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Runaway Fiancé

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Alice is facing an Arranged Marriage with someone she doesn't love at all. Her parents are dead set on this marriage, and she can't talk her way out of it, but she certainly can't stand to go through with it. So what's left?

Running away, of course.

This is a common plot device for the Rebellious Princess, either as her backstory or as a threat she's facing (especially if the Hero has become her love interest). If Alice waits until the wedding ceremony has actually begun to make her escape, she's a Runaway Bride. Contrast Parental Marriage Veto.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Jenny Doolittle does this in Bodacious Space Pirates, shooting her way out before stealing a brand-new stealth fighter, then hiring the eponymous pirates as her escort. Her answer to family pressure seems to be More Dakka. Too bad her family has their own fleet.
  • Clarisse in The Castle of Cagliostro bailed when the guards left her room to allow her to change into her wedding dress (presumably to rehearse the ceremony). But in spite of Lupin's efforts, she was recaptured, and this time imprisoned in a tall tower. One that could only be entered via a retracting bridge or a hatch on the roof. Other features included grenade-proof glass.
  • Freya Wion of Macross Delta ran away from her arranged marriage so she could join the auditions for Walkure. To complicate things, she happens to be a Windermerian whose people end up declaring war against N.U.N.S. (which Walkure is technically part of).
  • In One Piece, it turns out that Lola is actually this. She's one of Big Mom's daughters and she ran away from an Arranged Marriage to a Giant Prince, causing her to be estranged from her family save for her twin sister Chiffon.
  • In Pokémon: The Original Series, it is eventually revealed that James of Team Rocket ran away from home to escape marriage to the insane and sadistic Jessebelle. While he did have feelings for her at one point, he loved his Growlie (his only friend, a pet Growlithe) even more, and her attempt to get the dog out of the equation was the breaking point. (Ironically, not only is Jessebelle's name similar to James' partner Jessie, the two look very much alike, and have a similar bossy attitude. This is usually pointed out by fans as "proof" of his feelings for Jessie, but overlooked on the show.)
  • In the anime Princess Comet, the main character considers running away from a party where a prince will be betrothed either to her or her rival, only to find that the prince beat her to it by running away himself.
  • Ranma ½:
    • In the first chapter, it initially looks like Ranma Saotome might become this to Akane Tendo, given that he's expressed no interest in her and openly stated that he considers finding a cure far more important than getting a girlfriend. Of course, his (currently her) plans to leave are curtailed when Akane knocks him/her out cold with a table for insulting Akane's (lack of) figure compared to his/her cursed form. When Ranma comes around, he first gets enrolled in school, then caught up in the chaos, so he forgets all about it.
    • By the end of the manga, Ryoga Hibiki is an unwilling version. He wants to be around his newfound love interest and accidental fiancee Akari Unryuu, but his non-existent sense of orientation means he can rarely even find her.
  • In Romeo × Juliet Romeo is arranged to marry Hermione, he falls for Juliet and they run away together. Unfortunately for them, they get caught.
  • In Rune Soldier Louie, Melissa ran away from an arranged marriage and even became a priestess to Mylee, the God of War, to make sure her parents couldn't force her back. Although Melissa found her calling in serving Mylee as a White Magician Girl/Combat Medic who's supposed to partner with a divinely chosen Adventurer Hero, her bad luck with men still screwed her over and she got stuck in an Arranged Marriage-like situation with an Idiot Hero she can neither stand nor walk away from. This is made worse by the fact that, while there's no rule that says a Priestess of Mylee must hook up with her Champion, it happens so often that she's afraid that people will assume she and Louie are an item just from that, a misconception that Melissa vocally denies at every turn to the point it becomes her catchphrase.
  • Male variant from Stand by Me Doraemon 2 - part of the film's major conflict is that Nobita found out his adult self fled from his wedding to Shizuka 15 years later in the future before escaping to the present and must help his adult self regain confidence and return to complete the wedding.
  • In the Virtua Fighter anime, the action is kickstarted when Pai Chan runs away from a Triad leader and martial artist named Li Kowloon, who wants to make her go through an Arranged Marriage.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Abigail Keating's fiance John Hunter ran away the night before their wedding to live a life of crime as the master thief Lon Logix. She lived the rest of her life pining after him, and it is very heavily implied her "niece" Ursula is actually her daughter with John.
    • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): After Diana refuses to give Etta her backstory, Etta comes up with a fanciful dramatic one she knows is false where Diana is a princess fleeing from an arranged marriage.
  • Marvel 1602: Susan Storm went aboard Captain Benjamin Grimm's ship, the Fantastick, to escape such a marriage.
  • Squadron Supreme: Happens to Golden Archer when his fiance proved to be far too clingy after he brainwashed her to love him.

    Fairy Tales 
  • "Catskin": The main female character tries to make outrageous demands before she consents to the match but finally resorts to run away.
  • "Donkeyskin": The protagonist flees froms her home so that she is not forced to marry her own father.

    Fan Works 
  • In Turning Over A New Leaf, Pacifica runs away when her parents arrange for her to marry a man she's never met, all the while acting like she is in wrong for not wanting to go through with it. She ends up joining Dipper, Stan, and Ford on their journeys around the world and falls for Dipper along the way. And ends up marrying him in the end.

    Film - Animation 
  • Jasmine in Aladdin, although she's not threatened with a specific groom, just an obligation to get married... until Jafar "finds" some tiny letters in the local laws.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Just before the ceremony is to start in the movie Arthur (1981), the title character and his lover Linda go to his fiancee Susan to tell her the wedding's off. Susan's father tries to kill the lovers and is only stopped by Arthur's grandmother - but he does beat Arthur up enough that he's black and blue when he explains to the guests what's happened and then passes out on the altar.
  • Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy's character) in Coming to America convinced his father to send him to America as a sort of extended bachelor party, when in reality, he was looking to escape his arranged marriage and find true love.
  • Inverted in the classic comedy It Happened One Night, where the fiancée escapes her father's custody in order to get to her soon-to-be husband.
  • In Ophelia, the title character flees her forced marriage to Edmund by pretending to have gone mad and making it seem she drowned when she had actually taken a few drops of snake vemon that paralyzed her.
  • In the 1991 film version of Robin Hood (1991), Maid Marion (Uma Thurman) runs away to Sherwood Forest to escape her arranged marriage to Sir Miles Flaconet (Jürgen Prochnow).
  • In Serendipity, Jonathan seems to be fairly uninterested in his own wedding, enough so to be running after some other woman in the crucial days before. Even after he thought he lost Sara, he realizes that he doesn't love Halley.
  • Shanghai Noon: Princess Pei Pei is taken to America by a man named Calvin Andrews in order to escape her arranged marriage to a fat slob. In reality, Andrew is working for Imperial defector Lo Fong, who ransoms the princess for 100,000 pieces of gold and forces her to work on his railroad.
  • In the live-action Disney film The Sword And The Rose, Princess Mary Tudor (sister of Henry VIII) unsuccessfully attempts to run away with Charles Brandon rather than be married to the aging King of France. It should be noted that the film is historically inaccurate; the real Princess Mary did in fact elope with Brandon, but not until after she had married King Louis and nursed him through his final illness.
  • In Titanic (1997) Rose DeWitt Bukater fakes her death in the Titanic disaster and changes her name to escape her engagement. Before the ship went down she told her intended that she'd rather be Jack's whore than Cal's wife. Before that, she wanted to kill herself so she didn't have to marry him.

  • A major part of 1634:The Bavarian Crisis involves Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria trying to avoid marriage to the elderly Maximilian of Bavaria (also her uncle), which ends with her fleeing to the Netherlands, and a self-Arranged Marriage to King Ferdinand (her cousin on her father's side and her brother's wife's brother) Well, they are Habsburgs.
  • Debera in Dragonseye flees a prospective marriage arranged by her father when she discovers she was supposed to be a candidate for dragonrider, and her father hid the letter from her. She does Impress and find a romance of her own into the bargain.
  • Downplayed in Earth's Children. At the start of The Valley of Horses, it's mentioned that many people were expecting Jondalar to mate Marona at the Summer Meeting...but he changed his mind and decided to go travelling with Thonolan instead. Though they weren't formally Promised, Marona was still under the impression he was going to marry her and isn't best pleased when Jondalar is a no-show.
  • Princess Cimorene in Patricia C. Wrede's Dealing With Dragons. Her parents try to con her into marrying the empty-headed prince of a neighbouring kingdom, so, on the advice of a talking frog (it happens in a fairy-tale universe, after all), she decides to run away.
  • In The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker, Emma runs to the swamp when she finds out she's to be engaged to an empty-headed and vain prince. She didn't intend to stay for long, but she ended up turning into a frog. Yeah, another fairy-tale universe.
  • Talia, the main character of the original Heralds of Valdemar trilogy, does this, although she left before being assigned a specific bridegroom. She was thirteen at the time.
    • Kethry from the related Vows and Honor duology was a year or two younger when her old nurse smuggled her from the home of the new husband her brother found for her. Unfortunately it was after the marriage and consummation of same.
  • Georgette Heyer loves this trope.
    • The Corinthian has Pen running away from marriage to her cousin, and then helping another girl run away from a proposed marriage to her.
    • Bath Tangle actually has a subversion, of sorts: the hero's unwanted fiancée runs away from him...and then is persuaded to go back by the heroine, who argues that a loveless but comfortable marriage to the hero (who isn't nearly as horrible as he seems) is much better than a hasty elopement with the hero's poorer nephew.
    • Kitty in Cotillion is a slight variation — her guardian is forcing her to marry one of his many nephews (but it's her choice which), so she runs away. And then subverted, in that she meets one of the nephews in the local inn five minutes later and comes up with a better plan.
  • Aravis in C. S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy does this to avoid becoming a child bride to a cruel, repulsive old man.
  • Frederica Vernon of Jane Austen's Lady Susan runs away from Boarding School when she finds out her mother, the titular Lady Susan, intends to force her to marry the ditzy Sir James Morton against her will. She gets caught on the road.
  • Deconstructed together with Arranged Marriage in Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen prequel The Kharkanas Trilogy. Upon receiving the news that she is to marry a considerably older war hero in order to enable him to rise to nobility as thanks for his deeds in the past war, Faror Hend, daughter of a decimated noble house, bolts to a military posting as far away from the capital as possible, where she proceeds to ogle over her younger cousin. When she hears that her betrothed is on his way to her, she jumps to conclusions and bolts again, never stopping to consider why he'd bother to travel that far. Turns out Kagamandra Tulas is about as happy to ruin a young woman's life over political matters as she is to be saddled with an unwanted marriage, but since neither can get out of the arrangement gracefully, he was just trying to tell her that he does not care what she does as long as she's happy and safe. Sharenas Ankhadu points out that neither behaviour is going to help matters.
  • In The Mister, it's eventually revealed that the reason Alessia left Albania is that her father betrothed her to an abusive gangster, not knowing his true nature, and her mother helped her escape.
  • In My Ántonia, shortly after moving to Denver, the eponymous Antonia is abandoned by her fiance, Larry Donovan, while pregnant, forcing her to move back in with her abusive brother Ambrosch in Black Hawk and be subject to shaming by the community.
  • Subverted in Shabanu, where the title character tries to run away from an arranged marriage to someone old enough to be her grandfather. She gets (severely?) beaten up by her parents, and marries the guy anyway.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • No one's a hundred percent clear on the events surrounding Rhaegar and Lyanna, but one version - the nicest version - is that she abandoned her betrothal to Robert to be with him.
    • Alys Karstark flees to the Wall to escape her arranged marriage to her Cregan Karstark, who is maybe three times her age, her cousin, and has had his last two wives die. She believes that she'll suffer a similar accident once they're married, allowing Cregan to become lord of Karhold. She is not opposed to arranged marriage in principle though, and marries Sigorn, Magnar of Thenn, the ruler of a wildling tribe she's never met, to foil Cregan's succession plans, give herself her own little army, and give the newly created House Thenn some legitimacy.
  • Averted in Soul Music, where the troll princess Jade says she'll refuse to wed the prince her parents have chosen for her, and that she'll run away if she has to. Susan persuades her to at least meet the potential groom first: he might turn out to be nice.
  • The Sword Of Saint Ferdinand: Unwilling to marry the evil ruler who is holding her captive, Elvira takes advantage of the chaos of an urban battle to run away from his captor.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of the 1980s series Beauty and the Beast (1987) (nothing to do with the Fairy Tale or Disney movie) has Catherine and Vincent helping a young Chinese woman escape an arranged marriage. Unfortunately, the man she was to marry was the son of a high-ranking member of a Triad which knew all about the World Below.
  • The F Troop episode "From Karate With Love", which focused on a runaway Japanese bride and the Samurai sent to fetch her.
  • In Game of Thrones, Lyanna Stark is revealed to have been this in Season 7. Her father betrothed her to Robert Baratheon, but Lyanna didn't love him and instead eloped with Prince Rhaegar. It's deconstructed, as everyone assumes Lyanna was kidnapped and before this could be corrected, Rhaegar's father killed Lyanna's father and eldest brother when they demanded her return, which set off a civil war that got Lyanna's husband killed at the hands of her former betrothed, and Lyanna herself died giving birth to Jon Snow.
  • Goodbye My Princess: Xiao Feng runs away to escape her arranged marriage... and runs right into Cheng Yin.
  • Used in The Holy Pearl, a loose adaptation of Inuyasha. Rebellious Princess Yu Die runs away from her Arranged Marriage...much to the relief of the intended groom.

  • The song "Sister Golden Hair" by America has a groom who doesn't show up for a wedding that day because he isn't "ready for the altar"
  • "The Big Bopper Wedding" by The Big Bopper, in which he gets cold feet on his wedding day.
  • "A Legal Matter" by The Who, from My Generation where the protagonist doesn't want to get married, despite everything already being taken care of.

  • Some say Ariadne was already betrothed to Dionysus, when she ran away with Theseus. Dionysus either ordered Artemis to slay her while she was giving birth or forced Theseus to leave her on Naxos, where he took her as his wife anyway.

    New Media 

  • In the musical Camelot, both Arthur and Guinevere run away from their arranged marriage, then meet in the woods and fall in love without knowing one another's identities.
  • In Duke Bluebeard's Castle Judith abandoned her family and betrothed to marry Bluebeard and come to his castle. Bluebeard notes that her family isn't pleased with what happened and are gunning for him, but she's adamant she made the right choice.
  • In the backstory of First Date, Allison ran away from Aaron just before their scheduled wedding ceremony.
  • It works out much better for Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
  • The title character from Naughty Marietta.
  • Nanki-Poo in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado takes on the guise of a travelling minstrel to escape an unwanted marriage.
  • In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet tries this. It doesn't work so well.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Empires III: Elisabet Ramsey's backstory is that she became a pirate to escape from an arranged marriage and achieve freedom.
  • Player Character Hawke's mother did this in the backstory of Dragon Age II. For maximum scandal, she was an aristocrat who fled her arranged marriage to run away with (and marry) a foreign peasant...who was also a fugitive mage in a world where magic users are feared and considered inherently sinful and locked up for the rest of their lives to avoid the risk of DemonicPossession or otherwise endangering muggles. 25 years later, her surviving family's still not too pleased.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light, Prince Michalis of Macedon tried to arrange a marriage between himself and the White Magician Girl Lena, a young woman whose foster father is of a very noble house. Lena greatly disliked the power-hungry Evil Prince, however; she turned Michalis' proposal down and ran the HELL away from him.
    • In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, Astrid ran away from home rather than be forced into a marriage. Since the man her parents wanted her to marry is Senator Lekain, who is eventually revealed as a genocidal monster, this is entirely understandable on her part.
  • Princess Seraphine in Puzzle Quest, an optional party member. Kinda understandable since her calculating father wanted to marry her to a tribe of barbarians to stop them from raiding his kingdom. Also, his poor treatment of the player character just asks you to interfere. However, since she's optional, it's also perfectly possible that she gets married if the player doesn't help her.
  • Millay of Suikoden IV fled Middleport when Schtoltenheim Reinbach II planned to make her marry his son. Her parents approved of the marriage; she didn't, so she made a break for it. Your hero happens to meet her just as Reinbach II's goons track her down — ironically enough, this is also the first time Schtoltenheim Reinbach III meets her, and he's blissfully unaware of the situation until after they've helped her out. Then he's completely horrified at his father's terrible deeds, and apologizes profusely.
  • When Elaena Glenmore in Game of Thrones (Telltale) becomes engaged to Gryff Whitehill, she runs away to join his enemies, House Forrester. Ironically, before this, she was happily engaged to Rodrik Forrester.

    Visual Novels 
  • This is part of Kyrie's back story in Umineko: When They Cry. She ran away from the Arranged Marriage to marry the protagonist Battler's father, Rudolf. It should be noted that she'd been in a relationship with Rudolf for a while, even when he was married to Battler's mother, Asumu (Or not). Unfortunately, this resulted in her younger sister Kasumi being forced to marry the fiance. Having already promised herself to someone else, she's pretty miffed about that. And considering how Kyrie dies on Rokkenjima, the grudge is transferred to Kyrie's daughter, Ange.


    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Runaway Fiancee