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Love Martyr

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My mistake was simple and absolute: the man I loved was not worthy. He didn't deserve even a second glance. But instead, I gave him my love. All of my love. Love warped my judgment, blinded my eyes, so that now, when I look into the mirror, I see nothing but... I have a vision of the Orient. That, deep within her almond eyes, there are still women. Women willing to sacrifice themselves for the love of a man. Even a man whose love is... completely without worth.
René Gallimard, M. Butterfly

Alice loves Bob with all her heart. Trouble is, Bob is highly troubled or dislikable. He (or she; both sexes can play either role) has serious psychological issues, an utterly Jerkass personality, or both, all of which makes a healthy, happy relationship unlikely.

Alice is fully aware of Bob's faults but willingly endures the insults and troubles he dishes out because she believes her unconditional love is strong enough for both of them and/or will eventually reform Bob. What separates the Love Martyr from the Mad Lover is that, in this case, Bob and Alice are in a relationship, albeit a twisted one, and the love is ostensibly mutual, but he pays so little attention to her needs that his "love" for her verges on Informed Ability. Very often, others will ask "What Does She See in Him?" or point out to Alice that Bob is a bad boyfriend, but she invariably ignores or dismisses their concerns. Expect her to say, "But you don't know him like I do."

The Love Martyr is supposed to showcase the kind of pure and selfless love that can bring out the good side in even the most damaged and embittered people. If Bob has formerly shown signs of potential goodness and believably develops into a decent person because of Alice's love, the relationship can change into a genuine Love Redeems scenario. However, the less evidence that is given of his basic goodness or the potential to reform, the less convincing the Rule of Romantic becomes, and the more it seems that Alice is sacrificing herself to sustain an unhealthy relationship. When the martyr is a girl and her beloved is a troubled boy, this is often All Girls Want Bad Boys taken to extremes.

Frighteningly common on Police Procedural shows especially if it involves teenagers. One that comes up frequently is a teenage girl with bad self-esteem who's head over heels in love with a guy who treats her like a doormat. Often, he's also involved in something highly illegal and will drag her into it or possibly use her as a fall guy. The police often know that the guy in question is bad news, and try to offer her a deal in order to try and catch him, but she'll frequently wail out "I love him!" and will take the fall or cover up whatever he's done, digging herself deeper in the process.

More often than not the core of most fanfics written by teenage girls putting Draco in Leather Pants for their self-inserts to redeem with the power of like-OMG twu lub. (Or the power of like-OMG good sex — or, more accurately, the power of Ikea Erotica).

On occasion, Alice becomes Bob's Morality Pet, and, when she dies, it prompts him into a Heel–Face Turn. But at other times—and this is Truth in Television more often than not—Alice never succeeds in reforming her beloved, not even if she sacrifices to the point of death.

The Love Martyr trope is not exclusively found in romantic pairings. Hero-worshiping younger siblings who look up to their jerkass (and sometimes outright evil) brothers or sisters as the best of role models, children who desperately try to please notoriously obstinate parents, and parents who blindly indulge and make excuses for their spoiled-rotten offspring prove that familial love can be just as blind (and hurt just as much). Cases even exist for best friends/Platonic or Heterosexual Life-Partners who put up with far more unkind behavior than almost anyone would expect.

Compare/contrast Mad Love, where the person in love is depicted as hopelessly blind if not outright Ax-Crazy; his or her affection is clearly wasted upon someone who doesn't care one bit (but is sometimes happy to take advantage of the situation). See also All Take and No Give, Monster Fangirl, Sunk Cost Fallacy. Often goes hand in hand with Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?.

Can be Truth in Television.


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  • AKIRA:
    • Kaori is willing to stick by Tetsuo in spite of his extreme psychological instability and the fact that he never really seems to reciprocate her devotion. It ultimately leads to her horrific and pointless death.
    • Following the manga, it can be also said that Tetsuo did somewhat care for Kaori but was already fucked up beyond belief when they met, thus he didn't get a real chance to develop something for the girl beyond making her his partial Morality Chain. He WAS really pissed off and upset when his Smug Snake assistant shot her in the back and killed her; IIRC, after he assisted Kaori in his last minutes, he killed the guy gruesomely and carried Kaori's lifeless body around in his arms.
  • Ryoko from Area 88. Shin breaks her heart several times through the series, and yet she continues to love him. She even reunites with him in the end, after he abandoned her to return to Asran.
  • Echidna from Black Cat is this way for Creed. Despite being an extremely attractive, popular and world-famous actress who could definitely find a much nicer man, she chooses to stay by Creed's side. And it's made clear that she doesn't go through with doing evil things because she really likes to—it's all for Creed's happiness. Even though Creed is shown openly to be incredibly obsessed with Train and have very disturbing sexual fantasies about Train. In the anime, it is shown that she notices Creed's unhealthy obsession with Train, and therefore harbors resentment towards Train. In both adaptations, she gets him in the end. In the anime, Creed even does a Heel–Face Turn soon afterward. In the manga, she gets him more as his nursemaid after he has his major Villainous Breakdown.
  • Candy Candy: Candy skirts the line sometimes, in regards to Terry.
  • Case Closed: In "A June Bride Murder Case", Sayuri is deeply in love with Toshihiko. Toshihiko meanwhile is planning to kill Sayuri in order to get revenge for his mother's death years ago. When Toshihiko makes his play by poisoning her drink, she notices and decides to drink anyway in hope it will give him some closure on his loss. Hearing how deeply she loved him and learning she was the First Girl After All, Toshihiko legitimately falls in love with her and the two are married after his prison sentence.
  • Mary Magdalene in Chrono Crusade is mostly around to embody this trope in the Back Story. When she meets Chrono, he's a bitter and jaded soldier that even threatens that he'd kill her if Aion orders him to. However, Mary sticks with him, knowing that (as she says) Chrono really "doesn't want to hurt anyone" and continues to reach out to him until he starts to soften. It's played even straighter when it's revealed that Mary, as a seer, had a reoccurring dream of a man named Chrono taking her life with tears streaming down his face. Eventually, her dream comes true—he makes a contract with her and accidentally kills her in the process. This is one of the examples where it works—when we see Chrono in the present day of the story, he still has issues but he's more prone to genuinely make an effort to reach out to people. She also was the key to him betraying the Big Bad and becoming one of the good guys.
  • Code Geass:
    • Rolo Haliburton is this for Lelouch Lamperouge, no matter if his affection for Lelouch is romantic or brotherly. Although Rolo's no saint himself, he became so attached to his 'brother' that in episode 19 he sacrificed his life to save Lelouch's. When Lelouch was betrayed and abandoned by everyone, Rolo was the only one who stayed with him, even after Lelouch admitted he was just using Rolo and had tried to kill him numerous times; he then saved Lelouch by overloading his Evil Eye to carry him to safety, fully aware that the strain from using it for so long with so much range would be too much for his heart to endure. As Rolo lays dying, he tells Lelouch that even if Lelouch was just using him and the time he spent with him was fake, to Rolo it was real and it meant something to him.
    • Ohgi was one for Villetta, who, having long since regained her memories, tried to kill him, and had incapacitated him earlier during the Black Rebellion.
  • A Cruel God Reigns:
    • Although not in a romantic way, Jeremy from qualifies as this almost perfectly. He allows himself to be beaten and raped by his stepfather for months on end, even before Greg and his mother, Sandra, got married. He did all of this because he wants his mother to be happy and fears that if she finds out her lover and dream marriage are ruined by his confession of the abuse, that she will either hate him, commit suicide, or both.
    • Nadia is also a good example of this. She relentless pursues and loves Ian despite the fact that he cheats on her with Jeremy.
  • Chan and En from Deadman Wonderland. They knew all too well that Toto/Hagire didn't love them, but still chose to die for him.
  • From Death Note:
    • Misa Amane, she halves her lifespan, twice, for Light's sake, and is shown to be willing to do anything for him, since he killed the guy who ruined her life when he murdered her parents. And Light… it's made very clear that he has absolutely no interest in her other than using her to kill people. Yes, even when she's only wearing sexy lingerie and is throwing herself at him. This is also the reason the readers pity her, despite the fact she is a mass murderer.
    • Kiyomi Takada gets it even worse. All she wants is to be Kira's goddess. Oops.
    • And then there's poor Rem. She loves Misa, even when she knows Misa only has eyes for Light, and when Misa is put into danger, she sacrifices herself to kill Watari and L. Just as planned. She even realizes that it's what Light wants and has planned for, but does it anyway for Misa's sake.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, thankfully for Zenitsu this is just a small part of his backstory and he isn’t exploited again in current events; due his ongoing gag of wanting a girl to marry him Zenitsu has actually found some women in the past that pretended to entertain him instead of just rejecting his desperate advances like the comedic side of his attempts usually go, those past women all tricked Zenitsu and never sticked with him, he knew those women were bad but he really wanted to have someone by his side, fearing he will die alone as an orphan since childhood.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02, Wormmon is this to the Digimon Emperor. He puts up with all of Ken's abuse in the hopes that one day he would redeem himself and accept Wormmon as his partner Digimon. As for the results, let's just say that this anime's a little more on the idealistic side. It helps that we find that Ken was good once before being infected by the Dark Spores, so Wormmon's trust in his having a good side wasn't totally misplaced.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • She was smart enough not to have any extraordinary expectations for their relationship, but Bulma did put up with Vegeta long enough to have two kids by him.
    • Another example would be Chi-Chi, who stuck by Goku, despite his having ditched her and Gohan (and later Goten) to go have fun, in multiple years-long stretches. He was dead in one of those stretches, but that's usually a sign it's time to move on.
    • In Dragon Ball Super: Broly, despite being made clear that Paragus is fully willing to abuse and electrocute his son for the sake of petty revenge against King Vegeta, Broly continues to love and remain loyal to his father due to him being the only other companion in a Death World planet he had for more than 40 years. Indeed his love is further proven when Broly, upon seeing Paragus's dead corpse (that Frieza murdered and pin the blame from his stray blast) goes berserk and transforms into his Super Saiyan state.
  • Dominic in Eureka Seven. His primary motivation in life is protecting and caring for Anemone, a drugged up Tyke Bomb who routinely beats the stuffing out of him. It all pays off in the end.
  • The Familiar of Zero: Sometimes, Saito verges on this — on occasion, Louise goes beyond mere Tsundere-type behavior into outright sociopathic sadism (such as the time she flogged him unconscious with an actual whip), but he still loves her and chooses to remain her servant rather than look for a way to go back to his own world.
  • In Fate/Zero, Kariya Matou has this for Aoi and her daughter Sakura. After finding out that Sakura has been taken to be 'trained' by the Matou family (or better said, being subjected to Training from Hell that includes being raped by bugs, but no one outside the Matou clan knows that), he volunteers to take her place and win the Grail in return for her freedom, going through horrendous Body Horror which will kill him in a month just to get strong enough. Problem is, while he hopes that by saving Sakura, Aoi will love him, he doesn't realise that Aoi truly loves her husband Tokiomi, and he goes straight into Mad Love when Aoi finds him with a recently deceased Tokiomi's corpse, snaps completely and accuses him of killing her husband (Kariya did want to kill Tokiomi, but it wasn't him this time) and says that he's never loved anyone. Kariya snaps as well, and nearly strangles Aoi to death.
  • Naota from FLCL confesses his love for Haruko in the final episode… while she's trying to kill him. At the end of the episode, he wises up and decides not to follow her into space when invited to and she leaves to continue her chase after the Pirate King Atomsk, telling Naota "You're Just a Kid after all."
  • Kureno from Fruits Basket. He wants to redeem Akito, but despite all his efforts, he only serves to remind her that the curse is breaking, and thus he continues to be used and abused without helping either of them. He's not really in love with her (although he certainly cares about her), and he knows that Akito doesn't really love him, either.
  • Kaname Chidori from the Full Metal Panic! Overload gag manga. Due to Sousuke going through extreme Flanderization, she can't actually even be considered a Tsundere in this version, considering that her reactions of lightly smacking him are an under reaction to the atrocities he commits. It's hard to understand why she even continues to have hopes that he'll return her feelings and treat her like a girlfriend, considering how many countless times he's completely ruined their romantic moments without remorse and generally acted like a sociopathic Ax-Crazy maniac. Funnily, after the disaster and their ruined moment, she'll be the one who has an epiphany-esque, touching moment where she thinks that she "understands him a bit better now, and should have been more open-minded." Sure, quite a bit of it is played for comedy, but I'll be damned if their relationship doesn't look like an abusive one.
    • The twins Yu Fang and Yu Lan towards Gauron. Granted, he probably did stuff with them that would make them feel that he loved them back. But all in all, he isn't shy about showing that he only really seems to care about using them for his plans to ensnare Sousuke / kill Sousuke's love interest. It's made pretty clear to them that the only one he has eyes for is the 16-year-old boy he has an unhealthy obsession with. The fact that he ignores all the abuse they go through because of working in Amalgam (including getting repeatedly raped by Gates ever since they were young) seems to be a pretty good indicator that he doesn't care much for their well being. Despite all this, they are still so incredibly in love and loyal to him. "Anything for Sensei" indeed.
  • Soi in Fushigi Yuugi loves cold-hearted, emotionally stunted Nakago enough to let him use her for sexual healing and take a fatal sword wound for him.
  • Yukiteru Amano from Future Diary, on account of his yandere, Ax-Crazy girlfriend Yuno Gasai, although she's not abusive or cruel towards him specifically (at least not until the end of the Survival Game). He may not exactly like it, but he's willing to tolerate everything from witnessing her carve a gory path of destruction through what has to be hundreds of people throughout the series (some of which are even people he cares about), kidnap him and chain him to a chair for a full week, smother him with a combination of extremely aggressive affection and extremely paranoid jealousy, in which she is more than willing to Murder the Hypotenuse, real or imagined. It's by no means a healthy relationship, but it's impossible to deny that he does come to genuinely fall in love with her over time.
  • Franz d'Epinay of Gankutsuou. He is willing to sacrifice everything for his childhood friend Albert, whom he secretly loves. Albert, for his part, is completely oblivious to Franz's feelings for him, which leads to lots of Oblivious Guilt Slinging.
  • Mikiya Kokutou from The Garden of Sinners fits this trope to a T. In the face of being completely ignored by the decidedly-unstable Shiki and finding her standing in front of a headless corpse, he decides to believe she isn't the Serial Killer and sits in her garden every night in order to watch over her. Eventually, she comes out, smiles warmly, and tries to kill him with a knife. When she realizes she can't bring herself to kill him, she throws herself in front of a car in a suicide attempt and ends up in a coma for two years, where he visits her every week even after she tried to kill him. It seems to work, insofar in that she eventually comes to care about him, and limits herself in her fights to avoid killing in the end for Mikiya's sake. But even that has the opposite effect when that very caring makes her kill Lio when she thinks he killed Mikiya, exactly what Mikiya told her not to do and Mikiya decides to stay with Shiki, saying he will have to bear her sins in her place in order to be with her.
  • Shuichi from Gravitation is unconditionally in love with Yuki and lets himself be gang-raped for him, despite Yuki constantly belittling him, showing little affection towards him when he doesn't want sex, and claiming that the only person he loves is a dead man. Yuki does show signs of defrosting as early as Volume 1, but it takes a very long time for him to begin acting like a normal boyfriend to Shuichi.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry:
    • In the final arc, Tomitake saves Takano's life even after she tries to kill Rika and her friends.
    • In a manga-only arc, Akira proves to be one himself after Natsumi stabs him in response to him trying to give her a Cooldown Hug. He ends the arc swearing to stay by her side and to always love her. Granted, he does know that she's under the influence of a Hate Plague. In the DS version, he actually doesn't do this, and Natsumi kills herself as a result, blaming him for her death. He promptly crosses the Despair Event Horizon, accepting her conclusion.
  • Hot Gimmick and many other older-audience Shōjo works. Hatsumi of Hot Gimmick falls in love with Ryouki, the man who blackmails her into a master-slave relationship over a bought pregnancy test. Despite Ryouki constantly making her feel like dirt for not having her entire world revolving around him and slapping her in fits of jealous rage, she's so stubbornly passive and so emotionally damaged by all the abuse that she sticks with him in the end because she just can't help her feelings and thinks that if they marry, he'll start being nice to her.
  • Discussed in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Multiple characters have noted that Miko is at high risk for ending up in an abusive relationship due to the fact that she Desperately Craves Affection. Also, her relationship with Fujiwara already has shades of an abusive romance due to how much the latter takes advantage of her Hero Worship. Played straight with Papa Shirogane who still holds a candle for his estranged wife even after the seven years she left him.
  • Gilbert from Kaze to Ki no Uta. He is clearly completely aware of the fact that Auguste goes out of his way to manipulate and hurt him, yet he is completely devoted to him anyway.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh! merges this with I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: the stoic and long-suffering Raven acts as Stoffel's much-beleaguered Hypercompetent Sidekick, not because he has any particularly great affection for Stoffel himself, but because he's very much in love with Stoffel's sister Celi, and this is what she asked him to do.
  • Ritsuka from Loveless is a platonic version of this toward his older brother Seimei—even the knowledge that Seimei was a murderer who faked his own death as a twisted test of Ritsuka's love and who constantly abused Soubi cannot sway Ritsuka's devotion.
  • Fate Testarossa in the first season of Lyrical Nanoha, who was fine with being whipped repeatedly by her mother for being a bad child because she remembers a time when her mother was kind and, you know, sane. Unfortunately, her memories aren't quite what they seem…
    • It's taken to incredibly awkward levels during the In-Character Commentaries of the movie (which was recorded at least 11 years after Precia had died); as she's defending her mother as Precia is whipping her. "She never gave wounds that magic couldn't heal." This is actually a painful bit of Truth in Television, seeing as it's not uncommon for abuse victims to sugarcoat or outright defend the behavior of their abusers.
    • After coming to terms with her feelings about her mother, she still loves her as the one who brought her into the world, but credits her teacher Linith and her adoptive mother Lindy with raising her.
  • Wang Liu Mei's Battle Butler Hong Long of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 turns out to be one of these. He is actually Mei's older brother, but his parents decided to make Mei the head of the family instead of Hong Long. Wang Liu Mei consistently resents Hong Long and treats him like crap, even bawling him out and blaming him for all her problems when Nena turns on them, but this doesn't stop Hong Long from sacrificing his life to try and save her from Nena.
  • Sister Yukariko Sanada's relationship with the manipulative art teacher Ishigami in My-HiME makes her one of these. She genuinely loves him, but he's more concerned with getting the other girls to turn against each other so that Yukariko can be the last one standing, goading her into pulling a Wounded Gazelle Gambit. She eventually gets fed up with having to go against her own ideals, and after her confrontation with Mai, she turns her bow-and-arrows against Ishigami, while tearfully admitting her Love Martyr status as they sink into the ground along with her CHILD. In the ending, after they're revived, they're inexplicably back together and she's pregnant with his child.
  • Electra from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water who resigns herself to just continue being Shell-Shocked Veteran Nemo's surrogate daughter despite her own feelings for him, at least until his real daughter Nadia shows up again.
  • Naruto:
    • Haku. Zabuza used him as a tool, and Haku bluntly stated that Zabuza was welcome to do so. As long as he was able to help him, Haku did not mind being treated like crap, and he went so far as to die to save Zabuza's life.
    • Sakura's love for Sasuke has become this. Originally Loving a Shadow, she's come to know Sasuke personally, and even after all he's done she still loves him. However, she's fully aware of how messed up this is, as she knows how far he's fallen, and the knowledge is destroying her on the inside.
  • In Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Brief is desperately in love with Panty and keeps trying to help her and win her favor. This is even though Panty is an incredibly rude and selfish jerk, and can't even bother to remember his name. His persistence pays off when Panty finally falls in love with him during the last two episodes of season one, after having been subjected to a massive Break the Haughty.
  • Sasame from Prétear hovers between this and Mad Love. On one hand, he's genuinely devoted, is willing to sacrifice his life for the girl he loves (and eventually DOES), and does indeed earn her love in the end. On the other hand, he's in love with the Dark Magical Girl, so to earn her love he performs a Face–Heel Turn and tries to help her destroy the world as we know it.
  • Spoileriffic example from Princess Tutu: Rue is practically this. She puts up with her "Father's" emotional and physical abuse, blaming herself for the Raven's behavior and believing she just needs to be a "better daughter." When she taints Mytho's heart with the Raven's blood, he begins to take on her father's abusive personality—but, as Mytho says, she "never stopped loving." In the end, her efforts are rewarded — the Raven's poison is reversed by Rue's declaration of love and Mytho's pure-hearted personality is restored, and he confesses love for her in return and takes her away to be his princess.
  • Sayaka Miki from Puella Magi Madoka Magica deconstructs the notion that "love must be pure, selfless and all about the target/s of your feelings rather than your own". Sayaka's belief in such an unrealistic idea of love as a whole ended up keeping her from telling the very Oblivious to Love Kamijou that she loved him and was among the many reasons why she had a Face–Heel Turn and became a Witch.
    Random Madoka Magica watcher: “This is what happens when you try to be that selfless girl that only cares about the guy she loves and his happiness and can’t understand that we ALL get jealous and insecure.”
  • Ranma ½ has Mousse, whose applicability to this trope is one of the reasons why he can be considered The Woobie. Not only does he continue to long for a woman who clearly is interested in another man, but he can't bring himself to do the Best Her to Bed Her betrothal method either. It's also mentioned that he has challenged her in the past; it's just she's always been able to beat him. It's also mentioned that he can't challenge her in this manner while she's engaged to Ranma (hence his fixation on attempts to Murder the Hypotenuse) and at least strongly implied that as a fellow tribesman it would be neither needed or binding in the first place.
    • Really, depending on a viewer's sympathies, any of the characters caught up in the Love Dodecahedron could come off as a Love Martyr, as all of them honestly try to open their heart to the person they love, but none of them receive any attention from the person they desire. Even Ranma and Akane have no real clue whether or not their feelings for each other are reciprocated.
    • Played for laughs in the Sleep Incense arc. In one of Akane's dreams, she's a love martyr working hard to try and please her beloved Ranma. Too bad he's a perverted Jerkass who treats her like crap and has at least 27 wives. Back in the real world, she tearfully scrubs the floor and looks dramatic, while Ranma wonders what she's dreaming about.
  • Subverted Revolutionary Girl Utena almost all the relationships in the series appear to involve Love Martyrs, but in all of them, especially the primary one between Akio and Anthy, disillusionment has already settled in between both parties, and Love Martyrs only stays in the relationship because they're too terrified to live any other way.
  • Yumi Komagata from Rurouni Kenshin could be seen as an example, as she lets her lover Makoto Shishio stab through her in order to damage his enemy, and is actually happy that she was of some use to him. Then again, Yumi herself was fully aware of the risk, and Shishio himself explains that to a shocked Kenshin, as he holds the dying Yumi in his arms to comfort her until she passes away.
    Shishio (to Kenshin): (You call this) …murder? Don't judge me with your philosophy. She fully understands me… and I understand her like nobody else in the whole world does…
  • A sibling example is demonstrated in the one-shot manga Smargs Won't Sing. The older sister acts like a bitch in order to be hated by everyone as her end of the contract with the Smarg so that she will be its only victim. The younger sister seems to be aware of it, as she gives up her voice to get another Smarg to protect her from it. It does take an extraordinary amount of love and patience to endure that behavior for three years, though, even considering the circumstances.
  • Star Driver has several of them, and they're all created by Head on both romantic and platonic levels. There's a guy who helps him out over many years despite Head sleeping with and impregnating his fiancée, a girl that willingly lets herself be locked up in a cage for him and a guy who gives him a mark connected to a very powerful Cybody without questions and possibly more. Better yet, Head knows they're all like this for him and deliberately manipulates everyone around him into doing what he wants them to.
  • Toward the Terra: Keith is actively abusive toward Matsuka, claiming to be using him as a tool for the purpose of exterminating other Mu and telling Matsuka in no uncertain terms that he plans to kill him when that's done, but Matsuka remains convinced that Keith is not as cold and ruthless as he behaves and goes to considerable lengths to protect him. Ultimately, Matsuka shocks Keith by sacrificing his own life to save him and dies content in the knowledge that Keith genuinely feels sorrow over his death.
  • At the beginning of the Boys' Love manga The Tyrant Falls in Love, we learn that Morinaga has been hopelessly in love with his sempai Souichi—who's violent-tempered, staunchly homophobic, and frequently Megaton punches him—for five years. Even Morinaga himself acknowledges the pointlessness of such a love (though that's before a night of binge-drinking and an aphrodisiac gives him his opportunity…)
  • A more comedic example would be Urusei Yatsura. Yes, Ataru's unfaithfulness to his fiancée is supposed to be one of the main sources of humor, but in a more serious portrayal, the question of why Lum, who's got everyone else lovestruck by her, would put up with a lech like him would stick out like a sore thumb, especially when it becomes clear that her electric zaps won't stop his skirt-chasing. Ataru's "marriage proposal" to her was meant for someone else, Shinobu, in the first place. This is hinted at throughout the series, more so during the ending (and final movie). Ataru may be ugly, kinda stupid, and have the biggest libido in the universe—no, really—but he genuinely is a really good person at heart. Lum can see through everything he does (being a bit of a lech herself) and puts up with him because of that.
  • If Subaru from X/1999 doesn't count as a love martyr toward Seishirou even after the latter deceived him, beat him to a bloody pulp, crippled his grandmother, and murdered his beloved sister, then the fans don't know what does. Also, Subaru thinks about revenge for awhile but decides that in the end, he can't go through with it—opting instead to try to be a big enough nuisance to Seishirou so that he would kill him.
    Subaru: Even if you forgot that you killed me soon afterward. Even if I was just one of the sakura's many victims... At least if it were you...
  • Doumeki in ×××HOLiC for Watanuki. He's willing to make Heroic Sacrifices for Watanuki's sake, even though the latter makes it no secret that he's jealous of him (because he thinks his crush Himawari is in love with Doumeki) and is very much a Tsundere to him. And now, half an eye, a lot of blood, and six plus years later, he's still devoted solely to Watanuki, who grounded himself forever, unable to age and unable to leave, inside Yuuko's shop after her disappearance, pining after her and waiting for the day she may or may not return.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Mokuba from Yu-Gi-Oh! will follow and support his Noble Demon big brother whatever he does (even if he doesn't always approve of his actions). Justified in that Seto is probably the closest thing to a parent Mokuba ever had, and that he acts not half as jerkish towards Mokuba as he does to everyone else.
    • Ekou of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, who allows Amon to kill her as a sacrifice to master Exodia the Forbidden One and is actually happy that she fits the conditions of the sacrifice (being the person he loves the most). She is reputedly named after a Love Martyr from Greek mythology, the nymph Echo.
  • Zetsuai 1989: At one point Kouji cuts off his own left arm so that his family will leave Izumi alone. And it took Izumi quite a long time for him to warm up to Kouji.
  • Zoids: New Century has Harry Champ, a rich kid hopelessly obsessed with firebrand Leena Toros, despite the fact that the latter would (and often does) gleefully blast his mecha to scrap. (Leena has been known to take advantage of this behavior at times.)

  • The Lady of Shalott (Waterhouse): Elaine falls in love with Sir Lancelot by watching his reflection in her tapestry's mirror. Because of her curse, she can only observe him (and the real world) from afar. Her feelings grow so strong, however, that she risks directly glancing at him and then sets out to go to Camelot to see him again even if she knows her curse will kill her.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, Wolffy constantly has to put up with his wife Wolnie mistreating him for failing to catch some goats for them to eat. Despite this, he genuinely loves and cares for her; in fact, his devotion to her is the reason he even tries to capture goats for her at all.

  • In Child Ballad Child Waters, the hero insists that the heroine dress as foot page and walk on foot while he rides. When she goes into labor and is delivered of his son, he decides to marry her after all.
  • In Child Ballad The False Lover Won Back, the heroine chases after her mounted lover on foot. He tries repeatedly to buy her off until finally, he decides to marry her after all.

    Comic Books 
  • In DC One Million, poor Heartiac loves the All-Loving Hero Kal Kent and serves him faithfully. Unfortunately for her, he is the 853rd century's Superman, and as such, he will always have duties that get in the way of them being together, and as a twelfth-level compassionate, she cannot help but understand his viewpoint completely.
  • Rayek in ElfQuest. He's a former Jerkass Anti-Hero who's trying to repent. His love interest, Winnowill, is an ancient megalomaniac bent on world domination. When she kills herself to gain ultimate power as a spirit, he uses his Chekhov's Skill of absorbing souls into himself in order to trap her inside his mind forever. He can't ever die for fear of releasing her spirit, he can't go near other elves ever again for fear of getting them close to Winnowill, and she torments his mind and body every day of her existence. He still loves her.
  • Harley Quinn. Oh, God, Harley Quinn, going back and forth between a girlfriend who treats her like dirt and a boyfriend who frequently tries to kill her. She bounces back and forth between this trope and Mad Love, depending on how sympathetically her romantic woes are treated in the current story.
  • Features in Hellblazer; when John Constantine tries to save his sister Cheryl from Hell after she is killed by her husband when he was manipulated by a demonic child John had been forced to create, she chooses to stay in Hell to take some of the punishment that would be delivered to her husband because he killed himself after killing her, despite Constantine's plea that Tony doesn't deserve that kind of devotion after what he did to her.
  • Mr. Gosh from Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl is the epitome of this trope. He is killed by Lenore countless times, in the worst, possible ways and he still thinks that she kills him "by accident". That's how big his love for her is.
  • Sigyn's portrayal in The Sandman (1989) is this trope played for as much tragedy as possible. When the blinded, paralyzed Loki is returned to his prison, Odin reminds Sigyn that Loki abandoned her and that she does not need to share his punishment. Sigyn silently refuses to abandon her husband despite everything. As Loki curses her in his impotent rage at his predicament, Sigyn tearfully whispers "I am so happy that you are back, my love." Loki's response is mocking laughter and more curses.

    Fan Works 
  • Mao from Code Geass: Mao of the Deliverance is clearly shown to be this for C.C., who lies to, tries to manipulate, and ultimately abandons him. He even lampshades this at one point, excusing her actions because she's a Broken Bird and deciding that he doesn't care how she treated him so long as they can be together.
  • After she regains her senses in Elden Ring Abridged, Rennala is desperate to reconcile with and redeem her children, loving these dangerously unstable demigods too much to see them as anything other than the innocent youngsters they once were.
  • Deconstructed in For His Own Sake. Mutsumi loves Keitaro, but she's determined to invoke I Want My Beloved to Be Happy by getting him together with Naru. Problem is that she's so intent upon making this noble self-sacrifice that she completely ignores just how toxic their relationship is, with Naru being convinced that All Men Are Perverts and constantly punishing Keitaro for imagined crimes. Keitaro might have loved her for who she is (though certainly not for her ability to judge others' characters), but her insistence on attempting to force him back into an abusive relationship has kind of soured her chances.
    • Early on, Keitaro also calls her out on being an Accomplice by Inaction; while not physically abusive herself, she didn't attempt to prevent the other Hinata Girls from attacking him. He also confronts Shinobu about this; tellingly, while Shinobu recognizes his point and starts working on learning how to stand up for herself, Mutsumi simpers that "that's just how Naru and Motoko are" and entreats him to forget about the past. This underscores how Mutsumi turns a blind eye towards anything that clashes with her vision of how she thinks things should be.
  • England from Hetalia: Axis Powers is portrayed as such in the From the New World with love doujinshi series. While America grows and he becomes more and more power-hungry and ruthless and possibly a target of Demonic Possession, England is seen as a beautiful, saintly and long-suffering figure who brews a decades-long plan to counter his ambitions, even if he has to kill either himself or America to do so. It ultimately works in World War II, coupled with a Break the Haughty process for America (which includes Canada siding with England and slapping America around). England then falls in a Convenient Coma and doesn't wake up until at least The '80s, when Margaret Thatcher (who has a cameo as a scientist who takes care of his comatose body) becomes Prime Minister. Naturally, we as readers are supposed to believe that America is a horrible asshole who can only be redeemed through England's love, and that England is right when willingly subjecting himself to horrible mental/emotional pain to "stop" him. instead of being mentally/emotionally unbalanced.
    • It is more complicated than that. America showed the seeds of being a Knight Templar already as a young child, and in World War II, he openly admitted his plan is to drive Britain into bankruptcy with the lend and lease using Churchill's Exact Words just to take over the Hegemony, but while he killed England, he said that now that England is not on top of the world and busy working like he was back when America was a child (as per his plan to take over the world to shield America), he can come back home to him. In the end, what saves America is not England's love, but his own determination, as seen by the sequel "Miracle of a Superhero."
  • Haley in Glee The Virtual Season Four. She even gets a solo to "As Long As He Needs Me".
  • In Hunting the Unicorn, Blaine is shown as this. It's not as bad as most examples since he's currently with Kurt, but what happened before is worrying. First is his platonic martyrdom, as he constantly makes excuses for his estranged father Luke; then comes the revelation that chaste, oblivious, idealistic Blaine is not a virgin. At seventeen.
  • In one Katawa Shoujo fic, Hisao comments that Lilly seems willing to overlook her father's transgressions, which include leaving her and Akira alone in Japan for six years, viciously insulting her best friend Hanako and calling Yamaku a "cripple school." Then it's subverted when she, in response to Hisao and Hanako being insulted, tells her father she will not stand for it, and concludes by screaming "YOU HARDLY RAISED ME AT ALL, YOU BASTARD!" and forcing him out of the apartment. They do later reconcile, though.
  • No One Breaks My Heart Like You Deconstruction. Because of Peter's superhero career as Spider-Man, there's significant strain on his and Mary Jane's marriage. Mary Jane was willing to deal with it because she loves Peter and she's proud of the good he does as Spider-Man. However, Peter feels guilty for all the sacrifices she has made for him; the final straw was Peter learning that Mary Jane was unhappy. Feeling that he cannot put her first, he decides to end their marriage despite the pain it would cause both of them.
  • Severus and Lily's relationship is not abusive in The Peace Not Promised, but Severus' prickly personality causes many of Lily's friends to worry about it. She gets quite frustrated with everyone's concerns and criticism, until his actions (such as brewing Wolfsbane Potion for Remus Lupin pro bono, and slaying Slytherin's Basilisk) persuade them to back off and respect him.
    Marlene: Lily! You will not martyr yourself out of pity! Dating someone because you don't want him to feel discouraged is by far one of the dumbest things I've ever heard! What about you huh Lily? Don't you want someone that's actually worth you? And what about him? You going to be his girlfriend or his Parole Auror? That would be worthy of neither of you!
  • The Sacred and the Profane: Caphriel (Angel!Crowley) towards Zirah (Demon!Aziraphrale).
    Caphriel... thought he could somehow make it better, thought his love could seal the cracks in Zirah's sanity, because his love for Zirah was desperate and overwhelming and it felt like a force greater than himself, and in those first few heady centuries he'd thought he could do anything. Then he'd found that no amount of love would ever heal the permanent dislocation of Zirah's mind, but he kept kissing Zirah because… he couldn't seem to stop?
  • In the Megamind fic Swapped Destinies, Tianna is this for Metro Lord. She's fallen for him, thinks there's good in him, and wants to try and change him… despite it being glaringly obvious that he can't change, and that Tianna is only hurting herself. He kills her in the end.

    Films — Animation 
  • Takaki Tohno from 5 Centimeters per Second. He has quite a few personality traits in common with Gatsby below, so this was inevitable in any movie with him as one of the romantic leads.
  • In Frozen, despite the fact that Elsa has continuously shut her out of her life for thirteen years, abandons her to face their parents' funeral alone, refuses to comfort her when they lost her parents, refuses to give her blessing to Anna marrying someone who shows love to hernote , sics a Snowlem she created on her to try to keep her away, and accidentally strikes her in the heart with an ice bolt during a panic attack, almost condemning her to a slow, painful death, Anna continues to love her and refuses gives up on her to the point that she is even willing to sacrifice herself for her sister when she is about to get killed by Hans. The audience knows that Elsa has been keeping Anna at a distance to protect her from her own ice powers, but she doesn't tell Anna this until midway through the plot and that not at great length. When Anna performs her Act of True Love, Elsa breaks down with grief and guilt at having accidentally caused what she was trying to avoid. Luckily, Anna thaws out and their relationship improves significantly from there.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Adaptation., Charlie tells Donald his girlfriend was unfaithful when he wasn't around. Donald responds that he knew, but he loved her, and could not change that just because she didn't act like she loved him.
  • Mitsuyo in Akunin is in love with the titular villain, Shimizu, even though he's violent and borderline abusive towards her. Even after he kidnaps her and admits to being a murderer, she stands by him and tries to convince her worried sister that he's "not such a bad person."
  • In Almost Famous, Polexia has devoted her life to Stillwater lead singer Jeff, who happens to be married. He's more than happy to take advantage of her to maintain his sex life on the road but then sells her off to another band.
  • The Archer: Lauren ends up sent to reform school after beating up her friend Emily's boyfriend for abusing her. Emily refused to testify because she felt guilty after the boyfriend had walked in on them about to have sex and attacked them (although the judge was engaged in a fraud scheme with the reform school administrator so it may not have mattered).
  • In Beast (2017), Moll becomes one to Pascal in the second half of the movie. She stands by him and even lies for him after he's arrested for the murders. She also stays with him and insists she still loves him even after he chokes her during a fight. It's subverted in the end, as she kills him after he confesses to being a rapist and murderer.
  • Mimi in Bitter Moon plays this utterly straight and eventually wishes she hadn't.
  • Blades of Glory has a sister who acts as a henchgirl to her selfish and murderous older siblings and adores them despite their overt manipulations and dirt-like treatment of her.
  • Amos Hart in Chicago acknowledges that he feels betrayed and ignored in his relationship with Roxie but still pays for her lawyer and offers to stay with her for the baby he suspects isn't even his, and in truth didn't exist at all.
  • Connie Corleone of The Godfather is this toward her extremely abusive husband, Carlo Rizzi. Despite she suffers a lot from his abuse, she remains devoted to him. She even confronts and briefly despised her brother, Michael, for rightfully having her husband murderednote . She eventually accepts and understands the reason why Michael did what he did.
  • Gelsomina in Fellini's La Strada, Inspirationally Disadvantaged waif whose Love Redeems the brutish Zampano, working from beyond the grave.
  • Lisa from the film Letter from an Unknown Woman is the epitome of this. She is hopelessly in love with musician Stefan, who won't give her the time of day. When he does, he immediately forgets her because of his hedonism, and his tragic inability to take the time and appreciate Lisa. But even so, Lisa can't stop herself from loving Stefan. It's almost something that she can't control.
  • The Maids is all about this: main heroes are two psycho lesbians taking turns to be each other's martyrs.
  • Evelyn in The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio constantly has a smile on her face and supports her family almost exclusively through winning contests for jingles, since her husband is an alcoholic who spends most of his money on booze.
  • Saint Laurent: Pierre has loved and cared for Yves for 18 years, running their business and seeing to all the details the mercurial designer can't be bothered with. Meanwhile, Yves snorts coke and pops pills, parties with his friends and falls hopelessly in love with the younger, hotter Jacques.
  • Star Wars:
    • Padme refuses to give up on Anakin Skywalker because... well, it's hard to say. Probably because he loved her and he was honestly a better person when he was with her, as far as she can tell.
    • In the original trilogy, their son Luke also refuses to give up on Anakin once he learns Anakin is his father. The only reason he surrendered himself in the third movie was to save his father from the Dark Side. This time it works since Anakin could not bear to see his son being tortured to death by Palpatine's Force Lightning.
  • Sophie's Choice: Although the titular choice is (at least in common usage) applied to a Sadistic Choice, she also finally chooses to stay with her dangerously insane boyfriend rather than escape, and dies for it.
  • Vertigo: Judy is introduced as a coarse, sharp-tongued woman, but her love for Scottie, a man who's interested in her only because she looks like the dead woman he was obsessively in love with, causes her to gradually lose her forceful personality and ultimately her identity. The clincher comes when Judy realizes that Scottie will never love her for herself, but decides that she doesn't care that Scottie is forcing her to change her appearance and clothes to become a replacement for his dead lover as long as it results in him returning her love. And she doesn't even get a happy ending, as in the end Scottie discovers that she was actually the dead woman he was obsessed with, which was part of a bigger plot, drags her to the same bell tower where she faked her death, and she accidentally tumbles off the roof to her death—this time for real.
  • Carina in When Darkness Falls, at least at the beginning. She tells her sister that she still loves her abusive husband even though he has been beating her for years and still hopes that he'll change someday.

  • Ai no Kusabi: Despite his treatment as a Sex Slave, Riki acknowledges his feelings of love and goes back to his master, Iason, to be Together in Death at the end when he would have been free.
  • More like a Lust Martyr, but Nathaniel Graison in the Anita Blake series certainly qualifies; the wereleopard, despite being in a love triangle with the series' titular character with fawning devotion to her, had become so submissive and addicted to extreme sadomasochism from his prostitute and male stripper days (to the point where his last pimp had to ensure he didn't become the willing participant in a Snuff Film with any of their clients), he actually threatens to leave the triangle if Anita didn't start sexually using and abusing him like he wanted her to.
  • Baccano!:
    Huey: What loyalty...she accepted my request not to share it with anyone. And Chane, my daughter, chose to lose her voice. Hey, you ever believe a pitiful guinea pig like her will ever experience happiness in its life?
    • Also, Lua and Ladd are a textbook case. Lua, Ladd's fiance, shows unwavering loyalty to her man, even though he's an Ax-Crazy serial killer. Somewhat subverted in the fact that he really does love her. Which in his world apparently translates to telling her how much he wants to kill her.
    • For Ladd, "I'll kill you last" —> "I'm saving you for last because you're the person I'll enjoy killing the most" —> "I love you more than anyone else baby!"
  • In Catherine, Called Birdy, Catherine's mother notes that her husband is, in fact, a greedy, mean miser but it doesn't seem to bother her much.
  • Alan from The Demon's Lexicon toward his little brother, Nick. Particularly notable in that demons literally cannot feel love, so he fully believes and accepts Nick will never feel the same way. Though by the end of the series, it's clear Nick does care for him in a way that could be called love.
  • Baili Qingmiao from Devil Venerable Also Wants To Know is devotedly in love with He Wenzhao and keeps making sacrifices and risking her life for him despite him continually sleeping around with other women and prioritizing his own self-centered wishes and feelings over her own. One of the main plots of the novel is getting her to develop away from this and break up with him for good.
  • Don Quixote:
    • Part II, chapter LX, Don Vicente Tornellas has been shot by his fiancée Claudia Jeronima because she believed that Don Vicente wanted to marry another woman. Don Vicente's last words are to tell her that he was innocent, never intended to marry any other woman, and then he said before his death: my cruel fortune must have carried those tidings to thee to drive thee in thy jealousy to take my life; and to assure thyself of this, press my hands and take me for thy husband if thou wilt; I have no better satisfaction to offer thee for the wrong thou fanciest thou hast received from me.
    • Similarly, Part I's "The Pastoral Peregrinations" has student-turned-shepherd Grisóstomo pine after the shepherdess Marcela, committing suicide after being rejected by her. She, in turn, shows up to his funeral to deliver "The Reason You Suck" Speech to both him and the other shepherds that have tried wooing her, castigating them for their Entitled to Have You mentality towards her.
  • In The Dresden Files, Justine says she is willing to die for Thomas (an incubus who drains life force via sex) despite him thinking of her as "food". She proves this in Blood Rites; when Thomas has been mortally wounded and needs to feed so badly that he would lose control and kill her, she willingly goes to him, asking only that Harry tell Thomas that she loves him. She actually survives the feeding (barely) because Thomas really did love her enough to keep his ravening demon in check, and later showed that he was consciously trying to convince himself that she was just food (if he admitted to himself that he loved her, he would be unable to touch her because love burns the lust-feeding incubus, even if the love is directed at him). In later books, Justine recovers and the devotion they share for each other is completely mutual. Word of God puts them into Sickeningly Sweethearts territory. She's more justified than most examples because she also had severe psychological issues that were controlled as a side-effect of Thomas feeding on her: she decided that she was happier being sane and potentially being killed than living but going back to being crazy and probably being institutionalized.
  • The protagonist of Mika Waltari's novel, The Egyptian. He gives all he has to Nefernefernefer until he is ruined and needs to start a new life.
  • In K. A. Applegate's Everworld, David Levin eventually becomes this in his relationship with Senna Wales. Though he is eventually forced to admit that she isn't the angel he'd first thought she was, he repeatedly states that he will not turn against her, he will not leave her behind, and will not stop loving her. It doesn't seem to shake his conviction when Senna uses magic to force him to obey her, rapes him and erases his memories of the act, subjects him to Mind Rape as punishment when he failed to do as she said, uses her magic to kill anyone who gives her an excuse and smirks over their corpses, declares her intention to overthrow all the powers of Everworld and install herself in as a god-like Dimension Lord, etc. Even in the last books, after Senna Jumps Off The Slippery Slope, he remains sympathetic towards her and tries to save her from death, which he fails to do, and feels guilty about.
  • This trope is the major theme of Fifty Shades of Grey, but subverted at the end when Anastasia leaves Grey because he is unable to return her love. It lasts all of a week before they get back together at the start of the second book.
  • Evie from The Frog King puts up with far more from the main character than she should. Until she stops, at least.
  • A non-romantic version shows up in The Giving Tree, as the title tree gives up everything it has to the boy over the course of the story, even letting the boy cut it down when he decides he wants to leave.
  • Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. He does everything for Scarlett because he is in love with her and believes someday she will realize that she loves him as well, and endures watching her moon over Ashley Wilkes and just generally abuse him.
  • The eponymous Great Gatsby is a classic example. Everything he does after he meets Daisy—embezzlement, less-than-scrupulous methods of becoming rich—is all done to win her heart. He even takes the blame for Myrtle's death in Daisy's place, and ends up dying for it. The truly tragic part about all this is that Daisy, while she did have feelings for Gatsby, was merely a beautiful but spoiled, self-centered, and weak-willed woman who almost certainly didn't deserve Gatsby's unconditional love and devotion.
  • In Half Wild, Gabriel could qualify for joining the alliance for Nathan, despite noting that he could wind up dead because of it.
  • In Edmond Hamilton's short story "He That Hath Wings," David—born with functional wings—falls for Ruth. Unfortunately, she doesn't find said wings beautiful enough to not be weirded out by them. He has them amputated so that she'll marry him, and eventually becomes suicidally depressed as a result. Poor guy.
  • Peeta for Katniss in The Hunger Games. He is willing to die for her, although she is too traumatized to let him into her heart until the end of the last book.
  • Phereniq Kala in Infanta does all that she does out of love for the oblivious Augon Hunnamek.
  • The Infernal Devices:
    • Jessamine Lovelace for Nate Gray—she continues to feed him information despite Tessa's repeated insistence that he loves no one but himself.
    • Magnus Bane has shades of this for Camille Belcourt.
  • In Lois Bujold's Komarr, we see Ekaterin Vorsoisson, the long-suffering spouse of Etienne Vorsoisson. Possibly a double subversion; in Komarr she leaves him after finally having had enough, but in the next book in the series, she bitterly mourns that her feelings of regret have nothing to do with Tien, or how much of a Jerkass he was. Over the years, she gradually found herself with only one possession left: her word of honor, and her oath of marriage. Her guilt about leaving Tien had nothing to do with love and everything to do with breaking her own word of honor, something that meant a great deal to her and within her culture.
The Last Unicorn: While Prince Lir's beloved Lady Amalthea does absolutely nothing to encourage this or harm/scorn him in any way, he puts himself through the wringer doing ridiculous things and suffering trying to "earn" her love. Then events cause both of them to change emotionally.
  • Hadassah fulfills this role towards Julia in a platonic way in The Mark of the Lion trilogy. Despite Julia's abuse, selfishness, and attempt to have her killed in the arena, Hadassah remains Julia’s faithful servant and (sometimes only) true friend. In the midst of all her cruelty, Julia is desperate for Hadassah's attention, frequently begging her not to leave her despite that Hadassah gets absolutely nothing out of the relationship and is only hoping that her unconditional love towards Julia will open her eyes to the immorality and emptiness of her life.
  • Clary, Jace, and Simon from The Mortal Instruments all qualify.
    • Clary is devoted to Jace, despite the fact that he is a Death Seeker and/or a positive magnet for Mind Control.
    • Jace and Simon are devoted to Clary. Simon in particular hangs in there even after it is absolutely clear that Clary wants to be with Jace and he himself begins to date other (supernatural) girls.
  • In Orhan Pamuk's The Museum Of Innocence, Kemal's life revolves around Fusun, even if Kemal is engaged to someone else.
  • In Nightmare Alley, Molly is this to Stan. No matter how badly he treats her she never seems to even consider leaving him as she believes that she can change him and that one day he will stop his criminal behavior and settle down with her. She believes this right up the point where their big con goes horribly wrong and instead of helping her escape, he knocks her out and leaves her to fend for herself.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold Nancy in Oliver Twist loves the murderer Bill Sykes, who repeatedly abuses her. She gets murdered by him in the end.
  • Discussed in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, when Charlie, reeling from his sister refusing to dump her boyfriend even after he hits her, asks his teacher why nice people stick with partners who treat them badly. His teacher just says, "We accept the love we think we deserve," summing up the mindset of many charaters stuck in this trope. They stay because the don't realize they deserve better.
  • From The Picture of Dorian Gray,:
    • Basil Hallward, at least in part. He obviously cares for Dorian very much, but Dorian blatantly prefers to spend time with Lord Henry and becomes more and more evil as a result. All Basil can do is look on until Dorian berates and murders him just for coming to visit and speaking of the rumors surrounding Dorian Gray's disreputable acts!
    • Dorian's fiancee, Sybil. She falls head-over-heels for Dorian, to the point that she starts to give up on her fantastic acting ability because her love makes it seem false. When he yells at her for this, since it accidentally led to his embarrassment (he brought his friends to see her perform, only for her to do a subpar job), she starts weeping and begging for him to forgive her. And that night she decides to commit suicide, which is even more tragic since Gray repented his actions the next day and was going to visit her to apologize.
  • Michael Hosea of Redeeming Love is very much this at times. Because God told him to, he stays rigidly devoted to his wife Angel—a Broken Bird who is bitter, cynical, manipulative, and hates men—in pursuit of healing her deep emotional scarring caused by her childhood rape and years of forced prostitution. Angel is skeptical of his love and tries to manipulate him—even having no qualms about sleeping with other men. Even after she begins to love Michael back, she's flighty and angry, sometimes lashing out at him or—on two occasions—leaving him, but he still sticks by her as if she were the most upstanding and devoted wife in the world.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: Vera Miligan is convinced that her parents' implantation of two basilisk eyes in her was an act of love, as opposed to being yet another example of mages valuing the advancement of magic above all other concerns, even though her five siblings all died as a result of the same procedure.
  • Diana Mayo of The Sheik. Nevermind that the titular character is an abusive rapist, she falls in love with him and is willing to do anything to please him.
  • Sherlock Holmes canon contains another platonic example in Watson's relationship to Holmes. For every Friendship Moment, there are many more instances of Holmes deliberately making him feel like an idiot or asking him for a favor and then criticizing the way he does it, but Watson is eternally loyal and says that a single sign of affection from Holmes is worth all the grief he puts up with.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, Aredhel has this sort of relationship with Eöl. He trapped her in his forest, refusing to let her see her friends or family, and ends up fatally wounding her when she runs away. Even then, she begs her brother not to kill him as she lies on her deathbed.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Lysa Tully's affections towards Magnificent Bastard, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, who uses this to his advantage to shamelessly manipulate and disposes of her when she reveals a bit too much about his plans to his protégée, Sansa Stark. From what we know of his backstory, Littlefinger himself has a few streaks of the Love Martyr in him as he remained obsessed with Lysa's sister, Catelyn, even after she rejected him at least twice.
  • Despite his abrasive personality, stalking tendencies, and overall dangerous nature, Bella of The Twilight Saga loves Edward and is willing to give her life for him… repeatedly. In Breaking Dawn, she's also willing to die for her unborn child that is killing her from the inside. She also risked her life to save her mother in the first book. Edward for his part suffers when he is close to Bella due to having to resist the urge to kill her, when she is in danger that she usually places herself into, when she is clearly attracted to Jacob, and risking her life by having a baby knowing full well that Edward would kill himself if she dies. He still thinks the world of her and would give his… existence for her.
  • You Don't Own Me: Daniel was devastated when found out Leigh Ann was cheating on him with Martin, but couldn't bring himself to leave her or even confront her directly, instead paying Joe Brenner to tell Martin's wife and make her break it off so that he could act like it never happened. He even blames himself for Leigh Ann's affair, saying that he neglected her and knew she was unhappy about him spending so much time in Albany (which she hated) for his job. He even says he was willing to give up his position and take a job back in New York to win Leigh Ann back. His main concern was also around keeping his cheating wife's trust and respect in him, rather than the other way around.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sterling "Stink" Patterson in The Adventures of Shirley Holmes has shades of this for Molly Hardy, the main antagonist. In the beginning, he's little more than a flunkie for her sociopathic plots, and he goes along willingly even though he knows it's wrong, just because he likes her. Eventually, he figures out that she's just using him, and splits away from her.
  • A platonic version occurs in Babylon 5 in the form of Vir's unswerving loyalty to Ambassador Londo Mollari. In spite of all the harm caused by Londo's decisions, and his repeated dismissal of Vir's pleas not to do whatever, Vir insists that he has a good core and that 'someday he'll surprise you'. Turns out he was right.
  • Adama from Battlestar Galactica is more than willing to do it to himself for Roslin's sake, even though she herself treats him quite well.
    • Ellen slept with Cavil and stole resistance plans to keep Saul safe and then drank what she knew to be poison when Saul offered it to her.
    • Anyone who falls in love with Starbuck better gear up for some serious abuse.
  • In Borgia, Lucrezia is fully aware of Cesare's nature, doesn't try to change him, and loves him anyway, both romantically and familially. A rather atypical example, because Cesare actually treats Lucrezia pretty well… it's the rest of the world he's horrific too. Lucrezia knows this.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Spike:
      • When he was with Drusilla. She spent half of season 2 openly flirting (if not more) with Angelus right in front of Spike while he was in a wheelchair. She took Angelus's side in the final battle in the season finale and then left Spike for a chaos demon. She seemed to "adore" Spike back only as long as he was exactly the kind of big bad strong vampire she had helped mold him into because that's what she wanted in a partner.
      • He falls hard for Buffy despite her largely regarding him as a loathsome monster (granted, not unjustifiably). In "Intervention", he endures hours of interrogative torture from an omni-powerful hellgod despite knowing the information she was seeking, simply because it would hurt Buffy if he admitted what he knew and got her sister killed as a result. Then there's the fact that he goes on to earn himself his soul back—you know, the very thing that was inflicted on Angel as a punishment? Yeah, he went out and willingly got his back when he realized his lack of one would always lead to him hurting Buffy whether he intended to or not.
      • Spike is, for better or worse, self-aware of this.
        Spike: I may be love's bitch, but at least I'm man enough to admit it.
    • Harmony regards herself as such in relation to Spike. He hardly ever hid the fact that he found her annoying and was only using her for sex, and (later on) as a Buffy substitute. He even staked her just because he was irritated by her blabbering (it didn't kill her only because she happened to be wearing the Gem of Amara)—and she still came back. Eventually, when Spike tied up Buffy and Drusilla and was ranting over his spurned affections for them both, Harmony finally had enough, yelled at him for ignoring his "actual" girlfriend in favor of drooling over them, shot him with a crossbow, tried to stake him, then broke up with him for good.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation: Alli's first boyfriend Johnny ignores her in public, shows the naked pictures she sent him to his friends, and lies about being a virgin. Her second boyfriend Drew cheats on her and tries to lie about it and she takes him back. Even Bianca points out she must have low self-esteem to take back a cheater.
  • Da'an of Earth: Final Conflict loves his son Zo'or, even after his repeated attempts on his life, and has even covered up for him a couple of times.
  • Steve Urkel from Family Matters was this with Laura Winslow. She would treat him like dirt, but he still clung on to her. But after she started appreciating all the good things, that he would do for her, she eventually started seeing him as a good friend. They would even become a couple in the last season of the show, but several fans wonder if that really was a good idea…
  • Niles of Frasier, in the earlier days of Maris, which was shown retroactively when he's broke and panicking (he can't bring himself to go back this time, though): "Life with Maris wasn't so bad. It was my fault, after all! I was too rigid, I was always making demands! Eat something! Unlock this door! Don't throw that!" Their relationship also has more than a hint of Gold Digger about it, as Niles would never have stayed as long were he not so attached to the wealth and social circles that marriage to Maris provided, but in the early days he seems to have really felt something for her (the money being, as he puts it, "just a delightful bonus!")
  • Demon Crowley from Good Omens (2019):
    • It is heavily implied (and confirmed in season 2) that he has been in love with angel Aziraphale for more than 6000 years, since their first meeting (not actually the first) at the Garden of Eden.
    • He constantly chases the angel, always comes to him, rescues him, puts himself in danger for him. Crowley is always the one to apologise even when it is Aziraphale who is wrong, for example in episode 4 of season one:
    Crowley: Angel! I'm sorry, I apologise. Whatever I said I didn't mean it... Work with me, I'm apologising here!..
    Crowley: How long have we been friends? 6000 years!
    Aziraphale: Friends? We are not friends! We are an angel and a demon!... We have nothing whatsoever in common. I don't even like you!
    Crowley: You dooo!
    Crowley: They asked me back to Hell, I said no! I'm not gonna be joining their team, and neither should you!
    Aziraphale: Well, obviously you said no to Hell. You are the bad guys! But Heaven! Well, it... it's the side of truth... Of light! Of good...
  • Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl prostitutes herself to a man she loathes for Chuck Bass. However, she then realizes that it's not healthy to love someone so much you'd do anything for them, and ends the relationship. By season five the tables have turned and Chuck is now a Love Martyr for an increasingly unlikeable Blair.
  • Sylar and Elle Bishop of Heroes. Sylar lets Elle kill him repeatedly because he loved her and she needed to because he killed her (abusive) father. For a moment, they thought they could have a normal life together. But then his powers came back and Elle lied to him, so he killed her.
  • Wilson puts up with an amazing amount of abuse from House in the name of friendship.
    • House has also forgiven some bad behavior from Wilson, such as not telling him he'd cured a patient, thinking it would teach House humility, but instead plunged him back into Vicodin abuse.
    • Dr. Allison "I like damaged people" Cameron. In her backstory, she fell in love with a man who she knew had a terminal illness, and married him just so he wouldn't die alone.
    • Cuddy, too, when she dates House during season seven.
  • Ice Fantasy:
    • Yan Da, oh Yan Da. Shi mocks and insults her, grows ever more unhinged and becomes a straight-up murderer — and she endures it all and stays by his side. This carries over well into season two, which is set tens of thousands of years later.
    • Ironically, Shi himself becomes one for Ka Suo. He goes to ridiculous lengths to help his brother achieve his dream of being free.
  • Goes along with Living Emotional Crutch for Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, although it's not openly romantic. Barbara sticks with Lynley even though he is, at first, a frankly high-handed and often arrogant berk to everyone, even when he later takes all his pain out on her because she's the only safe outlet he has. Meanwhile, Lynley sticks with Barbara despite her being, initially, a Jerkass Woobie who deliberately pushes everyone—especially him—away with harsh words because she's too scared to believe anyone could possibly like and/or respect her for herself. In addition, both have a Dark and Troubled Past with a cartload of baggage and family issues galore. Any sane person would have gone running, and in fact all of their previous partners did just that. Fortunately for them both, they find exactly what they need—although not always exactly what they want—in each other.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): The core plot of the first season is Louis de Pointe du Lac recounting his marriage-in-all-but-name to Lestat de Lioncourt decades after the relationship's end. Lestat was unambiguously a domestic abuser who beat Louis to a pulp once. Louis did ultimately kill Lestat to get out of this relationship — yet he was still fervently in love with him and ensured that Lestat was Not Quite Dead. Based on the events that occurred, it's really hard to claim it's anything but a Destructive Romance — yet Louis recounts it more like a "fucked up gothic romance." He says point-blank to a skeptical Daniel Molloy (the interviewer he's telling the story to), "I do not consider myself abused."
    Daniel: "He only beat me the one time, Officer. It's not his fault." Classic Stockholm [Syndrome], eh, Doc?
    Louis: Are we the sum of our worst moments? Can we be forgiven if we do not forgive others ourselves?
  • Juken Sentai Gekiranger: Mele, madly in love with Evil Overlord Rio, arguably counts, although Rio does have his Pet the Dog moments proving that he does care for her. In the end, their love redeems them both, and they turn goodand then die.
  • Life On Mars. WPC Anne Cartwright supports Sam Tyler despite his bizarre behavior and the fact that she doesn't believe his story about being from the future. In one episode, Sam decides that the only way to return to 2006 is to bring down his colleagues over a death-in-custody. Despite the fact that, if true, it would mean she'd be wiped out of existence, and, if not, Sam has violated the unspoken "code of silence" among police of the era, Cartwright still agrees to stand by Sam. It's only in the finale when Sam confesses to being an undercover officer investigating police corruption that she finally turns against him.
  • Merlin: Lancelot manages to be an inversion and a literal example of this. Despite the fact that Guinevere would have made him very happy, he leaves her after noticing that Arthur is in love with her, believing himself unworthy of her affection and Arthur to be "the better man". This breaks her heart, and he pines away after her for years before finally returning to Camelot to find that she's in a happy relationship with Arthur. He ultimately takes Arthur's place as a Heroic Sacrifice in order to fulfill his vow to Guinevere to keep Arthur safe.
    • The same show had Lord Agravaine, a man devoted to Morgana even though she treated him like dirt and eventually sends him (albeit unknowingly) to his death without a second thought.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • In their past lives as fairy-tale characters, Regina pretended to love him Sydney Glass, persuaded him to kill her husband, exposed him as the killer, and tried to send him away. After all this, Sydney (a genie who was given one of his own wishes) wishes to never leave Regina's side. He continues working for her even after he and several other fairy-tale characters are brought into the real world.
    • Part of the reason Belle stays with Rumplestiltskin is because he's a monster—without her, he's much worse!
  • Quincy, M.E.: Quincy mistakenly thinks a boy's abuser is his mother and advises his father to take him out of town while the case is handled. After realizing his mistake and frantically pursuing the boy and his father to their campsite, he catches the father about to take his belt to the boy for no reason and looks about ready to punch his lights out, when the boy jumps between them begging for Quincy not to hurt his dad.
  • Dr. Molly Clock from Scrubs notes that, as a psychologist, it's not surprising that she's attracted to emotionally damaged people. She stayed with her first boyfriend even after he stole a car and totalled it in the ensuing chase. Which then leads to a moment when JD, in an effort to impress her, psycho-analyzes himself and his issues in front of her. It works.
  • While he does love her, and it's not a one-way street, some of the things Mike pulls on Kate in Sea Patrol feel like this though it's subverted by Kate knowing this and NOT being happy with it and she calls him out when it gets too far.
  • In The Sopranos, Adrianna is this to Christopher. She believes that deep down Christopher is a good person and would choose her over the mob in a heartbeat. When she is forced to become an informant to the FBI, she tells Christopher and after the third beating she gives him the choice. Christopher chooses the mob and it results in Adrianna's death.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Garak is one of the most dangerous Cardassians alive; a former agent, torturer, and assassin who is trusted by almost no one. When the daughter of his arch-enemy, Dukat, moves to the station as Kira's ward, everyone is dismayed when she almost immediately falls for Garak. Even Garak's closest friend, Bashir, thinks Ziyal is making a mistake. While Garak actually treats Ziyal gently and respectfully, no one can understand why she's in love with him — even Garak is baffled.
  • Dean and Sam from Supernatural put up with a lot of each other's shit, though this is more Dean's thing, at least initially—Sam shuts off in season four, getting so bad Dean doesn't even know if Sam's human anymore. But he says he'll take Sam as is anyway, even when Castiel and Zachariah bribe him with Heaven. And virgins.
    • Later on, despite a mutual decision to separate, much of "Free to Be You and Me"'s subtext was how unhappy they were without the other.
    • Dean is also this way towards John: for a very long time, no matter how shitty John got, Dean would either forgive him completely or try and blank it out as best he can.
    • Then there's poor Castiel. Whether you're a shipper or not, he gives up everything for Dean, loses his Grace, his faith and (twice) his life—choosing to stay on Earth after every other angel has left in a post-apocalyptic world and breaking at the edges, and he did it, all of it, for Dean. A literal example, given that it's confirmed he is indeed in love with Dean, and he eventually sacrifices his life to save him.
    • At the same time, Dean towards Castiel. No matter how angry Dean may get with Cas in the short-term, he always forgives him, no matter what he did, and always wants him to come back when he is absent, for reasons that go beyond the advantage of having an angel on his side.
  • Beck to Jade from Victorious. He's perfectly aware of her blatant rudeness and other faults. They usually make up at the end. For example, in the episode "Jade Dumps Beck", Jade gets jealous that he's hanging out with an attractive celebrity. She instantly regrets it and gives him a Rottweiler. Even though it almost kills his dad, they make up.

  • Depeche Mode:
    • "Martyr" is this trope.
      I've been a martyr for love
      I need to be by your side
      I have knelt at your feet
      I have felt your deceit
      Couldn't leave if I tried
    • "Goodnight Lovers" has pretty much the same theme.
      When you're born a lover
      You're born to suffer
      Like all soul sisters and soul brothers
  • "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis.
  • The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus's song "Your Guardian Angel" is probably meant to sound sweet and romantic… but some of the lyrics, if applied to less-than-ideal situations, seem very much to be Love Martyr talk. The song even contains the lyrics "Use me as you will/Pull my strings just for a thrill", which might give you a pause when you first hear it.
  • The song "Self-Esteem" by The Offspring is an excellent example of this trope. It's narrated by an Extreme Doormat who is very aware of the way his girlfriend treats him, he just has too little self-esteem to expect anything better. She sleeps with his friends, blows him off, uses him when she's drunk, and tells him he's "like a disease". He plans to break up with her but never does. The chorus ends like this:
    Well, I guess I should stick up for myself
    But I really think it's better this way
    The more you suffer
    The more it shows you really care
    Right? Yeah!
  • "Façade" by Disturbed:
    ...broken down, hurt again/It never ends
    Frightened and trembling/Did she fall again, an accident
    Her eyes encircled in black again/I can't believe that she's still with him
    For how long will you try?/How long until you walk away?
    Your facade can't disguise/the fact you're in misery...
  • The lyrics to "Grenade" by Bruno Mars are a bit disturbing, considering the lengths the singer would go for… whoever.
    I'd catch a grenade for ya
    Throw my hand on a blade for ya
    I'd jump in front of a train for ya
    You know I'd do anything for ya...
Even more disturbing when it's implied she was abusive to him. "Black, black, black and blue, beat me 'til I'm numb. Tell the devil I said 'hey' when you go back to where you're from."
  • "Oh! Carol" by Neil Sedaka:
    Oh! Carol
    I am but a fool
    Darling, I love you
    Though you treat me cruel
  • Carole King wrote a song called "He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)", where her husband/boyfriend/lover beats her, but she stays with him because "If he didn't care for me/I could have never made him mad" and "He hit me, and I knew I loved him/When he took me in his arms/With all the tenderness there is/He hit me, and he made me feel." As Dave Barry put it in his Book of Bad Songs: "We can only speculate whether OJ had this on the cassette player during the Bronco chase."
  • It's probably more complicated than that, but Sheryl Crow's "Strong Enough" can certainly sound like a woman looking for one of these: "When I've shown you that I just don't care/When I'm throwing punches in the air/When I'm broken down and I can't stand/Will you be man enough to be my man?"
  • "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell.
    Once I ran to you (I ran)
    Now I run from you
    This tainted love you've given
    I give you all a boy could give you
    Take my tears and that's not nearly all
  • "Fistful of Love" by ANOHNI and the Johnsons is crafted from the same clay as "He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)", with the whole "You hit me out of love" concept. Bonus points for its total Lyrical Dissonance.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's "You Don't Love Me Anymore" kinda counts, as the guy stood for all the terrible things the partner has done (including cheating on him with a hockey team, shaving his eyebrows and taking his chest hair with pliers, and a variety of murder attempts), and only now is noticing she probably is Ax-Crazy and doesn't love him anymore.
  • Quite a few Lullacry songs have this feel, such as "Crucify My Heart" and "Heart-Shaped Scars". The latter's Lyrical Dissonance adds to its creepiness.
  • "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man". The narrator's lover is lazy and stays out late and she even admits she can’t come up with a reason why she loves him.
  • "Beat Me" by The Tiger Lillies. The majority of lyrics boils down to "beat me till I [verb]" followed by "I will, I WILL love you".
  • "Museum of Idiots" by They Might Be Giants:
    Chop me up into pieces
    If it pleases, if it pleases
    And when the chopping is through
    Every piece will say "I love you"
  • "My Man":
    Two or three girls
    Has he
    That he likes as well as me
    But I love him

    I don't know why I should
    He isn't true
    He beats me, too
    What can I do?
  • The Antlers' Concept Album Hospice tells of a hospital worker who falls in love with a terminally ill and mentally unstable cancer patient. He puts up with her abuse and manipulation — presumably one part out of love and one part out of a sense of duty to the dying — until she dies, leaving him scarred and haunted for months. The idea of feeling indebted to the dying serves as the album's metaphor for abusive relationships in general.
  • "Delilah" by Amanda Palmer tells the story of a girl who keeps returning to her abusive lover despite the author's protests. Likely influencing Palmer's choice of name is the male-on-female Murder Ballad of the same title popularized by Tom Jones.
  • The narrator of David Byrne's "Miss America" is fully aware that America was using him and doesn't feel anything for him, but he still loves her all the same.
  • The Oh Hellos entire sophomore album, Dear Wormwood, is written from the Love Martyr's perspective—until he or she decides that they've had enough.
  • The lyrics of "Just Be Good to Me" by The SOS Band contain more than a hint of this. The love interest may not be physically abusive to the singer but he has a reputation for being a user, sees other women, and, possibly, does bad things to them. The singer professes not to care about any of that, won't try to change him, and will put up with him seeing other women as long as he spends time with her.
  • Christina Perri's "Human" seems to be told from the perspective of one of these who finally reached her breaking point. She states that she can be a perfect little Stepford Smiler for the subject if they want her to, but in the end, she's "only human" and there's only so much she can take before she lets her mask shatter...
  • Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself For Loving You" is an unusually self-aware version of this trope, as the POV character is quite aware of how toxic the relationship is but can't bring themselves to leave it.
  • HIM's "The Face of God" might not have just one meaning (this is HIM we're talking about after all), but one possibility is that it's about being in a very one-sided relationship where you settle for being mistreated just so you can stay with the other person and still have your partner whisper all those sweet nothings into your ear. Very flowery nothings in this case, since they are Ville Valo's lyrics in this song.
  • "Bathtub Mermaid" by Mili is about one of these.
    Cut me, cut me, please make it deep
    If I'm covered in scars, will you look at me?
  • "Endure the Silence" by Myrath.
    Love of my live
    Endure the silence
    In a void of hate and violence
    Kill me, bruise me
    Abuse me but never leave me
  • "Loving You Is Suicide" by Cathy Dennis. The title is pretty self-explanatory.
  • "When You Hurt Me the Most" by Stream of Passion.
    Pain is sweeter coming from your hand,
    I love you when you hurt me the most
  • "Ghost Love Score" by Nightwish.
    My fall will be for you
    My love will be in you
    You were the one to cut me
    So I'll bleed forever
  • "Marlene on the Wall" by Suzanne Vega.
    Even if I am in love with you
    All this to say, what's it to you?
    Observe the blood, the rose tattoo
    Of the fingerprints on me from you...

    And I tried so hard to resist
    When you held me in your handsome fist
    And reminded me of the night we kissed
    And of why I should be leaving
  • The Dooleys' "Wanted".
    You're the kind of guy that I gotta keep away
    But it's all right
    You know you can't deny
    It's the price I've gotta pay
    But it's all right
    'Cause though your lips are sweet as honey
    Your heart is made of solid stone
    One look and boy you got me runnin'
    I bet you saw me comin' after you alone
  • The New Seekers' "You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me".
    You won't find another fool like me, babe
    No you won't
    Who'll sit around all night and wait for you
    And close their eyes
    To oh so many lies
    No one else could love you like I do
  • The POV singer of "Love Me Dead" by Ludo is clearly experiencing this trope.
    Kill me romantically
    Fill my soul with vomit then ask me for a piece of gum
    Bitter and dumb, you're my sugar plum
    You're awful, I love you!
  • Gin Wigmore's "Head To Head":
    Break my heart like I know you want to, like I know you want to
    With your hands, hold my ruby red lips like a punch and a kiss
    Break my heart, break my heart
    Goin' head to head, is that how we gonna love?
    Goin' head to head, is that how we gonna love?
    Nobody can touch me like you do, love it but only from you
    Nobody hurts me like you do, love it but only from you
  • "Guilty Partner" by New Order seems to be about a guy with a very abusive and manipulative girlfriend, who he keeps breaking up with but can't manage to leave for good and keeps coming back to.
  • Taylor Swift:
    • The narrator of "illicit affairs" admits she's this.
      Look at this idiotic fool that you made me
      You taught me a secret language I can't speak with anyone else
      And you know damn well
      For you I would ruin myself
      A million little times.
    • The narrator of "hoax" knows her love is "faithless" and is obviously very broken up about it, but stays anyway.
      You have beaten my heart
      Don't want no other shade of blue but you
      No other sadness in the world would do
  • The narrator of Kelly Clarkson's "Beautiful Disaster" is a downplayed version: her love interest isn't said to be abusive but his Troubled, but Cute shtick makes her rather unhappy.
  • "Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing" by Chris Isaak, which famously and fittingly appeared in the soundtrack of Eyes Wide Shut, is by Word of God a song about "somebody who is so evil and twisted and bad, and yet, you still want them."
  • It's implied that the narrator's partner in "Let Me Go" by Hailee Steinfield is one. The entire song is the narrator telling them It's Not You, It's Me and encouraging them to find someone who will love them properly.
    And I wish that you had hurt me harder than I hurt you
    And I wish you wouldn't wait for me, but you always do
  • "Crying on the Bathroom Floor" by MUNA is narrated by someone in an abusive relationship, promising to always love her partner, even though she realizes it's unhealthy.
    It's taking a lot out of me, loving you
  • "Cherry Wine" by Hozier is from the perspective of a man whose girlfriend is cruel, unfaithful, and even physically violent towards him, but he insists it's fine and even beautiful and romantic. Very much played for tragedy, as he's so devoted, he doesn't seem to want to leave, despite his mother showing concern for him and it very plainly not being a safe or healthy relationship.
    The way she tells me I'm hers and she is mine
    Open hand or closed fist would be fine
    The blood is rare and sweet as cherry wine.
  • "The Victim" by Pat Benatar is about the singer calling someone else out on being a love martyr and how it's not healthy or going to end well.

    Music Videos 
  • The video for "Grenade" by Bruno Mars is even more disturbing than the song. Rather than a scattershot of examples of how devoted to her he is and how cruel she is, he spends the entire video dragging a piano across town for her, by himself and with nothing but a rope, past bums and bridges and cars and stunned and at one point hostile onlookers. When he arrives, she's with another man, spots him through the window and doesn't seem to particularly care.
  • Vocaloid:
    • Evillious Chronicles: The point of "Servant of Evil", which features a butler (represented by Len) who serves the cruel and tyrannical young princess Riliane Lucifen d'Autriche (represented by Rin) and indulges in her desires out of duty and love. There is some severe Tear Jerker present here.
    • The PV for Niru Kajitsu's flower song "Shama" has protagonist Clay Pool fall in love with a seductive prisoner named Kalmia. Kalmia convinces her to break her out of jail—Clay is smart enough to know that she's being used and smart enough to know that she'll never get anything in return for helping her, but she still does it anyway because Kalmia was another lonely spirit and because her homosexuality for once wasn't shunned.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Norse Mythology: Sigyn stuck with Loki despite his infidelities, murders, and mad antics. To date, nobody is really sure why.
  • Classical Mythology: Medea gave up everything to stay with Jason until he broke up with her. Then, she SNAPPED.
  • In Book of Hosea, Hosea is asked by God to marry a prostitute named Gomer, despite knowing that Gomer would cheat on him even having to be literally bought back from another man, as an object lesson to the people of Israel (who had fallen into corruption and idolatry.) Hosea does so willingly. Part of the point God was making was to tell Hosea's audience "Look at what Gomer is doing to him: he gives her his home, his reputation, his good name, and everything, and see how she repays him! How can he go on loving her and taking her back when she treats him that way, you may ask? Well, I've been asking Myself the exact same thing about you people, because that's the exact same way you've been treating Me!"
  • This is the main point of Christianity. Jesus even goes the full conclusion by becoming the Sacrificial Lamb.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pathfinder: In the Lost Omens setting, Zon-Kuthon, the god of pain, torture, and loss, was once Dou-Bral, the brother of Shelyn, goddess of beauty and romantic love. He went on a sojourn through the outer reaches of the universe and came back transformed into something like a cenobite on PCP, and tortured their father, a wolf god, into a twisted beast that now serves as his herald, and badly wounded Shelyn when she tried to reason with him. Despite this, Shelyn still loves him and struggles to redeem him, and it has surprisingly had some effect: Zon-Kuthon never harms her directly anymore and his followers avoid harming hers.

  • 35MM: A Musical Exhibition: The narrator of "The Party Goes With You" laments the distance and apathy of her husband, and is very obviously unhappy, but doesn't feel like she can leave, and is resigned to trying to make the best of things. She implies she wishes he'd pay attention and be nicer to her, and that she feels her life holds less meaning when he's not there.
    And I'm left with all the messes, da, di, da,
    cleaning up for vows in gold.
    Our fraught affair turned solitaire,
    wishing to take back
    merely one of my yeses.
    Aching to be yours
    and have my story all retold.
  • As You Like It:
    • Silvius is this for Phoebe, who is this trope for "Ganymede". Silvius is willing to help Phoebe win Ganymede's affection by delivering her letters, thus proving that he does truly care about her. In the end, though, Phoebe is forced to realize she was being a Gold Digger: she mostly cared about "Ganymede" because he was obviously high status.
    • Pretty much all the characters are this towards their romantic interests. Orlando is this for Rosalind and Oliver is this for Celia, and Touchstone ends up being this for Audrey. Of course, it was mandatory that men particularly at least claimed they were this in poetry, at the time: so pretty much all of Shakespeare's plays contain at least one actual example. Some of the others though play with it, by having false examples: and most couples who are already married when the action starts don't have this.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: This play deconstructs this trope by showing us the personality necessary to be a Love Martyr and that they don't even need a Jerkass Lover to become one. This trope is invoked, deconstructed, and justified by Cyrano, but never played straight by Roxane: At Act I, he confesses to Le Bret that because he has an ugly nose, he cannot aspire to the love of even a graceless woman. So naturally, he’s in love with the most beautiful woman, Roxane. When Le Bret lampshades that Cyrano’s charisma can win Roxane's love and urges him to confess, Cyrano invokes this trope saying that his only fear is Roxane mocking him after that. After Act II, it's clear to the audience, but not to Cyrano, that Roxane would never do such a heinous act. Cyrano still doesn’t accept it and prefers to invoke this trope again helping the fair Christian to win Roxane’s love. This trope is deconstructed and justified showing exactly the type of guy who can play this trope, and that guy doesn’t even need a real motive (it's clear Roxane never was the JerkAss lover Cyrano imagines). At Act IV, after an ultimatum, Christian forces Cyrano to confess, and Cyrano seems he could avert this trope for only a moment until he invokes it again after Christian's death. Justified because Cyrano’s personality and upbringing force him to be the Love Martyr.
  • "So In Love" from Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate, sung by the female lead and reprised by the male lead, so they're both lovesick idiots:
    So taunt me and hurt me
    Deceive me, desert me
    I'm yours 'til I die
    So in love
    So in love
    So in love with you, my love, am I
  • Helena from A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of these for Demetrius. Played for laughs, and she ends up marrying him in the end, but disturbing all the same.
  • The Mrs. Hawking play series: The Colonel for his wife Mrs. Hawking, whom he loved his whole life despite her anger and dislike.
  • Poor Nancy from Oliver! has this BAD for Bill Sykes. She recognises this in the song "As Long As He Needs Me", but even though he's a murderous thug and robber who beats her and plans to kill Oliver, she still can't bring herself to hand him over to the law.
    As long as life is long
    I'll love him, right or wrong
    And somehow I'll be strong
    As long as he needs me.
  • Six: The Musical: Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII, is portrayed as such in her solo, "Heart of Stone." Gentle, sweet Jane admits that Henry had a temper and was capable of great cruelty, but insists he wasn't totally evil, and says she stuck by him through it all because she loved him, and she believes he truly loved her. In her song, the phrase "heart of stone" refers both to Henry's temper and bad actions, but also Jane's resilience in withstanding anything he could throw at her, and her assertion that her love for him and their son was "set in stone." It's left deliberately ambiguous whether Jane really was the true love of Henry's life, or an abuse victim who went into survival mode because she couldn't leave, or some mix of the two.
    You came my way, and I knew a storm could come, too
    You'd lift me high, or let me fall
    But I took your hand, promised I'd withstand
    Any blaze you blew my way
    'Cause something inside, it solidified
    And I knew I'd always stay
  • In Starlight Express, the long-suffering dining car Dinah struggles with her undue devotion to her Jerk Jock diesel engine boyfriend Greaseball. She decides to give up on him after he dumps her for the observation car Pearl, but her friends convince her that racing with the electric engine Electra will make him jealous (and thus cause Greaseball to desire her again). Eventually, Greaseball gets better, and their relationship is saved.

    Video Games 
  • Litchi Faye-Ling in BlazBlue, while not openly admitting it, shows that she truly loved her colleague Lotte Carmine, despite him showing himself to be a glory-seeking man with a serious inferiority complex and saw her as utterly annoying in his progress as a researcher. To the point that when he turned into Arakune, she would stop at nothing to save him, despite other people and even himself considering him a lost cause, including subjecting herself to the same corruption he was dabbling, and the corruption eventually catching up to her before she can find a cure, which leads her to reluctantly join NOL as they have the cure for both her and him, and it's implied that they could easily destroy it if she didn't do a thing about it. To Lotte's credit, in two of Arakune's endings, he pulls himself together long enough to either save Litchi from her own corruption erasing her memories of him in the process or beg her to abandon him and seek help from Kokonoe. Her love for him was at least partially reciprocated.
  • Zasp of Bug Fables very clearly loves Mothiva, despite the fact that she frequently forces him into less than desirable situations. On some level he seems to be aware he's a victim of this trope, but still goes along with her plans regardless. He does seem to get a bit more snarky about it as the game goes on.
  • The Warden takes a lot of flak for his relationship with Morrigan, from her and from others, in Dragon Age: Origins. Makes the end of Witch Hunt that much more heartwarming, actually.
  • Hawke's romance with Anders in Dragon Age II sometimes falls into this territory, due to Anders being possessed by a Spirit of Justice. Taken further at the end of the game, where Hawke may choose to escape Kirkwall and go on the run with Anders, after having been unwittingly tricked into helping Anders construct a bomb and plant it into the Chantry. It's worth noting however that Hawke's intention whilst finding the components for the bomb was because they thought it might be a way to separate Justice from Anders, due to his growing influence causing the breakdown of several of Anders' friendships with their companions and display increasingly erratic behaviour in the Third Act.
  • Princess Ishtar of Freege from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, an Anti-Villain who is in love with the imperial prince Julius, who is sort-of the Big Bad of the game and the reincarnation of a dark god in any case. She ends up dying in a last stand against the hero's army as they come to defeat Julius.
  • Dandy is a minor example in Ghost Trick. Beauty constantly insults him, and yet he keeps talking about who to invite to their hypothetical wedding. Given some of his dialogue, he may actually enjoy the abuse.
  • In an interesting case, Granblue Fantasy has this for both Sarunan and his lover, a spirit named Kazann he refers to as Honey. Honey is at the end of her long lifespan as a spirit, but Sarunan refuses to accept this and ties his lifespan to hers until they can find a body to place her in. This causes immense strain due to how much of his life he needs to give to her, to the point where he's only barely clinging to life at the age of 22 and will most definitely die before the age of 30. Despite this, he constantly refuses Honey's begging to just let her fade away instead of slowly watching her lover die, and thwarts her attempts to forcibly end the pact that keeps her in the world.
  • Any of your potential love interests should you pursue the Way of the Closed Fist in Jade Empire, who will go bad themselves, if you use the right dialogue, for love of you. Since for all of the initial philosophical pretenses the Closed Fist plays out in-game as 99% Jerkass/Chaotic Stupid, your character is likely to be about as unlovable as they come.
  • In Lunar: The Silver Star, Xenobia is this for Ghaleon. Though he does seem to value her as an ally, he does not show any signs of reciprocating her feelings since he's too hung up on his goddess. Nonetheless, she pits herself against the party and dies fighting for his sake. One party member takes pity on her for this after the battle.
  • Jack tries to scare Shepard away with this in Mass Effect 2, but if he persists she will soften somewhat.
  • Bishop from Neverwinter Nights 2 with the main character. Bishop is a Chaotic Evil ranger who insults and humiliates other characters (including the hero) on a regular basis, keeps his mind in the gutter and is proud of it, and entertains the philosophy that if you can't take care of yourself, then you don't deserve to live. With influence, he develops grudging respect and eventually a sort of unhealthy obsession with the PC by the end of the game, up to the point where he betrays the PC to the enemy just to avoid getting tied down by his feelings. Despite him being a complete jerk, the PC can choose to stick out for him and support him to the very end, even despite multiple people voicing their opinion that he is not to be trusted, including a former girlfriend of his.
  • A platonic version in Onmyoji: Ibaraki-dōji is willing to let his old friend Shuten-dōji beat him to a pulp as long as the latter returns to his old self and be his friend again, even though he has said more than once that he no longer wants anything to do with Ibaraki-dōji anymore.
  • Deionarra of Planescape: Torment, martyred by her love for The Nameless One in one of his earlier lives. There's a recorded memory in one of the Sensates' halls where the Nameless One can feel just what it was like, from her side of the story, one of the most emotional and painful points of the game.
    • Possibly more heartbreaking is the fact that the player also gets to see the earlier Nameless One's side of the story, and what a soulless, Manipulative Bastard he was as well as how little he actually cared for the girl who died for him. And for yet more heartbreak, you can find a letter from Deionarra that reveals she knew she was going to die but went along with him anyway.
  • In Princess Maker 2 you can make your adopted daughter fall in love with you if just scold her enough after she has done something bad, but in order to make her feel guilty you have to overwork her to the point of near-exhaustion, risking that she will die from sickness.
  • Selvaria Bles from Valkyria Chronicles is this for her boss, Maximillian. She spent the bulk of her youth as a lab rat due to her Valkyrian blood, and the latter took her in as one of his generals. She fell in love with him because she believed he was an honourable, benevolent prince who saved her from a life of misery and gave her a sense of purpose. In reality however, he was a sleazy, opportunistic manipulator who viewed her as nothing more than a means to an end. Once he caught onto Selvaria's feelings for him, he proceeded to make her believe that he loved her in return, but that said love was dependent on how well she was able to do his bidding. Through repeated emotional manipulation and acts of Domestic Abuse, he made her primed to do anything and everything in order to earn his love. And ultimately, her devotion is rewarded with being asked to use her Final Flame (read: essentially become a suicide-bomber) in a last-ditch attempt to win the war he started. Which she does as the revelation that he never truly loved her was enough to make her cross the Despair Event Horizon. To make matters worse, Maximillian's father, the Emperor, was sponsoring the research facility responsible for experimenting on her. This means that she was not rescued, but bought.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa
    • Byakuya Togami gets this from Toko Fukawa. He's a Rich Bitch who constantly berates Toko for various flaws, even admitting that he finds her outright revolting. In spite of this, both Toko and her Superpowered Evil Side Genocide Jack remain hopelessly infauated with him, even refering to him as "Master Byakuya"note . Toko even manages to get into Future Foundation in Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls by controlling Jack's serial killer tendencies, with Jack admitting that if killing people will mean that she won't get to see Byakuya, then Jack won't kill anyone else. In spite of this devotion and saving Byakuya from the Warriors of Hope, Byakuya still remains openly contemptuous of Toko and Jack whenever he sees them.
    • Additional material in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (more exactly the novel Dangan Ronpa IF), shows that Mukuro Ikusaba has several traits of this, towards her twin younger sister and the Big Bad of the game, Junko Enoshima.
  • Don't Take This Risk: You can become this for the man on the phone, entering a relationship with him for the sake of giving him a reason to live. There's basically no way that relationship can be healthy, for either party.
  • The player can be this in Hatoful Boyfriend if they pursue Shuu. It doesn't end well.
  • In Highway Blossoms, this is downplayed with Marina toward Amber in the Next Exit DLC. Amber never intentionally mistreats Marina, but ends up treating Marina like a kid at various points, something that bothers Marina. Marina understands that Amber has been through rough times, since she'd lost her grandfather (her only family, and whom Amber describes as the only person who cared about her before she met Marina), not long before the start of the first game, which was only a month before Next Exit, so Marina prioritizes Amber's happiness over feeling respected. However, this only lasts until Marina reaches her breaking point, when after getting jealous of Amber's friendliness toward Cassi (a woman Amber had met once during the previous game), she snaps when Amber casually invites Cassi to come along with them in their travels. She then pulls Amber aside for a private conversation in which she expresses her frustrations with their relationship, causing Amber to see the error of her ways.
  • In Mystic Messenger, V is this for Rika. When she became increasingly mentally unstable, he promised her that he would always love her, no matter how she treated him, and believed that he could change her with his love, even after she started emotionally and physically abusing him, including blinding him, and repeatedly telling him that she hated him. Even when she insisted that she felt herself going mad and that she was worried that her mental illness would make her turn into someone she didn't want to be, someone that would intentionally hurt V, he insisted that she would be fine as long she stayed with him and let her care for her. Tragically, he's only able to "change" her after he dies at Saeran's hands in one of the bad endings, which sends her into a Villainous Breakdown out of guilt.
  • Nicole has shades of this if she ends up dating the kidnapper. Especially in the True ending, where she manages to have the kidnapper realize what his actions have done and convinces him to turn himself in to the police, so he can properly pay for his crimes. She also says that she will wait for him to return to her.
  • Quite a few of your clients in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (or suspects in Ace Attorney Investigations) will confess to murders because they want to protect the one they love, with the usual twist being that their lover was the one who actually did it.
    • There's Terry Fawles who turns himself into a literal martyr. When he finds himself doubting Dahlia he swallows poison and dies on the stand.
    • Viola Cadaverini works as an assistant for Furio Tigre, the man who supposedly saved her life. In reality, Tigre is in debt to Viola's father for paying Viola's medical bills in an accident he caused, and kills Glen Elg in order to steal his collateral to sell it for the funds to pay back his debt, so he despises Viola and blames her for his predicament. Tigre is smart enough to keep his disdain for Viola to himself, but Viola is deeply in denial when confronted with the reality that Tigre doesn't love her, and is devastated when she finds out. Of course, when she does come to terms with it, it's implied that Tigre doesn't last much longer.
    • The only major subversion, really, is Ron and Desiree. Ron was under the impression she'd leave him if she found out he wasn't rich and had turned to crime to support her, which might lead the player to think she is selfish and shallow. However, it eventually becomes clear that Desiree is as in love with Ron as he is with her and the only thing wrong with their relationship was a dire lack of communication.
  • Jane in the backstory of Shikkoku no Sharnoth. She eventually realized that what she wanted from M couldn't even be given, though.
  • Under the Moon is full of bad boys ripe for redemption via The Power of Love! The heroine is ready and, little does she know it, willing to suffer to unlock the inner dere-dere of her love interest of choice. There's just one thing… half of the time the redemption attempt backfires and her bad boy gets even meaner, often resulting in Property of Love.

    Web Animation 

  • Deconstructed by Bug Martini in "What the Movies Have Taught Me About Love".
  • The Beings in But I'm a Cat Person are compelled to love their Masters no matter what, which has led to more than a few cases of this. Patrick, with his persistent feelings toward his former Master, is the most prominent example.
  • In Digger, there's Ed, the hyena friend of the protagonist. Oh, Ed...
  • In General Protection Fault, Ki becomes this as her relationship with her fiance Sam deteriorates when he faces pressure on several fronts, notably his parents being opposed to him going out with her. Even as rumors spread of him cheating on her (which are never explicitly confirmed but strongly implied to be true) spread, she remains loyal to him until he tries to rape her when she's unable to go through with having sex with him.
  • Hooky: Nico essentially becomes this to Dani after the time skip. Despite her barely resembling herself after her Sanity Slippage, he stays true to the promise he made her and stays by her side for three years.
  • Dina from It's Walky! There's STILL controversy about her relationship with complete Jerkass Sociopathic Hero Mike, and Dina's dead. Most of the arguments are about whether or not Mike returned her affection at all; for example, he took her to her favorite place in the world, the museum, something her usually nicer ex-boyfriend Walky was never shown as doing (in fact, Walky was depicted as very selfish when it came to his relationship with Dina) and implied that he had loved her to Joe after Dina's death.
  • This was arguably a defining trait of Matthew Prower in White Dark Life. The first girl he fell in love with was Uma. Their first meeting immediately ended in Hate at First Sight from Uma and revealed that her father is violently against the idea. It only escalates from there regardless of Matthew's actions and character growth.
  • Zebra Girl has most of the cast turn into this as the main character descends into her demonic side. Noticeably lampshaded here.

    Web Original 
  • Jean Teasdale of The Onion is a Deconstructive Parody of this concept. She stays with her husband Rick despite what could be called a horrible home life.
  • Syera of Springhole deconstructs the trope in their article More Tips For Portraying Believable, Functional, & Healthy Relationships by pointing out that treating a badly-behaved character with unwavering loyalty in the hopes they will change will backfire in real life, as it leads to said character behaving just as badly or worse as they see the martyr's Undying Loyalty as a reward for bad behavior.
  • Whateley Universe example: Peeper and Greasy. Peeper shares a room with Greasy. Peeper beats Greasy if someone humiliates Peeper or hits Peeper, and he may hit Greasy for other reasons too. Peeper seems to only care that Greasy will do anything for him, and will work insane hours trying to build whatever Peeper wants to misuse. Peeper isolates Greasy from friends and fellow inventors and reminds Greasy that Peeper is the only person Greasy has. It looks like the most abusive relationship in all of Whateley Academy. If Greasy isn't a Love Martyr, he's got to be really, really close.

    Web Videos 
  • Nella from The Nostalgia Chick started out like this, taking all the punishment to make the Chick look better, but has steadily grown a backbone since the Dark Nella Saga and can now call the Chick out on her bullshit.
  • The Nostalgia Critic has had drunk sex with Spoony about a year after being raped by him, praised the Harley/Joker dynamic for being true to real-life Domestic Abuse (how there's something about them that makes you keep coming back) and called his abusive mother "my world".

    Western Animation