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The Lost Lenore

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"Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor
Eagerly I wished the morrow, vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow — sorrow for the lost Lenore
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore
Nameless here for evermore."

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The Lost Lenore, a.k.a. the Dead Love Interest — not parent, not sibling, not offspring, love interest. One of The Oldest Ones in the Book, named for the famous deceased in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven". In short, the three defining criteria are:

  • A love interest of a prominent character
  • Is dead (or some equivalent of dead like frozen forever or lost in a dimensional void, or occasionally just genuinely believed to be dead) before the story begins or dies relatively early in the story
  • Their death has significant ongoing impact, consequences, and relevance for the remainder of the story

In determining whether a character who dies during a story can be classified as a Lost Lenore, the third criterion above is the most important: in order to fit this trope, the character must have just as much, if not more, importance to the narrative dead than they would alive. For example, Anna in Van Helsing is the hero's love interest and dies at the climax of the story, but she is not a Lost Lenore as all that happens after she dies is that Van Helsing is cured, lays her to rest, sees her happy with her family in the afterlife and roll credits. She does more for the story alive than she does dead.

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Characters who lose Lenore can go on to have other love interests, particularly if she is a Posthumous Character or the story is part of an ongoing series. However, in order to qualify for this trope, it must be clear that they grieved strongly for her, and that overcoming their grief and learning to love again is a significant part of character/plot development. Sometimes subsequent love interests never entirely replace Lenore. It can go all the way to a Love Triangle.

The Lost Lenore's mode of death can vary but popular choices include:

Lenores can also become lost through suicide, Innocent Bystander Syndrome, a tragic accident, or Random Act of God.

If she left children behind, the children often have considerable emotional baggage to deal with, including a father (or father-figure equivalent) whose grief can render him overprotective, neglectful, abusive, or absent. The children may feel, or even be told explicitly, that they are either too much like the Lost Lenore, or else not enough like her. Angst ensues.

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If the Lost Lenore was murdered, a Roaring Rampage of Revenge usually ensues. Which leads to a crucial identifying point: many Gwen Stacys are also Lost Lenores, but not every Lost Lenore is also a Gwen Stacy, as someone explicitly blaming themself for the Gwen Stacy's death is an identifying criterion for this trope, whereas this is not always the case for a Lost Lenore.

After her death, whether it occurs before the story begins or during its course, the Lost Lenore is present in the thoughts, dialogue, and actions of living characters. Her memory may motivate the living characters to follow the example she set in life, or she can be a dynamic presence within a story through the use of Flashback and/or direct interaction with living characters in the form of a Spirit Advisor. Conversely, forces of evil may evoke the memory of the Lost Lenore, or even masquerade as a manifestation of her, in order to manipulate living characters.

Sometimes living characters encounter another living character who for whatever reason strongly reminds them of the Lost Lenore. This new character could be a relative, reincarnation, or even just an uncanny doppelganger. In this instance, a romantic relationship may develop, but this is always based primarily on the character's resemblance to the Lost Lenore and, yes, Angst can ensue. In some cases, the character may name a weapon or belonging after the Lost Lenore just to remember her and even develop a bond with them.

Occasionally, due usually to a dramatic twist Lenore turns out not to be dead after all, or dead for reasons by means other than previously believed. The Lost Lenore can sometimes be brought back to life through an act of Time Travel or by magic but her death must be treated as a real event within the story. However, even if the audience knows or characters subsequently discover a twist in the tale, she must still satisfy the major criteria of having been loved and her perceived loss being of ongoing significance in order to qualify for this trope.

Not to be confused with the comic book character Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl who tends to cause death to other people rather than experiencing it herself.

Related tropes include: Cynicism Catalyst, Death by Origin Story, I Let Gwen Stacy Die, Death by Childbirth, Collateral Angst, Crusading Widower, Too Good for This Sinful Earth, The Mourning After, Victorian Novel Disease.

Contrast with: Disposable Woman, Forgotten Fallen Friend, Oh, and X Dies. The One That Got Away isn't dead, but still a lost love.

As this trope deals in part with characters who die during the course of a story, beware of unmarked spoilers!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Casca from Berserk is this to Guts, and is an interesting zigzagged case throughout. She did not die but was nonetheless "lost" via a brutal Rape as Drama ordeal that left her psychologically gone, making her a Lenore AND an Ophelia. Because the story starts In Medias Res, this technically happens before the story begins during a flashback, not to mention that even though Casca is not dead, she has been insane for most of the series and her insanity has played a bigger role in the course of the story than when she was sane, since A) her insanity caused by Griffith violently raping her in front of Guts drove Guts to revenge the most; B) the loss of love and affection that Casca provided Guts constantly anguishes him; and C) a majority of the story arcs put focus on Guts struggling to find a cure for Casca's insanity, thus trying to make her "unlost", which he finally partially succeeds at after more than twenty years (in real life), just before the author passed away and left the fate of the series as a whole up in the air.
  • Saya, in the anime of Black Cat, similar to the stuffed in the fridge example. You get tiny snapshots of her battle with Creed, but she is only found dead by Train. Train doesn't really recover till the finale until he has a vision/encounter with an almost identical girl that seems to give him the realization that she wouldn't want him to grieve and obsess like he is currently.
  • Bleach:
    • Masaki Kurosaki, who is the entire reason we have a show. Everyone in her family (her husband, son, and daughters) all loved her, and treated her as "the center of [their] universe". Her death — and Ichigo's powerlessness to stop it — is exactly what prompts him to be the tough-as-nails badass we come to know him as. Masaki's death also had a profound effect on her husband Isshin, and her daughters Karin and Yuzu. And this is before we learn that she was a pure-blooded Quincy whose death is connected to the death of Kanae Katagiri, another Lost Lenore.
    • Hisana Kuchiki, of the Posthumous Character variety. Without her, much of this manga would never have unfolded the way it did as her death is the reason for the Byakuya/Rukia relationship and all the consequences that have come from that. In fact, BOTH of Byakuya's conflicting vows in the Soul Society Arc stem from his marriage to Hisana, because it was his defiance of custom (in marrying her and adopting Rukia) that led to his second vow (to never risk the family honor again) and the start of all his problems.
    • Nine years ago, Yhwach conducted a purge of "impure" Quincies that resulted in the Cruel and Unusual Death of Kanae Katagiri, the wife/battle partner of Ryuuken Ishida and mother of his son Uryuu. It is heavily implied that her death (and the desire to protect his only remaining family member who mysteriously survived the fate that befell his mother) is behind Ryuuken's Refusal of the Call and Heroic Neutral alignment...but his refusal to explain this to Uryuu caused a nasty, ongoing rift between father and son that drives many of Uryuu's decisions throughout the series. Her death holds the key to Yhwach's defeat, a truth kept secret by Ryuuken until both Uryuu and Ichigo's abilities have developed enough for Ryuuken to reveal to Uryuu how Yhwach can be defeated.
  • In Blue Ramun, Guard Captain Eagle's wife Yuma was killed by Rowan, the notorious leader of the Garicalege. Culturally, Eagle is required to refrain from remarriage during the year-long mourning period after her death. As the story starts, it's been three years and he's still wearing her memorial earring and refusing any new romantic advances, blaming himself for not being able to protect Yuma and unable to move on with his life. When he sees the young healer Jessie become the subject of Rowan's attention, Eagle becomes ferociously driven to protect her from harm. And when he finally accepts that he reciprocates Jessie's feelings for him and drops into a near-death fever dream brought on by the poison he was struck with while rescuing her from Rowan, he hallucinates his dead wife leading an equally hallucinatory Jessie to his side so she can heal him.
  • Nakbin of The Bride of the Water God whose death and anticipated resurrection was the basis of the whole plot. When she died, the water god Habaek started to require sacrifices from the humans hoping that one of them will be her reincarnation in order to reunite and have the curse lifted. However, while being in grief, constant longing and waiting for his lost love, Habaek met and fell in love with Soah. Unfortunately, even though Habaek is already completely in love with his current bride, he still continues to long for Nakbin that when he reunited with her resurrected form, he reaffirmed his desire to be with her even if she was not the person to whom he was connected with the red string. After Nakbin's "second death", Habaek also promised not to love anyone the same way he loved her by telling Soah that his one eye will be used to look only at her, instead of looking at her with both which were used to look only at Nakbin. Though Soah had accepted the fact of being a replacement wife to Habaek, Nakbin's significance which was never denied by the god continue to bring troubles to the couple.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, Nadeshiko was this to her husband Fujitaka. She died at age 27 from an unspecified illness. Fujitaka thinks about her all the time and puts up a new picture of her each day. (There's no shortage of them since Nadeshiko used to be a model.) He also is not interested in dating anyone else. Her cousin, Sonomi feels the same way towards her, since Sonomi had a crush on her (although Nadeshiko did not return her feelings), and is jealous of Fujitaka, and blames him for her early death.
  • Case Closed:
    • In a case Atsuko Tokumoto is this for Takahashi. He was in love with her when they were in their college's cinema club, but she committed suicide before the story starts. And during a trip to the mountain villa with old friends of Sonoko's sister Ayako, he brutally kills their "friend" Chikako alias the one who caused Atsuko's ruin and death, since she stole a script of hers in the past and destroyed her life in the process.
    • In another, Shuichi Akai has Akemi Miyano as this. He met her while working as The Mole in the Black Organization that she and her Teen Genius sister Shiho belonged to, faked feelings for her but ultimately fell in love for real since she was an Anti-Villain... but after lots of messy stuff, she was murdered.
    • There is also Jinpei Matsuda, Miwako Sato's First Love who died in an Heroic Sacrifice to thwart the plans of a Mad Bomber. Sato herself is revealed to be deeply, deeply traumatised by his death, to the point of believing herself to be afflicted of a Cartwright Curse when her prospect Second Love Takagi also almost falls victim to similar deals. It's only when the Mad Bomber is properly captured (and Takagi convinces her to not kill him right there) that she can finally move on.
  • Children Who Chase Lost Voices: Morisaki's wife Lisa has been dead for years by the time the film begins, but the thought of her continues to drive him, to the point that he seeks Agartha to bring her back and moans her name during nightmares.
  • Mary Magdalene from Chrono Crusade is The Lost Lenore of not just Chrono (of whom she's also the Gwen Stacy), but also Father Remington. Nearly every twist and turn of this trope is played out in the manga—Chrono meets Rosette and he can't help but be reminded of Mary (and she's hinted to even be a reincarnation of her in the anime), it ends up playing out as a sort of love triangle (in the anime he tells Mary's ghost mournfully that "Rosette's covering your place in my heart"), she's a major driving force behind Chrono's character development, and at one point in the manga Chrono and Remington even end up in a duel where Remington seems to take out his anger over Mary's death on Chrono.
  • Wakaba in Cross Game. (She dies in the first episode). The rest of the manga is about Kou and the other characters trying to get over her.
  • Danganronpa 3:
    • Chisa's murder in the first episode is what drives Kyosuke off the deep end, with him vowing to eradicate despair and going on a bloody rampage to avenge her.
    • Chiaki for Izuru. After her death, he holds onto her iconic hairpin in remembrance, and is motivated enough by a combination of his subconsciously-retained love for her and her dying words to him to start moving against Junko. The Grand Finale shows he still mourns her, more than two years later.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, Falin is this to Shuro. He even planned on proposing to her before she was eaten by the Red Dragon.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Ruka Rengoku’s death heavily impacted the Rengoku household: her husband Shinjuro lost all his will to continue being the Flame Hashira, coupled with him losing faith in his swordsmanship abilities after reading on the Sun Breathing capabilities; and thus the eldest son Kyojuro tryed to shoulder the weight of his family all by himself on succeeding his father as the Flame Hashira.
  • Fairy Tail: Mavis to Zeref. Since both became recipients of Ankhseram's Curse, the only people they could relate to were each other. It was because of this that Zeref believed that he had finally found someone he could care about without killing them. Mavis in turn offered him a chance at Eternal Love and to find a way to break the curse—together. Her kindness and empathy caused Zeref to fall in love with her, and they kissed. However, since the ultimate purpose of the curse is to deny happiness, Zeref's love for her bypassed her curse and killed her, ensuring that they couldn't be together. It was this event that began Zeref's true Start of Darkness.
  • Aerith in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children for Cloud. Despite the world being saved, he's still haunted by her death and continues to mourn her deeply.
  • Yuria in Fist of the North Star. The first major villain holds her captive before she dies, and after about halfway through the series every single new character had something to do with her in his backstory. One guy is her brother, another her half brother, and several others were attempted love interests, including the Big Bad. The last story arc is entirely about her; at the very end this trope is subverted, and she is revealed to be alive.
  • Male example with Shun from From the New World, who is this to both the main female and male protagonists of the story. Particularly significant since neither Saki nor Satoru can actually remember him due to having their memories altered, but they still realize there's someone who they lost. He's important enough in the character's lives that when the flashback reel at the end of the series plays, he's the last one.
  • Gundam is notorious for this. Many, many stories have this progression: "Gundam Pilot meets Girl, Girl pilots enemy superweapon, Girl dies, Gundam Pilot gets angsty". The Original, Zeta, ZZ, Seed and Destiny all use this plot point. It's easier to name the shows that don't, and only 08th MS Team openly defies it.
  • Helena in GUN×SWORD. Her death is the cause for Van's Roaring Rampage of Revenge the series is all about.
  • Chitose from Hajimari no Niina, main male Atsurou's best friend and crush when in high school. The grief over his death made him develop an eating disorder. However, eventually, he moves on thanks to Niina.
  • In Highlander: The Search for Vengeance the hero Colin spends over 2000 years mourning the death of his first wife. While also seeking revenge on the man that killed her.
  • In Inuyasha, Kikyou is an unusual and complicated example. She and the title character were in love fifty years prior to the events of the series until Naraku manipulated them into turning on each other and murdered Kikyou, leaving Inuyasha very much affected by her perceived betrayal and her death, and making it possible for the Shikon Jewel to manifest in the present in the possession of Kikyou's reincarnation, Kagome. Matters are then made much more complicated when Kikyou is resurrected and comes back with a bunch of baggage of her own to sort through regarding her death: while she was dead and gone, Inuyasha could make steps in the process of getting over her death and his other past traumas, but once she's back, neither fully dead nor properly alive, he's trapped between his unresolved feelings for her (including his guilt over her death) and his growing feelings for Kagome, and Kagome sadly acknowledges that as much as she loves Inuyasha, she can't compete with Kikyou because Kikyou's death has given her a place in his heart that she can't match, though she later decides that even if that's true and she is jealous of Kikyou, she will stop comparing herself to Kikyou and will love Inuyasha in her own terms. When Kikyou is then Killed Off for Real over the course of the series, Inuyasha is finally able to reach closure regarding their relationship; while he still grieves for her, she doesn't haunt him the way she had up to that point. However, she continues to influence the plot with her final death, both by saving Kohaku's life and by leaving behind some of her purifying power in a shard of the broken Shikon Jewel, making it possible for the Jewel to be purified and defeated.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has a male variant in Jonathan Joestar, who died at the end of his respective part. His wife, Erina, never moved on.
  • Judge has Atsuya, who dies during a traffic accident in the first chapter, and has a huge impact on his brother Hiro's and his girlfriend Hikari's life. His death, and resulting trial, is the reason why Hiro and Hikari even created the Judge game to gain revenge on the man, judge, and jury who were at fault for his death.
  • Everything Tragic Villain Aki does in Kamisama Dolls is to avenge his dead lover, and her death also weighs heavily on his former friend Kyouhei.
  • Kino's Journey: In "Country of Liars", Kino is greeted by a man waiting for his lover, who left on a journey and had yet to return. Kino learns later that the man was driven mad with grief when he unwittingly killed her during a revolution he took part in. Things get twisted, however, with the dual reveals that the woman killed was a double and the man's caretaker is, in fact, his lover and that the man is aware of the fact but hasn't let on. Both are content to leave things as they are.
  • In Loveless, Soubi's mother, also having suffered Death by Origin Story, is Ritsu's Lost Lenore—he insists she was "just a co-worker", but Nagisa doesn't think so, and Nagisa accuses Ritsu of taking Soubi's virginity because Soubi looks just like his mother.
  • Souichiro, Kyoko's late husband, from Maison Ikkoku. She was very much in love with him, and an unwillingness to disrespect his memory is the major roadblock for Kyoko and Godai's relationship.
  • In Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation, the death of Roxy in an alternate timeline drove her husband Rudeus mad with grief and rage against the killer, Hitogami. He ended up driving away the rest of his family and killed Eris because he was so paranoid he thought she was working for his enemy. He finally developed a spell to travel back in time and warn his past self at the cost of his life.
  • Naruto:
    • Tsunade's only confirmed love in the entire series was Dan Kato. After his death, she left Konoha, disparaged the position of Hokage, and developed a fear of blood, things that characterize her when she first appears. Even after she has overcome all this, Tsunade never falls in love again (though she has a brief Ship Tease with Jiraiya that goes nowhere because he dies). In the Infinite Tsukuyomi, her dream is to marry Dan, who is the Hokage instead of her.
    • Rin Nohara of Naruto seems like a Disposable Woman in her one flashback appearance. During the Fourth Shinobi World War, it's revealed that the whole reason Obito follows Madara is that he wants to create a world where Rin is still alive.
  • Yui Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Everything Gendo Ikari does stems from her. Mainly to get her out of Unit-01.
  • The background for Hira from Phantom Dream stems from the loss of his lover Suigekka who was killed by angry humans who blamed her for their problems.
  • Tomoe Yukishiro in Rurouni Kenshin was Kenshin's first wife, and it was her death that caused him to adopt his Thou Shalt Not Kill mindset from then on.
  • Kanan from Saiyuki is Hakkai's Lost Lenore and also his Cynicism Catalyst AND I Let Gwen Stacy Die In The Origin Story!
  • Kye Wol Hyang from Shin Angyo Onshi, who died before the start of the series, but her death was the main reason Munsu was able to fight the big bad or had the motivation to endure months and years of travel alone, plotting his revenge against Aji Tae. While he didn't stay chaste after her death (A couple of encounters and just at the beginning of the series), he never took another lover and in the end, he reunited with her in the afterlife.
  • In Sword Art Online, Kirito is extremely haunted by the deaths of his former guild, the Black Cats of the Full Moon, but especially that of Sachi, the lone girl in the group, since the two were clearly attracted to one another and he had promised that he wouldn't let her die. The fact that he was unable to keep that promise still weighs heavily on him, and he still remembers her in dire moments, since she left him a message to assure him that he wouldn't blame him if she died and encouraging him to keep on living.
  • Symphogear has Amou Kanade, Tsubasa's deceased singing partner. To Tsubasa, Kanade was her everything, and a good deal of season 1 was spent dealing with the grief from this loss. The dealing includes almost killing Hibiki and attempting a blatantly suicidal Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Tomoe Amamiya and Tiger & Bunny's protagonist Kotetsu were Happily Married with a daughter, Kaede, when she passed away. She suffers Death by Origin Story, being deceased for five years before the events of the series. The promise he made to her is one of the two main reasons (the other being wanting his daughter to think he's 'cool') that Kotetsu doggedly continues with his job as a corporate-sponsored superhero despite having to leave Kaede behind with her grandmother, keep his occupation a secret from her, and endure the manipulations of his money-hungry sponsors.
  • There are several in Tokyo Ghoul.
    • Yoshimura has Ukina, the human woman he loved in his youth.
    • Amon's classmate Harima, killed in action prior to the series. His lingering feelings for her cause him to reject the advances of Second Love Akira. He becomes one to Akira at the conclusion of the series, having been declared dead. In the sequel, Akira is shown to have become a less cold and sarcastic person as a result of his influence, but still quietly mourning his loss.
    • Kasuka Mado, the deceased wife of Kureo Mado. Her death fuels his hatred of Ghouls and thirst for revenge, and after his death, it's shown that he still wears his wedding ring a decade after losing her.
    • In the sequel, Tsukiyama has spent nearly two years in an Angst Coma and become Delicate and Sickly as a result of his grief over Kaneki's apparent death. One of the major plotlines of the sequel has involved his Muggle Best Friend, Chie Hori, attempting to prove to him that Kaneki is still alive. Meanwhile, his Poisonous Servant considers secretly murdering Kaneki to be the best way to help his ailing master.
  • Lilith certainly seems to qualify as Abel's Lost Lenore in Trinity Blood. Her murder changed his character forever and he mourned her alone in a cave for 'centuries' afterwards. While Abel later forms strong bonds with other female characters, no one else compares to his memory of her.
  • Peace, a deceased member of the Sleuth Brigade from The Voynich Hotel, is this. Aside from having been the glue and diplomat of the group, she was Leader's first love, and consequently Vixen's then-rival. Her death is a frequent source of drama between the two.
  • Yuuko Ichihara of xxxHoLIC arguably becomes one for Watanuki when she dies. Whether or not she can actually be considered a love interest for him is up for debate, but there's no denying that her death has a severe impact on his character as he makes a wish to see her again in exchange for being trapped indefinitely at the shop while he waits for her. His personality takes a pretty drastic change into a more serious one and he becomes considerably more knowledgeable and skilled in the area of magic/supernatural as he takes on Yuuko's role. He also makes it a habit of going into moments of melancholy reminiscence for her.
  • In X/1999, Kotori would be this for Kamui.
  • Cyndia/Cecelia from Yu-Gi-Oh! is unusual in that she does Lost Lenore duty not for a hero of the series but for a villain, Pegasus.
  • Later in Your Name, it is revealed that Toshiki's estrangement from his family is the result of his grief and helplessness over losing his wife Futaba to illness.
  • Zombie Land Saga: Yugiri and her love interest Kiichi manage to both be this to each other. Yugiri was killed via execution saving Kiichi from being captured for crimes he didn't commit. Over a century later when Kiichi is long dead, she's revived as a zombie, and misses him dearly.

    Comic Books 
  • Hank Pym of The Avengers — then Ant-Man — first became romantically interested in young Janet Van Dyne (soon to be The Wasp) because she was a dead ringer for his late first wife Marya Trovaya, who had been murdered by Communists.
    • After Janet's death, Hank spent hours at a time listening to her dying scream and grieving in his laboratory, and occasionally trying to pretend that his Robot Girlfriend Jocasta was Janet (he had uploaded Janet's memories into Jocasta's hard drive). The Replacement Goldfish is strong with this one.
    • Mockingbird was also one for Hawkeye after her apparent death in West Coast Avengers # 100 (it was actually a Skrull and she came back at the end of Secret Invasion). Her death led to him leaving the Avengers, spiralling into a deep depression and living in the middle of nowhere, hunting animals to eat. He eventually returned to civilisation after an old mentor helped him to realise that Bobbi wouldn't have wanted him to live that way. Her death still lingered with him, though, and his ideal life in House of M involved being in a relationship with her.
  • In Batman, the slow loss of his beloved Nora drove Dr. Victor Fries to become the obsessed, callous Mr. Freeze. Bonus points for "Nora" and "Lenore" being related derivations of "Eleanor."
  • Captain Atom had his wife Angela, who died of cancer during the eighteen-year interval that Cap missed when he was catapulted into the future. To make matters worse, Cap was declared dead in that interval, and she remarried...to Wade Eiling, of all people.
  • In Circles, after Paulie's death, Douglas took it really rough and Paulie's significance is still huge within the story.
  • Bêlit to Conan the Barbarian, more prominently in the Dark Horse printed comics, where he spends a lot of time grieving for her death and hallucinating with her at some points.
  • Shelly in The Crow is pretty much THE iconic comic book example of this trope.
  • Green Lantern: The Trope Namer for Stuffed into the Fridge, Alex DeWitt, is this for Kyle Rayner. Of all the women Kyle has loved and lost in his life since then (and there are quite a number of them), they all inevitably had to live with being in her shadow. Kyle's entire motivation for being a hero is to live up to the man Alex thought he could be, though it's obvious he would give it all up in a heartbeat if it meant he could have her back. Wrath of the First Lantern had him admit it outright. Volthoom showed him a multitude of different realities to replace the current one, and offered to make one of them real for Kyle; he chose the one where Alex was alive, and made it clear that was the only deciding factor — he even stated that he didn't care about what happened to him as long as she was alright.
  • In The Incredible Hulk, Betty Ross becomes this to her husband Bruce Banner until she's Back from the Dead. There's also Jarella and Caiera.
  • In Runaways, Chase never truly got over Gert's death, and even once attempted to make a deal with the Gibborim to try and get her back. Gender-flipped in the 2017 series; modern Chase went back in time and pulled Gert out of the last minutes before her death. So they're reunited, except that the age difference between them is now at least four years. In the years since he's come to terms with losing her, but from Gert's perspective, the Chase Stein that she knew and loved is dead. She hasn't been taking it well.
  • Goldie in Sin City: The Hard Goodbye.
  • Some writers like to use Gwen Stacy this way for Spider-Man, even though he actually got over her death fairly soon in the 1970s.
    • Jeph Loeb's Spider-Man: Blue is perhaps the most blatant example.
    • Inverted in Spider-Gwen where it's Peter Parker who becomes Gwen's Lost Lenore.
    • In Spider-Man: Reign, Spidey is obsessed with the memory of his dead wife Mary Jane. Here the way his perception of her changes over the course of the story (in the final issue she becomes a source of strength for him, encouraging him to carry on his work, putting off their reunion in the hereafter) is an important subplot.
  • Valerie in V for Vendetta.
  • Lori in The Walking Dead. Then, without any warning, so is Andrea.
  • Gender-Inverted Trope in White Sand with Gevaldin, Khriss' fiancé whose death prompted her to leave the Dynasty and travel to the Dayside in search of the mysterious "Sand Mages".
  • In X-Men:
    • The clairvoyant mutant Destiny was this for Mystique, who according to her creator Chris Claremont, went insane after her partner's death.
    • Jean Grey was an example of this for her husband, Cyclops after The Dark Phoenix Saga — especially in timelines where she stays dead.
    • Magneto was shown to obsess about his dead wife Magda quite a bit in a number of stories. When he became ruler of Genosha, he named the main square of the capital after her.
  • Druuna: Druuna's lover Shastar is infected by The Virus and she manages to temporarily cure him in the first album, but when it returns he chooses to kill himself to protect Druuna. Throughout the rest of the series, his disembodied mind or spirit continues to guide her from time to time and she frequently reminisces about him.
  • Simon Says: Nazi Hunter: Sarah, Simon's wife, was murdered in the Holocaust by Bruno.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Steve Trevor died and a mourning Wondy gave up her powers and fought as a street-level fighter while missing him. This was her "Mod Phase" which only lasted three years, then Steve's corpse was possessed by Eros, before "dying" again, and then his memories were used to override the memories of a Steve from another universe who was brought in as a gift to Diana.
  • Spider-Men II: The adult Miles Morales met Barbara by the end of issue #3. Issue #4 starts with her funeral, and his angst is the purpose that drives him since then, including in the present.
  • In ARIA, the titular heroine doesn't realize that she has fallen in love with Uthar in "Les Chevaliers d'Aquarius" until he has passed away. But even then, she can't name the feeling she's experiencing at the thought of never seeing him again.
  • In the Superman story The Great Phantom Peril, Jackson Porter's wife, Kathleen, passed away fifteen years ago, and Faora Hu-Ul exploited his grief and loneliness by posing as Kathleen's ghost to trick him into moving next to Clark Kent and stealing an alien relic from his apartment. As Supergirl points out, Mr. Porter was taken advantage of so easily because he feels incredibly lonely.
  • Genderflip with Zoe in the Firefly comics after Wash’s death in Serenity. She pushes on to be there for her daughter, but was always haunted by his loss. Wash bot probably didn’t exactly help given he looked and acted just like Wash.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): In this Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) fanfiction, the Titan Thor had a mate who evidently died long ago before he went into hibernation. It becomes clear during the Final Battle that Thor never really got over hers or their son's death.
  • In Ashes of the Past, Professor Philena Ivy is this to Brock in Ash's old timeline - a resonance cascade pulled her into the Unown's dimension, and Brock, who genuinely fell in love with her, went right back to hitting on girls to rebuild his broken heart. However, in the new timeline, he manages to save her.
  • Children of Time: Beth Lestrade in the first finale, dying at the end of one episode and then, naturally, being dead at the start of the next. Her Heroic Suicide and the guilt it induces enables Sherlock Holmes's Love Epiphany and Heel Realization, which eventually allows her to come Back from the Dead.
  • In Death Note II: The Hidden Note, Near's wife, Rebecca Stoodley River, gets killed by multiple bullets in the back and bleeding to death. In front of her daughter.
  • In Despair's Last Resort, Chiyo Ueda reveals that a friend from her childhood who she was in love with died from a terminal illness. It continues to affect her.
    • Shizuka becomes this for Kazumi after her execution in Chapter 3. She's torn up by it throughout Chapter 4, but she tries to hide it. Starting in Chapter 5, she wears Shizuka's scarf to respect her memory.
  • Martel to Envy in the Fullmetal Alchemist fanfiction The Seven Names of Envy Angevin. The story is still ongoing, but it's been hinted that there's even more to her death than we (or Envy) know.
  • Hivefled: Icatus Gritch and Shuran Harkol both mysteriously lost quadrant-mates early in their lives. Said quadrant-mates are both now among Gamzee's Spirit Advisor followers, having been murdered by the Grand Highblood.
  • Flowerfell: Frisk ends up doing a Heroic Sacrifice. Unfortunately, this leaves Sans heartbroken over losing his "sweetheart". A direct follow up to the story even shows that Sans visits their grave every day.
  • Invader Zim fanfiction often posit that Professor Membrane's extreme workaholism and Hands-Off Parenting stems from the death of Dib and Gaz's never-seen mother.
  • Many Mass Effect's fanfics have Shepard's death become Garrus's main reason to go to Omega and become Archangel. In some fics, it's simply because he wants to honor her name; in some others, it's because he is a Death Seeker who is overly obsessed with her to the point he can't function normally in C-sec or military. Sometimes both reasons are used. To name a few fics: Violence, Voyeurism and Vigilantes, Where Angels Fear To Tread, Weightless, and the Parable Series's second part Resurgence.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Mr. Black's wife, Tonya Coupe-Barton, is this for him. She was killed in Dr. Wily's very first attack, and he built a shrine to her in memoriam—and vowed revenge on Wily.
  • Moving revolves around Karen trying to move on from the pain of Martha's suicide.
  • In The Night Unfurls, Grace's unnamed husband is a Gender-Inverted Example. He is a Posthumous Character, and his death not only serves to show how Grace continues with life as it is while widowed, but also provides a reason for her amniosity with Olga.
  • Nobody's Hero: Male variant with Yusaku. His death is the Start of Darkness for an Alternate Universe Ai, and his attempt to bring back Yusaku via time travel kicks off the plot.
  • Redemption (KHR): Kyoko's death destroys whatever is left of Tsuna's innocence and what finally makes him accept his fate as Vongola Decimo.
  • The Stronger Evil: In this Jackie Chan Adventures fanfiction, it's exaggerated twice because of metaphysics:
    • It's all but stated that in the Bad Future which Future Jade comes from, Valerie's future counterpart is dead, and both the painful loss of his wife and the metaphysical loss of his Other has driven Shendu's future self mad.
    • It's also later revealed in the fic that the same thing happened to the Demon Sorcerers' mother, the goddess Tiamat. Her husband and Other Apsu was killed by humans, which drove Tiamat to the brink of madness, leading to her Deal with the Devil from which Shendu and his siblings were born.
  • Why Am I Crying?: Crystal Eyes, Filthy Rich's wife and Diamond Tiara's mother, who died in a train accident along with her unborn foal. This drove Filthy Rich to become an alcoholic basket case and, while he got over that, try to avoid seeing his daughter because she looked so much like her.
  • Hungary is revealed to be this to Austria in the 1983: Doomsday Stories AU for Hetalia: Axis Powers. Not only is it revealed later that the reverse is also true for Hungary but it's also subverted in that she eventually becomes his and her children's Guardian Angel.
  • Walking in Circles: Evelyn's first love Anselm is this for her. His demise is one of the first major key factors for her decision of actually trying to change the status quo and escape from the Circle, and much later, for her to support the plan of taking down the Veil with her Second Love Solas.
  • Transformers Animated: Cybertronian Genesis: Played with in regards to Optimus Prime and Elita-1. While Elita-1 is still alive as Blackarachnia, it's outright stated, multiple times, that the Elita-1 Optimus knew and loved is dead. Her metaphorical "death" serves as a major influence on his ideals and actions throughout the story and further complicates his relationship with Blackarachnia, whom he has lingering feelings for.
  • To Hell and Back (Arrowverse):
    • Oliver Queen was this for Laurel Lance during his ten-year disappearance. Laurel had recently come to the realization that she had feelings for him, but had decided to wait until his return from the trip he was on to tell him. Unfortunately, said trip was a boat trip to China. She was devastated by his death, even wondering if she could have stopped him from getting on that boat if she had just told him about how she felt. Her feelings for Oliver were strong enough that during the interim between his assumed death and return to Starling City, every relationship she has ever attempted to have has never managed to get off the ground.
    • Similar to the above example, Barry Allen for Iris West. Iris was so desperate to cling to Barry's ghost that she started emulating him, chasing after sightings of the impossible and writing on his blog about it, even going as far as to sign her name to her posts. She only stopped after a particularly bad incident, due to the pleas of Barry's father Henry. While Iris never quite understood romantic implications of her reaction to Barry's death, her boyfriend Eddie did when she explained her past to him, which is why he feels so threatened when Barry turns up alive.
  • In The Lightning Strike, Ginny is clearly this for Harry, as her memory offers Harry emotional support even as he finds new partners in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • In the Teen Titans fanfic The Masks We Wear Mary Grayson is this for a resurrected John Grayson.
  • The Biker Mice from Mars fanfic series Wars are Won mentions Modo's old lover Stella, who he notes he might have married if the war hadn't forced them apart. During "Reunions", the Mice and Charley discover a refugee ship from Mars captained by Throttle's cousin that included Stella as one of the initial passengers, but she died of cancer a few years before (although she had a son, Sparks, who the group swiftly realise is Modo's child).
  • In A Force of Four, Lois Lane has to come to terms with her husband Superman's death, at the same time other heroes have to protect Earth from old Superman's enemies who decide to take advantage of his absence to destroy his adoptive world.
  • Scoob and Shag: Subverted. When Sam is taunting Popeye, his comments imply that Olive Oyl is dead, but she's later shown to be alive and well. She and Pop just don't get along anymore.

    Films — Animation 
  • Present in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, although not for the main character. The King of Atlantis lost his wife when she was called to be used as a vessel for the Heart of Atlantis. Afterwards, he hid it beneath the city, out of fear that his daughter would suffer the same fate. She does, but she gets better.
  • Bambi II: Downplayed with Bambi’s father, The Great Prince. He has a hard time opening up to Bambi and really being a present parent after his mother is shot. Whenever Bambi recalls memories of her, the Prince tells him to “leave the past in the past”. In the end, after nearly losing his son as well, the Prince warms up to Bambi, even bringing him to the spot where he first met his mother.
  • In Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses, Queen Isabella, the titular princesses' mother, died sometime before the start of the film. King Randolph often looks at her portrait and wishes she were still around to help him raise their daughters since she always seemed to know what to do with them. This spurs him to invite his cousin Rowena to stay and shape up the girls into "proper princesses". When Rowena suggests to the royal doctor that Randolph is deathly ill from profound grief over his wife, the doctor has no trouble believing it.
  • Queen Tara in Epic (2013).
  • Finding Nemo: Marlin's losing Coral, and all but one of their unborn children, at the start of the movie causes him to become overprotective to his one remaining child, and this drives the plot.
  • Martha in Hotel Transylvania.
  • Manny's wife in Ice Age. When he gains a Second Love in the form of Ellie, he's unsure about declaring his feelings to her due to this fact.
  • In the direct-to-video prequel of The Little Mermaid (1989), The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning, Ariel's mother Queen Athena is killed when she is run over by a pirate ship. Her husband King Triton is so distraught at her death that he bans music from the kingdom because it reminds him of his late wife, and develops a severe distrust of humans that will be in full force by the time the first movie starts.
  • At the end of Melody Time's Pecos Bill segment, Slue-Foot Sue is launched to the moon and never comes down, and Bill never gets over the loss. He gives up being a cowboy, goes back to the coyotes who raised him, and every night howls at the moon in grief for Sue; the coyotes join in out of sympathy and this is why all coyotes howl at the moon.
  • Padak: The Master's mate died at the restaurant they were both staying in, her death turned him into the grumpy and cynical being he became in the present.
  • Spirit Untamed: Jim Prescott was happily living in Miredero with his wife Milagro, who was a performer who did stunts riding horses. One day, Milagro had an accident when one of her stunts went wrong. Now widowed with a two-year-old daughter, Jim sent Lucky to live with her grandfather and Aunt Cora in the city. Ten years later, when Lucky returns and grows attached to a horse named Spirit, Jim forbids her to go anywhere near him or any horse, clearly influenced by Milagro’s accident.
  • Ellie to Carl in Up. Made worse by the fact that she was never able to have children, so her death leaves Carl completely alone. Carl's refusal to leave his house is in part because it's the only way he can keep Ellie's spirit alive.
  • A male example in Wreck-It Ralph. Calhoun’s fiancé Brad Scott died before their game’s main story. His death is Calhoun’s primary motivation for wanting to destroy the Cy-Bugs.
  • Another male example is in Encanto. Pedro gave up his life for Alma and their three children; it's his sacrifice that created the miracle that gives the Madrigals their gifts. Yet Alma still struggles with the trauma from his horrific fate, and that she couldn't find it within her to grieve him properly is what causes most of the generational trauma in the family.

    Myths & Religion 

    Music 
  • In Ludo's rock opera Broken Bride, the main character is obsessed with turning back time to save his wife, who died in a car accident fifteen years before. He cuddles her old clothes and was generally unhinged by it.
  • "Copacabana" by Barry Manilow is about a woman named Lola in the 1940s who worked at the titular bar with her lover Tony. One night, Tony was shot by a mobster who was trying to seduce Lola. Thirty years later, she still spends her nights at the bar, drinking and dressed in the same clothes she wore when Tony was alive.
    Her name is Lola
    She was a showgirl
    But that was thirty years ago, when they used to have a show
    Now it's a disco
    But not for Lola
    Still in the dress she used to wear
    Faded feathers in her hair
    She sits there so refined and drinks herself half blind
    She lost her youth and she lost her Tony
    Now she's lost her mind
  • The Vocaloid song "15 Years of Pursuing a Cute Boy" by Manbo-dead-behind-the-house-P tells the story of a girl who, beginning in childhood, spends fifteen years writing love poems to a boy who never sends a reply. She becomes an accomplished author, endures extreme fluctuations in health from overworking herself, and sustains a head injury causing amnesia, erasing every memory but her love for him. She spends years not remembering anything but him, slowly growing more anxious and fearful with her memory not returning. One day she finally remembers everything and cries with the returning knowledge that he's been dead for the fifteen years she's been writing to him.
  • Country Music loves to tell stories about people pining for their lost loves; for extra drama, the lost love is often dead to ensure that the narrator will never, ever have the resolution they want. In fact, it's a bit of a stock Twist Ending for songs in the genre to reveal that the object of the last three verses' obsession is gone forever. Consider LeAnn Rimes' "Probably Wouldn't Be This Way" or the Brad Paisley/Alison Kraus duet "Whiskey Lullaby". Of note is that both of the above examples have a woman pining over a man, presumably because it's more poignant to hear a feminine voice sing a dirge, as per the One-Woman Wail.
  • Turned Up to Eleven and ultimately Played for Laughs by the folk ballad My Darling Clementine.
  • My Dying Bride loves this trope, as you can probably tell by their name. This album has quite a few examples.
  • Lana Del Rey's "Dark Paradise", a Torch Song about a woman mourning for her long-lost lover only to reunite in her dreams.
    Every time I close my eyes
    It's like a dark paradise
    No one compares to you
    I'm scared that you
    Won't be waiting on the other side
  • "The One You Really Love" from The Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs seems at first like it's just a case of the protagonist's love interest being into somebody else (enough that Skins could play the verse out of context for a similar situation). The second verse reveals it's actually that they're unable to move on from a dead lover. The last line of the song swaps out the title lyric for "the corpse you really love."
  • "Terrible Things" by Mayday Parade is about a man telling his son how he fell in Love at First Sight with his wife, spent several years with her, and how she died of an illness when their son was young. It ends with the man begging his son not to ever fall in love or he could suffer similar pains.
  • "Tsui no Hate" from Akiko Shikata's Greek mythology album ''Istoria ~Kalliope~" is about Orpheus's deep grief over failing to bring Eurydice back from the underworld.
  • Much of Tristania's first album is made of this trope, and it's not subtle about it, either: from the album title, Widow's Weeds, to one song being named My Lost Lenore.
  • The love interest in the music video for Céline Dion's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now."
  • In the rock opera David Comes to Life by the punk band Fucked Up, the character of Veronica is killed early in the album, as impetus for David to spend the rest of the story angsting about her death and trying to determine whether he or someone else was responsible for it.

    Podcasts 
  • Subverted in Alice Isn't Dead. Though the story begins In Medias Res, the Character Narrator spends portions of the second episode recounting how she had utterly convinced herself that her suddenly vanished wife was dead and was adjusting well with the help of grief support groups. It's the sight of Alice alive on TV that kick-starts the Narrator's new, life-defining quest, traveling the country as a long-haul trucker in the hopes of hunting Alice down and getting an explanation for The Conspiracy that prompted her disappearance.
  • In Trials & Trebuchets, Artis's wife Fidan left on a quest and never returned many years before the story began, and is presumed dead, causing Artis to fall into a deep depression.

    Radio 
  • Inverted in Old Harry's Game, in which the still-living Deborah is the Lost Lenore for the deceased Professor.

    Theatre 
  • Some adaptations of King Lear play this up. In the original text, Lear's dead wife is only given a passing mention, but some productions emphasise that his deteriorating sanity was started by her death. At least one gave a Gender Flip to The Fool and portrayed the character as a hallucination of the wife.
  • In Ordinary Days, it is revealed near the end of the show in the song "I'll Be Here" that the reason Claire can't fully commit to Jason is that she has still not fully processed her grief for her first husband John, who died in the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers.
  • Roger's ex-girlfriend April in RENT is undoubtedly a Lost Lenore, as his entire angst over her suicide and reveal that they've got AIDS is what keeps him locked in the apartment for the better part of a year and prevents him from pursuing a proper relationship with Mimi. The film version even goes as far as including a happier home movie of Roger and April.
  • Lily Craven in the musical adaptation of The Secret Garden, both to her husband Archibald, as in the novel, and to his brother Neville. They sing a duet called "Lily's Eyes".
  • In The Sound of Music, Captain Von Trapp's first wife serves as a Lost Lenore, as her death before the story begins has plunged him into a deep depression which has caused him to neglect his children emotionally. Maria's reintroduction of music into his house eventually brings him out of it and lets him find new love with her.
  • In Strange Interlude, Nina can't get past Gordon, who is already dead when the play starts. She sleeps with wounded soldiers because she feels like she has to after never getting to sleep with Gordon. Charles, for his part, is jealous of a dead man. Ned gets pretty much sick of hearing Nina talk endlessly about Gordon. When she has a baby out of wedlock with Ned years later, she names the baby Gordon.
  • Lucy Barker in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sweeney Todd's beloved wife who took poison after being raped by Judge Turpin. Except she isn't really dead. Mrs. Lovett lied. Even worse, Sweeney kills her without knowing it's her.

    Visual Novels 
  • In CLANNAD, Nagisa is this for Tomoya.
  • Godot from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials & Tribulations wakes up from a five-year-long coma caused by Dahlia Hawthorne's poison only to learn that Mia Fey has died. He then immediately sets his sights on Phoenix Wright, blaming him for "not protecting" Mia, and switches sides of the law, from defense attorney to prosector, just to take Phoenix down as punishment. He spends much of the game berating and insulting Phoenix, giving him the nickname "Trite," and even frequently throws boiling hot coffee at him. During the final case of the game, the true nature of his hatred slowly comes to light—as Phoenix gets closer and closer to uncovering Godot as the real killer, Godot almost goads him on and gives him hints, showing that he knows deep down that he knows he's wrong about Phoenix and actually just blames himself for Mia's death. Finally, when Phoenix is about to prove he's the killer, Godot suddenly sees Mia's spirit alongside Phoenix and realizes that she's been "living on through him" all this time. He acquiesces, confesses to the crime, and apologizes to Phoenix and Maya for letting his own misplaced anger cause so much short-sighted, self-centered violence.
  • In Beyond Eden, Alex Wake comes to realize - after at least one sequence of revenge targeting Baron William Edenic for the death of his sister Elizabeth - that the Baron had been so affected by Beth's death that he was already a shell of the man he once was, interested only in tending to her memory and her son Jeremy. Alex can choose whether or not to accept that this was enough punishment.
  • This trope has become so common in Danganronpa that it's become a running joke among fans that falling in love equals death.
    • From the first game, Sayaka for Makoto. She was both his first crush and the first student to die in the killing game, and her death was what drove the message home to him that this was real. He even privately vowed to never forget her and carry the weight of her (and her killer's) deaths with him forever. In Danganronpa 3, he almost has another in Kyoko, but she fortunately survives, making him one of the few characters (and the only protagonist) in the franchise whose Love Interest is still alive.
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair has Chiaki for Hajime. Her death leaves him utterly crushed, and he constantly mentions how he'll never forget her. He's also reluctant to go through with the shut-down of the Neo World Program because it might cause him to lose his memories of her. In a twist of fate, Danganronpa 3 retroactively reveals her real-world counterpart was also this for him, or rather, his Enemy Within. Hajime's feelings for her were so strong they carried over even when he had his personality and memories excised and became Izuru, and the remainder of his love for her ended up being the biggest catalyst in why Izuru masterminded the events of the game in the first place.
      • From the same game, there's also Peko, whose death kick-starts Fuyuhiko's Character Development. He brings her up many times throughout the rest of the game, and if you do his Free-Time Events you'll also get a clearer picture on how much she meant to him. Also, similar to Hajime above, he's very hesitant about shutting down the Neo World Program, because even though he knows the ramifications of choosing to graduate and bringing everyone back to life (thus allowing everyone who died to be overtaken by AI Junko), he desperately wants to see Peko again - ultimately, his memory of her is what motivates him to believe in Hajime and shut the program down despite the risks.
      • Similarly, the deaths of Nekomaru and Gundham give Akane and Sonia respectively a significant amount of motivation to live on and survive the killing game and they each reminisce on their fallen friends after their deaths, even taking care of mementos of them in the form of Minimaru and the Four Dark Devas of Destruction for the remainder of the game.
      • In a far more dark take on this trope than most other examples, this ends up serving as Mikan's motivation for murder. When her memories of her time as a Remnant of Despair are restored by the despair disease, she kills two people in the name of despair to honor her dead "beloved", who she giddily allows herself to be executed in the hope of being reunited with in death. Said "beloved" is the Ultimate Despair, Junko Enoshima, who very likely never cared for Mikan to begin with.
    • In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Kaede turns out to be a Decoy Protagonist and is executed in the first chapter, with Shuichi taking over from then on. He is very deeply affected by her death to the point her belief in him is what spurs him on to take up the mantle in her place, and her impact on him is highly prevalent throughout the rest of the game.
  • Much of Daughter for Dessert consists of the protagonist reminiscing about his deceased girlfriend, Lainie.
  • When They Cry:
    • Higurashi: When They Cry: Satoshi Houjou's disappearance (he disappeared a year prior to the story's events, and hence is believed by most to be dead) is the main drive for Shion Sonozaki—how this affects her changes arc by arc (it depends if she's subject to the local Hate Plague); she may throw herself into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against those she sees as responsible (i.e. almost everyone she knows), or she'll devote herself to looking after Satoko, Satoshi's little sister. It should be noted, however, that Shion only seems to truly believe that he is dead during the arcs where she goes on her RROR (she believes her family killed him because of the prejudice against his family). In other arcs, she seems to hold at least a little hope that he will return (even if it is to reassure Satoko, who believes this as well). The final arc in Kai reveals that he is indeed alive but in a coma. She decides I Will Wait for You.
    • In the first half of Umineko: When They Cry, it appears Kinzō's desire to revive his dead mistress (Beatrice) pushed him to start a gruesome ceremony that involves sacrificing his own family (and more often than not, himself). And in the second half of the story it turns out Kinzō was dead more than a year before the start of the game. The original Beatrice, Beatrice Castiglioni, died giving birth to her and Kinzō's child. This drove him to despair, and he ended up raping their daughter as she grew up to look more and more like her mother. Said daughter gave birth to a child, and she too died shortly after. Kinzō then gave that Child by Rape to his daughter-in-law Natsuhi to raise because she couldn't conceive an heir; since she already was very unstable, her response was to throw the baby off a cliff. Said baby miraculously survived, but grew up broken both physically and psychologically, to the point of developing multiple Split Personalities and planning a murder motivated by love and all the crap they went through. For Want of a Nail indeed.
  • In Fate/stay night, The Normal End for Heaven's Feel has Shirou sacrificing himself to destroy the Holy Grail. Sakura refuses to accept Shirou's death and waits for the day Shirou returns until she eventually dies of old age.
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend, the driving force behind all of the underlying plot is the death of Shuu Iwamine's beloved mentor, Ryuuji Kawara. Said death leads Shuu to promise Ryuuji that he'd grant the wish of Ryuuji's son, Ryouta. Ryouta's wish? For a world where humans and birds, historically opposed factions After the End, no longer fought. Shuu, unhinged Mad Scientist that he is, naturally concocts a plan to make it happen in the most straightforward way possible: by killing off the rest of the human race.
  • Mystic Messenger: Rika, the founder of the RFA, is dearly missed by all the other members after she was supposedly Driven to Suicide according to V (the cops Never Found the Body and V has been suspiciously dodgy about talking about her death) but the ones most affected by this are her cousin Yoosung and her boyfriend V. The former still has not gotten over her death and tends to bring her up the most, and on his route he repeatedly compares the heroine to her and asks her to be his new Rika — the goal of the route being to help him move on. He also repeatedly blames V for Rika's death and tends to antagonize him. V, meanwhile, has grown so distant from the rest of the RFA that he barely shows up in chats, and when he does he only speaks vaguely. He also tends to blame himself for her death. Completely subverted once you start Another Route — not only is she still alive but she, of all people, is the one running Mint Eye. Yoosung has no idea, but V is fully aware and blames himself for not only encouraging her Sanity Slippage by ignoring her rapidly spiraling mental health and pleas for help by telling her that he would "save" her singlehandedly, but also for telling everyone she had killed herself rather than admitting he let her abscond to the mountains to start Mint Eye once she had become truly delusional and since then hasn't done anything substantial to help either Rika regain her sense of reality or the cultists living there.

    Web Animation 
  • Allison from Red vs. Blue, whose death many years before the series begins arguably is indirectly responsible for everything that happens in it, as it royally screws up her boyfriend/husband, who goes on to become the Director of Project Freelancer, which proceeds to get deep into Crazyland. Mostly in the Director's efforts to get his beloved Allison back.
  • Overly Sarcastic Productions features the Trope Namer in a one-off gag:
    Edgar Allan Poe: LENORE!!!!!!
    The late ms. Poe: My name was Virginia, you ass.
  • RWBY: Jaune is driven to become the best Huntsman he can be by the death of someone he once had strong feelings for. When his team partner and Love Interest, Pyrrha, is killed by Cinder, it triggers Jaune to help Ruby in her quest to find Haven Academy and learn who the villains are and what they want. He incorporates Pyrrha's shield metal into his own shield, wears a red sash like she did, secretly trains every night to her training videos, and recklessly challenges Cinder when he confronts her again at Haven. When Weiss is almost killed by Cinder, he's so terrified that it'll be like Pyrrha's death all over again, that it triggers the awakening of his Semblance. It's only when he encounters a statue in honour of her in Volume 6 that he has a heart-to-heart with Ren and Nora about his Death Seeker behaviour since her death. They resolve to continue fighting as though she's still a part of their team.

    Webcomics 
  • In Because I'm Depressed, Ada's death is implied to be the root of Diego's self-destructive behavior, such as his alcoholism, his drug abuse, and his suicidal ideation. Over a decade after losing his wife, he is still obsessively attached to her.
  • In Decrypting Rita, Barrett-2's girlfriend Kim-2 committed suicide in Universe 2's backstory, and Barrett has pined for her ever since. So much that when Kim-3 is thrown into Universe 2 by accident, Barrett-2 is overjoyed at her "return" and begins socializing with her at the expense of Rita-2.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Blaike Raven was married to Pandora. While the problem of a Mayfly–December Romance troubled her, she felt it wouldn't be a real problem since she would be at about the right age to reset when he succumbed to old age, at which point she could continue to be part of her son's family. But Blaike ultimately died young, trying and failing to save a group of travelers from a monster. As a result, Pandora did not reset and now suffers from With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, both Surma Stibnite and Jeanne are this, to a degree. Jeanne actually has her own Lenore; an unnamed elf whom she was divided from by the Court-Forest war. Even when he was alive, she was constantly longing for him and sending messages to the Forest. And when they both died as the result of a plot by the Court leaders (and Jeanne's jealous Stalker with a Crush), her grief and anger were so strong that she lived on as a ghost, dwelling for hundreds of years, at least, in the spot where she died, violently attacking anyone — good or evil — who came down there. Jeanne Used to Be a Sweet Kid, but her actions make it clear that she's just an Empty Shell now. There is nothing in her but sorrow and the desire for revenge. Unusually for the trope, she's an example whose sadness drove her to evil instead of stasis.
  • Starslip: Much of the main storyline is driven by Memnon's relentless quest to reunite with his beloved Jovia, who didn't die shortly after they fell in love... until his ship slipped into a nearly-identical timeline where she did. He's very much determined to reach a timeline where she's alive, no matter what it takes.
  • Inverted in Tower of God. Rachel didn't die, she tried to kill Bam seemingly nowhere and believes along with the rest of the cast to have succeeded.

    Web Original 
  • One entry in Invisible Games is entitled The Pentintytär Arcade and tells the story of a boy, Torvald, who seems to fall in love with the titular Irja Pentintytär after playing the series of video games she left behind to be discovered following her suicide. By the time he is an adult he has not only tracked down and purchased every single one of Irja's game machines but is incapable of doing anything but huddling among them, grieving for her.

    Web Videos 
  • Ironically, while the Trope Namer is a main character in Edgar Allan Poe's Murder Mystery Dinner Party, as a ghost, her lover Guy de Vere became this for her when he killed himself after her death, and was unable to be brought back as a ghost like she was. While she is Deadpan Snarker who is generally blasé about her own death, she is clearly affected by the fact that she caused his suicide.
    • In addition, Annabel Lee and H.G. Wells become this for Poe and Lenore, respectively by the end (although they come back as ghosts in the epilogue). Specifically, Annabel's death leads the normally awkward Poe to attack and kill her killer in the finale.
  • Reginald's wife in Doom House died before the story begins, which made Reginald very depressed.
  • During Monster Factory's playthrough of Fallout 4, the boys become attached to a radroach corpse they name Roachie, and he becomes The Final Pam's sons-band. Roachie de-spawns and they mourn him of the rest of the playthrough. Really.
  • From Noob, Tenshirock's wife / Judge Dead's mother. After her death, Tenshirock tried to bond with his son by being good at several activities they did together. However, the lens of Judge Dead's Inferiority Superiority Complex made it look like his father was just reminding him how much better he was, contrary to his mother that had always been supportive. One of the activities was playing the MMORPG in which the story is set, where Tenshirock at some point realized that his guild master had a mental condition heavily implied to have caused his wife's death. He eventually got his guild master to quit, which didn't go unnoticed since the guild master in question was Spectre, the game's Living Legend.

    Western Animation 
  • The Avatar-verse
    • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Princess Yue to Sokka. While he does later get a new love interest (whom he actually met before Yue), he also spends a lot of time thinking about her, even after he gets together with Suki. This is indicated by his reaction to Suki's teasing during the Ember Island Players' depiction of her Heroic Sacrifice. Doesn't help that the moon is brought up from time to time.
    • The Legend of Korra: We have Hiroshi Sato's wife, who was murdered by firebending gangsters. Her death resulted in him secretly supporting the Equalists, supplying them with weapons to fight off benders.
  • Nora Fries from Batman: The Animated Series. While she's still alive, in cryogenic stasis, her tragic separation from her husband Victor Fries is what motivates him to become the supervillain Mr. Freeze. This backstory proved so effective that was adopted as the official origin of Mr. Freeze, making Nora a Canon Immigrant to The DCU.
  • The lost Lenore appears in the "Poe Pourri" episode of the Beetlejuice cartoon. Poe himself arrives at Beetlejuice's house wailing about the fact that he's lost his precious Lenore. Subverted in that the lady isn't actually lost; Poe just went to the wrong place to meet her. She turns up perfectly fine near the end of the episode, annoyed but still happy to see him.
  • Castlevania:
    • Dracula's Kill All Humans genocide is triggered by the Corrupt Church persecuting and murdering his human wife Lisa while he was midway through being reformed by her and he was unable to save her. He even turns on, imprisons, and almost kills their son Alucard to that end, until his Heel Realization makes him realize what he's doing to the only living thing that remains of Lisa. Ultimately, the loss reduced Dracula to a particularly poignant Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum.
    • Saint Germain fell in love with a woman who he became separated from by the Infinite Corridor, and he's motivated to re-access and gain control of the Corridor so he can be reunited with her. Unfortunately, this makes him susceptible to the Final Boss's machinations during the final season.
  • Duckman had Duckman's beloved wife Beatrice, who died before the show started, but appears in a few flashbacks. Unlike literally every other woman Duckman ever met, with Beatrice, he was a Chivalrous Pervert rather than The Hedonist that he is in the series itself. Even the OTHER characters remark on how much his wife had actually meant to Duckman. The series finale ended on a cliffhanger revealing that she was still alive. This is at its most notable when Duckman is haunted by dozens of alternate universe versions of himself and is visited by a version of himself from his wedding day decades prior.
    Past Duckman: Am I doing the right thing marrying Beatrice? Do we grow old together?
    Duckman: ...you're going to love her until the day you die.
    Past Duckman: ...maybe I don't need to know anything but that.
  • Final Space:
    • Deconstructed with the late John Goodspeed. His widow, Sheryl was heartbroken after his death, unfortunately this made her neglect their son Gary (who she was already resentful of due to him unwittingly instigating John kicking her out previously) due to focusing on her own grief, and then she abandoned Gary, citing that her reason was because John's death wiped out any part that could love. However, instead of portraying her as sympathetic, it only reinforces how Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse for how she's treated her son, who was also grieving John's death.
    • Nightfall began time-traveling and creating alternate realities after she lost her original universe's Gary (to whom she was engaged) when he sacrificed himself closing the breach to Final Space. She spent the next twenty years traveling through hundreds of alternate realities trying to create a timeline where Gary's life is saved, but she always failed until she reached the prime timeline.
  • Razer's wife, Ilana, from Green Lantern: The Animated Series. Her death was the reason he joined the Red Lanterns. Invoked by Atrocitus, who not only started the war on Razer's planet in hopes of creating some Red Lantern material but murdered his wife to achieve precisely this effect, pushing him over the edge.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): Gender-flipped in "The Bitter Rose,". Man-At-Arms tells the legend of a goddess who lost her husband on war and whose tears of grief made a rose sprout on an arid mountain. Orko decides to give the rose to Dree-Elle, unaware that its power is the only thing that keeps the mountain from crumbling. In the end, when the rose is planted back on its place, it turns into the goddess. She tells that, through all those centuries, she was so bitter that she wouldn't allow anything else grow on the mountain, until Orko touched her heart with his love for Dree-Elle. That released her and, in gratitude, she covers the mountain with vegetation and flowers.
  • Gender-Inverted Trope in Infinity Train: Aldrick, the husband of original Amelia. Her grief over his death is what got her onto the Train. She then decided that the Train could recreate her old life with Aldrick, and took over when the original Conductor refused.
  • Ivanhoe: The King's Knight: "The Legend of the White Stag" tells the story of Harold Godwin and his love for Blanche Fleur; she tragically died from an illness before they could marry. This was shortly followed by the death of Edward, Harold's father, who was crushed by a tree that was felled by a lightning strike. Harold's grief was so overwhelming that he couldn't remember who he was for a time.
  • Bill's ex-wife on King of the Hill is named Lenore, clearly trying to invoke this, but she's actually The One That Got Away. (Or rather, the most notable of many who got away.)
  • Miraculous Ladybug has Emilie Agreste, who's been comatose since the series began. Her condition is what inspired Gabriel to go after the Miraculous in the first place, adopting the persona of Hawk Moth and terrorizing Paris to achieve that goal.
  • In Regular Show, Skips had a lover named Mona, with whom he used to skip every day. When she died during a fight with a school bully, he vowed to always skip in her memory as well as changing his name from Walks to Skips.
  • Rugrats: The episode "Mother's Day" all but confirms that Chuckie's mother is dead and that his father Chas is still too deep in mourning to talk about her. Most of the episode focuses on Chuckie's belief that he doesn't have any sort of mom, until Chas opens up and begins to tell him about her.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Exaggerated in the episode "I'm Goin' to Praiseland". When Ned Flanders invites his date Rachel Jordan to stay at his house (to sleep in separate rooms, of course), she's skeeved out by all the photos of his late wife Maude, the Maude-shaped bedsheet indentation he preserves with sprayed starch, the monogrammed robe he hands her (with Maude's monogram, of course), and his calling her "Maude". None of this prepares her for the discovery, upon awakening the next morning, that Ned has cut her hair to resemble Maude's. Ned isn't able to move on by himself but is instead forced to have Homer and Bart get rid of all the stuff that reminds him of Maude. By the end of the episode, he's finally capable of removing the Maude-shape in the bed, as he begins to move on.
    • In an adaptation of The Raven from the first "Treehouse of Horror", Marge filled this role.
  • Steven Universe: Rose Quartz, the title character's mother, serves this role as well as being a Missing Mom. Steven's father, Greg, is clearly still mourning a bit but actually handles his grief pretty well for the most part. Pearl, not as much.

    Real Life 
  • The Trope Codifier was Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, the wife of Edgar Allan Poe and the inspiration for the various Lenore characters in his writings. She was his 13-year-old cousin whom he married when he was 27. note  Regardless, it was a happy marriage and according to friends of theirs, they adored each other. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 24, and Poe never quite got over it. Any of his poems with a dead young woman — such as "Annabel Lee", "Ulalume", and "Lenore" — are believed to have been about Virginia.
  • An enigmatic individual by the name of "Sook" was allegedly this to Truman Capote. His last words were "It's me, Buddy." Apparently, "Buddy" was Sook's nickname for him.
  • Theodore Roosevelt's first wife, Alice Lee. On the date of her death, Roosevelt simply drew an X through the corresponding page of his diary, writing, "The light has gone out of my life." He seldom spoke of her for the rest of his life. Her death was why he disliked the nickname "Teddy"—it had been her pet name for him. He couldn't bear to call their daughter, who was named after her, by her name, and instead referred to her in letters as "baby Lee," for her middle name, or pet names like "mousiekins", and she apparently had no idea that her father had actually loved her mother until he was long dead and she was an elderly woman. (She actually suffered Parental Abandonment when he fled out to the Dakota Territory in grief and left her to be raised by his older sister for the first few years of her life.) After he remarried and had younger children, he called her "Sister." At least one book has quoted the Roosevelt grandchildren as calling Alice Roosevelt Longworth "Auntie Sister." However, while all of this Excessive Mourning was awkward and difficult for the bright and attention-seeking Alice, Roosevelt's remarriage to his Childhood Friend Edith Carow was long and happy.
  • Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe in 1954, but they divorced in the same year. They became close again in 1961, and it was rumored that they might remarry. When she died in 1962, he arranged her funeral and would send half a dozen roses to her grave 3 times a week for the next 20 years until his death. He never remarried or talked publicly about Marilyn or exploited their relationship, unlike others. When he died in 1999, his last words were "I'll finally get to see Marilyn."
  • MMA fighter Denis Kang was on a 23-fight unbeaten streak when his girlfriend, fellow MMA fighter Shelby Walker, died of an apparent overdose. Since then, he has only won 7 of 16 bouts.
  • In December 1972, shortly after he was first elected Senator from Delaware, future President Joe Biden's wife Neilia and their baby daughter Naomi were killed in an auto accident, with their sons Beau and Hunter hospitalized too. Biden always takes the day off on the anniversary of the accident. Biden grieved Neilia intensely, but has been happily remarried for decades to his current wife Jill.
  • King Henry VII of England felt this way toward his queen, Elizabeth of York. She died in 1503, and Henry went into seclusion following her death (on her 36th birthday, giving birth to a child who also died); for several days he would allow no one to come near him except his own mother. It's also worth noting that while their marriage was political, it was unusually happy, with no recorded instances of Henry even being suspected of adultery (unlike many kings of the era). After a time he did allow his courtiers to look for a new wife for him, but his description of what he wanted was almost identical to Elizabeth and, of course, no one could be found who came close. He died six years later, in 1509, having never remarried nor taken a mistress.
  • Their son, Henry VIII, also experienced this. Although he did remarry three more times after her passing, he spent the rest of his life mourning his third wife, Jane Seymour. She was his only wife to have died naturally while they were still married. She was also his only wife to give him the son he had always desired, dying a few weeks after the future Edward VI was born.note  However, contemporary accounts have Henry as more "mildly annoyed" than "tragically destroyed" by news of her death (see the Useful Notes page for more detail). He also began hunting for wife number four only days afterwards. He only retroactively began treating Jane Seymour as a Lost Lenore years later when it became obvious none of his following wives would produce another son.
  • Clark Gable married five times throughout his life but he never stopped mourning for his third spouse and film costar Carole Lombard, to whom he was very Happily Married before she died in a plane crash in 1942, alongside her mother and Gable's agent Otto Winkler. Following her death, Gable quit the screen for three years, during which time he served in the US Army. Even when he eventually returned to acting, many of his friends and colleagues noticed that he was never really the same again without Lombard, and that her death would always hang over him like a shadow until he himself passed away in 1960. He was even buried next to her.
  • Romy Schneider, who died at the age of 43 in 1982, is this for her once-fiancé Alain Delon, who still talks about her as the love of his life and placed a newspaper ad acknowledging what would have been her 80th birthday and asking people "who have loved her, and still love her" to also remember her.
  • Queen Victoria went into deep mourning upon her consort Albert's death in 1861. It was customary for the bereaved to seclude themselves for a few months, and for widows to wear black for two years. But Victoria wasn't even seen in public again for nearly two years afterward; she even watched the wedding of her son, the Prince of Wales, from a hidden alcove where people couldn't see her. She also wore black widow's weeds — black veil and all — for the rest of her lifenote . She commissioned her iconic small diamond crown because she could wear a small crown over her mourning cap (unlike the full-size Imperial State Crown she would have otherwise had to wear to State Openings of Parliament) and because silver and diamonds, being white, were acceptable for mourning wear. For years after Albert's death, the household maids were instructed to lay out his clothes and personal effects as though he were going to get ready for the day. Even the contemporary British population — which had an unhealthy fascination with death — felt weirded out by her behavior; the high-water mark for British republicanism was in the 1860s, and the monarchy mostly held on through the efforts of the aforementioned Prince of Wales, the bon vivant Albert Edward, who did his best to keep up the positive image of the royal family and (gradually) get his mother to participate in public life.
  • It runs in the family. Victoria only existed because her cousin Charlotte (the only legitimate grandchild of George III at the time) died in childbirth in November 1817, along with the baby. Lord Byron screamed when he heard — she was basically the only member of the royal family anyone liked and her death sent the entire country into mourning. Charlotte's death spelled potential disaster for the royal family and spurred several of her aging uncles to either marry or remarry. Victoria's father, Prince Edward, was 50 when he married her mother Princess Victoria in 1818, and 51 when his daughter was born the following year.
    • Charlotte's grief-stricken husband happened to be Victoria's maternal uncle Leopold, who eventually went on to become King of Belgium instead — and named his equally tragic daughter "Charlotte"... but not before briefly morganatically marrying a Replacement Goldfish actress who happened to look very similar. Several people opined that his marriage to Charlotte was the last time in a long life Leopold was known to show any warmth or spontaneity.
  • Leopold's great-great-nephew King Leopold III of Belgium lost his wife Astrid in a car accident in 1935 while he was driving. Like Charlotte, Queen Astrid managed to become this to an entire country. After surviving World War II and forced abdication and even remarrying, Leopold was known to muse how different things would have been had she lived.
  • Eleanor de Montfort was this to her husband Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last native ruling Prince of a unified Wales. Prior to her Death by Childbirth, he had settled into life as a vassal to Edward I of England and his country was doing well; he adored his wife and it was by all reports a Perfectly Arranged Marriage. When she died, his grief consumed him, and in that state he was persuaded by his half-brother to once again try for rebellion against England. It did not go well and he was killed in battle less than a year after his wife's death.
  • Patrick Moore's fiancée was killed in World War II by a German bomb which hit the ambulance she was in (she was a nurse). Moore never got over her death, saying later in life that "there was no one else for me ... second best is no good for me ... I would have liked a wife and family, but it was not to be." Moore's hatred for Germans lasted his entire life; he never forgave them for her death.note 
  • Edward I of England and his second wife Margaret had a very happy marriage despite him being 40 years her senior. When he passed away, she refused to remarry despite being only in her twenties, stating that "when Edward died, all men died for me".

 
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Alternative Title(s): Dead Little Love Interest

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Nightfall talks about her Gary

Nightfall tells Gary about how she lost the version of him in her timeline, and expresses sadness that after years of trying she's finally reached a world where Gary lives but he doesn't want her.

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Main / TheLostLenore

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