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Harem Genre

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"...serials about awkward young men very pointedly NOT having sex with a selection of eager women."

Harem is a genre/plot frame that is mostly present in the Japanese media of anime, manga, Light Novels, Visual Novels, and Video Games. As the name says, the genre's basic premise involves a "harem" of at least 3 (but usually more) girls sharing a common interest in a male protagonist. Gender Inverted, LGBTQ, and If It's You, It's Okay examples exist, as do age-adjusted renditions for younger audiences. Typically each harem member has a markedly contrasting personality, often personifying a single classic characterization archetype while (usually) the opposite applies to the protagonist.

The protagonist may take it as an Unwanted Harem, react as a Harem Seeker, or be Oblivious to Love; but he almost never actually enters a consummated romantic relationship with any of them, except perhaps as the grand finale. Particularly pure examples of the set-up, where the plot is designed to keep the "race" for the male protagonist's heart in a perpetual dead heat, are known as the Balanced Harem subgenre. Other possible dynamics include the "Harem Route", where the girls choose to share the lead character amicably rather than risk losing him and their friends completely, or the "Shuraba" ("Bloodbath") route, where There Can Be Only One and the contenders ruthlessly sabotage each other to secure mastery. There is also the hybrid option where the harem is "led" by a female lead in a conventional Official Couple relationship with the MC and "backed" by a Supporting Harem. In such cases, the work usually indicates only one or two girls as the main characters, in contrast to the standard harem works.


Not surprisingly, Harems frequently go hand-in-hand with the Ecchi genre and gratuitous Fanservice. That said, outright Hentai harems are rarely seen and often poorly exemplify a genre where Wanting Is Better Than Having and Unresolved Sexual Tension is a primary source of dramatic interest.

Contrast Royal Harem, which is about the literal, traditional sort of harem as found in a royal palace. See our handy-dandy guide if you want to write one of your own. Often overlaps with Starring Smurfette, though the presence of that trope doesn't necessarily mean a harem story is taking place.


Harem genre tropes:

Common character types for the Harem members:

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note: While downplayed due to this being a series about and primarily aimed at tweens, there's no escaping the fact that it's one girl surrounded by boys that she and everyone around her consider to be cool and good-looking, and she even develops some feelings towards some of them. While not as strong as older Reverse Harem series, it still has the same effect.
  • In Tairen Soul, Ellie is surrounded by handsome men who swear they'll die to do her bidding. They (officially) don't want to be together or sleep with her, however.
  • In BladeArc, Yuuto has an elf, a thief, a female ogre, a swordwoman, a princess, a crew of female warriors, and Death herself in love with him.
  • In Eight Cousins, Rose Campbell goes to live with her Uncle Alec, and becomes the target of affection to her seven handsome male cousins.
  • In the book Power Play: A Hockey Romance by Mia Moon, the heroine finds herself being courted by four hockey players.
  • In Harem of Fangs, heroine Ally Swift finds herself being courted by five powerful vampires.
  • The Succubus Lord series revolves around a guy and his harem of succubi.
  • Harem Prince deconstructs and parodies a lot of tropes associated in the genre a la The World God Only Knows and Toradora!.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Big Break (2019): Troy, a college student hailed from the country attracts the attention of his three female roommates.... along with any other woman he encounters.
  • Parodied in Not Quite Daily Comic's "Not Quite Harem Anime Arc".
  • Ow, my sanity has one made entirely of Eldritch Abominations.
  • Questionable Content. Marten has, over the course of the comic's run, had many female friends who could be potential love interests. However, only two have actually progressed to that point, and the first relationship ended badly. With the rest, the chances of this happening are slim at best for one reason or another.
  • Deconstructed in My Dear Cold-Blooded King. Mei may be surrounded by hot guys all interested in her, but the experience of being courted by all of them, along with the lengths they're willing to go to in order to get her, is incredibly taxing for her psyche.

    Web Original 

Alternative Title(s): Harem Anime, Reverse Harem, Harem Series, Harem Show, Harem Comedy, Harem Cast