely desperate for any kind of reassurance. It gets to the point where, late in her route after she and Riki have been going out for some time, she admits that she feels terrible because she's not even totally sure that she actually loves him and isn't just with him because he's the only one who's ever properly shown affection to her. Riki assures her that he doesn't care and loves her anyway.
  • Right in the title of Touchstarved: the protagonist's curse has kept them from ever being able to hold someone else's hand, and discovering that Leander is immune to the curse leaves them craving his touch.

  • In El Goonish Shive, Elliot, after breaking with Sarah, starts to have a lot of Erotic Dreams. His subconscious (in the form of Tedd) makes him realize that he just wants a girlfriend who's not like a sister to him.
  • Pasqualo Trianglini, the protagonist of It Hurts!!, has had a rough life. His mother abandoned the family, his father clearly doesn't give a shit about him, and he's beyond anxious and depressed. He needs his friends to comfort him and tell him he's worth something, and when he finally gets his first girlfriend, he latches onto her with all his might because he masks his dissatisfaction with an unhealthy obsession with his love for her.
  • Sette Frummagem from Unsounded is a foul-mouthed little hellion and daughter of crime lord Nary-a-Care Frummagem... He is not a very good father: After recounting having seen the deaths of Duane and his daughter Mikaila in the Khert, Duane furiously yells at her not to use Mikaila's name as "it is not for you." Sette tearfully shoots back that it is, because that's what Duane himself sometimes calls Sette at night, and she doesn't mind it because "ain't no one ever calls me Sette the way ya call me Mikaila."
    • Also acknowledged by Duane: As part of his Character Development following the events at the Litrya Shrine, he has the Jerkass Realization that the world sent him, a lonely father, a kindly gift in the form of Sette, "a girl so starved for love her hunger sharpened her teeth to fangs." Only for him to reject her for no greater reason than the fact that she was not his girl.

    Web Original 
  • Dad angsted over not getting a kiss on the cheek from Mom, especially when he thought his family didn't actually love him. He is desperate for Mom and Daughter's open affection, even daydreaming about it.
  • Similarly, Donnie DuPre of Demo Reel is notoriously insecure and will do almost anything for a scrap of positive attention.
  • The Nostalgia Critic hates being abandoned and craves any kind of love or attention he can get.
    • Malcolm and Tamara are written as really wanting to be included (despite hating what they have to do sometimes) and in Christmas With The Kranks, 2007-Critic uses this to his advantage.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: Powder needs someone to constantly reassure her that she isn't the Jinx and to give her affection. Without it she quickly falls apart. So much so that she'd even desperately get it from Silco whose more than a little surprised to realize their similarities and genuinely comes to adore her as his adopted daughter. Silco takes over from Vi for the newly minted Jinx by providing the constant stream of affirmation she needs in nearly every scene they're in together.
  • The negative end of the spectrum can be found in the titular Bojack Horseman, due to being raised by a Stage Mom and both parents acting as Resentful Guardians — a trait that he passed along to Sarah Lynn.
  • Family Guy:
    • Meg Griffin. Meg is often shown as emotionally fragile or disturbed, derived from desperation for love and attention.
      • For example, in an episode where burglars invade the house, she gets caught and ends up being the one charged for sexual harassment after finding out that they wouldn't be raping her.
    • When Peter refuses to have sex with Lois because of her having gained weight she gains even more weight to spite him and secretly desires him to touch her again. Also, when he refused to have sex with her due to taking an abstinence vow she got fed up and jumped him.
    • Peter drives to his boss Angela's house and discovers her attempting to commit suicide in her garage by inhaling the exhaust from her car. Quickly resuscitating her, Angela confesses that she has no hope in life, after not having been with another man for more than ten years. Deciding to help her out by getting her a date with another man, Peter disguises himself as a high society Englishman named "Reginald Knickerbocker." The two then have dinner together, before Angela brings her date back to the house and tries to seduce him, while still threatening to kill herself if he refuses. The two end up having sex, but Angela reveals that she saw through Peter's Paper-Thin Disguise and is grateful he went that far just for her. Peter later reveals to Joe and Quagmire that he faked having sex with her by hiding Mort in his pants and having him do the actual act (a Brick Joke based on Peter trying the same scheme earlier with Quagmire).
  • The Ghost And Molly Mcgee: Andrea Davenport is a bully and Alpha Bitch at the start of the series, and Molly does not get along with her. Then comes the episode "The Don't-Gooder", where Molly catches Andrea cheating in a charity drive. Molly plans to expose her, but finds out last minute why Andrea is so cold to her, and why she cheated: Andrea's parent snub a hug from their daughter and walk off because they're too busy with their social media image. Realizing Andrea is desperate for her parent's neglectful attention; Molly then sabotages her own revenge, makes Andrea look like a charity hero, and Andrea repays Molly by saving her house in a future episode and becoming a close friend with Molly from hereon.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Nergal Jr desperately wants friends but if someone refuses to be his friend, he freezes them and takes their form.
  • Helga G. Pataki from Hey Arnold! is so neglected by her family that when Arnold pays attention to her and is kind to her she clings to him and develops a crush on him. She'll deny she likes him though.
  • Bill Dauterive from King of the Hill is often desperate for affection be it romantic or for friendship, he became this way after his wife Lenore divorced him and he became clinically depressed, if he gets the slightest bit of attention, he will sometimes take it to the extreme and keep on doing the thing that got him attention even if it takes on negative consequences.
  • Moral Orel reveals that Clay Puppington is this in "Passing", as after inadvertently causing his mother's death, his father is close to hitting him... but decides that he's not worth the effort. After that, Clay acts out deliberately to get his father to pay attention to him, even if just to give him a Dope Slap. This carried over to adulthood, as "Sacrifice" has him delivering "The Reason You Suck" Speech to other bar patrons in the hopes that they'll beat him up.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • In spite of his total inconsideration for anyone and usual indifferent behavior, Discord is this. He looks genuinely surprised when Fluttershy defends him and calls him a "friend" in spite of his pranks towards the Mane Six. And when she gives up on their friendship because he didn't fulfill his promise of fixing the damage he did to Applejack's property, his eyes brim with tears.
    • A common fan interpretation of Luna (with some support in canon admittedly) is that she went slightly insane from isolation and snaps back at the end of the episode.
  • The Owl House: Hooty, much like Meg and Zoidberg is a Butt-Monkey who really just wants to be apart of the main gang. The problem, is that he does this too much, and it encourages the house’s residents to want to do nothing with him.
    Hooty: You've always got Uncle Hooty's shoulder to lean on.
    King: You don't have any shoulders!
    Hooty: Lean on me!
    King: Stay away from me!
    Hooty: Let me be your emotional support!
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
    • Scorpia, the self-proclaimed "great hugger", fits the trope like a glove. She clings to Catra from the first moment they meet each other, does everything that is in her power to help her, and is delighted at the slightest bit of attention the cat reluctantly pays her. It is only after having met Entrapta — and watched as Catra exiled her — that Scorpia starts to realize what true friendship is. She eventually defects from the Horde to join the Rebellion, bonding with Frosta and Perfuma in a healthier way.
    • Hordak's reason to conquer Etheria. Having been raised to believe that invading and pillaging other planets was the right thing, he will do anything to get the approval of his boss and father figure, Horde Prime.
    • This is also the main reason why Entrapta first joins the Rebellion and then defects to the Horde. She believes that if she builds things for other people, they will like her; but, at best, her allies just tolerate her for her abilities, with rare exceptions, like Wrong Hordak. So, her bonding with Hordak, who is also working hard to get the affection of someone who doesn't validate him, shouldn't be entirely a surprise.
  • The Simpsons has this as a rather Black Comedy Running Gag with the elderly citizens of Springfield, many of whom have been virtually abandoned at the Springfield Retirement Home by their families, especially Grampa Simpson due to his senility and annoying tendency to ramble.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Harry seems to be so starved for affection from his parents that he'll try to fill it with any kind of outside attention, from trying to get popular to getting a girlfriend (specifically, Gwen).
  • Time Squad manages to do this to the robot, the Larry 3000. Larry is an incredibly emotional robot and suffers depression and anger issues that come from a lack of human appreciation and love from the one person he wants it to come from, his partner Buck Tuddrussel. And it's even been stated outright by Otto that even Larry's nightmares scream "I just want to be loved". Tuddrussel is incredibly uncomfortable with Larry's neediness, stating several times that he's Just a Machine and is just supposed to be an advanced tool, not a person. However, this is less genuine belief and more Tuddrussel's own emotional immaturity, as the show goes out of its way to point out that the two have become Vitriolic Best Buds in spite of themselves, and in later episodes, possibly even a quasi-romantic relationship if some of the more suggestive moments are taken at face value.
  • Elmyra of Tiny Toon Adventures: Elmyra has a cute crush on Max and one short called "Can't Buy Me Love" has Elmyra meet an evil little girl called Rhoda. Elmyra sees hearts and positively MELTS when Rhoda says she'll let her be her best friend and spends the rest of the picture bending over backwards to make Rhoda like her. It plays VERY much like any episode where Elmyra chases Max, only way more seriously, and heck, Elmyra even lets Rhoda HAVE Max (who doesn't want him after mere moments). And after she learns her lesson about not needing to give someone something so they'll like you, Rhoda comes by her window and says she'll be her friend again if Elmyra steals her mom's car keys and drives her to Utah. Instantly Elmyra says "okay" and rushes off eagerly to Rhoda's side. So not only is Elmyra completely infatuated with Rhoda but apparently, Rhoda can't leave Elmyra alone for five minutes, even after Elmyra dumped her. Elmyra also had a thing for chasing Fifi around, a voluptuous female skunk that persisted even after Fifi skunked her and had Elmyra go as far as to pose as Fifi's crush Pepe le Pew. It's notable that during all these times she shows affection towards the above respective characters and they rebuff her, she falls to pieces.


Video Example(s):


What he really wants

The reveal of what the Ultra-Humanite really wants. The attention that UH got when he took advantage of the body of Hollywood actress Dolores Winters to get public fame.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DesperatelyCravesAffection

Media sources: