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Mad Love

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Moze: Why don't you just tell Missy the truth? You're not interested in her.
Ned: Because the truth doesn't work on crazy people!

When Alice loves Bob and there is nothing anyone can do — not even Bob — to persuade her that their love isn't mutual.

This is not just All Love Is Unrequited or Oblivious to Love. Bob is well aware of this one-sided crush, but his protests fall on deaf ears. He can tell Alice he isn't interested, sometimes violently, but she invariably fails to catch on. Her behavior often straddles the line between Clingy Jealous Girl, Stalker with a Crush or even Psycho Supporter, but she generally means no harm to Bob and also respects his ideals. If she does start becoming an actual threat to Bob or other people close to him though, then beware...

If Alice has terrible taste in suitors (and she usually does), then her "hubby" or "wifey" will abuse that unconditional love to further their crazy schemes and never hesitate to betray her if they fail, or if she gets too whiny. Y'know, because whining can cause headaches and stuff. And of course, the innocent (or more like oblivious) Alice will come trotting back for more punishment. If she has two neurons bobbing around in her skull, she'll be puzzled that her hubby/wifey has a "funny way" of showing love. If she has more than three, she'll eventually realize that Mr. Troubled, but Cute is just plain Trouble and move on, but she'll find it hard to resist falling back to him.

Expect Alice to be a headache for anyone in the center of a Love Triangle or Love Dodecahedron involving Bob. Third parties trying to convince her that she should move on will face replies like "You're Just Jealous" and other psychological barriers to reality and sanity.

Either gender can be a Mad Lover, for a beloved of either gender. It's just more common to have females in the role because this is often a comedy trope, and a clueless woman clinging to an exasperated man is much funnier than the reverse. Some writers adore this dynamic and like to keep the 'relationship' alive by giving Alice an occasional moment of affection from Bob, just to make everyone wonder what's really going on.

Compare Crazy in the Head, Crazy in the Bed, for someone whose madness adds to their sexual appeal. See also Hopeless Suitor and Rejection Affection, for less crazy examples of unrequited love from which this trope borrows some elements from. Compare with the more serious Love Martyr, a character in an unhealthy relationship whose love is meant to be selfless and noble (or at least sympathetic) instead of crazy, funny, and/or stupid. May overlap with Abhorrent Admirer. Also compare Minion Shipping, Unholy Matrimony, and Fetishized Abuser. Contrast with Vitriolic Best Buds, where this involves friends and may be mutual.

Not to be confused with the short-lived TV series starring Jason Biggs and Judy Greer, also not to be confused with the 1935 film Mad Love, which doesn't use this trope or the Batman: The Animated Series episode.


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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Serves as The Reveal in He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not. For the first half of the film, we are led to believe that the main character is having an affair with a married man, but at the midway point the film snaps back to the beginning and follows the man instead. We find out that she is really an insane stalker and he barely knows she exists.
  • The main conceit of It's Love I'm After is to stop Marcia from being completely in love with Basil. He tries to push her away by being a horrible cad, but she only excuses his actions and thinks him even more irresistible.
  • In My Man Godfrey, the female lead is head over heels in love with the butler Godfrey, who desperately tries to keep her away.
  • In film Road House (1948), Jefty is completely delusional about his relationship with Lily. He thinks he can marry her, basically, without any consent or even plain interest on her part.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show's Columbia falls under this. She's hopelessly devoted to Dr. Frank N Furter despite the fact that he views her as nothing more than his "groupie". Columbia later realizes that Frank doesn't give a damn about her and totally chews his ass out for it.
    • This is driven even FURTHER in the original play in which Columbia does a Heroic Sacrifice by putting herself between Frank and Riff Raff causing her to be killed by the laser. Frank's reaction? "Stupid bitch." Though, he does say it in a way that hints that he did feel somewhat sorry for her.
  • Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, who enables Sweeney's serial murders and disposes of his victims by baking them into pies. She continues to make romantic overtures to him despite his obvious disinterest, going so far as to trick him into thinking his wife is dead. He throws her into her own oven to burn to death when he discovers her deception.
  • Logan’s obsessive love for Jean in the X-Men Film Series. At most, Jean thinks he’s attractive but is in love with and devoted to Scott -– a fact she makes abundantly clear to Logan. Logan, on the other hand, pursues her relentlessly, including a Forceful Kiss in the second film. It appears he's come to accept she loved Scott not him following her Heroic Sacrifice at the end of X2: X-Men United. Only for X-Men: The Last Stand to show that is not the case culminating in him giving her a Dying Declaration of Love before killing her. The Wolverine, shows he has turned into a hermit following her death and has been having both nightmares about it and romantic dreams about her (sometimes combined) in the years since. This movie ends with him telling her dream form that he’ll always love her and finally moving on. Then X-Men: Days of Future Past reveals that, nope, his memories of Jean are still his most prominent ones 20 or so years after her death and roughly 10 years after him “moving on.” All this despite only knowing her for about five days total.

  • Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter embodies this trope. She's as mad as they come, and her devotion to Voldemort is nothing short of obsessive.
  • Claude Frollo's lust for Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, has driven him insane. He tries to have Quasimodo kidnap her, which doesn't work out. He then has her framed for murder and tells her that he can save her from her execution if she promises to love him.
  • I Am Not a Serial Killer has Hulla, a somewhat deranged demon who falls for John after he cold-calls her with someone else's phone to tell her he's going to kill her. She hates her own, so his passion for demon slaying has her convinced they're soulmates. Unfortunately for her, John does not share the sentiment.
  • The Urban Legend "Perfect Girl" is about a boy who's so in love with a girl he completely wrecks her life, makes her attempt suicide which cripples her, and makes her so haggard and deformed just so that no one will want her except him.
  • In The Phantom of the Opera Erik, aka The Phantom, has this for the heroine Christine Daaè. He convinces her that he is an angel sent by her deceased father, to get close to her. When the managers of the opera house won't let Christine sing, he crashes a chandelier into the audience during a performance. When Christine, in the end, plans to run away with her lover Raoul, he kidnaps her under a performance and threatens to blow up a quarter of Paris if she doesn't marry him.
  • In Second Apocalypse Cnaiür develops a very twisted sort of love/obsession with Serwë who wants nothing to do with him, because he keeps raping her.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire the (quite frankly) mentally unstable and very cowardly Lysa Arryn is madly in love with her childhood friend, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish who she has had a very sick-wrong and very emotionally abusive "crush" on since they were kids. She can only ever see him as the Troubled, but Cute, Lovable Rogue who will always, incidentally, be ranked lower than she that she first met. He outright uses this to manipulate her into helping him to rise both politically and financially within the realm over almost two decades. Until he reaches a position where he can start a massive civil-war... just because he couldn't have the actual woman he loved (aka — her sister, Catelyn), after which he eventually murders the "poor", deluded Lysa. This was partly because she was becoming increasingly and more dangerously Yandere on him, but also because she was no longer of any further use to him. Additionally, he had found a much younger Replacement Goldfish (who happens to be her 13-year-old niece, Sansa, who closely resembles Catelyn... at about the age Petyr first fell for Cat, squickily enough). It's Mad Love: the deadly quadrilateral headache — featuring some extra, hot mess Squick on quite a few sides.
  • Wuthering Heights: Edgar for Cathy Earnshaw. She walks all over him, ignores his wishes, throws temper tantrums, and obviously prefers the company of Heathcliff, and yet he refuses to give her up.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Flash (1990) TV series, Mark Hamill's Trickster character was the reason he was considered for his later Joker role; it was very similar to the point of having his own Harley Quinn, an unstable thrill-addicted toy designer who called herself Prank:
    Trickster: For me? Gee... after I treated you like dirt... hung you out to dry...
    Prank: I love you... madly.
    Trickster: Oh, darling, it won't work. I'm no good for you. Besides, how can I miss you... when you won't go away? [pushes Prank out of a moving vehicle]
  • Game of Thrones: Lysa's Yandere love for Littlefinger makes her easy to manipulate.
  • The I-Land: Donovan is revealed to have a severe obsessive disorder (possibly erotomania), making him fixate on a nearby woman as the "love of his life", even when he's only just met them, up to his proposing marriage. Naturally, he soon picks Blair. In the past, it's shown he killed a married co-worker who rejected his advances. For trying to stop him with Blair, he kills Mason as well.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide:
  • Christian Troy and Kimber Henry on Nip/Tuck: in the very first episode, shortly after they've slept together, he strips her naked and covers her in red lipstick to mark the places where he thinks she could use a little surgical tweaking. She comes back. Enough said.
  • Oz: Chris Keller is all too willing to do anything to keep Beecher for himself, even though this is what drives Beecher away and eventually kills Keller. Their relationship is quite tragic and fucked up, to say the least.
  • True Blood: In "It Hurts Me Too" after Bill pins Lorena against a wall and tells her that he'll never love her, she kisses him. He does not react well to this, first going for her throat with his fangs, then responding to her urging him to make love to her by doing so extremely violently to the point that he leaves several cuts on her chest and twists her head around 180 degrees. Lorena loves every second of it, and dreamily says "Oh William, I so love you." Also, even after Bill tells Lorena multiple times that he hates her guts and can't stand the sight of her, she still has the nerve to ask him "When will we see each other again?"
  • In Two and a Half Men Rose just won't take a hint from Charlie.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): Lanfear is absolutely obsessed with getting back the Dragon (now reborn as Rand), who had been her lover millennia ago before he left her for the woman he married. She won't let anything stop her from pursuing him, even though he clearly isn't interested at all, only becoming her lover in the present day due to her having completely deceived him on her identity.

  • As mentioned in Comics, the song He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss) by The Crystals.
  • Potentially, "Just the Girl" by The Click Five is about this. The woman keeps on rejecting the singer and even pushed him in a pool, with no clear sign that she's actually being tsundere, but he's head over heels for her anyway.
  • "Is It Really So Strange?" by The Smiths.
    Oh yes, you can kick me
    And you can punch me
    And you can break my face
    But you won't change the way I feel
    'Cause I love you."
  • Muse's "Space Dementia" ("You make me sick/Because I adore you so"; "You make us wanna die/I cut your name in my heart/We'll destroy this world for you/I know you want me to/Feel your pain"). Pretty creepy.
  • Eminem and Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie". Bonus points when you consider both were on different sides (giver and receiver respectfully), in different Mad Love relationships themselves.
    • See also "Love the Way You Lie Part 2," which is largely the same song, but told more from the opposing point of view.
  • Will Smith's "Loretta" is about a real-life stalker of his (supposedly).
  • Lady Gaga: This is (supposedly) the theme of the song "Bad Romance".
  • "The Red Means I Love You" by Madds Buckley is from the point of view of someone declaring their love for another and wanting to taste their blood, while the subject of their affections is indicated to be trying to get away from them and pleading for them to stop.
    Run as you might, my love will never, ever

    Professional Wrestling 


  • Assassins: John Hinckley Jr. and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme (see Real Life below) sing a duet Obsession Song, "Unworthy of Your Love", detailing their devotion to Jodie Foster and Charles Manson, respectively.
  • In As You Like It, this is the way that ALL the pairs of lovers behave, except for Touchstone & Audrey. It's the more innocent incarnation of the trope, where the issues arise because of Rosalind's gender-bending disguise. She gives herself the name "Ganymede" while disguised. Rosalind likes Orlando, Phoebe falls in love with Ganymede, Silvius likes Phoebe: Hilarity Ensues. Although the word "abuse" gets used in the dialog, nothing the characters do would actually qualify under a modern-day definition of that word: apparently in William Shakespeare's day, the meaning was considerably weaker. There is a very clear distinction made between the actually abusive behavior of Orlando's brother Oliver and the way that Ganymede mocks his lovesick behavior. In her disguise, Rosalind (as Ganymede) pretends to do a kind of conversion therapy on Orlando: but it's really an elaborate pretext to flirt with him. There is also a scene where Rosalind (as Ganymede) has to fend off an overly affectionate Phoebe: but again, nobody is actually getting hurt here. All that ends up happening is a LOT of Les Yay.
  • In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Helena is this way about Demetrius, despite the fact that he repeatedly threatens her. Pretty soon, application of Love Potion makes both Demetrius and Lysander fall in love with Helena, which leads to her angrily fending off two guys, convinced that she's being made fun of. In the end, the spell on Lysander is reversed, and Demetrius and Helena get married.
  • Adaptations of the Public Domain character Sweeney Todd often portray Ms. Lovett in this manner. Musical adaptations almost always do so. Sweeney is rarely shown returning her affections. How crazy are they? One is a mass-murdering butcher who is still The Woobie of the plot in musicals, and the other packs the bodies into meat pies and sells them to unwitting customers.
  • In a version not at all played for laughs, Fosca in Passion certainly starts out this way as she relentlessly attempts to pursue a relationship Giorgio to the point of emotionally blackmailing him into writing her a love letter, starving herself when he attempts to let her down gently, and planting several Forceful Kisses on him, one of which is enough to get him so angry with her that he calls her out on not caring about what he wants and deems her idea of love to be "a need for possession" of him...though she maintains that she wishes him no harm and would be content to merely be near him and receive scraps of his affection. The situation between the two of them gets increasingly murky but for the first two thirds of the show, it's very clear that Giorgio is not interested in Fosca and tells her so several times but absolutely nothing he says or does is enough to deter her.

    Video Games 
  • There are hints that Carmilla from the Castlevania series feels this way towards her master Dracula. Dracula seems to be indifferent, but Carmilla worships him and does everything in her power to aid him in leading humanity into darkness despite showing no true hatred towards humans.
  • A Running Gag in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is the character Aimee's absolute infatuation with Ike; she makes it so blatant that even he can tell that she loves him, sending him, a hardened mercenary with Nerves of Steel, actually running and seeking cover from her in one convo, and tries to blackmail him in another. Naturally, he isn't amused at all by this at all; she actually manages to scare him so that he takes every chance to avoid her, and causes him to override his normal lack of filter, waiting until she's out of earshot to call her delusional. Though unfortunately for him almost everything between him and her is Played for Laughs to the point even Soren starts teasing him in one of the aforementioned convos.
  • In Luigi's Mansion 3, Hellen Gravely is deeply infatuated with King Boo. So much so that she broke him out of his containment and lured Luigi and friends to the Last Resort to trap them into paintings, all to impress King Boo. King Boo doesn’t seem to notice or care about her affections and is only interested in her effectiveness in helping him catch Luigi.
  • In Episode 3 of Phantasy Star Universe it is greatly implied that the reason Helga is so intent on serving Howzer, even after he deemed her as "expendable," is because she is in love with him.
  • It's hinted in Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum that Mars (and possibly Jupiter too) of Team Galactic are on the team due to an infatuation with Cyrus. Since Cyrus considers all emotion burdensome, you can guess how much he returns these feelings.
  • In the Puyo Puyo series, Rulue has an intense crush on the Dark Prince, genuinely believes he returns her affections, and can't even dream of being with anyone besides him. The Dark Prince himself has no interest in Rulue and would rather make Arle his wife.
  • Tira from the Soul Series is absolutely devoted to Nightmare. The scary thing is that this might be her least disturbing trait.
  • The less-common male version occurs in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World with Alice and Decus, with the former utilizing the latter's feelings for all they're worth. Of course, that all changes when Decus sacrifices himself to save Alice...
  • Shrowdy von Keifer, villain of A Vampyre Story, makes a habit of kidnapping young women and then "disposing" of them when he gets bored. By the time the storyline proper rolls around, Mona is but the latest in an ever-growing line of women who have disappeared that way, and on top of that, she's either the woman Shrowdy's been looking for, or due to be axed at any minute, because she's lasted longer than any of her predecessors. Just for added creepy fun, it's very strongly implied that Shrowdy's victims are all chosen because they resemble his missing mother.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
    • Touko Fukawa has this kind of relationship with Byakuya Togami. Togami makes it clear several times that he doesn't think much of her (then again, he doesn't think much of anyone), but Fukawa just interpret his insults to mean that he's secretly concerned about her. Still, Togami isn't above taking advantage of Fukawa's almost slavish devotion towards him when he sees fit.
    • It's at least strongly hinted that Genocider Syo's murders were all motivated by her becoming infatuated with the victims, all 37 of them. (Which can be figured out by counting the tally marks on her thigh.)
  • In Dra+Koi the dragon falls for the protagonist, enrolls in his school, chases him around and rapes him on the roof and then moves in, after which he reluctantly enters a relationship with her. What else can he do?
  • Moran for M in Shikkoku no Sharnoth. Interestingly enough, they're both portrayed sympathetically.
  • Backstory of Umineko: When They Cry in a nutshell, at least as Beatrice tells itman summons witch, man falls in love with witch, witch doesn't love him, man traps witch on island, witch dies-ish, man can no longer see witch, man decides to kill entire family in order to revive witch (though that last part isn't true since he's been dead for over a year before the story begins) and spends most of his time screaming at the sky. Love? Depends on your definition, but definitely mad.
    • Later in the series, we discover that the truth behind this is far worse: Man meets woman, they fall in love, man keeps woman as his mistress in a hidden mansion, they have a daughter but the woman dies, daughter grows up to look so much like her mother that her father forces himself on her, daughter becomes pregnant and has a child but dies not long after, man still spends most of his time screaming at the sky until he finally meets that lost child. And dies. And then that lost child becomes the secret master of the island and also becomes crazy because of love.

    Web Animation 
  • The Pucca/Garu romance in the webcartoon and television cartoon Pucca has many elements of this, although in this case, it's not necessarily the love that's unrequited, just the interest in displays of affection. Garu does care for Pucca, but he's still not past the "Girls Have Cooties" stage and his girlfriend is a huge Clingy Jealous Girl.

  • In Girl Genius, Gil has an unfortunate tendency to attract this kind of attention, with both Xerxsephnia von Blitzengaard and Zola displaying this attitude toward him.
  • I Don't Want This Kind of Hero: This hit Morae Baek hard. Raptor saved him from committing suicide, and so he fell in love. It'd be a sweet story if he didn't then proceed to secretly murder all of her friends, cripple her, and pretend to be a supportive friend in order to monopolize all of her attention. Oh, and essentially violently stalk her for a decade. As he tells her, he'll never be content until he's the only one in her heart.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Tsukiko is in love with Xykon, but he obviously doesn't return her feelings.
  • Suicide for Hire has had a few of these, first with a crazed stalker who, upon realising she had over 9000 competitors for her target's love, decided to drag his reputation through the mud to ensure she was his only choice; then, later on, there was a woman, who even after having her scalp ripped off and her baby forcibly aborted, a la Jigsaw's wife, still goes back to her husband. Justified in that the second woman was suffering from Domestic Abuse-induced Stockholm Syndrome — she knew she shouldn't go back to him, but he'd cut off every other contact in her life so that she couldn't see any means of successfully escaping him.

    Web Videos 
  • Shannon from Echo Chamber in regards to Tom.
  • If it was set in the real world, The Nostalgia Chick's obsession with Todd in the Shadows would have either landed her in jail or a mental asylum. Not that Todd in the Shadows has the moral high ground, as Allison Pregler can tell you...
  • Noob seems to have a downplayed version of this between Nazetrîme and Master Zen. The target's feeling towards the situation differs between the two media in which the crush in mentioned. The webseries has his reaction to it shown while he's giving an "I'm superior to you guys" speech to the protagonists, so he shows a "nice, uh?" reaction to the woman mentioning her crush on him during her own introduction. However, the comic version has the crush mentioned when the two are alone with their own guildmates, and his reaction is closer to "Got it, you like me, now stop walking so close to me."

    Real Life 
  • Nathan Leopold, who was willing to engage in criminal acts of an escalating nature as long as Richard Loeb (who was more successful socially, better liked and better looking- as well as sociopathic) had sex with him.
  • Lynette Fromme served 34 years in prison (released August 2009) for trying to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford because she thought it would make Charles Manson happy.
    • In the Stephen Sondheim musical Assassins, during her part of a duet she croons "You are wind and devil and God/Charlie/take my blood and my body for your love/let me feel fire, let me drink poison/tell me to tear my heart in two/if that's what you want me to do..."
  • Similarly, John Hinckley Jr. spent 35 years (released in Auguest 2016) in a mental hospital for shooting U.S. President Ronald Reagan in an attempt to impress Jodie Foster (taking the idea from Taxi Driver, which she co-starred in).
    • He also sings the duet in Assassins, with his part starting with "I am nothing/you are wind and water and sky/Jodie/tell me Jodie how I can earn your love/I would swim oceans I would move mountains/I would do anything for you/what do you want me to do?"
  • Victor Neuburg. He and Aleister Crowley engaged in a "sadomasochistic magical working" (with Crowley being very much the sadistic half), during which time Crowley was a horrible racist to Neuburg and "leveled numerous brutal verbal attacks on Neuburg's family and Jewish ancestry". They were lovers by the end of the year, if not sooner. Then Neuburg had a nervous breakdown.
  • The documentary Crazy Love documents the real-life (and pathetic) Mad Love between Linda Riss and Burt Pugach. After Riss ended her affair with him, Paguch hired men to throw lye in her face — blinding her permanently. He went to jail, but Riss dumped her fiance (who still wanted to be with her after the attack) and married Paguch after he got out. Certainly brings new meaning to the phrase "severe co-dependence".