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File:Romancingthewidow 1769.jpg

Behold the young bride, blissfully happy with her husband (or sometimes not)...until he dies before his time. Now she's single again, but disinterested in romance. Either her former husband was a jerk, and she no longer trusts men, or she loved her husband so deeply that no suitor can compete with his (possibly rose-tinted) memory.

But lo! Enter our protagonist, who wins her heart with his patient ways and teaches her to love again. This is of course a romance trope. Can be a way of bringing in an "older woman" love interest.

Can face complications when dealing with the False Widow.

If it's a Rescue Romance, she's probably also a Determined Widow. See Widow Woman for more widow tropes.

Compare Comforting the Widow, when the lover starts putting on the moves way too early, and the Black Widow, where she's single and there's a very good reason for that.

Word of warning to all time-travelers: This could result in you becoming your own Grandpa.

Examples of Romancing the Widow include:

Anime and Manga

  • Maison Ikkoku, essentially the main plot.
  • Pictured above: Karina from Tiger and Bunny, who has a crush on the widowed lead male Kotetsu, despite him being around twice her age. The scene is from the Grand Finale


  • Elf Quest has two very different examples: Clearbrook's husband One-Eye is murdered during a sneak attack, and their old friend Treestump immediately takes care of Clearbrook emotionally during her Heroic BSOD to make sure she doesn't go insane with grief. When it turns out One-Eye is in a kind of magical coma, Treestump makes sure his friend's soul gets all the closure it needs, and he and Clearbrook gradually become lifemates after One-Eye is put to rest. A second, less conventional example happens when Cutter's family is kidnapped 10000 years into the future (far beyond his own natural lifespan) and he decides to at least keep on living normally for as long as he can. His childhood friends Nightfall and Redlance ask him to become their lovemate and live with them for as long as he wants, because the loneliness would otherwise consume him completely. (Interestingly, Nightfall is the best friend of Cutter's kidnapped lifemate Leetah, and it was thought by the entire tribe that she would end up with Cutter because they were born around the same time. Also interestingly, Nightfall's daughter Tyleet ends up becoming the lifemate of both Treestump's daughter Dewshine and Clearbrook's son Scouter.)
  • The Sin City story A Dame To Kill For has a subplot invovling one of the few honest cops in Basin getting invovled in an affair with a recently widowed Femme Fatale. It ends tragically for him and his partner, whom he kills before committing suicide.


  • In ~Miracle on 34th Street~ she's a divorcee, not a widow, but it's the same principle.
  • Sarah and Hull's relationship is like this in Pale Rider. Sarah's husband dies before the plot begins, but it's implied that she's the "loved her husband dearly" variety of widow.
  • In Finding Neverland, rumors of this arise as a result of all of the time that James Barrie spends with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (a rather scandalous situation, considering that he is married). The reality is a platonic variation, and Sylvia's mother, Emma, is rather annoyed with James because his attentions are keeping this from legitimately happening to Sylvia.
  • The Film of the Book to Flight of the Intruder has a subplot where the main character ends up getting into a relationship with the widow of his bombadier/navigator, who died in the film's opening.
  • In Key Largo, Frank with Nora, although it's mostly on her part. Frank is still dealing with the guilt of surviving the war where his friend - Nora's husband - hadn't.


  • Ista in Paladin of Souls, also by Lois McMaster Bujold; also she does a lot of the romancing herself, being the POV character.
  • Clive Cussler's The Mediterranean Caper. Dirk Pitt does this with Teri von Till, who is still in mourning for her car-racer husband. It later turns out that she's actually an undercover Federal Bureau of Narcotics agent named Amy, so her story may have been fake.
  • Miles Vorkosigan's love interest Ekaterin is widowed in Komarr, freeing her up for Miles' courtship in A Civil Campaign. Given the five-to-four male/female ratio on Barrayar, however, he quickly finds that he is not her only suitor. And given the unstable and classified circumstances under which the husband died, Miles finds himself slandered of creating a widow for himself...
    • And much earlier, in Barrayar, Count Vidal Vordarian had been courting the recently widowed Princess Kareen as part of his scheme to become Regent for Life for her four year old son Gregor. Emperor Ezar saw through him and arranged for his grandson's regency to be assigned to Lord Aral Vorkosigan instead.
  • Somehow subverted in Jorge Amado's novel Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, where the titular Flor is the widow who is eventually romanced, and who has to learn how to open to love again. Of course, things become more complicated, what with the ghost of her first husband coming back...

Live-Action Television

  • In the Doctor Who Series 3 episodes Human Nature/Family of Blood, the humanized Doctor falls in love with a widowed nurse working at the school where he teaches. She remarks at some point that it's not fair how the world expects widows to just disappear after their husbands die.
  • In the British thriller series The Last Enemy, Stephen and his brother's widow, Yasim, fall in love. Things get a bit more complicated when it turns out that the supposedly deceased brother was Faking the Dead.
  • In Single Father Dave and Sarah's burgeoning romance is taut with the presence of Rita's memory and how quickly they seem to have gotten together after her death. Rita was also Sarah's best friend and further complicates things by having a boyfriend at the time when she and Dave first get together.


  • Garth Brooks's "That Summer" is made of this trope. It tells the story of a young farmhand hired by a widow who then falls for him.
  • The Great Big Sea song "Widow in the Window" is about a young bride who refuses to believe her husband died at sea, much to the disappointment of the narrator, who is in love with her.

Video Games

Web Comics

  • Gender-inverted in Something Positive by Davan's parents. Fred was a widower who had lost his wife and son, which didn't stop Faye from falling in love with him. Despite harsh criticism from Fred's side of the family, Faye and Fred got married and had children of their own.
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