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Very few people would want to be part of an Arranged Marriage, but it's not all bad. After all, usually your parents are the ones selecting your spouse, and they know you and love you and want you to be happy. Or at the very least, they don't want you throwing a tantrum at the altar and destroying the alliance they've been planning for years. They may have other, higher priorities than your happiness, but your happiness does usually matter. Therefore, there is at least some prayer that your spouse will be someone you could grow to love.

Not in these types of marriages. The people arranging this marriage don't care about your feelings. In fact, they probably don't even know you. To them you're just an ID number that needs to be paired up with another ID number, and you're going to be, whether you want to or not.

Maybe the government needs you to marry someone in order to secure an important alliance. Maybe you're the next link in the super-solider breeding program. Whatever the reason, the powers that be have declared that this marriage has to happen.

A subtrope of Arranged Marriage. Note that whether or not an arranged marriage qualifies for this subtrope depends on who is arranging the marriage and the relationship between the arranger and the people getting married. The person arranging the marriage needs to be an impersonal force, not a close relative. If the King is ordering the marriage of two of his subjects, that may be this trope; if he's ordering the marriage of his daughter the Princess, it isn't. Also note that this can overlap with Perfectly Arranged Marriage: sometimes, the bureaucracy's computer is pretty good at pairing compatible people.

Examples of Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage include:


  • In Demon King Daimao, the government gives one of their agents the duty of arranging a marriage between Junko and Akuto.
  • Code Geass R2: The arranged marriage between Odysseus and Chinese Empress Tianzi.


  • In the movie version of Harrison Bergeron, the government chooses spouses for people in order to increase the odds breeding average children.
  • In the Don Knotts movie The Reluctant Astronaut, the titular character has a hastily arranged marriage so he and his bride can become the first married couple on the Moon.
  • Implied in THX 1138 with the arranged "roommate".


  • In a rabbinic midrash, a Roman matron asks Rabbi Yose bar Halafta what God's been up to since He created the world in six days. He tells her that God's been making matches between people. The matron scornfully claims she can easily do the same thing, and lines up a thousand of her manservants facing a thousand of her maidservants, telling each pair they're to get married. The next day, all her servants come before her with serious injuries, each complaining about the one she matched them with. The matron admits to Rabbi Yose that arranging marriages on such a wide scale is indeed a job for God, not human beings.


  • The Bene Gesserit from Dune arrange marriages for the members of their sisterhood, either to gain influence, cement political alliances, or aid in the breeding of the Kwisatz Haderach. Somewhat subverted in that some of these marriages do turn out well.
  • In David Weber's The War Gods series, the King of the Sothoii has the power to force marriages in cases of nobles who don't have a male heir. It's seen as a last resort, admittedly hard on only-daughters, but worth it in order to insure that the Kingdom isn't destabilized by having important lands and titles fall into dispute.
  • In The Giver, all couples are arranged this way.
    • Though, in this case, some mention is made of how couples are arranged so that the people involved complement each other and work well together, though it's still loveless.
  • All marriages in the Delirium Series are arranged by the government.
  • Implied in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  • In Plato's Laws, this is what happens when they have a fatherless heiress. They even admit:

 And if a man dying by some unexpected fate leaves daughters behind him, let him pardon the legislator if he gives them in marriage, he have a regard only to two out of three conditions - nearness of kin and the preservation of the lot, and omits the third condition, which a father would naturally consider, for he would choose out of all the citizens a son for himself, and a husband for his daughter, with a view to his character and disposition - the father, say, shall forgive the legislator if he disregards this, which to him is an impossible consideration.

  • Similarly, in Plato's Republic, all "marriages" among members of the ruling "guardian" class are arranged by the state. We say "marriages" in quotes, because it appears that these are one-time things rather than permanent relationships. Also, although the selection of pairings is officially either random or the work of the gods, it's actually the philosopher-kings who make the decisions, breeding citizens according to the needs of the state.
  • In the Doctor Who novel Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon, many people on Overindustrialised Future Earth work for faceless megacorporations that "take care" of their employees, arranging their accommodation, education, and, if the Company considers it necessary, marriages. They do try to arrange compatible matches, but probably only because unhappy employees are bad for productivity, and the matching process involves a stack of employee profiles and a computer in the personnel department, as opposed to, say, people getting to meet people. One character recalls agreeing to be married as a condition of his next promotion, and then hearing no more about it until he returned from a business trip to find his new wife waiting for him in the kitchen. At first he's much more interested in his new apartment ect. but as she cheerfully chatters away, informing him that they are likely to be in debt to the Company for the rest of their lives, he notices she's very pretty....Resulting in a Perfectly Arranged Marriage.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Falling Free, the company is trying to breed the newly created quaddies. When a young couple, with a baby, is told whom they are assigned to have their next children, they revolt.
  • Matched: The government controls every aspect of your life, including who you will marry based on compatibility measures.
  • This is one of the life-in-the-future tropes played with in "Tomorrow Town" by Kim Newman. The apparent motive for the murder of Asshole Victim Varno Zhoule is that he had been matched with one of the women of the town by the master computer, even though she was already happily married to someone else, and it's suspected that Zhoule arranged to have the result come out in his own favor.
  • Isaac Asimov had the whole Solarian way of marriage (for a given definition of "marriage") in his Robot books - which impacted in later Empire ones. People were assigned their spouses by a board. And, presumably, a lot of AI. This is a major plot-point in The Naked Sun.
  • In the Deryni novel In The King's Service, King Donal Haldane chooses his loyal human courtier Sir Kenneth Morgan for his ward Lady Alyce deCorwyn. Alyce's parents and brother are dead, and she is a royal ward as the heiress to a wealthy duchy, so she knows that politics is involved and accepts that Donal will decide who she marries.
  • In the second book of The Hunger Games, the Capitol plans to do this to Peeta and Katniss. This is later subverted in the end of the third book, where they voluntarily decide to marry.
  • Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle, the main character faces this dilemma, when the apes begin pairing men and women to become mates. He was almost insulted by this but cooled down when he found science chose for him in Nova, a wild woman who he had already was associated with in the jungle. While their relationship is akin to master and pet, Ulysse engaged in sexual relations with her out of necessity after the apes threaten to give her to another man. Due to her status as an animal he finds it difficult to sympathize with her, taking comfort in Zira a chimpanzee women. However Nova struggles to repress her animal side to become more rational shocking Ulysse. By the end of the book the two have a child and become a true couple.
  • Pets: Bach's Story by Darla Phelps has a Remeik, an alien giant, owning a male human, Aven, for forty years. He has a partner, a female named Obra that was a recent acquisition you is considerably much younger. Despite their ages and predicament they are lascivious in each other's presences.

Live Action Television:

  • In Babylon 5, the Psi Corps arranges marriages between powerful telepaths in order to facilitate the breeding of even more powerful telepaths. If the people involved try to refuse, the Corps is perfectly willing to arrange rapes instead having apparently never heard of in-vitro fertilization and surrogate mothers. Or maybe they're just sadistic.
  • Alien Nation has this as many of the Tectonese were assigned as couples, George and his wife being a pair. Despite the circumstances they grew to truly love each other and start a family.
  • Andromeda has two warring Nietzschean prides: the Sabra and the Jaguar. To end the fighting both leaders agree to have their first children wed. Elssbett Mossadim of the Sabra is to wed Charlemagne Bolivar, but an interesting twist is that she is an assassin sent to kill the Jaguar with a virus. Fortunately the plan does not come to pass after Dylan Hunt manipulates both prides to work together against a common enemy making the union necessary. After the wedding Elssbett finds that Charlemagne pleases her and the two have a child.

Tabletop Games

  • Halruaa of Forgotten Realms, as described in Counselors and Kings. And they for most part really did believe eugenics applied to wizards will improve the situation.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Tau Empire has a system of arranged breeding. Couples are selected on the basis of genetic advantage and sent a summons from a "Procreation Committee" to spend a day together trying to concieve. After conception, both partners will go their seperate ways, and any children from the union will be raised communally by trainers of their caste (though parents may take an interest in and visit the children).


  • Arguably, Hermia's situation in A Midsummer Night's Dream. The original arrangement with Demitrius doesn't qualify, since that was arranged by her father and Theseus was just enforcing the existing law allowing an Arranged Marriage. However, once Theseus expanded his ruling to allow Hermia the option of joining a convent instead, it could be considered this trope.

Video Games


  Chirico : Are you even human?

Diethard : C-Chirico Cuvie!


Western Animation

  • The Simpsons: In the episode where the family joins the Movementarians, there's a group wedding.

 Marge: This is ridiculous, we're already married!

Homer: But Marge, we're not mass married!

Barney and Otto appear

Barney: At least you got to choose your mate, we got matched up on the printout!

Otto: Remember our agreement. I'm the man!

    • And Comic Book Guy is seen awkwardly asking a beautiful redhead (who seems creeped out by him) " you like comic books?"

Real Life

  • Sun Myung Moon matched up many of the couples who took part in his mass weddings.
  • Some cults are known to do this.
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