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Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?

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After four times he still couldn't make it to the altar? He is a ball of shit!!! Why are you marrying him?! Nothing indicates that he would be a good husband! Where are you spending your honeymoon, divorce court? (...) Run away, woman! Run away! Go marry that jerky guy, he at least would show up! Sure, he's a diabolical villain, but... He would fucking show up!!!
The Nostalgia Critic on the ending of Flubber
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Primarily a film and literature trope, though not impossible on television.

Our romantic couple breaks up for some reason. We know, however, that everything will work out well in the end; misunderstandings will be solved, mistakes forgiven, they will end up happily together.

Sometimes one of the partners comes off as more of an ass than intended and reconciliation breaks the willing suspension of disbelief that the wounded partner would ever take the wounder back. We are forced to root for them, even if we feel that not only would the "hero" not be taken back — they absolutely shouldn't be.

Note that despite the title, this trope can happen with any gender combination.

This trope is often matched up with Love Martyr and/or All Take and No Give. Very much a defining feature of the Lifetime Movie of the Week brand of entertainment.

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A sister trope to No Accounting for Taste. See also What Does She See in Him?, Easily Forgiven. For when there's a much better suitor involved, see Derailing Love Interests. Very often a case of Strangled by the Red String and/or Designated Love Interest.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Old Charles Atlas comic book ads often featured a one-page example: Mac's girlfriend Grace joined in on the mocking when a bully kicked sand in his face. Then, after Mac works out enough to punch out the bully, she takes him back declaring he's a real man. This was mocked in Flex Mentallo, where after the girlfriend says, "Oh, Mac, you are a real man after all!" he answers, "That's right, and a real man has no need for a two-timer like you."

    Anime & Manga 
  • At the end of the Area 88 manga, Ryoko and Shin reunite, after Shin has repeatedly broken Ryoko's heart. Then again, this is Ryoko we're talking about. Keep in mind though that at the series finale Shin has suffered total amnesia after the final battle. He doesn't remember Area 88 or that he treated Ryoko like shit. Ryoko sees this as a Relationship Reset Button, and that's how things end up for them.
  • Arisa ends with Arisa and Midori being together because they are truly in love. This is after Midori revealed how mentally unhinged he was, was directly responsible for horrific events, manipulated everyone in class (including Arisa, the girlfriend he supposedly loves so much, too), and tried to kill Arisa's twin sister numerous times and their mother.
  • Ohgi and Villetta in Code Geass. In the first season, Ohgi finds Villetta and falls for her while she is in an amnesiac state and forgets she is a Britannian soldier on the other side of the war. In the season finale, she regains her memories and shoots him, helping lead to the failure of the Black Rebellion and the capture of him and the rest of the Black Knights, save for Kallen, C. C., and Urabe. Even so, Ohgi still has feelings for her and opts to sneak off and meet her in the middle of the second season, knowing she is an enemy spy and fully intends to kill him. Even though they do reconcile shortly after, it is still considered very unsatisfying, as Villetta still manages to act against Lelouch by convincing Ohgi to turn on him in episode 19, even though she's hardly the right person to trust on this.
  • Hot Gimmick with Ryoki and Hatsumi's relationship. They break up and get back together countless times. It mostly ends with Ryoki going to Hatsumi, demanding her to ask for forgiveness and tell him she wants to become his girlfriend again. Which she does each time, without fail. This is also the reason why so many fans hated the ending. The author decided to make a novel continuation where Hatsumi ends up with a much nicer man.
  • Sakura and Sasuke in Naruto. In Part I, Sakura had a crush on Sasuke despite the fact that he spent most of his time being a moody asshole. While it was initially portrayed as a shallow crush, Sakura develops genuine feelings for him once she understands him better. Sasuke eventually abandons his friends for the sake of revenge. At one point, Sakura tries to take him down herself to spare Naruto the pain of doing it. She can't bring herself to kill him, and Sasuke stabs her. Despite this, she's still in love with him and convinces herself that Naruto can bring him back. When Sasuke finally does rejoin the ninja, Sakura seems conflicted about it. The story begins to portray her obsession with him as being unhealthy, and how no matter what he does, she'll still love him. When Sasuke goes crazy again, Sakura tries to talk him down again, saying that if he ever cared about her he'll stop. Sasuke responds by knocking her out with an illusion that he's stabbing her again. Sasuke directly tells Kakashi that he has no interest in Sakura, and can't understand why she has feelings for him in the first place, sentiments that most of the fans agreed with. Despite all that, after a permanent Heel–Face Turn, Sasuke and Sakura end up marrying and having a daughter together (who bizarrely enough looks more like a daughter of Sakura and Karin, if not for that being biologically impossible). For bonus points, Sasuke apparently skipped out on them sometime after she was born. However, in Boruto anime and in Naruto Gaiden manga Sasuke specifically says: "My wife isn't weak." Which only serves to muddle the issues of their relationship further in fans' eyes.
  • Hatori and Chiaki from Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi are shown to be the most unstable pairing in the series constantly fighting and accusing each other of cheating on one another. Yet at the end of the episode, they end up making up (at the expense of poor Yuu).
  • Haruto keeps taking back Yuzuki in A Town Where You Live. She never tells him anything, takes on things that require him to go out of his way to save her, flat out lies to him, breaks up with him without a word, and now after an argument over a misunderstanding on her part (again) she storms out of Haruto's house, blocks his number, leaving him to file a missing persons report with how he can't get in contact with her and no one has seen her. For some reason, he does everything he can to keep her.
  • Suzuka features a girl who does just about all the same things as the female lead of Kimi no Iru Machi, but worse. Her ability to never admit anything or try to fix any relationship issues they face, leaving any and all such acts to the boyfriend she abuses and abandons constantly are the entire cause of relationship issues they face throughout the story. And the male lead comes back every single time, usually being viewed as the one at fault in a situation obviously not his own.
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    Comic Books 
  • Berrybrook Middle School: Discussed In-Universe regarding Garrett after he frames Jorge by accident for being an Internet troll. He was already a bad friend before, blowing off homework and not helping his friends to impress James, the golden football child. Liv is understandably furious and treats Garrett as an Un-person even after he confesses. She says the fact that he was peer-pressured into it is no excuse for letting Jorge take the fall and he shouldn't have said those mean things about her and her friends in the first place since Garrett knows how important drama club is to Liv. Jorge notes that by all means he has every right to never talk to Garrett again but can't hate him. After thinking about it for two weeks, Liv says she'll give Garrett a second chance, but only if he fulfills all the conditions that he sets for her; they include no more lying to her and Jorge, doing his own homework on time, and apologizing to everyone he hurt. Garrett fulfills all of them showing he is really sorry, and Liv is able to forgive him.
  • Black Canary and Green Arrow developed this problem after the latter proposes marriage, where both of their flaws get Flanderised. Until they actually broke up for good, their mutual treatment towards each other had become so toxic that it raised serious questions what was making them think that getting married would be a good idea, and after the wedding, things didn't get any better. It took Oliver becoming a killer for Dinah to give back her wedding ring, and even that she regretted.
  • It's even lampshaded in the Death spinoffs during The Sandman. Foxglove and Hazel are an Official Couple, but during an Orphean Rescue to bargain with Death for their son Alvin's life, Foxglove confesses she's been unfaithful to Hazel. While on the road after becoming a musical sensation, she slept with several women and is convinced she's fallen out of love with Hazel. She apologizes, saying her girlfriend deserved better. Hazel says that's nonsense: Foxglove still came to rescue her and Alvin, and isn't that what love is? To risk your life when the people you care about are in danger? It does seem naive, but Foxglove makes it up to Hazel by retiring from her music career and using the royalties to support a quiet life in a rural town. The comic also notes that Foxglove was on the other side of it: Hazel got pregnant while cheating on Foxglove, with her excuse being that she was drunk. Foxglove was angry, but she claimed it was because they would have to start saving money for diapers and other baby supplies.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Andy Capp, Flo occasionally throws Andy out (whenever she grows a spine), but always takes him back later. In one strip she feels depressed, seemingly for no specific reason. Then Andy comes by the door and asks her to take him back. She accepts, and adds to herself: "I might as well 'ave a reason!"
  • Popeye: While Olive Oyl can be flighty in the cartoons, in the newspaper comic, she's outright bipolar, dumping him on a literal whim, coming back to him at the end of the arc as if nothing happened, and making insane demands on Popeye in between. And Popeye never considers not taking Olive back.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In Sun, Moon, and Talia, the married king rapes Talia in her sleep, causing her to give birth to twins. Not only does she go off with him when he returns, but is happy to marry him after he makes her hide from his wife, fails to realize the queen tries to cook Talia and her children alive, and finally punishes her by way of throwing his wife into a fire. It's probably worth noting that the moral of the story is "The person who is favored by fortune has good luck even while sleeping."

    Fan Works 
  • After: Many people questioned why Tessa would take Harry/Hardin back, as the ending implies she does. She broke up with him after finding out he'd lied to her for the entirety of their relationship: he initially only dated her to get her into bed on a dare and even after developing feelings for Tessa he kept this from her. He also spent a lot of their relationship being a controlling, condescending jerk to her. After they break up Tessa's life seems to greatly improve; she becomes more mature and responsible, including focusing on her studies, working on getting her dream internship, ditching toxic friends, and reconciling with her mother and ex-boyfriend. The only apparent pro to her staying with Hardin is regular sex, which doesn't really outweigh all the cons.
  • In Scar Tissue, Shinji spent eight months in a physically, mentally, and sexually abusive relationship with Asuka before she eventually beat him nearly to death for accidentally triggering her memories of the MP EVA attack. Asuka admits that the abuse never helped her process her trauma and Shinji realizes that even his actions before and during Third Impact weren't reason enough to enable Asuka's behavior. She still seeks a way back into his life, and he accepts.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Absent-Minded Professor, the idea of Brainard abandoning his fiancée appeared in that film — meaning that when John Hughes sought to rewrite the script in the '90s for Flubber, he didn't think this was enough of a problem to alter it for the remake.
  • In Avalanche, David Shelby spends most of the movie not only belittling his ex-wife Caroline but also being a complete jerk to everyone else. After the eponymous avalanche destroys the ski resort he fought tooth and nail to build and kills many innocent lives except for him, the movie implies that Caroline might get back together with him. When it was shown in the Netflix reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Crow T. Robot specifically states that if they got back together he'd kill himself.
  • In The Boat That Rocked, Carl takes Marianne back after she sleeps with Dave — which she did in the five minutes it took Carl to run upstairs and ask Gavin for a condom. Later on, Dave makes mention that they did it three or four times, suggesting that after Carl caught them together, they decided to keep at it until she left the next morning. All the while with Carl heartbroken right across the hallway. And he takes her back.
  • A Bronx Tale, featuring a taboo-breaking interracial relationship in the eponymous New York borough in The '60s, has the white protagonist C Easily Forgiven by his black girlfriend Jane for calling her brother the n-word. Sure, her brother actively denied that C was trying to save him from being beaten by his racist friends and was even saying that he was the one that punched him, but that should take more explanation than throwing a slur.
  • At the end of Camp (2003), Ellen agreeing to go out with Vlad smacks of this; although they technically weren't dating before, he was leading her on while he had a girlfriend outside of camp, slept with another girl in camp, and moments before asking Ellen to date him, had been offering himself to their gay friend.
  • Towards the end of Catch And Release, new lovers Grey and Fritz have split up, mostly because he overheard her declaring that the relationship is less than nothing. (Her attempts to explain are... markedly inadequate.) Despite this, as soon as she shows up at his place, he doesn't even let her get halfway through an apology before the big kiss ensues.
  • Averted in Crazy Heart: Bad Blake is a good guy, but after he gets drunk and loses his girlfriend's four-year-old son in a shopping mall, it's hard to disagree with her when she never wants to see him again, even after the kid is found. When Bad stops drinking and generally puts his life together, he finds she's moved on and is engaged, but the two of them manage to still be friends.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Selina Kyle betrays Bruce/Batman repeatedly, and pretty much ruins his life. Because of her deliberate actions, his fortune is gone, he is captured and given a crippling No-Holds-Barred Beatdown by Bane, and spends months in a prison so horrible it's called "Hell on Earth". Once he returns to Gotham and meets her again, he immediately offers her free deletion of her criminal record in exchange for her doing him a single favor, though he still has no good reason to trust her. She does kill Bane before he can kill Batman, but this is after all the other stuff happened. In the epilogue, they're in a relationship, and both have left their lives in Gotham behind.
  • The heroine of The Devil Wears Prada should not have taken back her boyfriend — or indeed her entire group of friends. It's worse in that she's presented as being in the wrong all along while they treated her work commitments (and her daring to speak to a man who wasn't her boyfriend) as a personal betrayal. While she didn't need to obsess over her job to the point that she was blowing off an evening with her father to book Miranda a flight out of Miami in a hurricane, her friends generally berated and abused her for even attempting to stay employed — in New York City no less. Note that her boyfriend, as a chef, would likely be working the same crazy unpredictable hours as well, so this just comes off as a Double Standard. Then that incredibly dicky bit where she gives them all that nice stuff and they pay her back by stealing her phone when she's taking a work call. Ironically, in the book, her friends were much more sympathetic — and one of them actually encouraged her to talk to the guy.
  • In Dreamscape, Jane is rather forgiving of Alex after he essentially raped her by inserting himself into her dreams to have sex with her, intentionally deluding her into thinking it was just a fantasy.
  • In Failure to Launch, the man is expected to take back his girlfriend, even though said girl had only pretended to be in love with him to drive him out of his parents' home (see, if you boost a man's self-esteem by dating him, he'll start doing things for himself and it'll stick even if you dump him later on). In the process, it turns out that everything he thought he knew about her was a lie to make her seem more interesting to him (including the dog who had to be sacrificed). Indeed, she makes a living out of lying to people like this. He's understandably pissed when he finds out, but for the most part, she only regrets what she did because this time someone found out and got mad. Meanwhile, his friends and family go so far as to tie him to a chair and lock him in a closet in order to force him to take her back.
  • In Flubber, Professor Brainard blows off his wedding to Dr. Sara Jean Reynolds because he lost track of things discovering Flubber. Except this is the third time he's done that, for the exact same reason. They're back together by the beginning of the third act. They do get married at the end of the movie... where Prof. Brainard is there by video proxy, meaning he actually made a conscious effort not to show up this time, which is worse than just plain forgetting.
  • Godzilla (1998): It's stated that Audrey dumped her fiancé Nick without even a note eight years prior to focus on her reporting career (which never panned out). After a re-encounter, Nick (who still holds a flame for her) tentatively lets her back into his life, only for her to immediately steal classified information from his tent the moment his back is turned and then run away again. It results in Nick being booted from the Godzilla operation for the security breach (and it ends up for naught anyway because Audrey's slimy boss steals the credit for the report). But despite stabbing him in the back twice for selfish reasons, inadvertently nearly causing the end of the world (because Nick getting kicked off the operation results in his idea of Godzilla having a nest being discredited for some reason, even though it turns out to be completely right), and the fact she learned nothing from it (since she gets caught snooping about after Nick, still trying to get her breakthrough scoop), he still decides to get back together with Audrey in the end.
  • Good Luck Chuck outright deconstructs this trope by having our "good guy" Chuck veer off in a tear of obsessive, controlling, paranoid, and downright creepy stalker behavior after spending the night with Cam. Eventually, he stops, is willing to set up a date with another man for her, and later explains himself and apologizes, sincerely saying he's willing to leave her life if she wants him to. In most movies, his crazy actions would just win the girl over, but here he actually has to work at it.
  • In Grease 2, it's obvious that Johnny is only with Paulette because he can't have Stephanie, but Paulette doesn't seem to mind.
  • Heat: Eady and Neil have a one night stand. Then they get back together. Then she finds out that he is an armed robber who sprays the streets with automatic gunfire. She is still more than ready to abandon her life in LA and run off with him to parts unknown.
  • The end of Highlander: Endgame has Duncan reunite with his Immortal Psycho Ex-Girlfriend, Kate, who was never seen or mentioned in the TV series, and whose existence directly contradicts a major plot point that Duncan was never married and never would marry. This was a woman who (a) hated Duncan for activating her immortality against her wishes and tries to kill him repeatedly, (b) was actively helping the film's Big Bad, and (c) would inevitably have to be fought to claim the Prize. But this only happens in the extended DVD version; in the theatrical release, she's Deader Than Dead.
  • Hitch has the reporter Sara, who spends most of the film trying to expose the title's "Date Doctor" while (unknowingly) going out with him. She ends up exposing him, destroying his anonymity and business, and almost destroys another relationship. She does so under the misguided belief that Hitch only helped jerks get laid — based on one incident where she only had half the facts (the jerk acted on his own) and a friend of hers got hurt. It proves she is a lousy and unethical reporter; you don't write a story with one viewpoint, and you don't write a story in which you're personally involved. Hitch calls her out on all of this, as well on women like her making dating impossible for ordinary guys. Although she later gives him a heartfelt apology, Hitch very deservedly refuses to accept it. It ends when Hitch later goes to her door to beg for her forgiveness! After that, she responds to his begging for forgiveness by basically just deliberately jerking him around for a while. Just for her own sadistic amusement. It's only after she further breaks his heart and makes him plead a bit more that she finally takes him back.
  • In How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, both partners start the relationship under false pretenses and with ulterior motives; she's trying to get dumped, and he's trying to hang on and keep his job. Both halves of the deception are revealed; both parties are hypocritically furious and dump each other, then decide in the end that they're meant to be together after all.
  • The gender-flipped version of the trope is in most of Buster Keaton's films. A common scenario is his love interest will flat-out refuse him at the beginning unless he "makes it big". With few exceptions, he always wins her heart in the end, with broken ribs and concussions in the process.
    • In The General, even after he saved the girl from the enemy, and stopped an invasion, it appeared as if she was still going to dump him when he was forced to take off his uniform at the end. But then he gets a shiny new Lieutenant's uniform, causing her to run into his arms.
    • In Cops, when the girl refuses him at the end, he commits suicide. At least it's implied because the "The End" card has a tombstone.
  • Both of the major couples in The Kissing Booth 2 run into this:
    • Lee spends most of the film sidelining Rachel in favor of Elle, including bailing on their date and leaving her outside the cinema for 40 minutes in the dark. His idea of apologizing (the first time) is to publicly air their relationship problems at school, after which he continues to neglect her and fails to tell Elle they want space even when Rachel gives him an ultimatum. It's unsurprising that Rachel dumps him, only for them to get back together after Elle sets them up to smooch at the kissing booth... even though this addresses none of the problems they've been having.
    • A lot of viewers felt that Elle and Noah's attempt at a Long-Distance Relationship just proved they were a toxic couple and would be better off apart; Elle is both deeply insecure about Noah cheating on her and hypocritically unfaithful to him with Marco, while Noah doesn't confide in Elle about the problems he was having at Harvard and hides that he's hanging out with Chloe due to her jealousy, which makes her assume the worst. They repeatedly demonstrate they both lie to each other, fail to communicate and can't trust each other, on top of living thousands of miles apart, but the end of the movie has them happily reconciled.
  • Life Drawing: Mark Ruffalo's "hero", a struggling artist, is a complete ass to the female lead when they are together, being patronising, insulting, indifferent, and hostile to her life and beliefs as a member of the U.S. Air Force, while she tries to take an interest in his. Her worst and only crime is being Book Dumb and (mildly) ditzy. And yet she goes back to him.
  • In Nightmare Alley (1947), Stan repeatedly rips off and uses everybody he meets, including his girlfriend (and later wife) Molly. But she still loves him, despite the fact that by the end of the film, he's a hopeless alcoholic and even a carny geek.
  • Many viewers of Passengers (2016) found Jim's behavior unbelievably creepy; he intentionally takes Aurora out of cryogenic suspension, dooming her to die on the ship instead of being able to continue her life on another planet, purely because he was lonely and found her attractive. And also he deceives Aurora into believing that he saved her instead. Aurora's initially furious when she finds out, but then forgives him, although only after he saves all the lives on the ship, hers included, and finds a way to put her back into cryogenic sleep.
  • In Radio Flyer, Mary takes back her new husband even though he is an abusive alcoholic who beats her sons Mikey and Bobby. Even after one of his beatings puts Bobby in the hospital, she forgives him despite this and just tells him to stop drinking. He doesn't, the beatings continue, and she finally dumps him after he is knocked out and arrested during Bobby's flight on a homemade airplane to escape his abuse.
  • In Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the protagonist is in a relationship with Gordon Gecko's estranged daughter Winnie. When he meets Gecko, she warns the protagonist about him and refuses to reconnect with her father. The protagonist then starts to see Gordon behind Winnie's back, and the pair plot to win her over. The protagonist then finds out that Winnie has a fortune on a foreign bank account and persuades her into giving all of it to his pet project. They're then double-crossed by Gordon, the truth is discovered, and Winnie promptly dumps the protagonist. So far so good, but here's the kicker: the protagonist hunts down Gordon and literally trades access to his and Winnie's unborn child in return for him giving the money back — money that Winnie doesn't care about. The movie ends with Gordon hunting the crazy kids down and giving a speech asking Winnie to take the protagonist back. In that speech he also lets slip that he not only knows the child's gender, but that the protagonist is its father too, effectively telling Winnie that her ex betrayed not only her yet again, but their son as well. What happens next? Happily ever after of course!
  • Woman On Top has the main character break up with her boyfriend because he cheated on her, merely because she always had to be the one on top during sex (she got motion sickness otherwise), and that meant he was looked at as less of a man. He sings her some songs and she immediately accepts him back. Her love interest for most of the story is a good man, and she broke up with him after what comes down to a simple lovers' spat but was treated like it was a violation of trust.

    Literature 
  • In Crescendo, it's mutual for Nora and Patch. On one hand, Patch is creepy, smug, has few issues with using his powers to Mind Rape Nora, and flat-out admitted in the previous book that he first knew of her because he decided to stalk her to kill her for his own benefit. Anyone would think Nora would be well-off to be rid of him, but she does nothing but whine and cry over how much she misses him. On the other hand, Nora goes straight into Yandere territory, screaming at Patch for so much as talking about another girl (a girl Nora has a bad history with, granted, but Patch is trying to discuss something serious), stalking him after breaking up with him, planning to have sex with a drunk friend to spite him, and stealing the diary of a girl she thinks Patch is dating, because clearly that's the best way to verify the information. Most people would see that behavior as a sign to get away as quickly as possible, but Patch seems to find it irritating at worst and amusing more often than not.
  • At the end of Fifty Shades of Grey, Ana breaks up with Christian. For good reason — she realizes that she isn't turned on by Christian's sexual violence, is disturbed by how Christian gets off on pain and humiliation, and is irritated (at best) by how Christian stalks her and tries to control all aspects of her life. At the start of the next book — a mere five days after the initial breakup — Christian asks Ana to take him back, claiming he's changed and is okay with a "vanilla" relationship. Ana has no proof of this but takes him back almost instantly.
  • A friendship version occurs in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Cho's friend Marietta betrays Dumbledore's Army to Umbridge, which risked getting everyone expelled and pretty much shut down the only self-defense course available at the school. Harry asks Cho why she would defend and justify what Marietta did — as he puts it, "She sold everyone out, including you!"
  • In Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult you kind of get this feeling with both characters. Paige leaves her doctor husband Nicholas and their young son because her mother did the same and she didn't know how to mother. From Nicholas' point of view, why would you take back a woman who just leaves you with a young baby and doesn't come back for two months? On Paige's side, why would you get back with someone who was ready to divorce you and get a restraining order?
  • In Holy Fools by Joanne Harris, l'Ailée blames Guy LeMerle for leaving her pregnant and alone, and only works with him under protest when he arrives with a new Mother Superior. And to ensure her cooperation, he takes her daughter and puts her up for fostering, using the young and naive Mother Superior to give the order; Guy suspects that the child is his but hopes not, since it would make him feel guiltier about using the child as a bargaining chip. l'Ailée, as the "widow" nun Soeur Auguste, refuses to trust him and eventually undermines his scheme because it will kill the Mother Superior, but reveals the local bishop as Guy LeMerle's father, which was his end goal all along. She then rescues him from execution on charges of impersonation and conspiracy, but tells him that's because she didn't want his death on her hands, and leaves him to his own devices. This renews Guy's interest in her, but l'Ailée doesn't want anything to do with him. It takes several months for l'Ailée to settle in a new life with her daughter that she agrees to give him a second chance when as a show of contrition he dances with her in disguise. Even so, it's not a guarantee that they'll stay together, or she'll ever trust him again.
  • In Death series: Siobahn Brody and Patrick Roarke. Patrick beat up Brody a lot. She had a kid, Roarke, and wanted Patrick to marry her and make a proper family. Unfortunately, she supposedly didn't find out until later that he was already married, and was just using her to bear him a son. She was taken to an abuse shelter along with Roarke. However, she ended up going back to Patrick with Roarke, because she wanted her son to have a father. Unfortunately, Patrick was furious that she ran away from him and with his son. So in a combination of fury and You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, he murdered her. Roarke was unhappy when he discovered all of this years later.
  • In Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, Freddy keeps getting back together with the eponymous Laura Dean in spite of Laura selfishly breaking her heart over and over again. Unlike many other examples of this trope, however, the narrative is very aware that Freddy really shouldn't be taking Laura back and the entire plot is about her slowly coming to realize that she shouldn't stay in a toxic relationship just because she loves the other person.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Played with in The Jury. Karl and Paula Woodley may be married, but they loathe each other. Karl abused Paula and broke every bone in her body — so the Vigilantes, upon finding this out, go to Karl's house and break every bone in his body. Despite the fact that Paula apparently had had it with his abuse, and despite the fact that the book even includes an Author Filibuster on Domestic Abuse, Paula goes back to Karl. Collateral Damage retcons this by saying that Paula was pretty much forced to take him back by the U.S. government itself (he's best pals with the President), which makes the government look similarly abusive. Then Karl becomes wheelchair-bound and has to resign, and Paula ends up taking great pleasure tormenting him in retaliation for all the years he tormented her. What, are there no therapists?
  • Twilight:
    • Bella and Edward seem to have this mutually. Edward frequently belittles, controls, manipulates, and stalks Bella throughout the series. In New Moon, Edward abruptly leaves Bella and leaves her so depressed that she's in a catatonic state — which she only snaps out with help from her best friend Jacob, who's also in love with her — and he comes back with equally little explanation. In one memorable scene, Bella comes back from a shopping trip and admits to herself that she knows Edward will break into her car and check her odometer, just to see if she's telling the truth. But she never stops being in love with Edward (and quite infamously has no problem with the stalking). Meanwhile, Bella can be pretty emotionally abusive to Edward (albeit not to the same degree); her time without him in New Moon shows an alarming degree of obsessiveness, particularly her habit of engaging in dangerous behavior. And when Edward comes back, she makes him promise never to leave her again and basically says that if she's Driven to Suicide by another breakup, it's his fault. She later pressures Edward for sex even though he wants to wait until they're married (imagine how bad that would look if the genders were reversed) and further pressures him to turn her into a vampire herself.
    • Jacob, meanwhile, is one of the nicest and best people in the series; he's genuinely friends with Bella due to their common interests, and he helped her get over Edward leaving her in New Moon mostly out of altruism. It's only later that he really develops feelings for Bella. Although they do get together for a bit, Bella's clearly still hung up on Edward, and the moment he re-enters her life she drops Jacob. Why would he still pine after Bella when she treats him like this? The problem seems to be resolved by making him a lot meaner and more possessive; he becomes obsessed with Bella and extremely jealous of Edward, and his interactions with Bella in later books are a lot more forceful and borderline rapey.
  • A lot of people felt this about Twigbranch and Finleap in Warrior Cats, after Finleap pressured Twigbranch (who is still a very young warrior) into having children with him, threatening to leave the Clan if she refused, and acting cruelly to her when Twigbranch called him out on it.
  • Zoe Rosenthal Is Not Lawful Good:
    • Zoe is convinced that she and Simon are meant to be childhood sweethearts supporting each other, but her fandom friends say that if she has to hide going to conventions while visiting colleges for them, then it's a hint that perhaps he's not the perfect guy for her and she knows it. They're proven right when Simon breaks up with Zoe for the crime of taking his little sister to a convention and lying about it, following a show that he hates due to the amount of blood, and he may have cheated on her with a coworker. Needless to say, Zoe realizes that she did love Simon but didn't actually know him, and he wasn't the perfect guy. In fact, he was worse than her; lying about going to a convention and lying about your college choices are on different levels than wrong. Simon at least has the decency to look embarrassed about it when his ex-girlfriend and current girlfriend/Other Woman meet at a convention and he finds out his boss is a fan of the show.
    • Todd and Meldel have a Slap-Slap-Kiss dynamic that is exhausting. Todd always interrupts Meldel and talks down to her, while Meldel tells him off for being a condescending jerk. Zoe notes that if they were not in fandom, they would have broken up a long time ago. There's also the fact that Todd makes an embarrassing video of Zoe that goes viral, without Zoe's consent and turning her into a fandom laughingstock. While it ends up saving the show they were watching, Zoe doesn't attend conventions with her friends for months, and when she gets the courage to attend one (her friend and parents make her go to help mend her broken heart) people sing the song in the video when they recognize her. That would have been grounds for Meldel to break up with Todd and make him pay consequences. Instead, she says his punishment is he'll be in her next book. Yeah.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Mutual case with Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter. Essentially, the two divorced because of Bobbi's job as a spy meant she had to conceal information from Lance, even when working together, and he felt he couldn't trust someone who could lie so easily. He then spent every day after the divorce bad-mouthing her to everyone who'd listen, calling her a "hell-beast", a monster, and generally making her sound like she'd viciously abused and gaslighted him, but it's clear nothing of the sort happened. When we see her politely ask him to give her space, he massively overreacts. However, if Lance has such difficulty trusting women, why is he pursuing a relationship with a professional spy? Meanwhile, it's a question why Bobbi would stay with him, never mind why she would take him back after he'd spent so long actively harming her reputation and dumping their dirty laundry out onto her colleagues and friends, which realistically would be very humiliating.
  • Arrow: After Felicity's increasingly hypocritical behavior during Seasons Three and Four, her rants about not wanting to marry him in Crisis on Earth-X, and her selfishly interrupting Barry and Iris' wedding vows at the end of said crossover to tack on her own wedding to Oliver (after Barry and Iris' original dream wedding had already been ruined by invading Nazis from another Earth), just about everyone except the most diehard Olicity shippers wondered how Oliver could stay with her after all that, let alone marry her. It seems even the writers predicted how the audience would react to this — the following episode of Arrow, "Irreconcilable Differences", forcibly shilled how "in love" Oliver and Felicity were, as if they were trying to convince the fans of that fact.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy's taste in men kind of sucks.
    • Spike tried to kill her multiple times, tried to rape her once, and made a sexbot version of her. She still dates him on and off through the later parts of the show.
    • Angel lost his soul and tried to kill Buffy and her friends. When he got his soul back, Buffy got back together with him immediately — even tough Angel still risked losing his soul again. And even though he told her, to her face, that he wants to sleep with her and doesn't care if it does cost him his soul.
    • Riley seemed nice to begin with, but when he felt Buffy wasn't paying enough attention to him (she was protecting her sister from a Hellgod and thought her mother was dying — no shit she's not paying a lot of attention), he went to the vampire equivalent of a brothel seeking to get bitten. Buffy dumps him — but five minues later, Xander convinces her that she should take him back because he's a "one-in-a-lifetime guy". Even though by this point, he's done pretty much everything to prove that he's the total opposite.
  • Played with on Charmed: Phoebe kills Cole to vanquish the Source of All Evil inside him, but he steals powers from the Demonic Wasteland to return to life and get back together with her. She won't have him, though, insisting that he's evil. Except he's not, really — he worked his entire career as a DA to counter the demonic side he was born with, helped Phoebe escape the Underworld, became the Source only as a side effect of helping slay the previous Source, ultimately had his demonic side vanquished, and clearly came Back from the Dead only because of his love for Phoebe and his desire to prove that he was a good person. That's a pretty good reason to take him back, right? Nope — Phoebe convinces her sisters to try to kill him again, and he gives up completely. Now the question is why Cole would take her back. This is one of many reasons the fans started calling her "Phoe-Me".
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation:
    • Johnny DiMarco dumps Alli because he doesn't want to admit to Holly J that he's dating a ninth-grader. She takes him back after this and continues to pine after him.
    • Ashley takes Craig back after he cheats on her with Manny and attempts to justify it by calling her a prude.
    • Terri gets back with Rick because he apologized for abusing her.
    • Mia gets back with Lucas who blew her off the second she got pregnant, several years prior.
  • Frasier: Niles and Maris have it on a mutual level. When their marriage starts to fall apart, on several occasions Maris tries to win him back. Frasier and Martin remind Niles how poorly she treated him, but Niles is occasionally tempted. The only time he actually does get back together, though, she turns around and cheats on him with their marriage counselor. After that point, though, Niles never seriously considers getting back together with her, even though she keeps trying. The question on her end, though, is why she'd take him back when he'd clearly been smitten with Daphne for years by this point. When they've almost finalized their divorce, Maris tries one more grand gesture to win Niles back, and Niles explicitly invokes this trope to her face. She responds by suing him for every cent he has, and her lawyers invoke his pursuit of Daphne in the process; Niles only gets out of it through blackmail. Maris was never the most stable woman; there's a reason she's The Ghost, because the writers just couldn't do justice to a character this crazy.
  • On Doctor Who, Amy Pond skips out on her fiancé, childhood friend, and all-around Dogged Nice Guy Rory to gallivant around the universe with a dashing young-looking space alien. Right before her wedding. It shouldn't matter too much, because the Doctor has a time machine and she should make it back in time, but she kisses him and attempts to seduce him. She never apologizes for this, and the only reason she never followed through was because the Doctor point-blank turned her down (he lives a very dangerous lifestyle). Rory only hears about this from the Doctor himself, and the Doctor basically invites him to be a companion because Amy was making him uncomfortable. Initially, fans believed Rory only took Amy back because he was an Extreme Doormat. But later episodes explore a little bit of what Amy was thinking: she first met the Doctor when she was a little girl and saw him do incredible things, and spent the rest of her childhood and adolescence trying to get over him, only for him to return when she's an adult and validate everything she thought about him — she was trying to fulfill what was, at that point, a lifelong dream. Meanwhile, Rory got some serious Character Development and Took a Level in Badass, showing extreme loyalty to Amy. It culminated in the episode "Amy's Choice", in which she's directly confronted about whether she really wanted to be with Rory or the Doctor — and she very decisively chose Rory. It didn't solve all their problems, but it was good enough for most people.
  • Gilmore Girls: In season 6, Logan sleeps his way through his sister's briday party, with the excuse that he thought he and Rory were broken up, while she thought they were "on a break" (yes, the writers did the Ross-and-Rachel thing to their main couple unironically). Rory is clearly upset — and Jess conveniently shows up in her life and is still clearly interested in her, giving her a great opportunity. But no, she's talked into forgiving Logan and goes back to him. Even though he never took responsibility for cheating on her with multiple women. After a season, he leaves her because she's not ready to get married and move across the country right after graduating from college.
  • Glee:
    • In the first season, Finn breaks up with Quinn once he learns that she lied to him about him being the father of her baby, who's actually his best friend. In the second season, he hooks up with Rachel — and then breaks up with her to get back together with Quinn. His excuse amounts to "when we kissed, there were fireworks". He admits that he still has no reason to trust Quinn, who cheats on him again after they get back together.
    • Finn and Rachel have a similar thing going. They break up and get together more times than you can count, usually over something stupid — at one point, they broke up because Rachel found out that Finn lost his virginity to Santana (when they weren't together), and she decides to sleep with Puck to get even with him. The audience knows they're going to get back together, but you have to wonder why they keep doing it.
    • Jesse tries to get back together with Rachel even after he was revealed to have been a mole for Shelby Corcoran, who wanted Jesse to reveal on her behalf that she's Rachel's biological mother. He ended up betraying New Directions and luring Rachel into a trap where Vocal Adrenaline could throw eggs at her (although it's implied his reammates forced him to do it). The entire Glee club is furious at Jesse and pretty convinced he never liked Rachel to begin with, and he doesn't even apologize to the team he betrayed, just trying to suck up to Rachel. Rachel ends up turning him down, which is pretty much the only sensible thing she did all season; it was only after several seasons of Character Development that Jesse could genuinely apologize.
  • Gossip Girl:
    • The writers managed to do this to their Super Couple, Chuck and Blair. Chuck sold her to his creepy uncle in exchange for a hotel; even though most fans at that point wanted them to get back together, it was a stretch as to how they'd accomplish that. What ended up happening was that Chuck picked up a ton of Character Development and became a Love Martyr, while Blair became increasingly self-centered and unlikeable and relentlessly toyed with Chuck's emotions, now leaving the fans wondering why Chuck would ever take Blair back.
    • Serena took back Dan, even after he admitted that he was only trying to make her fall in love with him again so that he could have writing material — which he was planning to use for a hatchet job on her. He didn't go through with it, and Serena's taste in men had already proven to be... debatable, but still. The rest of the gang would mirror Serena's non-antipathy toward Dan on a platonic level after he was revealed to be Gossip Girl.
  • On Gotham, why would Gordon take back Barbara Kean when she constantly makes extremely stupid and reckless decisions that only cause Gordon more problems? It turns out, he doesn't.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Zig-zagged in Lily and Marshall's case. At the end of Season 1, Lily dumps Marshall shortly before their wedding and runs off to San Francisco. Since the story is being told in Flashback, it's a Foregone Conclusion that they get back together. But over the course of the rest of the series — and especially in Season 2 — we see a lot of how Marshall didn't initially want to get back together with her and how Lily had to work herself back into Marshall and Ted's good graces. (It's also a Running Gag that Marshall's mother never forgave her.) It's best done in the Christmas Episode after they get back together, when Lily discovers an old message Ted sent Marshall during this period that spoke very poorly of her; Lily refuses to accept Ted's apology, only for Ted to turn around and call her out on abandoning not just Marshall, but all of their friends, too.
    • With Ted and Zoey at the end of season 6, it goes both ways. From Ted's perspective, this woman tried to destroy his career, manipulated him, lied to him, and secretly recorded his conversations so that she could blackmail him. From Zoey's perspective, she worked so hard to prevent the destruction of the Arcadian Building and managed to convince this man to help her, only for him to betray her at the last second and ensure the building's destruction. Yeah, they were made fore each other.
    • Invoked with Robin and Simon. Right after Robin helped him load all of his band's equipment into his van, he then announces that he's leaving her for Louise Marsh, because her parents have a pool. All her friends tell her she shouldn't go back to him, but she does anyway. By the end of the episode, Simon dumps her exactly the same way he did the first time, for the exact same girl no less (now her parents have a Jacuzzi).
    • Ted and Jeanette, a crazy Stalker with a Crush who frequently broke Ted's things over minor offenses. After they break up, Ted wanted to get back together with her, much to the disappointment and frustration of his friends. Future!Ted admits this was a big mistake, and their second breakup ends with Jeanette setting most of Ted's belongings on fire. Over the years, Ted would admit that he was never really in love with her to begin with; he was just started to get desperate to find someone to love, and Jeanette was obviously attracted to him, so he tried harder than he should have to make it work.
    • Barney and Robin. Barney lied consistently and didn't apologize for his lies; indeed, he simply stated that magic, lies, and illusions were part of his charm, and that was clearly why she fell in love with him, which was really the perfect non-apology. (That, and he did a cute magic trick with flowers.) She comes back to him anyway. To Barney's credit, at their wedding, he realizes how difficult this was for her and makes a single vow — he would never, ever lie to her again.
    • Ted and Robin in the finale. While Ted clearly always had feelings for her, throughout the episode she basically decides to abandon her friends because she was no longer comfortable with their dynamic. It didn't sit well with many fans.
  • Last Man Standing: Ryan got Kristin pregnant during their senior year of high school and promised her that he would support her. When she decided to keep the baby, he ditched her to go to college and earn A Degree in Useless. Meanwhile, she had to give up her future to raise Boyd by working as a waitress in a run-down diner while continuing to live with her parents because she couldn't afford to move out. He eventually decides to take responsibility and return after graduating, but he leans on Kristin to do most of the disciplining and be the breadwinner so he can go on social crusades and protests when not trying to indoctrinate Boyd with his ultra-left wing ideals.
  • Lost: During a flash-forward, Jack is shown to be engaged to and living with Kate and their adopted three-year-old son Aaron. But after a bad day, he goes home, sends the nanny home early, and proceeds to get drunk and high while home alone with the kid. When Kate gets home, he demands to know where she's been; she admits that she was with Sawyer, his former romantic rival, and won't tell him what she was doing out of loyalty to him. This leads to a massive argument in which Jack acquits himself poorly; he claims to have saved Kate from the island while Sawyer chose to staynote , stakes a claim on Aaron because he's Aaron's biological uncle, and rebuffs Kate's concern that he's got a drug problem and shouldn't behave that way around their son. They break up (but they still have sex at a later point because Kate had clearly gone through something traumatic and Jack didn't seem to care), but she still tells him she loves him at the end of the show, and they get back together in the afterlife.
  • Mr. Robot: In the third season, Angela gets to work making Stage 2 successful, and in the process she starts to blatantly abuse Elliot psychologically and work with Mr. Robot behind his back. Although she was being brainwashed by Whiterose, it doesn't excuse her poor treatment of Elliot and her denial of the care he needed. When he found out about her betrayal, she pretended not to know what he was talking about and pushed him away after she was done with him. But even though she never apologized to him, he still forgave her. Angela went on to accuse Elliot of manipulating her after seeing Leon in his apartment, even though she did the exact same thing to him. Whether Elliot forgave her for this is not clear.
  • The Orville: Let's see. Klyden forced your kid into a sex change, got your ex-boyfriend outed as heterosexual and jailed for life, is begging for sex and affection, doesn't seem to be doing much to raise the kid, and doesn't even seem to have a day job. Oh, and initiated "divorce" proceedings by stabbing you in your sleep. Why are you still married to him, Bortus?
  • Peaky Blinders: While not regarded as completely implausible that he'd take her back eventually, some viewers found it rather odd how quickly Thomas forgives Grace and lets her back into his life, considering she was spying on him for months, betrayed his trust after he finally opened himself up emotionally, put both him and his family in danger, then married another man and barely contacted him for two years; plus he has a new love interest in May who is unattached and completely loyal to him. Yet the moment Thomas finds out Grace is in the UK, he instantly tries to get her back, even when she expresses reluctance at leaving her husband and reveals she's trying for a baby with him.
  • Sex and the City:
    • Carrie is constantly taking back Mr. Big, no matter how many times he bails on her or is an ass to her. In this case, she knows that it won't end well, but she can't resist the constant lust and chemistry with him. Carrie's friends even call her out on it when she gets back with him the second time.
    • Aiden takes back Carrie, despite her cheating on him with Mr. Big — repeatedly and with no apparent sense of guilt. When she confesses to Aiden and begs him to take her back, she says outright, "You have to forgive me!" No, he doesn't. He does hesitate a little, but he takes her back. It doesn't last; the second time they break up, it's permanent, probably because she never did anything to make him believe she was sincere in her apology.
  • True Blood: There is a serious question about why Sookie Stackhouse would ever take Bill Compton back after everything he's done up to this point. We find out in season 3 that Bill arranged for the Rattarays to beat the shit out of Sookie so he could pretend to be a hero to her, drug her with his blood (which was both a tracking device and a powerful aphrodisiac), and manipulate her into falling in love with him. When Eric finds out about what Bill did, Bill tries to have Eric and Pam killed in order to keep his secrets, and later tries to gaslight Sookie into believing he has her best interests in mind, all the while never planning to reveal to her his mission from Queen Sophie Anne or what he allowed the Rattarays to do to her. This becomes more egregious in season 5, when Bill betrays her again by not only allowing Steve and Russell to go after Sookie to harvest her (despite being a Chancellor in the Authority and having the power to stop it, but choosing not to because he didn't care at that point), but also trying to bully Jessica into turning Jason (Sookie's own brother) into a vampire against his will just to spite Jessica for trying to defy him (which only fails because of Jessica's quick thinking). He later tries to have Jason killed at the Authority when he sicced the Authority guards on them and tried to destroy the Authority Headquarters (with Eric, Nora, Tara, Jessica, Pam, Sookie, and Jason inside) after becoming Billith. And that's not even getting into how nasty and cruel Bill was towards Sookie in season 6. All of this should be grounds for Sookie cutting Bill out of her life and never wanting anything to do with him again. However, the show completely glosses over this in favor of getting Sookie and Bill back together in the last season.
  • Veronica Mars reunited with her ex, Duncan Kane, despite the fact that he dumped her without an explanation, ignored her every time she asked him why, and sat idly by as their peer group turned on her. She later finds out why Duncan broke it off: he thought she was his half-sister. But he slept with her anyway. But Veronica had been accidentally roofied as well, so she didn't remember consenting and spent an entire year thinking she'd been raped (turns out she had been, but that's a whole different issue). Granted, it doesn't last. Mostly because she fell for Duncan's best friend, Logan Echols — the son of the man who murdered Lily Kane, Veronica's best friend and one of the ringleaders of the "Treat Veronica Like Trash" brigade, and the same guy who had been starting to sexually assault her with a bunch of other guys before Duncan saved her. This is a non-issue to her for some reason.
  • Will & Grace: Leo marries Grace but keeps leaving her behind to go on doctor's missions in Africa. When she finally decides to go with him, he completely ignores her. She leaves him, and he cheats on her, leading to their divorce. But she keeps going back to him and ultimately has his baby.
  • Wonderfalls: Eric towards his wife Heidi, whom he catches performing oral sex on a bellhop on their wedding night, in their bridal suite. Later on, she fakes Easy Amnesia of the whole thing. Eric still agrees to remarry her, and stays with her after she secretly drugs him with male potency pills she bought from some guy in a parking lot. Why on Earth would anyone tolerate such a potent combination of deceptiveness and stupidity? Ultimately subverted when they mutually split up in the series finale.

    Music 
  • In "It's My Party", the narrator's boyfriend Johnny leaves her for another girl, Judy. He does this at her birthday party. And apparently this decision was pre-planned; Judy has a ring to show for it. In the sequel song, "Judy's Turn to Cry", the narrator convinces Johnny to come back to her. She spends the entire song gloating that it's Judy's turn to cry, without ever addressing the question of why she wanted Johnny back in the first place, after how he treated her.
  • In "Escape", aka "The Pina Colada Song", the protagonist is checking out personal ads in the middle of the night while his girlfriend is sleeping because he was "tired of my lady". He answers the ad, only to find out it was placed by his girlfriend. Not only were the two completely willing to cheat on each other with complete strangers, they apparently had never even bothered to discuss things they like to do with each other.
  • Radiation Baby (My Teenage Fallout Queen): Suffice it to say that any man who physically forces a woman to make out with him mid-fight, not to mention failing to check if his "lover" has made it inside the bomb shelter until too late is not someone who deserves to be made up with. Case in point: Instead of rightfully apologizing, the first thing he does after he's allowed out of said shelter is to make rude comments about her appearance; never mind how insanely lucky he is just to have found her still alive as a result of his careless abuses.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Believe it or not, this trope is tangentially responsible for naming the X-Pac Heat trope. After D-Generation X had broken up, X-Pac had feuded with the members of the stable who had turned heel (Triple H, Chyna, Billy Gunn) and started a tag team with Kane. There was absolutely no reason for him to go back to working for Triple H when he'd been getting standing ovations for kicking Trips in the face. But X-Pac rejoined D-X and backstabbed Kane for no damn reason. His career never really recovered from this ill-timed heel turn.
  • Another Non-Romantic example is with CM Punk and the New Nexus. On the Raw before WrestleMania 27, he buried them, saying that they were just pawns for him to use and to dispose once their usefulness ends. Two weeks later, the New Nexus is still under Punk's leadership.

    Theatre 
  • Much Ado About Nothing's (allegedly) main plot has Claudio, with no faith in Hero and only the most superficial idea of love for her, but their reconciliation is meant to be a good thing anyway. After the Friar's speech, though, the Friar-suggested Zany Scheme goes into full effect and Claudio realizes that he truly did love Hero to the point where he happily takes her back in the finale. Much of this trope is invoked if Claudio overplays the pivotal moments in Act 4, Scene 1 - if he's being a Jerkass there, it's understandable, but if he's playing a deceived man who shall punish himself further, then it averts this trope. Definitely depends on the actor portraying Claudio.
    • The BBC series Shakespeare Re-told didn't change that much of the politically incorrect The Taming of the Shrew, they did change the ending of their adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing because the way Claudio attacks Hero and shames her in front of her family is really beyond the pale. Specifically, Hero doesn't take Claude back after he humiliates her in front of her friends and family.
  • Two Gentlemen of Verona has Julia taking Proteus back at the end. This is after he completely forgets about her after meeting his best friend Valentine's girlfriend Silvia, causes Valentine to be banished by telling the Duke about their plan to elope, and tries to rape Silvia. Julia is present for all of this, disguised as a man. Overlaps with easily forgiven, since not only does Valentine forgiven Proteus, he offers Silvia to him.
  • All's Well That Ends Well is worse. The entire point of the play is that Bertram is an insufferable boor who reneges on his promise and gives a series of impossible demands on his betrothed. Then, at the climax when she reveals that she has completed his impossible tasks (which included pretending to be another woman so she could get pregnant with his child), he somehow declares that he loves her. The only sympathetic version that I've seen has him get seriously injured in between the last two scenes, giving a reason for his change of heart.
  • The Winter's Tale is worst of all. King Leontes, from out of nowhere and with absolutely no evidence, suddenly becomes convinced that his faithful wife Hermione is cheating on him with his old friend King Polixenes. Dead set on believing the worst of his wife despite all the world around him telling he's dead wrong, Leontes' mad efforts to prove Hermione unfaithful lead to their son Mamillius deliberately starving himself to death out of heartbreak over his father's actions, their second child Perdita being abandoned to die in another country, and Hermione herself apparently dying from grief and shock over Mamillius' death. Finally, after his cruel foolishness costs him everything, Leontes belatedly realizes just how badly he's messed things up and is subsequently left alone to grieve over how much he's ruined his own, once happy life. Yet years later, Hermione and Perdita are miraculously restored to him, and neither woman shows any hatred or bitterness toward the man who tried to destroy them. This is treated as a happy ending for all three of them—but while Perdita forgiving her father is more understandable, given that she was only a baby when he tried to kill her and therefore has no memory of the actual events, Hermione's attitude is much more baffling, especially given that they'll always have the death of Mamillius between them. Given all that he put her through, it makes one wonder why Hermione doesn't leave him for good.
  • Originally averted in Ibsen's A Doll's House, in which after the conflict is settled, the lead character recognizes her husband's poor character and leaves him. However, Ibsen was forced to change the ending because people were outraged by a wife leaving. The changed ending has Nora fighting with her husband and is then led to her children, where she collapses and decides to stay, playing this trope straight. At least one contemporary troupe reverted to the original after public protest; it's fair to say the altered ending isn't produced much these days.
  • At the end of The Marriage of Figaro, after the Count has been shown up by Figaro, Susanna, and Countess Rosina, he asks his wife to forgive him. She does. This despite the fact that:
    • He's been chasing after another woman for most of the opera,
    • He's had enough of an affair with Barbarina, a servant girl, that she's able to blackmail him,
    • He's repeatedly tried to ruin the wedding of Susanna, the Countess's best friend and confidante, besides attempting to blackmail her into sleeping with him,
    • The guy whom Susanna loves and wants to marry is actually Figaro, who in The Barber of Seville was the person who helped the Count to marry his wife and is now the Count's Number Two
    • The Countess sunk to the new low of having to conspire with servants to teach him a lesson, which was pretty... bad in said cases (seriously, she actually has a song about how terrible this is)
    • And let's not forget that whole section in Act Two where he was trying to find out who was in her wardrobe, and calls her a lot of unpleasant names in the process as well as threatening to kill her (relatively) innocent godson Cherubino. Yes, he had a reason for it, and he does apologise for that one at the time, but that doesn't do much to excuse his behaviour (in some productions he even hits her!).
    • All this means that, despite the Values Dissonance of the time the opera was written, she'd be perfectly within her rights to have him dance the humiliation conga some more. But, because she's 'kinder than him', she forgives him almost right off the bat. (One only wonders how long he's going to stay faithful this time...)
      • In Beaumarchais' third Figaro play The Guilty Mother (1792), which is set 20 years after the "Marriage", it turns out that in the interim the Countess had a son with Cherubin (who died in battle), while the Count had an illegitimate daughter. Wacky hijinks ensue, not least because the two children fall in love with each other. This third part of the trilogy, however, was only turned into an opera in 1966 (by Darius Milhaud).
  • In A Streetcar Named Desire, Stella runs off from Stanley after he beats her up, however, seconds after that scene, she runs back to him. Blanche calls her out for it and even asks her what she sees in him. It's been implied that this happened several times, and further that Stella is almost excited by his violent actions toward her. The film subverts it as in the end, she runs off from Stanley after what he did to Blanche. It's worth noting, though, that the only reason the ending was changed in the movie was because the Hayes Code of Conduct, which ruled Hollywood at the time, had to see Stanley punished for his actions.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: Reconciling Empress Celene and her former elven handmaiden Briala is presented as THE best ending to the Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts quest, yet many fans who read the tie-in novel feel differently. Knowing that Celene had Briala's entire family slaughtered, let her think someone else did it for decades to keep her as her unwitting lover and personal maid, spy, and assassin, then later massacred an entire city full of elves to secure her own power, then tried to use both house arrest and false promises to keep Briala by her side left some fans wondering how Briala could even consider taking Celene back, even with the player's help. The perception of Celene being Easily Forgiven (as all it takes to get Briala to relent is to learn that Celene secretly kept her locket), and the Unequal Pairing of a human empress with her elven servant also left a bad taste in many player's mouths.
  • Late in the game, Katherine will break up with Vincent because he is cheating on her with the eponymous character Catherine. In Katherine's Good and True endings the two ultimately get back together, even getting married in her True ending. The reason for why he is being taken back is that since Catherine was a succubus and only an illusion in their world, Vincent didn't actually cheat on Katherine. He merely attempted to cheat on her. Possibly. It's unclear how much control he has over his encounters with Catherine considering that he's always drunk and can never remember his encounters with her and the player can choose to send her messages that try to discourage her.
  • Throughout the Monkey Island series protagonist Guybrush Threepwood has a rather rocky relationship with his eventual wife Elaine. Although she has affection for him it is clear that she also doesn't respect him very much, and she makes it clear that she has an important job and that Guybrush can barely be trusted with even basic errands. This comes to a head in the episodic Tales of Monkey Island, where she grows increasingly frustrated with her useless husband and prefers to spend her time helping the resurrected and apparently reformed LeChuck, forgiving him for past abduction attempts and clearly taking a shine to him though there is voodoo hypnosis involved in her behavior, and becoming his demon bride was part of her plan to finally kill LeChuck for good.
  • StarCraft: one of the most common complaints about the story is Raynor and Kerrigan's relationship, and in particular how Raynor is still lovesick for Kerrigan even after she betrays him, kills his best friend, tries to kill him multiple times, and slaughters billions of innocent people. Heart of the Swarm throws in a Retcon about how she was mind-controlled during the latter events to explain this. This doesn't really work both because he was still pining for her even before he knew this, and because Heart also has her doing other, only moderately less heinous crimes all the time while she explicitly has free will. While Raynor is justifiably repulsed by her and rejects her mid-way through that game, he inexplicably comes around back to loving her at the end after a minor Pet the Dog moment, even though the millions that she killed in that game alone are still dead.
  • Ensemble Stars!: It's extremely unclear why Souma is so undyingly loyal to Keito. Though he insists he owes a debt to him that he would give his life to repay, we've seen zero evidence of Keito doing anything that would warrant that, and even when he first joined Akatsuki Souma admitted he couldn't explain why he felt so strongly about it. But Meteor Impact takes it to a whole new level: After Souma lies to him in order to protect a lot of people, Keito rants at Souma at great length about how terrible, disloyal and useless he is, attacking his entire family and belief system, and revealing that he used Souma to hurt someone he dearly cares about, ending by mocking him cruelly as Souma leaves in tears. He claims he was pushing him away to protect him, but he never definitively tells Souma that. Instead, Souma reappears at the end of the story, saying that Keito was totally right (though again, he doesn't explain why) and he should just be grateful he wasn't treated worse. The story concludes as though this was a happy ending and proof of Souma's innate kindness and purity. The story caused a big backlash in fandom, with many demanding that Keito at the very least apologise properly.
  • A non-romantic example in Uncharted 4: A Thief's End with Sam, Nate's lost brother who returns to his life alive and well. Despite having lied to Nate about his predicament just to save his own skin, and being extremely flippant about his marriage with Elena to the point of nearly ruining it (not to mention abadoning them to go after the Libertalia treasure hoard while they were in the middle of getting out of there), both Nate and Elena forgive and welcome Sam into the family as if it was no big deal.

    Visual Novels 
  • Amnesia: Memories: The Good Ending for Toma's route has him be immediately forgiven for his actions of manipulating the heroine and drugging her food, locking her into a cage and even trying to assault her, and he and the heroine begin a romantic relationship. Most fans were rather unhappy about this ending, especially since his Normal Ending has him not be that easily forgiven. Toma actually exiles himself out of her life for what he did. The fandisc Amnesia LATER tried to mitigate this in his route by having him admit himself that he's amazed that the heroine still chooses him, despite everything he has done. And by revealing that she is just as oddly obsessed with him as he is with her.
  • Magical Diary: The player character's friends not only wonder this but are furious if they find out that you've taken up with Damien again. Considering that, by this point, he's come close to killing you - and certainly not for lack of trying - it's a wonder that they don't ask that you be locked up for your own safety. Potsdam herself isn't thrilled by your asking to let him back in for the May Dance either, pointing out that she's given him four years' worth of second chances and some things are beyond redemption. Notable in that Damien himself doesn't try to argue that he should be forgiven for his actions or that he even can redeem himself for them.

    Web Comics 
  • In Errant Story, Sarine aggressively resolves the Unresolved Sexual Tension between her and Jon during a vulnerable moment. The next morning, she doesn't want to deal with the emotional fallout, so she uses magic to wipe his memory of it. When Jon figures it out later, he's utterly disgusted with her for the Mind Rape and leaves at the nearest opportunity. Circumstances force them to adventure together later, and they sort-of become Vitriolic Best Buds throughout the rest of the story. They have The Big Damn Kiss at the story's climax (appropriately lampshaded), and the epilogue reveals they stayed together until Jon's death and had a daughter.
    • It's somewhere between implicit and explicit in the setting that ALL elf/human relationships that last longer than a night fall into this category, essentially because elves are Always Chaotic Evil to the point that even the 'good' ones are only comparatively good because they don't immediately resort to murder every time their tea is too hot or it rains on their picnic. Note that absentee parents are pretty much universal among the errants outside of the epilogue, so most of the long-term relationships end in the human NOT taking them back.
  • Rip Haywire: No matter how many times she double-crossed him, endangered him and/or tried to kill him, Rip would take Cobra Carson back every time. It took a wish-granting tiki idol showing him a bad future (Rip enslaved by Pirate Queen Cobra) and his destined love (not Cobra) to make him finally give up on her. And even then, he probably would've talked himself into trying again if not for new love interest Breezy (the one who showed him the idol). Though Rip is an adrenaline junkie who loved Cobra as much for the danger he was constantly around her as for Cobra, herself.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • Any episode where Marge considers leaving Homer only to take him back. A memorable incident is "The War of the Simpsons" when they go to a marriage retreat and Marge has a Long List of her husband's faults and even Rev. Lovejoy agrees with her. Homer throws back the fish he caught and that is enough to make up for everything else, as the two happily head home. This was seasons before he became a Jerkass. While the fish was meant to be a symbol that he actually did love her more than anything else, the example still holds up. It also goes both ways. Marge has repeatedly done things to Homer that show her to be petty and vindictive, and with a bit of a wandering heart/eye.
    • The Movie has Homer's selfish behavior finally catch up with him, with Marge taking the kids and leaving, even recording a "Dear John" message over the video of their wedding. However, Homer realizes what he's done and races to win back Marge's love by proving that he really does care about more than just himself.
    • Then there's Apu and Manjula. In her first episode, it looks like they have a Perfectly Arranged Marriage. Then they have eight babies, which is understandably stressful. But Apu cheats on her because they'd become distant due to the stress of raising their children, which caused them both to act in ways that were unacceptable and detrimental to their relationship. When the affair is discovered it's a wonder either of them takes the other back, all of which is Something In Hindsight when you again recall that first episode, where Manjula herself says "If it doesn't work out, we can always get a divorce."
      • Though children change the dynamic in any marriage; there's suddenly more motivation to make it work, and as the two of them combined hardly have enough time for all their children, neither one of them on their own would be able to take care of all of them.
    • As the main entry states, Marge isn't safe from this either. In the episode "Milhouse of Sand and Fog", Bart and Milhouse try to get Milhouse's parents to split up again by placing one of Marge's bras in Kirk's bed, which Luanne finds and shows Homer who, understandably upset, confronts Marge, who then kicks him out of his own home. There's also the fact that any time Homer is involved in a plot where it looks like he may cheat, he's incredibly upset at the prospect, whereas Marge was actually contemplating cheating on Homer with Jacques. To be fair, that was in the first season, when the characters that everyone knows today clearly hadn't been fully decided yet.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Harley Quinn to The Joker. She is head over her heels in love, goes mad, gives up her life as a psychiatrist for a life of crime all for her "Mr. J" and he can't take a few moments out of his day to "rev up his Harley". He abandons her, rats her out, abuses her, tries to kill her, and yet she always ends up by his side again sooner or later. However, she's actively called out on this by pretty much the whole rest of the cast, especially Batman and Poison Ivy, but is too far into Mad Love to really understand why he's bad for her. Depictions set chronologically after the series in the DCAU do show that she ends up finally realizing how bad the relationship is after a stint in jail and permanently leaves the Joker as part of her attempt to go legit. Getting her life back in order after realizing the Joker was abusive to her is also the foundation of the character's Anti-Villain/Anti-Hero depiction in the comics and other adaptations from the 2010s onwards.
  • In Futurama, Hermes Conrad temporarily becomes a head in a jar after his body in an accident causing his wife to almost instantly return to her ex-husband, claiming it is because their son "needs a daddy"; as though the still living Hermes no longer counts. Once he has a body again she takes him back, but following a second accident she jumps ship again, and even changes the son's surname to that of his stepfather. It isn't until he helps to defeat the Gold Death Stars that she takes him back, rather casually. Hermes would be entirely justified in telling her to take a hike.
  • Hey Arnold! gives us Oskar and Suzie Kokoshka. Suzie works hard, while Oskar is consistently unemployed, whiny, and only cares about himself. Many times she has attempted to walk out on him, but she always comes back. In the Grand Finale, Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, however, Suzie is nowhere to be seen, and Craig Bartlett would later confirm in a Reddit AMA that Suzie had indeed divorced and left Oskar by that point.

Alternative Title(s): Why Would Anyone Take Her Back

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