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Relationship Sabotage

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"Never let a beautiful woman pick your path when there is a man in her line of sight."
— An old proverb among women according to the Sword of Truth books

This is when somebody tries to ruin someone else's romantic relationship or marriage.

There are various reasons someone might do this. One of the most common is that the saboteur is in love with one of the people in the relationship, and is willing to stoop pretty low to "correct" this situation. (In extreme cases, they may even try to Murder the Hypotenuse.) A non-romantic version of this arises from Friend Versus Lover situations, where a character is rivaled over by his/her best friend and the Love Interest. Alternatively, it could be that they just want Revenge for something, or that they want to free up one of the parties for a bit of gold digging, or that they're simply bitter that someone else is so happy and they're not. Sometimes, they may even be acting from a genuine, well-intentioned, and possibly even accurate belief that their friend has made a poor choice or should have chosen someone else.

The range of techniques available to a relationship saboteur is similarly varied. Lying is popular - you just need to make one half of the relationship look bad, such as by fabricating evidence of an affair or trying to make them flunk a Fidelity Test. It could be as simple as giving deliberately lousy relationship advice. If the relationship is fairly new, being a deliberate Moment Killer might be an option, and might prompt the saboteur to follow the targets on dates.

See also Break Up Demand for a different method of achieving the same goal. If a character simply makes their dislike of the pairing known, it's probably just a Shipping Torpedo. A specialized variant is Please Dump Me, where people try to surreptitiously sabotage their own relationship (because they don't want to end it properly for some reason), and the Intentional Heartbreaker, who goes into a relationship with no intention to see it through. Another specific variant of this trope is Kids Play Match Breaker, which is specifically for kids trying to sabotage any new relationships of their single parents. Contrast Shipper on Deck, where someone is trying to create a relationship rather than destroy one. Please know that there are instances where the saboteur is a Karma Houdini and gets away with the deed. See Love-Obstructing Parents when a parent displays this behavior. May be a supertrope of Seduction as One-Upmanship, when it involves the saboteur getting involved personally by seducing one half of the couple away from the other.

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  • In one commercial, one teenage boy forces his younger brother upstairs so he can spend time with his girlfriend. The younger brother then uses the TV to show the girlfriend a slideshow of pictures that indicate he's cheating on her.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Skuld in Ah! My Goddess, who takes her Big Sister Worship towards Belldandy a bit too far and won't stand for anyone, particularly lowly mortal Keiichi, getting too close to her. She frequently sets up booby traps (mostly involving Stuff Blowing Up) to prevent their relationship from progressing. It is hinted a few times, though, that she's acting out not because she's jealous of Keiichi for taking Belldandy's attention, but that she's jealous of Belldandy for getting Keiichi's love.
  • Matsuri of Ayakashi Triangle was turned into a girl by Shirogane in an attempt to foil his Childhood Friend Romance with Suzu out of spite. It turns out the whole reason he knew the spell was to punish couples who made love in his shrine. It didn't work as well as intended, because Suzu finds Matsuri attractive regardless and the ensuing Gender-Bender Friendship brings them closer together, to the point Matsuri directly credits it when he has a Love Epiphany. On the other hand, Suzu is initially hesitant to act on an attraction to another girl, while Matsuri eventually decides he can't date anyone as a girl regardless of orientation.
  • Berserk has an interesting take in that Griffith is implied to feel something towards both Guts and Casca. His actions during the Eclipse where he rapes Casca to insanity while forcing Guts to watch are implied to be done to spite the two for getting together and making it so they can't stay together anymore with the psychological trauma Casca is left with.
  • In The Case Files of Jeweler Richard, Jeffrey offered Richard's fiancee a bribe to dump him.
  • Makie from Futari Ecchi does that at every opportunity to the main character couple. I.e., she leaves false lipstick marks on Makoto's shirt or calls him in the middle of a date with his wife Yura.
  • Good Luck Girl!: As a god of bond severance, Shaga was responsible for severing the bonds Ichiko had with Ranmaru and Nadeshiko. On the same note, the author's notes reveal that she was responsible for every bad relationship Ichiko had while growing up, even though some of them would end up poorly regardless.
  • Subverted in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War when Tsubame comes to Kaguya asking for advice regarding a love confession. Kaguya (being Ishigami's Romantic Wingman and acting under the assumption that it must have been one of his many romantic rivals) tells her that the proper thing to do is turn them down as harshly as possible, only for her advice to take a complete 180 when she finds out that Ishigami is the boy in question.
  • Happens more than once in Marmalade Boy, with the most notorious perpetrators being Kei Tsuchiya (who grabs Miki's medallion/bracelet and gives it to Yuu saying she threw it away; Yuu doesn't buy it, but he and Miki still almost break up due to stress.) and Ginny Golding (who lies to Miki by telling her she was Yuu's "other woman" as a prank; this causes the already distraught Miki to break off her and Yuu's Long-Distance Relationship.)
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury, When Miorine finds out just how much of a mental stranglehold she has on Suletta, she confronts Prospera and tells her to leave Suletta out of her plans. Prospera agrees... and forces Miorine to torpedo her own Arranged Marriage with Suletta (long story) by sabotaging Suletta's final duel with Guel, forcing Miorine in a loveless marriage of convenience with Guel while poor Suletta is completely blindsided by all of this.
  • Naruto: After finding out that Sakura doesn't care for him at all while he's disguised as Sasuke, is forced to retreat to the restroom because he drank spoiled milk in the morning. While on the toilet, he plans on returning to Sakura, still disguised as Sasuke and acting like a jerk in order to make her hate him. By the time he gets out, though, Sasuke has already escaped his bonds and coldly told Sakura that he finds her annoying.
  • Peach Girl: This is Sae's favorite tactic to use against her rival Momo with the aim to tear her down every time she gets a boyfriend or shows interest in a guy.
  • Ranma ½: Ryoga, Shampoo, Ukyo, Kodachi, and other characters all try to sabotage Ranma and Akane's engagement at some point or other.
    • Ranma and Akane team up in the manga to thwart the possibility of Hinako and Soun marrying.
  • Rebuild World: While the relationship in question is a Fake Relationship, this is still the intention of the intervening party and the two are quite mutually dependent (and the less enthusiastic one Tsundere). Viola, after getting caught in a scheme against the two, gets An Offer You Can't Refuse from Akira to help build up Sheryl's gang, with the stipulation that Akira will execute Viola any time if Sheryl asks him to. And so Viola undertakes plans to split the two up to free herself from this stipulation. First, she tells Sheryl about The Mole Nasha hoping she'd keep her a secret from Akira, telling Akira about it first, but this fails when Sheryl tells him right away. Viola's second attempt is much grander: Have Akira catch Sheryl together with The Rival Katsuya while Sheryl is wrapping him around her finger in a Honey Trap. This fails after Sheryl goes Intentional Heart Breaker on Katsuya in response.
  • In the first anime of Sailor Moon, Makoto is jealous that her crush, Motoki, has a girlfriend. Upon finding out that his girlfriend is tempted to accept a job abroad that would separate them for a long period of time, Makoto nicely sits down and has a talk with her, trying to convince her to take the job. She ends the talk with the suggestion that Motoki and the girlfriend could very well pick up where they left off, before lampshading to herself how terrible she is at sabotaging relationships.
    • Mamoru and Usagi are together or were in a past life and are aiming for that again in the present. They both get numerous love rivals for each of them with a lot of them either trying to get Usagi or Mamoru out of the way by Murder the Hypotenuse. Some of the other rivals for their love or attention try to get between the two with subtler less Yandere means.
  • Chihaya of Servant × Service is dead set on preventing Yutaka and Lucy from getting together. Some of Lucy's hesitation in dating Yutaka originates from Chihaya making him sound more devious than he really is. This is mostly because she wants to cosplay Lucy and erroneously believes that so does he.
  • SPY×FAMILY: Loid and Yor are both aware that they're in a Marriage of Convenience, though they're slowly developing genuine romantic affection for each other. In light of this, Loid's former disciple Fiona Frost (who is in love with him) attempts to get between them and replace Yor as Loid's fake wife, exploiting the latter's insecurities over how much of a good wife and mother she is by lying that Loid has been badmouthing her behind her back.
  • In the backstory of The Story of Saiunkoku, Kou Reishin and his friend Houju were both interested in the same woman. Reishin sabotaged Houju's relationship with her by forging a letter from her to Houju saying she couldn't bear to be with a man so much more beautiful than herself. As a result, Houju started wearing masks all the time and calling himself "Kijin," meaning "weirdo," and Reishin married the girl.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: In the sequel manga when Touka and Kaneki try to have a romantic moment together Mutsuki busts in on them. He was revealed to have a twisted romantic obsession with his former sensei and gets suspicious over the situation while wondering where Kaneki's loyalties lie as Touka is a ghoul among other ghouls in hiding and the organization Mutsuki is a part of hunts ghouls. He senses the romantic tension between the two as well before he slashes at Kaneki and knocks him out of his way so he can viciously attack Touka, with intent to kill. When they get away while holding hands, he tries to stalk after them, and his actions after that are purely done so he can get Touka out of the way so he can try to win over his beloved Sensei for himself.
  • Yuureitou: Marube lusts after Tetsuo, who is sort of dating Taichi (they eventually become an Official Couple) and he's not above trying to rape Taichi if it means Tetsuo will leave Taichi and return to him.

    Comic Books 
  • Bruce made a couple of attempts to prevent Tim and Stephanie's relationship. After they'd been dating for at least a year and he hired Steph as Robin and prevented her from talking to Tim while she was training, trying to get Tim to return to the role. Neither of them ever really forgave him for it.
  • At the end of Frank Miller's Daredevil, a grieving Matt Murdock had pressured his rather fragile girlfriend Heather Glenn into agreeing to marry him, which was literally driving her to drink. Believing that no good could come of this for anyone, Matt's partner Foggy and his ex the Black Widow created forged notes telling each partner that the other one wanted to break it off and never see them again. The immediate consequences were never shown, but a few years later Heather committed suicide.
  • Alexandra Cabot shadows Josie and the Pussycats because she's an arrogant Rich Bitch who believes that she should front the group instead of Josie. Alexandra also believes herself much more worthy of Alan Mayberry's affections, despite Alan showing no signs of interest in anyone other than Josie. Much of this comic's humor is derived from Alexandra receiving Laser-Guided Karma while trying to sabotage the Josie-Alan 'ship.
  • Lana Lang attempted this occasionally when her jealousy of Clark and Lois' marriage got the best of her. In one instance she tried to convince Clark that Lois was a bad wife and left her panties in the Kents' bed in a fit of jealous anger when Clark refused to be swayed by her arguments.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón: Accidental. In "El Brujo" (The Warlock), there is a middle-aged couple sitting on a fallen trunk in a romantic countryside setting, lovingly holding hands. "Abelarda", says he, "swear that there is no other man between you and me". "I... I swear, Eloíso", says she. Mortadelo suddenly teleports right between the two, thanks to a spell he has unknowingly activated. Eloíso breaks the relationship and leaves angrily, and Mortadelo is beaten off-screen by Abelarda.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): While Diana was working with the PI Micah Rains she responded to a client whose Stalker with a Crush was trying to sabotage her engagement despite her having a restraining order against him. The attempts were clumsy and horrific things like vandalizing her and her fiancé's property and killing their pets.
  • Zatanna: Everyday Magic: Guy of the Week Hal comes to Zatanna's house while she's out dealing with a villain, meaning only Constantine is there to receive him, and Constantine takes the chance to tell Hal all about Zatanna's dangerous life, which frightens Hal enough that he gives up on romantically pursuing Zatanna. She's pissed when she finds out, and although Constantine admits he was a bit jealous, he figures his "sabotage" was more of a Secret Test of Character: if Hal couldn't handle the danger, she's better off knowing it sooner rather than later.

    Fan Works 
  • About Last Night (My Little Pony): Angel Bunny attempts to sabotage Fluttershy's burgeoning relationship with Rainbow Dash because he's incredibly self-absorbed and wants to monopolize all of her attention. The other animals that Fluttershy cares for work against him, and ultimately his efforts fail.
  • Alex (MovieVillain): The title character is responsible for sabotaging Marceline's relationship with Princess Bubblegum.
  • All Things Probable Series:
    • Grimm enjoys playing mind games on the heroes; one of his favorite tactics is attempting to drive a wedge between Kim and Ron by convincing the latter that Kim doesn't really respect him and is just taking advantage of her "sidekick".
    • Inverted at the end of "A Friend in Darkness": Grimm manipulates Kim and Ron into getting back together.
  • Bride of Discord: Chrysalis engages in quite a bit of this throughout Daughter of Discord. Having two of her minions pose as Fluttershy and a stallion to trick Discord into thinking she was being unfaithful, disguising herself as Fleur and throwing herself at Fancy Pants to wreck Rarity's marriage, breaking up with Flash Sentry on Twilight's behalf while disguised as her... and notably, only the part with Fluttershy was part of her overarching grand scheme. The other two were things she did just because she could.
  • In one of the stories of the Facing the Future Series, Danny's enemies unsuccessfully tried to this to Danny and Sam.
    • In another story, Nocturne nearly pulled this trope off by sealing away their memories of each other, only to be thwarted by The Power of Love.
  • He Can Only Blame Himself: Lila convinces Adrien that his girlfriend Marinette has chosen her career over him. In reality, Marinette is being overworked by his father, who's been using his son's relationship to emotionally extort her. Despite knowing that Lila is a Consummate Liar, Adrien still starts dating her behind Marinette's back, even taking her to make out inside Marinette's apartment... where they naturally get caught.
  • In the original version of To Heal a Broken Heart, Chloé attempts to do that to Adrien and Marinette, by blackmailing another model to pretend he is Marinette's secret boyfriend (with a female model bribed to disguise herself as her), even photoshopping a photo of the two together. When that fails, she bribes two bodybuilder models (with a reputation of... being rough with girls) to kidnap her during the prom. By the time Adrien gets to Marinette, one of the bodybuilders already can barely stand from pain - even while not transformed, Marinette is more than capable of handling a couple of bullies.
  • Juleka vs. the Forces of the Universe: While it was already clear that Alya didn't respect Marinette's ability to make any decisions about her own love life, when Luka asks Marinette to attend the upcoming school dance with him, Alya schemes to turn it into an Operation: Jealousy, intending to convince Luka that Marinette was just using him to catch Adrien's eye.
  • Ponyville goes to the...dragons??: Applejack warns Rarity not to attempt this Trope when she learns Spike has started a relationship with Ember. As she points out, Rarity knew about Spike's affection for her for a long time, but did nothing about it while she had the chance. AJ also warns that if she tries anything, she'd prefer being sent to the moon over how AJ will punish her. Still doesn't stop her from giving an anonymous 'tip' about there being vicious dragons in Ponyville to the Canterlot Royal Guards...
  • Scarlet Lady: Chloé constantly intervenes whenever Adrien spends time with others, as she firmly believes he belongs to her and her alone. This only gets worse after she overhears him admitting to Nino that he's got a crush on Marinette... a revelation that notably comes well after Chloé had resorted to trying to get Marinette murdered by various akuma.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale, Raquelle attempts to break up Official Couple Ken and Barbie by making Ken read a breakup scene supposedly for a new movie, recording him, and sending it to Barbie out of context.
  • In Barbie of Swan Lake, the key for Odette to defeat Rothbart is true love. However, if her love interest Prince Daniel confesses his love for someone else, Odette and the crystal protecting her will die. With this in mind, Rothbart uses his magic to disguise his daughter Odile as Odette, tricking Daniel into professing his love for the wrong person at the ball he invited Odette to.
  • Cinderella III: A Twist in Time: When Lady Tremaine gets ahold of the Fairy Godmother's wand, she goes back in time, enlarges the glass slipper, and hypnotizes Prince Charming so Anastasia will be picked as his bride instead of Cinderella. In the end, the true love of Cinderella and the Prince prevails despite her stepmother's machinations.
  • It might be unintentional in the movie Coco when Ernesto de la Cruz killed his best friend Hector Rivera who had a wife and a daughter, thus Ernesto never told anyone about Hector's death, his wife Imelda assumed he abandoned her and held a grudge against him for the rest of her life and her death. Upon knowing the truth of Hector's death, she still held the grudge but accepted that it was Ernesto who separated them and helped to save Hector and have a little revenge on Ernesto. This is unintentional not because Ernesto did or did not want to separate them but because he cared more about fame, fortune, and being a national hit than the consequences of his actions.
  • In The Little Mermaid (1989), Ursula combines this with Moving The Goal Posts. When Ariel was coming close to fulfilling her end of their deal by getting Eric to kiss her and become human permanently within three days, Ursula transforms herself into a girl called Vanessa, using Ariel's voice to enchant Eric into thinking she was the girl he had been looking for in order to forestall Ariel's attempts until the third sunset.
  • The Lion King (1994) has Timon complaining about Simba and Nala's relationship during "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?", but in The Lion King 1 ½, we learn that he spent the rest of the song actively trying to sabotage it. Not only was he unsuccessful, he was actually inadvertently responsible for some of the romantic background effects.
  • In Mulan II, Mushu tries to break up Mulan and Shang to save his job, using their differences as an excuse to do so. When Mulan finds out, she gets pissed. Fortunately, Mushu makes amends.
  • In The Swan Princess, Rothbart's curse on Odette can only be broken if Odette's true love declares his love for her to all the world. When Odette and her Love Interest Derek plan to do this at a ball Derek's mother is hosting, Rothbart uses his dark magic to disguise his assistant as Odette so Derek will confess his love to the wrong woman. It works, and to up the stakes even further, Odette starts dying instead of the curse just continuing on as normal.
  • In Tangled, Mother Gothel works with the Stabbington Brothers to make it look like Flynn betrayed Rapunzel so Rapunzel would want to return home with Gothel.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • This is Peggy's plan in The Best Years of Our Lives: she declares that she's going to break up the unhappy marriage between Fred and Marie. It's not really her fault the marriage falls apart, but she does get Fred in the end.
  • Both Balraj's sister Kiran and Darcy's mother try very hard to keep Jaya and Lalita very far away from Balraj and Darcy in Bride and Prejudice.
  • Troy and Gabriella are on the receiving end of this in every High School Musical film.
    • In the first movie, Chad and Taylor work together to break Troy and Gabriella up so the latter two won't want to audition for the musical. Chad and the rest of the basketball team corner Troy in the locker room and peer pressure him into saying that he doesn't really care that much about Gabriella and the big game is his priority. The players secretly film this, which Taylor and the science decathlon team then show to a heartbroken Gabriella. It temporarily works; Gabriella confronts Troy and both decide not to audition. Chad and Taylor start feeling remorse though, Chad and Taylor confess what they had done. In the end, Troy and Gabriella make up and rock the audition together with both the jocks and science geeks cheering them on in the audience.
    • In High School Musical 2 Sharpay entices Troy with meetings with college basketball coaches and other favors to keep him from Gabriella and make him fall in love with her. It only partially works. Gabriella does feel abandoned and temporarily quits. Troy, however, does not develop feelings for Sharpay and works instead to gain back the trust of Gabriella and his friends. By the end of the film, he and Gabriella are back to being an Official Couple.
    • In High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Sharpay tells Troy that he is holding Gabriella back from her dreams at Stanford, so Troy reluctantly encourages Gabriella to go. Like the second movie, this does not work out as Sharpay hoped, and Gabriella and Troy reunite to do their romantic duet in the school musical.
  • In IQ Catherine is engaged to James, a conceited psychology professor. Her Uncle Albert doesn't care for her fiance and he thinks that Ed, a friendly local auto mechanic, is a better fit for her. So he and his buddies scheme to get her away from James and closer to Ed. They do things like distracting James at a party so Ed can spend some time alone with her on a balcony. They even go as far as disrupting James's academic research which causes him to miss an outing with Catherine. In the end, their scheme works: Catherine realizes she's fallen in love with Ed so she calls off her engagement to James.
  • In My Best Friend's Wedding, Julianne tries to derail the upcoming marriage of a guy who had promised to marry her if they were both still single at a certain age. It fails, epically.
    • In its Gender Flip, Made of Honor, the man has the same goal, though the stunts he pulls aren't nearly as nasty (he mostly just goes overboard in showing her that he's matured and ready for commitment, the main reasons why his female friend never considered him boyfriend material before). Unlike in My Best Friend's Wedding, his plan works.
  • In Plan B, Bruno's "Plan B" to make his ex-girlfriend Laura and her new boyfriend Pablo break up is to seduce Pablo and drive him away from her. It works, but by then it's not Laura he wants to be with.
  • Saving Silverman: Darren is dating a very controlling woman named Judith and his friends decide to sabotage their relationship by kidnapping Judith and faking her death so that he'll be free to go after his high school crush Sandy instead.
  • In Sherlock Holmes (2009), Sherlock went out of his way to try to get Dr. Watson to not get engaged to Mary since he wanted to keep him for himself. He insulted Mary with a deduction and he paid a fortune teller to plant seeds of doubt into Watson's head. He eventually did give his consent, partly because he was impressed with Mary's own observation skills (she easily sees through his disguise as a doctor).
  • In Short Cuts, Stormy Weathers fires torpedoes at his soon-to-be ex-wife Betty's relationship with Gene Shepard as part of his revenge against her. He first leaves his son Chad with her instead of taking him for the evening per their custody agreement, so that she is forced to take Chad on her date with Gene. Then, when Gene calls her at home after his suspicions that she is having yet another relationship are roused by her flimsy cover story regarding why she can't spend the weekend with him, Stormy answers the phone and pretends to yell at Betty to put some panties on before hanging up.
  • In Son in Law, Travis drugs Crawl and Tracy and leaves them to be discovered naked together in the barn in order to sabotage Crawl's engagement to Becca. Even Becca's father (who hated the idea of Becca marrying Crawl) was horrified when he learned it.
  • In the remake of The Stepford Wives, one of Johanna's new shows was a Reality Show based around this trope called "I Can Do Better". However, when the couple from the prototype episode separated, the divorced husband went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge that resulted in a string of lawsuits that resulted in Johanna getting fired, thus leading to the plot.
  • In Wicker Park, Alex does this to Matthew and Lisa's relationship as we learn via flashbacks. She never delivered that one letter that would have explained Lisa's sudden departure to Matthew.
  • In The Wrong Cheerleader, Jen goes to extreme lengths - to the point of outright deception - to convince Becky that her boyfriend Rob is dangerous.
    • After a violent incident at Tony's Diner where Rob confronts another student, Jen has a lengthy discussion with Becky and Coach Flynn.
      Jen: Ms Flynn, if a guy threatened another guy for just checking you out, would you be flattered or a little creeped out?
    • Jen visits a friend (Sarah Peters) at Rob's old school to dig up dirt on him and later arranges a meeting between Becky and Rob's ex-girlfriend Amanda who he stalked and abused.


By Author:

  • From the works of Jane Austen:
    • Pride and Prejudice:
      • Mr. Darcy doesn't believe that Jane Bennet holds any particular feelings for Mr. Bingley, not realizing that Jane is too shy and reserved to express her love openly in a way that would stand out from how nice she already is to everyone. Because of this, and because he (not entirely inaccurately) sees Jane's mother and sisters as appalling Gold Diggers, Darcy prevents Bingley and Jane from meeting in London and encourages Bingley to break off his courtship of Jane.
      • At least Darcy is motivated by genuine concern for his friend's happiness and regrets his actions when Elizabeth makes it clear that Jane really does love Bingley. On the other hand, Bingley's sisters rudely rebuff Jane when she tries to visit them in London and participate in the sabotage because they look down on the Bennets and because Caroline wants to marry Darcy and thinks that will be more likely to happen if Bingley were to marry Darcy's sister Georgiana.
    • Mr. Elliot of Persuasion visits his cousin Sir Walter in Bath and quickly sets to work trying to detach him from the charming widow Mrs. Clay—if they produced a son, Mr. Elliot no longer be heir to the Kellynch property and title of baronet. He succeeds, but the narrator hints that Mrs. Clay could successfully turn her charms on Mr. Elliot himself.
    • In Emma, Emma Woodhouse actively meddles in Harriet and Robert Martin's relationship. He asks her to marry him, but Emma thinks Harriet should marry someone more genteel and persuades Harriet to refuse him (and in such a way that Harriet doesn't realize that she's being manipulated). Mr Knightley tells Emma off for this.

By Title:

  • In And I Darken, Lada and Mehmed are madly in love, even though their relationship is highly tenuous because of Lada's desire to return to Walachia and refusal to have sex with him and Mehmed's frequenting of his Royal Harem. Radu, also in love with Mehmed and a master manipulator, is constantly tempted by knowing exactly how to push them apart, and he gives in, tells Lada their father has died against Mehmed's wishes, and insinuates that Lada is weak for staying in Walachia. His words push her to reject Mehmed's marriage proposal and leave the sultanate and the empire. While he ends their relationship, they're still in love.
  • In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Amaranta does everything she can to sabotage Rebeca and Pietro Crespi's wedding, first convincing everyone to have the wedding in the new church which won't be build in years, and then taking the mothballs from her wedding dress so it will be eaten by moths. When the wedding is about to come anyway, she is at the point of resorting to killing Rebeca.
  • Carmen in The Second Summer of the Sisterhood sabotages her mother's new relationship out of envy (of her mom being happy and in love) and jealousy (she's not used to someone else being important in her mother's life). She accuses her mother of making a fool of herself and neglects to pass on a message from the boyfriend, and thus succeeds in getting her mother to break off the relationship.
  • In The Sleeping Beauty Killer, the Under Suspicion team investigate the possibility that someone - in particular the Raleigh family - were intentionally trying to undermine Hunter and Casey's relationship.
    • Hunter's father James Raleigh makes it clear he never approved of Casey and all but ordered Hunter to end things with her. The team speculates that James could've had his other son Andrew or his personal assistant Mary Jane slip Casey a roofie at the Raleigh Foundation gala, so that she'd appear to be drunk and make a fool of herself, ideally prompting Hunter to break up with her. Hunter's ex, Gabrielle Lawson, also intentionally followed him around and let paparazzi take photos of her cosying up to him in the hopes it would re-spark their relationship, also enlisting the help of gossip columnist Mindy Sampson, who reported that Hunter was considering leaving Casey for Gabrielle. While James did encourage and facilitate Gabrielle's attempts to win Hunter back, neither he or anyone in his inner circle drugged Casey.
    • It's revealed that Casey's own cousin, Angela Hart, was the one who roofied Casey at the gala, with the intention of embarrassing her and Hunter, hoping that Hunter - whom she was in love with - would see her as an uncouth drunk who wasn't worthy of him. However, when Angela brought this up with Hunter after he took Casey home, Hunter angrily dismissed this, making it clear he had no plans to leave Casey and that he could tell that Casey wasn't just drunk. Angela did not take this well.
  • Will from Super Powereds provides a fairly benevolent example. When he finds out that his sister Jill has an abusive boyfriend, he threatens to kill him and then orders him to leave without explanation and never interact with her again.
  • Sweet Valley High's Jessica Wakefield and her like-minded friends have done this whenever they've wanted a guy in a relationship for themselves. Jessica has even done this to her own brother Steven, trying to break up him and girlfriend Tricia because she doesn't think she's good enough for him. Then even after he gets together with her friend Cara — something that she wanted — she tries to break them up too, having decided for herself that their relationship is boring and that they need to see other people.
  • Dr. Austin Sloper in Washington Square goes out of his way to ruin his daughter Catherine and Morris's relationship, starting with a Parental Marriage Veto and culminating in taking her on a trip to Europe for a full year to test the strength of their affection. His reasoning is that he is convinced that Morris is nothing more than a Gold Digger after his family's fortune. He turns out to be right.
  • In The Zombie Knight, Geoffry's grandfather did this to his mother. Primarily, it was to create a suitable host for an aberration, bet he does admit that he also thought it was funny.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock: In the season 1 episode "The Fighting Irish", Liz and Jack partake in this so that Liz can get together with Floyd, who was already in a relationship with another Liz. Liz fires all the NBC accountants, of which other Liz is one. Jack rehires the other Liz but transfers her to the Connecticut office in the hopes that long-distance will tank the relationship. It works, but Liz Lemon and Floyd eventually break up anyway when Liz is not willing to move to Cleveland with Floyd.
    • In the season 4 episode "Floyd", Liz sees that Floyd is engaged to a new woman when he is featured on Today. She mounts her revenge by getting Floyd, a recovering alcoholic, drunk when they have dinner under the guise of catching up. Floyd then humiliates himself and his fiancee next time he is on Today due to his drunkenness. Liz feels remorse and eventually confesses and apologizes. Later in the season, Floyd marries his fiancee, so the sabotage does not work.
  • Arrested Development:
    • In season 1, Lucille Bluth invites Lucille Ostero to hang out with her again to stop her son Buster from wanting to keep dating the latter.
    • Also in season 1, Michael has been nursing a secret crush on his brother Gob's girlfriend Marta. When Michael finds out that Gob has been cheating on Marta with one of his magic act assistants, he sets up a magic show for Gob where Marta will be the audience volunteer and the infidelity will hopefully be revealed so Marta will leave Gob. It doesn't work as the assistant quits with no notice the day of the show.
  • In the Austin & Ally episode "Families & Feuds", Austin Trish and Dez break off the relationship between Dez's ArchEnemy Chuck and his sister Didi.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Evil Wil Wheaton sabotages Leonard and Penny's relationship in order to win a bowling game. Downplayed, in that their relationship was already having problems, and he just convinced Penny that she should be honest about her misgivings.
    • A minor example when Penny briefly dates Stuart and Leonard deliberately gives him bad dating advice. Leonard remains sympathetic because a) he feels bad about it afterward, b) the advice was basically what Leonard would have done on the date, and c) his advice works, suggesting that Penny actually liked Leonard all along.
  • Pelant does this Booth and Brennan in season 8 of Bones because he’s obsessed with Brennan. She finally asks Booth to marry her and Pelant forces Booth to refuse and not say why or Pelant will kill five random people. Booth is reluctant to try to say anything secretly because of Pelant’s hacking tricks but Brennan ultimately trusts Booth. Partway into season 9, Pelant is finally killed by Booth and the truth comes out and they get married,
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel has the Romani gypsies. One moment of true happiness, one moment where the soul that was restored to Angel no longer plagues him...and that soul is taken from him. This trope, from a certain point of view, is why the spinoff show exists at all, as Angel may not have left town if his curse were fixed. The curse is specifically a 'moment of happiness', but in practice, it has never been triggered by anything but a happy relationship for it Buffy, or a shamanic dream that includes Cordelia. ...Then in the comics, the Powers that Be get in on the action, and the relationship between Buffy and Angel creates a new the cost of the old and all 8 billion people in it.
  • Rebecca Bunch does a lot of in-person and online stalking to find the perfect dirt to get Josh to break up with Valencia, and later Anna on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
  • Daredevil (2015): Season 2 sees Stick use Elektra to sabotage Matt's relationships with Karen and Foggy in order to bring Matt into his war with the Hand.
  • Mary of Downton Abbey tells her sister Edith's suitor that Edith was looking for an "old bore" as revenge for Edith's spreading Mary's Dark Secret.
    • Later on, Mary pulls an even worse one: She tells Bertie that Marigold is Edith's illegitimate daughter, shocking him so badly that he calls off his engagement to Edith—simply because Mary was jealous that Edith was happy and Mary herself was not. Edith gives Mary one Hell of a callout for it.
  • Uncertain of whether or not he's ready to move in with his girlfriend, rather than simply telling her that, ER's Doug Ross more or less lets her catch him with another woman. Only as she's storming off does it occur to the idiot what he's done, but she dismisses his pathetic pleas of "It won't happen again" by practically laughing as she declares, "Yes, it will."
  • Friends:
    • Phoebe does this to Monica and Chandler a few times, whether accidental or deliberate, by playing on Chandler's fears as an Insecure Love Interest. She tells him Monica saw her old boyfriend Richard and later introduces Monica's 'soulmate' right in front of him (and AFTER they're married). Thanks to Monica and Chandler's strong relationship, nothing sticks and the only result is several heartwarming scenes of Monica promising Chandler is the love of her life and she's not interested in anyone else. It's not clear if Phoebe is just being her usual Cloud Cuckoo Lander self or a Green-Eyed Monster that they're happy and she isn't.
    • Rachel tries to do this several times regarding the relationships of whatever man she wanted for herself — trying to keep Ross and Julie from sleeping together, convincing Bonnie to shave her head, discouraging other women from pursuing Tag by telling them he's gay, telling Charlie incorrect information about Joey, etc.
    • In "The One With The East German Laundry Detergent", one of Joey's old girlfriends is dating someone Monica's interested in, so they conspire to break the two up, mostly through the judicious use of backhanded compliments. It actually works perfectly (though the two love interests are both gone by the next episode and never mentioned again.)
      Monica: We broke that relationship up and kept the pieces for ourselves.
    • In "The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant", Chandler gets a call from a woman who thinks his number is from her ex, "Bob", with whom she wants to hook-up with. Chandler takes advantage of this by pretending he's Bob, so he can sabotage said relationship by setting up a date, but then showing up as Chandler and "comforting" the woman who will be on On the Rebound over being stood up by "Bob". Ross finds the entire thing very questionable and admonishes Chandler about it, but Chandler goes through with it anyway and succeeds in hooking up with her... only to get his comeuppance when she calls "Bob" again only to tell him how awful Chandler was in bed.
  • In pretty much any episode of Glee in which Finn Hudson is dating somebody not named Rachel Berry, you'll find Rachel trying some form of this, by means including: staging singing lessons that are intended to turn into something a lot less innocent; dramatic changes of appearance (fortunately Kurt was onto her and ensured it didn't work); informing Finn that his girlfriend is pregnant by another boy; duetting with other boys (particularly if it's the boy who got his first girlfriend pregnant) to make Finn jealous; and encouraging him to distrust his girlfriend and spy on the boy a blind item in the school newspaper implies she's cheating with in company with, you guessed it, Rachel Berry. Every single one of these backfires on her in some way. You'd think she'd have caught on by now, but no such luck...
  • On Gossip Girl, this is Blair's MO. And not just for her own ex-boyfriends - she's perfectly happy to break up any new relationships that might make Serena unhappy too. Chuck, as well, loves to mess with any relationships that would a) stop Blair being with him or b) distract Nate from their friendship. And Jenny does this occasionally. And Vanessa - oh, screw it, let's just say Gossip Girl is built around this trope and leave it at that, okay?
  • In the sixth season of House, House decides to try to break up Cuddy and Lucas after deciding that he might just be interested in the former.
  • On How I Met Your Mother Lily has done this to Ted six times, each time because she thinks the girl Ted's dating is a bad fit for their group of friends. Methods range from planting a woman's earring in Ted's bed so his girlfriend thinks he's cheating on her, to planting a Creed CD in the girlfriend's apartment so that Ted becomes disgusted with her, to dressing up in the girlfriend's Darth Vader costume, pretending to be her, and telling Ted they should see other people.
    • Later on, Lily is called upon to break Barney and Robin up, but a sudden bout of Complexity Addiction almost does her in.
  • The season 4 finale of iCarly had a revelation that Sam likes Freddie. It's quite possible that her actions in "iSaved Your Life", where she completely fucked up Carly and Freddie's newly formed relationship by planting seeds of doubt in Freddie's mind was a subconscious desire to sabotage the relationship to keep Freddie away from Carly.
    • Mrs. Benson actually tries to do this in "iCan't Stand It". In a way, she's right to be upset by Freddie and Sam's relationship. However, the last few minutes of the episode show how much she delighted in ruining the relationship. Maybe she's just a Control Freak?
  • In Merlin, Morgana tries and fails to break up Gwen and Arthur in "Queen of Hearts" but succeeds masterfully (though temporarily) in "Lancelot du Lac."
  • Pistvakt: Sven-E is not above doing this to his own brothers to make sure they don't leave their home in Svartlien. For example, when Gunnel comes by after Jan-E has fallen asleep, she asks Sven-E to tell him to meet up with her the next day before she's about to leave the town for good... And when Jan-E wakes up later Sven-E tells him it was just a comic book salesman. (Gunnel is never seen again in the series.)
  • Power Rangers Ninja Steel: In season 2, Hayley and Sarah find out that Hayley's dad and Sarah's mom are going on a date and decide to sabotage it because they each think it'll be weird if their parent is dating their best friend's parent. They end up realizing the error of their ways and help the two get back together.
  • Happened all the time on Rome.
  • In the Seinfeld two-parter episode "The Raincoats", Newman tells the father of Jerry's recent girlfriend about how they acted during Schindler's List, resulting in him forbidding Jerry from seeing his daughter ever again. Naturally, Jerry is pretty ticked off at Newman the next time they cross paths.
  • A standard Soap Opera trope. At least 90% of the drama couples experience is due to some nasty outsider trying to interfere. Either a jealous would-be lover/ex-lover of one half of the couple or a disapproving family member.
  • In Sugar Rush, the efforts of Sugar to sabotage the relationship between Saint and Kim rather indicate that she's not being honest about having no interest in the latter.
  • Downplayed in Ted Lasso. Rebecca tries to ruin Ted's reputation by having a paparazzo take pictures of him and Jamie's girlfriend Keeley that makes it look like they're having an affair. This would ruin Ted's marriage and Keeley's relationship, but Rebecca is more concerned about sabotaging AFC Richmond itself, with Ted and Keeley being merely collateral damage. Fortunately, a friend of Keeley's manages to delay the story going public, and when Rebecca realises the photos can be traced back to her, she has the story buried. Ironically, Keeley breaks up with Jamie the very next episode, and Rebecca helps her to make that decision, though by that point she's bonded with Keeley and is acting out of genuine concern that Jamie isn't the right man for her.
  • The White Lotus: Paula says to Kai that Olivia does this to her often. We then see it in action when Olivia starts flirting with Kai after noticing Paula sneaking out to see him at night. Kai does not reciprocate with Olivia, and it is just a one-off interaction.
  • This is pretty much Diana Fowley's job during seasons six and seven of The X-Files. She's working for the Syndicate to lure Mulder, but whether her true aim in breaking up Mulder and Scully is professional or personal (she's Mulder's ex-partner and may or may not be his ex-wife) is up to interpretation. She plays off Mulder's previous trust in her and almost succeeds in breaking them up. She is ultimately killed off in the early parts of season seven before she can try again.

  • A bizarrely self-inflicted one occurs with Janet in The Drowsy Chaperone. She is deeply in love with her fiance Robert, so much so that she is giving up her successful stage career to settle down with him as a traditional wife. To test that he is as dedicated to her, she poorly disguises herself as a Frenchwoman named Mimi and flirts with Robert. Carried away by reminiscing over his first meeting with Janet he kisses "Mimi". Janet is into it at first until she remembers her disguise and accuses Robert of cheating.
    • Feldzeig tries to get Aldolpho to seduce Janet so she will break off her impending nuptials and come back to star in his shows. Unfortunately for him, Aldolpho seduces the Chaperone instead of Janet in a case of Mistaken Identity, so the marriage goes through.
  • William Shakespeare uses this trope a lot.
    • The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Proteus snitches about Valentine's courtship of Silvia to get the latter banished by Silvia's father just so he could woo Silvia without any competition for her affections. Silvia sees right through this and is disgusted with him.
    • Love's Labour's Lost: After the King announces a three-year ban on association between men and women at the capital, Don Armado snitches on Costard and Jaquenetta's relationship so that he can court Jaquenetta himself.
    • Much Ado About Nothing: Don John makes two attempts to scuttle the romance between Claudio and Hero in revenge for Claudio's role in putting down John's rebellion. The first fails, but with the second, he convinces Claudio that she's unfaithful and Claudio denounces her at their wedding altar and it takes a Zany Scheme to clear her.
    • Othello: Determined to ruin Othello's life out of jealousy for the Moor's promotion over him, Iago tells Othello that Desdemona is sleeping with Cassio and steals a handkerchief Othello gave Desdemona as "proof" of her infidelity. This drives Othello into a jealous rage and he murders Desdemona as punishment. When Othello finds out that Iago has lied, he is broken beyond measure and kills himself.
    • Cymbeline: To win a bet against Posthumus that Imogen will not remain faithful during the latter's banishment, Iachimo breaks into Imogen's room and while she is sleeping steals a bracelet Posthumus gave to her as "proof" of her infidelity. It works, but only for a little while. Once Posthumus realizes he has been duped, courtesy of an epic What the Hell, Hero? moment by the ghosts of his dead parents and Jupiter himself, he is remorseful and works to get Imogen back.
  • In the ballet Swan Lake, the curse put on Odette by the villain, the Evil Sorcerer Rothbart, is only able to be broken with true love. With this in mind, Rothbart disguises his daughter Odile as Odette so the prince will declare his love for the wrong person. This plot point is the crux of the iconic "Black Swan Pas de Deux".

    Video Games 
  • The Battle Cats: According to the enemy guide, Miz Devil takes every chance to ruin other people's relationships and cause heartbreak, by posing as a relationship expert and intentionally giving bad advice.
  • In Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle, Chief Chemi'n doesn't want his cousin Tana to hook up with Chief Bajari, and so convinces the clueless-about-love Bajari that any "weird feelings" Bajari gets when thinking about Tana are an illness caused by Tana putting a curse on him. Morgane sets him right.
  • Fallout 3 has a scenario where the Player Character must engage in this For the Evulz. In the Tranquility Lane quest which you must complete in order to advance the main story, you must plant evidence of affairs on both sides to break up a married couple with a kid - just to make the kid suffer through his parents breaking up. All because The Sociopath Mad Scientist running the Tranquility Lane simulation likes to inflict miseries on his test subjects "for his amusement".
  • Galaxy Angel: The third game of the first trilogy, Eternal Lovers, has the Val-Fasq gotten wise of how Tact and his chosen Angel defeated Nefuria through The Power of Love, so they sent a mole in order to drive a wedge between them and destroy their source of strength. It does work for a time, but the couple eventually rekindles their relationship much stronger than before and defeat them.
  • One of the selling points on the back of the Mister Mosquito box art.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Tokimeki Memorial 2, Knight Templar Big Brother Kaoru "Sou-Banchou" Ichimonji will constantly try to do this in Akane's storyline. Resolved to prevent any boy hurting her little sister's feelings, and also fearing to lose her (as his only family) if she ever hooks up with a guy, he will sic his underlings on you, then will fight you in person, will barge in the scene if he feels you're too close from her, and in Memories Ringing On, will even go as far as trying to sabotage your wedding ceremony preparations with her by threatening the assembly hall's clerk of obstruction of business! Said sister is not very pleased by her brother's antics, and constantly resolves them with a Megaton Punch.

    Web Animation 
  • Etra chan saw it!: Azami tried to sabotage her son Akamatsu's betrothal with Yuri by stealing his food prepared by her and anonymously sending a picture of Yuri with her brother as "evidence" of infidelity. When the two confront her about it, she not only admits that she tried to sabotage their love because she didn't approve of Yuri's educational background but also the loneliness of losing her son as a single mother. Yuri empathizes Azami's concern and forgives her, which causes Azami to change her mind about her.
  • Manga Angel Neko Oka: Kuroko stole Shizuka's boyfriend Waruo from her. She quit her job but she was headhunted by Akira for a new job and she fell in love with him. When Kuroko met Shizuka and Akira, she tried to ask him out but he refused. She hired some delinquents to try to beat up Shizuka but Akira was able to defend her. He called Kuroko out and she ran away saying that she's sorry.

  • In General Protection Fault, Trudy steals Ki's stuffed animal "Mr. Pookel" and leaves it where Nick will find it so that he'll learn her screen name. He's upset with her for not telling him in order to test his loyalty, but ultimately forgives her.
  • Homestuck has a variant skewed a bit by the nature of troll romance. Basically, trolls have four romantic quadrants - "genuine love", "Morality Pet", "mediation between two others" and "mutually destructive hatelust" - and you're generally expected to have relations with a given person confined to only one quadrant. As a result, at one point Casanova Wannabe Eridan attempted to sabotage Feferi and Sollux's "genuine love" romance by trying to make Feferi mediate between himself and Sollux, which would push them out of their preferred quadrant.
  • League of Super Redundant Heroes: Distracterella has a crush on Lazer Pony (being blind, he's the only man who isn't, well, Distracted by the Sexy when talking to her) and sneaks into his house. Unfortunately, she finds out he has a date and doesn't like that at all.
  • Some characters in Ménage à 3 aren't above meddling with others' romantic lives for their own purposes. Two notable instances:
    • Sonya sets out, rather ineptly, to break Zii away from Erik. That relationship does eventually come apart, though only partly and indirectly because of Sonya's efforts.
    • Right after that, she considers trying to separate Zii from her one true love and Lust Object DiDi, as he bemoans how after Zii and Erik broke up that Zii still has feelings for the other blondie DiDi but then cheerfully says how that's no matter as she has all the time in the world.
    • Later, Lynn tries to separate DiDi from Zii — by the oddly honest method of telling DiDi that's what she wants, while casually pointing out that the relationship might have practical problems when DiDi starts pursuing her wrestling career.
  • In Sandra on the Rocks, Eloise wants to break up the relationship between Sandra and Pierre, who she wants for herself. Her methods get distinctly over-complicated, mostly because she also wants to destroy Sandra completely, for various reasons.
  • In Tales Of Schlock, Manoa tried to do this to her own relationship. Her main squeeze Deedo started showing signs that he wanted a more serious relationship. Manoa, who had been wary of relationships ever since her boyfriend impregnated and left her, wanted to break up with him. She demanded that he have constant sex with her and she planned to end the relationship when he was too worn out to deliver. Luckily, Bodacia gave Deedo a shake that increased his sex drive enough to meet Manoa's demands.

    Web Original 
  • In the Dad episodes "Him?" and "Why?" it's revealed that the Dad Magazine and Mom's fantasy book were left behind by the Neighbor; both of these had caused rifts between Dad and Mom, and given that the Neighbor seems to have a thing for Mom...
  • Double Life SMP: Many players try to do this throughout the season in order to weaken other players' partnerships and alliances with their soulmates.
    • Bdubs and Impulse try to get people alone to give them vague warnings about their soulmates trash-talking about them behind their backs. It doesn't always work, due to some people knowing that their soulmate couldn't possibly have had time to gossip, and some people already being on bad terms with their soulmate, making Bdubs' and Impulse's efforts unnecessary.
    • Grian tries to get Big B to break up with Ren by making himself out as a secret admirer to Big B. It somewhat works since Big B was willing to secretly ally with Grian, and the "affair" has put some strain on Big B and Ren's relationship.
    • Scott creates the "Relationship Ranch" on Day 3, which he markets as a couples' retreat meant to strengthen relationships with trust exercises. Its true purpose, however, is for Scott to gaslight the couples by Accentuating the Negative in supervising the activities and inciting concern between the couples. This tactic ultimately doesn't last due to Cerebus Syndrome.

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of American Dad! has a subplot involving Hayley and Steve trying to break up a couple so they can respectively have the boyfriend and girlfriend themselves. It ends up going too well when the resulting fight at a park ends up getting physical enough to at least horribly maim the couple (the boyfriend was pushed into a barbecue by accident, which burns his face and partially sets him on fire, scaring the girlfriend who falls into a creek where she's attacked by an alligator).
  • Archer tries to get his ex back by manipulating recordings of her current boyfriend in order to make it look like he's cheating on her. She doesn't believe him, but still appreciates the effort.
    • Archer's mom also purposely drives Lana closer to her boyfriend to get her away from Archer, because while Lana and Cyril are the Official Couple, she can see the Unresolved Sexual Tension between her and her son.
    • And Archer's "Operation Something About I Rescue Lana and She Begs Me to Take Her Back, so Then Cyril Commits Suicide."
    • Also Archer's attempt to separate his mother from his favorite actor Burt Reynolds by forging an insulting note in Burt's handwriting and he did it because he can't stand the idea of his favorite actor dating his mother.
    • Outside Archer's attempts, the rest of the main group spends an episode trying to separate Archer and Lana because they got sick of how well lovey-dovey they're being with each other. They hatch a plan to entice Archer to cheat on Lana with his ex-fiancee Katya by bringing her to his apartment, but when they overhear Archer telling about Katya how much he truly loves Lana, they were all reduced to tears and intense regret, kicking themselves for how they could be so vindictive. But despite them trying to stop the desired affair at the last second, Lana did eventually find Katya's detachable robot vagina in Archer's sink that she had put in there to clean it before trying to seduce him, and Lana did indeed pop a blood vessel in rage at Archer's suspected infidelity.
  • The As Told by Ginger episode "Wicked Game" has Dodie and Macey teaming up with Miranda and Mipsy to break up Ginger and Darren. Courtney overhears their plans and warns Ginger about it, and sets up a conference call with everyone so she tricks them into discussing everything they've done with Ginger and Darren on the other line.
  • Implicitly done in Bojack Horseman when Diane seduces her ex-husband Mr. Peanutbutter after seeing how happy he was with his new girlfriend after their divorce, while she was single and miserable.
    • Bojack also spent the entirety of the first season trying to sabotage the romance between Diane and Mr Peanutbutter so he can win Diane over, only to give up after being scolded by Todd for trying to crash her wedding.
    • Bojack also sabotaged his own relationship with his girlfriend Wanda Pierce because of not knowing how to be romantic due to his one-night stand lifestyle. He lashed out at her over his director and friend Kelsey Jannings getting fired, as well as his friend Herb Hazsaz getting fired by another producer like her.
    • Bojack also ruined the relationship between his sister Hollyhock and her boyfriend Miles, this time out of fear that he's using her for sex like Bojack did with other women. He acted as a judge in a booty academy show where Miles is an intern and told one of the contestants to seduce Miles to make him look like a cheater, but due to a misunderstanding, the contestant got laid with a gaffer, then Bojack got kicked out of the show for that. Then Miles told Bojack he could've just asked him not to date Hollyhock as he confessed he was just dating her to get Bojack to publish his screenplay.
    • Bojack also sabotaged his own relationship again with his girlfriend Gina Cazador because of being paranoid that someone is trying to expose his secrets. After overdosing on pain pills, Bojack's insanity grew to the point he really choked Gina in a scene where they pretend to fight.
  • The Ghost and Molly McGee: Molly develops a crush on her new neighbor, Ollie. They’re practically perfect for each other, besides the glaring issue that his family hunts ghosts, and Molly is best friends with Scratch, a ghost. Because of this, Scratch disapproves of her crush on him, and in “I Wanna Dance With Some-Ollie”, constantly tries to sabotage their pseudo-date at the school dance. However, his attempts only end up bringing them closer together instead, which isn’t helped that the song playing over this is entitled, “I Keep Ending Up With You”.
  • In Harley Quinn (2019), Harley never respected Poison Ivy's relationship with Kite Man, openly stating that she deserved better. When she does start being supportive it's around the time she realizes she has feelings for Ivy herself and ends up ruining their engagement by sleeping with her. She tries to make it up to Kite Man by planning their wedding herself, but the damage had already been done and he ended up breaking it off for good.
  • Helga always fails at this in Hey Arnold!.
    • However at one point her plan was actually noble as the girl he was with was just romancing him so he would win a Sand Castle contest for her where she then planned to dump him and share the prize with her boyfriend. However, because Arnold came across her Evil Gloating over the situation he wouldn't believe her when she tried to tell him of the plan.
  • Kaeloo:
  • King of the Hill: Peggy sabotages Lucky & Luann's relationship.
  • In The Legend of Korra Book 1 episode "The Spirit of Competition", Pema reveals to Korra that she confessed her love to Tenzin despite knowing that he was already in a relationship with Lin Beifong because she saw he was unhappy and thought she would be a better match for him. Korra then follows her lead and confesses her attraction to Mako despite knowing he is in a relationship with Asami.
  • The Series Finale of My Dad the Rock Star has Quincy trying to break Willy and Alyssa up because he thinks that if they're together, they wouldn't want him hanging around getting in their way.
  • Rick and Morty:
    • At the beginning of season 3, Rick got himself arrested by the galactic federation as part of a plan to destroy it from the inside and to get revenge on Jerry for wanting to sell him off to the bureaucrats, which once Rick came back to Beth with the kids, he can pose himself as a hero that got rid of the federation's rules, Jerry instantly tries to prove again that Rick is a complete monster for making him lose his job (while he ignored that his family was suffering with the new government), Jerry then makes Beth choose between him and Rick, which obviously chose Rick as he made everything back to before the aliens colonized earth.
    • For unlucky Jerry, as he was moving out of the house, no one seems to care about him leaving or even stopped him from leaving, also the wind was calling him a loser.
    • In one episode which focused on Rick and Jerry, Jerry now lives in self-loathing regret of leaving his family in a decaying motel room, and once Rick drags him to a fake adventure, he indirectly learns that his divorce was Rick's fault, so he invites Rick to a rollercoaster which Jerry knows some assassins will be to kill him to both get revenge on Rick for causing Jerry's divorce and selling weapons to the assassins' enemies, but just as they were on the ride, Rick admitted his part on their brake up and sincerely would tell the truth to Beth, unfortunately it was too late for Jerry to abort the murder attempt without Rick knowing his part in it, and the dying hitman admitted he was part of the assassination. Just as Jerry tried to explain himself there, he was being eaten by an alien snake and as he was half swollen, he lashed at Rick for stealing his family, which he replies on how he uses his pity and cowardly ways to convince everyone to help him survive and makes him reflect on how he is also ruining everyone's life. After escaping the murder attempts, Rick and Jerry agreed to keep secret about the murder attempt and Rick's part in their divorce, and also made Jerry want to become stronger to win Beth back.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Bart once tried to break up the relationship of Laura Powers, his Precocious Crush (with the added motivation that the person she was going out with had bullied him).
    • In an earlier episode, when his best friend Milhouse started 'dating' the new girl at school, Bart tipped off the girl's Boyfriend-Blocking Dad so Milhouse would hang out with him again. He ended up regretting it.
    • In another episode, Milhouse's parents (who several seasons back had a nasty Toilet Seat Divorce) are getting back together. Which seems great at first, except that Milhouse starts to feel that they're ignoring him. He complains about this to Bart, and Bart sees a Teen Drama on TV wherein a girl angrily dumps her boyfriend because she found another girl's bra in his room. Bart steals one of Marge's bras and leaves it in the Van Houtens' bedroom. But because the bra had Marge's name sewn into it, it's Homer and Marge's marriage that ends up on the rocks instead. Homer and Marge reconcile once they realise it was a big misunderstanding.
    • In Dude, Where's My Ranch?, Lisa falls for a cute boy while at a dude ranch. Later on, she meets a girl their age who knows him and is looking forward to meeting him at the upcoming dance. Lisa, assuming it's his girlfriend, deliberately sends her down the wrong trail, which makes her get lost, but when Lisa learns that the girl is the boy's sister, she eventually feels guilty and helps find the girl. When she confesses to the boy, he's so disgusted by Lisa's actions that he never wants to see her again.
  • In The Smurfs episode "Papa's Wedding Day", the male Smurfs at first become jealous of Papa Smurf's attention being drawn away by the young and beautiful woodnymph Flowerbell, but when they discover that Flowerbell was working for the evil Lord Balthazar and tricking Papa Smurf into marrying her so that the wizard could capture him and use him for his evil purposes, the Smurfs do everything in their power to sabotage the wedding so as to make Papa Smurf have second thoughts about marrying Flowerbell.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: Aunt May finds out that Peter might have a date with an older woman who isn't Mary Jane, and therefore tracks the woman down and pressures her into breaking it off. And she gets away with this.
  • A non-romantic version happens in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Naughty Nautical Neighbors" where Squidward provokes a fight between SpongeBob and Patrick that ends their friendship for no reason other than being a jerk. However, both of them then want him to be their new best friend and drive him crazy to the point that he has to make them friends again.
  • Total Drama: Because relationships are effectively alliances, there's usually someone with poor morals around that wants to see one or more not succeed.
    • Heather forms an alliance with Lindsay and Beth in "The Big Sleep". One of her first orders to keep control over the two is for Lindsay to forget about her reciprocal crush on Tyler, who's a member of the other team. Lindsay obeys halfheartedly and picks up a relationship with Tyler after they're both eliminated.
    • Heather becomes concerned about Gwen's and Trent's developing romance in "Search and Do Not Destroy" because a relationship equals an alliance and that's competition she can't afford. So she arranges for Gwen to walk in on her and Trent kissing by means of a fake letter. She lures Trent to the Dock of Shame and tearfully spits out lies that Gwen confessed to the other girls that she dislikes Trent and only uses him to get ahead in the game. Heather kisses Trent when Gwen shows up, making her believe that Trent's unfaithful and letting Trent believe he's being used while ensuring that neither would want to talk to the other any time soon. Due to her meddling, Trent is voted off that evening, but the truth also comes out and the two resume their relationship.
    • In "Zeek and Ye Shall Find", Mal believes that he and Cameron need a third ally and Scott's a good pick. But to get Scott on their side, they need to destroy the budding romance between him and Courtney. Mal therefore cajoles Cameron into kissing Courtney and the two make it look like Courtney was the one to initiate it, aiming to get Scott on their side by making him believe that Courtney was two-timing him as much as she was Cameron. It doesn't work out entirely as planned, as Scott and Courtney work through it, but Mal does manage to get his hooks in Scott.
    • Chris likes Heather's and Alejandro's belligerent romance. He does not like it when they get lovey-dovey and fail to provide any drama. Thus, to get entertaining footage, he changes the rules of the finale midway in "The Final Wreck-ening" to where the finalists and the helpers equally can claim the grand prize upon winning. With money on the line, Heather and Alejandro go back to being enemies.
    • Sugar doesn't like that Dave and Sky are heading for a romance-alliance and sets out to disrupt any further progress in "This Is the Pits!". Whenever they have a moment, she's there to ruin it. By the end of the episode, she no longer has to bother because Chris makes Sky and Max switch teams.
    • In "This Is the Pits!", Chris announces that he's breaking up Scarlett and Max because their romantic development would make for an unfair alliance. To prevent the team sizes from becoming unbalanced, he has Max switch teams with Sky. This creates some uncertainty about which relationship Chris is actually targeting. Although Scarlett and Max seem close, they are not romantically involved, which Chris may or may not know from confessional footage. Meanwhile, Sky and Dave are close to forming a relationship, which plenty of people know about. In either case, splitting up Scarlett and Max changes nothing about them, while splitting up Dave and Sky becomes the start of the downfall of their romance.
    • In "Lies, Cries and One Big Prize", Chris rigs the helper selection so that Shawn and Sky both get assistance from their respective love interests: Jasmine and Dave. He lets their interactions play out until the final stretch of the race. That's when he shows the quartet what horrible things Shawn said about Jasmine and what devastating secret Sky's been keeping from Dave. As everything sinks in, he declares the helpers to now be hinderers and that the dangers of the final stretch are up to their choosing. Jasmine chooses to forgive Shawn, while after everything else that's happened Dave only wants revenge against Sky.
  • In Winnie The Pooh: A Valentine For You, Christopher Robin has a liking for a girl named Winifred, and Pooh and the gang worry this means he won't have time to visit them anymore, so they set out to find the "smitten" that bit him so they can give him a second bite to "de-bug" love. Pooh ultimately decides to leave Christopher the way he is and lets the smitten go because seeing how happy he is to have a new friend is for the best.
  • Diaspro in Winx Club is in love with and originally engaged to Prince Sky. However, Sky falls in love with Bloom and breaks up with Diaspro. Diaspro is still in love with Sky and tries to brainwash him with a love potion. When this fails, she turns to more conventional means such as not letting the two spend time together and feeding the two misinformation in an attempt to drive them apart. She's helped when Sky's father declares her his liaison, giving her some power over Sky.


Video Example(s):


Mulan II

Mushu attempts to break up Mulan and Shang to avoid losing his position as her guardian.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / RelationshipSabotage

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