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Keep the Home Fires Burning

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"Let no tears add to their hardships
As the soldiers pass along,
And although your heart is breaking,
Make it sing this cheery song:
Keep the Home Fires Burning,
While your hearts are yearning.
Though your lads are far away
They dream of home.
There's a silver lining
Through the dark clouds shining,
Turn the dark cloud inside out
'Til the boys come home."
Ivor Novello & Lena Ford, "Keep the Home-Fires Burning"

Lots of stories are about The Hero and their comrades on their adventures. This story focuses on The Hero's lovers, family, and friends back home, often in a Lower-Deck Episode, as they try to keep normal life together and not go crazy from loneliness and worry. British examples will exhibit lots of Stiff Upper Lip. Romantic partners will find renewed determination that I Will Wait for You or succumb to Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder.

The usual portrayal involves families of the military and other warriors: soldiers are subject to long, distant deployments with little contact back home, and combat situations always involve the fear of injury and death. Families of police officers, sailors, and superheroes can also feel like this.

  • Police Officers & Firefighters: They get regular time off, and they're (usually) home for dinner, but the daily risk of death is still present.
  • Sailors (non-military): Long deployments in a dangerous profession, but with fewer enemies actively gunning for your sailor's blood. But there's always the suspicion he's got A Girl in Every Port.
  • Superheroes: Regular combat deployment with little warning or time off, since The Hero is always "on call"; enemies out for blood; and if The Hero's identity is secret, there are few people their loved ones can turn to for support.

Can deconstruct the facade of a proud military family by realistically depicting the Stepford Smiler-levels of emotional stress and isolation that My Girl Back Home shoulders with Heroic Resolve, as well as the accepted but implicit pain caused when The Hero chooses Loved I Not Honor More.

Children's books about war naturally tend to concentrate on this, because this is where the children are.

See also Home Sweet Home.


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    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Between The Crosses: William Schofield's wife writes various letters chronicling her side of the story.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Turning Red, Sun Yee's story explicitly begins with it being wartime and the men being all gone.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The French film A Very Long Engagement is about a woman (played by Audrey Tautou) trying to find out what happened to her fiance who fought in World War I.
  • Apollo 13: Marilyn Lovell's subplot starts with her shielding her family from media attention (and advising other astronauts' wives in the same). Once the mission goes wrong, she tries to hold her family together emotionally despite the lack of updates from NASA - while still keeping press agents eager for a tragedy out of their home.
    ''"Remember! Proud, happy, and thrilled..."
  • Colonel Moore's wife, Julie, in We Were Soldiers has scenes of this. In one, the taxi driver delivering death notification letters to widows stops at Colonel Moore's house to ask his wife for directions to another house. She initially thinks her husband has died, and is not pleased to find out why she just got the scare of her life.

  • The last book in the All of a Kind Family series, Ella of All of the Kind Family, has all the children doing home-front things during World War I. Ella and her best friend fit the romantic side; both have boyfriends in the armed forces.
  • The poem "An Ancient Gesture" by Edna St Vincent Millay, about Penelope.
    Your arms get tired, and the back of your neck gets tight;
    And along towards morning, when you think it will never be light,
    And your husband has been gone, and you don't know where, for years.
    Suddenly you burst into tears;
    There is simply nothing else to do.
  • The last Anne of Green Gables work, Rilla of Ingelside, is about World War I in Canada. The central character is Anne's youngest daughter, who is not really the Love Interest until the very end.
  • In a non-romantic version of this, in The Dresden Files novel Cold Days, when Harry goes back to visit Chicago, he finds, to his shock his Godmother, Leanansidhe has been keeping his obligations current during his absence. Due to the nature of the benefactor, he is more than a bit concerned.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Éowyn was ordered by Théoden and Aragon to stay behind in Edoras, she does not take it well.
  • "Penelope", a short and searing poem by Dorothy Parker, from the perspective of Odysseus's wife.
  • Another non-romantic version: Hestia in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, who stands watch over Olympus while the other gods are off fighting. She even says the trope name in a discussion with Percy and Nico. Hestia is the Greek goddess of the hearth and domesticity, so she is a literal embodiment of this trope.
  • Kate Seredy's The Singing Tree happens during World War II. The farm keeps on plugging with the news in the background, the father having gone off to war, Russian prisoners being brought in to work, and War Refugees, children, being brought to the farm so they could eat.
  • You Know When The Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon is a collection of short stories focused mainly on the inner lives of U.S. military families waiting in Fort Hood. Fallon is herself a military wife.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Army Wives focuses upon the titular women, along with an army husband, dealing with the various strains and stresses of their position.
  • Bomb Girls is set in a munitions factory during World War II, following four different women who all work there and are dealing with various trials and tribulations.
  • The Highlander: The Series episode "They Also Serve..." focused on the Watchers, the mysterious organization who observed and recorded the constant warfare between the immortals but (theoretically) never interfered in the ongoing fights.
  • The family plotlines on Rescue Me exhibit this trope.


    Religion & Mythology 

  • Agamemnon shows how this can go horribly wrong; during her husband's long absence, Clytemnestra had plenty of time to ruminate upon how much she despised and resented him, especially for how he'd sacrificed their daughter, Iphigenia. By the time he returns, both of them have had affairs, and Clytemnestra has had plenty of time to plot his murder.

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, Miounne takes a motherly role to the adventurers who get their start at the Carline Canopy, the Adventurer's Guild in Gridania. She nags them to prepare themselves properly for their coming adventures while also having an eel pie and a cup of tea on hand for when they return. Yet she also knows that some of the adventurers she sees off won't come back, but that makes it even more important for her to be able to welcome home the ones that do.

    Web Original 

    Real Life 
  • Ask any career military family.
  • Or any police officer's family.
  • Any nation with compulsory military service for a large majority of citizens, especially if there is a powerful and hostile neighbour. The stress and anxiety of those left behind after a major deployment is intense.