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The Tragic Rose

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Even the heavens mourn.
"But ne'er the rose without the thorn."

In contrast to its strictly romantic usage, roses have long been a dual symbol of beauty and tragedy. The reasons for this are evident in the rose itself. The soft, fragrant petals are outwardly very beautiful, making it one of the most famous flowers in the world and perfect for romantic occasions. On the other hand, the stem of the rose is covered with sharp thorns, causing pain to careless hands. The colors of the rose can further this association since they can be any shade from a deep blood red to an innocent white.

This trope is for characters and situations where the pleasure/pain duality is particularly evident. Frequently, a character with the name Rose is portrayed as being beautiful yet ends up with a life full of trauma and tragedy. In other cases, roses can be used to symbolize any character or event with this duality. The trope can also be invoked by characters who adopt the rose as a symbol for this very reason. If you see a bunch of red roses in a scene and it doesn't look like anything romantic will be happening, expect tragedy. Gothic Horror uses this trope frequently in all variations; a blood-covered rose is a very popular, almost iconic, image of the genre.

Cherry Blossoms are used similarly in Japan. For roses used in a romantic setting, see Something about a Rose. Not to be confused with The Poppy, a red flower which represents wartime tragedy (and valor).


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Tragic or struggling characters with the name Rose:

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bleach, a man named Rojuro Otoribayashi is nicknamed Rose. He and his friends got a horribly raw deal by being forcibly transformed into Hollow/Shinigami hybrids by the Big Bad. It does seem that Rose has earned a happier ending, though: as of manga chapter 481, he has been allowed back home and regained his captain seat. Until the Vandereich invasion, that is, since his lieutenant Kira and a good part of his division were massacred by the invaders. Understandably, Rose is PISSED.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Rosé Thomas becomes a pawn in her first appearance, she was an orphan, and her boyfriend died.
    • In addition to this, in Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), Rosé was raped off-screen by soldiers occupying her town, became a mute, and carried the resulting baby to term. She then had to lead her town to exile and merger with the nation due to another invasion of soldiers, was kidnapped by the Big Bad, and was spared by moments from a final Grand Theft Me that might have used her baby as fuel. The guy she finally professes her love to then gets trapped in another dimension. Finally, in Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa, the guy who she professed her love to comes back from that other dimension hitchhiking with an army, never once sees her, then he and his brother, who did see her, go back to that other dimension after beating the army. In Conqueror of Shamballa, she's shown living happily with her toddler-aged son and two kids she presumably adopted, but she's still has a pretty tragic past.
  • Kanae Von Rosewald, from Tokyo Ghoul:re. In a series known for its tragic characters, he's been dealt one of the harsher deals in life. From a wealthy family of German Ghouls, he was orphaned at the age of 10 and ended up as an employee of his only surviving relatives after he finally managed to make his way to Japan. Over the years, he became obsessed with his master/cousin Shuu Tsukiyama and struggled with intense feelings of jealousy towards Chie and Kaneki. Add to this nearly three years of caring for his catatonic, grief-stricken master, and his emotions were already at a boiling point. Then Eto showed up and took an interest in his situation, torturing him and convincing him that he'll be loved if he can just kill everyone in his way. Then there's the reveal that Kanae is actually Karren, and has been posing as a man so that she could replace her dead brothers as the family heir.

  • Ophelia (Millais): There are roses drifting by Ophelia's face and dress, alluding to her brother calling her "the rose of May", and to her fleeting happiness and tragic drowning.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 


Specific Examples

  • Codex Equus: Rose Regalia is an ancient Alicorn goddess who has heavy rose motifs in her appearance, like rose-like curls in her hair and a crystalline rose Cutie Mark. In her youth, she suffered extremely horrific abuse under both Silk Dawn and White Corona, with the former indoctrinating her to be the loyal, "perfect" enforcer of her plans. While Rose Regalia pulls a Heel–Face Turn thanks to Canteros' influence and even helps defeat Silk Dawn the first time around, she found herself being wrongly persecuted by those who hated her just for being a daughter of Morning Star, and survives an attempt to kill her by White Corona, who deemed her a traitor and an "imperfection" that didn't deserve to live. While she successfully managed to convince all three of her older half-sisters to betray Silk Dawn, too, in the end, Rose Regalia was so traumatized by everything that had her half-brother, Luminiferous not found her, she would have fallen into the Despair Event Horizon.
  • In Denounce the Evils, Jessie's middle name is "Rosalyn". She has a Dark and Troubled Past and is a Butt-Monkey even as an adult.
  • The entire Rose family has this motif in RWBY: Scars:
    • Ruby Rose has a rose motif and tragedy seems to always follow her. It doesn't help that she was destined from birth to be a Silver-Eyed Warrior. Her mom Summer died when she was seven, her dad Taiyang (unknowingly, her step-dad) fell into a depression after Summer's death, and her sister Yang had to step up at a young age to help raise Ruby. Ruby wants to be a huntress but gets involved in a lot of trouble. In one night her First Love Penny is brutally murdered in front of her, her sister Yang gets gets her arm torn off, her friend Weiss gets forced back into her abusive household, her friend Blake goes missing and is assumed dead, and her other friend Jaune is murdered in front of both Ruby and his girlfriend Pyrrha. Ruby ends up becoming a Stepford Smiler in an attempt to not seem so troubled. This is all ignoring the Family Relationship Switcheroo Ruby is unaware of for most of the fic.
    • Summer had a harsh life and died at an early age at the hands of her former lover. She grew up on the Wrong Side of the Tracks with her depressed prostitute aunt as her guardian. Ivory tried her best but had a lot of troubles, to the point where Summer distanced herself from her aunt as soon as she could. As an adult, Summer had a baby with her boyfriend Qrow, but her boyfriend lied and tried to Break Her Heart to Save Her by dumping her. Years later, Qrow killed Summer to keep his role as a spy for Ozpin safe.
    • Summer's aunt Ivory is a depressed and traumatized after the deaths of her sister and mother. Salem is out to kill all the Rose's, with Ivoy only surviving because she flies under the radar because she never awakened her Silver-Eyed Warrior abilities. She raises her niece on her own in a poor area but turns to prostitution to make money. She also ends up in at least one abusive relationship. Once Summer moves out, she rarely talks to her aunt and never told Ruby about Ivory, to the point where Ivory didn't know Summer died until over five years after her death. Ivory does eventually get a better job as an erotica writer and moves to a better town, but she's still an Introverted Cat Person.
  • Trusting In Faith is a one shot where Nessarose and Glinda were romantically involved in university. While they were unable to make their relationship last into adulthood, their feelings lingered even after years apart. After Nessarose is unceremoniously killed by a falling house, Glinda goes to her funeral. She does cry, but she tries not to be too sad because she knows that Nessarose was always very interested in heaven. The fic ends with a quote referencing the nature of this trope:
    Oh, how the Unnamed God was lucky to have such a beautiful Rose.

    Films — Animation 
  • Balto: A girl named Rosy spends the entire movie slowly dying of diphtheria. Not only does she survive, but she's the Narrator All Along.
  • Sleeping Beauty, whose real name is Aurora, but the fairies named her Briar Rose. She was cursed with death by a vengeful sorceress at her christening (modified to a magical sleep by the third fairy), was raised like a peasant with very little human contact in an effort to save her from her fate, and ultimately ended up in the coma anyway. It all ended well, but it doesn't hurt that, as she was lying asleep, she held a red rose on her chest.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Edge of Tomorrow: William Cage tells Rita Vrataski her middle name which he got in a past "Groundhog Day" Loop. Rita is a hardcore Action Girl who refuses to connect with anyone because (having been stuck in her own time-loop in the past) she knows the pain of having a friend die on you again and again. She tells Cage he got it wrong and suggests she told him the wrong name just to shut him up. Later as Rita dies yet again in his arms, she tells Cage her actual middle name is Rose. Cage crosses his Despair Event Horizon after this point.
  • Pretty much the premise of the Bette Midler film (and character) The Rose.
  • The titular protagonist of Rosita was raised poor, ends up arrested, is forced by the king of Spain to be his mistress, and almost has her love killed by the king in jealousy. All works out well for Rosita in the end, however.
  • In Titanic (1997), Rose was on the Titanic, her fiancé (by Arranged Marriage) was a Jerkass and her new boyfriend dies while urging her to live. She lived for almost 90 years afterwards, becoming pretty much a living legend; after telling the people digging in the sea for the Titanic what she witnessed there (in an extended flashback which comprises the bulk of the movie, Rose makes her final break with the past and apparently dies shortly thereafter.

  • In The Alice Network, Charlie spends most of the book trying desperately to find her missing Cool Big Sister cousin Rose, only to find that she was killed by Nazis during the Second World War. Not to mention that she got pregnant out of wedlock.
  • In The Cinderella Murder, Rosemary hasn't had the easiest life. From an early age, her mother was extremely critical of her and constantly putting her down or expecting her to fail, while acting like she was just doing it for Rosemary's good. This has given Rosemary lifelong anxiety. She and her husband had to wait a decade before they finally had a child, Susan, whom they adored. Unfortunately, Susan was murdered on her father's sixtieth birthday and the killer never caught. Rosemary was widowed three years ago (she attributes her husband's fatal stroke to grief over Susan) and then the first real friend she manages to make in her new neighbourhood gets brutally murdered in her backyard. Things start looking up for Rosemary when Susan's murderer is finally brought to justice, though Laurie knows that the grief will never truly go away.
  • For fair Rosalie from The Fire King, a ballad by Walter Scott, nothing goes well for most of the story. She learns that her beloved is captured in Palestine and goes with the crusaders as Sweet Polly Oliver to ransom or rescue him. It turns out that he has betrayed her for the sultan's daughter, renounced his faith and knighthood, and joined the sultan's army, and he ends up killing her on the battlefield when she distracts him from attacking King Baldwin. The poor girl's suffering is finally over when she is taken to Heaven by the Virgin Mary.
  • The Ghost Roads series is about Rose Marshall, who was murdered as a teenager and wanders the roadways of the United States as a ghost.
  • Rosa del Valle from The House of the Spirits is the World's Most Beautiful Woman, but lives in a convoluted world full of changes that she's borderline oblivious to. She ends up murdered when one of her father's enemies poisons their wine and she accidentally drinks it, completely changing the lives of everyone who lives on - specially her boyfriend Esteban and her little sister Clara.
  • In Martin the Warrior, the titular hero falls in love with a mousemaid named Rose, only for her to die at the end.
  • In Rose Madder, Rose Daniels leaves her abusive husband only to have him chase after her and try to tear her new life apart.
  • Rose Under Fire is set in a concentration camp, where a character named Rose and a character named Róża both experience unimaginable horrors.
  • In Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, characters named Rose or some variant (Rosalinda, Rosalie) tend to end up on Traditional paths; uncomfortable at best, utterly tragic at worst.
  • In A Tale of... the Wicked Queen, Snow White's biological mother was named "Rose". She died of an unknown illness when Snow was an infant.
  • Rosalie Hale from The Twilight Saga is insanely beautiful, was raped and left for dead because of it (by her own fiance, no less), and now lives on as a bitter vampire incapable of having a biological child—her one real dream.
  • The War Of The Roses, a 1981 novel by Warren Adler, is a grim look at the marriage of Jonathan and Barbara Rose, which starts out great but tragically falls apart due to each partner's selfishness and materialism. The 1989 movie based on it wisely turned the story into a Black Comedy, else it would have been unfilmable.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Alma Gêmea, the white rose, which was created by Rafael in homage to Luna, becomes a symbol of his grief after Luna dies. After Luna reincarnates as Serena, she often has visions of the white rose despite never having seen one in her current life yet, and she feels a special connection to it when she finally sees it in person. Foreshadowed in the first chapter, when Luna hurts herself with the rose's thorn, dropping blood on it, and says she feels a chill, as if it were a signal.
  • On the Cold Case episode "Best Friends", a girl named Rose pledged a lover's suicide with her girlfriend, Billie (it was 1932, plus Rose is white while Billie was black). The suicide didn't go over as planned (Billie was shot to death by Rose's evil brother and her lifeless body was disposed of in the Delaware River) and she spent the rest of her life writing sorrowful poems about her lost love. 60 years later, the now old Rose is approached by the team since Billie's body had been recently retrieved from a truck in the river; after Rose confesses what really happened, Billie's spirit comes for her, all being forgiven.
  • In Doctor Who, Rose Tyler is the companion of the last surviving Time Lord, and became trapped on a parallel Earth with no means to get back to him.
  • On Two and a Half Men, Charlie's neighbor Rose is a two-faced Stalker with a Crush. While onscreen she appears sweet and pretty, her offscreen activities are quite disturbing and frequently painful to her crush. When Charlie Sheen was fired from the show, it was heavily implied that Rose murdered his character in a fit of jealousy.

  • Street Scene: Rose Maurrant returns home from a funeral to find that her mother has been shot and fatally wounded by her cruel father.

    Video Games 
  • In Fable II, your older sister Rose is shot in the face in the first half-hour.
  • The King of Fighters: While tragedy doesn't exactly hit this girl named Rose Berstein and she's much more of a Rich Bitch than a Broken Bird, in XIII she is a vital part in Those Of The Past's plans... which end with Ash Ret-goning himself in what becomes a massive Tear Jerker. The dress she's wearing at that moment even has rose motifs all over it.
  • Rose from The Legend of Dragoon ends up being the sole survivor of a brutal war, losing her fiance and best friends in the process, and is forced to accept immortality in order to save the world from complete destruction every 108 years. The necessary evils needed in order to accomplish said world-saving has resulted in the entire world hating her as a mythical demon of evil and destruction. By the time the game's storyline rolls around, she can't even remember the last time she smiled.
  • Max Payne's infant daughter who was murdered along with his wife was named Rose, according to the tombstone seen in the third game.
  • Raiden's girlfriend Rosemary in Metal Gear Solid 2. Apart from the fact that her lover's pretty broken, she was supposed to seduce him as part of a Honey Trap but fell for him for real. Then in the fourth game (after dealing with the fallout from revealing she was The Mole) she pretty had to Shoo the Dog for the entire game to keep their child safe. They reunite at the end though.
  • Rose Somerset, Emma's housemaid from the Mystery Case Files series, has been abducted by Charles Dalimar with her twin daughters, trapped in a nightmarish complex beneath his home, and her soul, as well as her daughters, powered Charles' immortality device for more than a century. Key to Ravenhearst goes further, as it reveals that her daughters were fathered by Charles himself and his son's Victor was also hers, hinting at a Child by Rape situation. And her beloved daughters, being Dalimars, became some of the most murderous lunatics the Master Detective has ever faced.
  • Rose from the Street Fighter series. Beautiful, level-headed, a powerful Lady of Black Magic, Bison's "other self"... and much every ending she's ever had is a Downer Ending. Save for Street Fighter IV, where Rose finally manages to survive to Bison's influence due to her best friend, Guy.
  • Rosa is the name of Bayonetta's Missing Mom, and her life is a tragedy. First, she fell in love and conceived Bayonetta with a Lumen Sage, which is a problem since she is an Umbra Witch, and both clans have laid down the law forbidding such relationship, resulting in Rosa being imprisoned for life and her daughter ostracized. In her last moments, she tried to defend the Umbra clan when forces of Paradiso invaded, but was killed by an enemy before her lover could save her. In Bayonetta 3, we see her Alternate Self who is just as unfortunate, falling victim to a Puppeteer Parasite which results in her daughter's alternate self having to Mercy Kill her.
  • Parodied with Don Flamenco in the Wii version of [1], who carries a rose to the boxing match and solemnly lays it on top of Little Mac if he manages to knock him out (or holds it in his hands if he gets knocked out instead). In his Title Defense rematch, he carries a black rose instead, which is "washed" back to red if he wins.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Ruby Rose's rose symbol is first introduced on the memorial to her mother, Summer Rose, along with a quote from "The Last Rose of Summer", a poem that is about the pain of being left to carry on after the loss of loved ones. Although a continuing inspiration to her daughters and former team-mates, the pain of her loss continues to haunt them, with Ruby adopting her style, symbols and visiting the memorial whenever she can. The quote "Thus kindly I scatter" alludes to Ruby's Semblance (and, it's implied, Summer's), which aesthetically transforms her into rose petals to travel at Super-Speed. Volume 8 heavily implies that Summer died trying to defeat Salem, who twisted her into the ultimate mockery of a Silver-Eyed Warrior's existence: Grimm-slayers transformed into Salem's Grimm-human hybrid slaves. This reduces both her daughters to tears, but Yang tries to bolster Ruby's spirits by reminding her that Summer is still the hero that inspires them.

  • Rosemaster of Cucumber Quest fits this well. Being a literal rose, she's also one of the more tragic Disaster Masters, constantly reflecting on her actions and the actions of those around her in a negative light.
  • Rose Lalonde fits this in Homestuck, although actual rose motifs only extend as far as her using a pair of weapons called the Thorns of Oglogoth.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • John F. Kennedy's sister Rosemary was secretly lobotomised in her youth because their father was ashamed of her mental impairment and defiant ways. The operation left her even worse off than before, and she spent the rest of her life in an institution. The silver lining is that after this, her sister Eunice devoted herself to supporting disability rights — by founding the Special Olympics, for example.

Other characters and settings with a thematic link:

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Cowboy Bebop, the episode endings feature a rose in a window, then later in the same window, Julia is sitting in front of the window where the rose was (Julia = the rose), then later the rose being dropped to the street. That means something, too.
  • Dear Brother:
    • Rei "Hana no Saint Juste" Asaka, who at the start throws a rose in the air and it gets caught by main character Nanako. Rei herself is the local Broken Bird, and her Seiran school has quite the luxurious gardens, which obviously include rose bushes. And in the anime, Rei was carrying a bouquet of red roses... at the moment of her fatal accident.
    • Fukiko Ichinomiya has red roses as one of her motifs. She sometimes wears a long black skirt with a red rose pattern, often walks through a garden full of roses, and people who want to win her favor try to give her rose bouquets more than once. ( In episode 15, Junko does it and fails when Fukiko gets her expelled from the Sorority, and Mariko tells Nanako to bring her some when Fukiko gets angry over Nanako defending Junko.)
  • This occurs with Lily McGuire in the first Fatal Fury animated special, Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf. When Lily first shows up, she pulls a Rei and tosses a red rose in the air, promising to spend a night with the man who catches it. The guy who does is Terry, The Hero. They never get to spend their night, as right after Lily's High-Heel–Face Turn she's killed by her boss Geese, as the end of the neverending parade of tragedies that was the poor girl's life.
  • In Goodbye, My Rose Garden Alice explains to Hanako how her titular rose garden is a sanctuary for her as a place where she doesn't have to think about society's expectations, but that simultaneously highlights how Alice is constantly forced to hide her true self. Other rose-centric metaphors and similes frequently pop up throughout the story, particularly the one of black spot, a fungus that frequently affects roses. Because her sexuality could not only ruin her own reputation but that of her beloved family, Alice compares herself to an infected rose: something that must be "excised from the garden" before it ruins the other roses. In the very end of the story, Alice's Title Drop signifies her not only leaving Rosebarrow House to travel with Hanako, but also her decision to stop suppressing herself and live as she wants with the woman she loves to no matter the difficulty.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, the covers for The Final Problem arc of the manga, the culmination of William's Tragic Villain arc, feature the major characters (Fred, Louis, Moran, Albert, Sherlock) with falling rose petals (and, in Sherlock's case, lying on a bed of them)—but not William, who seems be represented by the rose tiself. In the next arc, William is featured with a crown of thorns with a red rose over his now-missing eye, and refers to "those held captive by the rose," referring to the tragedy of William's plan.
  • One Piece: Brûlée of the Charlotte Family/Big Mom Pirates wears a long, tattered white dress that's adorned with red roses, lending a creepy, witch-like element to her appearance. When she was a little girl, she was brutally scarred by bullies who wanted to get back at Katakuri for beating them up by targeting a weaker family member. While she survived, the experience left her with a huge, ugly gash on her face, and also served as the Cynicism Catalyst for Katakuri, who became the family's badass Sweet General to prevent another situation from happening again. She still loves Katakuri and is grateful to him for defending her honor, but she hates her scar due to the emotional pain her brother feels every time he sees it.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena mixes the romantic, the tragic, and the downright Freudian in its obsessive use of Roses as symbols. Every main character has a rose in their associated color, and every main character has something of a Tragic Backstory. Utena's and Anthy's eventual traumas top them all, and both are heavily associated with roses.
  • The Rose of Versailles is a tale of star-crossed lovers on the eve of The French Revolution with pathos and tragedy all 'round, though it doesn't feature roses quite as prominently as Utena.
  • Saint Seiya has Aphrodite, the saint of Pisces: a beautiful but Poisonous Person. Guess which flowers he uses as a weapon?
  • In SD Gundam Force, the evil Deathscythe creates a duplicate of Lacroa's princess in order to infiltrate the Gundam Force and lead them into a trap. But the fake befriends Shute, and near the end tries to help them escape. In response to this betrayal, Deathscythe returns the fake princess to her original form- a violet rose he had enchanted.
  • Eugeo in the Alicization arc of Sword Art Online is this. His relatively normal childhood with his two closest friends Kirito and Alice was abruptly cut short when Alice accidentally ended up inadvertently violating the Taboo Index and was taken away. Kirito ended up disappearing shortly afterwards, only to show up years later, but without any memory of said childhood. The two then resolve to journey to the Central Cathedral where Alice was taken (Eugeo to save Alice, Kirito to contact the real world). And right before the two manage to accomplish their goals, Eugeo ends up being killed, which sends Kirito plummeting past the Despair Event Horizon. Eugeo's thematic link comes from his signature weapon, the Blue Rose Sword, which freezes foes solid and creates life-draining roses. After Eugeo's death, Kirito keeps the Blue Rose Sword as a Tragic Keepsake.
  • One of the opening scenes of Umineko: When They Cry takes place in Kinzo's rose garden, with particular emphasis on a rose that his granddaughter Maria claims as hers. Maria is eventually revealed to suffer from an Abusive Parent (in a scene involving the rose). Oh, and everybody dies. Over and over. Beatrice herself wears a rose in her hair. She's The Ophelia.
  • Rinne from ViVid Strike! has a rose motif in her transformation sequence, complete with her magic taking the form of thorny vines while applying her Barrier Jacket. Fittingly, her character is defined by her inability to move past the events surrounding the death of her grandfather.
  • Aki Izayoi from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds is a Ms. Fanservice whose ace card is Black Rose Dragon and appearance is an Expy of Kallen albeit more realistically portioned. She is also a Dark Action Girl who has Psychic Power that is able to materialize terrifying duel monsters, both her and her dragon are Person of Mass Destruction that can level an entire stadium, suffered from a tragic past plagued with Parental Abandonment and isolation that made her into a vulnerable target for Divine to be used for his own agenda. She took her frustration and hatred towards the people in Domino City but always secretly despises herself for her power and her birthmark (unaware that she is one of the Signers) to the point that created the Black Rose Witch persona out of guilt of killing so many people. She got better thanks to The Power of Friendship.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: The Legion of Dusk from the Ixalan setting use the rose as one of their primary symbols, and a great deal of their philosophy revolves around the juxtaposition of death and life and the necessity for some to die that others might live.

    Comic Books 
  • Cassandra Cain had a recurring rose motif throughout Batgirl (2000), often used to represent how she's wilting away due to her workaholic nature and refusal to take care of herself. Oracle gives Batgirl a rose at one point, and in the end, she leaves it with her friend Brenda when she goes looking for her mother. The rose, and Brenda, are killed when Blüdhaven is destroyed in Infinite Crisis.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In Sleeping Beauty, the roses were the source of the tragedy — ninety-nine princes killed themselves on their thorns, trying to get in.
  • Beauty and the Beast: The rose as a sign of the Beast's transformation is an addition created by the Disney version, and this is clearly a symbol of the Beast's tragic nature. Even the older French versions also involve a symbolic rose (though this is not as particularly tragic), when Beauty's father picks a rose from the Beast's garden and this trespassing is what provokes the Beast to be angry with him.

    Films — Animation 
  • Beauty and the Beast, which already plays on the duality of beauty and tragedy, uses the wilting rose literally as a time limiting plot device.
  • As the name implies, the Memories segment "Magnetic Rose" is full of rose symbolism. The "tragic" part comes from Broken Bird former opera starlet Eva, who missed her fame and her lover so much that she preferred to live in the far reaches of space, surrounded by holograms that project memories of her youth. She's less sympathetic after it's revealed that she killed her lover Carlos because he wanted to leave her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Phantom of the Opera (2004), the Phantom gives Christine multiple red roses with black ribbons around them. When Raoul is proposing to Christine on the rooftop of the opera house, she has one of the roses with her, but she drops it on the ground to listen to Raoul's proposal. After they have left, the Phantom comes forward of the shadows and kneels down and takes the rose in his hand. He then starts crying, but when he can hear Raoul and Christine sing their love song, he crushes it. At the end of the movie, we see a red rose lie by Christine's tombstone. There is a black ribbon around it.
  • My Heart is That Eternal Rose invokes this in its title. In fact, the movie's opening credits are superimposed over a bouquet of roses, which then slowly burns up onscreen to a soothing melody.

  • In A Brother's Price, Ren has a dream in which one of her sisters (Trini) cuts off the heads of roses that somehow look like her other sister, Halley, and bleed. Trini is a rather tragic character, as she still suffers from the trauma inflicted on her by the sisters' late husband, and stands in the way of a potential marriage for Ren, so the romance element is there, too. Halley is missing and believed dead. Trini likes to work in the garden and is seen working on the roses for real, too.
  • In The Fairy Rebel by Lynn Reid Banks, the friendly fairy gives the child heroine a magical rose every year as a birthday present. The first sign that the evil fairy queen has begun to exert her influence is when the girl looks for her birthday present and finds only a wilted, thorny rose—growing from a plant other than a rosebush.
  • In Les Misérables, Eponine is described/alluded to as being a "rose in misery". This girl (at least during her teenage years) doesn't get a break: her family is impoverished and linked to an infamous gang of robbers, she's often starving, is implied to be not right in the head, and has the misfortune to fall in unrequited love with her neighbor.
  • In Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Suzanne Reardon's murder became known as the Sweetheart Murder Case, due to the fact her body was found with red sweetheart roses scattered over it. It's unclear who bought the roses; her husband Skip (who was convicted of killing her but protests his innocence) claims the last time he saw Suzanne she was arranging the roses in a vase and he stormed out after she refused to tell him who sent them; one theory is that they were bought by a lover, though no card identifying the sender was ever found with the flowers.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Ned Stark's sister Lyanna is strongly associated with blue winter roses, her favorite flowers. She was infamously crowned as Queen of Love and Beauty at Harrenhall by Prince Rhaegar with a crown of blue roses, died in a room that smelled of blood and roses, and in every dream she appears she still wears the crown Rhaegar gave her.
  • Roses are a huge motif in the decades-long drama and tragedies of The Thorn Birds, including 'ashes of roses'.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Used in a fairly effective subversion of the romantic meaning in Buffy, when Giles comes home to a beautiful romantic set-up, complete with roses and champagne... And goes upstairs to find his girlfriend, Jenny's murdered corpse; the whole setup was Angelus's way of torturing Giles that little bit more.
  • Used in the Cold Case second season episode Daniela. The titular girl finds a boyfriend, they both fall in love, and he gives her a rose corsage so he can bring her to prom night. By the end of the evening, they were torn apart by the boy's father, she killed herself and the destroyed corsage ended up in the trash along with her bloodied clothes.
  • Teresa: the protagonist has a younger sister named Rosita, who tragically dies of a heart attack when her parents could not afford a treatment for her heart disease. Of course she passes the torch to Teresa, who starts to wear different rose-themes items with her wardrobe. Over the years, Teresa proves to be a rose with many many thorns, thanks to her beauty and manipulative ways of using people, hurting more and more herself and others in the process. Even the logo of the telenovela appears on the screen under the form of a red blooming rose with many thorns.

  • Garbage's really, really, depressive "So Like A Rose". The cover of the album to which this is a Downer Ending might invoke the trope as well.
  • "Where the Wild Roses Grow", a murder ballad by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue, tells the story of a young woman murdered by a man who gives her roses.
    And I kissed her goodbye, said, "All beauty must die",
    And I leant down and planted a rose 'tween her teeth.
  • The song "Una rosa es una rosa" ("A rose is a rose"), by Spanish group Mecano, uses roses to symbolise Love Hurts: it's from the POV of someone who goes to pick the most beautiful rose on the bush, thinking love will protect them, and tears their hand on the thorns.
  • "Róisín_Dubh" or "Little Black Rose", a song attested to the Nine Years War and considered the source of the black rose as a symbol of Irish resistance to British rule. The song is frequently referenced in Celtic Punk songs about The Troubles.
  • Broken Iris' "A New Hope" is a Grief Song where someone visits their lover's grave with a "red, red rose" in hand.
  • Yoshiki Hayashi loves roses and rose motifs, and his life has been an ongoing parade of tragedies.
  • A recurring lyrical metaphor on Theatre of Tragedy's early Gothic Metal records, most notably "A Rose for the Dead", and a prevalent visual motif in the accompanying artworks.

  • The Phantom of the Opera: A red rose shows up in the logo of this show, probably representing Christine; the other graphic part of the logo is a mask, representing the Phantom.
  • The lovelorn Stage Magician hero of Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana has images of roses decorating his cape and top hat. At the end of the show, when he's reunited with his lost love, this becomes Something about a Rose instead.
  • Shakespeare milks this one for all it's worth in the Henry VI plays — which are largely responsible for the York/Lancaster conflict in the fifteenth century being known as the Wars of the Roses. One of the most famous scenes in these otherwise little-known plays depicts noblemen on both sides of the quarrel picking roses in the Temple Garden to signify their allegiance (an event which was completely Shakespeare's invention). Perhaps most indicative of the tragic symbolism, though, is the title character's lament for his nation, symbolized by a pair of anonymous soldiers in Part III:
    O pity, pity, gentle heaven, pity!
    The red rose and the white are on his face,
    The fatal colours of our striving houses:
    The one his purple blood right well resembles;
    The other his pale cheeks, methinks, presenteth:
    Wither one rose, and let the other flourish;
    If you contend, a thousand lives must wither.
  • "A Rose by Any Other Name," which is a theatrical production about rape culture and its impact on both society in general and those who are victims of sexual violence, uses a rose dripping blood in its intro.
  • In Andrea Chenier, Gérard recalls the odor of roses from his childhood as he sings about his unrequited and destructive love for Maddalena. Maddalena wears a rose in her hair in the first act before the whole tragedy of the plot unfolds.
  • Rosa mutabilis in Doña Rosita the Spinster by Federico García Lorca. Pink in the morning, it becomes red by the day, whitens in the evening and withers by night. It symbolises the main character, with its life stages paralling the course of her life: youthful romanticism, maturation into a passionate woman and sad life of a spinster after her romantic disillusionment.

    Video Games 
  • Miranda from The Legend of Dragoon hates roses because they're linked with her abusive mother, saying that her mother kept them around because they were beautiful but the bouquet was always in sight whenever she was beaten. Incidentally, she doesn't get along with the character Rose.
  • Rule of Rose, naturally. The most triumphant example being that The Rose Garden Orphanage falls victim to a massacre with one sole survivor.
  • In Ib, the gallery Ib starts out in has a sculpture of a red rose with vicious-looking thorns titled "Embodiment of Spirit" and is described as "beautiful at first glance, but if you get too close, it will induce pain." When Ib is transported to the painting world, she gets a red rose that's described as "almost too beautiful to be real" and gradually wilts away to nothing as she takes damage, and she finds out later on that playing Loves Me, Loves Me Not with another person's rose is a very, very bad thing to do.
  • In Yggdra Union, the country of Verlaine (which apparently means "two roses") is home to a pair of young noble mages named Roswell and Rosary (whose names both start with the syllable "rose"), who are the heads of the Branthese (written with the kanji for "Black Rose") and Esmeralda (written with the kanji for "White Rose"). Both are potential party members, but when the protagonist and her army come calling, the two are getting ready to start an extremely destructive civil war and you must kill one of them to put a stop to it. Later it turns out that the civil war itself was partially due to their being manipulated by one of the game's antagonists.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4, Snake is associated with blue roses, even self-describing himself as one in the ending, along with describing himself as 'a beast' (in the vein of Beauty and the Beast, which also incorporated roses to represent time limits). This is because blue roses cannot be obtained without genetically modifying them and reflects that while what he was is beautiful, he is also completely unnatural. Since his genetic modification led to him having incredible combat skills he used to ruin the lives of others and himself and ending up being ready to die of old age in his early 40s, the allusion is made with a certain level of serious pain.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, the Kingdom of Nohr's floral emblem is purple roses. The country itself has a very unfriendly and cold climate with poor crops and frequent supplies shortages, it's represented as having perpetually dark skies, relies a lot in war and its military might, and its Royal Family is pretty much trapped in a Decadent Court, which has caused them immense pain. The Conquest path of the game is from their POV and gives all kinds of details about their extremely harsh environment, which the Avatar hopes to change and reform from the inside - even if the only actual way to do it is to wage a war they don't exactly want. Camilla, the eldest princess of Nohr, starts with the unique skill Rose's Thorns, which gives a bonus to damage done by adjacent allies and reduces damage inflicted upon them.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Dorothea Arnault often reference roses as metaphor to herself after defeating enemies ("All roses have thorns"). After the Time Skip, Dorothea's attitude shifts dramatically due to the 5-year-war in the protagonist's absence, becoming much more somber and depressing. Fittingly, her "enemy defeated quote" changes into a melodramatic version of the one before: "Only thorns left on this rose."
  • In Shall We Date?: Ninja Shadow, out of the Player Character's potential boyfriends, Eduard's floral motif is the rose. He's also a very mysterious man who gives the protagonist roses and is implied to have a very Dark and Troubled Past that caused him Trauma-Induced Amnesia. Confirmed when said amnesia is undone: he once was a Tyke Bomb for a Dutch assassin guild known as "The Red Roses".
  • In the Unforgiven chapter of Murder in the Alps, Irene Hoffman comes to Porto Ceso once every year to place a red rose on the grave of her son Roberto Fiore who died eleven years ago in an apparent accident. Convinced that Roberto's best friend Flavio Riva murdered Roberto out of jealousy, she also gives Flavio a black rose every year as a way to prevent him from forgetting his supposed crime. What makes this worse is that Irene is half-right; Flavio accidentally caused Roberto to fall from the cliffs when he pushed him in frustration, and that left Flavio irrevocably broken.
  • in Genshin Impact, Lisa the Librarian is also known as the "Witch of the Purple Rose." She also mentions that in Mondstadt, roses not only represents romance but also secrets. She is heavily implied to be dying soon because of a curse.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • From Major Lazer, the nightmare demon Spooky Dookie carries one around. The one he carried around back when he was still alive was more Something about a Rose.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Dark Cupid's Hate Plague-inducing arrows are shaped like black roses.
    • In the episode Frozer, poor Cat Noir got rejected by Ladybug while handing a red rose to her. Left alone, a petal falls from the flower, like a single tear. In the episode Weredad, the pink rose Cat Noir offered to Marinette (aka Ladybug) turns into a thorn prison for her.

    Real Life 
  • Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife, was often referred to as his 'rose without a thorn'. We all know what ended up happening to her. It's thought that this sentiment was a factor in what made Henry's swift reaction to Catherine's apparent affair all the more stark.
  • The White Rose student resistance movement against Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in Nazi Germany. Nearly all of its founders were captured and executed.
  • The Wars of the Roses, a Succession Crisis between two rival branches of the English royal family, got their name from the red and white roses that each branch of the family adopted as their dynastic symbols. They were also infamously bloody and tumultuous for England as a whole. At the conclusion, the ultimate victor in the conflict (Henry VII) created a special "Tudor rose" by combining the two badges as a symbolic manifestation of his role in ending the conflict.
  • Poet Laureate Simon Armitage wrote in 2012 the poetic monologue Black Roses as a tribute to Sophie Lancaster, a British teenager fatally attacked in the summer of 2007 for her goth appearance.