It can be hard when a loved one turns into a mindless, monstrous freak who only eats human flesh. Killing them is a very difficult act, and many would refuse to harm their loved one, even if that loved one is technically gone already. For those who would rather die than let their loved one die, the solution is simple: they continue caring for the monster, even if it's hard, dangerous, or forces them to commit criminal acts just to get the monster food.
This can occur with any pair of loved ones, whether they're relatives, romantic partners or even just very close friends. Caring for the monster may be as simple as hiding them in a basement and buying twenty cans of chopped liver a week for them to eat. It could also be as difficult as having to be at constant risk of being eaten by the monster, while being forced to use yourself or commit murder to feed them.
The very act of caring for the monster shows that a person is caring and empathetic or, at the very least, extremely loyal. This trope can run the gamut of being Played for Laughs and Played for Drama. The more difficult it is to care for the monster, the more dramatic and serious the situation is, and creates a stronger internal conflict for the monster's caretaker, who may simultaneously be both a good, compassionate person and a dangerous criminal. Alternatively, the caretaker may be out of their mind and unwilling to accept that something has changed about their beloved, particularly when it comes to monsters that to bystanders seem clearly mindless - this may cross over with Mummies at the Dinner Table. However, being dark and dramatic is not a requirement for the trope.
It also doesn't matter what type of monster the loved one becomes. From werewolves to zombies, from vampires to trolls, any monster may apply. What does matter, however, is that the monster was either once human or has enough human-like qualities to be considered more than just a monstrous pet. Examples of monsters lacking the human aspect are not this trope. When the monsters are more like pets, they're a Pet Monstrosity.
The darker, more manipulative version is The Renfield. Compare I Love You, Vampire Son, Monsters Anonymous, Zombie Advocate, and Madwoman in the Attic. Overlaps with Fed to the Beast, which is typically the fate of poor, innocent bystanders who die for the sake of the monster's life. Contrast I Hate You, Vampire Dad; compare and contrast Staking the Loved One. Finally, see also Even Evil Can Be Loved. Also see Batman in My Basement.
Nothing at all to do with Complete Monster.
- In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, the Nijimura brothers are left to care for their immortal mutated, formerly abusive father. They spend years using the Arrow on a bunch of Morioh residents in hopes of creating a Stand-user who could provide a solution to their father's situation. The younger hopes for a power to return him to his human form while the older simply wants a power that could finally kill him.
- During the events of Blackest Night, the second Captain Boomerang killed people for his undead Black Lantern father to eat. Failing to realize that Black Lantern are not mere zombies or even technically the same person as their body's original identity. The other Rogues were not pleased when they found out.
- The villain in Hack/Slash Meets Zombies Vs Cheerleaders is the school's football coach, who has been abducting students and chopping them up for his zombie son. This is also the big twist of “My First Maniac”, Sarah turns out to be enabling the slasher Grinface who had been her boyfriend before he died. She felt guilty about killing him in the first place and she’s deluded herself into thinking there’s some potential to “cure” him by luring victims to him while gradually introducing elements from his past life.
- One side story in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic focused on the main character of said story being attacked by a vampire and turned. He returns home and considers feeding on his mother. But upon seeing that he's now undead and getting over the shock, she remains supportive, helping him to survive his new condition.
- EC Comics' The Vault of Fear ran a Southern Gothic story called "Horror We? How's Bayou?" about a man named Sidney who finds victims for his homicidal maniac brother Everett, whom he keeps locked in a remote swamp cabin. Eventually the dead bodies of Everett's victims arise, horribly amalgamated and seeking revenge... on Sidney, not Everett.
- In The Walking Dead, the Governor keeps his zombified daughter in a locked room, feeding her body parts of people he's tortured. Michonne travels with two chained zombies at first, one of whom was her boyfriend. In her case, she's using them for protection from other zombies, and has removed their jaws and arms so they can't attack her.
- TorontoBatFan's Let Me In series essentially sets up Owen's grandfather in this role after Abby turns Owen to save his life, but thanks to Owen's efforts having determined that Abby can survive on animal blood, all Owen's grandfather has to do is give them a safe place to rest during the daylight, making it clear that he sees them both as his grandchildren even though Abby is at least twice his age.
- In The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Lady Tottington, who had been developing feelings for Wallace, promises to protect him when she realizes that he's the were-rabbit.
- Monster House: Mr. Nebbercracker spends 45 years protecting the spirit of his deceased wife, which has turned their house into a literal monster that eats a whole car at one point... and prevents her from doing the same to the neighborhood children, because he had fallen in love with her at first sight in their youth and the feeling endured through time.
- A priest in Resident Evil: Apocalypse tied up his zombie sister and fed her people, not knowing what else to do.
- In the Black Comedy My Boyfriend's Back, after Johnny returns from the grave, his parents are ready and willing to supply him with human flesh to eat so he won't rot and fall apart, even though Johnny isn't exactly thrilled with the idea.
- In The Brides of Dracula, the Baroness Meinster's son was bitten and turned by Dracula. However she couldn't bear to kill him, instead locking him in a room in their manor and luring in girls for him to feed on (Though considering he turns people then outright kill them, it's never explained what happened to the girls). This even extends to their maid, Greta, who continues to aid him long after Marianne unwittingly frees him, he turns his mother and he goes about starting his own collection of vampire brides.
- The film Vampire Apocalypse ends with main character Jack having been transformed into a vampire, and his paramedic partner Roger keeping him chained up in the basement feeding him blood from a dish like a dog.
- In Hellraiser, Julia helps provide Frank - her brother-in-law, with whom she had an affair - with fresh victims after he becomes undead, so he can use their blood to restore his body.
- In The Fly (1986), Veronica is desperate to help her lover Seth as soon as she notices bizarre, ugly changes in his appearance and personality after he first uses his invention to teleport himself, but as he's Drunk with Power at the time he tosses her out of his loft/laboratory. Four weeks he finally responds to her attempts to contact him by phone and asks to see her...and upon obliging she learns he's undergoing a Slow Transformation into a repulsive monster, and he worries he's Patient Zero for some disease (though this proves not to be the case). Nonetheless her love is so strong that she emotionally supports him in his solitude, and eventually he asks her to leave him before he hurts her due to the Split-Personality Takeover he's undergoing. In the end, he goes mad and tries to genetically fuse himself with her and their unborn child; when Laser-Guided Karma comes calling, she resorts to Staking the Loved One at his request.
- Basket Case is about a man and his malformed, murderous twin that he carries around in a basket and finds victims for.
- In The Quiet Boy by Nick Acosta, ten year old Lucas Weaver keeps his parents and younger brother imprisoned in their house since they became Wendigo.
- In H. P. Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror, a young woman gives birth to a son named Wilbur, by an unknown father. Wilbur could be called Ambiguously Human at best, and after his mother and grandfather die, he becomes increasingly secretive, building a huge extension onto their house. He starts buying cattle en masse but never seems to keep them very long. After Wilbur's own death, the surrounding countryside is terrorized by a mysterious, invisible force that is ultimately revealed to be Wilbur's twin brother, who had more of the father than he did, whom he was keeping inside the extension and feeding on cattle.
- Grete, Gregor's sister in Kafka's The Metamorphosis, does her best with this in the initial weeks after Gregor's spontaneous transformation. Though she's horrified to even look at him, him being a giant cockroach, she tries to show him compassion, unlike their parents; she offers bits of refuse for him to eat, tries to move the furniture in his room so he can move about more easily, and regularly opens the window for him. This doesn't last. Towards Gregor's end, after one incident too many, Grete's attitude grows to be as hostile as her parents', and she's adamant that Gregor must go. She's as glad as they are when Gregor kicks the bucket on his own, alone and unloved. In general, the Samsa family operates as though this trope were in effect, and Samsa really were a mindless beast, but we know better.
- In The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod. Vlad is a fully rational and kind-hearted, if awkward teenage vampire who lives a relatively normal life with the help of hoodies and plenty of sunscreen. His "Aunt" Nelly supplies him with the blood he needs to survive by swiping bags of blood from the hospital she works at and cooking him extremely rare steaks so he can suck the blood out.
- Inverted in a way with Mark the Johrlac of InCryptid. Johrlac, also known as "cuckoos", are a telepathic human-mimicking species who use their powers as backstory invaders. They leave their children to be raised by unsuspecting human families, like cuckoos do to other birds, hence the name. In most cases, after their powers fully activate at puberty and they learn what they are, the shock and mental overload makes them temporarily Go Mad from the Revelation and murder their Muggle Foster Parents. However, in Mark's case, his human little sister thought he was playing a game, and he chased her around the house with a knife for so long that his mind stabilized and he instead became fiercely protective of her (once murdering another of his kind that tried to harm her). His family don't know he's not human, though his sister recognizes that he has a signature telepathic "buzz" that humans and other Johrlac (who are Inexplicably Identical Individuals) don't.
- In the first season finale of First Kill, Talia is the only member of her family to defend Theo after he becomes a vampire - to the extent that she frees him when no one is looking and arranges for Juliette's vampire brother Oliver to protect him.
- Friday The 13th: The Series episode "Night Prey". After a man finds out that his wife is a vampire, he captures her and imprisons her in his home. When she asks to be fed, he pays a prostitute to come to his home and his wife drinks her blood.
- In the Torchwood episode "Cyberwomen", Ianto Jones keeps his partially cyber-converted girlfriend Lisa Hallett alive in the Hub's basement.
- Santa Clarita Diet concerns an ordinary woman who one day realizes she can't eat anything besides human flesh. Her husband realizes the only way to keep his wife alive is to aid her in finding "deserving" victims she can eat guilt-free.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: In the episode "The Man Trap", the salt-sucking vampire kills the Federation scientist's wife, then takes her shape; subverted in that the creature is not actually the scientist's wife, but he is willing to continue feeding it salt tablets, in exchange for the illusion that his wife is still alive.
- The Strain (TV series):
- In the first season, Setrakian keeps his late wife's heart, infected with vampiric worms, in a jar in his basement, keeping it "alive" with droplets of his own blood and talking to it affectionately as if it is her: "Enjoy, dear."
- The third season reveals that Gus has been keeping his Strigoi mother in their apartment and feeding her his own blood. He's forced to kill her when she's about to feed on the Silver Angel.
- The Walking Dead (2010):
- Hershel was convinced walkers were simply infected with a terrible disease that could yet be cured, so he kept all of them they found in the barn and fed them chickens. This causes a great deal of conflict when the main group finds out.
- The Governor was unable to put down his zombified daughter, and treats her as if she was still alive. When she's killed by Michonne, he has a Villainous Breakdown and becomes much more unstable.
- Classical Mythology: The Minotaur of Crete was the Queen of Crete's son (by a bull, thanks to a curse from the Gods; some versions have the bull in question as the one Heracles had to capture as one of his labours). In some versions anyway. King Minos kept his step-son in the Labyrinth and had sacrifices brought in (seven young men and seven young women a year) to feed him, until Theseus came along to slay him.
- Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters. When a woman turns into a vampire, her husband steals blood from homeless people to feed her.
- A recurring problem in Warhammer Fantasy is that when people start mutating, their family hide them away for fear of what the townsfolk/church of Sigmar/witch hunter will do to their now-monstrous relative. Unfortunately, Torches and Pitchforks is the right response, as the irreversible Chaos mutation ensures the affected person is no longer the human they once were and has no qualms killing and eating their family / selling out the town to the closest beastman horde.
- BlazBlue: Litchi's old friend, Roy Carmine, got into a Freak Lab Accident due to him pursuing forbidden knowledge, and became an Eldritch Abomination called "Arakune". He's an insane Blob Monster whose Horror Hunger forces him to prey on animals and occasionally humans. Despite that, she still tries to Find the Cure! for him, including corrupting herself with the same kind that he succumbed with in order to understand his condition. This gets her in trouble in the second game, where said corruption catches up to her, and she still can't find any way to curb it; as she's persuaded by Hazama to accept his deal for a cure in his organization, NOL, she reluctantly agrees, if only because she's exhausted all of her other options. Some good guys (notably Rachel and Kokonoe) called out to her about supporting Arakune, saying that his condition is basically irreversible and that she shouldn't worry about him any more; by the fourth game, it's revealed that Roy didn't really want to be saved, either, and convinces Litchi to go back to the people who needs her as a doctor.
- In the Borderlands "Zombie Island of Dr. Zed" DLC campaign, the player/s can encounter the zombie of their old pal TK Baha. TK, being an old blind man with one leg before he got killed, can't 'hunt' for his own food, so the player characters bring him brains. However, as the zombie outbreak claimed every living soul in Jakobs Cove, the brains come from other zombies; he doesn't seem to mind.
- In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion DLC "Shivering Isles", the conspiracy theorist Muurine lives with her uncle Leo. Uncle Leo is a zombie locked on the second floor of her house, and it appears that she still loves him and feeds him (judging by the fact that the zombie is non-hostile, he's well fed). Muurine also appears to be unaware what exactly is wrong with Uncle Leo, saying he's only "not feeling well".
- Pamela's father in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has been cursed into a Gibdo. Pamela herself - a small child - keeps him locked in a cupboard in their basement so no-one finds out about it. Thankfully, you're capable of using the Song of Healing to cure him and turn his curse into a mask, but you first must lure Pamela out of the house and sneak in without her noticing.
- More implied than outright stated in the interactive romance novel Moonrise, but Rosario tried locking the newly lycanthropic player character in a silver cage before the game started. They got out.
- In Tsukihime, one of Akiha's endings sees her degenerate into a mindless monster. Shiki keeps her in an empty room and feeds her his blood every day in the feeble hope that she will one day return to normal.
- In Homestuck, Trolls are raised by wild beasts called lususes. Several of these are horrible monsters, most notably Vriska's "Spidermom", an enormous, troll-eating spider and parental figure. Vriska is forced to regularly kill or lure to their deaths other troll kids in order to feed her lusus. Vriska even keeps her chained up next to her castle.
- In Critical Role Delilah Briarwood's motive for everything she did, was for Sylas Briarwood,a man who she was forced to turn into a vampire following his death by disease. Delilah is every bit as evil and ruthless as her husband, and is a powerful necromancer to boot so the fact that he feeds on human blood doesn't bother her in the least.
- Harley Quinn (2019): Sy Borgman's sister Mirielle was turned into monstrous octopus thanks to his bid to have her engineer an animal sidekick for himself. He's kept her down in the sewers for decades, out of guilt for needling her into doing the experiment that got her mutated. Dr. Psycho is able to translate her shrieks into English, revealing that she minds being abandoned in the sewer more than being a tentacle monster. The two of them make up and Sy sets her free... at which point she goes on a rampage across the surface, messily killing dozens of people.
- Parodied in The Loud House episode "One Flu Over the Loud House", in which the Louds are not turning into monsters, they're just getting the flu, but the healthy kids are treating it like a zombie apocalypse. Leni, however, thinks they should help them.
- The Simpsons: In "Treehouse of Horror VII", Bart has a monstrous, murderous Evil Twin who the family keeps chained in the attic and feeds fish heads. But then he escapes...
- Played for Laughs in the South Park episode "Marjorine" — for plot-related reasons, the other boys make Butters fake his death. His father tries to resurrect him a la Pet Sematary, and when the real Butters returns home, they chain him in the basement and deliver injured people for him to eat. Butters takes this in stride, possibly because this is the closest that they've ever come to decent parenting.
- In the Trollhunters episode "Jimhunters", Jim goes through the different Stages of Monster Grief after he decides to permanently turn himself into a troll with Merlin's potion in order to kill Gunmar, eventually running off when the reality of the situation finally sinks in. His mother tells his friends and they all look for him, eventually finding him hiding away at his High School. They chase him onto the roof before confronting him, all of them assuring him that despite how much he has changed, they will all be there for him.
- In the What If…? (2021) episode "What If... Zombies?!", Vision keeps a zombified Wanda locked up in the basement of Camp Lehigh, with her powers preventing him from curing her with the Mind Stone. He keeps her docile by luring survivors to the base and feeding them to her. He feels immense guilt over this, leading to his eventual Heroic Sacrifice.