Follow TV Tropes


Harem Genre
aka: Harem Series

Go To

"...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. Instead, hentai harems focus shallowly on Polyamory.

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. The "haremlit" subgenre shares many aspects of the classic Harem Genre, but with several key differences - it's usually written by Western authors, often self-published on sites like Amazon and Royal Road, and rather than exploring romantic tension, it revolves around full-on polygamy.

One of many genres covered in The Universal Genre Savvy Guide, in case you suspect yourself to be in one of these.

Harem genre tropes:

Common character types for the Harem members:

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero: Main character Akatsuki has the most romantic tension with Miu, but other girls show interest in him as well.
  • Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest: Part of the isekai wave of the 2010s, and notable for the twists on the usual formula. Hajime starts with his classmate Kaori already crushing on him, but since she's the School Idol the crush makes his bullying-prone life even harder. Then he rescues the imprisoned Yue from the labyrinth and falls hard for her, and they actually consummate. Every girl who joins his party after that, Kaori included, ends up competing with Top Wife Yue.
  • The Asterisk War involves Ayato Amagiri earning the attention of several girls across the series, with the twist that Ayato already chosen Julis as the girl he loves and becomes devoted to. While he cares about the girls, he only sees them as friends, not love interests.
  • Beast Tamer is about the main character, Rein, using his beast tamer abilities to "tame" various Cute Monster Girls, who inevitably all fall in love with him.
  • Being Able to Edit Skills in Another World, I Gained OP Waifus is a reconstruction of the Unwanted Harem, through a Hero's Slave Harem.
  • 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.
  • Cat Planet Cuties features a Battle Harem, with the protagonist of Kio Kakazu, being oblivious to the affections of Aoi and Manami, two government agents, and tall, sexy, alien Genki Cat Girl Eris who proves herself to be a competent combatant as well.
  • A Certain Magical Index rapidly turns into this, courtesy of its Clueless Chick-Magnet Nice Guy hero, Kamijou Touma. It also attempts an explanation for why this trope occurs. Thanks to Touma's Imagine Breaker negating all supernatural effects which contact him, it's hypothesised that he is immune to the Red String of Fate, meaning no one woman can be his soulmate. The series can be said to have the largest harem of any work, primarily due to the inclusion of the Misaka Network, who are 9969 clones of Mikoto Misaka. Even without them, it arguably still holds the record.A not exhaustive list of harem members
  • Chivalry of a Failed Knight subverts this early on. At the beginning it seems that this will be your typical harem series, seeing how the Light Novel seems to be playing the tropes straight, but by the end of volume 1 (chapter 10 in the Manga and episode 4 of the Anime) both leads Ikki Kurogane and Stella Vermillion become an Official Couple. The series also subverts many common tropes from harem series, where the leads solve their differences rather quickly without padding the drama, instead focusing on progressing the romantic relationship.
  • Date A Live: Shido Itsuka must become a Chick Magnet by necessity to save the world. The series involves him dating Spirits, getting them to fall in love with him and sealing their powers with a kiss so they can live normal lives.
  • In Eight Cousins, Rose Campbell goes to live with her Uncle Alec, and becomes the target of affection to her seven handsome male cousins.
  • Parodied in The Faraway Paladin. In volume 3, protagonist William's adoptive grandfather Gus wonders why Will is still single, and rattles off a list of cliche situtations where a Stock Light-Novel Hero would normally have met a girl or three.
    Gus: On a more serious note, is there really no one? There’s normally something when you go adventuring. You know, like rescuing a strong-minded woman captured by bandits, or gallantly saving a merchant adventurer who lost her bodyguards, or recruiting a dependable swordswoman, or protecting a polite and proper lady of a fallen kingdom. Any number of things. Why are you giving me that look?
    Will: All of those were guys.
    Gus: (laughs his ass off)
  • Good Luck! Ninomiya-kun has the protagonist's sister send two siblings to live with them, with one of them being a succubus who needs to overcome her fear of men. After that, the protagonist's jealous childhood friend enters the picture, and more girls join the harem from there.
  • Haganai revolves around a school club where main protagonist Kodaka is the only male member, with the other female members showing varying degrees of romantic interest in him. The catch is that all of the girls are socially awkward in some way, and the club was formed so the members can learn to make friends.
  • Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World has its premise right there in the title; the main character finds himself in another world and gradually gathers a Hero's Slave Harem, and naturally all the girls fall in love with him.
  • In Harem Of Fangs, heroine Ally Swift finds herself being courted by five powerful vampires.
  • Harem Prince deconstructs and parodies a lot of tropes associated in the genre a la The World God Only Knows and Toradora!.
  • The Harem Protagonist Was Turned Into A Girl!! And Doesn’t Want To Change Back!!!?? throws the reader into the middle of what seems to be a typical harem plot where an apparent Unlucky Everydude had found out he was heir to a Galatic Empire and therefor had several women attach themselves to him - such as an alien soldier, a French heiress to a vast fortune, a gentle hearted vampire, and his pre-existing long time girlfriend... the plot opens with a send up of a Gender Bender plot but uses it to reveal the protagonist is a trans woman and much more comfortable in her new form, but has to juggle her dawning gender euphoria and challenges that come with being trans on top of typical Harem comedy shenanigans.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya has elements of this; while Kyon has the most romantic tension with Haruhi herself, several other female characters such as Yuki and Mikuru also show varying degrees of romantic interest in him. Remember, this is a show that sinks its meathooks into any trope it can find and folds and spindles it to shreds…
  • Hensuki: Are You Willing to Fall in Love with a Pervert, as Long as She's a Cutie? revolves around the main character trying to find out which of several girls sent him an anonymous love confession...with the catch being that all of the girls in question are Covert Perverts.
  • The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter: The protagonist Noir Stardia is given the power to freely upgrade both his and other people's abilities by having joyful experiences. These "joyful experiences" are typically of the kind where he has romantic tension with various girls, so naturally he picks up a harem of girls who develop crushes on him.
  • High School D×D is this coupled with fanservice, comedy and All Myths Are True action, with the added twist that every girl in the harem is willing to share, but they're competing to see who's first place. Open pervert Issei is a major fan of this genre in-universe and elated to be in the position of the genre's protagonist.
  • How to Build a Dungeon: Book of the Demon King offers a somewhat dark take on the genre, since it centers on a Villain Protagonist, Aur, who is fond of recruiting many women to his crusade against humanity. Some come willingly, as they also don’t like humans, or don’t mind Aur’s misanthropic tirade against them; the good-natured women, however, are met with several doses of brainwashing through sexual assault till they start liking Aur and become fully supportive of his deeds.
  • Hybrid × Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia: Kizuna Hida is forced to become The Captain of a group of girls equipped with Heart Hybrid Gears in order to defend the Ataraxia fleet from invaders from Another Dimension. To do that, Kizuna must do perverted stuff to the girls, as doing so will power up their Heart Hybrid Gears and unlock new weapons and upgrades.
  • I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World and Became Unrivaled in the Real World, Too: After the main protagonist Yuuya gains strong magical abilities that turn him from short and overweight to taller, muscular and more handsome, numerous girls from both his mundane life and the parallel world he discovers start falling for him.
  • In Another World, I Am Called: The Black Healer is a reverse harem, where the main character quickly builds up a group of male admirers. However, few are explicitly in love with her. Most of them seem to like her and have a crush on her.
  • Infinite Stratos somewhat induces this by necessity: There's the eponymous Powered Armor that only girls can use, but for some reason, one guy is able to use it as well. He gets plunked in to a dedicated all-girls school to learn how to use the same.
  • INVADERS of the ROKUJYOUMA!?: Koutarou moves into a new apartment and becomes the unwilling roommate and Love Interest to a Cute Ghost Girl, a Magical Girl Warrior, a Miko from an underground race, a Human Alien princess and her servant, another Alien Princess and a Dark Magical Girl. They all (including Koutarou) start off hostile to each other, due to fighting over exclusive rights to Koutarou's apartment, but as time passes, they all become friends and something of a family unit even befrore the girls start falling in love with Koutarou.
  • Kämpfer: Here the main guy turns into a girl thanks to a magical MacGuffin. Who's probably hotter than the rest of the main girls. Problem is that the girl he loves is 100% lesbian and the Big Bad of the series.
  • Maburaho is the granddaddy of all Harem works that take place in a magical school of some sort. Basically every trope you see in those modern works originate from Maburaho in some fort or another; from the idea of the setting itself making its magic known to the public, to the protagonist being a self insert loser who secretly holds grand power, to several of the female leads being tried and true archetypes vying for the protagonist, it all began here. In this case, the main heroines are all after Kazuki due to the magical potential of his genes.
  • Magician's Academy, which features both the Unwanted Harem and a Harem Seeker.
  • The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar: Main protagonist Yuuto becomes the patriarch of the Wolf Clan after being Trapped in Another World, and he gathers a Hero's Slave Harem due to the members of the clan (as well as those of other clans whom the Wolf Clan conquers) having to take a "Chalice Oath" in which they swear fealty to him and claim to be his property. Many of these women also begin to call themselves his "daughters" or "little sisters", but nonetheless want to become his wife or one of his mistresses.
  • In Maze Megaburst Space, female Maze has a bisexual reverse harem of both males and females interested in her. As she swaps genders at sundown and sunrise, its notable that Princess Mill doesn't care which gender Maze is at the moment.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! centers around a female protagonist who's been reincarnated as Catarina Claes, the female villain of an Otome Game she played before her death. She ends up with a rare instance of a bisexual harem, since she attracts both male and female love interests.
  • The Occupation Saga: Justified by the various aliens' use of Exotic Extended Marriage. By the end of the first book, Jason has slept with nearly every other member of his training squad at least once, male Tarcil included, and at the start of book three he's in a stable polyamorous relationship with Raisha, Kernathu, and Yaro.
  • Oreimo: For most of its run, only one girl (Kuroneko) is openly in love with the protagonist, while Kirino (his sister) has tons of Unresolved Sexual Tension with him. His childhood friend Manami seems to hold a flame, and another (Ayase) feels something towards him, but it might not be best called "love". Then in the ending OVA, the subtext becomes text as nearly every girl in the cast openly declares their love for him for no apparent reason.
  • Oreshura starts with the main character's childhood friend and (fake) girlfriend vying for his affections, and later on other girls become interested in him as well.
  • Oresuki starts out as a twisted satire of harem series, where the protagonist Joro is a manipulative jerk who actively wants a harem but quickly finds out that the two girls he tried to manipulate into falling for him are both into someone else, and the only girl who does like him is a creepy stalker. The satirical aspects are eventually downplayed as more girls become genuinely interested in Joro, though the series never completely stops being self-aware about various harem tropes.
  • In the book Power Play A Hockey Romance by Mia Moon, the heroine finds herself being courted by four hockey players.
  • Reborn as a Space Mercenary: I Woke Up Piloting the Strongest Starship!: Hiro ends up gathering a harem mostly of Bridge Bunnies for his ship, starting with helping Mimi and Elma out of their financial troubles and then hiring them as crew members to Work Off the Debt. Neither girl explains initially (mistakenly assuming he already knows) that there's a local custom that if a male starship captain hires a female crew member, she's consenting to be his bed-warmer in addition to her other duties, but by the time he finds out they've already got a pretty solid three-way relationship. Later he acquires Mei, a Ridiculously Human Robot built to his sexual fantasies after he went a little crazy playing "Space Barbie" with the Maidroid designer program without planning to place an order: the company was so impressed they built her for him anyway as a marketing ploy. Hiro is also pursued by military officer Serena Holz (not interested), heiress Christina Dalenwald (too young), and medical doctor Shouko (mutually attracted but is Married to the Job).
  • Rune Soldier Louie is mostly an aversion/parody of the harem genre. While Louie does join a travelling party of beautiful women, they think of him as a means to an end, since their group needs a magician. But they do eventually gain a fair amount of respect for him… even though he's inept at magic. And while his friend, Ila, secretly nurses a crush on him, Louie fails to notice it.
  • Sister Princess: An interesting (and unusually non-romantic) variation on this genre. In which, a young man discovers that he has a baker's dozen half-sisters he never knew existed. Having grown up alone except for a few servants, he finds their slavish adoration of their "big brother" somewhat overwhelming, but grows to love and treasure them all.
  • So, I Can't Play H! begins with Ryosuke's neighbor, Mina, already nursing an unrequited crush on him since childhood. But the first episode's opening scene introduces his soon-to-be love interest: a stunning redhead named, Lisara, who is not only a shinigami, but high-ranking nobility. Then the other two shinigami show up (Quele and Ilia) and Mina's chances effectively go down the drain.
  • Student Council's Discretion. The male lead blatantly announces he is aiming for one to his female cast more than once. He's generally a nice and dependable guy and, in a way, it pays off by the end.
  • The Succubus Lord series revolves around a guy and his harem of succubi.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Toradora! settles into this genre in its second half, with Taiga, Minori and Ami all showing varying degrees of romantic interest in main character Ryuji. Ryuji and Taiga end up as the Official Couple.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs is a Deconstructive Parody of the genre wherein the male lead is blackmailed into beating an otome gamenote  for his sister to get the reverse harem ending, then dies in an accident, reincarnates as a background character in the game, realizes how much the game world sucks for people who aren't the protagonist, and proceeds to send things wildly Off the Rails in his efforts to survive. He winds up with both the original Player Character and The Rival falling in love with both him and each other.
  • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle has Lux accumulating a harem made of the princess he works for, his bureaucratically arranged fiancée, his childhood friend, the school's top fighter, his servant, and a distant and ancient cousin from another family branch.

    Live-Action TV 

  • The webcomic BAD Endings has one titled "Harem" that comically deconstructs the harem tope. The Male MC has had a harem of women around him during spring break, and decides to confess to one of them on the first day of school. The first girl he confesses to already got a boyfriend because the Male MC spent so much time with everyone and never made his feelings clear, so she moved on. The second girl tells him to F off for coming to her as a second option. The third girl admits to being open with him because she assumed he was gay. The fourth girl has become a born-again Christian and refuses to date to remain chaste for Jesus. the fifth and sixth girls were lesbians and had been in a relationship the entire time. By the end of the comic, the harem is gone. The Male MC has lost his friend group, but tries to remain positive, saying "Well I guess today was just a really bad day!"
  • 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.
  • The Princess's Jewels: The comic is about the princess of a kingdom gathering up a group of five beautiful men to make her harem.
  • 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