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No Accounting for Taste

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"I'm sure you're familiar with love songs on the order of 'He's just my Bill', ' man', ' Joe', ' Max', and so on, where the girl who sings them tells you that, although the man she loves is antisocial, alcoholic, physically repulsive, or just plain unsanitary, that, nevertheless, she is his because he is hers, or something like that."
Tom Lehrer, introducing the song "She's My Girl", An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer

It takes more than the good intentions of the Love Martyr or the delusions of Mad Love to make a relationship work. When a relationship gets rocky or outright implodes, the resulting mess just goes to prove Love Hurts, and that's when everyone involved was trying their best to make it work. Then, of course, there's No Accounting for Taste. This happens when two insufferable people choose to suffer each other and stay married, or when one ostensibly nice person marries an unrepentant Jerkass.

The former has both parties held together by force of habit, and basically tolerant of each other although there's very little romance or chemistry (though plenty of sass and backtalk). The latter has the whole relationship held together by one person. The second type appears to be what happens when the Love Martyr actually gets some sort of relationship with their target. Both halves of the couple acknowledge that they're part of a pair, but otherwise, the whole affair's so inexplicable/unequal that it's a marriage/love affair in name only.

This is similar to The Masochism Tango but milder. It's a subset of how so many Sitcom characters are so dementedly quirky that they'd wind up on Jerry Springer in real life. Handwaving this often uses Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other. Comedic Sociopathy ultimately makes you wonder why anyone would put up with that guy.

Often overlaps with Ugly Guy, Hot Wife, which - depending on your point of view - either further makes a couple with this look ill-matched, or makes an Ugly Guy, Hot Wife pairing all the more inexplicable with this trope.

Third-parties may wonder What Does She See in Him?.

See also Awful Wedded Life, Dead Sparks, Happy Marriage Charade, and Why Would Anyone Take Him Back? When this occurs with non-romantic friends, one of them may be The Friend Nobody Likes.

Truth in Television: Lots and lots of people are in marriages that are rather less than ideal. Hell, your parents probably were at one time or another. And please note that sometimes divorce is not really an option.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Gravitation's Official Couple could fit the bill as well, despite being much younger (and more sexual) than most other couples like this. Seeing how coldly Yuki treats Shuichi and all the troubles Shuichi goes for him...
  • Mr. and Mrs. Kimura in Azumanga Daioh... does the wife even know her hubby has a thing for teenage girls? Though it's worth noting here that Kimura in all other ways is an extremely nice guy himself. He picks up litter to recycle, he gives donations generously both religiously and to charity, and actually does seem to be a competent teacher and a good father to their little girl. It's just... the whole high school girl thing...
    • Tomo once asked Mrs. Kimura, point-blank, what attracted her to her husband. The woman did not have an answer outside of "Isn't he handsome?", which Tomo pegged as a desperation measure. He actually is rather good-looking as most of the time he's not locked into that creepy/shocked expression of his.
  • Most couples in Dragon Ball Z are this, and yet are still Happily Married. A major factor in this is that the series never shows any actual dating or courtship, only their lives after they get married (Toriyama was actually convinced he couldn't write a good romance so he skipped over it). Here's a list:
    • Goku and Chi-Chi: A superpowered alien half-monkey Manchild who loves to fight and a bossy and overbearing, overprotective Education Mama who openly discourages fighting. They had two sons and are still Happily Married to date. Both are nice people, but Goku being from a warrior race and his mental trauma from an infant makes things difficult for Chi-Chi (though she does accept he needs to be a hero).
    • Vegeta and Bulma: An arrogant, superpowered, jerkass half-monkey prince with homicidal tendencies and a supremely intelligent yet vain and equally arrogant woman. Had a fling, a son (later a daughter), eventually married, and are still together. (Bulma once said that even she doesn't know why she's attracted to him, although it's probably because of his featuresnote  and the fact that he's a bad boy.)
    • One episode of Dragon Ball Super has Vegeta remarking that he doesn't exactly dislike Bulma's pushy side. He even notes he likes the feistiness and Goku responds with a smile that Chi-Chi can be the same way. Vegeta then explains that as Saiyans, they're naturally attracted to strong-willed women. Piccolo's reaction of "That. Explains. Everything" crows the humor of it all.
    • Krillin and Android 18: A short, noseless Dogged Nice Guy with a bad tendency to get horribly killed and a sarcastic, cold woman who was initially an evil Cyborg. (In fact, most would say that 18 never really stopped being evil, but is just a lot less so now than she used to be.) They got married, had a daughter, and are still together. In fact, she went on a rather violent - and emotional - Roaring Rampage of Revenge in one arc in Dragon Ball GT where he was killed. (He got better, as is often the case in this franchise.)
  • Ataru's parents on Urusei Yatsura, although it's implied that their relationship is a bit on the rocks (to the point where we see Ataru's mother threatening to leave a few times...not to mention the time she openly tried to seduce Rei)
    • No one can figure out why Lum is so determined to keep her 'husband' Ataru when she's the only girl he doesn't chase.
  • Mink's parents on Dragon Half. Rouce used to be a famous knight, but with age has become a coward and a skirt-chaser. He is repeatedly caught in his infidelity by his wife Mana, which frequently gets him hurt. Considering that she's a red dragon, one would think he'd know better...
  • Konata Izumi from Lucky Star had a problem understanding why her late mom Kanata married her Dirty Old Otaku with a Lolita Complexnote  dad Soujirou. It turned out to be a subversion of this trope, though, as Kanata genuinely felt Soujirou's love to her.
    Konata: Why do you think Mom chose to marry you, anyway? I mean, you're a pervy old geek with a lolita complex. Why would anyone pick you?
    Kanata's ghost & Soujirou: I can't believe you said that.
    Soujirou: I think "pervy old geek" is pretty harsh.
    Kanata: Super harsh. She's right, though. You were always like this. And sometimes, I almost forget why you were the one I wanted to be with.
    Soujirou: ... But there was one thing I was absolutely sure of.
    Kanata: Eh?
    Konata: Why'd you stop? What was it? What were you so sure of?
    Soujirou: (embarrassed) I was sure that no one else could ever love Kanata as much as I did.
    Kanata: !!!.... Ohh, there it is. Yeah, that's it. You can't beat that.
    (beautiful music swells as the audience cries)
  • In Death Note, L is visibly surprised when Light Yagami announces that he'll keep seeing Misa Amane; throughout the series, the Taskforce and Light's family witness their relationship with a shrug. The audience, of course, knows the true nature of Light's and Misa's feelings for each other.
  • In Ranma ˝, Konatsu's father and stepmother are this: Not only were they Hot Guy, Ugly Wife, his father was also a loving parent when he was alive while his stepmother has treated him more like a slave than a family member. While describing his familial backstory to Ranma, Akane, and Ukyo, Konatsu surmises that his father got married to his stepmother soon after his biological mother's passing in a desperate haste for companionship.

    Comic Books 
  • Stephen Stills and his on-again, off-again girlfriend Julie in Scott Pilgrim. She spends nearly the entire fourth book complaining about him, his band and generally being crabby, and by the fifth book, they've broken up. Again. They've been dating since college and Julie was the one who introduced Scott to Natalie.
    • For good this time. He ends up coming out of the closet. Unfortunately, the guy he ends up with is bitchier than Julie. Word of God points out it is no coincidence that they both happen to be misanthropic jerks.
  • While they do actually love each other, this is about where the Morrigan and Baphomet's relationship starts in The Wicked + The Divine. Between his cheating and her constant violent rages, it... deteriorates quite a bit from there over the course of the series.

    Fan Works 
  • Doing It Right This Time: In the previous timeline Shinji had wondered why his nice, loving mother would fall for his Jerkass father. But after considering his mother got absorbed into Unit 01 on purpose to become an eternal reminder of humankind’s existence and she actually wanted him to watch how she seemingly died, Shinji wonders why his father would marry her and decides there is no accounting for taste.
    Shinji: It's just that I'd repressed the memory as thoroughly as possible because I saw my mother die horribly when she tried to synch with it and succeeded a bit too well. Or so everyone thought; if I didn't hallucinate everything between seeing you go down to the Mass-Production Evas and waking up on the beach, she actually did it on purpose so that Unit-01 could become an eternal monument to mankind's existence... or something. I don't know all the details and I'm not sure I want to, especially why she found it necessary to make me watch.
    Asuka: Oh.
    Shinji: So, yeah, [...] That's the woman my father is planning to cause total human extinction to reunite with. No accounting for taste, I suppose.
    Asuka: Guess not.
  • Danny Phantom: Stranded
    • Star questions how her parents — a workaholic lawyer and a snobby socialite — ever fell in love with each other in the first place.
      • However, flashbacks in Lost show Johnathan and Stella's past relationship and reveal that they both genuinely loved each other when they were first married and were happy together. Unfortunately, their different values and upbringings eventually caused them to drift apart. Johnathan acknowledges that he was so in love with Stella that he was blinded to her flaws, like her snobbery. On the other hand, Stella was in love with Johnathan when he was a young man just starting his career, and she did love the family they made together, but over the years, they lost their spark. Stella admits to herself that she is still unsure if she grew bored with him or felt neglected because of his work schedule, but she eventually felt that their relationship couldn't be saved.
    • There is also Stella's marriage to Jean-Luc, a snobbish man who has no problem hitting on other women. Stella does explain that she fell for Jean-Luc based on his good looks, sophistication, and the fact that he came from Old Money like her, while her relationship with Johnathan was dead by the time she met him. It seems that Stella is/was attracted to Jean-Luc because they had more things in common, and she seems content with their marriage, though she is either unaware or in denial of his womanizing ways.

    Films — Animated 
  • Lord and Lady Everglot from Corpse Bride get along quite well, but it's painfully obvious they do not love each other. They don't even like each other and are quite open about it. They both insist that liking one's spouse has nothing whatsoever to do with marriage.
    Lady Everglot: Hah! As if that has anything to do with marriage. Do you suppose your father and I "like" each other?
    Victoria: Surely you must... a little?
    Lord and Lady Everglot: Of course not!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Padme and Anakin Skywalker in the prequel Star Wars films. Why do these two supposedly love each other again? Because it says so in the script of course.
    • Their entire courtship gets dissected point-by-point here by Mr. Plinkett, with loads of cheerful sarcasm and buzzers for each time Anakin screws up.
      "Interrupting! (buzz) Losing temper! (buzz) Forced apology! (buzz) Supports fascism! (buzz)"
  • In Constantine (2005), Lu(cifer) says the trope name about Gabriel before he gets the whole story.
  • Lifetime makes it its personal mission to portray any marriage this way in their movies.
  • George and Loraine McFly in Back to the Future, a geeky doormat and a frumpy, closed-minded housewife who only met because her father accidentally ran him over with his car. Their son Marty accidentally disrupts the meeting via time travel and has to fix it, his actions giving George a backbone and encouraging Loraine's passionate side, as well as making it so they fall for each other for real and not just through the Florence Nightingale Effect. When Marty returns to 1985, both parents are better people personality-wise and are very obviously Happily Married.
  • Problem Child has Ben Healy Jr. and Flo. The former is a Nice Guy who honestly wants a son while the other is a bitchy shrew who only wants a kid so that she can socialize with other mothers. There's no reason why they got married in the first place considering that she immediately leaps onto a murderous criminal and he's completely indifferent to the fact that she's not coming back. Oddly enough, his love interest in the second film is played by the same woman, who later became Ritter's real-life wife.
  • Janie and her husband Dougal in Another Time, Another Place, who apparently married her so he could have an extra pair of hands for the farm and another income stream. Then again, there's not much to recommend Luigi either other than being different and exciting compared to Dougal and better in the sack as well (although neither of these things really represent much of a challenge).

  • A Brother's Price has Keifer Porter, the deceased husband of the princesses.
    Trini: "I know we don't marry men for their brains, but there is a limit."
  • Such ill-suited couples are to be found in most, if not all, Jane Austen's novels. Their being still together is justified, because in those times, once you were married, there was no turning back.
    • Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. The author and the characters acknowledge how unfitted these two are, so they serve as a warning to the reader to marry wisely. Miss Austen noted that a young Mr. Bennet mistook youth and beauty for a winning personality. Meanwhile, Mrs. Bennet married for security and Mr. Bennet not only can't provide it, but he actively sabotages her attempts to warn her daughters that they face a choice between financial security and marriage or being poor but independent.
    • A younger couple from Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth is horrified when her best friend Charlotte Lucas decides to marry the insufferable Mr. Collins in cold blood for the sake of a home and a secure future. When we see her again after her marriage, however, she is coping very nicely with her spouse, having carefully arranged their lives so they spend as little time together as possible. Unlike the Bennets, the Collinses are quite happily content in their loveless marriage, mostly thanks to the fact that Charlotte knew exactly what she was getting into and Collins is too much of an idiot to know better.
    • Mr. and Mrs. Allen of Northanger Abbey. Here is the narrator's smirking commentary:
      Narrator: Mrs. Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion than surprise at there being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them. She had neither beauty, genius, accomplishment, nor manner. The air of a gentlewoman, a great deal of quiet, inactive good temper, and a trifling turn of mind were all that could account for her being the choice of a sensible, intelligent man like Mr. Allen.
    • Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram from Mansfield Park. He's a very intelligent and capable man, but he married an insipid, lazy, and fairly stupid woman. At least she's affectionate and kind, and lets herself be guided by Sir Thomas on important issues; they do seem to be rather fond of each other sometimes.
    • It was the case of Anne's parents Sir Walter and Lady Elliot of Persuasion. Lady Elliot was the sensible and amiable spouse who married an empty-headed snob who only thinks about his own baronetcy and extremely good looks. The narrator says she was not the happiest of women, but she still managed to cope and found enough pleasure in her duties and she loved her daughters.
      Narrator: Lady Elliot had been an excellent woman, sensible and amiable; whose judgment and conduct, if they might be pardoned the youthful infatuation which made her Lady Elliot, had never required indulgence afterwards.
  • In the opening of Clive Barker's Abarat, Candy Quackenbush's parents are a long-suffering, jaded housewife and an abusive slob of a father. When Candy is shown the day of her birth, she is astounded to find them being sweet to each other and calling each other "Lambkin" and "Nachos."
  • While All for the Game's Neil Josten isn't the sweetest person in the world and isn't known for having the best judgment, everyone seriously questions his attraction to Andrew Minyard. Even Andrew thinks there's something wrong with him. There's even an ongoing bet among their teammates that the relationship is based on mutual hatred.
  • Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen has Iskaral Pust and his wife Mogora, who seem to hate each other with great passion. They bicker back and forth constantly. Mogora thinks Iskaral is a mad leach, while Iskaral calls her a "month-old cream puff". He also madly hates spiders and Mogora is a D'ivers who can turn into hundreds of spiders at once. Neither can fathom how anyone would willingly stay with the other but keep coming back to each other. Eventually, Mogora asserts that the two of them are the reason that ugly people don't just die out.
  • In the Kushiel's Legacy series, the entire nation thinks this about Phedre and Joscelin's relationship. It doesn't help that one's a celibate warrior-priest and the other's a kinky courtesan who enjoys her job. Immensely.
  • In David Edding's The Belgariad series, Garion and Ce'Nedra. They reeaaally aren't suited for each other, but they stay together Because Destiny Says So.
    • Also because it's an Arranged Marriage between royal families. And they do grow out of it and fall in love later on.
  • Vikus and Solovet in The Underland Chronicles: she's a ruthless general willing to resort to almost any tactic to win, he's a pacifist at heart who always tries the diplomatic option first. When Gregor comments on how odd it is that they are married, Vikus admits it has always been somewhat of a puzzle to them as well.
  • In-universe, people think Howl and Sophie are this. But really, they enjoy bickering with each other and are actually Happily Married.
  • Maniac's aunt and uncle are this in Maniac Magee. They despise each other, but as "good Christians" they refuse to get a divorce. Maniac lives with them after his parents die, and he finally runs away because of their mutual hatred.
  • In Terra by Mitch Benn, the Bradburys are a couple who are always arguing. Their friends can't understand why they're still married.
    "Some of them came to the conclusion that the Bradburys must like it that way. Arguing all the time was the thing that made them happy. But it didn't seem to make them happy at all."
  • People think this is how Christian and Isabel's marriage works in The Kingdom of Little Wounds, given Isabel lost her looks years ago and is widely known to be not right in the head. Subverted when Christian is only bedding his wife to try to hide the fact that he's interested in men.
  • Buttercup's parents (who are not in the movie) fall into this in the first few chapters of The Princess Bride. They snipe continuously, keeping score as they do. Oddly, however, they really do love each other underneath it all; when he dies, she doesn't outlive him by very long, and the narrative notes that everyone who knew them decided that it must have been "the sudden lack of opposition" which caused her death.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Stanley and Helen Roper from Three's Company. They only show they love each other once every blue moon, with most of the gags between them involving Stanley's unwillingness to touch Helen and Helen feeling that she's taken for granted. This is directly taken from the original Brit Com series where the Ropers consist of an ineffectual weakling married to a chain-smoking frustrated shrew.
    • The Ropers were so popular on British TV in the original Man About the House that ITV gave them a sitcom spinoff of their own: George & Mildred. US TV followed suit for its take on The Ropers, again adapting the British scripts to American tastes.
  • Frank and Marie Barone stay together in Everybody Loves Raymond. He's an old curmudgeon and she's an annoying busybody. Plus, they first got married because she got pregnant. Maybe they stick together because they're Catholic. It may be because of dependency. They can't really start over and are too old to live in another way. Ironically, they (quite arguably) have the healthiest relationship on the entire show thanks to their blunt openness when dealing with each other.
    • It's shown several times that they actually love each other very much (such as when Marie suggested they had a loveless marriage Frank was so shocked and offended he simply walked away); they just really annoy each other.
    • The more obvious example would be Ray and Debra. Debra routinely physically and verbally attacks Ray, Ray makes light of Debra's worthiness and hobbies, and they both condescend to one another regularly.
  • Basil and Sybil in Fawlty Towers. They actively hate each other, but stay married and even share a bedroom, if not a bed. According to Basil in one episode, they even "go for a walk" together two or three times per week; however, he was very possibly making this up just to appear "normal" to the psychiatrist he was talking to, and it emphasises that he cares more about the status of being married than who he is married to.
  • John and Mary in Father Ted are an Irish take on this trope - a married couple who utterly loathe each other but who live in a Catholic nation where divorce was illegal up until the 1990s and which even today is loaded with social stigma and religious sanction. They have no choice but to pretend to be happily married in public - especially in front of the local priests.
  • Richard and Hyacinth in Keeping Up Appearances. Hyacinth's actress once defended her character against the question "why does Richard put up with Hyacinth" with the answer that she kept a good house, and dinner was always on time. Also partly explained in one episode where Elizabeth and Emmett conclude that Richard's living in his own little world most of the time has gone a long way toward keeping his marriage together.
  • Oscar and Emma from Corner Gas normally tend to fall in this trope, though some episodes show that they do really seem to love each other.
  • Married... with Children: Al and Peg are a textbook example of this trope. They verbally stated that they couldn't stand each other, and it's a wonder they didn't kill each other by the end of the show's run. (Despite this, Al never actually cheated on Peg and was known to react violently towards anyone who made a pass at her. Peg acted the same way towards almost anyone who had feelings for Al.)
  • In early seasons of The Dukes of Hazzard, Boss Hogg's wife Lulu is little better than her husband. In later seasons, however, she softens and becomes much nicer than he is, starts to lose patience with his shady antics, and starts to become the dominant side of the relationship. She even threatens to divorce him in one episode. To make things worse - for her husband - she tended to be on friendly terms with the Dukes, much to his dismay.
  • Olive and Arthur in On the Buses. She's plain and dull, he's pompous and rude. It's also hinted their love life isn't up to much. Luckily for the viewer, their discontent is good comedy fodder.
  • That 70s Show:
    • Red and Kitty Forman. Red's snarkiness and lack of tact frustrate Kitty on a regular basis. Kitty's drinking and apparent naivete do the same for him. He's a good provider, she's a good housewife and mother. It's also implied several times on the show that the sex is fantastic.
    • Jackie and Hyde. She's rich, spoiled, selfish Alpha Bitch-type, he's a Brilliant, but Lazy Conspiracy Theorist slacker. They both can see the improbability of their relationship.
    • Bob and Midge could be seen as a Deconstruction of this trope as far as sitcoms go; the pair usually keep a friendly, cheery outlook on things in spite of it being clear to everyone their marriage is not a healthy one. Bob is self-centered and superficial, Midge is a Brainless Beauty. They stay together in spite of everyone seeing the marriage is doomed, all their attempts to fix it are openly viewed as idiotic and futile, and their sham of a romance is having some very negative effects on their daughter. They eventually divorce, and it's ultimately seen by everyone as for the best.
  • What 99 saw in Max is beyond a lot of Get Smart fans. She's an incredibly intelligent, capable, competent agent. He's a bungling, constantly misinformed, delusional twit who manages to succeed through pure luck, or at least so it seems.
  • Fred and Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy. Funny thing is, their actors hated each other and refused a spinoff.
  • Abner and Gladys Kravitz on Bewitched.
  • Will and Terri Schuester on Glee. They are former High-School Sweethearts and are completely incompatible. Terri is an insufferable Jerkass, but Will's such a Nice Guy he puts up with her garbage... despite the fact that he's in love with his co-worker Emma, who also almost gets into a No Accounting for Taste marriage with Ken before he comes to his senses and dumps her. It's little wonder the marriage fell apart about halfway through season one
  • Frank and Estelle Costanza from Seinfeld couldn't speak to one another without shouting and seemed to genuinely hate each other. It's not really explained why they stay together at all, and when they separate, nobody is the least bit surprised. Like Bob and Midge above, they could also be seen as a Deconstruction of this trope as Jerry theorized that if they had divorced when George was a kid, he "could have been normal" instead of the neurotic, self-loathing, slow-witted, brain-damaged, impulsive and insecure little man he is on the show. George himself seems to agree with Jerry's theory, saying that he's the product of his parents staying together.
  • Tanya in Grandma's House, who is marrying the deeply unsuitable Clive so she can share his big house and the proceeds from his boring job manufacturing boxes. Tanya plans to call the wedding off when Clive loses his job and she is forced to admit how boring he is when he's around her 24/7. She changes her mind when he gets a new job and she learns it will force them to be apart for four days of the week.
  • Frasier:
    • Niles and Maris. Admittedly, Maris was She Who Must Not Be Seen and so we never saw her interact with Niles, but she was by all accounts a horrible human being and a controlling, unlikeable, abusive wife who committed reprehensible acts many, many times, and it was established that Niles' attachment to her was mostly based on overdependency and lack of self-confidence.
    • Frasier himself has had a string of bad luck with women, most infamously, his ex-wife Lilith Sternin.
  • Both couples in Rab C. Nesbitt. Rab and Mary-Doll got their share of Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments. Ella Cotter, on the other hand, only seemed to stay with Jamesie because leaving would be letting him off easy (why he stayed wasn't at all clear).
  • Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in M*A*S*H is a textbook case. She's a disciplined, organized, tough-yet-vulnerable, loving, passionate, caring, strict, intelligent, sensual woman - a real spitfire, even though she tries to bury it under her need to be professional. And yet, her taste in men is repeatedly awful.
    • For most of the series, she is dating Major Frank Burns, a married man who also happens to be the biggest Dr. Jerk in the entire series. He's a petty, wheedling, small-minded, Gung Holier Than Thou Psychopathic Manchild Control Freak whom she knows, and he knows she knows, is just stringing her along until he goes home to his cold, frigid wife. Zigzagged in that she admits to herself that she knows he's a pretty awful catch, but she just can't seem to find anyone else who measures up to her standards of being high-ranking and military-admiring.
    • She then marries Lieutenant Colonel Donald Penobscott, a good-looking but manipulative adulterer. Zigzagged in that, once she realizes he's subjecting her to Financial Abuse and cheating on her behind her back, she ultimately divorces him.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy and Riley's relationship was this to an extent. The only reason Buffy wanted to date Riley was that he was normal and not a vampire. The only reason Riley wanted to date Buffy was that she was "a mystery", as he put it. They had nothing in common outside of demon-slaying, little chemistry, and Riley wanted to be the caretaker in the relationship—which clashed harshly with independent, self-contained Buffy. Unsurprisingly, they couldn't last and broke up a season later.
    • If you really want to push it, Buffy and Angel had shades of this. As this essay explains, they really didn't have that much in common and only loved each other based on ideals about what they wanted their relationship to be. They kept trying to make their relationship work even though they knew it was long over and caused nothing but pain to each other whenever they were together.
    • Willow and Kennedy run into this issue as well. They seem to get together simply because they're both single and into girls, but otherwise had nothing really in common, no real chemistry nor any complementary traits. Kennedy was outright uncomfortable with Willow's magic (which was, by that point, a huge part of her), and could only seem to cite Willow's looks as being the reason she's interested in her in the first place. They ended up breaking up in the comics, unsurprisingly.
  • In Monk, when Monk and Sharona pretended to be a couple to investigate a couples therapy retreat, the therapist clearly considered them to be this even in comparison with the other dysfunctional couples at the retreat — Sharona had to sleep on the floor in a pup tent in the room she and Monk shared, for one. When Monk and Sharona admitted to her at episode's end that they weren't actually together, she was extremely relieved and told them point-blank that they should never become an actual couple.
  • Deconstructed in Kevin Can F**k Himself where Allison is significantly out of her husband Kevin's league in the looks department and Kevin himself is an Insufferable Imbecile who is completely oblivious to the destructive consequences of his zany schemes. Despite this, most of the characters belittle Allison, wondering why Kevin would stick around with such a "nag" due to the misogynistic environment Kevin cultivated around them. By the start of the series, they have been married ten years and Allison is so emotionally drained from constantly catering to Kevin's irresponsible nature and impulsive whims (on top of feeling deeply lonely due to having no social life of her own) that she decides Murder Is the Best Solution.
  • The Brittas Empire: Brittas and Helen - Brittas is a pompous git who has a tendency to make people's lives hell and who has been shown to strain Helen's mental health severely, whilst Helen is a chronic adulterer (albeit not a flaw that is known to Brittas), has an addiction to pills, and only seems to express her love for Brittas when it's to her benefit. It may be justified by the fact that, from Brittas' side at least, he does genuinely love her and would never willingly cheat on her, whilst it's implied that Helen stays because there is some financial benefit to Brittas - after all, she has had poor luck in men and can be quite mad herself.
  • Cheers: Sam and Diane is an odd case of this. They do genuinely love each other, but from the start it's shown their relationship is unhealthy, and the two completely incompatible, with Diane often exploding at Sam for minor irritants. Sam even later admits when Diane leaves that if they had gotten married, he would've ended up killing her. The problem is Diane absolutely refuses to acknowledge this, and becomes insanely jealous if Sam looks at another woman (or even thinks of looking at another woman).

  • The Meat Loaf song "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" has a great example of this trope. The singers vow to stay together and love each other "until the end of time"—the girl because she wants to, the guy because she won't put out until he does; at the end of the song they're waiting for the end of time to hurry up and arrive...
    "'Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
    I don't think that I could really survive
    I'll never break my promise or forget my vow
    But God only knows what I could do right now!"
  • the Mountain Goats' song No Children is made of this.
    "I am drowning.
    There is no sign of land.
    You are coming down with me.
    Hand in unlovable hand.
    And I hope you die.
    I hope we both die."
  • The Joe Jackson song Is She Really Going Out With Him? is about this trope, though it's obvious that a good deal of the issue is actually the singer projecting his feelings of jealousy.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The Lockhorns. Every one-panel strip is Loretta complaining about Leroy's laziness, Leroy complaining about Loretta's cooking, Loretta complaining about Leroy flirting with another woman, or just one of them explaining how unattractive they find the other.
    • Parodied in the ''Lio'' comic strip as The Hateachothers.
    • Tom the Dancing Bug also parodies this with "Marital Mirth". Unlike other examples, the thin veneer of jocularity is removed, with every strip featuring the husband and wife talking amongst themselves or with their friends about how much they openly hate each other.
      Husband's Friend: My wife is such a bad cook, last night she burned the gazpacho.
      Husband: (deadly serious) My wife is a hell-spawned demon send to Earth to torture me until I die.
  • Andy Capp is a lazy unemployed drunk, whose relationship with his wife frequently escalates into violence on both sides.
  • Beetle Bailey:
    • Ms. Buxley has had every very male in Camp Swampy drooling over her for years; yet for some reason, she tends to date Beetle in modern strips, despite the fact he's the same lazy goof-off he's always been.
    • General Halftrack and his wife rarely seem to do anything but argue and fight with each other, and he has often stated that she doesn't respect him anymore.
  • In its early years, Baby Blues had Bunny and Butch, who had nothing in common and spent their entire time squabbling, their three kids being basically the only reason they were still married at all. They eventually moved out after a few years, much to the MacPhersons' relief. Then in 2020, Bunny moved into the neighborhood again.

    Puppet Shows 
  • People have been saying this about Kermit and Miss Piggy for decades. Their relationship was always portrayed as strained; she twice attempted to trick Kermit into marrying her, and once after she intentionally spread a number of false rumors about their relationship Kermit actually had her fired. (This is partly because subsequent media has attempted to tie together their The Muppet Show relationship [she's in love with him, he just wants her to stop being ridiculous and make the show] and their The Muppet Movie relationship [Love at First Sight].) This may be why they broke up in The Muppets (2015). However, Kermit is also seen dating a new pig named Denise on that show and admits he Has a Type for pigs, which might explain why it took so long for them to go through with it. And in the second half Denise breaks up with him because he's still in love with Piggy.

  • John and Mary in I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again:
    Mary: John, darling, why do you have to be so cruel?
    John: Oh, I don't have to be. I enjoy it. It's purely voluntary.

    Video Games 
  • Given the extremely vast cast of the Harvest Moon series, it's inevitable that some characters would fall into this. What makes it more peculiar is that some of these are rival couples—meaning they woo each other and get married over the course of the game. And then go right to never getting along.
    • Rock and Lumina, from the first two DS games. Lumina is a Lonely Rich Kid, but Rock is a loud, party-happy guy who's also a total womanizer, regardless of whether or not the woman in question is married. He has numerous events where Lumina gets on his case about hitting on some other woman! And yet, to get there, you have to see a scene wherein they profess their eternal love for one another. Huh.
      • Actually, all of the rival couples in Harvest Moon DS and Cute end up questioning the marriage and being unhappy in it, except for one: Nami and Gustafa, who seem perfectly happy in their marriage, finding someone who enjoys travel and their alone time, but both loving the valley enough to stay.
    • Chase and Maya in Animal Parade. Their relationship seems to be based mostly on the fact that Chase loves to cook and Maya loves to eat, and their "we're getting married now" cutscene even involves Chase making a vow that all Maya has to do now is taste-test. Once they actually get married, though, they argue incessantly. When they eventually have a daughter (Dakota), even she remarks she'll never get a little sister the way they carry on.
  • In WarioWare, for reasons unknown to all but the Star Spirits themselves, Mona thinks Wario is really cool and is hinted to be attracted to him. For reference, she's a cute, attractive, cheerful Fiery Redhead, and he's a greedy, ugly, overweight, amoral, Corrupt Corporate Executive whose breath always smells like garlic. For her part, Wario is a treasure hunter who's earned his wealth battling beasties and saving the world.
  • Astrid from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance does have enough taste not to marry her fifty-something Sinister Minister Disposable Fiancé, Lekain... but instead she chooses to marry Makalov, a self-centered, lazy gambling addict who nearly tricked her into selling her grandmother's heirloom. His sister, Marcia, even asks What Does She See in Him?. And this all happened after she rejected a mostly likable Chivalrous Pervert Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places because she was engaged.
  • Jun Kazama from Tekken is one of the nicest characters in the franchise, though keep in mind that Good is Not Nice or Soft. She has a fling with Kazuya Mishima, who is... not very nice. At all. As of the second Tag game, she still seems to have feelings for him despite everything. Feelings that he just blows off.
  • Guybrush and Elaine from the Monkey Island series. Guybrush is resourceful but otherwise a wimpy ditz. Elaine is smart, beautiful, and tough but fiercely independent and very bossy. In Tales of Monkey Island both of them are attracted to other people and in the finale, Elaine temporarily becomes a voodoo demon who tries to kill Guybrush and yet somehow they still stay together at the end.
  • One of the cases in Zootopia: Crime Files features a mouse named Donna who is head-over-heels for an ugly, sleazy gerbil named Dinks. Neither Nick nor Judy understands the appeal.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Lucrecia, despite having feelings for Vincent Valentine, choose to be with Professor Hojo. We are never shown a reason why she agreed to have a child with him. Her not being with Vincent has some degree of reason, she blames herself for his father's death. Hojo? He acts smug when she agrees to be his wife, he treats their child as an experiment while still in the womb, he never shows any actual sign he cares for her or is even attracted to her. Vincent even questions if she's okay with what Hojo does, but tries to avoid hurting her as long as he made her happy. Of course, if things went differently, the world would never have met her son, Sephiroth.
  • AI: The Somnium Files: It's eventually revealed that So Sejima at one time had a relationship with Manaka Iwai. Massive age gap aside (Iwai was 19 at the time while Sejima was in his 40s), it's never established just what she saw in Sejima. Renju and Hitomi repeatedly tried to talk her out of seeing him, to no avail.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Amnesia: Memories, Toma calls out the heroine on this when she easily forgives a Yandere who drugs her food, locks her up in a cage, and almost rapes her because she just loves him too much, saying that she has horrible taste in men. The kicker? Toma is that very same yandere.
  • Moe Mortelli from Daughter for Dessert has cheated on his wife (including at least once with a prostitute), he once had a burner phone just for this purpose, he talks inappropriately about just about any other (especially younger) attractive woman he sees, he keeps a stash of porn at his desk, and in addition, his job keeps him at work for long hours, sometimes during the night. He and his wife are still married.

    Web Animation 
  • Though they're not married, Homestar Runner's titular character and Marzipan. Marzipan considers their relationship to be entirely up to her, breaks up and makes up at the drop of a hat, and seems to genuinely prefer the company of several of the other male characters over Homestar's, and it seems like the only reason she enjoys having him around is to make herself feel smarter. Homestar, for his part, is air-headed enough to honestly think "Go away, stupid" means the same thing as "hello, Marzipan" and is either apathetic or happy when Marzipan announces they're breaking up. At the same time, he does seem to genuinely enjoy her company. The couple's dysfunction can be seen in how they consider each other via cardboard proxy.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • In a platonic example, Caboose believes himself to be Church's best friend. While Church has several Pet the Dog moments when it comes to Caboose (he lets out a Big "NO!" when he is supposedly killed, for example), his default position is complete and utter loathing for the Blue Team's rookie. Of course, given the nature of relationships on Red Vs Blue, Caboose probably is Church's best friend.
      Caboose: Hey, Church! Happy Valentine's —
    • Same thing with Grif and Simmons. They have absolutely nothing in common yet they remain best friends.
    • On the romance side of things, nobody really gets why Church and Tex like each other. She's mean, punches people in their sleep, and openly enjoys her job of killing people ("I think it's important to like what you do."), while he's an angry, narcissistic jerk. Even understanding where they came from doesn't really explain why they still care for each other. Church in Season 10 does admit he has a fetish for women with quick tempers, so that might be a factor. The Cerebus Retcon in the Recollection Saga reveals both of them are AI's, and the care they have for one another is literally rooted into their programming, regardless of whether they actually like each other or not. Church was created by copying the mind of the director of the Freelancer program. Somewhere along the line, his memories of "his" dead wife Allison split off to become a second AI - Tex. Tex found out about all of this prior to the start of the series, but Church had repressed and split off his memories because of the mental and emotional trauma he had been subjected to as part of the director's attempts to replicate the incident that produced Tex.


    Western Animation 
  • Mr. and Mrs. Robinson from The Amazing World of Gumball. In fact, what seems to make them stay together is arguing.
  • Francine and Stan from American Dad! are a weird case. Several episodes revolve around Stan putting Francine (sometimes his entire family) through some plan that involves putting her through horrible things (so far he's made the whole family go months without any food money to get a better deal on a car, made Francine think he killed their neighbor and her attempts at making him more open will get him killed so she'll stop bugging her about it, and frame her for murder which made her feel so guilty, she moved to a horrible part of India to help the poor so he doesn't have to hear her say "I told you so"), and though they're over it by the next episode, they aren't actually shown getting over it (in the last one, she explicitly tells him she hasn't forgiven him yet). On the other hand, other episodes show he's genuinely caring, doesn't realize the things he does are so bad, and tries to fix them.
    • In one episode, Stan decides he has to know that he "won" over Francine's old fiancé and so fakes his death while watching the house via hidden cameras to see how Francine will react when her ex comforts her. Francine discovered the cameras, figured things out, and pretended to be close to her ex (but never went all the way) in order to yank Stan's chainnote . After they explain this to each other, Francine's ex declares that they're perfect for each other because they're both insane and storms out of the house.
    • Stan does occasionally show genuine love and affection to Francine, having even put her well-being over his principles and job. The times when he does this can even approach heartwarming levels, especially both Christmas episodes. Heck, one episode had them outright state that their marriage is just a sham: Stan loves her only for her looks, Francine just wants to be taken care of. They actually end the episode with them telling each other this. The Aesop for this particular episode seems to be that they're both so shallow the best they can hope for is each other.
  • Mung and Truffles from Chowder. He's a womanizer (or so he'd like to think); she's intimidating. It's a weird combination, but they've managed to stay together for four hundred and fifty years.
    • As Chowder, Mung, and Schnitzel venture out for more cinnamini, Mung asks Truffles to mind the store, because, as he dramatically announces, "We need more spice!" Cue Truffles: "Vell at least somevun acknowledged it."
    • There was one flashback to their younger days, where Truffles was considerably more attractive and less shrewish.
  • Eustace and Muriel in Courage the Cowardly Dog, since Muriel is a sweet and kindhearted woman while Eustace is a misanthropic jerk who hates everyone and is generally neglectful towards his wife. At best they get along, and Eustace is at best complacent when he gets what he wants. You have to wonder why they were married or if they liked each other. Their Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments are very rare.
  • On Daria, the entire Morgendorffer and Barksdale family seem to agree that Daria's aunt Rita suffers from this trope.
    Jake: Who's escorting your sister to this [wedding], anyway?
    Helen: Well, she dumped the sculptor, the skydiving instructor had that horrible accident, and I believe that Bruno is in some federal facility. So I don't know...
    Jake: That Rita sure knows how to pick 'em.
  • Family Guy:
    • Peter has done horrible, horrible things to Lois, the worst of which was locking her in the trunk of a car and driving the car into a lake. But she stays with him for some reason. Lois has done horrible things right back, like raping Peter. Thrice. Almost all of their marriage problems follow Rule of Funny, though. And all of that said, Peter will never willingly cheat on Lois.
    • Lois' parents are more explicit examples. "He won't even look at me in the back of the head anymore!"
    • Joe and Bonnie show shades of this as well, particularly in the later seasons. In one episode Bonnie vacationed in Paris intending to cheat on him, and then Joe actually did cheat on her with his new coworker, although they reconciled at the end. In another episode, Joe regains the ability to walk after an experimental medical procedure. He states that he's leaving Bonnie, who then shoots him in the legs at point-blank range to re-cripple him and make him dependent on her. At best, Joe and Bonnie appear to get along. At worst, they seem to genuinely hate each other.
  • Fred and Wilma Flintstone in The Flintstones. The Beta Couple Barney and Betty, however, are quite Happily Married. Subverted in one of the movies, though, where Fred had to fight to get Wilma's favor back during a vacation trip where he was close to losing her. It's implied that Wilma likes the clumsy yet good-hearted oaf that Fred is.
  • Peg on Goof Troop is a beautiful, sensible, likable woman, who married and stayed married to Pete, a fat, unstable, selfish, mean, hypocritical, Lazy Husband who treats their son badly and spoils their daughter rotten when he's not just flat-out ignoring both of them or using them to win an argument with her. And yet she is shown on a few occasions to genuinely love him. She and the daughter both disappear in the movies, so it's possible she eventually left him.
  • On Hey Arnold!, Suzie Kokoshka is the sole breadwinner for her household and is expected to do housework on top of that to her Manchild Lazy Husband, Oskar. There are a few times when she leaves but she always returns. She appears to have left him for good come Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie.
    • A better example would be Bob and Miriam Pataki. Bob is selfish and self-centered and Miriam is a depressed, moping alcoholic. But they are still married to this day, even though they aren't happy. In "Olga Gets Engaged" Miriam even admits that she regrets marrying Bob.
  • The Proud Family:
    • Oscar and Trudy Proud count as this, as Oscar is a Manchild jerk who fails at nearly everything he tries, and Trudy is a VERY short-tempered and violent woman who has beaten her husband up on several occasions (and possesses a hypocritical Double Standard on flirting with attractive people of the opposite gender), and yet neither of the Proud Parents ever seriously consider getting a divorce in order to get out of staying with each other. (The show never even reveals how they became a couple in the first place.)
    • Felix and Sunset Boulevardez aren't much better, as Felix is every bit as lazy, sexist, and jerky as Oscar and Sunset does nothing but belittle and assault Felix as Trudy does to Oscar. (Unlike Oscar and Trudy, however, the show does provide an explanation as to why they're together: Sunset — a cop — had arrested Felix for some crime he'd committed and used the threat of jail time to blackmail him into marrying her. This raises the questions of 1) why Sunset would want to marry someone like Felix in the first place and 2) what sort of crime Felix had committed that he would prefer being stuck with Sunset over going to prison.)
  • Jerry and Beth Smith from Rick and Morty. If the two of them are sharing a plotline in an episode, it's probably about their struggling marriage. Various episodes have shown that they do still care about each other deep down, but there's still a lot of resentment about the reason behind getting married in the first place, and Beth's alcoholic mad-scientist father living with them hasn't helped.
    • An episode reveals it's basically Toxic Friend Influence on steroids. They do genuinely love each other, but they're both so horribly insecure that despite their complaints, they're actually attracted to and enable the others' faults. Beth may complain or be annoyed by Jerry's spinelessness, but she actually needs it because it makes her feel good about herself and her worth, using it to balance out the negativity of how desperate she was to get her father's attention. Jerry meanwhile is aware he's a loser, but he's attracted to Beth's strength and abrasiveness because he can let her take charge and take care of him while also being with someone who initially would be considered out of his league.
    • Heck, in Season 3, when Rick has a plan to get them to divorce and him becoming the family patriarch, both of them become even worse. Jerry becomes a bigger hapless loser while Beth begins lashing out at her kids and becoming a bigger jerk. On the other hand, their harsher circumstances do force them to change a bit (with Morty lashing out at Beth and Rick finally explaining to Jerry why he doesn't like him). It ends with Beth getting back together with Jerry. However, the circumstances are unique in that after Beth and Rick spend time and Beth realizes how much like her dad she is, he gives her a choice of creating a duplicate to take her place on Earth while she goes on crazy space adventures, especially since the duplicate would supposedly become self-aware of being a clone. The next episode has an insensitive joke by Rick causing Beth to be gaslit and after an identity crisis, goes to Jerry and finally talk things out.
  • Holly and Peter from Scruff. One can only wonder how Holly can put up with an airhead like Peter. Also, Sanda and Truffles, who is known for his hacking cough.
  • The Simpsons: Homer and Marge have always, always been in a weird flux between wondering why are they still together and being Happily Married: They're facing constant troubles, but it's always made a big deal instead of just "a fact of life". It's not until The Movie that she walks out on him for real, even if only temporarily.


Video Example(s):



After seeing Linda openly mooning over her ex-boyfriend the night before she's supposed to be getting married, Bernie talks about how little personal feelings really matter when it comes to marriage.

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