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Serial Homewrecker

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Killian: Now what are you doing aboard my ship?
Rumpelstiltskin: W... well... you have my wife.
Killian: I've had many a man's wife.

Put simply, these are people who prefer their sex buddies married, in a relationship or otherwise romantically involved. Perhaps it's the challenge involved in getting a committed partner to be unfaithful, or perhaps they have a morbid fascination with monogamy. For whatever reason, they'll bed a married woman in her husband's own home while he works late, or take a guy home with them from the club after seeing him with his girlfriend, and be completely okay with this behaviour.

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While the trope in itself is quite gender-neutral, there is usually a Double Standard at play when it comes to depicting these characters.

A male Serial Homewrecker will be seen as the sexual competitor he is but rarely an actual antagonist, even if the main character is also male. Instead, he is way more likely to pass off as a regular lady killer or a Chick Magnet, just a less ethical one, since he's usually motivated by sexual gratification and the thrill of the challenge to be better in bed than their target's husbands, especially if said husband is richer than him. In any case, his casual flings and flirts are usually not depicted as direct threats to a marriage, just regular gallivanting since he never wants the married women he has sex with to leave their husbands and kids for him, he just wants the good sex with a woman willing to experiment in bed what she won't do with her husband. Typically, a male Serial Homewrecker is a Hunk or Tall, Dark, and Handsome to explain his success with women and, when it's brought up, very well endowed downstairs.

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A female Serial Homewrecker is much more often an antagonist, especially if the protagonist is another woman. Quite unlike her male counterpart, her motivations for looking especially for married men are much darker and are conflated with Daddy Issues in the most Anvilicious takes on the trope. Even though she is sometimes just a lustful hedonist, she's more often than not a Foil to a more virtuous heroine and is always on the "whore" end of the Madonna–Whore Complex and will very often be called just that by other women, while men will usually lust after her. In its darkest form, which doesn't exist in the male version of the trope, a female Serial Homewrecker wishes to take away from married women what she herself cannot have i.e. a home and family. In this case, she weaponizes her illicit relationship with the husband, often trying to get him to leave his family for her, just to dump him afterwards and try again on another man, the real target being other women whose life and status she envies. Like her male counterpart, this character is often Ms. Fanservice, often in a Femme Fatale kind of way.

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You will hardly find a female homewrecker as a protagonist, but a male one can be at times. Much more frequently, this trope is relegated to side characters who exist as a hurdle to the main character's arc, tempting them to be unfaithful as a moral challenge.

Compare and contrast archetypes such as The Vamp and The Casanova.

Female versions of the trope are very common antagonists in the Lifetime Movie of the Week, and usually pay a very high price for this behaviour.

Subtrope of Has a Type. Related to Honey Trap and Really Gets Around. Usually found in Cuckold situations.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Remi from The Feelings We All Must Endure is an Embodiment of Vice for Envy, so she takes a particular pleasure in seducing girls already in a relationship.
  • Defied in Fragments of Love: Mika has regular trysts with older women but balks at the idea of doing it with married ones.
  • Love Tyrant: Shikimi has a love of "stealing or tarnishing things other cherish", which includes seducing the Love Interests of other people just to make them feel like a Cuckold. She molests Seiji in front of Akane just to make her suffer and is later caught trying to seduce Mr. Kusunoki, just because she knows he and Mari have feelings for each other and wants to ruin it. It's heavily implied Akane turned into a Yandere Clingy Jealous Girl due to trauma of having to grow up with Shikimi doing this to her throughout her life.
  • Peach Girl: Sae is known for stealing many a girls boyfriends away from them. Part of the plot in the manga is based on her trying to do this to Momo using tactics such as Bed Trick and trying to blackmail Touji with photos of a fake rape involving Momo into dating her.
  • Ranma ½: Mikado Sanzenin is a man who wants to kiss as many women as he can, without giving a damn about such details as the girl's consent or marital status. This reputation becomes somewhat more literal than usual when it turns out that his signature double-team attack with Asuza Shiratori (which is to grab the girl of an opponent skating couple, wait until the guy tries to pull her away and then twist around like a tornado until one team member eventually lets go of the other, getting the guy badly hurt and hopefully breaking the team's mutual trust) has the name of "the Couple Cleaver".

    Comic Books 
  • This is fodder for a joke in Red Ears. A lothario is shown having sex with multiple different married women in a Sex Montage, then shows him handing his male buddy at a diner a note from an angry husband who is threatening to kill him. His friend suggests simply calling off that affair, but is rebuffed: the guy who sent the note didn't sign it.
  • In Seven Soldiers of Victory: Bulleteer, the former Golden Age heroine Sally Sonic has become a pathological homewrecker as a result of being stuck in a permanently teenaged body, deliberately seeking out married men and sleeping with them specifically to ruin their marriages. For added villainy, after she finds out that her latest target, Lance Harrower, died in an accident, forcing his widow Alix to rent out her house in order to pay the bills, she moves in under her civilian identity, ingratiating herself with the unsuspecting Alix so that she can eventually kill her.
  • Michonne is accused of being this by Heath in The Walking Dead; he believes it's because she feels the need to prove she's "better" than other women. There's a more likely explanation, though: her romantic history strongly suggests that she's only attracted to black men, and there are few enough of them around that she'll go after any that seem receptive, whether they're currently attached or not.

    Fan Works 
  • Sonic Sally from With This Ring is a meta-human pornstar who takes great pleasure in breaking up marriages by seducing away their partners. This just one aspect to who Orange Lantern confirms is a deep sociopath.

    Film 
  • James Bond
    • Casino Royale's Bond is completely this.
      • Bond's conversation with Vesper Lynd regarding his interest in women. Specifically, he initially rebukes Vesper, and when asked why she's not his type, he responds that she's "single." Subverted, in that he eventually does sleep with her. Double subverted when it's discovered she had a boyfriend all along.
      • Another example from the same film: Solange Dimitrios, the wife of Bond's first mark in the film, who even gives us this exchange, hinting that it's because either It's Not You, It's My Enemies or Married to the Job is at play.
        Solange: You like married women, don't you James?
        Bond: It keeps things simple.
    • Tomorrow Never Dies. Bond sleeps with his former lover and current wife of the film's Big Bad, Paris Carver. Alas, this ends badly for her. Though it's implied that she is killed because her husband finds evidence of their history together, not because she cheated on him.
  • True Lies: Simon's role in the film is to get Helen to have an affair. While talking to Harry (who he doesn't know is Helen's husband), he explains his strategy is to seek out married women with occupied husbands and pretending to be a secret agent to impress them. In reality, he's a Casanova Wannabe who runs an Honest John's Dealership and lives in a trailer.

    Literature 
  • Martin in Spectrum prefers to date married women who are fine with their own husbands and are only looking for a casual affair. That's because he doesn't feel ready for a committed relationship and wants to make it as clear as possible he isn't planning marriage. Also, he likes a mature and experienced woman, because Age-Gap Romance is gross. In the end, he is in love with and engaged to Irina, unmarried, eighteen years his junior.
  • In Teen Idol by Meg Cabot, main character Jenny is secretly the agony aunt, Ask Annie, for her high school newspaper, and entries from this column are interspersed throughout the book. One of these is from a girl using the name Wannabe Yours... Till I Am, who is seeking advice because she only seems to be attracted to guys who are already dating her friends. Ask Annie's advice is, um, less than helpful: she advises the girl to "keep your mitts off your friends' guys," without giving any idea of how to do that.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Constantine. On a couple of occasions, he's been seen being chased out of the house by some other guy's wife - he also has the courtesy to remember their names.
  • Desperate Housewives: Edie is mentioned to have slept with lots of married men. However, late in Season 1 when Mike chooses Susan over her, she seems to actively prefer married men and men that specifically had been married to the housewives: in Season 2, she had an affair with Susan's ex Karl (now married to someone else), and she "steals" Gaby's husband Carlos, although the two are separated, in Season 3 which continues in Season 4; she even kisses Orson in Season 4. Lynette describes this as Edie's problem at the end of Season 4.
  • Keeping Up Appearances: A number of Rose's boyfriends are married, and at one point in the show she laments that "they always go back to their wives in the end".
  • Mad Men:
    • Joan enjoys her sexuality and as she works at an advertising agency, she's mostly surrounded by married men who all want her. She has an affair with Paul Kinsey, but ends it because he bragged about her, a one-night stand with Harry Crane, and has a lengthy affair (covering a period of years) with professional partner Roger Sterling. Although Joan and Roger's relationship is loving, she implies later that she viewed sex as her purpose, as she feels intense guilt for Lane's suicide because she feels she could have stopped it if she slept with him. However, Joan actually goes out of her way to tell her partners that she doesn't intend for them to leave their wives.
    • Don starts off as a subversion (he genuinely believes he can run away with Rachel in Season 1 and loses interest in Midge when he realizes she's in love with someone else). However, after his marriage to Megan between Season 4 and 5, he seems to prefer married women, such as his downstairs neighbor, because he won't be asked to leave Megan.
  • In Married... with Children, several episodes allude to the fact that Kelly sleeps around so much that ending a marriage is not a big deal for her.
    • Kelly's three closest friends, introduced in the later seasons, also have no qualms about sleeping with married men, or stealing boyfriends.
  • Once Upon a Time. In the past, Killian Jones (AKA Captain Hook), started a relationship with a woman named Milah, the wife of Rumplestiltskin. She eventually ran off with him, leaving behind her husband and their son Baelfire. When Rumplestiltskin came to confront him about it, Killian nonchalantly said that he's been with many men's wives.
  • Reign: Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Conde, has a habit of sleeping with other men's wives and is never seen with the same woman twice. That includes sleeping with Mary Stuart — the queen. King Francis, her husband, reluctantly allows it. Their affair drives a lot of the conflict in season 2.
  • Exploited in an episode of Rules of Engagement, where Russell overhears an attractive woman saying to a friend that she prefers married men, as then there's no commitment. He then pretends to be a married man whose relationship with his wife is on the rocks, which succeeds in getting her in a hotel room with him. She suggests they try some bondage, and he eagerly agrees, getting Chained to a Bed... at which point she promptly ransacks his stuff, robbing him blind and cheerfully leaving him there. Turns out, she's pulled this stunt on multiple men, and goes after the married ones specifically since they can't report it without explaining to the cops (and their wives) what, exactly, they were doing in a hotel room with her.
  • Wild Boys. Dan Sinclair's Establishing Character Moment happens when he's roused from sleep by his buddy, Jack Keenan when he whispers "Hey, you've been sleeping with my wife." in his slumbering ear.

    Music 
  • Marina & the Diamonds' song "Homewrecker" is from the perspective of a woman who jets between relationships, breaking up her lovers' marriages in the process, before moving on to the next one and leaving her lover brokenhearted. Deconstructed, as she's a Broken Bird who doesn't think she'll ever find true love.

    Theatre 
  • Ted from The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals is sleeping with the married Charlotte, and implies this is a pattern for him. However, it's also shown that he has sincere romantic feelings for her, making it hard to tell whether he genuinely is this trope, or if he's just claiming to be so he can cover up his emotions, since she still wants to stay with her husband.
    Ted: [gazing into Charlotte's eyes] If I'm gonna die, I want to die doing what I love. [Beat.] Screwing around with another man's wife.

    Video Games 
  • Parodied in Fate/Grand Order: Lancelot's myth about being in love with Guinevere and (indirectly) ruining Camelot in the process makes him have a reputation for loving married women (or at least those who already have a lover). Cleopatra in Halloween 2017 event calls him "Sir Lances-a-lot-of-married-women".

    Visual Novels 
  • In Queen of Thieves, Parker Vos is a greedy man who collects valuables simply because they are valued by others, such as a rare film that he never even bothered watching after obtaining it. This attitude extends to his relationships — he prefers his women to already be in relationships, so he can seduce them away from their partners.

    Web Comics 
  • Neilen Everstar of Dominic Deegan had a habit of working to break up couples and apparently catching the girls on the rebound. He was responsible for wrecking Runcible Spoon's marriage and attempted it with Dominic and Luna, but was foiled by The Power of Trust.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: Shelby Schnabel the sharpshooter only dates married men, to the extent that Mr. Fischoeder has to pretend to be married with kids to have a chance with her.
    Mr. Fischoeder: She left me for a married oil magnate. Then she left him for a married movie magnate.
    Tina: She's a magnate magnet.
    Linda: More like a homewrecker.
    Mr. Fischoeder: Exactly! Which is why I need to give her a home to wreck.
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