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Love Is a Weakness

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"Let me tell you one thing, and then let us speak of it no more. Love is a weakness. Love is a cancer that grows inside and makes one do foolish things. Love is death."
Morrigan, Dragon Age: Origins

Love can make you do stupid, irrational things, and if you happen to be a good person, can make you susceptible to the Dark Side. Things you'd never in your sane mind do. Whether hero or villain and whether or not they can actually have the object of their affections, if they can't have them, or if they even try to, love is forsaken because it's an undesirable weakness. These people often try to separate themselves from their loved one, try to remove the feeling, or, in an extreme case, a villain may choose to kill off the one they love. If the object of their affections loves them anyway knowing their turmoil, they become a Love Martyr. Unlike a Celibate Hero, this person can be someone who does fall in love—but doesn't want to.

This trope is invoked to avoid any number of Love Hurts tropes — especially if a villain decides to take advantage of it in the meantime. If a villain decides to finally accept the love and it's not reciprocated, it might be Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny, Stalker with a Crush, or Mad Love. Requited, they may also be redeemed through the Power of Love, or an Unholy Matrimony may be born. If a hero was wrong about love, a Happily Ever After might be in store.

While gender-neutral in terms of occurrence, this trope often has a very different flavor if the subject is male or female: a male character believing this is often a Celibate Hero or an asexual thinking poorly of romance in general and usually has never been in a relationship. By contrast, a female character is usually a Broken Bird who was shattered so hard by previous relationships that she doesn't want one anymore. If the character is a villain, gender usually has no impact on their reasoning.

A variation of Allergic to Love. Related to It's Not You, It's My Enemies, where a hero gives up the love of their life so the Big Bad can't strike at them through their Love Interest. Subtrope of Virtue Is Weakness. Contrast to In Love with Love.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • An unnamed assailant attacks Shizuri Mugino, mocking her by saying that she was once one of the most awesome villains, but now that she's fallen in love with Shiage Hamazura and pulled a Heel–Face Turn, she's lost her edge and will be easily crushed. Mugino easily massacres him. The assailant is shocked and doesn't understand what went wrong. Mugino gives a "No More Holding Back" Speech, saying that contrary to what he thought, her love for Shiage has made her stronger than ever.
    • Ollerus declares that Touma Kamijou is Othinus' weakness and vice versa. For this reason, he will not kill either of them, because this will undoubtedly make the other become more powerful and go berserk on everybody.
  • In The Circumstances Leading to Waltraute's Marriage, the Valkyrie Waltraute marries the human Jack Elvan. Odin opposes their union, saying he can't afford to have any of his Valkyries distracted and weakened. It is revealed that when the Valkyrie Brynhildr and the human Seigfried fell in love, Odin mentally manipulated Seigfried into cheating on her, causing her to kill him in a rage and forsake love.
  • Death Note: Light believes this. In the manga when he meets Misa who is madly infatuated with him, he thinks "I can't develop feelings for her. That's how idiots get caught."
  • Dragon Ball Z: During the Buu Saga, Vegeta allowed Babidi to turn him into a Majin in part because of this trope; he believed his love for Bulma and Trunks to be a hindrance to his goal of surpassing Goku. He eventually realizes that he got it wrong; it's his goal of surpassing Goku that hinders his love for Bulma and Trunks, to the point he gladly does a Heroic Sacrifice with them being his primary reason.
  • In Elfen Lied, Lucy comes to believe this in her backstory, as she feels torn between her genetic instincts, which tell her that she is destined to wipe out humanity to protect her species, and her budding love for the human Kouta. He loses that contest when she believes he betrayed her trust, but she sadly admits that she really did like him.
  • Fist of the North Star: Most of the reasonings of Souther's atrocity is that he thinks of this trope. He was overstruck with extreme weakness and guilt due to his love for his beloved master that he accidentally killed, leading him to believe that Love Is a Weakness and one must be devoid of love to be strong and successful in the Crapsack World he's in.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Utilized to great effect by the Big Bad when the heroes get themselves into trouble. Mustang tries and fails to use the trope against Wrath, who turns around and uses it right back on both him and, later, Edward Elric by holding the lives of their Love Interests over their heads. Wrath even invokes the trope almost by name when telling Mustang what he's going to do.
    Wrath: Selim will never work as a point of weakness in my life. But you, on the other hand... I know exactly who to use as your weak point. (later) It's as simple as that. She'll be under my watch from now on.
  • Fushigi Yuugi: Applies to the Priestesses, at least according to Taiitsukun. The priestess is not only not allowed to have sex with anyone, but also is not supposed to fall in love during her time as Priestess.
  • In Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, the Shinomiya family is a Big, Screwed-Up Family that expects its members to ruthlessly take what they want and use others for their own ends, so quite naturally, their family creed tells its members to not love anyone. Because of this, Kaguya is remarkably well-adjusted compared to the rest of the family, despite the fact that she spends much of the series coming up with elaborate schemes to force Shirogane to confess to her rather than do so herself.
  • Love Hina: Motoko thinks this way at first; it isn't until the second half of the series that she realizes that love can be a source of strength as well.
  • My Hero Academia has Ochako Uraraka go through a downplayed version of this. She doesn't necessarily think love is a weakness; with her, it's more like "love is a distraction." She's in a Twice Shy relationship with protagonist Izuku Midoriya. Due to the hero business being a very competitive field, Uraraka feels her more-than-platonic emotions toward Midoriya would inhibit her goal of becoming the best hero she could be, and thus gaining income for her parents. As such, Uraraka suppresses those feelings towards Midoriya. However, it's evident that this is a temporary thing and Uraraka is just delaying a larger revelation about him.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, a particularly savvy enemy of Kenshin's invoked this. He sent Tomoe to act as a Honey Trap for Kenshin, ostensibly to learn his weaknesses. At the time, Tomoe wanted revenge against Kenshin for killing her fiance, so she agreed. Gradually, she fell in love with Kenshin for real. Then the guy who recruited her kidnapped her to lure Kenshin into an ambush. Tomoe realized at that moment that she hadn't been sent to Kenshin to learn his weakness, she had been sent to Kenshin to become his weakness.
  • In Saint Seiya, this is heavily implied to be the main reason why Shaina is so obsessed with killing Seiya. As it turns out, they once met when they were training to become Saints. She was about to attack him, but then he noticed she had a wound in her arm, and bandaged it for her, sparking her attraction towards him. As Shaina puts it, that time Seiya not only saw her face, but also the bottom of her heart, and the reason she's so bent on killing him is to kill off those feelings too.
  • In Shakugan no Shana, Shana's growing feelings for Yuji caused her to become troubled and easily distracted in battle. Alastor and Wilhelmina considered getting rid of Yuji because of this. However, it turns out that The Power of Love helps Shana reach her full potential, and she and Yuji eventually become a powerful Battle Couple.
  • Skip Beat!: Kyoko Mogami decided that love is something that makes people weak, after she realized that her childhood friend and crush, Sho Fuwa, never saw her as more than just a friend and maid to take care of him when he ran away from home. She chose to give up on love because she never wants to become 'that foolish person' again. Part of being a Love Me member involves learning to love and be loved again.
  • In Soul Eater, Asura turned on and killed Arachne when he realized he loved her, saying he had to eliminate his weaknesses (this is anime only; they never meet in the manga).
  • Vetrix from Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, firmly believes in both this and The Power of Hate, chastizing and disowning his family for acting more out of love than for the sake of revenge and calling Yuma a dillusional fool for clinging so tightly to his bonds of friendship. It's later revealed that this mindset stems from him suffering years of torture and being irreperably deformed due to him being betrayed by a person he once considered a close friend.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Batman Beyond comic book the hero, Terry McGinnis, has to fight the whole Justice League Unlimited of his era, one by one (short story: he needs to handle a hostage situation alone, and the League wouldn't simply leave Gotham). While he manages to subdue most of the heavy hitters, he's left to face... Marina, the then-current Aquagirl— the cute, meek, adorable Girl Next Door who everyone likes and always eschews unnecessary fighting. Bruce Wayne, on radio contact with Terry, has only a suggestion for him: "Fear the one you love most", suggesting he consider Aquagirl with extreme prejudice because of the crush every male hero, including Terry, usually has on her.
  • In Brat Pack, Moon Maiden is extremely clear on her view of relationships -a woman warrior doesn't need a man for anything but her own amusement. When her sidekick Lunar Lass turns up pregnant, she flips out and pressures her to give herself an abortion with a wire hanger.
  • In Gotham City Garage, it's Harley Quinn's view that love is both needless and hurtful.
    Harley: 'Cuz really, who needs love? It's like inking a bull's eye on your heart and givin' some rando a crossbow.
  • In Judge Dredd, it's Justice Dept.'s view that love corrupts a Judge's better sense of judgment. As such, "extrajudicial liaisons" are illegal and Judges are not allowed to marry or raise a family.
  • Zig-Zagged in Weapon Hex. Herbert clearly loves Sarah, though not enough to spare her life, yet he views her maternal love for Laura as an obstacle on their road to summoning Mephicthton.
  • In Wonder Woman (Rebirth), when Steve Trevor, separated from Wonder Woman, encounters Aphrodite, the Goddess Of Love, he is surprised to find out that she has come to grow weary of love, after centuries of mankind fighting wars and making rash decisions and suffering for it. Steve doesn't disagree, but still believes in the good that can come of it and asks for her help, to which she reluctantly obliges, and is surprised it involved Wonder Woman, something Steve didn't mention.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Bridge, Xenilla acknowledges The Power of Love as a great force, but declares that feeling love for another person will only limit and control you, which is why he loves no one. Deep down inside, he loves his brother Godzilla Junior. When King Sombra forced him to hallucinate Junior dying, he went berserk.
  • The Facing the Future Series shows this is Walker's opinion on Danny's feelings for Sam, stating she is one of the few weaknesses he really has.
  • In the Bleach Heirverse'' series, Jac Exploits this to horrible effect.
  • Danzo's belief in this is what makes The Kakashi Way a Dramedy despite being about an adult Sasuke accidentally pulling a Peggy Sue and deciding to make the best of things. While Sasuke swiftly curb-stomps Danzo and exposes his treachery to the Sandaime, much of the story's drama and angst stems from delving into Danzo's personal records and learning just how far he was willing to go to achieve his goals. Including sabotaging the lives of anyone he deemed to be a threat to his plans by targeting their "weaknesses", as he's revealed to have had a hand in many of the myriad personal tragedies others faced. Take Kakashi's father being Driven to Suicide, for instance, or what happened to Obito at the Kannabi bridge, or the deaths of Tsunade's little brother Nawaki and her lover Dan. All partially Danzo's handiwork.
  • For all of Gray Ghost's combat skill in Manehattan's Lone Guardian, she has a psychological chink in her armor that takes the form of her family and friends, as they're her entire world. Drama Heart and Leviathan take advantage of this to make her stand down and let the latter take charge in defending Manehattan, insinuating that they wouldn't like Gray putting herself at risk.
  • Iva Kann from A Prize for Three Empires believes that loving someone makes you vulnerable, so she sticks to casual, uncommitted sex.
  • In The Hunger Games fanfiction Some Semblance of Meaning, we can gather from Obsidian's point of view that Careers have this drilled into their heads. ("In the arena, your life comes first and foremost. If you have a choice between saving your best friend’s life and your own, leave the poor sucker to get eaten by mutts.") We can also gather that Obsidian wasn't listening.
    • His district partner, Amber, is definitely of this mindset, partially due to the fact that her older sister was killed at the end of the 40th Hunger Games by her district partner, with whom she had fallen in love. Amber herself does not believe in love or compassion, and she is thus convinced that this will give her the strength to win.
  • Danzo Shimura in Son of the Sannin holds a non-romantic view of this. When he's confronted by Shizune and Shisui Uchiha about his treachery towards Konoha, he counters with his own beliefs: that ninjas must not have emotions or loved ones, as it's egotistical of them to protect Konoha just for the sake of a few people who mean something to them.
  • Subverted in Ties that Bind (MHA). While Ochako initially thinks this way after her Love Epiphany, Gunhead berates her for this — yes, Pro Heroism is a harsh, highly competitive career, but that doesn't mean having somebody around to support you is bad or distracting. This convinces her to confess her feelings to Izuku.

    Films — Animated 
  • Frozen: Deconstructed in A Frozen Heart, a Tie-In Novel to the film. As he's never known love since childhood, Prince Hans derides the Act of True Love as an exploitable flaw, but it sadly left him incapable of understanding true love beyond an intellectual level. As a result, Anna's recovery from the frozen heart curse, reconciliation with her sister, and her Heroic Sacrifice all perplex him, and when she calls him out for being "frozen-hearted," it even leaves him utterly confused.
  • In Hercules, Megara tells Hades Hercules has no weaknesses, to which Hades replies "I think he does, Meg, I truly think he does" and grins evilly, burning the flower he gave her. Cue I Have Your Wife.
  • In Kung Fu Panda, this trope is the reason that Shifu's student- not Shifu himself- has to fight Tai Lung. 20 years ago, Shifu tried to subdue Tai Lung, but the love he still felt for his adopted son meant his will to fight faltered at a critical moment, and Tai Lung crushed him. That said, love is also the only reason Shifu can train The Hero effectively, so it has both cons and pros.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Assassin's Creed (2016): Maria says the sultan's love for his son makes him weak and easy to manipulate and repeatedly stresses to Aguilar that he should put the mission before her and not grieve should she die. Likewise, Joseph's love for his son made him unable to kill said son which means the Templars eventually got their hands on him and plugged him into the Animus so they could find the Apple of Eden.
  • In The Avengers (2012), Loki claims this at every possible opportunity. He’s talking from personal experience.
  • Back to the Future Part III: When told he will fall in love, Doc Brown insists that falling in love would be an unacceptable distraction from his scientific labors. His protestations don't last long when he meets her. Ironically, it does prove to be a distraction that nearly gets them all killed... in a fun, romantic way of course.
  • Bell, Book and Candle establishes early on that a witch loses her powers if she falls in love. Guess what happens to witch Kim Novak at the end.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Ego the Living Planet's love for Meredith Quill was so strong that he felt it would distract him from achieving his purpose, and so abandoned both her and their son Peter. After he found himself going back to her multiple times, Ego decided to kill her by giving her cancer.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Davy Jones is an aversion. He cut out his own heart because Calyspo's rejection hurt him so much - but his romantic feeling is not his weakness. The physical still-beating heart is literally a weakness.
  • One of the twisted ironies of Star Wars is that both the Jedi Order and the Sith have similarly negative opinions of love. The Jedi attitude to love sits between this trope and Love Makes You Evil, as they believe it not only leads to attachment but opens up a potential conduit for the Dark Side. The Sith, meanwhile, hate love because it can douse the negative emotions they are taught to draw upon for strength, inclines them to sympathise with others, and creates a weakness that others can exploit.
    • In the Legends continuity of Expanded Universe, Luke Skywalker's New Jedi Order did not believe this, as Luke had witnessed firsthand that love can damn a person, but also that Love Redeems. The various stories taking place thousands of years prior to the movies also showed that the Jedi Order's position on this trope varied greatly from era to era, and sometimes even just depending on who the current Grand Master was.

  • In The 39 Clues, Isabel seems to realize this, because she practically forbids her son Ian from "having an inkling of a shadow of a thought..." (or, I think that's how it goes) about Amy.
  • An old story of Alexander the Great and Aristotle has it he teaches Alexander that love is a weakness: Aristotle advised Alexander the Great not to love Phyllis too much, as too great a passion corrupted the reasoning faculty. Phyllis resolved to make a fool of the philosopher, and so wooed him. She then entreated Alexander to hide himself and watch secretly as she induced the old man to allow her to saddle him and ride him like an ass. Alexander laughed heartily at Aristotle until the philosopher countered: "You see—if passion can so humiliate an old man and one accounted not the least wise, what could it not do to one younger and less experienced?" And so Alexander honored Aristotle and held the more by his teachings.
  • A Brother's Price: Trini thinks this is true. She has bad experiences with her sisters being in love and doesn't trust their judgement on men. She expresses quite clearly that she thinks this is partly because of more ... physical desires.
  • Callahan's Crosstime Saloon: The Cockroaches, the rampaging evil aliens that created the cyborg Mickey Finn in consider love to be a disease deserving of nothing but eradication wherever they find it.
  • While Harry Potter usually emphasizes The Power of Love and The Power of Friendship, the fifth book has Dumbledore admitting he made serious mistakes concerning the way he treated Harry throughout the series due to growing to care more for Harry's personal happiness than for properly preparing him for his inevitable showdown with Voldemort. He admits that he acted exactly the way Voldemort expects people who actually care for others to act — foolishly.
  • The Hunger Games:
    • Katniss Everdeen has this frame of mind from her childhood. Her parents were Happily Married and her mother crumbled completely when he died - in other words made her weak. In the first book, she more or less says outright that she needs to keep an emotional distance from Peeta to protect herself from that kind of weakness. Romantic love would also lead to marriage and children and she believes maternal love to be an even greater weakness, desperately wanting to protect herself from being a mother on Reaping Day.
    • As revealed with the prequel novel, Coriolanus Snow, the main villain of the original series and Villain Protagonist of the prequel, also subscribes into this belief as well after Lucy Gray left him out of disgust about his true colors.
    Snow: It is the things we love most, that destroy us.
  • Journey to Chaos: Ordercrafters find love to be the most useful of openings for their Mind Control, and Order himself uses to sweeten a Deal with the Devil. For instance, in A Mage's Power, Duke Selen Esrah's loyalty to his country was corrupted into treason and sedition with the idea that his beloved son would be the best prince-consort the country could wish for. Further, in Mana Mutation Menace, Nolien agrees to become Order's mole in the Mana Mutation Summit in return for help in rescuing his Love Interest. Just moments prior, he effortlessly refused a similar deal when it was just his own life on the line.
  • My Happy Marriage: In chapter 15 of the manga, when Kiyoka Kudo comes to rescue Miyo Saimori, he asks Shinichi Saimori if he even loves Miyo. Not only does Shinichi Saimori make it clear that he never loved her, but he believes that love is a useless emotion and that he only cares about what he can get from Miyo. While not stated, it is heavily implied that his so-called love for his other daughter, Kaya Saimori, is very conditional, and he could’ve easily felt disdain for Kaya if he had also deemed her useless.
  • Quantum Gravity: Zal considers the possibility of loss inherent in allowing oneself to love to be too great, and so will not build a relationship with anyone but Lila, who is not confident enough to leave but too tough to be taken.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Cersei Lannister tells Sansa Stark to "love only your children," because a mother can't help doing that, but no one else because of this trope. Cersei also states:
      "Sansa, permit me to share a bit of womanly wisdom with you on this very special day. Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same."
    • Cersei's philosophy likely came from her father Tywin, who didn't necessarily voice the idea that love was a weakness, but did seem to view it as irrelevant in the cutthroat world of feudal war and politics, (which isn't necessarily wrong) and favored ice-cold, ruthless, and pragmatic solutions to all of life's problems. It's worth noting that he didn't seem to feel this strongly about it while his beloved wife, Joanna, was alive.
      Tywin: You cannot eat love, nor buy a horse with it, nor use it to warm your halls on a cold night.
  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard has a story about a wizard who believed this, and therefore removed his own heart.
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign has an inversion of the usual arrangement, with the hero believing that love is a weakness while the villain is fueled by the Power of Love. Kyousuke believes that love on his part would only hinder him from his desire to kill the White Queen, though he doesn't see it as a weakness for anyone else. This stems from the fact that his first love, the White Queen, killed an enormous number of people (including his adoptive family) and is responsible for the current state of the world. Additionally, since the White Queen is a massive Yandere, anyone else he tried to have a relationship with would be at serious risk of a Fate Worse than Death.
  • In Warrior Cats Crookedstar is afraid that having a loved one will make him soft. This is further pushed by his spirit mentor Mapleshade, who tries to convince him that his relationship will turn him weak, and push him away from his great destiny, and so this trope becomes one of the central conflicts for Crookedstar.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100:
    • Commander Lexa's life philosophy, as her way of coping after her girlfriend was kidnapped, tortured, and killed by an enemy clan in order to get to her. She now shows little to no emotion in front of her people and implores Clarke to do the same, which she is all too willing to do after Finn's death.
    • However, she is finding it hard to hold true to that philosophy as she is falling in love with Clarke, telling Clarke she didn't let her die with everyone else for this reason.
  • Bridgerton: Anthony Bridgerton used to think this way about love, thus he decided to go against marrying for love. Because, he was still traumatized over witnessing his mother fell into a great depression to the point of suicidal following his father's tragic sudden death and also due to a heartbreak after breaking up with his long-time mistress, Siena Rosso, in season 1. In season 2, upon meeting Kate Sharma and realized to have fallen in love with her, he spends the entire season trying his best denying and fighting his feelings for her out of fear of another heartbreak. However, he failed as he's unable to resist his getting-stronger feelings for Kate, thus he decides to marry her.
  • Daredevil (2015). In "Please", Wilson Fisk delivers a monologue to FBI agent Nadeem about how his love for Vanessa confines him better than any prison, but he chooses not to give her up either. Fisk is only defeated in the series finale when Daredevil discovers evidence that Vanessa is involved in a crime, enabling him to blackmail Fisk with the threat of her incarceration.
  • Farscape: Aeryn warns John that "personal indulgences can fracture a small crew" and later when they admit that they love each other complete with The Big Damn Kiss, she says they can't act on it because emotional attachments distort one's judgment. This also becomes a plot point in season 4 when John and Aeryn have to hide their relationship because Scorpius would eagerly exploit John's weakness: his love for Aeryn and their unborn child. Unfortunately for them, Scorpius isn't fooled...
  • In The Flash, DeVoe starts believing this after his wife Marlize leaves him.
  • In one Fringe episode, Newton poisons Walter and when cornered by Olivia, looking to bring Newton into custody, he reveals a three-step antidote process to counteract the poison, but he'll only agree to give Olivia the correct order for administering the antidote if she lets him go. Having to choose between arresting her target or saving her colleague and friend, she chooses to save Walter. As promised, Newton upholds his end of the bargain, and Walter is saved but before he makes his break, he tells Olivia, "Now I know how weak you are."
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Cersei believes this because Love Makes You Dumb and compels you to do things you know you shouldn't to keep them happy and safe. The only people Cersei advises Sansa to love are her children since a mother has no choice in that.
    • Grey Worm holds this mindset due to his upbringing as a merciless killer with the Unsullied. Doesn't stop him from falling for Missandei. Grey Worm doesn’t even have the words to properly describe his feelings for Missandei, simply invoking this trope, instead: “You make me weak.”
  • Gossip Girl: The underlying reason why Chuck and Blair broke up in the third season (not to mention one of the main reasons why it took them all of season two to get together) is this trope. In episode "312" Chuck had visions of his dead father telling him he was weak for loving Blair and even mocking his feelings for her. Later that season Evil Uncle Jack showed up and made full use of this trope to manipulate Chuck and destroy their relationship.
  • Gotham: After his mother has been murdered by the Galavans, Oswald "The Penguin" Cobblepot sinks into depression before Edward "The Riddler" Nygma stumbles upon him in the woods and nurses him back to health, interested in Cobblepot's experience with murder. He eventually manages to get Penguin to re-embrace his dark side by describing his love for her as his one weakness, and her being out of his life might ultimately be a good thing since it means he can truly be The Unfettered.
    • This example ultimately ends up being a deconstruction, however; while both villains claim they believe this, they still go on to form attachments to various other characters throughout the show, including each other. This bites them both spectacularly in the ass and ends up being their pitfall several times, but by the end of the series they decide not to betray each other again because their partnership makes them stronger.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Played straight with the villains; in the second episode, Regina says this to Maleficient. "Love is weakness, Maleficent. I thought you knew that."
    • Cora, Regina's mother, tells Regina this after she kills Regina's boyfriend, a nice Meaningful Echo to Regina saying it in the earlier episode Cora says it again, this time to Emma, but it doesn't quite go as she expected: Emma does a No-Sell to Cora's heart-stealing attack, and is able to repel it by quietly retorting that love is strength because Emma is basically the embodiment of True Love.
    • Rumplestiltskin rejects Belle's love because it will cost him his power, and rages to Regina through a mirror, saying "You think you could make me weak? YOU THINK YOU COULD DEFEAT ME!?" In his case, love as a weakness is quite literal; true love's kiss would have broken the curse that made him the Dark One, and he would have been an ordinary, mortal man. A crippled one, no less.
      • Later on in season two, Regina points out that Gold has a disadvantage against Cora now because he has Belle and therefore has something to lose.
      • Cora herself was first told this by her father-in-law, King Xavier.
    • The villains regularly claim that love is a weakness, while the heroes insist it is strength. Interestingly, young Regina was the one that first told Snow White (and was possibly the first one to say it) "True love is the most powerful magic of all."
  • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue has an inversion. Vypra believes love to be the Blue Ranger's weakness, despite the fact that it motivated him to kick her team's butt (Lokai brings up the contradiction).
  • Shadow and Bone: Defied. Kaz thinks that threatening Neyar's elderly husband will bring her to heel because he's the only thing she loves. Neyar rebuts this: as an immortal she believed for a time that solitary living was the way, but she has instead decided to make her loved ones the focus of her world, not her weakness.
  • The second series of Sherlock puts the emphasis on this. Sherlock considers love a "dangerous disadvantage". When he starts to develop affection for his friends and allies, it inevitably gets used against him.
    Sherlock: (As he and Mycroft watch a grieving family from afar) Look at them. They all care so much. Do you ever wonder if there's something wrong with us?
    Mycroft: All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock.
    • Speaking of Mycroft, he shares a similar outlook (and is even more jaded than his brother) and as demonstrated above, attempts to impart his detachment onto Sherlock. However, as several characters have discovered, Mycroft is not immune because anything that threatens Sherlock is his "pressure point".
  • Sliders: The Kromaggs believe this wholeheartedly. Even their breeding is done without any attachment. Every Kromagg is supposed to have a single-minded dedication to the Dynasty's dominion over The Multiverse. When they try to solve their population problem by using human females as baby factories, they condemn the resulting Half Human Hybrids as "too weak", since they allow their human emotions to drive them.
  • An episode of Star Trek: Voyager flashed back to Tuvok as a boy, learning to suppress his emotions. His teacher emphasized the suppression of "love", in particular.
  • Supernatural:
    • The love that the Winchesters have for each other is often used to manipulate them.
    • Uriel considers Castiel's regard for Dean such.
      Uriel: (to Dean) Castiel? Oh, he, uh... He's not here. See, he has this weakness. He likes you.
    • Admittedly, Castiel's love for the brothers has gotten him screwed over a lot.
  • Van Helsing (2016): After coming under the influence of the Seer in Season 3, Sam becomes convinced that love only causes pain and holds him back. In the end, he's even willing to kill Mohammed so that he can become the Fourth Elder.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • The Bible: Downplayed (since the concept of God's unconditional love is considered a very good thing in Christianity and Genesis says God made marriage between two people because it would not be right for people to be alone), but the Apostle Paul believed that those who weren't sexually and romantically inclined shouldn't get married. He felt it was a distraction, and used time and resources that could be spent on whatever God wanted them to do. His biggest beef was with the Christians that completely banned marriage (since people would start having sex outside of it, which is considered a sin), and the Christians that mandated it (since it would be unfair for people like him).

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age:
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, Morrigan grows intensely fearful of her strengthening feelings for the Warden and repeatedly begs him to end their relationship to stop future suffering. At one point, Leliana expresses certainty that Morrigan must be happy to be in love: her response is the page quote. Only at the very end of the game will she relent and fully accept the Warden's feelings while admitting her own.
      • Inverted in Witch Hunt, where the Warden has traveled across Ferelden in their attempts to find her again, leading Morrigan to note the ironic role reversal between them.
        Morrigan: And you once argued with me that love is not a weakness...
    • Also, a romanced Zevran will eventually grow uncomfortable with how strongly he feels about the Warden, even refusing to sleep with him/her at one point because he realizes he is in love and everything he's ever been taught tells him this is wrong.
    • Wynne will warn any Warden in any relationship that Love Is A Weakness, asking them what they would do if it came to a choice between saving the world and saving their love. She does, however, eventually change her mind and apologize if the love interest's relationship reaches love - even if it's with Morrigan, of all people.
    • Dragon Age II has hedonistic pirate Isabela tell Hawke she's wary of relationships getting too serious. It just gets in the way of her need for self-preservation. You can agree, keeping the sex casual, or set about changing her mind about this trope over the course of the story.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, depending on your choices, Morrigan has seemingly changed her stance on this trope. If she was romanced by the male Warden, they are essentially happily married and she found their time raising their son together to be very fulfilling. She does say it's not quite the typical family life but admits she didn't expect to have anything approaching a normal relationship. Quite the turn around from Origins, where she angrily compared love to a deadly disease.
      Morrigan: I never thought to find someone in this world I could trust as an equal. He has been a good partner and a good father.
  • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade: The "Angel of Death" Jaffar is on the receiving end of a speech about this, as fellow assassin Legault tells him that his affection for Nino makes him vulnerable because she's much easier to hurt than he is. Indeed, this comes into play in his A support with Matthew, who, as part of his revenge on Jaffar for killing his girlfriend Leila, has his associates capture her as blackmail and says that he'll have her killed if Jaffar doesn't let Matthew kill him. Jaffar agrees to this plan almost immediately, despite being very capable of trying to kill Matthew instead, as demonstrated in their B support. It turns out Matthew was bluffing about having Nino captured at all, of course.
  • In The Force Unleashed 2, Darth Vader is absolutely disgusted that his apprentice, Starkiller, is in love with Juno Eclipse. Which is pretty hypocritical of Vader, given his history. The Dark Side Ending reveals that Vader made a "perfect" clone of Starkiller, one that doesn't care about Juno at all.
  • inFAMOUS: Kessler kidnaps Cole MacGrath's girlfriend Trish and dangles her from a rooftop. On an opposite rooftop is six doctors. Both rooftops are rigged to blow and Kessler left Cole with enough time to save either Trish or the doctors, but not both. Regardless of the player's choice, Trish dies (if you choose to save Trish instead of the doctors, she will be a decoy and the real Trish will be with the doctors). At first, Kessler seems to be teaching Cole to value The Needs of the Many over his own desires since the doctors can save many more lives, but it goes deeper than that. After Cole defeats Kessler, he learns that Kessler is a futuristic version of Cole who traveled back in time to train his past self to defeat a Beast who would eventually come and destroy the world. Kessler failed to stop the Beast in his timeline because he was too concerned about his family's safety to fight back and fled with them. So Kessler killed Trish, his future wife, so that Cole wouldn't be held back by his desire to protect his loved ones.
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • Ironically both the Jedi and Sith share this mentality regarding love. The Jedi teach that love is a dangerous attachment that can ultimately lead to the Darkside. The Sith teach that love is a weakness that others can exploit and its influence can undermine the negative emotions they harness.
    • Jolee Bindo disagrees strongly with the Jedi Order's stance on love. He believes the Jedi should teach how to handle and safeguard against the negative elements of relationships rather than avoid them altogether. Ultimately he believes love will not condemn you, it will save you.
    • Whilst being courted, Bastila Shan reiterates the Jedi stance that love is a vice she must rise above but it becomes very clear she is falling for the Player Character. However, it's up to your own choices if you prove her warnings about love right or wrong. A Darkside romance plays it very straight as she becomes your Dark Mistress whilst you conquer the galaxy, whereas a Lightside romance does in fact redeem her.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: Darth Sion declares to a female Exile that he hates her because she's beautiful to him, and for that she must die. In Sion's case, love literally is a weakness because The Power of Hate is what keeps his broken and decaying body from falling apart.
  • The Last of Us: Bill was once with a man named Frank until the latter ran off. The experience hardened him even more. However, he's obviously affected when he sees Frank's corpse hanging from a noose and is visibly heartbroken if Joel gives him a letter from Frank saying how much he despised Bill.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Samara is a Celibate Hero and regretfully stops her relationship with Shepard—not because the Justicar Order in which she belongs to insists, but because she can't be distracted from her duties as one. Contributing is also the fact that all three of her daughters are Ardat-Yakshi, or space succubi.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, Bishop betrays and possibly attacks the Knight Captain because he's afraid of being tied down to her and falling in love.
  • Sengoku Basara: Toyotomi Hideyoshi killed his wife Nene out of belief in this trope, and also to prove to himself that, if he was able to destroy what he loved the most to obtain his ambitions, nothing else would be able to stop him. It's implied Nene went to her death willingly out of love for him. He ends up imparting his ideals upon Katsuie in the fourth game, telling him that he must rid himself of his feelings for Oichi and end her if he ever wishes to become an equal to him and Nobunaga.
  • Potentially averted in Star Wars: The Old Republic as the light-side Sith Inquisitor points out (particularly to Jedi) that the emotion of love has made them stronger rather than weaker. Played with in regards to Jedi characters. Jedi can initiate romances just fine, but acting overly selfish or possessive (like doing a one-night stand or choosing to spend time with their significant other over saving the galaxy) will net them dark side points.
    • But also played straight by Darth Malgus, who had murdered his Twi'lek wife because he realized his enemies could exploit his attachment to her.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Nobilis: Lord Entropy maintains that this is the case, and, as a result, there's a blanket ban on Nobles openly loving other Nobles, mortals, or anything else. It's unclear whether this is seriously what he believes or if he just hates love for some reason.
  • Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies: "True Love" is recommended as a good Foible for a Player Character to take. Your choice of Foible is a huge waving flag to the Game Master as to what kinds of things you want to trip you up in play. The player who takes this is literally demanding love be their weakness, effectively affirming this trope even if the character doesn't believe it.

  • Cinderella (Lloyd Webber): Unlike the traditionally ingenue-like Cinderella, this version is cynical about love. She talks about how it destroyed her father twice over and resolves not to fall in love herself.

  • I'm the Grim Reaper: Subconsciously, this is what Chase believes and even fears; while dreaming after being stabbed by Scarlet in her demon form, a crow that suspiciously begins to start looking like her demon tells him he has always been weak, especially since he'd developed an attachment to Scarlet, rather than keep thinking of her as a tool. The crow even nearly says this trope word for word to him. But he makes it clear he won't listen to those fears anymore.
  • In The Young Protectors, the Annihilator spells it out after springing a Honey Trap on Kyle:
    Annihilator: Sentiment may be pleasurable to indulge in. But despite what Hollywood would have you believe, it is ultimately a weakness, not a strength. And I am nothing if not so very, very strong.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula believes, courtesy of the way Fire Lord Ozai raised her, that love is for fools and sees it only as a useful tool for manipulating people, only to learn that Machiavelli Was Wrong, courtesy of Mai... This trope, combined with Azula's subsequently suppressed desire to be loved by her father, her mother, and her friends, plays a big part in her tragic Villainous Breakdown, to the point where her earlier Card-Carrying Villain tendencies are cast in a new light as declarations of self-loathing.
  • A post-lobotomy Honey Sugarman in Bojack Horseman comes to this conclusion after she's unable to cope with the loss of her only son Crackerjack, and makes her daughter Beatrice promise that she'll never love anyone as much as Honey loved Crackerjack, tampering with Beatrice's entire life, and leading to her becoming an abusive mother to Bojack. What's worse, it's implied those were the last coherent words she said to Beatrice before the lobotomy made her essentially brain dead.
  • Gargoyles: Xanatos loves Fox, and once gave up the Eye of Odin to get her back safely. Shortly after doing so, he has this exchange with Goliath:
    Xanatos: So now you know my weakness.
    Goliath: Only you would regard love as a weakness.
  • Mandy Love is for the weak-minded no surname provided, from the The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy has this belief as one of her defining characteristics and said it to reject her crush on a new schoolmate. Even more to the point, she suppresses herself a lot and her biggest fear in the movie is shown to be her admitting her love for Billy and Grim both to herself and to them.
  • In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021), He-Man admits that despite everything, he was saddened when he thought his Evil Uncle Keldor died. When Keldor, now Skeletor, hears this, he merely wonders if King Randor would show "such weakness" when he lays Adam's broken body at his feet.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Queen Chrysalis views love as a source of food for herself, and worthless for anyone else. When Cadance mentions The Power of Love to her, she dismisses it as a "lovely, but absolutely ridiculous sentiment", this turns out to be a huge mistake.
  • In Rick and Morty, when Rick and Morty get themselves purged of their psychological toxins, which eventually manifest into sentient beings, Rick realizes that the Toxic versions of themselves are composed of what the person considers a weakness, which in Rick's case includes his love for Morty. He later exploits this by shooting Toxic Morty to force Toxic Rick to merge with himself.
  • In one episode of the late 80s/early 90s cartoon of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shredder capitalizes on the trope when hatching a plot against the turtles, taking advantage of their affection for April - whom he directly notes is "their weakest point." (He took advantage of that "weakest point" several times, but that was the only time he identified her as such.)
  • The Transformers: Megatron has taunted Optimus Prime more than once about this, particularly when Optimus Prime is concerned for the safety of innocent humans.
    Megatron: Your concern for the humans demonstrates that you are WEAK, Optimus Prime!

    Real Life 
  • The reason NASA won't allow couples into space together is that it could compromise judgement.
  • This trope is one historical argument against allowing women in the armed forces into combat and has been occasionally trotted out against allowing gays in the military as well. The fear is that romantic relationships will develop which will hamper combat effectiveness.
    • This was inverted with the Sacred Band of Thebes, which consisted of 150 homosexual Battle Couples, whose skill in battle was unrivalled until they finally fell at the hands of Philip II of Macedonia, who (according to Plutarch) wept at the sight of their corpses and proclaimed "Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered anything unseemly."
  • On a platonic (probably) level: An American soldier in Vietnam wrote home to tell his family about how awful it was when someone you cared about died. "The biggest mistake," he wrote, "is to get connected to someone personally."
  • The real-life Maj. Richard "Dick" Winters of Band of Brothers fame made a point of avoiding romance during the war, observing that soldiers with wives or girlfriends were the first to panic and screw up in combat. He did get married after the war, though.
  • This is precisely why doctors and surgeons are heavily discouraged from diagnosing, treating, or operating on loved ones (unless it's a dire emergency and there's no other option) since they might be affected by their emotions and unable to make the best decisions for the patient.


Video Example(s):



As Morrigan begins to grow fearful of her romantic feelings for the Warden, Leliana argues to her that she should be glad of their budding relationship, to which Morrigan responds with the trope name verbatim.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / LoveIsAWeakness

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