For a thousand summers, I will wait for you
'Til you're back beside me, 'til I'm holding you
'Til I hear you sigh here in my arms."
So someone's love has gone off on a long and dangerous journey: to sea, to war, to find their meaning, to make their fortune, something along those lines. She promises to wait for him, right where she is, until he returns. How long could it be, right? Soon they'll be reunited and all will be well.
Only not so much. Years pass and he doesn't return. Most people would have given up by this point, assuming that something has happened to their loved one and he's never going to come back. But not this woman. She's going to wait right here for the rest of her life, if necessary, because she really believes he's coming back for her someday.
...Even though most of the time, he really is dead. This still will often not stop her. She said she'll wait forever for him, and she meant it. Hundreds of years later, a woman-shaped rock can be seen in that spot, waiting for her love to return to her. If she knows that he is dead, The Mourning After may ensue. Or even if she believes it — sometimes other characters think that claiming it will shake her resolve.
If she is coerced into marrying, it's You Have Waited Long Enough — whereupon her true love will show up in time to save her from the wedding. If this trope follows a breakup, you have Love Will Lead You Back. If he does return, and she realizes she no longer loved him, it turns to Old Flame Fizzle.
People often assume this character will have to be a female (or a loyal dog), but this is not true: one of the most famous in cinema history is a man who is willing to wait decades. See also My Girl Is Not a Slut, The Slow Path. When the waiting is forced (either by an individual or a social custom), it may overlap with Property of Love. Compare I Will Find You for when the speaker plans to take a more proactive stance. Contrast Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder and Taking the Veil, a common historical alternative.
- In ×××HOLiC when Watanuki takes on ownership of the shop and vows to wait for Yuuko there until the day he sees her again. Nevermind the fact she's dead right now. It's okay, after all, if "wishes can come true if someone wishes hard enough" she'll definitely come back, even though he'll probably never see her again as the person he knew her as. Watanuki won't be aging until she returns anyway, because he made a deal for prolonged life in return for being unable to leave the shop.
- The Birdy the Mighty OVA series sees Natsumi swear this to Tsutomu after watching him change back from Birdy and he tells her he can't talk about the situation.
- In Bokurano Daiichi, who raises his siblings in their father's absence, does not move in with his uncle in part because he doesn't want to impose, and mainly because he believes his father will one day return. When his turn comes to battle, he, knowing that he will die soon, decides to have his siblings stay with his uncle. His father returns some time after Daiichi's death.
- In the first Cardcaptor Sakura movie, we have Clow Reed's girlfriend and disciple, only referred to as Mahoudoushi aka "the Sorceress", and the Big Bad of the film. They got into a huge fight when she started practising Black Magic despite his warnings, so he sealed her away in a Pocket Dimension. Sorceress broke free many years later... when Clow was already dead; she then proceeeded to unleash her magic against Syaoran's family as well as against Sakura, and as she did so, a lot of her dialogue parts are summed up as her asking "Where. Is. Clow Reed?". When Sakura finally managed to tell her that he's dead, she suffered a Villainous BSoD, saying "But... I... waited...!" all over.
- In the ending of the manga version of Chrono Crusade, Chrono promises Rosette that he'll return to her because the place he belongs is "wherever she is" before going off to fight Aion in their final battle. For a reason that is never explained, he disappears for years, leaving her to wait for him even though their contract means that she doesn't have very long to live. After eight years, he eventually does make it back to her right in time for her to die in his arms. It's left up to interpretation if the scene is really him returning to her or their spirits reuniting in the afterlife.
- Invoked in one of the Detective Conan OVA's. If Conan doesn't return to his Shinichi identity, Ran will wait for him to return... even if more than ten years pass. (The OAV itself was All Just a Dream, but it's not too far-fetched to believe that it would be within Ran's character to do this.
Older!Ran: I've already waited ten years... so another ten will be just fine.
- Misato tries to invoke this trope in End of Evangelion when she sends Shinji off to fight the Final Battle... only to collapse and die moments after his departure, having lied about the severity of her gunshot wound and her dying monologue quickly getting interrupted by a demolition charge turning her into Ludicrous Gibs. And not only is it implied that she was only trying to get the boy motivation and didn't really mean what she said, her death was a Senseless Sacrifice as well.
- In the manga ending of Eureka Seven, Renton refuses to acknowledge that his lover Eureka is dead and will continue to wait upon the day she returns back. The final page indicates they might have finally reunited after 2 years.
- In the movie version Eureka Seven Good Night Sleep Tight Young Lovers, Eureka waited patiently and hoped for the moment she could be reunited with Renton, considering she thought of suicide throughout the 8 years of imprisonment.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Not only does Trisha agree to wait for Hohenheim while she's still alive, it's revealed in an omake at the end of the series that she is still waiting for him, despite being dead for 10 years. They're finally reunited when Hohenheim dies in the Grand Finale... in front of Trisha's grave, and as soon as this happens, their souls meet up and they have a bittersweet talk, before leaving together to the afterlife.
- This was Chiaki and Makoto's promise at the end of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
Chiaki: I'll be waiting for you.
Makoto: Okay. I won't be long. I'll come running.
- In Guardian Fairy Michel, Sir Brown waited so long for his beloved princess he turned into a tree.
- In the finale of GUN×SWORD, Wendy parts from the man she loves. (It's unclear whether Van returns her romantic feelings). The series ends with a few minutes of Distant Finale in which Wendy reveals that she's learned to cook food he would like, so that she can give him a good meal when he shows up. Though she never explicitly promised to wait for him, it seems to be what she's doing, and she insists that she will see him again some day. Cue Van walking in the door not five seconds later.
- Present in the manga version of Hellsing of all the things: Alucard disappears and Integra kills the Major, telling him he's a monster and Alucard will return. She then waits for him for thirty years (naturally she never married). In the Distant Finale, Romancia, Integra has begun to worry that he's never come back, and that she's getting old. He returns to her that night, after deliberately losing millions of his own lives to get back, and reassures her that her age is fine with him.
- In Kannazuki no Miko, when Chikane is being, in essence, erased from existence she declares that she will reincarnate. At that point Himeko promises to wait for her.
- The final chapter of Kobato. has Suisho asking if Ioryogi will wait for her. He promises that he will.
- Little Witch Academia: In the finale, as Croix leaves to serve her time in magic prison, Ursula/Chariot calls out that she will wait for her return. She repeats it again quietly to herself again after Croix is gone. Word of God is that Chariot visits her in prison and brings her cakes.
- In Mademoiselle Butterfly, Butterfly sends Chinatsu off to war with the hope that he'll eventually return, taking care of their twins in the process. When she's told he's dead, Butterfly doesn't take another spouse, which makes the happy ending even better once Chinatsu comes back home.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! has Ayaka as a platonic version of this with her best friend Asuna, waiting and clinging to life until she was 115- the year when the person in question was scheduled to come back. But she didn't, and by the time she finally got there thirty years after, it was too late. Naturally, once the poor girl did wake up and learn that Ayaka had waited that long for her, she broke down in tears.Fortunately, resident time traveler Chao was able to return her to the point she originally left.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam, Bright Noa tells the trope words almost letter by letter to Mirai, his Number Two, as his Love Confession to her before a crucial battle. They later get married.
Bright: I know what you're thinking. And I... I will always be waiting.
- Role reversal in Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. Tanda has been waiting for years for Balsa to fulfill her vow to save the lives of eight people so they can settle down and get married. Then at the end she decides to return to her hometown for a while, and he ends up waiting again. Tanda is a very patient guy.
- He does express some frustration with Balsa's wandering ways, noting that she seems to thrive on life-or-death situations. When Balsa admits that this is true and jokingly asks him if he has a cure for it, he painedly replies that if he himself isn't enough of a cure, then there's no point in going on waiting. But he goes on waiting all the same.
- The Mizu Sahara manga My Girl has the main character waiting for his girlfriend, who went abroad to study and seems to have decided not to return. She dies before he gets the chance to see her again.
- In Naruto, Sakura's relationship with Sasuke boils down to this. At first, he was a rogue ninja, but she still kept chasing after him. After his HeelFace Turn, he leaves once again to wander the world and atone for his crimes, promising that one day he'll come back to her. In Sakura Hiden, set two years after that, he still hasn't come back, making her wonder how much longer she can wait for him. In Naruto Gaiden, this extends even to their marriage.
- One Piece:
- A non-dog animal variant of this is Laboon, who's been waiting over 50 years for the pirate crew he made friends with to get back from their trip around the world. And in keeping with the trope, it turns out all members of the crew are dead. Good news Brook's Devil Fruit powers aren't going to let that get in the way.
- A subversion occurs much earlier in the Buggy Arc. In the town Buggy's crew have occupied, there's a little dog called Chou-Chou, who's standing guard at a shop his master founded. Said master went to the hospital several weeks ago, and never came back, having died. Most of the townspeople think Chou-Chou's still waiting, but not the mayor, Boodle. Boodle thinks that Chou-Chou knows his master isn't coming back, but watches over the shop because it's all he has left of his master. This makes it all the sadder when Mohji burns said shop down.
- Tama is a Ninja Brat who has spent the past four years waiting for Ace to return to Wano, hoping to join his crew once she grew up. Unfortunately, due to Wano being an isolated country, she doesn't find out about Ace's death until Luffy arrived.
- A non-romantic version in Ping Pong. The reason Smile (Tsukimoto) never seemed to find any fun in ping pong was because his friend Peco's (Hoshino) game had gotten sloppy. Smile was always waiting for Peco, who taught Smile ping pong, to get back into the game and play seriously.
- Pandora Hearts ends with Gilbert declaring that he will wait 100 years for Oz and Alice to reincarnate back into the world, saying that he's already waited 10 years for Oz, he can't see why 100 more would be a problem.
- The "turned to stone" variant is featured as a local legend in "The Ghost of Maiden's Peak." The stone girl's spirit is also said to haunt the area.
- The trope is lampshaded and defied by Jessie in reference to said ghost.
Girls like her disgust me. Always waiting around for her man as if she were his faithful pet.
- Downplayed in another episode with a Ninetales (kitsune Pokemon who can reach 1000 years of age); as per the trope, she waited a long time for her master. But once 100 years passed without his return, she realized he'd died and attempted to leave the house where he'd lived, only to be unable to since her Pokeball was still in there.
- Another example happened in a Battle Frontier episode, where May meets an old woman at a run-down train station waiting for her husband to return. The woman's granddaughter reveals that her husband wanted to leave to become a Pokemon Doctor, but she didn't want to leave because she was pregnant. She wanted to tell him before he left, but was unable to catch up to him. Her husband died in an accident a year later, but she didn't believe it and continued to wait for him at the train station everyday for many years.
- Rune Soldier Louie: At the end of the final episode, Louie and his companions immediately set off on another journey to flee King Rijarl's army for the destruction of his castle. As Ila sees them off, she secretly vows that she'll be waiting for Louie when he returns (at 9:26-9:45).
- In Sailor Moon, after a lot of agonising on both parts, Reika goes to study in Africa and Motoki decides to wait for her. She eventually returns so that they can have their agonising all over again, since she wants to go back to Africa, this time for ten years. Motoki is still prepared to wait.
- A variant of this trope occurs in the CLAMP manga Shirahime Shyo. A couple makes their goodbyes over a frozen lake as he is going to war, and she promises that when he comes back she will be waiting for him in the same spot. Guy returns many years later in the middle of winter thinking she probably didn't wait for him, until he looks down at the frozen river...and there she is, youthful and beautiful as ever, but dead and frozen in the lake. When she said she would wait in the same spot...she meant it.
- In an early episode of Slayers Revolution, when Lina is almost arrested for "the crime of being Lina Inverse", Gourry tearfully promises to wait for her until she gets out of prison, no matter how many years it takes. Lina, of course, responds with violence.
- Non-romantic version in Soul Eater: Crona makes this sort of vow to Maka when, right before they make their Heroic Sacrifice and imprison themselves alongside Asura, she tells them that she'll come back for them someday and tells them to wait for her. The series ended right after, but on the hopeful note that they may yet be reunited, someday.
- In Tokyo Ghoul, most assume Kaneki is dead at the end of the first manga series, but Touka states that she has faith in him, and that he will return to Anteiku one day. This leads her to set up the coffee shop :Re with the intentions of it being a place Kaneki can come home to. It turns out that she is right, and Kaneki does return to her, although it's as an entirely different person, with no memories of his life as Kaneki or of her. Seeing him seemingly living a happy life, she decides that it is best that he does not recall his troubled past, and makes no effort to try and restore his memories. Even so, she continues to wait for him, stating that in the event that he remembers everything again, he will always be welcome at :Re.
- An everyday sort of version occurs in The Weatherman Is My Lover where Amasawa supports the reluctant Koganei in going overseas to work and convinces him that he'll be okay without him and wait for his return.
- Windaria: Juilet to her lover and the promise has prevented her from 'achieving enlightenment' and passing on. She passes after giving Alan some words of wisdom. Marie too.
- In World's End Harem Erisa ignores resident protagonist Reitos plea for her to find someone else, for he being cured of multiple sclerosis is only supported by the possibility of the super AIs of their time finding a cure during the period he is preserved in cryostasis, Erisa says she will wait for him and that a cure will be found for sure.
- Alpha in Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is still waiting for her owner to return at the end of the series when humanity goes extinct.
- Justice Society of America, Stargirl basically promises this publically (to a reporter questioning her) about Atom Smasher when he goes to prison for war crimes. "I'll be there for him, no matter how long it takes".
- Invoked in Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #45 during the separation of Peter and Mary Jane Parker. Peter goes to Hollywood to ask MJ to return to him, but she still finds it too hard dealing with sharing her life with Spider-Man:
Mary Jane: It was like ... like everything I did on my own was just a distraction from the important stuff, and I can't be a distraction, I can't be a diversion. I can't be second place, Peter. I just can't. You can understand that, can't you, Peter?
Peter: Yeah... I suppose I can. But I'm still in love with you, MJ. I always will be. So what do I do about that?
Mary Jane: [small voice] Wait for me? Let me figure out what I need to figure out? (normal voice) I know that's hard, because I can't make any promises, but—
Peter: I don't need any promises, MJ. I'll wait for you as long as you need. Or until the stars turn cold and fall from the sky. Whichever comes first.
- Lois Lane in All-Star Superman, insisting Superman will come back - he's just fixing the Sun.
- In Bearskin, the hero tells the youngest daughter that he will leave and return in three years to claim her hand in marriage (if he doesn't, he's dead and she's free), and when a strange, handsome man shows up, she ignores him until he proves he's the same as the hideous man she promised to marry.
- In Son of the Desert Trisha gives her blessing when Hohenheim decides to go on a journey to revoke his immortality. Trisha promises to wait for him no matter what.
- Despite reciprocating Roy's feelings, Edward refuses his marriage proposal until he restores Alphonse's body. Roy promises to wait for him until then.
- The Miraculous Ladybug fic Bring Me Home is set after the defeat of Hawkmoth and his unmasking as Gabriel Agreste. A day after the fight, Ladybug waits at her usual meeting place for Chat Noir, hoping to finally unmask herself and confess her feelings. But he never shows up, because Adrien is too ashamed to admit that he lived under the same roof as their enemy and never realised it, and has taken his ring off for good. Five years later, Ladybug continues to wait on the roof every night, and Marinette's friends can't help but worry about how much she's withdrawn since high school. Marinette knows that Chat would be disappointed by what her grief has turned her into, but she can't bring herself to give up without knowing if he's even still alive. When she does find out that Adrien was Chat and had always had the option to come back to her, she's heartbroken and furious, calling him out for selfishly choosing to let her sit hurting for him for five years.
- Downplayed in another Miraculous fic, Something in the Night. Adrien waited at the park for Ladybug for weeks after their scheduled meeting fell through (Marinette was stuck in traffic on the other side of Paris, and she had to catch a flight that afternoon), and he comes back a number of times over the next few years around the anniversary of Hawkmoth's defeat. Marinette herself hangs around the park a few times when she's back in Paris, but they never see each other. It's not until seven years later, two years after Adrien had stopped waiting, that they run into each other again.
- In Hero: The Guardian Smurf, Smurfette was Hero's first love and she was planning on possibly marrying him someday before his Second Love and Opposite-Sex Clone Wonder Smurfette appeared, resulting in a relationship that culminated in a marriage. Despite feeling jilted, Smurfette decided to wait and keep herself a virgin until Wonder died of old age, which was when Hero, feeling heartbroken and suicidal, fell in love with and married Smurfette. And through a Mystical Pregnancy fertility blessing, Smurfette bore Hero's second child, his daughter Miracle.
- Voices of a Distant Star has a rare gender inverted variation, as Noboru is stuck on Earth while his girlfriend Mikako goes in to space to be a mecha pilot. As Mikako travels farther into space and her messages to Noboru take longer and longer to arrive, he tries to resolve himself to move on, but can't ever manage it.
- Also see 5 Centimeters per Second. Makoto Shinkai likes this trope.
- In The Book of Life, Manolo and Joaquin wait ten years for Maria to return from Europe, shown through a montage set to, appropriately enough, a mariachi rendition of the song of the same name.
- In Coco, the titular character Coco never stopped loving her father Héctor despite the fact that he fully abandoned her and Imelda (not intentionally, since he was killed by the Big Bad) and that her mother threw everything that reminded her of him, which Coco kept those things in an effort to preserve her father's memory. It is all worth the effort in the end.
- The protagonist of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence spends millennia at the bottom of the ocean waiting for the "blue fairy."
- The classic French musical Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) centers around this when the man goes off to war for two years, and she promises to wait for him, even if it takes forever—until the woman (played by Catherine Deneuve) discovers that she's pregnant with his child and marries someone else in act III just four months later. Unlike in American films of this type, they never get back together, not even briefly. Though it's pretty heavily implied that that they still both carry the old flame. This film is sort of indirectly the Trope Namer — the main musical theme was also adapted into an English song with this title.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Elizabeth apparently decides to wait for Will... and he does comes back. This is helped by the fact that he expressly told her when he would return, so all she had to do was stay loyal and show up at the appointed time. Word of God says that her remaining faithful also allows Will to be free from the duty of the Flying Dutchman ship (his reason for leaving) so they can now properly be together.
- Subverted in The Dark Knight Trilogy. Rachel Dawes not only breaks her promise to Bruce Wayne a few months after making it, but gets so deeply involved with another man that they become engaged and would have married if she hadn't died.
- A Very Long Engagement has the heroine convinced that her lover is alive despite everyone else insisting that his chances of surviving a bombing during the war are nil. In the end, it turns out that he is alive, one of the rare instances of this trope where the woman's fidelity is fully rewarded. True, the man is said to suffer from memory loss of the war and his relationship with the heroine, but it's implied that they will be happy together once again.
- The main character in Harrisons Flowers decides to go after her husband in war-torn Yugoslavia after receiving news that he is probably dead.
- Subverted in The Perez Family. Carmela spends 20 years (and most of the movie) waiting for her husband, who was imprisoned by the Castro regime in Cuba. Then she just gives up, and hooks up with another man.
- Arwen does this for Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings once he goes off on the quest to destroy the One Ring, which eventually escalates into a war. Although this time they are only parted for half a year.
- It doesn't really come up in the movie, but the backstory given in the book it's revealed that by the time they finally get married, Arwen has been waiting for Aragorn for around 40 years. Of course, since she was over two and a half millennia old when they met, that's not actually that long.
- At the end of The Maltese Falcon, Sam Spade promises to wait for the woman he's sending to prison to get out!
- Nora in Pete's Dragon (1977) is waiting for her fiancé, believed to be lost at sea.
- In Chico & Rita the main feature is a flashback of Chico as an old man thinking on his relationship with Rita. They were separated when he was deported to Cuba while Rita was waiting for him in a hotel room. When Chico restarts his music career and gets to go back to America, he manages to track her down. She was waiting in that hotel room for forty-eight years.
- In The Great Gatsby, Daisy is Gatsby's lover before he left to prove himself and the world as an accomplished man. He promised to come back and asked her to wait, but as the trope goes, this takes longer than expected. He comes back only to find Daisy married to another man, to both their despair.
- Not exactly played straight in The Notebook. Noah remains smitten with Allie all through the war he was sent to, doesn't engage with anyone, and goes back to the United States still having her in mind, only to find her engaged to another man.
- In Aquaman (2018), when she is forced to return home, Atlanna promises to reunite with Thomas Curry and to meet him at the docks at sunrise. Thomas does just that, going to the docks every sunrise, expecting Atlanna. She had been gone for more than twenty years. His patience finally pays off in the ending.
- Older Than Feudalism: Both Odysseus's wife Penelope and his dog Argos do this in The Odyssey, although unusually for this trope, Odysseus actually does come back in the end. It's worth noting that they waited twenty years, and Penelope was besieged by over a hundred suitors. Argos dies after Odysseus refuses to approach him, because that would blow his disguise. Fortunately, Penelope lives.
- As it turns out, Odysseus arrives just in time. Before he left to go to the Trojan War, he told Penelope to wait until their son Telemachus came of age and into his inheritance as the new king of Ithaca and that she should then marry the best husband she could find. At the beginning of the Odyssey Telemachus declares that he is old enough to become head of the household and ruler of the kingdom in his mother's stead.
- In the Mexican short story La piedra y el rio, a woman waits for her husband (who went off to try to start a life in America) in one place for so long that her body turns to stones and water.
- At the end of the Charlotte Bronte novel Villette, the protagonist Lucy Snowe is waiting for the man she loves to come back to her. He has set up a school for her and a place for her to live all so she can continue to wait for him to come back. The book abruptly ends as the first person narration makes it fairly clear that his ship sank when he was on his way back.
- In part of the backstory to The Fionavar Tapestry, a wood nymph marries a human mage. He then sets off across the sea to seek out a fable. She goes into a high tower on the shore to wait for him to return. And wait. And wait. And wait. Eventually she sees a ghost ship passing carrying his spirit, realizes he is dead, and throws herself off the tower to drown in despair.
- L. M. Montgomery really liked this one and featured it in several stories, usually with a man coming back to meet a woman he knew years ago and finding her still there. The story just about always had a happy ending. Most notable example: in one of the later Anne of Green Gables books, Anne's oldest son, Jem, leaves to fight in World War I, and his dog waits at the train station and meets every train just in case Jem is on it. In the end, he does come back.
- In the same book, Rilla Blythe waits for her childhood sweetheart to come back. It's a striking example because of her young age: she was only about 14 when the war began; by the time the book ends, she's an adult.
- Parodied in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Moving Pictures, in a send-up of Greyfriars Bobby: Gaspode the talking dog is named (so he says) after the famous Gaspode, who kept sitting at his owner's grave and howling until he died. As Gaspode said, any dog would do that if his tail was caught under the damn headstone.
- Also parodied in Reaper Man, where Miss Flitworth tells Bill Door that after the death of her fiance, she'd thought to herself "What life expects me to do now is moon around the place in the wedding dress for years and go completely doolally", and just to spite narrative convention, she instead buckled down and got on with her life. Intriguingly, when she dies near the end, Death brings her to where her fiance died so they can move on together. Then, "getting on with her life" had not included "finding someone else."
- Miss Flitworth's comment is a reference to Miss Haversham in Dickens' Great Expectations.
- The Discworld novel Eric mocks the tale of Argos, saying what killed the dog was holding his master's slippers in his mouth for twenty years nonstop.
- Also parodied in Reaper Man, where Miss Flitworth tells Bill Door that after the death of her fiance, she'd thought to herself "What life expects me to do now is moon around the place in the wedding dress for years and go completely doolally", and just to spite narrative convention, she instead buckled down and got on with her life. Intriguingly, when she dies near the end, Death brings her to where her fiance died so they can move on together. Then, "getting on with her life" had not included "finding someone else."
- Heart of Darkness: Kurtz's Intended. Presented as pathetic, because she has deluded herself about Kurtz to the point that she's barely functional as an independent person. Even after Kurtz is dead, she begs to know his last words, "to live by," implying that she intends to stay in mourning for the rest of her life.
- Herman Melville apparently once wrote a manuscript that told the story of a woman who waited years for the return of her sailor husband after he disappeared at sea. Meanwhile, he'd gone off and started another family elsewhere. The manuscript was never published and is now lost, but records of it exist in Melville's letters to Nathaniel Hawthorne.
- This is a major plot point in The Time Traveler's Wife. Clare spends most of her childhood and teens waiting to her next meeting with Henry. Even after Henry dies, Clare keeps waiting for nearly 50 years to meet him one last time.
- In Girlfriend In A Coma, Richard continues to visit Karen for seventeen years after she goes into a coma, never once even considering breaking off the relationship.
- In Joe Haldeman's The Forever War, William and Marygay, who have stuck with each other through firefights, injuries, and the loss of everyone and everything they've ever known, are separated by being given different military assignments. The death toll in the war is horribly high, and Time Dilation caused by near-lightspeed travel means they can never expect to see each other again. William mourns for her as if she's dead, but doesn't take up with anyone else because in the future that he's been thrust into by the time dilation, everyone else is gay. Marygay, on the other hand, leaves a note for him to find if he survives, assuring him that she will wait forever, tells him where she's going, and buys a ship which spends the next two hundred years going backwards and forwards at near-lightspeed, stopping every five years, during which time she has aged about a month... leaving her still in her late twenties when William, aged thirtysomething, catches up with her. Now that's an optimistic lady!
- In the Chivalric Romance Floris And Blanchefleur, the lovers are forcibly separated to prevent a mesalliance. Neither of them are be shaken by that — even when Floris believes that she is dead.
- In the Chivalric Romances King Horn, Beves of Hampton, and Guy of Warwick, the heroes all win the hand of a princess by their feats. Unfortunately, Horn is in exile from the court of his true love because of a false accusation, and Beves and Guy are both seeking to win renown so that the princess he is in love with will find him worthy, despite his low birth. All of them wriggle out of the marriage and (in due time) win their first loves.
- Persuasion by Jane Austen. Mildly subverted in that Anne was persuaded to break up the engagement. Nevertheless she waits for him, and gives an impassioned speech pointing out that women will love longer than men when all hope is gone. The hero overhears and does come back.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Master Mind of Mars, Dar Tarus was assasinated in order to clear the way for the rival. (Fortunately for him, his body was sold to the Mad Scientist and he got better.) His love, Kara, fled as soon as her father was assassinated, and returned to be reunited with him.
- In Jan Guillou's Knight Templar series Cecilia patiently waits for Arn for more than twenty years while he's off making penance as a knight templar. Slightly subverted since she too has been sentenced to make penance and spends twenty years at a convent, but it kicks in for real once she's done her time and has to wait to see if he will ever return home.
- Worked out pretty easily and straightforwardly in The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar (also combined with Jail Bait Wait, at least presumably).
- In Sidney Sheldon's The Other Side of Midnight, Larry Douglas promises to return to poor, sweet Noelle Page when he has to return to his pilot duties — he leaves her an apartment and some money, encourages her to buy a wedding dress and even gives her a time and place for their reunion. When he doesn't show up, she continues to wait as weeks pass and she learns she's pregnant with his child. She finally tracks down his whereabouts...it turns out he's seeing other women now and never intended to return. She vows that she will exact horrible, horrible Revenge on him, starting with how she handles the matter of the pregnancy, and this drives the remainder of the novel.
- Played heartbreakingly straight in the Dragonlance short story "Love and Ale" with the in-universe poem "The Song of Elen Waiting" in which the eponymous singer laments that her love went off to war, but she still waits for him as her friends grow up and fall in love and have children and grow old while she waits for her love until she dies old and alone.
- Deliberately induced in the Sherlock Holmes story A Case of Identity. The client's stepfather courts the client under an assumed identity, then has that persona disappear on their wedding day. Because of this, the man knows his stepdaughter will wait for years for her beloved to return before she will consider accepting another suitor, during which time he can continue to supplement his income with his stepdaughter's trust fund dividends.
- One of Gustavo Adolfo Becquer's "Legends", "The Promise", has a both heartbreaking and creepy version of this. A count seduces a farm girl named Margarita right before going to war, hiding his social standing to her and giving her a ring as a proof of love and future marriage... When he returns, he's confronted by a local singer who sings a song about a girl who was first seduced by a powerful man and then killed by her irate older brother, and whose ringed hand simply can't be buried under Earth since he promised to marry her before leaving. That woman is, of course, poor Margarita, who is still waiting for him even after dying. The Count accepts to "marry" Margarita's hand to fulfill the promise, and once this is done her hand quietly slides under Earth so she can rest in peace.
- In Sarum, Peter Shockley and his childhood sweetheart Alicia Le Portier have a teenage quarrel, which breaks them up. She weds an older knight at the request of her parents, then returns to Sarum after her husband dies in battle, to discover that Peter (although he's had girlfriends) has remained unmarried for twenty years, unable to feel real affection for any woman but her. Unusual in that it's the male partner who'd been waiting.
- In Warrior Cats, though it's just best friends and not a romantic example, Firestar and Graystripe do this. In the Super Edition Firestar's Quest, Firestar goes away on a quest that leads him far out of the forest, leaving the Clan in Graystripe's care. Graystripe promises "I'll wait for you as long as it takes." Firestar, of course, makes it back safely. In the second series, when Graystripe is captured by Twolegs and the Clans leave the forest for good to find a new home, Firestar refuses to give up hope that Graystripe will return, leaving the deputy position open, even though most of the cats believe that Graystripe is dead. He even cites Graystripe's waiting for him as a reason why he should continue to wait. Eventually, several moons later, pressure from many other cats and the need for a deputy forces him to accept that Graystripe probably won't come back, and he appoints Brambleclaw as a deputy. Over half a year later, Graystripe finally finds his way to the Clan.
- This is the very line Half-Moon says as the last sentence in Sign Of The Moon to Jayfeather.
- Silverstream's spirit says this word from word to GraystripeinThe Last Hope.
- Subverted with Firestar and Spottedleaf. After Spottedleaf dies, she promises that she will wait for Firestar in StarClan, but she is killed again just a while before Firestar dies.
- In Count and Countess, Vlad Dracula and Elizabeth Bathory are able to send letters to one another despite living more than a century apart in time. They fall in love via this correspondence (though by no means a wholesome love) and Vlad becomes determined to circumvent mortality, no matter how many years he has to wait before he can finally see Elizabeth face to face. Elizabeth is more realistic about the matter and advises him not to hold his breath.
- Her Father's Daughter: Donald's mother bluntly informs him not to ask Linda to marry him because he would require this trope, which isn't fair.
That is the reason I am suggesting that you think about these things seriously and question yourself as to whether you would be doing the fair thing by Linda if you tried to tie her up in an arrangement that would ask her to wait six or eight years yet before you would be ready.
- Lewis Carroll's poem "Far Away" from his novel Sylvie and Bruno is about a girl who initially fears that her lover has forgotten about her while he is away at sea, but realizes that he still loves her when he briefly returns. The last stanza is a prime example of this trope:
"Though waters wide between us glide,
Our lives are warm and near:
No distance parts two faithful hearts—
Two hearts that love so dear:
And I will trust my sailor-lad,
For ever and a day,
To think of me—to think of me—
When he is far away!"
- In John C. Wright's The Hermetic Millennia, this is Menelaus's motivation to sleep through the millennia until Rania returns. He hates being woken because every time ages him.
- In Stephanie Burgis's A Tangle of Magicks , Angeline promises this, thus annoying the mother who had insisted on the Parental Marriage Veto.
- In the Gabriel García Márquez novel Love in the Time of Cholera, Florentino is rejected by Fermina Daza, who instead marries wealthy Doctor Juvenal. He waits for her. For fifty years.
- In Faithful Jenny Dove The titular Jenny promises to wait for her lover, naturally he dies and she wastes away herself but keeps on waiting as a ghost. Things get complicated when Jenny falls for another local ghost, a young gentleman who is doomed to walk until he meets a faithful woman. Eek. Then her true love comes home alive and blows Jenny's cover. To keep her dead love she has to somehow make her grieving living lover betray her....
- Used occasionally on Doctor Who.
- Jackie Tyler, who, a year after her daughter's disappearance, still had stacks of missing posters on her kitchen table.
- Sarah Jane tells the Doctor rather reproachfully that she waited for him in "School Reunion". He had actually had no intention of coming back.
- Likewise, Madame de Pompadour waited the rest of her life to see the Doctor again. Unfortunately, she died of an illness before he was able to come back.
- Rose Tyler after "Doomsday". She also built a dimension cannon.
- Captain Jack, who waits around in Cardiff for a hundred-odd years for the Doctor to come back.
- In the fifth season finale "The Big Bang", Rory (possessing the body of an Auton) waited nearly two thousand years beside the Pandorica while Amy healed within it. Even the Doctor was impressed. "Rory Williams. The boy who waited."
- Anna to Mr Bates in Downton Abbey. She points out after they get married at long last that, "We've waited long enough to be together, you and I." Also, Branson to Sybil.
- On Lost, a Mental Time Travel -ing Desmond asks Penny, who he has broken up with in 1996, to wait for a phone call on Christmas Day, 2004, and not change her phone number or move apartments in that timespan so he can still reach her.
- In the episode "Queen of Hearts", Guinevere (who is only a servant girl in this version) promises to wait for Arthur to become king so that he can change the customs that keep them apart and finally let them be together.
- The series finale has Merlin — now a genuinely old man — waiting in the present day for Arthur to return. It's a platonic version... maybe.
- A variant in One Big Happy. Kate and Lizzy go on a date before finding out that the latter is the former's nurse, which means that they'd be violating protocol if they continued. Kate suggests that she'll try to wait for Lizzy's pregnancy to finish so that they can try going out again.
- Person of Interest. As he's about to depart overseas on a mission for the CIA, John Reese discovers his former Love Interest Jessica has gotten engaged, but she says that if Reese asks her, she will wait for him instead of getting married. Reese turns down the offer and regrets it bitterly when she's murdered by her abusive husband.
- In Robin Hood, the titular character is intrigued when he comes back from five years fighting abroad to discover that Maid Marian is still unmarried - not that she's going to admit that he has anything to do with that.
- During Marian and Robin's Together in Death scene, Marian tells Robin: "I have waited for you."
- So Weird: "Widow's Walk" features an old woman who has waited decades for her husband, lost at sea, to return. She learns an important life lesson about something or other, then goes right back to waiting. The ghost of her husband seems to approve of this.
- Stranger Things: In season 2, this is a point of contention between Nancy and Johnathan. After the events of the first season, they had grown close, but Johnathan needed to focus on helping his brother through his trauma. Nancy was willing to wait for him... but after a month she decided that he was going to need more time than she could give, and got back together with her ex-boyfriend Steve. Note that season 2 takes place a full year after season 1 and Johnathan is still consumed with caring for his brother, so Nancy had a point.
Nancy: I waited for you.
Johnathan: You didn't wait very long.
- Taken: After John leaves Earth in "Beyond the Sky", Sally Clarke waits for him for the rest of her life. She never sees him again.
- The Vampire Diaries:
- Damon will wait for Elena because of the sleeping curse that she was put under by Kai until Bonnie dies. When she wakes up, Damon plans on taking the cure and living a normal human life with Elena.
- Klaus intends on being Caroline's last love and will wait for her.
- "Girl I Wait" and "The Other Side" by Bruno Mars.
- *V Oi CE is a pretty upbeat Vocaloid song about a robot and his undying loyalty to his master (played by Hatsune Miku) who was taken away from him because of a war. Even till his last breath, he still protects his master's house, hoping to see her one more time.
- Connie Francis' Song, Circa 1965. Quite literally titled I will wait for you. This version was used in the described Futurama episode.
- The Alaskan folk song Susitna is another one where the waiting woman turns to stone.
- The song Naturaleza Muerta by the Spanish band Mecano, later covered by Sarah Brightman (lyrics can be found here).
- La Oreja de Van Gogh's song La Playa is about an isolated boy living in a beach house that fells in love with a girl, but it's just a summer love for said girl. The boys promises to always wait for her, but the girl never comes. In the end, the boy is already an old man and he is still waiting.
- Mana's song El Muelle de San Blas is about a woman who waited for her sailor boyfriend in the titular dock, still with the same dress, presumably until her death. The Lyrics.
- The music video makes it more explicit, with her gaining a moment of clarity at the end and committing suicide by drowning.
- The Decemberists' folk-inspired ballad From My Own True Love, Lost at Sea starts out: "Fourscore years / Living down in this rain swept town / Sea salt tears / Swimming round as the rain comes down / Mr Postman, do you have a letter for me? ... From my own true love / Lost at sea"...
- Also "Yankee Bayonet". "Look for me when the sun-bright swallow sings upon the birch-bough high" / "But you are in the ground with the wolves and the weevils all a-chew on your bones so dry ..."
- A Fair Maid Walking, an Irish folk song.
- Dear Friend by Charlie Peacock, where the bride has been waiting for many years for her groom to return, and people around her laugh at her for it. Video
- The rock opera She (based on the novel of the same name). The titular character, seeing her lover fall for another woman, kills him in a fit of rage and jealousy. After realising what she has done, she nearly commits suicide - until learning of a magical fire that can grant her eternal life, which she uses to wait for him to return, reincarnated. Two thousand years later, he arrives in the form of an English explorer. In the end, when She dies by bathing in the magical flame a second time, her reincarnated lover decides that it is his turn to wait, and bathes in the flames to become immortal and wait for her to return...
Wait for me
I shall return again for you, Kallicrates
More beautiful than ever I shall live again
To walk upon the earth and be your queen again, forever
Do not fall beneath the passing years
Wait beyond eternity for me...
- Scissor Sisters' Other Side is about waiting for someone from beyond the veil:
- "In The Hills of Shiloh" is a haunting ballad of a woman waiting in her bridal gown for her beloved to return to her, running up and down the hills, written by Shel Silverstein.
- Insane Clown Posse's "Under the Moon" subverts this: the girl promised the song's character (when he went to prison for killing her attempted rapist) that she would wait for him. He knows she made herself into a liar. He is not happy.
- The old folk song "John Riley" is the very embodiment of this trope. In it, a young woman is questioned by a prospective suitor. She refuses him, because she's betrothed to the titular man, who sailed away some years previously. He persists, asking what she'll do if her fiancee has died in battle, drowned, etc. She answers that she'll mourn him and remain true to his memory. She persists in this line of reasoning, even when he suggests that her fiancee may have married someone else. After this, he reveals himself to be John Riley, having been satisfied of her fidelity. Jerk.
- The Atlantic Canadian folk song "Dark-Eyed Sailor" has the same setup.
- So does the Scottish song, The Lass of Glencoe.
- There's another version of John Riley where it turns out, after the man and woman have spent the night together, that he isn't really John Riley after all. Which explains why she didn't recognize him. (The standard version goes with the old reliable No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me).
- "Dark-Eyed Sailor", where the sailor reveals himself by showing the maiden his half of a ring they split before he left, is one of an entire subgenre of folksongs called Broken Token ballads, which all have the same plot. At least one version of "John Riley" adds this element as well.
- Frederic from The Pirates of Penzance forces his girlfriend to add the line "and ever after" in a successful pitch to avoid Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder.
- The Harry Chapin song "Corey's Coming" is very much about this. Of course, there's a bit question about whether or not Corey even exists. Naturally, due to the singer, it's an extreme Tear Jerker.
- Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting For You". It's Exactly What It Says on the Tin. "Wherever you go, Whatever you do, I will be right here waiting for you. Whatever it takes, Or how my heart breaks, I will be right here waiting for you."
- All of the events in the rock Opera The Who's Tommy are set in motion when Tommy's father returns from war to find his wife didn't in fact wait for him.
- Conway Twitty's "Don't Cry Joni", which ends with Joni not waiting for the narrator to return.
- The Oak Ridge Boy's "I''l Be True to You" plays with this. The singer's girl promises him she'll be faithful, but he doesn't and after meeting her again with him only saying goodbye, where she starts Drowning Her Sorrows. The singer finally promises this after she dies.
- In the song "Penelope", the protagonist goes to train station everyday to wait for her beloved. She gets old and finally the guy comes and thanks her for being so faithful and that his wait is over, she only looks at him and says "No you don't look like he use to look (of course not, he is old now) you aren't him! and goes on waiting. (Gee, if the guy was alive all this time... couldn't he write or something?) The song is also in spanish, notice a pattern here?
- Although the promise is never made, "Travelin' Soldier" by the Dixie Chicks hardily applied this trope. He meets her the day he's shipped off for the military, ends up sending her letters. She breaks down crying when she hears his name on a list of Vietnam dead at a high school game.
- The Vocaloid song "Machibito Umi" (roughly "Waiting Person, Ocean") is about... well, with a title like that, what do you think?
- Subverted in the Great Big Sea song Dream to Live. First, its told from the guy's perspective, who tried to make his fortune in Boston. Second, he hopes desperately that she is still waiting for him... until she lets him down in the letter. He ends up moving on and starting a family of his own, but is left wondering "what if".
- The folk song "Youth of the Heart" deals with a similar situation. The narrator spent years saving up enough money to support his sweetheart as he felt she deserved then went home only to discover that she'd gotten fed up with waiting and married another, poorer man that very morning.
- Joe Nichols, I'll Wait For You
- The Gordon Lightfoot song "Bitter Green" is about a woman waiting patiently for the return of her lover, who has been missing for quite some time for reasons the singer is uncertain of. In the final verse, the man does return, only to find her grave.
- Nastily subverted in the folk song "House Carpenter" (aka "The Demon Lover"). A woman promises to wait for her love, but when he comes back after seven years at sea, she's married with two kids. He convinces her to abscond with him (he's rich now), but after a few weeks of sailing her darling turns into a demon and sinks the ship. They both go to hell.
- Kamelot's 'A Sailorman's Hymn'.
- Voltaire's To the Bottom of the Sea is a concept album set at the turn of the industrial revolution. One song has a man going off to sea to become a merchant trading in imported goods, and his wife waiting for him. Other songs imply he has had other partners while at sea, but that she is his true love, in a kind of "that was just sex, you own my heart" kind of way.
- "Penelope's Song" by Loreena McKennitt, inspired by The Odyssey (see below under Mythology).
- Averted in The Magnetic Fields' folk pastiche "Abigail, Belle of Kilronan" where the soldier specifically asks the girl to not do this.
- Mumford & Sons "I Will Wait", obviously.
- AFI's 'Endlessly, She Said' embodies this. The closing song to a Concept Album about isolation, it presents the idea of waiting as a misery-filled experience.
- The Beatles' "Wait" and "Blue Jay Way".
- Bob Marley: "Waiting In Vain", about a man waiting for his lover's love.
- Said word for word in Steve Winwood's "Higher Love."
- Love's "Alone Again Or" from Forever Changes is kind of ambiguous on the matter?
Said it's alright
I won't forget
All the times I've waited patiently for you
And you'll do just what you used to do
And I will be alone again tonight, my dear.
- Jairo's song "La Balada de Corto Maltese" (The Ballad of Corto Maltese) has someone waiting for the titular Anti-Hero in Argentina. It's Corto's illegitimate son: Corto himself left the boy's mother (a local Femme Fatale and delinquent queen) to continue with his adventures, and she didn't tell him he had knocked her up. The poor kid is aware of his parentage and goes every day to the local harbor, hoping his father will appear some day.
- The Scottish (probably) traditional song "The Lowlands of Holland" is sung by a woman whose lover is over the ocean (conscripted in some versions) and drowns on the third attempt to get back. Her father tells her there's plenty more fish in the sea, but she'll have none of it:
There shall ne'er quaff* come on my heid nor caem come in my hair,
There shall ne'er coal nor cannelight shine in my bower mair,
Nor will I love another man until the day I dee,
For I never had a love but yin and he's drooned in the sea.
- Gordon Lightfoot's Bitter Green, about a woman who waited for her lover her whole life. He turns up the day after she dies.
- Irish Mythology: One version of the legend of Finn MacCool features his loyal dog being told to wait for him and doing so for so long that he (the dog, that is) nearly starves.
- There's quite a few examples in Japanese folktales with a creepy variation. The unfaithful husband leaves, and the wife pledges to wait forever, then dies after a few years. The husband returns and finds everything the same... but wakes up the next morning to find a skeleton in the bed.
- Interesting exception: According to Plutarch, King Leonidas told his wife before he left to fight the Battle of Thermopylae that she should "marry a good man that will treat you well, bear him children, and live a good life."
- The Greek story of Clytie is a notable variation: Clytie loved Helios, the sun god, but he did not return her affection, though fully aware of it. No one else made her feel the way he did, so she spent the rest of her life waiting under a tree for him to descend to her. He never came, and she eventually turned into a heliotrope flower, turning her face to him at all times. Depressingly, this story is a metaphor for a common real-life occurrence.
- In the Ramayana, Rama's brother Laxman's wife waits for him in Ayodhya. Rama's wife Sita waits for Rama to rescue her from Demon King Ravana.
- There's a big rock above Shatin in the New Territories of Hong Kong called Amah Rock which is supposed to be such a woman. Either she's grown since petrification or she was a giantess, it's about twenty feet tall. It has a silhouette resembling a woman with a baby on her back. How come the baby didn't grow up during the wait?
- Julia in Two Gentlemen of Verona, to Proteus. Until she gets sick of waiting, disguises herself as a boy, and goes after him.
- Penelope in The Golden Apple, much as in The Odyssey except her waiting period is reduced to ten years.
- William Shakespeare did it too, at the end of Love's Labour's Lost. After the King of France dies the Princess and her ladies-in-waiting make their respective suitors promise to wait a year and a day for them so they can mourn properly (and probably get the kingdom back in order too.) It isn't addressed whether or not they actually do wait for them, though.
- Peer Gynt has Solveig sing, "Though winter may pass, and spring after that, and the next summer also and then year after year; I will hold you, I will keep watch, and I will wait for you." She does eventually succeed, but not until after many, many years, during which the titular protagonist presumably didn't bother at all and certainly didn't shy away from the other women.
- Bizarre version in Arthur Miller's All My Sons: son went missing in World War II and is probably dead. His mother assumes that the fact that his fiancee, Ann, hasn't married somebody else means she's waiting for him and uses this to validate her belief that he's alive. In fact, the fiancee is waiting for his brother to own up to his affection for her. The mother is furious that she's not waiting for her (probably dead) son, until Ann shows her a letter showing that he committed suicide.
- A variation occurs in The Pirates of Penzance. When Frederic tells Mabel that a loophole in the terms of his apprenticeship might cause it to last sixty years, she still pledges to wait for him until then. (Thankfully, the condition is annulled in the end, and they are reunited.)
- In Federico García Lorca's 1930s play Rosita the Spinster ("Doña Rosita la Soltera"), the titular Rosita is waiting for her fiancée who went to America to seek his fortune, for what's implied to be more than 20 years. Subverted when at the end of the piece it is revealed that the fiancée married in America long time ago, and Rosita was the only one who still didn't know. Since he didn't bother to cancel his commitment to Rosita, she is now too old to find any prospect, and the waiting has left her too tired to even protest, only lament over her lost years and opportunities.
- The Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland was originally based on this trope: in an old house built on an Indian graveyard, a bride sits in the attic, watching the window. Her beloved was killed in a war years before, but even when she died of heartbreak, she still walked the house, and her wails summoned all the restless spirits for miles around. Now she's been relegated to the small, veiled figure at the very end of the tour, heart still beating, whispering "Hurry back... hurry back..."
- In 2006, the ride was revamped to give the Bride back her focus, although now she's a "Black Widow" who married several men and murdered them all for money.
- The Disneyland Paris version, Phantom Manor, pretty much makes the Bride's story the entire focus. When her father finds out that her groom plans to take her away from the town, he is instantly against it. An earthquake occurs and in the chaos, the father dies, though he murders the groom from beyond the grave and continues to haunt his daughter until her death.
- In Left 4 Dead 2, You encounter a wedding procession of infected in The Passing. The groom is missing (most likely he never made it due to the pandemic), but the bride (now a Witch) and the rest of the people attending the ceremony still patiently wait for him to arrive.
- Celes plays the waiting woman in the famous opera scene of Final Fantasy VI, right down to the white dress (not tattered, though).
- Both Millenia and Elena from Grandia II at the end are shown waiting for Ryudo to return to them.
- In Legaia II: Duel Saga, Maya and Sharon are shown at the end to be waiting for Lang, as he goes off on more adventures.
- Ciel, at the end of Mega Man Zero 4, still believes that Zero is out there somewhere and that she needs to help the world for him. Freesia, the slow "I miss you" vocal version of the game's theme, plays over the ending credits, presumably expressing the thoughts of Ciel herself (especially as Rie Tanaka is the singer). After the credits, we see Zero's shattered helmet lying in the ruins of Ragnarok.
- In Tales of Phantasia, Klarth's assistant Mirald promises to wait as long as necessary for his return. Up until that point it had been implied that he wasn't fully aware she loved him (or even that he loved her, depending on how you interpret the character). Made all the more poignant because he learns this in a vision after the party has traveled to the future to confront the Big Bad. Meaning that in this timeline, she is long dead, having presumably waited her whole life for him. If you beat the game, he does indeed return. In a different variant, Arche makes this promise to Chester, when she returns to the past. Particularly unfair, as she has to wait a hundred years to see him again, but since time travel is involved, he only has to wait until she shows up looking for him, or until he finds her.
- Tales of the Abyss: "Come home! You have to come home... you have to! I'll be waiting... always..." Tear to Luke at the end just before he Disappears into Light. The Gainax Ending leaves in question whether or not it is Luke who returned.
- Deconstructed in Tales of Graces. After seven years of waiting for Asbel after the prologue, Cheria is... rather bitter by the time the main game starts. Asbel being Oblivious to Love doesn't help though once they get around to talking it works out.
- Tales of Zestiria has Mikleo waiting for Sorey after the final battle for a very long time. After several hundred years of waiting, Sorey does end up returning back to Mikleo.
- In Planescape: Torment, the Nameless One has this effect on his love interests.
- "Time is not your enemy. Forever is."
- "I shall wait for you in death's halls, my love."
- Persona 3 has Koromaru, who went for walks at Naginaki Shrine after his master died. Eventually, he moves into the dorm with S.E.E.S. but the player can still take him on walks there.
- In Romancing SaGa, this happens at the end of one hero's scenario: Farah is shown arguing with her mother over her decision to wait for Jamil to return from the final battle. Thankfully, it's implied that she didn't have to wait too long.
- Kairi was going to do this for Sora in Kingdom Hearts I, but the events of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories made her forget who Sora is for most of the year he was gone. It happened when she regained her memories of him, though.
- A variation of this is used in The World Ends with You. Shiki (having been allowed to come back to life) promises to wait everyday for Neku by Hachiko until he comes back, and holding Mr. Mew so that he'll regocnise her. Shiki never gets to do this though, because she's then (unknowingly to her) made Neku's entry fee for the next week.
- In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, for three of the four possible choices for the first game's ending (Light Side PC or Dark Side male PC), it's established that the first game's PC left their Love Interest behind when they left. With either Light Side choice, a scene near the end shows that the Love Interest is waiting for any news of the PC's return. For the Dark Side male, Bastila got tired of waiting and went off to find him.
- Also, the Exile in KOTOR 2 goes off to find Revan at the end, leaving his/her love interest behind, and it is established that Atton, Mical the Disciple, Visas, or Brianna the Handmaiden stay behind and wait for the Exile to return.
- Ghost Trick:
- In the new timeline, when Yomiel isn't killed by the Temsik meteorite, Sissel (the fiancee, not the cat) waits ten years for him to get out of jail.
- And then there's the amazing [[spoiler:Hachiko Missile/Ray pulls, waiting ten years just for a chance at convincing Sissel (the cat, not the fiancee) to rescue his mistress.
- Aribeth's dialogue near the end of Neverwinter Nights if you saved her when you talk to her before going down to face Morag.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- In Ocarina of Time, pretty much every age-appropriate girl Link meets promises this by the time he leaves them, except Malon. But that might have been because she thought he was a fairy boy.
- Also used in the Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. That horrible tower Queen Ambi was building in Ages was originally planned so she'd have a place to wait for her lover, who's out at sea somewhere. The skeleton captain in Seasons is frantically searching for a bell given to him by his girlfriend, "the queen of some country". Eventually the two of them do meet each other again if you play a linked game between both versions. They happily thank Link for reuniting the two of them.
- Also in Oracle of Ages, the Maku Tree is saved by Link when she is only a small shrub of a tree and she falls madly in love with him. She declares to Link that one day she will marry him. Thanks to time travel Link arrives 400 years later to when she is a full grown tree and she tells Link that she had waited all these centuries for him to return. Throughout the story she still gushes over him but realizes there isn't time for a relationship given his quest to save Queen Ambi and stop Veran, though she expresses hope that one day the two of them can get together. The statue that Ambi dedicates to Link even gets built right next to the Maku Tree.
- Twilight Princess: Said verbatim by Link's childhood friend/implied love interest, Ilia, at the conclusion of the sidequest to restore her memories. After Cor Goron and the others have given them their privacy, that is.
- There are hints of this in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. When Link ends up Only Mostly Dead in battle against corrupted Guardians, Zelda, who by this point has fallen in love with the chosen wielder of the Master Sword and her appointed bodyguard, has him put in the Shrine of Resurrection to heal over the course of a century so he can once again battle Calamity Ganon. Meanwhile, she uses her sealing magic to trap Ganon in Hyrule Castle to buy Link that time. It's downplayed because both of them were in physical and mental stasis (though Zelda was sporadically conscious so she could fight Ganon and check on Link) the whole time, so the wait didn't feel quite as long to either. There's also Mipha, who waited a century for Link to free her spirit from Divine Beast Vah Ruta.
- In Radiant Historia, the True Companions express this to Stocke, before he prepares to sacrifice himself. The Tear Jerker part is his love interest Raynie, who wished to give up fighting to elope with him, but instead accepted his promise to settle down after Saving the World. However the Golden Ending implies He's Back.
- In Puyo Puyo, part of Oshare Bones' backstory is this. Before he died, he had a significant other who suddenly disappeared one day. He continues to wait for his lover even in undeath, and in Puyo Puyo! 15th Anniversary, he makes a wish that they will someday be reunited. The wish is technically granted, but due to a slip-up with how Oshare words his wish, he has no idea when that day will come.
- Subverted in Skies of Arcadia, where Polly waits faithfully for her missing husband. But she doesn't get him back until she joins your crew and goes looking for him.
- Ar Tonelico 2 has an interesting variant. Croix makes what amounts to a Childhood Marriage Promise with Luca who agrees to wait until he's a full fledged knight and he comes to take her to Pastalia. However if the player chooses the default ending, Croix says he will wait for Coccona to return from her journey to the third tower.
- In the Sacred Weapons (Kyo, Chizuru, Iori) Team in The King of Fighters 97, as the three work together to re-seal Orochi, Kyo has a vision of his girlfriend Yuki promising to wait for his return. And she does.
- Played differently in the KOF:KYO game. Yuki does actually make the promise in canon, but more exactly as a part of her train of thoughts when she's held hostage by the New Face Team and they openly tell everyone present that Yuki is the game's Barrier Maiden. When Kyo and his group defeat the NFT, she's released and runs to him in joy.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, if you choose the "Sacrifice" ending, the Avatar sacrifices him/herself to defeat Grima and make sure he won't be revived. Every single member of the party is sure that somehow s/he survived, and they all vow to wait for his/her return. And s/he comes back to them.
- Averted in Samurai Shodown 2, where after her Heroic Sacrifice, Nakoruru's spirit appears before her Dogged Nice Guy Galford and tells him not wait for her return. He complies and decides to live his life at the fullest to honor Nakoruru's wish.
- There is a variation of this in Pokémon X and Y. AZ's beloved Floette left him 3,000 years ago after he created the Ultimate Weapon to restore it to life, ending a war but killing thousands of humans and Pokémon in the process. He didn't even know the Floette was waiting for him, thinking it had left him forever. However, when the main storyline ends and he finally finds redemption, it flies to him out of the sky.
- The bad endings in Triggerheart Exelica has Exelica or Crueltear waiting for one or the other to come back even after one of the Triggerhearts have sacrificed themselves in the end. Faintear (the real one) doesn't have this kind of ending, however.
- Kazuaki's ending in Hatoful Boyfriend has him promise to do this for the heroine. He wants to wait until she's no longer his student, and would like to see if she's still interested when she grows up.
- The Normal ending of the Heaven's Feel scenario in the Fate/stay night game involves the invocation of this trope, when Sakura promises to wait for Shirou after his Heroic Sacrifice, though it eventually becomes clear that he never returns to her. The True ending has him getting an artificial body and living happily with her.
- Planetarian features an android girl working at a planetarium. When her human co-workers are evacuated from the city due to the war that is going on, they tell her to wait at the planetarium for them, because they'll come back for her when the war is over. Several decades and one disastrous war that kills off most of the human population later, she's still waiting. However, she knows they're not coming back.
- In Sharin no Kuni, the first thing the main character Kenichi learns about Natsumi is that she's doing this for someone. She was waiting for him. She either doesn't recognize him, or is in denial because she didn't want him to see her as the broken shell of a person she'd been reduced to while they were separated.
- Akiha's True End in Tsukihime. The maids think she's given up after Shiki stabbed his own point of death but in truth, she has more confidence that he'll return than they do. She just sees no reason to keep going to his school if he isn't there. One of the side stories in Kagetsu Tohya reveals that he did live and Ciel was rehabilitating him over the last year.
- When They Cry:
- Shion Sonozaki, of Higurashi: When They Cry, does this with Satoshi. At the end of Matsuribayashi-hen, she finds that Satoshi has been kept in the research facilities underneath the Irie Clinic for a year. His Hinamizawa Syndrome has reached such a level that he feels immense paranoia to anything he sees, and will claw out his throat if unbound. Thus, he's been kept asleep until Irie could find a cure for the disease. She then promises to continue doing this until he gets better, and to help him through his recovery any way she could.
- Done significantly darker in Ryuukishi's other work, Umineko: When They Cry, as it is one of the many causes of the tragedy. Sayo Yasuda, also known as Shannon, a young servant in the Rokkenjima island's mansion, falls in love with Battler. He promises to come and take Shannon out of the island the next year, so that she can start a new life, but due to problems in his family, he seems like he won't come back. After three years of vainly waiting, Shannon tries to find love with George, Battler's cousin. Then, through Kanon, a male persona Sayo Yasuda created as one of his/her coping mechanisms, s/he starts to fall in love with her childhood friend Jessica, Battler's other cousin, who lives on the island. So after six years, Sayo Yasuda is engaged in three separate relationships: the "Shannon" persona is with George, the "Kanon" persona loves Jessica, and deep down a part of him/her (represented by the "Beatrice" persona) is still waiting for Battler. And just as George is about to propose to Shannon, s/he learns of Battler's return; by that time s/he is already broken and suicidal, but his return is the final nail in the coffin that leads him/her to decide to blow up the island so that s/he can create his/her ideal imaginary world. The complex set of reasons that led to this is better explained here.
- Riki Naoe, the protagonist of Little Busters!, becomes a Rare Male Example during the bad end of Sasami's route. Sasami stayed behind in the artifical world created by Kuro, while Riki was kicked out and sent back to the real world. He is the only one who remembers Sasami, while everyone else has forgotten who she is. Riki realizes afterwards that he had feelings for Sasami, only to lament that he was Late to the Realization, and resolves to wait for her return and tell her then.
- Fry's dog Seymour does this in the Futurama episode "Jurassic Bark". Using the Trope Namer song makes it so much worse. The dog waited all its life...
- However, they rectified this in Bender's Big Score, where history was changed so that he didn't need to wait at all. This was mainly because the original ending crushed souls with its sadness.
- Of course, since the Timey-Wimey Ball is pretty heavily involved in Bender's Big Score, both versions could have happened.
- Either way - now you're crying. Again.
- To make matters even worse, the original plan for the episode wasn't to focus on Seymour waiting the rest of his life to come home, but Fry's mother instead. The writers realized this would push the Tear Jerker factor a bit too far and opted to tell Seymour's story.
- However, they rectified this in Bender's Big Score, where history was changed so that he didn't need to wait at all. This was mainly because the original ending crushed souls with its sadness.
- Played for laughs in the "Moon Over Minerva" skit from Animaniacs. Minerva is at first turned off by the stereotypically nerdy wolf Wilford, but when she finds out that he is actually a werewolf who turns into a gorgeous hunk when the moon is full, she tells him she's willing to wait thirty days until it's full again.
- A non-romantic and non-animal invocation of this was a cartoon by Herblock that ran when the Pathfinder and Sojourner robot probes stopped reporting from Mars. The cartoon shows Sojourner holding up a sign toward Earth, reading, "I'll wait for you."
- Bowser The Foodstealer trilogy ends this way with Link and Gwonam waiting for Dr. Rabbit to come, he never comes.
- The dog examples were probably based on stories of several real-life dogs who have done the same: for instance, Hachiko.
- And Greyfriars Bobby, who's pretty definitely the originator of the Discworld example.
- And Shep.
- And recently, this dog in China.
- And of course Fala, FDR's beloved Scottish Terrier. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in her autobiography about Fala's waiting: "Fala accepted me after my husband's death, but I was just someone to put up with until the master should return."
- Lady Jane Franklin never gave up hope that members (and hopefully her husband Sir John) of the ill-fated Franklin Northwest Passage Expedition would be found alive until near the end of her life.
- Under traditional Jewish law, this can happen involuntarily to wives who are abandoned by their husbands (or whose husbands simply vanish). A divorce is only valid if the husband signs it, and there's no "legally dead" clause—a woman is not a widow unless there are witnesses to her husband's death. If a husband simply vanished, his wife would be considered legally married to him, and unable to marry anyone else. The descriptive term for such a woman is "agunah", meaning "chained". note The custom was that if a man went into a dangerous situation where he might vanish without a trace—for example, fighting in war or sailing the sea—he would leave behind a signed certificate of divorce, which could be delivered to his wife if he were lost for a long enough period. Presumably these soldiers/sailors wanted their beloved to be happy.
- They also wanted them to be provided for. A widow at least had the protection of the laws of redemption and levirate marriage, but if her husband was MIA, he wouldn't be around to support her, nor could she fall back on her kinsman redeemer.
- It's worth noting that if a man did return after the bill of divorce was delivered and she had already remarried, he could never marry her again, not even if her second husband died. That is the gravity of invoking I Want My Beloved to Be Happy in this situation.