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Vengeful Widow

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Western popular culture has long told stories of black widows — women who kill their husbands for money. This trope is something different — a woman driven to kill by the loss of her husband (or significant other or loved one).

This trope is a subtrope of You Killed My Father. A usually evil Distaff Counterpart to the Crusading Widower. Compare Determined Widow, the usually heroic version of this trope.



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     Anime and Manga  

  • In Samurai X, Kenshin Himura is an assassin who is forced to go into seclusion for his part in the Meiji Restoration war. As part of his cover, he and a woman named Tomoe go Undercover as Lovers, and live as husband and wife. Over time, the two fall in love, but it's revealed at the very end of the OAV that Tomoe was a spy who had volunteered to go undercover with Kenshin to assassinate him because her husband was one of the men he assassinated. However, she fell In Love with the Mark... which is exactly what her employers planned. So they capture her to lure Kenshin into a trap, but she sacrifices her life in the end to save him. She's happy with this resolution, because she saved one man she loved and can now be with the other.
  • Eureka Seven has Ray Beams. She and her husband Charles briefly take Renton in after he leaves Gekkostate. They waste no time expressing how much they mean to one another and treat Renton like their own son.Unfortunately, Renton discovers that the two are mercenaries who have been hired to kidnap Eureka and steal the Nirvash. Charles infiltrates Gekkostate to carry out the mission but ends up getting shot to death during the attempt. This culminates in Ray launching a Suicide Attack in an effort to avenge him. The attack ultimately fails and even Renton is deeply saddened by the death of the two.


  • In Project Superpowers, one of the members of the Supremacy is Mrs. Octopus, who is implied to be the widow of The Spirit nemesis The Octopus. She believes that the Flame is responsible for her husband's death, and thus tortures Flame Girl for information about it.
  • In The Hood, White Fang was a former Stark Enterprises technician who became a vigilante after the Hood killed her husband.
  • A parental example: In the Flashpoint continuity, Bruce Wayne was killed, rather than his parents. The Batman in that continuity was actually Thomas Wayne, while The Joker was Martha Wayne.
  • Moon Knight's sometime ally, the vigilante Stained Glass Scarlet, was motivated to become a vigilante by the death of her husband and son.
  • A one-shot Punisher story involved an alliance of rich Mafia widows hiring several assassins to kill Frank Castle - both because he had blown away their husbands prior and because he was making their business difficult. After Frank killed the entire collection of assassins and found out who hired them, he gave the widows an option: give out all of their money to charity and leave New York to never return or be gunned down by him right then and there. They chose the former, except for the alliance's leader, who tried to draw a gun on Frank for having the gall to threaten them.
  • Dick Tracy: The equally grotesque Mrs. Pruneface showed seeking vengeance for her husband who died at Tracy's hands. She suffered a similar fate to her husband.
  • In Femforce, Colt became a superheroine after her husband (a fellow spy) was murdered and she felt the organisation they worked for had not done enough to catch the killer. She quit and used her skills to become a vigilante.
  • Wonder Woman Volume 1: The Nazis killed Paula von Gunther's husband Gottfriend before kidnapping her daughter Gerta and holding the young girl hostage to ensure Paula's cooperation. Once Gerta was safe Paula dedicated the rest of her life to helping the Nazis' enemies and developing much more fantastic new inventions with her knowledge of science than she'd ever done for the Nazis.
  • In Freedom Fighters (2018), Doll Girl used to be a pacifist like her husband, the original Doll Man. After his death at the hands of the Nazis, she swore off pacifism in favor of Nazi-hunting.
  • Heroic version in Leaves on the Wind. Zoe acknowledges that the Operative assisted the group in saving her but she’s still angry over Wash’s death and it’s strongly implied she kills him.


  • In Black Hawk Down, an army sergeant shoots and kills an insurgent headed for the helicopter crash site. The insurgent's widow emerges from cover, wailing at the loss. Her tone soon changes to railing the U.S. soldier, who repeatedly advises the woman not to touch her husband's firearm. Not understanding English and driven to vengeance, the woman begins to pick up her husband's rifle. She is shot dead on the spot as an armed combatant under the Rules of War.
  • In Hannie Caulder, Hannie takes revenge against the Clemens brothers for the attack that included her husband's murder.
  • In The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, the widow of a doctor who committed suicide after sexual misconduct allegations attempts to take her revenge on the woman that (rightfully) accused her husband.
  • Kill Bill: Admittedly, the Bride was already a trained assassin; but the reason she wants to Kill Bill is that Bill spearheaded the murder of her entire wedding party (including her would-be husband and — as she believes at first — her unborn daughter) during the wedding rehearsal.
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride: Zira, the film's main antagonist, is looking to avenge Scar, the previous film's main antagonist, by assassinating Simba - who technically didn't even kill Scar, even though he had ample reason to.
  • The Magnificent Seven (2016): Emma Cullen takes up the task of recruiting the titular Seven after her husband is gunned down by Bartholomew Bogue, later participating in the thick of the Final Battle and killing Bogue herself.
  • In the movie Peppermint, Jennifer Garner plays a woman who spends five years training to become a skilled fighter so she can get revenge on the cartel members who gunned down her husband and daughter.


  • The Bride Wore Black, a novel by Cornell Woolrich, is about a woman who hunts down and kills the five men who murdered her husband on their wedding day. It was later adapted into a movie directed by François Truffaut.
    • Only to find that they didn't kill him and she's murdered several innocent men. Her groom was in the mob and tried to quit, for her, only to be gunned down as a car sped past them. She thought the car had hit him, but it did not.
  • The Duchess of Swayle in the seventh Safehold book, Like a Mighty Army, is suspected of being this, following her husband's arrest and execution for treason earlier in the plot. She has yet to actually act on any such impulses, but the main characters and their subordinates are keeping an eye on her.
  • In Holes, Kissin' Kate Barlow began her crime spree after her black lover Sam was killed for kissing her. Her first victim was the sheriff who refused to prevent the mob from killing Sam.
  • The Chinese Bell Murders has a complicated case. The widow and her grandson are the only survivor of a housefire that she's been insisiting for years was set off by the head of a rival family (the man claims that she's no longer right in the head, even claiming he was on the best of terms with the woman's family). Later her grandson is killed, which she claims is yet another crime (he insists he's innocent, and technically, he is). However, it turns out she's actually the man's wife, and killed the grandson (actually their son) in order to get back at him for adultery years ago.
  • In the Star Trek novel Spock's World, T'Theliah goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge with her Psychic Powers when her husband Mahak is killed by her captors.
  • In the Twilight series, after Victoria's mate, James, is killed, she tries to achieve Revenge by Proxy, by killing Bella Swan.
  • Older Than Print: Kriemhild from the Nibelungenlied is perhaps the ultimate example. She will not rest until she has avenged her husband Siegfried's death, and to get to killing his murderer Hagen with her own hand (and Siegfried's sword) she causes the deaths of several thousand mostly more or less innocent people through the actions of others.
  • Lady Stoneheart from A Song of Ice and Fire, aka. Catelyn Stark after the deaths of her husband and, she believes, her childrennote , including her firstborn son being horribly murdered in front of her, before her own death. She's later resurrected as a vengeance-crazed zombie, dedicated to killing everyone she holds responsible for her loved ones' deaths, which, thanks to the family and allegiance based nature of Westerosi politics, is quite a lot of people.

     Live-Action Television  

  • In The Following, Mallory Hodge is inspired to join Joe Carroll's crime spree after her boyfriend Lance gets killed during the bookstore attack.
  • Inverted in Alias, where Sidney discovers that she's working for a terrorist group after they kill her fiancee, which they do after she tells him that she works for the CIA (which is what she thought SD-6 was a part of). She works as a Double Agent with the real CIA to take SD-6 down.
  • The short-lived TV show The Red Widow had the main character try to keep her family safe after her smuggler husband is murdered in front of their house. Part of this involves finding out who murdered her husband and stopping that person from doing more harm to her family.
  • In 24: Live Another Day, the Big Bad is Margot Al-Harazi, a British-born shahid widow seeking revenge against President Heller for the drone strike that killed her husband.
  • Game of Thrones has Ellaria Sand who swears vengeance against the Lannisters after her lover, Oberyn Martell, was slain in a Trial by Combat. She and Oberyn's bastard daughters including her own oldest daughter, poisoned Princess Myrcella Baratheon because she is a Lannister by blood and killed Oberyn's brother and nephew for not supporting their revenge. Eventually, they took over Dorne and made an alliance with Daenerys Targaryen. Unfortunately for her, she never gets her revenge on the Lannisters after her stepdaughters were killed by Euron Greyjoy in an ambush and she and her daughter were captured and delivered to Cersei Lannister, who brings justice on them for Myrcella's death by poisoning Ellaria's daughter with the same poison used to kill Myrcella and forcing Ellaria to watch her own daughter die and rot while in chains.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Battletech has Candace Liao, generally considered the only sane member of the Liao family. Her sister Romano sent assassins after Candace and her husband Justin Xiang Allard. Justin was killed, but Candace survived due to implants in her chest from breast cancer surgery deflecting the lasers. Her response to this was to arm herself, force her way into the royal palace on Sian, and gun down Romano and her consort on the spot.

     Video Games  

  • In Call of Duty: WWII, Rosseau, while leading a faction of La Résistance, is hunting the Nazi officer who killed her parents, her husband and her son.
  • Ultima II: Revenge of the Enchantress Is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. In the first game, you killed the Big Bad, who was the eponymous Enchantress' lover and mentor. In this game, she conquers Earth, Britannia, and time itself to get her revenge on you.
  • In Onmyōji, Sakura-no-sei tries to off Seimei for murdering her human fiancé, though of course he didn't do it. It was his Big Bad Evil Counterpart. Though, since that guy is Seimei's Literal Split Personality, it's understandable that Sakura (and a handful of other characters) would mistake the two for each other.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, the female lead Ashe is motivated to revenge against The Empire for, among other things, the death of her husband from her Perfectly Arranged Marriage. By using the visage of her husband, the local Jerkass Gods are able to manipulate her for a good portion of the game.
  • In Yakuza, one sidequest has Kiryu dealing with Yayoi Dojima, the widow of Sohei Dojima who believes that Kiryu killed her husband (in truth he took the fall for his friend). After dealing with her thugs, he manages to convince her that he was innocent.
  • Played with in Dragon Ball FighterZ. When Android 18 runs into a clone of Frieza, she immediately gets angry, stating that she wants to get revenge due to the fact that Frieza killed Krillin during the Namek incident. Android 17 reminds her that her wanting revenge doesn't make sense because Krillin was eventually revived by the Dragon Balls, only for her to point out that it's because Krillin is alive now that they are both better off than they were before.
  • Nina and Anna's Sibling Rivalry has always been a spectacle throughout the Tekken games, but in 7 it really gets personal. Nina's latest target was a high-ranking mafia executive who was soon to be married, so she disguised herself as the bride and killed him and many others present at the wedding, Unfortunately, the bride-to-be was her younger sister, Anna, putting them in conflict yet again.
  • In Baldur's Gate II, Jaheira's husband, Khalid (a party member from the first game) was killed by Irenicus, so she seeks revenge on him.
  • In Diablo II, Atma, who gives the first quest in Act II, asks you to kill Radament, a mummy who killed her husband and son.

     Real Life  

  • As the fighting between Russia and the Chechen separatist groups has dragged on, traditional "martyrs" (young, devout Muslim men without histories of sinful behavior) have become harder for the Chechen separatists to find. Thus, the recruiters have increasingly turned to the widows of previous martyrs. Since these women are usually young and have usually been left at home, they're seen as close enough to the ideal of martyrdom that their deaths could be seen as "righteous" or "holy". These women are called shahidka (from the Arabic shahid, or "witness".)
  • Mariya Oktyabrskaya may be one of the Red Army's shining examples of this trope, when her husband was killed in action near Kiev in 1941 she enlisted, and sold all her possessions to raise the 50,000 roubles needed to donate a tank to the army on one condition- they let her drive. The State Defense Committee agreed thinking it'd be good publicity. When she arrived at the battle of Smolensk in 1943 the other soldiers considered her a publicity stunt... until she started fighting, maneuvering her T-34, emblazoned with the words "Fighting Girlfriend", like a veteran. She destroyed many German machine gun and artillery positions and was the first of her brigade to breach the enemy positions. And that was only the beginning of her two-year campaign against the Nazis, which would ultimately gain her the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest award for military bravery offered by the USSR.
  • Noblewoman Jeanne de Clisson had been a sweet and proper lady by all medieval standards, but when her third husband Olivier de Clisson IV was killed due to court intrigues, she took her sons to see their late husband's severed head hanging from the gate, sold her lands, raised a mercenary army in Brittany, raised a fleet of ships, had them painted black with red sails, and spent thirteen years on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge slaughtering French crews and taking French ships as the "Lioness of Brittany." She aided the English during the crushing French defeat at Crecy and sacked coastal towns and cities in France. Phillip VI and Charles de Blois probably often wished they'd just left Olivier's head right where they found it.

Alternative Title(s): Crusading Widow


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