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I Can Change My Beloved

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Marge: Well, most women will tell you that you're a fool to think you can change a man, but those women are quitters!
Lisa: What?
Marge: When I first met your father, he was loud, crude, and piggish. But I worked hard on him, and now he's a whole new person.
Lisa: Mom...?
Marge: He's a whole... New! Person! Lisa!

Alice is a Love Martyr for Bob. The world can plainly see that Bob is an utter loser — he's selfish, greedy, and either completely spineless or an outright Domestic Abuser — but not Alice. To her, Bob's faults are minor and no cause for concern, for she can Change Him. The power and strength of her love will send him through a metamorphosis that will remake him into her perfect man. You wait. You'll see.

Of course, she's probably wrong.

In cases where Alice does effect a change, then you have Love Redeems rather than this trope. In a long story arc, it can zig-zag: first, I Can Change My Beloved, then switch to Love Redeems... and then, if the authors are cruel, switch back so that the redemption was just an act or a temporary phase. Poor Alice.

While there are a lot of male examples, this trope is usually female, and one of the main reasons why All Girls Want Bad Boys. Usually Played for Drama. Sometimes played as a Fetish component in Fetishized Abuser.

Compare Destructive Romance. Contrast Love Redeems and Reformed Rakes, where this mindset actually works. Also compare/contrast Draco in Leather Pants where this mindset works because the one who has the mentality is the author!

If the specific point of the Love Interest that needs changing is their wardrobe, it's I Want My Beloved to Be Fashionable.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Boy's Abyss has an increasingly deluded version. Yuri Shibasawa, a demure homeroom teacher, realizes that one of her students (the protagonist Reiji Kurose) is in a toxic family situation and decides to take it upon herself to take him out of it and wants to change for the better. The problem? She's also incredibly insecure and decides to start up a sexual relationship with him after learning he had sex with another woman and wants to do so until he graduates. Her increasing obsession with isolating Reiji and her justifying it with thinking she only wants to help him only puts him off from her entirely.
  • In Code Geass, Shirley thinks it's her duty to reform Lelouch because he's a "failure as a person". Since she only sees the Brilliant, but Lazy Idle Rich persona he maintains at school and has no idea what a Magnificent Bastard Anti-Hero he is in his other life, this particular aspect to her romance is either Played for Laughs or for tragic Irony.
  • Kurumi Akino from Haou Airen thinks she can pull this in regards to Hakuron, the dude who practically kidnapped her and brought her to Hong Kong to be his mistress. (Then again the poor girl is trapped in the SAR and has no real way out, considering Hakuron is a high-ranked Triads leader.) In any way, it does NOT go well.
  • Infamously used in the ending of the Hot Gimmick manga; the protagonist Hatsumi, despite all evidence to the contrary, decides to marry the Jerkass love interest Ryuuki because maybe she can change him once they're together. (This is true only for the manga: In the novelization, Hatsumi considers this trope, realizes it's bull, and goes for a slightly less awful love interest instead: Shinogu.)
  • A non-romantic example occurs in Naruto, where the titular character insists that Sasuke is, at heart, a good person.
  • Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Diamond Is Unbreakable: When Yukako Yamagishi overhears that Koichi Hirose, the guy she's in love with, has some less than savory traits, she wastes no time in starting to change him for the better. Unfortunately, her idea of "changing him for the better" is kidnapping him and imprisoning him in an abandoned mansion where she trains him to better himself through absurdly harsh and abusive methods. And the bad things she heard about Koichi were false rumors in the first place, spread by his friends as part of an attempt to get the violently temperamental Yandere off his back. In a loose sense, it works, as the experience of dealing with her causes him to begin to stand up for himself more.
  • My Hero Academia: in one of the spinoffs the girls from Class 1A and 1B organize a Slumber Party. At the behest of Mina, the conversation turned about the boys on their respective classrooms... And the girls immediately arrive to the conclusion none of them are boyfriend material with only to exceptions: Ibara, of all the girls, expressing interest in Bakugo and thinking she can "tame" him. Although she quickly backpedaled when pressed for details. The other one is Ochako who is both kinda glad her friends aren't interested in her crush Izuku and kinda miffed at them dismissing him as an All Might fanboy.

    Comic Books 
  • According to Word of God from Bob Kane, the point behind the relationship between Batman and Catwoman is that Batman partly thinks he can reform her. And in some continuities (such as Earth-2 of Pre-Crisis), he's actually right. To a lesser extent, this is also true of his other big love, Talia Al Ghul. Though in that case, it can flip as to who's trying to change who.
  • Referenced in Empowered, when Thugboy mentions this as a key difference between the way men and women love their partners; women, even when they do genuinely love their boyfriend as he is, often have an eye to the man he could be, while men tend to fall in love with a woman exactly as she is.

  • The BBC documentary The Human Animal proposes a reason this trope exists in simple biological terms. The short of it is that the dangerous aspects of the target are sexual advertisements. According to the documentary, on a biological level, women are looking for signs of protective prowess (a partner who will help protect and rear offspring). Displays of aggressive behaviour are then read as signs of this prowess (cultural signs of this vary greatly, but the intended messages are the same). Once partnered up, however, the female will actively work to prevent the male from displaying further (which is this trope), so as to prevent the male from gathering further attention from the opposite sex. There's a lot more to human courtship, of course, mostly because unlike other primates alive today, sex among humans lasts more than 8 seconds.

    Fan Works 
  • In general, this tends to be a common plot element of many fanfics where a villainous character is being subject of the Draco in Leather Pants treatment.
  • Fleur de Lis says that this is why she dated Prince Blueblood for as long as she did, before the story, in the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfiction Gimme Shelter. According to Fleur, it didn't work out, and she ended up thrown out in the rain without her coat after being pushed too far.
  • Rapunzel, after being forcefully married to Cassandra in the Tangled: The Series fanfiction Darkest Destiny, decides to stay with Cassandra both out of her own burgeoning romantic feelings for her friend and, because of the latter's growing emotional instability throwing Corona into near-irreparable chaos, to get her to see reason. So far, it's a long process.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Averted in Beauty and the Beast, despite its reputation for "promoting" this attitude. While it is a Love Redeems story, Belle never tries to change the Beast, nor does she fall in love with him until after he changes. The midquels, however, the trope is played completely straight as she spends much of these being more of a cheery therapist for the Beast rather than the independent thinker she was in the first film. It's a reason why these two are some of the most maligned out of the direct-to-video sequels.
  • Subverted in Frozen. The song "Fixer Upper" seems to be saying this at first, but the bridge makes it clear that the song is about accepting your partner's flaws rather and encouraging the better qualities they already have rather than trying to change them. That's actually a pretty good message for Disney.
    We're not saying you can change him, 'cause people don't really change
    We're only saying that love's a force that's powerful and strange
    People make bad choices if they're mad or scared or stressed
    But throw a little love their way, and you'll bring out their best.
  • Deconstructed in Lou (2022). Hannah remained in an abusive relationship for years because she was convinced of this trope, blaming herself because her love wasn't enough to change him. It took her a long time to realise that he was simply evil and what she saw as the good in him was just a facade.
  • Revenge of the Sith: Padme said that Anakin was a good man even though he killed Sand People, and even after he had killed children, and even after he almost killed her. Her last words were that there was still good in him. She was right, but it took their son to bring it out of him.
  • Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams: Carmen has a crush on rival Gary and at one point insisted she could change him. She appears to get over her crush on him by the end. There's still some Ship Tease between the two in the third film, but by then he's spent a while away from her and appears to have cooled off in the meantime.
  • Discussed in Watch It: Rick tells John the reason why women are, in his terms, attracted to "assholes" is because of this trope; he mocks them endlessly for this. Ironically, Rick does end up getting changed by Ellen, the woman he's in a relationship with; when he breaks it off because he's afraid it's getting too serious, she pulls a subversion of The Baby Trap by pretending she was having his baby - it was all a practical joke pulled on him by her and John - and tells Rick to grow up. Rick does grow up, and he and Ellen get married at the end.

  • Parodied in a (paraphrased) one-liner: "It's foolish to believe that you can change a man. Unless he's in diapers."
  • An Awful Wedded Life couple is arguing (guess the genders):
    When I married you all those years ago I thought I could change you, and you're still the same!
    And when I married you I hoped you wouldn't change!

  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin's grandfather Alannon apparently succeeded in changing his wives, but they were just a little rough around the edges to begin with, and he mainly taught them proper diction, table manners, and so on. And he wasn't delusional enough to do it voluntarily, he was kidnapped by them, they wanted a husband and did everything in their power to make him comfortable. Averted with Jerin himself, who, when considering the prospect of having to marry the Brindle sisters, thinks that he might be able to make some changes to their home to make himself more comfortable, but that he'll still have to live with their personalities.
  • In the first book of The Death Gate Cycle, Iridial married Sinistrad despite his being Obviously Evil (among other things, changing his name to Sinistrad to openly announce to the world just how Obviously Evil he was) and never once denying it, because she believed she could make him good. It failed miserably. Four books later she tried to do the same for their son Bane, only to discover that he was just as evil and had zero interest in redemption, and she was forced to put him down herself.
  • As many Agatha Christie stories feature All Girls Want Bad Boys, this trope tends to pop up:
    • In Hickory Dickory Dock, Celia confesses to being behind the recent thefts at the boarding house. This causes psychology student Colin McNabb to view her as a patient in need of psychological treatment... when in fact, it had been suggested to her as the best way to get him interested in her. It works, as they announce their engagement the day she confesses to the thefts. Then she gets murdered due to She Knows Too Much.
    • One Parker Pyne Investigates story ends with the man given the advice to never reveal he didn't actually seduce another woman to his wife as he was being blackmailed and stole her jewelry for, she'll only be interested in him if she thinks he's changed his ways thanks to her.
    "Your wife is a charming, innocent, and high-minded girl and the only way she is going to get any fun out of being married to you is by thinking she's reformed a rake."
    • The Labours of Hercules has Alice, a psychologist trying to fix an obvious bad boy by going over his Mommy Issues with him. It's an act, they're both in the drug-smuggling business together.
    • One, Two, Buckle My Shoe has Frank Carter's girlfriend, who's just so certain she can make a better man of him through the power of love. Only Poirot's conviction that an innocent (of that particular crime) shouldn't go to jail and the fact that the real murderers killed several other people keeps him from going with the murderer's Frame-Up.
    "Frank has lost a good many jobs and he hasnít been, perhaps, what most people would call very steady. But it will be different now. I think one can do so much by influence, donít you, M. Poirot? If a man feels a woman expects a lot of him, he tries to live up to her ideal of him."
    Poirot sighed. But he did not argue. He had heard many hundreds of women produce that same argument, with the same blithe belief in the redeeming power of a womanís love. Once in a thousand times, he supposed, cynically, it might be true.
  • Ben Skywalker tries to reform Vestara Khai in the Fate of the Jedi series. It does not go well.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey has shades of this, though most notably in the Darker. Anastasia has instances where she's thinking that, if she has a 'regular' relationship with Christian, he will eventually denounce his BDSM ways and want nothing more than 'vanilla sex', as he called it.
  • Diana Ladris attempts this in PLAGUE (book four of the GONE series). And fails miserably, finally giving up and giving Caine the middle finger.
  • J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, finds this sort of thing (which usually leads into Draco in Leather Pants) a bit disturbing and unhealthy (source). Thereís only one real example of this sort of relationship in the series (the one between Dumbledore and Grindelwald) and said relationship ended in absolute catastrophe. Someone died:
    It amuses me. It honestly amuses me. People have been waxing lyrical [in letters] about Draco Malfoy, and I think that's the only time when it stopped amusing me and started almost worrying me. I'm trying to clearly distinguish between Tom Felton, who is a good-looking young boy, and Draco, who, whatever he looks like, is not a nice man. It's a romantic, but unhealthy, and unfortunately all too common delusion of — delusion, there you go — of girls, and you [nods to Melissa] will know this, that they are going to change someone. And that persists through many women's lives, till their death bed, and it is uncomfortable and unhealthy and it actually worried me a little bit, to see young girls swearing undying devotion to this really imperfect character because there must be an element in there, that "I'd be the one who [changes him]." I mean, I understand the psychology of it, but it is pretty unhealthy. So, a couple of times I have written back, possibly quite sharply, saying [Laughter], "You want to rethink your priorities here."
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Hot Water, Beatrice thinks she can turn Packy into a man of culture. A common trait of certain Wodehouse fiancees — who always turn out to be the wrong woman. Bertie Wooster's Aunt Dahlia, on the other hand, explicitly notes at one point that the reason her marriage to Tom Travers works so well is that she makes absolutely no effort to mold him.
  • Mansfield Park:
    • Edmund believes that Mary Crawford's selfish behavior and glib attitude are merely the result of bad influences, and if she's just away from her high society friends long enough (by being with him instead) then she'll lose those traits which trouble him. It takes her wishing his brother dead so that Edmund will inherit for him to realize that as much as she does love him, she's perfectly comfortable being a Rich Bitch and has no intention of changing for him.
    • Henry Crawford, meanwhile, names this among his reasons for wanting to marry Fanny. He doesn't want to change her, mind, but he (and Mary) think that her strong morals will turn him from a pleasure-seeking rake to a responsible man of character. Fanny, however, has no intention of being a Morality Chain for someone whom she already dislikes.
  • The two protagonists of Eric Flint's The Philosophical Strangler are the eponymous professional murderer and his more-than-willing accomplice; at the end of the story, they are forced by their loved ones to become Professional Heroes instead. (Though it's the strangler's sister who plots the change with the accomplice's two girlfriends, his Cloudcuckoolander love interest doesn't appear to give a hoot one way or the other.)
  • Sherlock Holmes: In the story Valley of Fear, Ettie falls prey to this. More justified than usual; her beloved starts out as a relatively decent guy with a Dark and Troubled Past (certainly better than the brutish Romantic False Lead she started with), and she fights the influence of the criminals that own their town when they start sucking him in. It actually works out for her, but only because he was a deep-cover agent the whole time.
  • In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Helen enters into her marriage with Arthur looking forward to changing and redeeming him, only to find that it's not that easy. She ends up thoroughly miserable, and in fact leaves him (an unspeakable move at the time) to rescue their son from his influence. This is also played straight in the same book: her friend is miserable in her marriage, but her husband is willing to change, and with a few points from both his wife and Helen, he shapes up into a very considerate partner.
  • Defied in Wax and Wayne. When discussing their arranged engagement at the end of Alloy of Law, Steris tells Wax that at this point in their lives, neither can expect the other to change. As long as he upholds his duties to the marriage, she's fine with whatever he does.
  • Parodied in Which Witch?: After witnessing some truly horrible magic (it involved animals eating each other alive), the dark wizard Arriman decides that the witch who did it wins the contest for his hand in marriage, and says to his servant something like "She won't do that again once we're married, will she? Then there will be only my kind of magic, don't you think?" The servant doesn't agree and resolves to quit his job if that witch becomes his new employer, as he doesn't want to be killed in a horrible way. As the witch in question is a Black Widow, the servant is probably correct, the marriage never happens, but it's strongly implied Arriman would have been killed by her. He eventually marries the hero, Belladonna, who is a white witch, but he doesn't care, he loves her just as she is.
  • Aredhel seems to believe this in The Silmarillion. Her Jerkass husband Eöl proves her tragically wrong by attempting to kill their son Maeglin, and hitting her instead. Maeglin also turns out to be a Jerkass. Should have listened to her brother Turgon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of the Adam West Batman series has The Penguin fool a wealthy woman into falling in love with him just so he can earn her trust and then rob her. After his scheme is exposed, she is still in love and insists if she were to marry him, she could reform him into a perfect man. Penguin's response? "Take me to prison!"
  • Played with on The Big Bang Theory. Priya tries to change Leonard not because he's a "bad boy", (since he's the farthest thing from it), but because he's a geek. She makes him dress cooler, insists he get contacts (despite the fact they keep causing him physical harm), stop hanging out with his ex-girlfriend, and partake in more "normal" activities (i.e. watching baseball vs World of Warcraft). We see the story unfold from Leonard and Penny's perspective, not Priya's, where her changes are shown as being somewhat controlling and unnecessary. Of course, once Priya moves back to India, Leonard starts hanging out with Penny again and goes back to his trademark hoodies, while he never stopped indulging in his geeky activities to begin with.
  • On Cheers, Sam and Diane have this attitude toward each other. Sam is a Dumb Jock who dropped out of high school and a former Major League baseball star, Diane is a pretentious intellectual studying to get a wide variety of degrees. Being on opposite extremes, Sam is constantly trying to get Diane to loosen up and be more open toward blue-collar activities, Diane is insisting that Sam be more intellectual and take interests in classic literature. The tragic part of the relationship is both of them make decent efforts to please the other (Diane will take part in the bar's sports talks to an extent, Sam at one point binge-read all of War and Peace in five days just so he and Diane could have something to talk about), but neither of them is ever satisfied and demand more. Their inability to accept each other's differences is one of the biggest problems in their relationship.
  • Series/{{Degrassi|The Next Generation: As there are many forms of featured couples on the show there are the nice main characters, who go for a few "misfit" characters so that they can make them good. Some have multiple examples, such as "cause girl" Emma, Christian girl Darcy, or rebellious high-achiever Alli. Some couples have the trope played straight, some have the partner change but moreso after the couple has broken up, and some avert it hard.
  • Dexter: Dexter Morgan starts having marriage trouble with Rita shortly after tying the knot. When a marriage counselor asks why Rita never brought up the issues she was having with Dexter before they got married, her excuse is she thought she could change him. Considering Dexter is husband number three, with the previous one being abusive, it's clear Rita has not learned anything.
  • Divorce Court: Several episodes of both the 1960s and 1980s versions used this as the plot's backbone, invariably following the formula of a woman really wanting to change an alcoholic/drug addict, abuser, criminal, etc. of his ways, but he not only refuses to change he becomes worse. The judge would always deliver the message to the wife after finding it in her favor: The man she wanted to reform needs professional help and likely will never change even with repeated counseling.
  • Any of dozens of women on How I Met Your Mother who thought they could change Barney.
  • Judge Judy warns against this frequently with one of her famous aphorisms: "Don't ever try to teach a pig to sing. It doesn't work, and it annoys the pig."
  • Referenced and deconstructed in a few episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, usually with the suspect's loved one (who sometimes doubles as the Victim of the Week) insisting that the suspect is a good person or certain that they can fix him if they just love him enough and the detectives trying desperately to convince them that the suspect isn't who the person thinks he or she is. (Very much Truth in Television for cases where the person making the argument is the victim, since perpetrators who abuse people close to them often gaslight the victims into believing that they, not the abuser, are the problem.)
  • Once Upon a Time: Belle insists on staying with Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin not because she doesn't believe he's a monster, but because she knows he is but believes that he can be better and can bring out his good qualities. Also, without her presence and influence to curb his more extreme tendencies, he tends to be a lot worse. In the midseason finale of Season 4, she finds out that he's been lying to her for months and plotting murder and various evilness. She realizes that he won't change for her and that he never intended to do so, and ends the relationship and forces him to leave town (which also strips him of his magical powers). She still ends up taking him back half a season later and stays with him until she dies (of old age) despite his continuous issues of struggles with power, incidentally coinciding with have her appear less and less onscreen.
  • Although the Official Couple of Robin Hood was (obviously) Robin and Marian, Marian struck up a friendship with Guy of Gisborne and would often encourage him to break ties with the evil Sheriff, stop killing innocent people, and become a better man. It was subverted throughout the show considering Guy would always be on his best behaviour around Marian whilst continuing to terrorize the peasants as soon as she was out of sight, but genuinely fell in love with her over the course of the first two seasons. However, when Marian makes it clear as to where she stands, telling him that it's either the Sheriff or her, Guy picks the Sheriff and murders her.
  • Becky Conner and her bad-boy husband Mark Healy on Roseanne. Mark is actually very similar to Becky's father Dan in his own youth (i.e., sometimes aggressive and delinquent, but never vicious and only rarely mean-spirited) and, while she and Mark occasionally clash over his "bad boy" behavior, the real sticking point is Mark's lack of intellectual achievement and intelligence overall, which is usually played for laughs. Becky first pressures Mark into enrolling in college but fails. He finally agrees to enter a trade school, despite his preference to remain a mechanic (a job at which all the characters on the show agree he excels). She becomes distraught when he flunks out, leading her to contemplate divorce, even though she had always known he never was and never wanted to be the intellectual type she seemed to want to turn him into. Roseanne, who had always been against their marriage and was the source of most of the jabs at Mark's lack of intelligence, helps Becky to realize that her efforts to "change" Mark are both unrealistic and selfish and cause Mark to feel inadequate.
    • Ironically, Roseanne frequently mentioned doing this with Dan. In an early episode, when talking with her girlfriends, she says, "A guy is a lump like a doughnut. So, first (picks off sprinkles) you gotta get rid of all the stuff his mom did to him. And then (rips it in half) you gotta get rid of all that macho crap that they pick up from beer commercials. And then there's my personal favorite, the male ego (takes off another chunk and eats it)." Any time someone asks how she got a great guy like Dan, she always said she didn't, she put a lot of work into him to get him there.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Invoked and weaponized by Sauron against Galadriel. After a season's worth of meaningful looks between Galadriel and Sauron disguised as Lovable Rogue Halbrand, a revealed Sauron offers to rule as King and Queen of Middle-earth together. When Galadriel questions that he'd be the Dark Lord, Sauron claims that she'd bind him to the light as he binds him to power. Thus Galadriel is placed in a position of marrying the Satanic Archetype who killed her brother or feel responsible for his future evil deeds.
  • When Charlie's mother met his first serious Love Interest on Two and a Half Men, they squared off like a confrontation was about to take place. Instead, the mother simply asked desperately, "Can you fix him?" Exasperated, the girl confirmed, "I'm trying." True to her word, the entire episode was about her forcing Charlie to give up smoking and drinking, eat healthier, and incorporate exercise into his lifestyle. His Stalker with a Crush tells him that she would never try to change him because she actually loves him. The scenario backfires when Charlie finally takes a stand against his girlfriend- he puts his foot down in a fancy restaurant, getting the male clientele (similarly browbeaten) to back him up. The issue is dropped from then on.

  • Miley Cyrus: "Can't Be Tamed", in which she claims that every man has tried to change her before realising he can't.
  • The Rolling Stones: In "Under My Thumb", the narrator is bragging about how as their relationship grew, his girlfriend (who had been something of a Tsundere) changed into someone much more submissive and sweet.
  • Discussed in Doctor Demento's "Highly Illogical". The alien vocalist (Leonard Nimoy) at one point observes how after a man and a woman get married, she sets about changing all his bad habits... and then complains that he's "not the man she married anymore".
  • "You Don't Own Me" by Lesley Gore is about a woman whose boyfriend/husband is trying to change and control her, and asking him to stop, reminding him that she is a person, not an object.
  • "Don't You Want Me" by The Human League is about a man who met his girlfriend working as a cocktail waitress, and he helped her to get into a new career and into high society. He believes she "owes" him the continuation of the relationship because of that (even vaguely threatening to "put her back down, too," as in ruining her career or reputation), and she feels she has outgrown the relationship and wants to move on.
  • "Cure 4 Psycho" by RedHook is about the singer realising her awful, manipulative partner is a psycho and dumping them because "There's no cure for psycho".

    Myth & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • In the Book of Hosea, the eponymous Hosea is told by God to marry a known prostitute, as an object lesson to the people of Israel, who had turned to worshipping other gods, even though they had promised not to. He does as he is told, and marries a woman of ill repute by the name of Gomer. He provides and cares for her, and tries to make a "respectable" wife out of her, but she just won't give up her wanton ways. She even runs off with another man, and Hosea has to literally buy her back from him. The marriage is nothing but heartache for Hosea, and likely isn't much better for Gomer. And although he would have the right under the law to divorce her, or even have her executed for adultery, he does his best to make the marriage work, if only because God told him to.
    • In Corinthians 7, Paul responds to some questions that were being asked about marriage, including what should be done if one is a believer but their partner isn't. Paul says that they should stay together if they're willing, but if the unbeliever wants a divorce then it's better to let it happen than for the believer to cause conflict trying to get them to stay and convert.
    Verse 16: How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

  • "If Mr. Keuner loved someone" by Bertolt Brecht:
    Questioner: What do you do when you love someone?
    Mr. Keuner: I make a sketch of the person, and make sure that one comes to resemble the other.
    Questioner: Which, the sketch?
    Mr. Keuner: No, the person.
  • The song "Marry the Man Today" ("and change his ways tomorrow!") from Guys and Dolls is all about this, and indeed it seems to work out well enough for Sarah.
  • This is the whole point of The Taming of the Shrew. Though successful, whether the changes are actually for the better is up for debate. Whether the changes actually occurred is up to the performance.

    Video Games 
  • A variant happens in Back to the Future: The Game: An alternate-timeline Emmett Brown is convinced to help restore the original timeline after his wife — a ruthless dictator of Hill Valley — attempts to brainwash him. However, he finds himself having a change of heart when he learns that the original timeline had her as a bitter spinster. He then blames himself for influencing her behaviour and believes that he can change her retroactively through time travel by completely discouraging his younger self's scientific interests.
  • Bugsnax has the characters Snorpy and Chandlo, the latter having brought the former to Snaktooth Island in order to try and do something about Snorpy's paranoid tendencies. The DLC Isle of Bigsnax features a moment where this trope gets Deconstructed: Shelda, a Hermit Guru, tells Chandlo to avoid doing this because that's not his role; in fact, Snorpy's paranoia has worsened since he came to the island. When it comes to "fixing" someone, they need a mental health professional, not a lover.
  • Astrid and Makalov's paired ending in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn states that she spent a lot of their marriage trying to tame his lazy, sleazy ways. She never succeeded.
  • Appears in Neverwinter Nights 2 during the abortive romance arc with Neeshka, who develops quite a lot due to the player character's trust and love.
  • One of Penelope's goals in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is to change Bentley in order to get him to invent weapons for both her untamable greed and world domination ploy, while also planning to dispose his foster brothers because she thinks they hold him back. It backfires, as Bentley figures out her plans and concludes she's a jealous and selfish sociopath who never loved him nor saw him as an individual. Penelope does not take the resulting breakup well.

  • In The Order of the Stick, villainous shapeshifter Sabine got over it, describing an inversion of All Girls Want Bad Boys:
    Sabine: Sure, women like me swoon for a hero, but that's only because deep down, we think we can change them. But me, I'm done with that now. I want a nice, safe, reliable mass-murderer that I can depend on.
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things: It's implied that this is part of why the Commander once dated Tank, a cyborg berserker with self-esteem issues. If so, it didn't work — the Commander left after suffering one too many abusive episodes, which, ironically, was the wake-up call that led Tank to put more effort into dealing with his issues.
    Tank: It makes a lot of sense when you remember I'm about as close as people get to being project cars.
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic: Played for Laughs when the empty-headed elf prince Glitterbranch becomes infatuated with the evil drow priestess Arachne. His plan consists of abducting her to his homeland and waiting for the sunlight, forest air, and wholesome company to turn her into a good person. She doesn't. Fortunately, his more level-headed parents send her home before she starts conducting Human Sacrifice.

    Web Original 
  • The Guild: In the first season, Zaboo tries to pull this on the protagonist. (When it doesn't work out he instead tries to change himself, but that's a different story.)
  • Shows up in a big way on The Nostalgia Chick's top ten list of the hottest animated guys (drawn from the opinions of her fans), which posits that a guy you can change is in and of itself something attractive, related to the All Girls Want Bad Boys archetype. ("What do we like more than a big masculine crusader for justice? A project!" ) It got so bad that her poll turned out The Hunchback of Notre Dame villain Frollo as the tenth hottest animated guy, due almost entirely to the appeal of this trope.
    • She has also railed against the Beauty and the Beast interquels for this: they make it so that Belle is trying to change the Beast, while she notes that in the original, she wouldn't give him the time of day until he took the initiative to start changing himself. It should be noted though that The Enchanted Christmas explicitly takes place during this timeframe after he had saved her life, which may make Belle's actions a little more rational.
  • Red vs. Blue: The Director of Project Freelancer is absolutely obsessed with his AI experiments. His goal? Bring back his long-departed wife, Allison. Only, his desire to bring her back means doing horrible, horrible things to her AI replica, Texas, in the hopes of "bringing her back right". This also means ignoring his daughter, Agent Carolina, and not telling her that Tex is an echo of her mother.
  • The Veronica Exclusive: Veronica initially stays with J.D. even after realizing she's a murderous psychopath because she thinks she can "help" her. She eventually realizes that J.D. either can't or doesn't want to reform, and dumps her. J.D. doesn't take this well.
  • A common plot to most stories on Wattpad follow a girl who falls in love with a bad boy. The boy is usually manipulative, abusive, and has anger issues, but the protagonist will always be there to defend him and say that she knows that there is good in him somewhere. Results of her efforts vary from story to story.
  • The Whateley Universe has Loophole getting warned by her advisor that Kodiak isn't going to be susceptible to being changed by her love, and most bad boys aren't. She eventually doesn't try it.
  • Parodied in the "I can fix him/her" meme

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Finn finds out to his dismay that his new love interest, Flame Princess, is evil due to coming from an Always Chaotic Evil race of flame people. He discusses the situation with her father, who concedes that if a really good guy (like Finn) liked her then she could possibly be changed to good (although she'd suffer penalties to her EXP for acting out of alignment). Of course, Flame Princess doesn't really ACT evil; she's just temperamental, naive, and has traces of Blue-and-Orange Morality about when it is and isn't appropriate to burn things.
  • Archer: Lana has this attitude towards Sterling. A case of All Girls Want Bad Boys, Lana is very sexually-attracted to Archer despite the fact that he ranges from Jerkass to Psychopathic Manchild. While she finds nearly everything about his personality revolting, she keeps going back to trying to force him to be more the way she wants him to be, including using The Baby Trap to make him more responsible, and not coincidentally more focused on her (and not necessarily their child).
  • Family Guy: Parodied in "The Former Life of Brian". Brian tries to impress a recently-widowed mother (only referred to as "Jared's Mom") by putting on a magic show for her son, only to find out that she already has a boyfriend, Paul. They plan to base their whole relationship on this trope:
    Paul: ...I'm a great guy! I'm unemployed, but that makes her feel useful in the relationship.
    Jared's Mom: I'm gonna fix him!
    Paul: Our relationship will do fine on that basis.
    Jared's Mom: If he had his life together, I wouldn't be into it.
    Paul: But I don't!
    Brian: (exasperated) God, I am so sick of this crap!
    • In "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q", the neighborhood has an intervention in order to convince Quagmire's sister Brenda to leave her abusive boyfriend. Meg's speech is basically a suggestion that if he likes her, she could change him. Joe is not amused.
      Meg: I feel like if he likes you, maybe you can change him.
      Joe: OK! Maybe she wasn't the one to start with.
  • Inverted on Futurama. Romanticorp tested pickup lines on women using test dummies. One of the dummies used the line "My two favorite things are commitment and changing myself." The woman in the test chamber immediately started making out with the dummy.
  • Gender-flipped in Lloyd in Space: Lloyd dates Cindy, an alien girl with two heads. One head is nice, the other one is a complete bitch. He decides he'll try to change the mean head but when that doesn't work, he snaps and yells at both of them. Realising his own mistake, he apologises. Cindy's mean head still seems a bit like a jerk in subsequent episodes but she actually does mellow out a small bit.
  • This is why Tina Russo dates Daffy Duck in The Looney Tunes Show, and to her credit, she does bring out Daffy's redeeming qualities more often than most other characters.
    Tina: You're like an abandoned building that ought to be condemned. You know, with busted windows, rats running around, a real nasty sewage situation. But maybe if the right person got a hold of it and cleaned it up, maybe they could take that disgusting building and turn it into something not so disgusting.
  • An interesting bit of trivia regarding Miraculous Ladybug is that Adrien was changed from the aloof "bad boy" that he was in the anime sizzle reel to the Dogged Nice Guy that he's in the cartoon out of a decision from the creators that they didn't want to have Marinette spousing this belief as a part of her relationship with him (and having kids learn this belief, citing it as unrealistic).
  • Subverted in Moral Orel. Bloberta married Clay, thinking she could change him. It didn't work; Clay managed to get even worse, and the two now live an Awful Wedded Life, with both of them near a mental breakdown. Divorce isn't an option, because each and every person in their town is so religious that such a thing would be unthinkable. The end of the series reveals that Clay and Bloberta end up old and bitter, still utterly despising each other to their last breaths.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Velma's attitude toward Shaggy when they're dating, trying to smarten him up, first by making him stop using "like" as a comma, then changing his wardrobe, despite Shaggy's many complaints (not least because Velma's change of pants are incredibly restrictive). Like, Shaggy's quite happy being a gluttonous slacker who hangs out with his dog all day.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Scorpia is trying her hardest at this with Catra. Itís not that Catra is a slob or anything, but rather that sheís destructive, temperamental, and prone to lashing out, as well as being obsessed with winning over her ex-best friend Adora. Scorpia seems to think that if she loves Catra up enough, sheíll be able to heal. As of season three, itís not working out for her. Come season four, she comes to the realization that Catra is a terrible friend, and leaves the Horde.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Marge did this with Homer and insists it worked. See Page Quote. Lisa's response is to just pretend to agree with her.
    • An earlier episode ("Bart's Girlfriend"), had Bart briefly thinking he could try this with Jessica Lovejoy. Lisa calls him on it... only to immediately admit she's got a crush on the boy who works in the library.
      Lisa: Well read, and just a little wild. Ohh, if only someone could tame him.
      Bart: You're right, Lisa, love isn't about fixing someone. I'm just gonna give her up cold turkey. Thanks for the advice.
      Lisa: (non-committal noises)
    • In a later episode, when asked why, after so long, Lisa still has a thing for Nelson, she begins by insisting she doesn't... to gushing out how dark and mysterious he is, to insisting that only she can change him.
    • Deconstructed in "Bonfire of the Manatees", where Marge finally realises that she hasn't changed Homer at all and leaves the house, eventually coming across a handsome Manatee biologist named Caleb. Caleb helps Marge to see that Homer is still the man she fell in love with. The problem is that she still expects him to change.
    • In "Luca$", it is this reason why Lisa goes out with competitive eater Lucas, despite referring to him as "Ralph Wiggum with a dream".
  • Implied and Deconstructed with Sadie towards Lars on Steven Universe. For the former, it's not stated outright, but in "Island Adventure" she exasperatedly and angrily asks Lars why he won't let her help him, implying she wants to make him a better person; it's further implied in "The Good Lars" when she admits she wishes she could force him to be happy. As for the latter, no matter your intentions, you can't force someone to be happy or change their ways, doing so would only make things worse.
  • Deconstructed with Duncan and Courtney from Total Drama. While they start out as a sweet Opposites Attract couple, things take a turn for the worst when Courtney's Control Freak tendencies begin to show up. She writes him a 32-page long letter outlining all his faults and how to fix them in order to make him perfect for her. He votes her off for it, but they get back together in the finale. However, when she proves she hasn't learned come the next season, Duncan ends up hooking up with Gwen, who respects him for who he is and has a lot of common interests with him, leading to the end of their relationship.

Alternative Title(s): I Can Change Him, I Can Change Her, Never Date A Fixer Upper