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Love Makes You Uncreative

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What happens when someone involved in artistic or other creative endeavors enters into a relationship with a person only for his work to seemingly go downhill as a result? That's the question raised by the Love Makes You Uncreative trope.

In stories involving this trope, the (usually male) artist in question may be in an extremely happy relationship, but his significant other functions as the opposite of The Muse (i.e., an anti-muse). In some cases, there may be nothing wrong with this person — in fact, she may be perfectly charming and likable — except for the fact the artist's relationship with her has somehow caused him to start producing inferior work or no work at all. In other instances, if the artist character is a musician in a band or part of some other type of creative team and his object of love causes strain with the other members and alienates fans, there can be overlap with the Yoko Oh No trope. There also can be overlap with the Dungeonmaster's Girlfriend trope if the artist begins involving and displaying overt favoritism toward the significant other in his projects — often to their detriment. This situation is made even worse if the other person is an untalented Golddigger who's latching on to the artist for the purposes of gaining fame and/or money.

Related to True Art Is Angsty: an unloved, lonely, depressed artist is more likely to create "true" or "compelling" art than one in a happy relationship. Creator Recovery would be a supertrope. Compare Love Makes You Dumb. Contrast Creator Breakdown and Creator Couple which, when combined with this trope, can lead to a Couple Bomb. If part of a series, expect the couple to eventually break up, reverting the artist back to his creative self while the woman is never seen again. And if the couple doesn’t look like they’re going to break up any time soon, the artist’s friends may try to "fix" him themselves.

Love Makes You Uncreative is a trope found in both fiction and Real Life. However, in the case of the latter, the decline in someone's work after his or her hook-up with someone unpopular with the Fandom is often subjective. Thus, this trope is limited to In-Universe Examples Only.



  • In Clean, Emily Wang (Maggie Cheung) gets blamed by fans of her rock star boyfriend for his fall into obscurity and drug-related death.
  • The Dragon Painter: Falling in love with Ume-ko destroys Tatsu's ability to paint.
    Ume-ko: I destroyed the divine gift you possessed.
  • In Irreconcilable Differences, Ryan O' Neal plays a promising director whose career turns to ashes once he hooks up with the hot but talentless Blake Chandler, played by Sharon Stone, and starts putting her in his movies.
  • Invoked in Muppets Most Wanted. As part of Constantine's master plan while masquerading as Kermit, he announces intentions to marry Miss Piggy. When the others ask him what the upcoming nuptials will mean for the rest of them, he simply brushes them off and tells them that they now have the freedom to do whatever they want, because the Muppets will be no more.
  • In the French film The Painting, the Painter fell in love with a woman, who seemed to be his muse; he painted a reclining nude portrait of her. The titular Painting is filled with unfinished portions, and characters, and it is insinuated that he stopped because of her until the end of the film.
  • Inverted in The Fly (1986). Initially Seth's telepods inevitably Tele-Frag living matter because, as he admits to the lovely reporter chronicling his work, "I must not know enough about the flesh myself" and he thus cannot program them to do otherwise. Shortly after this admission, he and Veronica become lovers, and a stray bit of pillow talk results in a "Eureka!" Moment that points the way to the breakthrough he's needed for so long. Things take a tragic turn after this, alas...


  • Touched on in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. When Harry is forced to hide the Half-Blood Prince's Potions textbook full of secret tips after Snape finds out about it, consequently his potions become worse. But since he starts dating Ginny not long afterwards, his Potions professor dismisses his worsening performance as being from lovesickness.
  • In The Picture of Dorian Gray, when Sibyl and Dorian fall in love she suddenly loses all her acting ability, saying that she is unable to pretend emotions when she knows how potent love truly is. Given Dorian mostly liked her for her art, he is not impressed...and promptly dumps her, causing her to kill herself.
    Sibyl: "I might mimic a passion I do not feel, but I cannot mimic one that burns me like fire."
  • Inverted in "Sacre Bleu" by Christoper Moore. Love (and magic) is used to stimulate and enhance creative talent.
  • In the short story "Funeral Music" by Francis M. Nevins Jr., famous composer Paul Baudelin's agent H. Joshua Hawes murders Baudelin's wife Elana because love was making Baudelin's new work banal. Baudelin finds out and kills Hawes in revenge.
  • Jola in Cyber Joly Drim reflects on how she didn't make any art while in a happy relationship, but now that she's heartbroken, her creative juices flow.

Live-Action Television

  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • When Sheldon has to team up with Kripke on a project he realizes that Kripke's work is much better than his. Kripke discovers the same thing but assumes that because Sheldon has a girlfriend (and therefore is having sex) his work has suffered as a result. In order to save face, Sheldon decides Sure, Let's Go with That.
    • An Invoked Trope on the episode where Dennis Kim, a teen prodigy that is Sheldon's Always Someone Better, appears. The guys look for a girl that can date Kim in order to sabotage him; much Hilarity Ensues when they cannot find one, but fortunately, Kim manages on his own. The last scene of the episode has Kim hanging out with the girl and his friends, implied that he abandoned his chance at scholarship... and the guys (except Sheldon) discuss whether they would fall under Nerds Are Sexy or not, because of their (up to that point lousy) love lives.
  • In Spaced, Brian realizes that his relationship with Twist is preventing him from painting because he can only paint when he is unhappy. Subverted, because the realization that he must choose between his relationship and his career makes him unhappy, allowing him to paint successfully again.
  • Subverted in Seinfeld with hilarious results. When George stops having sex in "The Abstinence," his IQ goes off the chart now that his brain is free to focus on things other than getting laid, and he even gives New York Yankees home run-hitting champs Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams advice on how to use physics to improve their game. However, when Elaine sees what happened to George and decides to give up sex to help her boyfriend pass the medical board, her IQ drops dramatically.
  • Love, American Style - the segment "Love and the Cryin' Cowboy" concerned a country-western singer who wrote sad hit songs whenever he was dumped by a woman (and lame ones when he was happy). His agents are scared when he says he's getting married. It's worse than they feared: not only is he too happy to write any more hits, but his constant lovey-dovey, gift-and-flowers attentions to her makes her miserable enough to start writing sad hit songs.


  • This trope somewhat comes into play in Paddy Chayefsky's The Latent Heterosexual, where Morley, a "faggot junkie poet," enters into a Perfectly Arranged Marriage and gives up not only homosexuality and drugs but poetry, too.
    "When I first met my husband, he was a faggot, junkie, poet. Well, he stopped being a faggot, he kicked the junk, and he hasn't written a word since last spring."

Web Comics

  • Gil accuses Agatha of this in Girl Genius after she breaks down over Tarvek's deadly illness. She's an amazingly strong and smart Mad Scientist, but she's so worried that she's incapable of thinking of an invention that could help.
    Gil: Agatha, listen, I... I can see you really like this toad
    Agatha: What?! How- I mean- Why would you say that?
    Gil: Listen to yourself. You're a strong Spark, but you're holding it back. You're so afraid of hurting him, you've gone all sloppy and helpless.
  • In Ménage à 3, when Zii finally gets into a relationship with DiDi, she starts being late for and careless about band rehearsals. This might be a minor case — she may still be adequately creative — but the relationship also causes her difficult relationship with Sonya, her bassist, to fail completely, and Sonya has little difficulty convincing Yuki, her drummer, that Zii has betrayed them both. One careless conversation later, Zii has no band.
  • Legorobot, an MS Paint webcomic infamous for its Black Comedy, Crossing the Line Twice surrealist humor, and Memetic Mutation had a page where the author gushes over his girlfriend, causing him to evolves into a Bulbasaur. The entire strip comes off as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, especially considering this was the same webcomic that featured "Anger Powered Jetpacks", and an MS Paint penis stretching past the border and leading to a photograph of someone's testicles with the title "You People Will Laugh At Anything."

Western Animation

  • In The Fairly Oddparents episode "Chin-dred Spirits", Timmy grows bored with the Crimson Chin comics because the superhero has become a sobbing wreck of loneliness in the most recent issues, so Timmy wishes for a girlfriend for him, the superheroine Golden Locks. He then wishes to see next month's issue in the hope of seeing some long-awaited superhero action and finds that the Chin's fallen so head-over-heels that the comics become absolutely mushy.
  • In a parody of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, in The Simpsons episode "Homer's Barbershop Quartet", after Barney (who is the best vocalist in the Be Sharps) begins dating a Japanese conceptual artist, he creates an awful conceptual song which is basically a repeat of the Japanese artist saying "Number 8" over a loop of Barney belching.
  • In the South Park episode "The Succubus", ladies' man Chef finally finds true love... only for his sensual baritone singing voice to turn into that of a high-pitched dweeby white guy. As is evident from the title, his fiancée turns out to be a soul-draining succubus.
  • Averted in the Oscar-winning short "The Danish Poet" - Caspar falls into a depression after his beloved marries another man, and only becomes productive again once they are reunited.