Follow TV Tropes


Love Ruins the Realm

Go To

"Rulers make bad lovers
You better put your kingdom up for sale"
Fleetwood Mac, "Gold Dust Woman"

A monarch's romantic choices are directly linked to everything in the kingdom going to hell thereafter. Usually, this is for one of three reasons:

  1. The monarch is having so much fun with their paramour that they neglect their duties of ruling and governance, possibly creating a power vacuum for an Evil Vizier or similar to take over.
  2. The relationship either strains existing alliances needed to maintain rule, creates new enemies for the throne or is in some other way a nightmare for diplomacy. (A common example: it interferes with an Arranged Marriage and disrupts everyone's plans for inheritances, alliances, and succession.)
  3. Their significant other starts to exert an influence on government policy, and causes problems either deliberately or through simple selfishness.

Rebellious Princesses are completely immune to love-related repercussions outside of deconstructions. Compare Fisher King.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Hiromu Arakawa's manga adaptation of The Heroic Legend of Arslan, it's commented that a large part of the problems that happened in Badakhshan and Pars occurred because of men falling in love with Tahamine. She was first betrothed to the prime minister of Badakhshan, only for his master the prince to steal her away and the prime minister to kill himself after, leaving the country in chaos. Then, after the war between Badakhshan and Pars, King Osroes and his brother Andragoras had a falling out because they both loved Tahamine and it's suspected Andragoras assassinated his own brother and nephew to take the throne and Tahamine for himself.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth: Any details are a giant spoiler. When the Pillar falls in love, the world of Cephiro is literally ruined, as in, overcome by monsters and natural disasters because she is not putting absolutely 100% of her concentration on it. She summons the Magic Knights to kill her so it doesn't get worse.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny Yuna Roma Seiran tries to use this trope to convince Cagalli to break off her engagement to Athrun and marry him instead. It nearly works until her brother disagrees.
  • Downplayed in The Rose of Versailles: The love between Marie Antoinette and Fersen is only one of the things that eventually lead to the French Revolution, and even then only because ambitious nobles use their affairs to claim it was him and not the king who sired her children and heirs to the throne. Ironically, Marie Antoinette and Fersen had maintained things strictly platonic because they feared the consequences of their affair becoming public.
  • In Sailor Moon, particularly in the manga, Serenity and Endymion's love affair resulted in the fall of the Moon Kingdom via Green-Eyed Monster — when Queen Metaria showed up offering power, Beryl jumped at the chance, rallying the people of Earth to follow her in revolt by claiming Endymion's relationship with Serenity meant he was betraying Earth in favor of the Moon Kingdom. When Endymion rejected her, she killed them both.
    • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon takes it to the extreme, revealing that Endymion's death caused Serenity to use her powers to destroy the Moon Kingdom and devastate the Earth. This "curse" was carried over to their new incarnations, but they decided to Screw Destiny anyway.
  • The Twelve Kingdoms: The empress Jokaku went insane with love for her advisor, Keiki, and slaughtered or exiled all other women from the kingdom. Being that the state of the kingdom is directly dependant on the competency of the ruler in this series, things went downhill very quickly.
    • What's worse is that this happened four times according to the backstory. You'd think he would have carved his face in after the first time...

    Comic Books 
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW), Princess Celestia discovered a portal to the Mirror Universe and fell in love with its version of King Sombra (here a heroic king instead of a tyrant). Their affair had repercussions because keeping the portal open destabilized the two worlds and Celestia was too distracted to rule, to the point where Princess Luna had to disguise herself as her to prevent the citizens from thinking Celestia had abandoned them. For the good of both worlds, the portal was closed, separating the two.
  • The Sandman: One of the books recounts the story of Dream's love affair with queen Nada. Unfortunately, the heavens didn't approve of a human having an affair with one of the Endless, and started destroying her kingdom's cities left and right until she broke up with him. At which point he sent her to hell, forever.

    Fan Works 
  • The My Little Pony example below is expanded upon in The God Empress of Ponykind; the love poison was a concoction of Sombra to get the king and queen of the Crystal Kingdom into a vulnerable position where he could kill them, allowing him to take the throne for himself and eventually ascend to Daemon Princehood.
  • I Woke Up As a Dungeon, Now What?: Magnyl the Wise, the Last True Emperor, was gay and unwilling to bed a woman even to sire an heir. His death without an heir touched off twenty years of bloody civil war between the Khannite districts of the north and the Velthian districts to the south, and undid much of the social and cultural progress the Empire had made under Magnyl.
  • This is brought up in The Familiar of Zero fan fiction Jus Primae Noctis, but ultimately averted. It is not love that nearly dooms the realm, but ambitious traitors.
  • In Of White Trees and Blue Roses, Rhaegar Targaryen was very aware of how badly things could turn out after his abduction of Lyanna Stark, particularly after hearing of his father's execution of the Northern lords. Other characters had also thought to themselves (or voiced their opinions on) just how bad the idea really was.
  • The above Sailor Moon example is noted in White Devil of the Moon. Nanoha, who in this fic is the reincarnation of Princess Serenity, calls out Queen Serenity for allowing her daughter to do everything that she did, noting that in addition to the above consequences, the princess was placing herself in danger of coming to harm and sparking an international incident, and potentially allowing Endymion to seize control of the Moon Kingdom through marriage.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Played with in A Royal Affair. Struensee and Queen Caroline's extramarital relationship actually helps make the realm a better place, giving more rights and freedom to the common people, thanks to Struensee's influence on King Christian. But the Privy Council clearly don't see this as being a good thing and end up manipulating the people to turn on Struensee so they can reclaim their power, setting Denmark back to square one.
  • Star Wars: In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker is torn between his love for Padmé Amidala and his duties as a member of the celibate Jedi Order. Darth Sidious manages to manipulate Anakin's emotions to corrupt him, bringing about the downfall of the Jedi Order, the Galactic Republic, and the rise of the tyrannical Empire in its stead. A whole galaxy is affected, not just a kingdom.

  • The Aeneid: Dido and Aeneas. According to Virgil, their short fling caused (much later) the Punic Wars. Let this be a lesson to all Good Romans to never put love before duty.
  • Black Jewels: A variation of this occurs in Shalador's Lady, where Theran Grayhaven's infatuation with Kermilla almost fatally destabilizes a nation that was already under a lot of stress. Because the world of the Black Jewels is matriarchal, Theran himself was not the ruler, but as the highest-ranking nobleman in Dena Nehele, he had a lot of influence over the nation's choice of queen, and Theran's choice to support the feckless and self-absorbed beauty he loved over the hardworking Plain Jane who had won the people's hearts by doing the actual job pushed Dena Nehele to the brink of civil war.
  • Phaedra's love for Ulfin in The Cup of the World. Made even worse when it's revealed that her love is the product of a Faustian bargain.
  • From the Deryni novels by Katherine Kurtz: Imre, the last Festillic king, indulges in an incestuous affair with his sister Ariella, which (aside from being incestuous) distracts him from marrying and producing a legitimate heir. On top of that, Ariella is no force for moderation or mercy, and Imre is a weak man who allows himself to be swayed by her.
  • In Dune, the Bene Gesserit regarded love as a dangerous emotion and a weakness. Hence, when Jessica fell in love with Duke Leto Atreides and gave him a son instead of a daughter which the Bene Gesserit wanted for their Kwisatz Haderach plan, it went into disarray because the son, Paul, became Kwisatz Haderach who is born too early which resulted to instability in the realm brought by the Fremen's jihad. However, Paul foresaw this because this instability is necessary to keep humanity from getting extinct, and later, his son Leto II takes the reins to be Necessarily Evil for humanity's survival. Of course, the Bene Gesserit never know this and blame Jessica, Paul, and Leto II for the mess that they're in.
    • In Dune Messiah, Paul Atreides's marriage with Princess Irulan Corrino is strictly political as he's only in love with his Freman concubine, Chani, who will provide his heir. After being coerced by several conspirators, Irulan becomes jealous and drugs Chani in order to delay her pregnancy. Though Chani did get pregnant, she died after giving birth to twins, which Irulan regretted later on. As a result, Paul went into a self-imposed exile after going blind in an assassination attempt, though he did foresaw it, and his Empire is in the hands of his sister, Alia, who slowly succumbs to the possession of their late grandfather, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.
  • In Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte, this is Endo's problem with Love Me Magically!'s harem ending. Specifically, other than Fiene, the MagiKoi cast consists of some of the most important people of their generation: Siegwald the Crown Prince, Siegwald's fianceé Lieselotte, Artur the future High Priest, Baldur the heir of a military aristocrat house, Fabien the Person of Mass Destruction, and Leon the dark mage. To him, such a harem ending inevitably causes Cock Fight among them... or, in other words, a civil war.
  • Shown to be part of the reason everything goes down the drain in the realm of the Tiste in the Kharkanas Trilogy, the prequel to the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Various factions in the realm want Mother Dark, their queen turned goddess, to find herself a husband for the sake of propriety, and to set aside her Consort, Lord Draconus. In this case, though, it is not Mother Dark's love for her Consort that ruins things, but Lord Draconus's love for her, as it's implied that he is actually the creator of the Tiste as a race and thus fell in love with his own creation. So neither does Mother Dark bother to do something about the situation, nor will Lord Draconus step down from his position; no, instead, to prove his devotion, he commissions a gift for Mother Dark that ends up causing civil war, the sundering of their whole realm, and a war on the concept of Death itself. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
  • Subverted in Kushiel's Legacy. Moirin's relationship with Jehanne was said to make her a better ruler. Amusingly enough, it was the King (Jehanne's husband) who said this.
  • Inverted in Legacy of the Dragokin. Daniar so focused on running her kingdom she neglected her husband. The former is doing great, but the latter is lonely.
  • Titus Caesar's affair with Queen Berenice is mentioned in several of the Marcus Didius Falco novels. The lovers get compared to Antony and Cleopatra, and Falco notes dryly that because of historical precedent, Romans get nervous when their leaders fall for exotic beauties.
  • Very narrowly averted in A.L. Phillips's The Quest of the Unaligned. Alaric, the newly discovered Crown Prince of Caederan, is deeply in love with the aesh (fire-mage) Laeshana. Unfortunately, the law requires that the Crown Prince must marry an unaligned mage, in order to preserve the balance between the four elements. It briefly seems that Alaric will have to choose between giving up Laeshana and marrying someone he does not love, or breaking his nation's laws and starting a civil war. Fortunately, he is able to Take a Third Option, using the Prince's Crown to actually change Laeshana's magical nature, transforming her into an orah, which are elementally unaligned.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Cersei and Jaime. It starts as total squick when you learn how young they were when they... um... escalated their relationship, but the results almost two decades later are, arguably, even more distressing; this illicit relationship contributes massively to the series's instability and multi-stage civil war that resulted not only in people being hurt but also affected their inbred children as well.
    • The third book sees Robb Stark and Jeyne Westerling (or Talisa Maegyr in the television series); of course, the realm at large has already gone to hell by that point, but their relationship is what eventually leads to the Red Wedding and the collapse of the Northern war effort.
    • Fifteen years before the events of the first book, Robert Baratheon led a rebellion that ended the Targaryen dynasty after the already-married Prince Rhaegar disappeared with Robert's fiancée Lyanna Stark.
    • It's ultimately revealed that Magnificent Bastard Littlefinger engineered the War of Five Kings with one of the goals being the exile/death of Ned Stark so that he could make a play for Ned's wife Catelyn Stark, whom Littlefinger had loved since he was a child. Boy, did that go wrong. But, hey, she has a daughter! Nothing potentially splodgy there, either.
    • Ser Barristan finds himself pondering all the various kings and princes who acted on their own feelings and unwittingly brought misery upon the realm. He also reveals The Mad King would have rather wed Joanna Lannister than his sister Rhaella. The implication being Aerys's subsequent madness served to fuel his envy of his childhood friend Tywin Lannister to the point of hatred. It is supported since Aerys's rule was just fine until he went mad. One of the factors might be his unrequited love to Joanna.
    • Barristan also ponders on how all three sons of King Aegon V Targaryen rejected the political marriages he had made for them to follow their hearts (his eldest son abdicated his claim to the Iron Throne to wed a commoner, his second son eloped and got married to his sister and his third son preferred the company of his best friend). Aegon didn't press the matter for fear of being hypocritical, given he and their mother had married for love, but in letting his sons have their way, Aegon alienated a lot of the nobility, particularly the noble Houses whose daughters his sons had spurned, and without the support of the nobility for his desire to improve the lives of the commoners, Aegon resorted to more drastic measures to secure power to fulfill his wishes, culminating in his death in what is heavily implied to have been a botched Blood Magic ritual with the aim of resurrecting Dragons.
    • The Blackfyre Rebellions involved multiple instances of this:
      • Queen Naerys's rumored relationship with Aemon the Dragonknight didn't seem to cause too many issues while they were alive (presumably because Aemon was an actual heroic figure for a change). However, after they were dead, the rumor that Aemon was actually the father of Naerys's son Daeron was the reason Daeron's half-brother Daemon Blackfyre gave for rebelling against Daeron's rule and trying to claim the throne. This led to more than a century of war.
      • Having said that, this civil war may have been ostensibly triggered by those rumours, but King Aegon Targaryen, the fourth of his name, better known to all as "The Unworthy", was actually the root cause. To the point that many historians of the Seven Kingdoms subscribe to the view that he spread those rumours about his sister-wife and brother himself. Worse, he took mistresses from any noble House willing (or unwilling) to hand him their daughters to try getting on his good side — he also particularly enjoyed finding rival Houses to take daughters from, which resulted in a lot of highborn bastards being born from such goings-on. All of whom he legitimized before his death just to spite Daeron and the memory of his siblings. None of this would go on to directly impact the events in the war that broke out and increase its ferocity and duration at all, of course... Oh, heavens, of course not! Lesson: unbridled lust in a spoiled brat of a king? Not good.
      • It is also rumored that one of the reasons Daemon Blackfyre started his rebellion was because he was denied the hand of his half-sister, Daenerys, as she was betrothed to the Prince of Dorne. While this was certainly false (not only his rebellion started years after Daenerys's wedding, but there were no records of her mourning his death), it illustrated just how entitled Daemon became after his father legitimized him.
      • Finally, there's the bitter rivalry between Aegon IV's bastard sons Aegor "Bittersteel" and Brynden "Bloodraven", who chose opposing sides of the Blackfyre Rebellions (Aegor supported Daemon while Brynden supported Daeron II). Although the fact that their mothers hailed from houses that have been legendary rivals in the Riverlands for centuries made their rivalry almost a given, it was further ignited by their competition for the affections of their half-sister, Aegon's youngest bastard Shiera Seastar, who seemed more amused at being the center of a love triangle than anything (for the record, she never married anyone).
        Barristan: Bittersteel and Bloodraven both loved Shiera Seastar, and the Seven Kingdoms bled.
    • Two generations before that, King Viserys I lost his first wife and was advised to marry Laena Velaryon. He instead decided to marry Alicent Hightower. This did not turn out great since Alicent really didn't like Viserys's daughter Rhaenyra, and she especially didn't like the fact that Rhaenyra was Viserys's choice for heir over his sons with her. When Viserys died quite suddenly, Alicent was the one who talked her son Aegon into making a play for the throne, which led to the Dance of the Dragons, the deaths of all of Alicent's children and all but one of her grandchildren, the deaths of Rhaenyra and her three eldest children, and Dragons going nearly extinct in Westeros.
  • King Edward IV's romantic follies contribute to the fall of the House of York in The Sunne in Splendour. He marries the beautiful Ice Queen Elizabeth Woodville, whose greedy, corrupt brothers are allowed to bleed the realm dry, but years later it's revealed that years before his marriage to Elizabeth, he had secretly agreed to marry an earl's daughter and then bedded her, which turned the agreement into a legal marriage. The testimony of the bishop who negotiated the agreement between Edward and the earl's daughter results in the marriage deemed null ab initio, Edward's children with Elizabeth judged illegitimate and their uncle Richard offered the crown. The same historical events are covered in the I, Richard Plantagenet Series and, remarkably, Elizabeth Woodville is even more of a villain in that interpretation of events.
  • Tales of the Branion Realm: The Stone Prince is pretty much all about this trope; Prince Demnor starts a civil war in the backstory over his gay lover and is heading toward another one until said lover talks him into accepting an Arranged Marriage.
  • The Three Musketeers: If Buckingham just stayed in England instead of going to see the Queen he was madly in love with, many diplomatic incidents, drama, and his death could have been avoided.
  • Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay is a fictionalized account of the emperor Xuanzong listed under truth in television. The emperor's love for his consort leads him to name her cousin prime minister, and his poor handling of an ambitious and powerful general leads directly to a civil war.
  • The Vicomte de Bragelonne: If Louis XIV could stop falling in love with every other woman he runs into (including his sister-in-law and Raoul's Love Interest), there would have been two deaths avoided (Raoul joining the army to commit Suicide by Cop and Athos shortly dying of despair shortly after), and he might have avoided being seen as a political liability that would encourage plotters to replace him with his more pliable twin brother.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Narrowly averted in the Chuck episode "Chuck Versus the Coup D'Etat". A former revolutionary plots to overthrow the governor of Costa Gravas and nearly succeeds in her coup. When they're in a room together, it's revealed that she's his wife and her coup is fueled by her anger over his neglect. Chuck and Sarah do some emergency marital counseling and they reconcile, with her becoming his Secretary of State.
  • In The Crown, the shadow of Edward VIII's abdication for Wallis Simpson casts a shadow over the Windsors almost as dark as World War II. Elizabeth had to fight for her marriage to Philip because he was a less pedigreed royal than herself, and when Margaret wants to marry a divorced commoner, her mother and Tommy Lascelles go through all sorts of machinations to keep it from happening, which ends in heartbreak.note  It has repercussions for the next generation as well, as Charles is essentially forbidden from marrying Camilla because she's insufficiently respectable and is instead convinced to marry Diana, who is blueblooded and virginal but also a total mismatch.
  • Deus Salve O Rei: Prince Afonso falls in love with farm girl Amália shortly she saved his life from bandits and chooses to abdicate the throne of Montemor to be with her. This leads to his foppish and irresponsible younger brother Rodolfo having to become king, which further escalates tensions with its neighbor realm of Artena.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The love affair between Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, who secretly married and conceived a son, Jon Snow, led to a mass-scale war that killed thousands of people and ended the Targaryen dynasty, as well as having other far-reaching consequences down the line including, ironically, unwittingly endangering their only son, whose true origin would have resulted in him being killed by the new ruling dynasty that arose from this war. Jon is hidden, protected, and raised by his uncle, Lyanna's brother Eddard, who claims Jon as his illegitimate son to save him.
      Petyr Baelish: (to Sansa Stark) How many tens of thousands had to die because Rhaegar chose your aunt?
    • Ironically, Jon's own love affair with Daenerys Targaryen has disastrous results as well. As Rhaegar's (much) younger sister, she's technically his aunt, even though they're the same age. They only find this out afterwards, which creates problems both from her worrying that he intends to press his superior claim to the throne and from him being too unnerved with their blood ties to further reciprocate her feelings. This ends up isolating her even further and contributes to her Sanity Slippage.
    • By forfeiting a marriage pact he had with the Freys and marrying for love instead, Robb angers the Freys, who join with the Boltons to kill him and divide his newly re-established kingdom in the North between them. It doesn't just cost Robb, his wife, and his mother their lives but the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of his men when they're massacred along with him.
    • Lysa Arryn's love for Petyr Baelish led her to poison Jon Arryn, an act that eventually snowballs into the War of the Five Kings.
  • General and I: Yao Tian's love for He Xia leads to her own death and the downfall of her kingdom.
  • The Glamorous Imperial Concubine: Lian Cheng's obsession with Fu Ya leads to him declaring war on Shu to capture her, which sets in motion a chain of events leading to his own death.
  • Kaamelott: Despite receiving every possible hint that it's a Very Bad Idea (including a tranced-out seer stating that the gods would take offense), Arthur still falls for the Manipulative Bitch wife of one of his knights. In doing so, he ensures that the gods abandon him, that each of the knights of the Round Table thinks he can run the country better, and generally gives up on the idea of a unified kingdom.
  • Lost Love in Times: Most of the officials in Great Wei think Yuan Ling's marriage to Qing Chen is a threat to the realm. Yuan Zhan uses this to gain support for his coup.
  • Notably averted in Merlin with Gwen. While Uther and Agravaine argue that marrying a commoner would weaken Camelot (as opposed to marrying for political ties which would strengthen its position), Gwen turns out to be the most competent Camelot monarch in the show, successfully rooting out a traitor in her first episode as Queen. She eventually becomes Arthur's heir and Queen Regnant of Camelot.
    • And then Word of God has it that after Arthur's death, she reigns over the Golden Age of Camelot and lifts the ban on magic, heavily implied when she figures out that Merlin has magic and reacts with joy at the revelation).
  • Also shows up in Rome, where Anthony and Cleopatra are having so much fun drinking, screwing, getting high, cross-dressing, etc (yeah, it's that kind of show) that they don't notice till the last minute that Octavian's coming to pwn their asses.
  • Since The Tudors is about Henry VIII, this shows up here when he throws England into political and religious turmoil in order to be with Anne Boleyn.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible: Older Than Dirt — bad policy (and subsequent Divine Wrath) in the Old Testament is often blamed on the influence of foreign wives.
    • King David's adultery with Bathsheba nearly ruined the rest of his life with his kingdom racked with intrigue and civil war, although this is attributed in The Bible to God's punishment rather than a natural consequence.
    • It's made explicit with David's son, Solomon. All his famous wisdom didn't do him much good when he started thinking with his other head and taking wives from other kingdoms who swayed his heart away from God, thus setting his kingdom up to fall.
  • Chinese Mythology: Dájǐ was supposedly the favourite consort of Zhou, the last king of the historical Shang Dynasty. In more mythological sources, she's identified with a malicious fox spirit who enjoyed torture and executions, and King Zhou's infatuation with her and her beauty caused him to start neglecting state affairs to be with her and would order embarrassing activities and executions to make her amused or happy. This led to the downfall of the Shang dynasty.

  • Lampshaded in Elton John's Aida, based on Verdi's opera. The Nubians' plan fails due to Aida's love for Radames, and the character who had looked to her for hope for their enslaved people sings a Dark Reprise of the song where he'd first identified her as the princess.
    "There is a time, there is a place, where love should conquer all
    The rest of life is pushed aside as truth and reason fall
    But only if that selfishness can lead to something good
    I thought I knew you, Princess, but I never understood
    I don't know you!
    I don't know you..."
  • The eponymous Antony and Cleopatra in Shakespeare's play, which is based on historical records of just how bad this relationship was. Caesar, Cleopatra's previous paramour, was accused of letting his love for the Egyptian Queen cloud his judgement.
  • Henry VI Part 3 depicts Edward IV's hasty marriage to Elizabeth Woodville after she petitions him for the return of her late husband's lands. He tries to get her to sleep with him as a condition of granting her request, but she persistently refuses his advances and he finally suggests that he'd like to give her a whole kingdom instead by making her his queen. Except that while this is going on, Warwick is over in France securing the lands Henry lost by arranging a match between Edward and Princess Bona—news of Edward's marriage to Elizabeth arrives just as Warwick closes the deal. This enrages Warwick, and he immediately throws his lot in with Margaret and the Lancasters, prompting another round of bloody battles to prolong the War of the Roses.
  • The nobles (and, perhaps more importantly, his wife) in Christopher Marlowe's play Edward II claim this as their reason for having the king offed: he was spending too much time with his... um... friend Piers Gaveston, a mere commoner.
  • Similarly, there are undertones of this in Shakespeare's Richard II; Richard neglects his duties, his wife, and more importantly the nobles in favor of a lavish good time with his favorites. Prior to the time in which Shakespeare's play is set, similar accusations had been leveled at Richard's close friend and maybe-lover Robert de Vere, in particular, because this undercut the authority of his uncles.

    Video Games 
  • This is the reason why Liu Kang refuses to become Edenia's king, alongside Kitana, in his ending in Mortal Kombat 4.
  • In the EVE Online metagame, the Tribute War was partly started by one of the CEOs of NCDot starting a liaison with the head of a more aggressive alliance, and the latter force started a war with the CFC (an alliance bloc that included Goonswarm). Furthermore, NCDot collapsed in part because the other CEO of NCDot hadn't really been interested in joining in this mess in the first place, and when the war turned against NCDot, the alliance's internal politics grew more and more toxic until finally the two sides split apart completely.
  • Tales of the Tempest: The Leimornean Queen and Pope getting married almost ruined the realm due to racism against the Leimorneans. The pair decide to separate with a child each, but then the Leimornean city and castle were both attacked and The Queen was killed, leading to a second near-destruction when The Pope rounds up thousands of Leimorneans to convert their Life Energy into Life Magic to resurrect her.
  • Yet another of the many risks to a ruler in Crusader Kings. An Arranged Marriage falls apart because one of the two falls in love with someone else, the marriage alliance is shattered when the pope grants a divorce, and suddenly the previously allied families are free to go for each other's throats or bedevoured by neighbors that didn't dare face both, but can take on one.
  • Happens multiple times throughout the Dark Souls series, most notably in Dark Souls II. Unrequited love, likely for the Old Iron King, drove Mytha to poison herself and destroy Harvest Valley and Earthen Peak. More consequently, Vendrick's love for Nashandra blinds him to the fact that he's being manipulated into destroying his kingdom until it's too late, and all he can do at that point is mitigate the damage by running away from her to keep her from getting what she wants. Even after he finds out she's an offspring of Manus, the Eldritch Abomination Big Bad of the first game's DLC, he can't seem to stop loving her.
    • Averted with the Ivory King, whose wholehearted acceptance of his wife Alsanna, also a daughter of Manus, prevents his kingdom from going down the same road as Vendrick's. It gets destroyed anyway, but she actively works to contain the situation rather than bringing it about.
  • League of Legends has Viego, now known as "The Ruined King", whose once upon a time fell into the throne at the kingdom's behest after the death of his brother, already proving he was unfit to rule due to spending all his time obsessing over the beautiful seamstress who he made his queen. Things became exponentially worse when said queen was killed in a botched assassination attempt against him, and his mad quest to try to bring her back to life led him to uncovering the hidden Blessed Isles and slaughtering everyone in his path when they denied him the powers they knew he couldn't handle. Indeed, his attempt to resurrect his lover cursed the isles into a festering Death World known as the Shadow Isles, eternally binding legions of the undead to Runeterra and posing as one of the world's biggest threats.
  • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, so much strife could have been avoided if Prince Kurth hadn't fallen in love with the worst person possible. Though he had no idea that Duchess Sigyn was a bearer of Loptous holy blood, making him partially responsible for the dark dragon's rising, his refusal to bear a legitimate heir by marrying anyone other than her created one hell of an opportunity for Arvis to swoop in and seize power.

    Visual Novels 
  • Averted in Double Homework with Amy. Although she is a princess, Amy's birth order means that she can date whomever she likes without any political consequences.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Sultana Razia al-Saif ends up having an affair with Count Belial de Ardyn, and they genuinely fall in love but have to keep their affair a secret because the Sarquil tribes and the court, who follow the rigid religious teachings of the Old Ways, would never accept their Sultana marrying a foreigner. However, the affair doesn't escape the eyes of the Sultana's twin sister, Emira Adela, who has also set her eyes on Belial, but Belial rejects her in favour of Razia. Adela doesn't take rejection well and, coupled with other things related to her sister's political moves, eventually challenges Razia to a duel which ends in Razia's death and Adela ascending the throne. This begins a chain of events which leads to the exile of Razia's son Khalid and his supporters, the Clergy of Artemicia rising to power thanks to Adela backing them up and forcing the Sarquil to convert to the new faith, and Adela's sorcerous accomplice Iblis al-Djinn becomes Grand Vizier. It leads to both the rise of the Sultanate of Karaganda but turns the Sarquil nation corrupt and decadent until Khalid returns with the Grand Alliance to dethrone Adela in a daring coup. The resulting battle weakens the sultanate enough so that the demons invade the divided land by surprise and eventually take over the sultanate, forcing the Sarquil into exile. All of this took place because both Razia and Adela simply fell in love with the same man.
  • Xiran Jay Zhao's video "China's Most Bisexual Dynasty - Han Emperors and Their Male Favorites" on male concubines of the Western Han Dynasty notes that nearly all the relationships, gay or straight, ended in disaster due to mixing love with politics, with the Emperor Ai and his favoured Dong Xian from the Real Life folder being one of many examples. This leads to the Rare Sentence "We support gay rights, but you can't run a government on thirst alone."

  • Happens a lot in Girl Genius.
    • In the backstory, the reign of the legendary Storm King Andronicus Valois ended and the Long War began when sealed a treaty with Mechanicsburg by marrying the sister of the then Heterodyne, who he had fallen in love with. She turned out to be a typical Heterodyne who spied on him, corrupted him into becoming a monster that his allies were barely able to contain, and destroyed his Empire.
    • The Hero Bill Heterodyne marries the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter Lucrezia Mongfish — who ends up destroying Castle Heterodyne, killing her infant son in the process, and becoming a world-conquering Super Villain. It's heavily implied that Bill didn't notice the warning signs of Lucrezia's megalomania because of his love for her.
    • Baron Wulfenbach is extremely concerned about Gil's devotion to Agatha, and what it might mean for the Empire once Gil inherits it. He was right to be worried. Cut to two-and-a-half years later, during which time the Baron has been stuck in the timestop, Agatha has been missing, and Gil has been in charge of the Empire. Or what's left of it. He's devoted the entire time to trying to free Mechanicsburg from the timestop, in the hope of freeing Agatha, and he's built multiple fifty-foot tall statues of her around the valley for some bizarre reason. There's not a great deal of Empire left, now, and most of it is at war with itself.
      • As Wooster puts it — "His focus is perhaps less... er... widespread than his father's." As in, it focuses entirely on Agatha.
    • Tarvek is a more minor example. His original plans — to plant a fake 'Heterodyne girl', declare himself Storm King (a title which he does actually have a claim to), and then exploit an old prophecy to marry the Heterodyne and give himself even more legitimacy — end up going completely out the window when he falls in love with the real Heterodyne girl, Agatha. In this case, it's more 'Love Ruins The Plans For A Future Hypothetical Realm'.
    • Agatha inadvertently ruins a lot of realms by accident, mostly because her suitors are idiots.
  • The whole plot of The Remarried Empress starts because of reason #2 and things go From Bad to Worse concerning Emperor Sovieshu on this matter.
    • The emperor brings a lowborn woman to the palace, makes her his concubine, gets her pregnant and later divorces his competent stateswoman wife, a daughter of a longstanding ducal house, for her. Said wife immediately remarries the new ruler of the neighboring kingdom, who shortly after declares himself emperor.
    • Sovieshu constantly sides with Rashta against nobles that rank higher than her in terms of status, even in moments where Rashta was clearly in the wrong. This not only ruins his relationship with his now ex-wife but also creates resentment in the nobility both at Rashta and Sovieshu.
    • Before the divorce, Navier is responsible for trade negotiations between the Eastern Empire and the kingdom of Luipt, represented by Kapmen, who finds Sovieshu's treatment of Navier appalling. However, Sovieshu ends up arguing with Navier right in front of him over her refusal to accept Rashta's baby, resulting in Kapmen punching him. Sovieshu takes advantage of this and his jealousy over their friendship to end trading relations with Luipt... and any trade benefits it would bring to the empire, one of which being hopefully finding the cause of the declining mages. Navier does secure trade negotiations with Luipt as the empress of the Western Empire, which improves its standing.
    • After Navier's remarriage to Heinly, Sovieshu puts them both under house arrest at her family's residence. This results in the Western Kingdom having to issue a demand to release their ruler, straining diplomatic relations between their countries. Then, Sovieshu puts up an absolute fit before a crowd of onlookers in front of the Trovi Manor, accusing Heinly - a newly made ruler of an increasingly powerful neighboring country - of seducing Navier, insulting him while telling his own ex-wife, whom he just divorced, things like "I want to be with you", which does not make him look mentally stable, both to said ex-wife and the spectators.
    • Rashta, being a former slave, is blackmailed by her former owner, Viscount Roteschu, about already having a child, Ian, with his own son. Since her funds as a concubine are closely monitored, she has to buy his silence by giving him precious jewels she receives from Sovieshu. Both of these sources of income are insufficient and easily traceable, so she ends up borrowing a lot of money from Ergy, a foreign duke with way too much influence over her. Once she becomes an empress, he demands his loans back with interest, making her sign off a strategically important port to him, which later causes a huge scandal and international tensions between the Eastern Empire and Blue Bohean. Furthermore, after her daughter Glorym turns out to be Alan's daughter, she is accused of treason and embezzling the empire's coffers and sentenced to a lifetime imprisonment, where she kills herself soon after.
    • All of these events lead to Sovieshu, who unsuccessfully did everything to get back with Navier, finding himself alone with his reputation tarnished and a high probability of being infertile himself. This causes his mental health to rapidly deteriorate, until he becomes practically unable to govern, while his former father-in-law has to take the reins of the empire with Sovieshu as a figurehead. He tries to hand over the throne to his distant nephew, who declines the offer. In the end, he names the daughter of his ex-wife and princess of a foreign nation his successor, which effectively means the end of his dynasty.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic had the Cutie Mark Crusaders discover their concocted love potion was a poisonous variant, which caused the collapse of a kingdom at some point in the past because of the "too enamored to do crap" version of this trope.

    Real Life 
  • Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour were falsely accused of this, for political reasons, to make him look like under the cat's paw. In fact, her influence was very limited in foreign politics, she mainly focused on getting various relations cushy jobs. She did strongly influence the king's patronage of various artists and the Academie Française to a lesser degree.
  • Lola Montez, the mistress of Ludwig I of Bavaria, has been credited with destroying his popularity and pretty much single-handedly causing a revolution.
  • Ancient Chinese attitudes towards women being what they were, its historians very rarely had anything nice to say about wives and concubines of emperors:
    • The last king of the Shang Dynasty supposedly had a cruel concubine named Daji; according to Chinese Mythology, she dragged the entire kingdom into senseless debauchery, cruelty, and bloodshed, culminating in the fall of the dynasty altogether. Refer to the Mythology and Religion section above for more information.
    • The next dynasty didn't learn the lesson: one late Zhou emperor got his fool ass invaded because he'd keep Crying Wolf to entertain his concubine, so his disgruntled troops refused to mobilize when a real emergency hit.
    • The relationship between Emperor Ai of the Han Dynasty and Dong Xian is a gay male example. Ai's extreme favoritism of Dong Xian angered many of his officials, some of whom he had executed for complaining about Dong's power.
    • For varying values of "ruin" (there's still no consensus among historians), Emperor Wu Zetiannote  started out as a concubine, (supposedly) murdered her way up the ladder until she was made head wife, and then forced her own husband and son into early retirement to sit on the throne herself. While this did briefly interrupt the Tang Dynasty and resulted in a Reign of Terror, she also made a lot of significant positive reform — from her reign onward, the Chinese civil system was based much more on merit than on your lineage or connections.
    • Emperor Xuanzong (reigned 712-756) of the Tang Dynasty spent a whole lot of his later reign with his beautiful consort Yang Guifei and passing out all sorts of high offices to her friends and family. Little details like national defense were neglected right up until the inevitable rebellion by a cocky general. The poor consort didn't survive the evacuation, as what troops Xuanzong had left demanded her scapegoat's head.
    • The Dowager Empress Cixi of the Qing Dynasty was accused of wanting to be the next Wu Zetian and at the very least indirectly putting the final nails in the coffin of the Qing dynasty. She did try to reform in the end, but by then it was too late.
  • Henrietta Maria, the wife of Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Besides being a French Catholic in a Protestant kingdom, she continually advised him to take actions that, when discovered, led his opponents to regard Charles as untrustworthy and treasonous, such as repeatedly trying to get foreign (and also Catholic) nations to invade in support of Charles in the Civil Wars. She wasn't the only one, but Charles was so devoted to his wife that he also made catastrophically wrong political decisions when he heard rumblings she was threatened, including marching at the head of a troop of soldiers into the English Parliament to arrest his opponents, the event that made war all but inevitable.
  • Henry VIII's attempts to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn led to centuries of religious warfare in England.
    • Ironically, Henry's actions in that case were an attempt to avoid this trope. Apparently, he did love Katherine, but he didn't think she could give him a son. He believed that his duty to England to provide an heir was more important than his duty to Katherine.note 
    • And for all that, poor Anne got her head cut off anyway.
      • Because by that point, Henry decided she couldn't give him a son either and had already begun courting Jane Seymour — who, as the saying goes, "had the good fortune to bear a son and the good sense to die immediately afterward."
  • Procopius (an Unreliable Narrator par excellence) claims that Justinian's marriage to the notorious actress/prostitute Theodora brought about the ruination of the Roman/Byzantine empire. It should be noted that Procopius was the secretary of the brilliant General Belisarius, one of the best commanders in history, who was resolutely loyal to the throne but was often the victim of Justinian and Theodora's not entirely unjustified suspicion (loyalty aside, he was of the stuff of which Emperors were made, and the stuff of which men made themselves Emperors), and consequently had quite a significant grudge against them.
    • Others opine that Theodora and Justinian were a competent power couple.
      • Judging from her famous quote during a particularly nasty chariot race riot about staying and possibly dying as a queen rather than running as beggars, she encouraged her husband to try to quell the riot — one could suggest she was the more competent (or at least the bolder) of the two. However, this was also in Procopius's work and has been suggested to be a not-so-subtle slam on Justinian for not having the balls to take charge and Theodora for being the obvious dominant party.
      • Procopius's writings are often well-known as they were some of the most complete extant writings of his time for centuries. Later research and discoveries showed how unreliable a narrator he was, as he was a notorious sensationalist and collector of gossip in his time. While he is considered a highly Unreliable Narrator by modern standards, such was not only par for the course in his time, but such accounts were often the norm, as personal accounts were often more likely to survive than actual records. It also did not help that Theodora and Justinian were not popular rulers amongst the Greek-dominated aristocracy of his time, so his writings often pandered to their prejudices while also putting in writing a lot of highly accurate facts on Justinian's reign. His works are still the most complete (if at times inaccurate in some of the details) extant account of Justinian's reign from that time period.
  • One source of Mary, Queen of Scots's unpopularity as a ruler was her alleged tendency to get involved in numerous affairs (granted, her husband was known for being an abusive brute) that undermined her reputation to the point where she was commonly referred to as a whore (via images of the Mermaid).
  • Antony and Cleopatra VII, who probably deserve Trope Codifier status even though this is a very Truth-based trope. Interestingly, Antony didn't get in trouble for screwing Cleopatra — such things were rather expected of Roman leaders, or at least tolerated — but rather for letting her co-rule. Octavian pounced on the opportunity to slander Antony with some nasty PR (he was letting a woman rule!), got the Roman people to back a civil war against an otherwise wildly popular general, and the rest is history. Ironically, Cleopatra's actions made political sense; sleeping with Caesar/Anthony kept Egypt independent for several decades after the Romans decided they wanted it.
  • Marie-Antoinette, the poor girl, was (and often still is) accused of influencing her husband inappropriately and substantially. In reality, we're talking about a girl whose notoriously domineering mother quite deliberately didn't allow much of an education (to the point that, almost 18 months after her wedding, her brother, Joseph II "the Enlightened" (or perhaps more accurately, "the Highly-Intelligent-But-Politically-Tone-Deaf-But-Also-Fortunate-Enough-To-Die-Before-It-Came-Back-To-Bite-Him") of Austria, had to explain what sex was when he, and nobody in the French Court itself, realised why the stork hadn't visited yet, despite the royal couple regularly spending nights together). It's hard to say who was most educationally lacking, sheltered and clueless; she or her husband, Louis XVI "I-Loved-Clockwork-And-Architecture-Over-Politics-From-Very-Young". Yeah: it was less love that was the problem, and more the 18th European Court ideas about the education and socialization of children. Bear in mind that poor Marie certainly didn't have the background to converse wittily for hours about the topics he was interested in, let alone about points of government.
    • A problem related to love was caused by Marie Antoinette... as in, once she actually had children rumors started to emerge about her affair with Hans Axel of Fersen, and some of the king's relatives started spreading rumors that the children's father was indeed Fersen and not the king to further their ambitions over the throne, weakening the monarchy's legitimacy and helping to usher The French Revolution. Ironically, while Marie Antoinette and Fersen did have an affair, they apparently kept things platonic because they didn't want to cause any trouble with her children's claim to the throne.
  • Eric XIV of Sweden (reigned 1560-1568) managed to upset large parts of the Swedish nobility, including his own brothers, during his reign because of his sometimes violent insanity and paranoia. His decision to marry his mistress Karin Månsdotter, the daughter of a common jailkeeper, became the final straw that made it possible for his brothers and other political opponents to dethrone him.
  • For a while, it looked like this was going to happen with Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) and Robert Dudley. He was universally hated and was generally supposed to have murdered his wife; the Queen's intimate relationship with him scandalized Europe and damaged her reputation. If she had married him, Elizabeth might have had a hard time holding on to her crown. Eventually, she decided to become the "Virgin Queen" and renounce marriage, but she kept her "sweet Robin" close by until he died in 1588.
  • Edward VIII of England was on the verge of causing this. Subverted in that his abdication got rid of a King with fascist sympathies and put on the throne King George VI, who — with the help of his wife, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon — listened to Winston Churchill and guided England through World War II. So... Love Saves the Realm?
    • Although ironically — despite what The King's Speech tells us — Churchill didn't actually want the succession to be diverted.note 
  • Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville because of love instead of political reasons. This got him a lot of enemies within his own court, as she was not only completely inappropriate (she was the widow of a Lancastrian soldier with two children), but she also did things like securing all the best jobs and marriages for her relatives. This helped cause the powerful Earl of Warwick, otherwise known as Warwick the Kingmaker, to fall out with Edward and try to overthrow him, as he felt that Edward wasn't following his advice.
    • This actually counts as a subversion. Edward IV was out of power for barely a year before he got his shit together, gathered an army of Burgundians, sailed back to England, and killed virtually all of his enemies at Barnet and Tewkesbury, including Warwick, destroying the House of Lancaster as a political force in England for the next fifteen years.
    • After Edward's death, it was alleged that his marriage to his queen was illegitimate due to a prior secret marriage to another woman (see The Sunne in Splendour above). The accusation was highly convenient and there is little surviving evidence of this marriage, but his many known mistresses (not to mention how he met and married the inappropriate Elizabeth in the first place) may have helped sell the fear that the story could easily be true, given how well it fit his known behaviour. This resulted in his children being removed from the line of succession, his two sons disappearing and yet another war for control of England. This ended with Henry Tudor defeating Richard III and marrying their eldest daughter and child Elizabeth of York to secure the throne, with all subsequent monarchs of England being their descendants from 1509 to the present.
  • Certainly the view of some people with regard to the growing (but usually very unofficial) influence of the Royal Harem in the late Ottoman Empire. Of course, the late Ottoman Empire had a great deal more problems than that. It wasn't called the Sick Man of Europe for nothing.
    • Earlier in its history, at the arguable height of its powers during the 16th and 17th centuries, there was a 130-year period known to historians as 'the Sultanate of Women', when the political manoeuvrings of the harem controlled the Empire.
  • Queen Caroline of Denmark fell in love with the king's physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee, who turned out to be a much better ruler and governor than the king. Johann was already unpopular in the government for attempting widespread reforms and was much a de facto regent of the country, but once the news of Johann's affair with the queen was exposed, he was executed and it led to the queen's imprisonment and banishment. As a result, the court was pushed into further decadence and disaster, especially after the birth of the queen's daughter (who is likely Johann's).
  • Russia was already hurtling towards disaster, but the marriage of Tsar Nicholas II to his beloved Princess Alix of Hesse and by the Rhine — over the objections of both her grandmother and his parents — certainly added lighter fluid to the proverbial fire. Although Tsar Alexander III relented and allowed his son's marriage on his deathbed, Alix — later known as Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna — was pathologically shy and incredibly reserved. To those who didn't know her, she seemed cold and uncaring, lacking the natural sociable warmth of her mother-in-law, the Dowager Empress Marie. Alexandria, for all the love she had for Nicholas, also believed strongly in the divine right of kings and enabled Nicholas's autocratic tendencies. The family was reserved from the start, but after their only son Alexei was born with haemophilia, they closed ranks completely, withdrawing almost entirely from court life. The one-two punch of Rasputin's increasing influence over the family and Alexandra in particular, combined with the disaster of World War I and a catastrophic economic depression, spelled the end of the dynasty, and the whole family was murdered underneath Ipatiev House, Yekaterinburg in July 1918.
  • The Mayerling Incident, which led to the deaths of Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria, and his mistress, Mary Freiin von Vetsera, in what was apparently a murder-suicide (though this has been debated by historians). Since Rudolf was Emperor Franz Joseph's only son, the succession passed to Joseph's brother, Archduke Karl Ludwig, and his son, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. That name should sound familiar to you. In other words, the whole incident created the circumstances that would result in not one but two of the deadliest conflicts in human history.


Video Example(s):


Love Ruins Costa Gravas

The Coup of Costa Gravas happens because of a marital squabble.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (24 votes)

Example of:

Main / LoveRuinsTheRealm

Media sources: