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

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 45 Years, Geoff and Kate are approaching their 45th anniversary. Kate knows that shortly before they met, Geoff's girlfriend had died on a hiking holiday and they Never Found the Body, but as far as she knows it wasn't a serious relationship. When the girlfriend's body is discovered in a melting glacier, Geoff's obviously emotional reaction inspires Kate to delve deeper into the facts; she discovers that they had pretended to be married on the trip, and a slide collection hidden in the attic hints that she may have been pregnant with his child. Meanwhile, Geoff conceals his desire to go to Switzerland to identify the body, which he idealistically imagines to be a perfect, youthful Human Popsicle, and seemingly loses interest in making anniversary preparations with his wife.
  • Victoria from The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again.
  • Aleta: Vampire Mistress: At some point, Aleta killed the wife of Ivor Van Helsing. Ariana finds this out when she reads his mind.
  • Janet van Dyne in Ant-Man. Her situation is left ambiguous, but she shrinks into the Microverse, a dimension from which there is no escape. As a result, Hank Pym becomes a hermit and forbids their daughter from using the technology that made them into superheroes. Though the fact that Scott escapes the Microverse in the movie's climax gives Hank hope that she might be Not Quite Dead.
  • April Showers: April for Sean. Especially because he never told her he loved her.
  • In Astro (2018), Jack Adams' wife, Julie, died some time ago from cancer.
  • An Autumn Afternoon: Shuhei's wife is long dead when the movie begins, but she's still on his mind a great deal. A female bar-owner reminds him of her, even though he admits that the resemblance is not that great.
  • The Body (2012): Jaime's wife who died in the car accident. The film takes place on the 10th anniversary of her death.
  • In The Book Of Love, the hero's wife becomes this early on (as is evident from the trailer).
  • Elisabeta in Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula kills herself upon hearing false news that Dracula has died. His reaction is to renounce God and become a vampire. The plot is also driven by him coming face to face with her reincarnation in Mina Murray.
  • Murron in Braveheart. She gets killed as a way to motivate William Wallace to take up arms against the English, but he continues to mourn her loss and brings her up often enough for his comrades to notice:
    Hamish: "It's no' about freedom; it's about Murron! You're doin' this to be a hero because ye think she sees ye!"
    Wallace: "I don't think she sees me. I know she does."
  • Male example: Jodie Foster's murdered fiancé in The Brave One.
  • Dr. Harvey's wife Amelia in Casper; his reason for working as a ghost therapist is because he thinks she must have become a ghost and wants to find her. At the end she finally appears to him and explains that she's not a ghost because she accomplished what she needed to in this life; she would Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence and became an angel.
  • Christopher Nolan frequently invokes this trope:
    • The dead wife in Memento fueling Leonard's quest for revenge.
    • Mal in Inception who ended up killing herself and framing Cobb for her murder. An apparition of her frequently appears in his dreams.
    • Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises manages to be this for two men, both Gotham's greatest protectors. In the former, her death causes Harvey Dent to make a Face–Heel Turn to become Harvey Two-Face. In the latter, she's this for Bruce Wayne himself.
    • Julia in The Prestige, to the extent that she — or rather Angier's grief for her — causes the whole plot of the movie.
  • In The Climax, the soprano Marcellina is this for Dr. Hohner, despite him being the one who murdered her. He still worships her and seeks to destroy Angela's voice because he believes it is Marcellina's and that no one should possess it.
  • In Collision Course, a dramatisation of the events surrounding the 1976 Zagreb mid-air collision, Richard Weston’s girlfriend Ruth, a stewardess, dies in the crash (doubly tragic as she is about twenty years his junior). He holds himself together very well (it helps that there is a Time Skip of several months between the first and second parts of the movie) and in fact surprises his colleagues by not going all Roaring Rampage of Revenge on the air traffic controllers. However, the contrast between his jovial, talkative self in the beginning of the film and the quiet, withdrawn, melancholy person he becomes after Ruth’s death speaks for itself.
  • Shelly in both the comic and movie adaptation of The Crow.
  • Dan in Real Life does this rather generically, albeit effectively.
  • Darkdrive: Falcon's wife Julie was killed in a bombing meant to kill him. Afterwards, he became an alcoholic recluse, until his former employers convince him to do One Last Job. He runs into her virtual ghost in a bar in cyberspace and falls in love with her again.
  • Deadpool 2: Vanessa is killed early on in the film by one of Deadpool's targets, who had managed to escape previously. It's played uncharacteristically seriously, and the opening credits yell at the writers for doing it. Deadpool goes through a good chunk of the movie going through the Five Stages of Grief, and almost every time he dies in the film, he visits Vanessa in the afterlife, each time getting closer and closer to them. It's subverted by the end of the film, where Deadpool gets his hands on a time travel device thanks to Cable, and he then uses it to go back in time and undo Vanessa's death by the movie's first mid-credits scene.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • In the Knightmare timeline in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it's highly implied that Clark Kent went batshit insane after Lois Lane died and willingly became an enforcer for the invading aliens, though Zack Snyder's Justice League reveals Darkseid was also involved, turning Superman against humanity in this moment of despair with the Anti-Life Equation.
    • Steve Trevor is Diana Prince's first love and will probably be that way for quite a while. After his death in Wonder Woman, Diana has not seen another man again for nearly a century. This is clearly shown in Wonder Woman 1984, where Diana's greatest wish is for Steve to come back for her, but she has to let him go if she wants to move on (and save the world).
  • Coda (2019): Henry's wife died a couple of years prior to the film. According to Paul, he barely spoke for two years, and the trauma of her death contributes to the Performance Anxiety he still has in the present.
  • In The Deserter, every action on Captain Kaleb's Roaring Rampage of Revenge is inspired by the memory of his wife who died at the hands of the Apache.
  • Disney's live-action remakes of Cinderella (2015) and Beauty and the Beast (2017) both portray the heroines' dead mothers as their fathers' Lost Lenores, more explicitly than the animated versions do:
    • In Cinderella (2015), even after remarrying, Ella's father confesses that he still misses his first wife very much and calls her "the very heart" of their house. Unfortunately, his new wife overhears this, and her jealousy becomes a factor in her mistreatment of Ella. A deleted scene also implies that Prince Kit's late mother is the King's Lost Lenore, as he can't bear to visit the palace gardens she loved anymore.
    • In Beauty and the Beast (2017), the traumatic loss of his wife has made Maurice an Overprotective Dad: this is why he and Belle live in the safe yet dull provincial town, even though neither is really happy there. Nor can he bring himself to tell Belle how her mother died, though she later learns what happened by magical means with the Beast. His introductory scene even shows him building a music box with tiny figures of himself, his wife, and baby Belle together.
    • In Aladdin (2019), while not featured as heavily as the mothers above, Jasmine’s mother’s death is the motive behind the Sultan being the Overprotective Dad to their only child. Apparently, she was murdered, and ever since, the Sultan has kept Jasmine confined in the palace to keep her safe, despite her objections. It’s actually hinted that Jafar might have been responsible for her death because during the events of the movie, he seems keen on waging war against the Queen’s land of birth.
  • Endless: Chris remains Riley's Love Interest throughout the film despite being dead, though here he contacts her as a ghost, to her delight, with the entire plot centered on this.
  • Parodied in Erik the Viking. The eponymous character connects briefly with a village maiden and saves her from a Fate Worse than Death by accidentally subjecting her to the latter. He remains haunted by her memory but when he reunites with her in Valhalla she is less than thrilled to see him.
  • Helen Kimble in The Fugitive
  • In Godzilla (2014), Joe Brody dedicates nearly all of his attention to uncovering why his wife Sandra died.
  • In Highlander, the protagonist Connor MacLeod is an immortal warrior from 16th Century Scotland who was Happily Married to a mortal blacksmith's daughter, and he was devastated when she died of old age. Even four centuries later, it is shown he keeps up a tradition of lighting a candle and saying a little prayer for her on her birthday. When the Big Bad reveals that he violated the girl as an act of dominance shortly after killing Connor's mentor figure, Connor is motivated to kill him not just for the Prize but also to avenge her.
  • Hearts Beat Loud: Sam's mom and Frank's wife Danielle is long dead when the film takes place, but her presence looms over them both. Because of her death in a bike accident, Sam has not learned to ride a bicycle despite being in her 20s. She only does with the help of her girlfriend Rose. Frank's life meanwhile is implied to have heavily been mired in the past, brooding over his loss for years. He wrote a song in tribute to her as well, and is shown reflecting nostalgically over them singing together years ago.
  • Sophie in The Illusionist.
  • James Bond:
  • A rare male example is Kate's dead husband in A Knight's Tale. This serves as a Shown Their Work moment, as Kate is allowed to work as a blacksmith because her late husband taught her the trade and left no sons. There were cases of this in Real Life history.
  • In The Last Witch Hunter, Kaulder has Helen, his Black Death-taken wife, as well as his daughter, Elizabeth, dead to the same disease. They're both very prominently featured in Lotus-Eater Machine he's trapped in at one point.
  • Laura in the 1940s film of the same name.
  • Characters in at least two Leonardo DiCaprio movies, Inception and Shutter Island
  • Victoria Riggs to Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon. Her death is the reason Riggs is a Death Seeker in the first film. It's only his unlikely friendship with Murtagh that later helps him get over it, though when The Dragon in the second film tells him that he killed her, Riggs goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Loving Annabelle: Ms. Bradley's first girlfriend had died years ago-she keeps her cross as a memento. It also subtly overshadows the film, as it's implied she's mourned ever since, and repressed her attraction to women (possibly both due to being Catholic, plus avoiding further heartbreak).
  • Jessie's death in Mad Max causes Max's Despair Event Horizon and his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. As a result, in the second film he's a lot colder, only warming to the refinery denizens after his Cool Car is destroyed.
  • Hel, Freder's late mother, for Rotwang in the uncut version of Metropolis. Possibly inspired the Repo! example.
  • Miao Miao has Bei and Chen Fei, in a heartbreaking male/male example.
  • The central plot point of The Mothman Prophecies.
  • Satine in the framing narrative of Moulin Rouge!.
  • Passenger57 John Cutter's wife Lisa was killed in a convenience store robbery he was unable to stop, leaving him as a reluctant hero when the plane he boarded is taken over by terrorists. Things don't help when Marti reminds him of Lisa.
  • Elena Korvin in The Phantom of the Opera (1983). She dies early on, and her husband's desire to wreak vengeance on those who destroyed her is what drives the plot. He also becomes obsessed with another woman because she looks like Elena.
  • Miranda in Picnic at Hanging Rock, so exquisitely beautiful and poignant that Michael fell in love with her at a glance before she vanished forever up that damn rock.
  • Allie's mother is this for her father Neal in Remember Me. Murdered in the subway by muggers when Allie was only a child, the mention of her causes Neal to flip out. He's insanely overprotective of his daughter as a result.
  • Marni in Repo! The Genetic Opera. Nathan blames himself for his wife's death (he never finds out that her ex and his boss, Rotti, murdered her). He is overprotective of their daughter Shilo because she's all he has left of Marni.
  • Adrian had become this as of Rocky Balboa. Instead of a quick throwaway line about how she had passed on to explain her absence in the final chapter, Rocky is shown to still be devastated and utterly heartbroken years after losing her to "the female cancer."
  • Second Hand Lions has Princess Jasmine(not that one), who died in childbirth, for Uncle Hub.
  • Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: Ivan and Marichka were Star-Crossed Lovers from feuding families, but after she dies in an accident while he's away working up a nest egg for them to elope, she falls into a river and drowns. He spends the rest of the film pining for her and is never able to give his later marriage to Palanha a chance.
  • This trope effectively kicks off the events of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Xu Wenwu dearly misses his beloved wife Ying Li (who was murdered by a rival gang) and begins hearing her voice, beckoning him to come to Ta Lo in order to free her from her prison. Wenwu then brings he and his children together so they can travel to Ta Lo as a family and rescue her. Of course, this turns out to be a ruse from the Dweller-In-Darkness, but it was playing on Wenwu's love for his dead wife that drives the core of the story.
  • The Sixth Sense: A rare male example of the trope in that Malcolm's wife isn't surly and depressed over a neglectful husband. She's grieving for a dead one.
  • Sara, The Huntsman's dead wife in Snow White and the Huntsman. Until it's revealed that she is still alive in The Huntsman: Winter's War.
  • Hari in Solaris is a particularly interesting case: the prime mover of the story is Kris' guilt over her death and her doppelganger's reaction to the knowledge of it. Rheya in the 2002 remake.
  • Steam: Doris and August talk to each other about both their deceased spouses', relating how much they miss them.
  • A very literal example in Taken 3 Bryan's ex-wife and perpetual love interest is abruptly killed off at the beginning of the movie, leaving him with the driving mission of clearing his name and finding her killer. Guessing her name shouldn't be too difficult.
  • Margot to Alexandre in Tell No One, although it's later subverted when it turns out she's been Faking the Dead.
  • In Ten Dead Men, Ryan is completely devoted to his girlfriend Amy. When she is murdered by figures from his past, he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Ryan's every act is driven by her memory, including his last: killing himself as the tenth man responsible for her death.
  • This is given as the protagonist's primary motivation for time travel in The Time Machine (2002).
  • Twice-Told Tales: In "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment", Dr. Heidegger is still mourning the love of his life, Sylvia, who died on the eve of their wedding 38 years earlier.
  • UnforgivenClint Eastwood remained so devoted to his dead wife that he graciously turned down a freebie from the Hooker with a Heart of Gold he was helping even though she was played by Anna Levine.
  • In Vertigo, Scottie has a mental breakdown after watching his love Madeleine commit suicide with him being unable to stop her because of his vertigo. Then it's subverted in an increasingly disturbing manner when he meets Judy who's the spitting image of Madeleine and begins obsessively forcing her to undergo a makeover to look just like his lost love despite her tearful protests, not knowing that the Madeleine he loved never truly existed; the "Madeleine" he met was actually Judy doing a Dead Person Impersonation as part of Gavin's plan to get away with murdering his wife.
  • Kayla Silverfox in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. She inspires Logan to gain his Adamantium bonding.
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