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"You're like a sponge! You take, take, take, and drain others of their love and emotion!"


In order for a relationship to stay together, each party must put some work into the relationship, and they must appreciate the results. Sometimes, one party has to put more effort in than the other, sometimes it's evenly spread. Of course, it can also become a very sick relationship when it's All Take And No Give. This trope comes in two flavors with a middle ground.

  • The other variant is a bit more disturbing. Rather than the Taker being in charge, it's the Giver who is in control. It's not that they're pathologically compelled to generosity, but a deep desire to control and even own the Taker... so they work to make them completely psychologically and physically dependent, and may in fact cripple their ability to do some (or all) things. This is the hallmark of My Beloved Smother, who may impair or retard their child's growth to keep them dependent. If romantic, the Giver may be a Stalker with a Crush or a Yandere who has managed to start a relationship with their target and then proceeded to demolish their self esteem in the guise of "helping" them. Expect them to say "I did it all for you", and justify alienating the Taker from past friends because "They Were Holding You Back." If the Taker should realize this and work up the resolve to break the cycle, the Giver will not be pleased.
  • The middle ground is akin to The Masochism Tango, both the Giver and the Taker are in a deeply co-dependent relationship they can't break out of. Maybe they're a Sugar Daddy and a shop happy floozy, a parent who can't stand to say "no" and an emotionally needy Spoiled Brat, or an indulgent monarch raising a Royal Brat. In all variations, both participants will be unwilling or unable to leave, change or even identify the relationship.

Expect the Giver to say a variation of "I give and I give, and you take and you take" with one of two possible inflections, feigned suffering meant to guilt trip the Taker, or resigned exasperation as they once again give in.

Compare Taking Advantage of Generosity (although that doesn't require a couple).

Examples of All Take and No Give include:


Anime & Manga

  • Another Monster delves deeper into Tenma and Eva's relationship, when Eva realizes that, despite her being the taker, Tenma was always the stronger one that she depended on for a sense of worth and confidence.
  • A bit of a disturbing one from Bleach is Orihime's relationship with her undead brother. First, it started as the first type, where Orihime was the Taker, while her brother was the Giver, though it is justified, with her brother dying when she was young and she had no other family or friends. But when she became friends with Tatsuki and developed a crush on Ichigo, their roles switched and he thought Orihime didn't pay as much attention to him as she used to. He wasn't pleased at all.
    • Though, his anger at this was amplified due to him becoming a Hollow.
    • And it turned out that Orihime told him a lot about her friends and her crush in order to reassure him that she's doing fine and he shouldn't worry about her.
  • In Spirited Away, we have a case of the second variant with No Face as the Giver and Chihiro as the Taker. In the beginning, No Face helped Chihiro out and Chihiro gratefully accepted his help. But once Chihiro refused to accept one of his gifts after seeing how the other bath patrons were greedily accepting his gifts of gold without question, No Face went a little crazy, ate some people and demanded that Chihiro be brought to him so she could accept his gifts.
    • Then there's Yubaba and her gigantic baby Boh. She coddles him incessantly and he's spoiled rotten. It takes a Baleful Polymorph into a tiny animal for him to learn manners and "grow up". He gets better.
  • Pretear: Takako, when she first started out as the Pretear, was the Taker, with Hayate as the Giver. However, when she realized that he didn't return her affections, she became the Princess of Disaster.
  • Kagetora and Naoe's relationship in Mirage of Blaze.
  • Code Geass has Lelouch masterfully manipulating Rolo into being a Giver. Poor Rolo thought someone actually liked him. Of course, being both a fake replacement sibling and an assassin ordered to kill Lelouch if he was shown to have his memories regained did not endear him. And once Rolo killed Shirley in cold blood, Lelouch pretty much tried to get rid of him as payback. Until, ironically enough, Rolo saved his life at the cost of his own.
  • Unsui and Agon of Eyeshield 21 have this undertone to their relationship. Unsui tends to act like a surrogate parent to his brother (it's implied their real parents spoil him), puts his brother's needs before his own, and constantly apologizes for his brother's actions. This is due to Unsui's need to have a purpose after the painful realization that he'll always be a mediocre person without his brother.
  • Ui and Yui of K-On! play this for laughs. Despite being older, Yui has a child-like dependence on her little sister who acts like a doting mother to her immature sister.
  • This is what Big Bad Ajimu of Medaka Box says is the true nature of Medaka and Zenkichi's relationship. Even after Zenkichi's unfailing devotion to her, all out of his love for her, she takes it for granted. Ajimu bluntly states he was not born to serve Medaka. This ultimately proves to have some truth to it when Medaka berates and attacks Zenkichi for not being able to pass the first part of her test given to her possible successors. When Zenkichi confronts her to prove his point, she beats the tar out of him and berates him further to solidify him becoming her enemy just so she wasn't wrong in her assumptions can continue to see value in him.
    • This also makes her seem even more of a Jerkass since when Akune decides to join Zenkichi against Medaka she praises him instead of giving him the same treatment.
  • Partway through Welcome to The NHK, Satou begins to fear/hallucinate that Misaki may be trying to trick him into a Type 2 relationship. She is.

Comic Books

  • Donald Duck is often the Giver in his relationships with both his girlfriend Daisy and his uncle/employer Scrooge. Even Don Rosa, not generally into Flanderization, portrays this pointedly in his "The Magnificent Seven (Minus Four) Caballeros" to contrast it with his relationship with his old friends Panchito Pistoles and José Carioca.

Film

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has Veruca Salt and her father in this relationship.
  • Coraline had the Other Mother as a giver, and the previous ghost children (and Coraline, for a bit) as takers.
    • But then again, the relationship could switch around with the Other Mother as the taker, needing love and the souls from the children, who would give it to her unwillingly or unknowingly.
  • Mirror Mask has the dark counterparts to Helena and her mom, the Princess and Queen of Shadows. The princess was all take, a needy and rebellious girl who ran away, stole the mirror mask and started destroying the paper world. The Queen was all give, controlling, smothering, and at one point even brainwashing Helena into acting like a doll daughter. Neil Gaiman may have a thing for this trope.
  • In Repo! The Genetic Opera, Rotti says this to Amber when she asks him for more surgery. He refuses at first, but one look at her botched face job has him change his mind.
  • Columbia to Frank in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In the end, though, she does finally call him out on his behavior and ultimately refuses to cooperate with him in the film's climax.
  • Lifetime Movies often portray marriage that way with a selfish, abusive and ungrateful husband and a loving, faithful, ever-suffering wife who just endures the selfishness and Jerkassery of her spouse.

Literature

  • This is basically The Giving Tree in a nutshell, plus some Glurge.
  • In Stephen King's The Stand, his own mother calls Larry Underwood a "taker", which comes back to haunt him many times.
    • To put it in the words of his friend Wayne Stukey, there's "something in [Larry] that's like biting on tinfoil."
  • And another Stephen King example: In IT, Eddie and his mother (in the past) and Eddie and his wife (in the book's present) both come off as the second variety of All Take and No Give, with the woman as the domineering Giver, and Eddie as the Taker who is being controlled.
  • In Atlas Shrugged, Hank Rearden's idle family live off his success and insult him for it at the same time. An even more explicit version of the second type is railroad executive James Taggart's marriage to Cherryl Brooks; his lifting her out of her life as a dime-store worker left her as a Fish Out of Water unable to cope in her husband's social circle and dependent on him for everything -- and that's just what he wanted. Cherryl Goes Mad From The Revelation when she realizes this; James does the same when he can't hide from his motivation any longer.
  • In one lesser-known story by German author Janosch about a donkey falling in love with an owl. (With the donkey being the giver, and the owl being the taker.) Does he want to suggest that men in love should act like that?! Now that's a Family-Unfriendly Aesop.
  • In Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, there's the implication that Ginny's relationship with Tom Riddle was the second variant, obviously with Riddle as the manipulative Giver of his companionship and Ginny as the controlled Taker.
    • Of course, it goes the other way as well. As Ginny eagerly poured out her heart and soul to Tom Riddle, he fed off of it to the point where he had sucked nearly all of the life out of her.
  • CS Lewis used this trope a lot.
    • In The Four Loves, he cites Mrs. Fidget, whose endless housework on behalf of her family left them miserable, and how some women live their lives up to the verge of old age in endless service to a maternal vampire.
    • In The Great Divorce, one damned soul is a woman who wants to give everything to her son as long as he's under her control, and another damned soul is not happy as long as his wife could be happy without him.
    • In The Screwtape Letters, the last letter, after Wormwood's failure, is addressed in the most affectionate terms, looking forward to devouring him.
    • In Till We Have Faces, Orual wants Psyche to be happy -- as long as she herself makes her happy. Otherwise, she must be miserable.
  • In Alma Katsu's The Taker, Lanny is the Giver and Jonathan is the Taker. A sort of mix between the two types: Lanny will do anything for Jonathan, no matter the cost or risk to herself - including a few things he would not have wanted her to do for him, had she bothered to ask him.

Live Action Television

  • In the second season of True Blood, the maenad Maryann functions as the giver to the alcoholic, emotionally fragile Tara. She invites Tara to live in her mansion where she's pampered around the clock, under the guise of trying to help the girl turn her life around. In reality, Maryann is trying to drive a wedge between Tara and her abusive mother so that she can control Tara's life herself, feeding off her anguish and rage.
  • In an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry refers to himself as a Taker and another character as a Giver, and argues that a relationship between a Giver and Taker is the ideal.
    • Kramer and George are both all take and no give in most episodes.
  • Al Bundy's family is like this on Married... with Children, doing very little to contribute to the household and whining whenever they don't get their way. Peggy is the worst one. Whereas the kids eventually get jobs and start paying their own way, what she contributes to the relationship is questionable, given that she refuses to get a job, cook or clean the house, and constantly spends Al's money on useless junk and Bon Bons.
  • House and Wilson are almost a subversion of this, since their relationship, while strange and disturbing, actually seems to work for both of them - House's selfishness has prevented him from having any other friends, and while Wilson keeps embracing vulnerable people and nursing them towards health and self-confidence, he invariably loses all interest in them once they no longer need him to take care of them. The only person who could put up with the ultimate Giver in the long run is the ultimate Taker, and vice versa.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- Spike and Buffy's "relationship" in season 6, with Buffy as Taker and Spike as Giver. They seem caught between the two types - he puts up with truly ridiculous amounts of abuse from her due to obsessive love, yet is constantly trying to drag her into the darkness.
  • On The Sarah Silverman Program Sarah is The "Taker" to her Sister, Laura. Sarah refuses to work. All her money and her apartment is provided to her by her sister, for which Laura receives zero gratitude.
  • Fans of Gossip Girl often complain about how Nate and Chuck's friendship is like this, ironically with Nate being the taker and Chuck the giver. Chuck will always bend over backwards to help Nate while Nate had to be forced by Blair to help get Chuck off the barstool and attend his father's funeral. And that's still one of Nate's best displays of friendship.
    • Nate is also the Taker to Blair's Giver when they're together.
  • On Veronica Mars, the titular character often slips into this, particularly with respect to her friend Wallace. Veronica falls into the Type 1 version, as the "Taker", with Wallace being the "Giver." It gets to the point where she gets rightfully called out on it.
  • Pretty much the relationship between the Winchesters and Castiel, from Supernatural, with the latter being the Giver. While Cas has done an endless list of things for Sam and Dean (usually at the cost of his own well being), if he asked something from the Winchesters twice, that's more than this troper can remember. However, although he doesn't usually gets as much as a "thanks" in return, what has really been irking some fans is that, on the one time Cas actually needed the Winchesters to support him, they failed to do so. It's arguable that the whole Leviathan business could have been avoided if only Sam and Dean had listened to Cas, instead of turning on him for making a deal with a demon... something the Winchesters themselves do on a daily basis.
  • Arguably, initially Sherlock and John. John is extremely tolerant of Sherlock, who makes no efforts to be either easy to live with or particularly accommodating, allowing John to even be arrested while helping him, and both killing for Sherlock and putting his life on the line. Ultimately averted, however, when Sherlock allows the world to believe he is a fake and fakes his death so John and his other friends won't get hurt.

Music

  • Burt Bacharach's theme Alfie from the film(s) of the same name has the lines "What's it all about, when you sort it out, Alfie? Are we meant to take more than we give?" Depending on how it is performed, the song can be from the perspective of a character who is a Giver to Alfie's Taker, or, if sung from a narrative perspective instead of a character perspective, can be a comment on Alfie's Taker personality in general.
  • The narrator of They're Coming To Take Me Away claims to be a sympathetic Giver.
  • The narrator of Let Me Be Your Armor by Assemblage 23 is a very possessive Giver.
  • Grenade by Bruno Mars specifically mentions this trope:

 Easy come, easy go - that's just how you live

Oh, take, take, take it all but you never give.

 All you do is take all I do is give

Baby, why don't you give me a chance to live

  • Everything She Wants by Wham. The whole song really, but especially:

 They told me marriage was a give and take

Well you've shown me you can take, you've got some giving to do

Newspaper Comics

  • Elly Patterson of For Better or For Worse is an interesting example. She considers herself to be the victim of the first variant, slaving away for an unappreciative family who never offer any help or support whatsoever to their poor, put-upon mother. However, it's just as easy to view her as a self-absorbed shrew with a martyr complex who wants to 'own the horses' by manipulating her children and raising them to remain hopelessly reliant on her or an Elly-approved spouse.
    • It doesn't help the writer's reboot makes the husband an over-the-top horrible man (who was based on her Real Life husband before that relationship went sour. So... yeah.
  • Carol, the secretary to Dilbert's Pointy-Haired Boss, concocted a strategy of doing every little thing for him, thus training him to be (even more) incapable of doing anything for himself.
  • Roxanne of Candorville expects Lemont to bend entirely to her will, with no sense of compromise. There are indications that this is how she handles any relationship, sexual or otherwise.

Video Games

  • In the .hack GU Games trilogy, Sakaki is revealed to be the "controlling giver" type towards Atoli when he crosses the Moral Event Horizon. He even delivers the classic line of accusing his victim of being "all take" and twists the knife in her low self-worth to convince her to only rely on him for emotional support. To put this in perspective, he got his hooks into the poor girl when he met her on a suicide website! What a creep!

Visual Novels

  • Howard and Angelica's relationship functions as an all give and no take relationship in Shikkoku no Sharnoth. Angelica asks for things on a whim, and Howard goes to great lengths to fulfill them. They truly love each other, but all gestures of affection seem to flow in one direction.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • The Nostalgia Chick and Nella. Not even the latter dying and turning evil is enough to make the Chick learn her lesson about treating her better.
    • Subverted in that The Chick actually pays Nella to put up with her.
  • Ask That Guy With The Glasses and his narrator. The narrator puts up with all of Ask That Guy's batshittery and evil with little complaint, and can't even get him to look him in the eyes during sex in return.

Western Animation

  • In South Park, this is the relationship Eric Cartman and his mother have.
  • Bloo in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is not above taking extreme advantage of Wilt's generosity, to the point where Bloo makes him sleep on the floor and let Bloo sleep in his bed.
  • One line from a song in Donkey Kong Country pretty much says it all.

 King K.Rool: "It's great to be a king. I seem to have a knack for taking everything I want and giving nothing back!"

  • Mr. Burns is like this to Smithers on The Simpsons, much of the time. On the other hand, Smithers doesn't seem to mind, since he has an almost pathological need to serve Burns. When his boss fired him, he quickly became a drunken wreck, spending his days drinking cheap Scotch and watching Comedy Central. When Homer accidentally crippled Burns by pushing him out of a third-story window, forcing him to be waited on hand and foot by Smithers, Smithers sent the Simpsons a very large basket of fruit as thanks.
  • This is the main Aesop of the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Sisterhooves Social".

Real Life

  • This is disturbingly common in relationships between caretakers and their wards. The ward is usually disabled or incapacitated in one way or another and therefore dependent on their caretaker for one or more basic needs. This simultaneously gives the caretaker greater ability to abuse and control their ward and get away with it by taking advantage of the ward's inability or limited ability to get help by preventing them from doing so. Also, because caretakers, especially if the ward is elderly or developmentally disabled, are already seen as saintlike for caring for someone who has a strike against them for being seen as a burden, they are less under suspect as likely to be abusing them. Abuse is also most enabled and facilitated if the ward is a child or, if they are an adult, under a conservatorship or guardianship in which the caretaker is their conservator or guardian because then the caretaker therefore has legal jurisdiction to do almost anything they like to their ward, from isolating them to institutionalizing them. It is so common that the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence has published a specialized "control wheel" specifically about power and control tactics commonly used on persons with disabilities by their caretakers.
  • This is all too often the result of a misunderstanding of the "Master/slave" or "Dominance/submission" portions of the BDSM lifestyle, especially as perceived by those who have not been in such a relationship.
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