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Parent-Preferred Suitor

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Regard the classic Love Triangle, where someone has to choose between two prospective suitors. This is a difficult decision to make under the best of circumstances... but it gets a lot trickier when the parents take a vested interest in who their offspring ends up with.

In these situations, the character's parents will want them to get together with one suitor over the other. This could be because of the parent personally liking one more than the other, or because they genuinely believe their offspring will be better off with them. And as for the suitor they don't like? They usually hate that one with a passion, regardless of what their offspring thinks of them.

In some instances, the parent will actually grow to accept the other suitor, and grant the pairing their blessing.

Contrast Dating What Daddy Hates. Compare with Love-Obstructing Parents, Boyfriend-Blocking Dad and Parental Marriage Veto. See also The Matchmaker, Shipper on Deck and Shipper with an Agenda. If the parents have complete control over their offspring's decision, this could lead to an Arranged Marriage. Often a case of Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor, with the parents pushing for the rich suitor. A stereotypical trait of the Jewish Mother, especially if her preferred suitor has better social standing/is better-off. Can overlap with Parents Suck at Matchmaking if it turns out that their preferred suitor is someone who is all wrong for their child.


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  • Rowan Atkinson's "Wedding from Hell" sketch, where he portrays the father of the bride giving a Bitter Wedding Speech at the reception:
    "Ladies and gentlemen and friends of my daughter. There comes a time in every wedding reception when the man who paid for the damn thing is allowed to speak a word or two of his own. And I should like to take this opportunity, sloshed as I may be, to say a word or two about Martin. As far as I'm concerned, my daughter could not have chosen a more delightful, charming, witty, responsible, wealthy—let's not deny it—well-placed, good-looking, and fertile young man than Martin as her husband. And I therefore ask the question: why the hell did she marry Gerald instead? (Beat) Because Gerald is the sort of man we used to describe at school as a complete prick."

    Comic Books 
  • Superman: Secret Origin: General Sam Lane is very supportive of his subordinate, John Corben, marrying Lois, seeing in Corben the son he always wanted. He also considers Clark Kent to be too "weak" to be a decent son-in-law.

    Fan Works 
  • As Fate Would Have It: Subverted with Curtis. As Yancy's father states, he regretted agreeing to the arrange marriage and decided to pay off his debt to the former's father over time. When his daughter found and began dating Nate, he was happy that she found someone whom she genuinely loved.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Book of Life, General Posada detests Manolo and wants Maria to marry Joaquin instead, mostly to make sure that Joaquin stays to protect the village from Chakal. He relents when he realizes that Maria really does love Manolo.
  • Pocahontas: Chief Powhatan thinks that Kocoum, a loyal warrior in their village, would make an ideal husband for his daughter Pocahontas, but she prefers foreign explorer John Smith.
  • Shrek 2: Initially, King Harold is outraged at Fiona's decision to marry Shrek, an ogre; as he had planned for her to marry the conventionally attractive Prince Charming, both out of prejudice and due to having made a deal with the Fairy Godmother. As the film progresses, however, he learns to accept his daughter's choices and grows out of this.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Charly (2002): The film starts with Charlene "Charly" Riley almost engaged to her boyfriend, Mark. He's a cultured but smug New Yorker and her parents don't really like him. Her father even says he would rather she date other men. But his opinion on Mark changes when Charly spends a summer in Utah where she befriends Sam, a devout Mormon. Through Sam she begins studying and converting to the lifestyle and religion; she also develops romantic feelings for him. This concerns her father greatly. As much as her father dislikes Mark, he comes from the same social and cultural background that the Riley's do, so he'd rather have him as a son-in-law. In desperation Charly's father calls Mark, warns him that he's about to lose Charly to another man, and implicitly gives him his blessing. Ultimately, Charly dumps Mark and marries Sam. By this point her parents come around and they can be seen happily celebrating at the wedding.
  • Coming to America:
    • Cleo McDowell is supportive of the idea of his daughter Lisa marrying her rich Jerkass boyfriend Darryl, mostly because he had to struggle to get to where he is, and doesn't want his daughter to do the same. As such, he is dismissive of Akeem (who claims to be a goat herder) for catching his daughter's eye, believing that he can't give her the life she deserves (though that opinion changes when he learns that Akeem is a prince, with Cleo urging Lisa to make it work with him, and screaming in Darryl's face that Lisa doesn't want him).
    • Akeem's father, King Jaffe Joffer, wants his son to marry the woman who was arranged to be his bride, and insults Lisa by claiming Akeem sees her as nothing but a fling. His opinion also changes after his wife calls him out for his attitude, and points out that their son is in love.
  • Date Movie: Julia's father repeatedly insists that she marry his repulsive employee Nicky, and has nothing but scorn for her boyfriend Grant (despite Grant being a rich Nice Guy). He changes his mind when Julia, following a Second-Act Breakup, agrees to go through with the wedding. Well aware of how miserable his daughter is, he calls off the wedding at the last second, and encourages Julia to reconcile with Grant.
  • George of the Jungle: Beatrice Stanhope wants her daughter Ursula to marry the wealthy (yet smug and arrogant) Lyle Vandergroot. Even after hearing how Lyle abandoned Ursula to a lion attack and shot George, she fully expects Ursula to marry him, and thinks that George is a savage oaf who isn't worthy of her daughter. In the sequel, she has no problem with Lyle hypnotising Ursula into thinking she's still in love with him.
  • IQ: Catherine Boyd is engaged to marry James Moreland, a psychology professor. However, he's a self-important twit and her Uncle Albert doesn't like him at all. Instead, Uncle Albert thinks that the affable local auto mechanic, Ed Walters, would make a much better fit for her. So he and his buddies conspire to get her away from James and closer to Ed. In the end Catherine sends James packing and begins a romantic relationship with Ed.
  • Deconstructed in Meet the Parents where Jack constantly compares Greg to Pam's ex, Kevin, treating Kevin like a close friend and The Ace. He is later called out on his BS by the others, as Jack apparently only remotely started liking Kevin after he and Pam split, outing him as merely a Boyfriend-Blocking Dad who doesn't think anyone is good enough for his daughter.
  • A Recipe for Seduction's big conflict is that Jessica doesn't want to marry her boyfriend Billy and is falling in love with Harland. However, her mother insists she has to marry Billy to help their family's money troubles. She and Billy go through great lengths to try and get Harland out of the picture so Jessica doesn't have a choice.
  • In Red Riding Hood, Henry is the love interest Suzette wants her daughter Valerie to marry; he comes from a wealthy family and is set to inherit his father's blacksmith business, and so would be able to provide Valerie with a comfortable life. Suzette greatly disapproves of Valerie's other love interest Peter, because he's a lowly woodcutter and something of an outcast. She tries to ban Peter from seeing Valerie and tells him that if he truly loves her daughter he'll let her marry Henry. Valerie ultimately ends up with Peter; it's unclear how Suzette feels about it because Valerie leaves town with her beau. Valerie previously called her out as a hypocrite, because it turns out Suzette initially didn't accept the husband her parents chose for her either, going as far as cheating on Cesaire and passing off the resulting child as his.
  • Thor: The Dark World: Odin tells Thor that he would prefer Thor to be together with Sif rather than Jane:
    Odin: Human lives are fleeting, they are nothing. You'd be better served by what lies in front of you. [points at Sif] I'm telling you this not as the Allfather but as your father.

  • The Count of Monte Cristo: The Count tells Danglars a story of an Italian nobleman who left his sons a vast fortune if they married according to his wishes and a pittance if not, as part of his ploy to get Danglars to get his daughter to marry the wealthy Italian viscount Cavalcanti. Cavalcanti is revealed to be a Mock Millionaire and a wanted criminal, leading to Danglars being ruined, which suits his daughter just fine as she's all but plainly stated to be a lesbian.
  • In Evernight, Bianca's parents are sympathetic when her first date with Lucas doesn't work out, but can barely hide their excitement when she agrees to go to the Autumn Ball with Balthazar, feeling he's a much better choice of boyfriend as he's more strait-laced and mature than troublemaking Lucas; it's also because he's a vampire and so could become a long-term partner for Bianca (who is destined to become a vampire herself). Bianca feels both guilty and frustrated because while she thinks Balthazar is nice, she would prefer to be with Lucas. Celia and Adrian are accepting of Bianca dating Lucas again...until he's revealed to be a vampire hunter, after which Bianca has to keep her romance with him a secret. When she pretends to be dating Balthazar, Bianca feels uncomfortable over how happy her parents are about this because none of it is real, and increasingly sees their attempts to push her towards Balthazar as a sign of them being controlling.
  • In Harry Potter, Molly Weasley initially didn't like Bill's fiancée Fleur Delacour for being too snobbish and would have preferred him to marry somebody more fitting for him, (implied to be Nymphadora Tonks). But after Fleur decides to stay with Bill even after his face gets disfigured by a werewolf, Molly starts seeing that Fleur's love for Bill is genuine and becomes more accepting of her.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!: The main character, Catarina Claes, is sought after by a large number of both men and women. Catarina's mother, Duchess Millidiana Claes, greatly supports Catarina's adopted brother Keith as her ideal partner, because Catarina is so stupid that Millidiana is afraid of what would happen if her daughter married a prince that Catarina is engaged to. She feels that Keith is the only person that can really keep Catarina in check, and she also just really wants her adopted son to be happy.
  • Parodied in Love and Freindship, where the only reason Edward rejects Lady Dorothea (while preferring "no other woman to her!") is that his father favours the match.
  • Parker Pyne Investigates: In "The Problem of Pollensa Bay", the client of the week is a Beloved Smother who wants Pyne to get rid of her adult son's fiancée, who she dislikes as a bad sort (exacerbated by the fiancée's exaggeration of her modern behavior and makeup to annoy her). After speaking with both the son and the fiancée, Pyne arranges for a fake Operation: Jealousy via his Mrs Fanservice Madeleine. Naturally the mother forgets all about her gripes about the previous girl to complain with her about the local Gold Digger who openly treats her son like dirt. The operation is a success, even though the son has a lingering bout of what Pyne calls "Madeleine-itis" at the end.
  • The Sleeping Beauty Killer: Hunter's father James would've preferred Hunter get back with Gabrielle and marry her over Casey, feeling she was superior due to her prominent and wealthy family background and her more refined and deferential demeanour. It was to the point he even fed her rumours Hunter was still interested in the hopes of getting them back together, despite Hunter's engagement to Casey. Ironically, Gabrielle turns out to be almost as unhinged, manipulative and possessive as Casey is claimed to be, including her multiple failed marriages and the restraining order against her.
  • Sword Art Online: The "Mother's Rosario" arc kicks off with Asuna getting into a fight with her mother after the latter issues a Parental Marriage Veto of her existing relationship with Kirito and tries to set her up with a boy she considers a more suitable match. Asuna is able to talk her out of it towards the end of the story arc.
  • In The Twilight Saga, Charlie would much prefer Jacob dating his daughter Bella, and merely tolerates her boyfriend Edward (at one point he bans Edward from the house for several weeks). In Charlie's defense, he's known Jacob since he was a child and Jacob was the one person who was able to make Bella happy after Edward dumped her, so he trusts him and knows he truly cares for his daughter. Bella also tends to get seriously injured and/or run off to God knows where without telling Charlie anything when Edward is involved; although it's a bit complicated because Edward is a vampire, from Charlie's perspective Edward appears to be a horrible influence on Bella, if not abusive. When Bella reveals she's marrying Edward, though, Charlie grudgingly accepts it and walks Bella down the aisle, wanting her to be happy more than anything.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory: In Season 4, when her father comes to visit, Penny asks her then ex-boyfriend Leonard to pretend they got back together, since she had lied to her father to stop him from being so disappointed that they broke up - compared to Penny's numerous flings with uneducated losers, he thinks Leonard was the best guy she ever dated. When Penny finally confesses the truth, he even begs Leonard not to give up on Penny.
  • Bones: Brennan's dad Max wants her and Booth together well before it actually happens. He even asks Booth if he's gay and why they aren't dating. Then there's Booth's grandfather, who was essentially his surrogate father, asks at least once why he isn't with Brennan.
  • The Brokenwood Mysteries: Kristin discovers that her ex's mother still strongly prefers her to his current girlfriend, despite the fact that they've been out of contact for years and living in different parts of the country. The problem is, she learns this because he turns up in Brokenwood as the Victim of the Week after a family skydiving outing goes wrong.
  • The Cosby Show: During a breakup between Sondra and Elvin, Cliff and Clair bring in Darryl, another young man who they think is a better choice. When Darryl says he likes Sondra but isn't willing to move as fast as Cliff wants, he urges him to hurry up because Elvin is planning to try to make up with her.
    Darryl: Oh. Then why am I here?
    Cliff: Because you're the fellow I like.
  • The Crown (2016): Elizabeth marries Phillip in the very first episode, even though it is clear that nobody in her family really supported the match. In a later episode, Elizabeth interacts with her friend Lord Porchester, or Porchy, and it becomes clear that Elizabeth's parents thought Porchy would have been a much better match.
  • In The Drew Carey Show, Kate's mother wishes that Kate would end up with her childhood friend Drew, because Drew has a steady job and has always treated Kate well, whereas the kind of men Kate usually dates tend to be less reliable.
  • Gilmore Girls:
    • Grandparent Preferred Partner: When Rory is dating Dean, her grandparents (particularly her grandmother, Emily) want her to date someone from their social class, going so far as to throw a party of eligible bachelors for her to pick from. Years later, when she starts dating Logan, they're thrilled since he's from an even better family than theirs.
    • When Rory is torn between Nice Guy (and her current boyfriend) Dean and Bad Boy Jess, Lorelai prefers that she stay with Dean, though she does acknowledge that "[Rory's] seventeen; it's about time for a Jess." Meanwhile, Jess's uncle and guardian, Luke, wants Jess to be with Rory, who he sees as a good influence (and who he helped raise since she was a child).
    • When Lorelai finally gets together with Luke, her mother Emily disapproves and schemes to get her back together with Rory's father Christopher. Ironically enough, when Lorelai and Christopher were actually together in high school, Emily did not approve (especially since he got her pregnant at sixteen), but by now he's gotten his life together and fits into society, whereas Luke distinctly does not. After her scheme to break up Luke and Lorelai succeeds and she realizes how much she's hurt Lorelai, she reluctantly gives Luke her approval and tries to get them back together.
    • Going back a generation, Richard's mother wanted him to stay with his previous girlfriend, Pennilyn Lot, rather than marry Emily. Emily is crushed by this revelation, but she fails to recognize how she's doing the same thing to Lorelai and Rory.
    • Outside the Gilmore family, there's Rory's best friend Lane Kim. Lane's entire personality is built around rebelling against her mother, to the point that she sabotages her own relationship when realizes she's fallen for a boy her mother would actually approve of, so this was inevitable. That said, Mrs. Kim does generally like her first boyfriend Dave, enough that Lane is confident she can trick Mrs. Kim into allowing Dave to take her to prom. Mrs. Kim does grant her permission to go to prom, but only with a boy of her own choosing. She dismisses Dave out of hand because he isn't Korean.
  • The Flash (2014): When Eddie Thawne asks Joe West for permission to marry his daughter Iris, Joe refuses. Joe has nothing against Eddie, but is aware that Barry has been in love with Iris since they were kids, and that Iris shares those feelings - even if she herself isn't aware of them. He knows that if he allows Eddie to marry Iris, she will one day wake up and realise Barry is the one she truly loves. And despite Eddie not being her true love, she would force herself to stay with him, since she'd given her word to do so... and Joe knows his daughter always keeps her word.
  • In the first two seasons of Jane the Virgin, Jane is torn between her nice boyfriend Michael and brooding boss (and accidental babydaddy) Rafael. Jane's parents Xiomara and Rogelio prefer Michael (Xo because she has been dating Michael a while, Rogelio because he strikes up an Intergenerational Friendship with him). Meanwhile, Jane's grandmother Alba initially favors Rafael because of the romance component.
  • In Modern Family, Claire would much rather have her daughter Hayley dating goofy but intelligent Nice Guy Andy than the outrageously stupid Dylan. Although she's far from alone in this regard, as the entire family are Shippers On Deck for Hayley/Andy while Phil seems to be the only one who actually likes Dylan.
  • Murder, She Wrote: In "Something Borrowed, Someone Blue", Jessica's nephew/adoptive son Grady gets married to his fiancée Donna Mayberry. Donna's upper class parents don't approve of her choice, voicing their wishes that their daughter would marry her old boyfriend Wilfred even on her wedding day. They change their tune when it turns out Wilfred, who they remembered as proper and straight-laced, turns out to have become a traveling rock-and-roll fan.
  • My Hero (2000): Janet's mother Ella would like nothing more than for Janet to dump George and marry her employer, Dr. Piers Crispin, solely because of Piers' wealth and fame. In one episode, she takes a picture of Piers with Janet and her kids, so she can pretend they're together.
  • Parental Control is an episodic MTV TV show where parents who disapprove of their child's boyfriend/girlfriend get a chance to have their child go out on dates with other people they do approve of. At the end of the episode the child decides between their old boyfriend/girlfriend, one of the new ones or none of them.
  • Roseanne: Becky breaks up with her punk boyfriend Mark, and Dan is delighted when she starts dating a clean-cut football player named Dean (who's basically Mark's exact opposite). Roseanne mockingly says Dean is just a transition between Mark and the next boyfriend Dan will hate; unfortunately, Roseanne is blindsided when Mark, inspired by a "The Reason You Suck" Speech from her, apologizes to Becky and the two eventually reconcile.

  • Spin Doctors: This is essentially what's happening in the song "Two Princes". There are two "princes" (suitors), one of whom is the singer and the other being the one the girl's father wants her to marry. "You marry him, your father will condone you, how about that now? You marry me, your father will disown you - he'll eat his hat now."

  • Fiddler on the Roof: Golde wants her oldest daughter to go along with Yente's matchmaking and marry Lazar Wolf, the butcher, an older widower who can provide for her. Tzeitel made a Childhood Marriage Promise to Motel, a poor tailor, and wants to keep it. Tevye, while not liking the uneducated Lazar, originally goes along with the arranged match. However, after a passionate appeal from the young lovebirds, he ultimately decides Tzeitel's happiness matters more than the traditional wedding arrangements.
  • In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Egeus wants his daughter Hermia to marry Demetrius and extremely disapproves of her beloved Lysander (without giving any actual reason beyond believing Lysander's affections to be false). He is forced to change his mind only after Demetrius falls out of love with Hermia.
  • Bill from the Hatchetfield series doesn't like his daughter Alice dating Deb — he'd much rather she go out with a nice girl like Grace Chasity instead. Alice rebuffs this with, "Grace Chasity is a nerdy prude!"
    Bill: Well, at least she's nice to me in church!
  • In Jenufa, Kostelnicka would very much prefer it if her stepdaughter Jenufa married Laca (despite the latter's serious Yandere tendencies) rather than her beloved Steva who is an irresponsible drunkard. Her attempts to secure Jenufa's marriage to Laca lead to tragedy as she drowns the girl's newborn son by Steva. Laca gets enough Character Development to become a kind and compassionate man, and Jenufa does marry him in the end, but Kostelnicka's relationship with her stepdaughter is ruined, perhaps forever (the author of the play the opera was based on later wrote a novelisation where they reconcile, but after several years).
  • Romeo and Juliet: Juliet's father, Lord Capulet, wants his daughter to marry Paris (to the point of threatening to throw her out on the streets when she refuses). While he doesn't treat Romeo as badly as the rest of his family (despite him being part of their family's mortal enemies), the last thing he wants is for his daughter to be in love with him.
  • In Lyubasha's song in The Tsars Bride, the heroine is forced by her mother to give up her beloved in favour of an old man and ends up dying at the wedding.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: In "The Longest Distance Relationship", Stan is very insistent that Hayley forget about her husband Jeff (who is currently lost in space), and form a lasting relationship with Millionaire Matt Davis, who has been attempting to woo her. This is driven by two things: a desire for Hayley to marry a rich man (so he can enjoy the good life by proxy), and Stan's long-held hatred for Jeff.
  • BoJack Horseman: "Time's Arrow" shows that Joseph Sugarman really wanted his daughter Beatrice to marry the nerdy Corbin Creamerman, only because Corbin's father Mort owned a profitable dairy company that Joseph wanted to merge with his sugar company. Beatrice instead pursued a one-night stand with Butterscotch, the bad boy who crashed her debutante ball, mostly because she knew her father wouldn't like that. Joseph gets mad and demands Beatrice go on a stroll with Corbin, and to Beatrice's surprise, she ends up bonding with him. Unfortunately, she's pregnant by Butterscotch, and has to marry him instead, leading to a very unhappy family life.
  • Futurama: During Leela's wedding to Lars in "Bender's Big Score", while Leela's mother is happy that she's marrying a two-eyed human, her father gripes that Leela deserves a husband with a dozen eyes - specifically, the compound-eyed Fly Mutant.
  • King of the Hill: Kahn would very much prefer his daughter Kahnie develop a relationship with fellow Loatian Chang Wusahnasahn over her preferred beau Bobby Hill. This is solely because he is racist and also because Chane is the son of wealthy Laotian businessman, Ted Wusahnasahn, who is a member of a country club that he wants to get into. Funnily enough, his wife Minh reveals Kahn himself was not her own father's first choice of husband material for her, so this apparently is a running trend in their family.


Video Example(s):


R. Atkinson's Wedding Speech

From Rowan Atkinson Live, "With Friends Like These..." The just-married protagonist's less-than-sober new father-in-law makes his speech at the wedding reception, and gives a glowing review of Martin, "and I therefore ask the question, why the hell did she marry GERALD instead?" Things go downhill from there.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / BitterWeddingSpeech

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