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Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,Nameless here for evermore.
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow, vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow -- sorrow for the lost Lenore
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore
—Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven
- a love interest of a prominent character
- is dead (or occasionally just genuinely believed to be dead) before the story begins or dies relatively early in the story
- their death has significant ongoing impact, consequences and relevance for the remainder of the story
Lost Lenores can be divided into two categories.
- Type A: A Posthumous Character like the trope namer, ie, dead before the story begins
- Type B: Dies during the course of the story.
In determining whether a character who dies during a story can be classified as a Type B Lost Lenore, the third criterion above is the most important. In order to fit this trope, the character must have just as much, if not more, importance to the narrative dead than they do alive. For example, Anna in Van Helsing is the hero’s love interest and dies at the climax of the story, but she is not a Lost Lenore as all that happens after she dies is that Van Helsing is cured, lays her to rest, sees her happy with her family in the afterlife and roll credits. She does more for the story alive than she does dead.
It is not uncommon for characters who lost Lenore to become involved in other relationships, particularly if she is a Posthumous Character or the story is part of an ongoing series. However, in order to qualify for this trope it must be clear that the character who lost Lenore still grieves for her, and that subsequent love interests never entirely replace her. It can go all the way to a Love Triangle.
Several other tropes came close, especially Dead Little Sister and I Let Gwen Stacy Die, but the Lost Lenore is differentiated from the former in that romantic love of some sort is the key relationship dynamic and the two don't tend to overlap and the latter in that another character doesn't always hold themselves responsible for her death. She is not a Disposable Woman or Forgotten Fallen Friend or as these characters aren’t necessarily love interests, and/or their death does not sufficiently impact on both characters and the narrative itself.
The Lost Lenore's mode of death can vary but popular choices include:
- The Incurable Cough of Death or other related terminal illnesses - see Mary in Silent Hill 2, Jennifer in 'Love Story', Cathy Earnshaw in 'Wuthering Heights'.
- Death by Childbirth - see Chani in 'Dune', Lilias in 'The Secret Garden'.
- Stuffed Into the Fridge - see Murron in 'Braveheart', the dead wife in 'Memento', Mel Gibson's dead wife in any Mel Gibson movie, ever.
- Heroic Sacrifice - Farah in 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' (along one time stream anyway), Marion in the recent 'Robin Hood' TV series, Lily Potter from 'Harry Potter'.
If she left children behind, said children often have considerable emotional baggage to deal with, including a father (or father figure equivalent) whose grief can render them overprotective or neglectful, or abusive or absent. The child/ren may feel, or even be told explicitly, that they are either too much like the Lost Lenore, or else not enough like them. Angst ensues.
If the Lost Lenore was murdered and Stuffed Into the Fridge, a Roaring Rampage of Revenge usually ensues. Which leads to an crucial identifying point: many Gwen Stacys are also Lost Lenores, but not every Lost Lenore is also a Gwen Stacy, as someone explicitly blaming themself for the Gwen Stacy's death is an identifying criterion for this trope, whereas this is not always the case for a Lost Lenore.
After her death, whether it occurs before the story begins or during its course the Lost Lenore is present in the the thoughts, dialogue and actions of living characters. However she can herself be a dynamic presence within a story through the use of Flashback and or direct interaction with living characters in the form of a Spirit Advisor. Conversely, forces of evil may evoke the memory of the Lost Lenore, or even masquerade as a manifestation of her, in order to manipulate living characters.
Sometimes living characters encounter another living character who for whatever reason strongly reminds them of the Lost Lenore. This new character could be a relative, reincarnation, or even just an uncanny doppelganger. In this instance a romantic relationship may develop, but this is always based primarily on the character's resemblance to the Lost Lenore and, yes, Angst can ensue.
Occasionally, due usually to a dramatic twist Lenore turns out not to be lost after all, or still dead but for reasons or by means other than previously believed by characters or implied in the story. The Lost Lenore can sometimes be unlost through an act of Time Travel or by magic but her death must be treated as a real event within the story, even if the audience knows or characters subsequently discover a twist in the tale, and she must still satisfy the major criteria of having been loved and her perceived loss being of ongoing significance in order to qualify for this trope.
Not to be confused with the comic book character Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl who tends to cause death to other people rather than experience it herself.
As this trope deals in part with characters who die during the course of a story, Here Be Spoilers.
Anime and Manga
- In Kyojin no Hoshi, Ittetsu Hoshi's dead wife/the mother of his children Hyuuma and Akiko is this for him. And his son Hyuuma has the Ill Girl Mina, whose death of cancer marks him a lot romantically speaking
- Cyndia/Cecelia from Yu-Gi-Oh! is unusual in that she does Lost Lenore duty not for a hero of the series but for a villain, Pegasus.
- Lilith certainly seems to qualify as Abel's Lost Lenore in Trinity Blood. Her murder changed his character forever and he mourned her alone in a cave for 'centuries' afterwards. While Abel later forms strong bonds with other female characters, no one else compares to his memory of her.
- Kanan from Saiyuki is Hakkai's Lost Lenore and also his Dead Little Sister AND I Let Gwen Stacy Die In The Origin Story!
- Eliade is this for Krory in D.Gray-man. And Alma was this for Kanda
- Although not confirmed to have died, the original Katsura sister's parents in Hayate the Combat Butler are this to Hinagiku after they abandoned her and her sister before the story started. It's part of the reason that she's so hesitant to acknowledge her true affections for anyone, including her love interest, is because of how much their loss hurt and she's afraid of having to suffer loss again because of it.
- Gundam Seed, in another villainous examle, has the wife of Patrick Zala, whose death in the Bloody Valentine tragedy is seen as the cause for his bitterness and the reason for his increasingly hateful behaviour against the Naturals. Extra bonus poins for even being called Lenore.
- Helena in Gun X Sword is a standard type A. Her death is the cause for Van's Roaring Rampage of Revenge the series is all about.
- Wakaba in Cross Game is an early Type B. The rest of the manga is about Kou and the other characters trying to get over her.
- Saya, in the anime of Black Cat is a type B, similar to the stuffed in the fridge example. You get tiny snapshots of her battle with Creed, but she is only found dead by Train. Train doesn't really recover till the finale until he has a vision/encounter with an almost identical girl that seems to give him the realizeation that she wouldn't want him to grieve and obsess like he is currently.
- Yuria in Fist of the North Star is a subversion of type B. The first major villain holds her captive before she dies, and after about halfway through the series every single new character had something to do with her in his backstory. One guy is her brother, another her half brother, and several others were attempted love interests, including the Big Bad. The last story arc is entirely about her; at the very end she is revealed to be alive.
- Mary Magdalene from Chrono Crusade is The Lost Lenore of not just Chrono (of whom she's also the Gwen Stacy), but also Father Remington. Nearly every twist and turn of this trope is played out in the manga--Chrono meets Rosette and he can't help but be reminded of Mary (and she's hinted to even be a reincarnation of her in the anime), it ends up playing out as a sort of love triangle (in the anime he tells Mary's ghost mournfully that "Rosette's covering your place in my heart"), she's a major driving force behind Chrono's character development, and at one point in the manga Chrono and Remington even end up in a duel where Remington seems to take out his anger over Mary's death on Chrono.
- In Loveless, Soubi's mother, also having suffered Death By Origin Story, is Ritsu's Lost Lenore-- he insists she was "just a co-worker", but Nagisa doesn't think so, and Nagisa accuses Ritsu of taking Soubi's virginity because Soubi looks just like his mother.
- Bleach: Hisana Kuchiki, of the Type A variety. Without her, much of this manga would never have unfolded the way it did as it's the reason for the Byakuya/Rukia relationship and all the consequences that have come from that. Even Byakuya's conflicting vows stem from the fact he married Hisana in the first place because it was the rebellion he caused to both marry her and then adopt Rukia (on her request) that led to his second vow and the start of all his problems that led to the Soul Society arc unfolding the way it did.
- Shito from Zombie Loan's Lenore is his mother who gave birth to him while she was already dead and forced to live with villain Lao Ye. The reason he made the contract with Z-Loan was to give her back her years so she could wake up.
- Tomoe Amamiya and Tiger and Bunny's protagonist Kotetsu were Happily Married with a daughter, Kaede, when she passed away. She is a Type-A Lenore, being deceased since five years before the events of the series. The promise he made to her is one of the two main reasons (the other being wanting his daughter to think he's 'cool') that Kotetsu doggedly continues with his job as a corporate-sponsored Superhero despite having to leave Kaede behind with her grandmother, keep his occupation a secret from her, and endure the manipulations of his money-hungry sponsors.
- Everything Tragic Villain Aki does in Kamisama Dolls is to avenge her dead lover, and her death also weighs heavily on his former friend Kyohei.
- Yui Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Everything Gendo Ikari does stems from her. Mainly to get her out of Unit-01.
- Souichiro, Kyoko's late husband, from Maison Ikkoku. She was very much in love with him, and an unwillingness to disrespect his memory is the major roadblock for Kyoko and Godai's relationship.
- Kikyo from Inuyasha. Her apparent betrayal is a primary source of Inuyasha's initial misanthropy, and his attraction to Kagome initially stems from her resemblance to Kikyo. And then she gets resurrected and it becomes a full-blown Love Triangle.
- Casca from Berserk is this to Guts, and is an interesting zigzagged case throughout. She did not die, but was nonetheless "lost" via a brutal Stuffed Into the Fridge ordeal that left her psychologically gone, making her a Lenore AND an Ophelia. Because the story starts In Medias Res, this technically happens before the story begins during a flashback, not to mention that even though Casca is not dead, Casca has been insane for most of the series and her insanity has played a bigger role in the course of the story than when she was sane, since a) her insanity caused by Griffith violently raping her in front of Guts drove Guts to revenge the most, b) the loss of love and affection that Casca provided Guts constantly anguishes him, and c) the entire drive of the story as of recently is Guts trying to find a cure for Casca's insanity, thus trying to make her "unlost." She's ultimately cured by the Queen of the Fairies, but logically she is still traumatized by the gigantic crap she went through.
- Kye Wol Hyang from Shin Angyo Onshi, who died before the start of the series, but her death was the main reason Munsu was able to fight the big bad, or had the motivation to endure months and years of travel alone, plotting his revenge against Aji Tae. While he didn't stay chaste after her death (A couple of encounters and just at the beginning of the series), he never took another lover and in the end, he reunited with her in the afterlife
- Touch has Minami's mother, who died before the series started. Minami tells Kazuya that her father Toshio is still in love with her and doesn't even seem to think of seeking anyone else.
- The main character of Private Actress, Shiho Kobayakawa, has her First Love Naoya, an Ill Boy who died of AIDS. A whole chapter of the manga is dedicated to their story and how Shiho, despite having a Second Love in Tomoomi, still grieves over his cruel death. She even lampshades it via telling Tomoomi to forgive her for this trope, which he does
- Shelly in The Crow is pretty much THE iconic comic book example of this trope.
- Goldie in Sin City: The Hard Goodbye.
- Valerie in V for Vendetta.
- Hank Pym -- then Ant-Man -- first became romantically interested in young Janet Van Dyne (soon to be the Wasp) because she was a dead ringer for his late first wife, Marya Trovaya, who had been murdered by Communists.
- Some writers like to use Gwen Stacy this way for Spider-Man, even though he actually got over her death fairly soon in the 1970s. Jeph Loeb's Spider-Man: Blue is perhaps the most blatant example.
- Similarly, in Spider-Man: Reign, Spidey is obsessed with the memory of his dead wife Mary Jane. Here the way his perception of her changes over the course of the story ( in the final issue she becomes a source of strength for him, encouraging him to carry on his work, putting off their reunion in the hereafter) is a not unimportant subplot.
- Magneto was shown to obsess about his dead wife Magda quite a bit in a number of stories. When he became ruler of Genosha, he named the main square of the capital after her.
- Captain Atom had his wife Angela, who died of cancer during the eighteen year interval that Cap missed when he was catapulted into the future. To make matters worse, Cap was declared dead in that interval, and she remarried...to Wade Eiling, of all people.
- Marni in Repo! The Genetic Opera.
- The dead wife in Memento.
- Elisabeta in Coppola's Bram Stokers Dracula.
- Shelly in both the comic and movie adaptation of The Crow.
- Murron in Braveheart.
- Satine in Moulin Rouge, on the basis that 95% of the movie is a long flashback with Christian writing an account of how things went down.
- Ellie in Up.
- 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.
- Angier's lust for revenge after the death of his love is what drives the plot of The Prestige.
- A rare male example is Kate's dead husband in A Knight's Tale.
- Another male example: Surprise! Malcolm in The Sixth Sense is his wife's Lost Lenore.
- The appearance of Dr. Harvey's wife in Casper looks like this, when she says she's not a ghost because she accomplished what she needed to in this life; she Ascended to A Higher Plane of Existence.
- Characters in at least two recent Leonardo DiCaprio movies, Inception and Shutter Island
- 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.
- Victoria from The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again.
- 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.
- Unforgiven - Clint 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.
- Dan in Real Life does this rather generically, albeit effectively.
- Hel, Freder's late mother, for Rotwang in the uncut version of Metropolis.
- Helen Kimble in The Fugitive
- Subverted in Vertigo in an increasingly disturbing manner.
- Laura in the 1940s film of the same name.
- Vesper Lynd in Quantum of Solace.
- Sophie in The Illusionist.
- This is given as the protagonist's primary motivation for time travel in the 2002 version of The Time Machine.
- Pretty much any female character in anything by Edgar Allan Poe, as pictured above.
- The Ballad Lenore (1773) by Gottfried August Bürger, which is one of the German ballads translated into English most often and was highly influential on various English-speaking writers besides starting a fashion for gothic ballads in Germany, inverts the pattern: The eponymous heroine is obsessed with her sweetheart Wilhelm, who went off into the Seven Years War and did not return. She begins to quarrel with God, causing her mother to chide her for her blasphemy. But then one night the dead fiancé returns and asks Lenore to mount up on his horse with him...
- Cathy Earnshaw in the second half of Wuthering Heights
- Lily Potter in the Harry Potter series, though not to her son Harry... but to Snape, her Stalker with a Crush and Unlucky Childhood Friend.
- The eponymous Rebecca is an interesting subversion.
- Lilias Craven in The Secret Garden.
- Susan Delgado in Wizard and Glass. Roland continues to mourn for her throughout the remainder of the series, and her memory is also a significant part of the Marvel prequels.
- The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. Times seven.
- Deliciously parodied by Lemony Snicket in A Series of Unfortunate Events where Beatrice serves as this for the narrator.
- Annabell Leigh for Humbert Humbert in Lolita, complete with several references to the original poem. The reason H.H has his "tastes" is his relationship with her when he was a child and she was a child, which ended in the trope. He falls for Lolita because she looks so much like Annabell.
- Poke from Enders Shadow falls under this category, even if not necessarily a love interest to the main character.
- In Powers That Be, the first book of Anne McCaffrey's Petaybee series, the death of Yana's first husband is suggested to be the reason she joined the InterGal's military in the first place (which led to the injuries that led her to be shipped to Petaybee, the company's version of a desk job in a podunk town). Her growing feelings for Sean Shongili bring back memories of Husband #1.
- In Hideyuki Kikuchi's Invader Summer, the main character's abiding love for his deceased not-my-girlfriend is the only thing which keeps him from falling under the spell of the titular invader, unlike every other male who sees her.
- Lyanna Stark in A Song of Ice and Fire, mourned by her ex-betrothed Robert Baratheon.
- Tysha for Tyrion Lannister.
- On the same note, Joanna for Tywin Lannister. Her Death by Childbirth is one of the main reasons Tywin hates his son Tyrion so much.
- Another male example is the titular character's deceased husband in Stephen King's Liseys Story.
- Emily in Jodi Picault's The Pact.
- Manfred takes this trope Up to Eleven.
- Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January novels feature Ayasha, the hero's wife, who died shortly before the beginning of the series. Eleven books and five years later, her (happily remarried) husband still mourns for her.
Live Action TV
- Jennifer Sisko in Star Trek Deep Space Nine
- In Season Three of the recent BBC series Robin Hood Robin Hood may have got another love interest in the form of Kate but the final scene of the final episode affirmed Maid Marian's status as The One True Love.
- However, given the astonishing lack of Angst from Robin after her death, it is arguable that her demise did more for the Character Development of Guy of Gisborne (her killer, who has a Heel Face Turn) than it did for Robin. And all things considered, Marian's death had very little effect on the main storyline of season three in which various characters vie for the position of Sheriff of Nottingham. The BBC really didn't think this one through...
- Sura in Spartacus: Blood and Sand is almost the most classic example of this trope in a TV series since Shelly Webster in The Crow: Stairway to Heaven. Even before the titular hero knows for sure she's actually dead she appears in flashbacks and dream sequences, and after she dies in his arms the closest he comes to a subsequent love interest is a slave he chivalrously does not sleep with, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Sura.
- The fact that he couldn't save his wife from a car wreck is what spurns David Banner to gamma experiments in The Incredible Hulk (the TV series).
- Kate for Neal in the current season of White Collar.
- Jenny Calendar for Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After her death, she's frequently mentioned and seen in flashbacks and dream sequences. Though Giles has other relationships, he never really seems to get over Jenny's death. Also, at different points in the series, both Drusilla and the First Evil use Jenny's form to manipulate and torture Giles and other Buffy characters.
- A case can be argued for Tara fitting this trope for Willow. since in the episode where she and Kennedy kissed, her guilt over being with someone other than Tara actually caused her to accidentally magic herself into looking and acting like Warren. I think that it's safe to say that Tara still fits this trope.
- Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks may not have had an explicit love interest, but she was such an object of fascination and mystery to so many characters, and her murder and the investigation thereof so crucial to the plot of the series, that she qualifies for this trope.
- Trudy in Monk.
- Supernatural has several:
- Mary for all the Winchesters. She's the motivation for much of the first two series and Zachariah tortures her soul ( or an artificial copy of her) because he knows it will upset Sam and Dean.
- Jessica is Sam's Lost Lenore. She appears as a hallucination and in his dreams. Lucifer wears her form the first time he talks to Sam, so that he'll be more convincing ( and possibly for the sake of fanservice ).
- Lucifer also tries a similar trick with his first vessel Nick, who had lost his wife in a violent crime.
- And Bobby has his wife, whose death he has never quite gotten over. It's the motivation for everything he's done and if Bobby is getting an episode in the spotlight, chances are fifty-fifty that his wife will appear at some point. Supernatural loves this trope.
- Inverted in a That Mitchell and Webb Look sketch involving a parody of the film Rebecca. The eponymous Rebecca arrives at her new husband's house only to find out he is obsessed with preserving everything in the house for his second wife.
- Male example - and doubly unique and interesting as he is the Lost Lenore to another male character - Brandon from Season One of The Wire, whose death continued to have ramifications through subsequent seasons.
- Tasha Yar of Star Trek: The Next Generation becomes this for Data, for all he doesn't have feelings. He keeps a hologram of her in his quarters, which becomes a plot point, and becomes friends with her sister and is hurt when she betrays him. Also, he makes an enemy of her alternate timeline half-Romulan daughter, who's appearances serve to remind him of Tasha
- Patrick's wife counts in The Mentalist. Her murder by Red John is what fuels all his actions in the series after.
- Fiona Carter in Spooks.
- It's implied that the Doctor might have at least one of these.
- Anna Grant is this to Kerr Avon in Blakes7.
- David for Ellen in Damages after season one.
- Daniel's death is what prompts Sidney Bristow to become a double agent and kicks the plot in motion in Alias.
- And a pretty similar thing happens to the main character on Nikita. Owen has his own example in Emily.
- John might qualify for Olivia in Fringe.
- Two from Merlin: Freya, Merlin's Girl of the Week who dies in his arms and becomes the Lady of the Lake, and Queen Igraine, King Uther's wife and Arthur's mother. She's a Posthumous Character whose death is the result of a spell that allowed to her concieve, and who kick-started Uther's Roaring Rampage of Revenge against magical users, setting up the main conflict of the entire show (that Merlin has to keep his magical abilities a secret).
- Jessica in Person of Interest is this for Reese.
- Finch seems to be this with respect to his fiancee Grace--he's still alive, but because he faked his death, she doesn't know this.
- Finch also has a non-Love Interest version in Nathan, his friend and business partner and the one who originally championed the idea of helping the numbers on the "irrelevant" list when Finch was willing to ignore them. It's implied that whatever happened to Nathan inspired Finch to take up the helping the helpless crusade.
- Country Music loves to tell stories about people pining for their lost loves; for extra drama, the lost love is often dead to insure that the narrator will never, ever have the resolution they want. In fact, it's a bit of a stock Twist Ending for songs in the genre to reveal that the object of the last three verses' obsession is gone forever. Consider Leann Rimes' "Probably Wouldn't Be this Way" or the Brad Paisley/Alison Kraus duet "Whiskey Lullaby". Of note is that both of the above examples have a woman pining over a man, presumably because it's more poignant to hear a feminine voice sing a dirge, as per the One-Woman Wail.
- In Ludo's rock opera Broken Bride, the main character is obsessed with turning back time to save his wife, who died in a car accident fifteen years before. He cuddles her old clothes, and was generally unhinged by it.
- Lucy Barker in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street except she isn't really dead. Mrs Lovett lied.
- And for much worse, Sweeney kills her without knowing it's her.
- Lily Craven in the musical adaptation of The Secret Garden.
- Angel Dumott Schunard in Rent.
- In addition, April, Roger's old girlfriend who committed suicide on discovering that they had AIDS.
- This is the whole point of Dear Esther.
- In Ghost Trick, The suicide of Yomiel's fiancee Sissel is part of what drove him mad with isolation. He even named his cat after her.
- James's wife in Silent Hill 2.
- Farah in Prince of Persia.
- Mono from Shadow of the Colossus. Bringing her back to life is the entire premise of the plot.
- In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Gabriel's wife Marie plays a role almost identical to Mono's, albeit a bit more involved.
- Depending on the player's actions in Mass Effect, this ends up happening. Liara, in particular, is affected by Shepard's death--though her character development is partially a facade due to emotional trauma and survivor guilt.
- David's wife Laura in the adventure game Gray Matter.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, one of your companions, Boone, recently lost his wife after she was captured by Slavers. He's haunted by his failure to protect her and by the fact that he killed her himself.
- Nicole in Dead Space and its sequel. It's a major plot point in both games.
- Tiffin Wrynn in World of Warcraft, who was killed by a brickbat. A rather ornate memorial is resurrected to her, and Varian spends significant amounts of screen time in lore angsting over her death or talking 'to' her about various things. In Wolfheart, he is shown still blaming himself for the death well over a decade later, and in the leader short story The Blood of Our Fathers, he is shown to carry around her locket as a form of Security Blanket.
- Serah from Final Fantasy XIII, though she has been crystallized instead of killed. It affects every main character, especially Snow and Lightning.
- Xenosaga has both male and female examples of this trope. Shion's Lost Lenore is Kevin, her boyfriend and the scientist originally in charge of the KOS-MOS project, while Jr.'s is Sakura, the Ill Girl whom MOMO was created to look like.
- In The Darkness 2, Jackie Estacado is haunted by eerily lifelike visions of his girlfriend Jenny, who died in the first Darkness game.
- Maria could be considered this to Shadow in Sonic Adventure 2.
- Fire Emblem:
- In the backstory of Fire Emblem Akaneia, Princess Artemis was this for Anri the Hero. In the DS remakes, Etzel has his late wife Ursula.
- Lord Elbert is a rare male version to Lady Eleanora in Blazing Blade.
- In Fire Emblem the Sacred Stones, Orson the Paladin's late wife Monica turns out to be this so much that he betrays Renais in exchange for Prince Lyon bringing Monica back to life.
- Ike and Mist's Missing Mom Elena is this to Greil in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, with a cruel twist: Greil is the one who killed her while in a berserk rage due to the effects of the MacGuffin. Elena willingly approached him to take it back, and forgave him as she was impaled on his sword.
- In the same game, there's Rajaion to Ena. The two were engaged, but he disappeared and was warped by the "feral" elixir to become Ashnard's mount. After Ashnard's defeat, Reyson and Leanne manage to bring Rajaion back to himself...just in time for him to die in Ena's arms.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, Lon'qu's First Love Ke'ri died to save him, and many years later he is still badly traumatized over it..
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses has Glen for his arranged girlfriend Ingrid, after he's murdered in the Tragedy of Duscur. In a way, he's also a family example to his younger brother Felix.
- Exaggerated in The Simpsons episode "I'm Goin' to Praiseland". When Ned Flanders invites his date Rachel Jordan to stay at his house (to sleep in separate rooms, of course), she's skeeved out by all the photos of his late wife Maude, the Maude-shaped bedsheet indentation he preserves with sprayed starch, the robe he hands her, monogrammed with her name, and his calling her "Maude". None of which prepares her for her discovery, upon awakening the next morning, that Ned has cut her hair to resemble Maude's.
- Yue to Sokka in Avatar: The Last Airbender. While he does get a new love interest (who he met before Yue), he also spends a lot of time thinking about Yue, even after he gets together with Suki, as shown by his reaction to her teasing during Ember Island Players. Doesn't help that the moon is brought up from time to time.
- And in the sequel series The Legend of Korra, we have Hiroshi Sato's wife aka Asami's Missing Mom, who was murdered by firebending gangsters. Her death resulted in him secretly supporting the Equalists, supplying them with weapons to fight off benders. Asami, who's dating a Bender and is a very close friend of others (plus hooks up with the Avatar herself at the end), is deeply unhappy and disappointed when she finds out.
- Nora Fries from Batman: The Animated Series, whose demise drove her husband Victor Fries to become the villainous Mr Freeze. This backstory proved so effective that was adopted as the official origin of Mr Freeze, making Nora a Canon Immigrant to The DCU.
- A platonic version occurs with Arcee and her dead partners, Tailgate and Cliffjumper in Transformers Prime and it has be shown to affect her judgement throughout the series when it is brought up or when she faces their killers.
- Voltron: Legendary Defender
- Later in the story Honerva finds a reality where she is this to Zarkon, who never became corrupted by quintessence and was a loving father to their son Lotor. He's even seen telling the young Lotor that Honerva was his one weakness.
- When Takashi Shirogane alias Shiro finds out that his once-boyfriend Adam was killed in action during the Galra invasion of Earth., said lost love becomes this to him.
- Krolia from the Blade of Marmora lost her non-Galra mate years ago. He was Keith's father, who died when Keith was a child.
- At the very end, Allura Ascends to a Higher Plane of Existence to fix all the realities that Honerva destroyed and becomes this to Lance. Subverted in that, according to Word of God, she may be able to return to him later.
- Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, the wife of Edgar Allan Poe and inspiration behind the various Lenore characters he wrote about. She was his thirteen year old cousin whom he married when he was 27, although their marriage was (according to some biographers) never consummated. Poe was more interested in hearing himself talk than having sex. Nevertheless, when she died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty nine, Poe never quite got over it.
- Poe's mother is perhaps the ur-example...an actress abandoned by Poe's father, she died of (assumed) tuberculosis when Edgar was two or three years old. According to some accounts, when she was found, her toddler son was curled up with her, trying to find comfort from her cooling body. (This was after he'd watched her "die" repeatedly as Juliet on stage, only to see her alive and well in the dressing room afterwards...is it any wonder that love, beauty and death got all mixed up in the poor kid's mind?)
- An enigmatic individual by the name of "Sook" was allegedly this to Truman Capote. His last words were "It's me, Buddy." "Buddy" apparently, was Sook's nickname for him.
- Ironically enough, ravens themselves will often form monogamous pairs and become deeply depressed if their partner dies. Possible inspiration for the poem?
- Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe in 1954, but they divorced in the same year. They became close again in 1961, and it was rumored that they might remarry. When she died in 1962, he arranged her funeral and would send half a dosen roses to her grave 3 times a week for the next 20 years until his death. He never remarried or talked publicly about Marilyn or exploited their relationship, unlike others. When he died in 1999, his last words were "I'll finally get to see Marilyn."
- ↑ though until the show introduced Grace, many were sure this trope was being played entirely straight