Arranged Marriage

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Hogarth's Marriage a la Mode


We who are of noble blood may not follow the wishes of our hearts.

An Arranged Marriage is, quite simply, the idea that someone is going to choose your spouse for you.

The choosing process can work in several different ways:

  • In a forced marriage, parents choose their child's future spouse with little or no input from the child and expect them to follow through with it. If the child refuses, she may be punished or even killed. Gets even worse when the groom believes in the custom of Marital Rape License and/or the bride is a child. These are not very common in Western nations today, where an individual's right to happiness outweighs the social and economic interests of the family who might benefit from such a marriage. Historically, though, many marriages were arranged, although in most Western societies the groom, or his parents, arranged the marriage with the bride's parents - and whether the bride had any choice in the matter or not depended on them. Generally the more important the alliance, the less opportunity either of the prospective partners was given to say no.
    • In some cultures, the marriage could go through without the bride's consent. In others (such as Christian Europe), the marriage required the consent of both parties—but in lands where fathers had near-unlimited power over their children (especially their daughters), it was easy enough to force such "consent".
  • In less restrictive traditional arranged marriages, parents may choose their children's respective spouse with input from said children and without the caveat that they have to accept a potential match unconditionally—although the children may be heavily pressured to do so if such a match is especially favorable.
  • Voluntarily, one can hire a matchmaker (or sign up for an online matchmaking service), which will pair the prospective bride or groom with a large list of potential suitors with whom they can freely choose to pursue relationships. These kinds of "no-strings" arrangements are far more popular in Western nations, although those who use dating services may not want to freely admit doing so, since the stereotype is that only workaholics or the socially inept would actually have a need to do so.
  • In Japan, the ancient custom of omiai is a means by which suitable couples are formally introduced to each other by their parents, who sometimes employ a professional matchmaker. Meetings between potential mates are often stiff, formal affairs conducted in expensive tea shops or hotels with the parents of the couple present. (Needless to say, such meetings can be a source of tremendous tension for all involved participants.) In pre-war Japan, arranged marriages were common, a lot more restrictive as far as choice was concerned, and popular among the Samurai Class as a way of cementing familial alliances. In modern times, the heads of rich, high-class corporation-owning families can choose to bind their children to each other in a similarly restrictive way to form powerful economic alliances. There is little the prospective bride and groom can do to get out of such arrangements without causing considerable embarrassment and social turmoil in their own family. (Needless to say, many Anime series will milk this sort of thing for all it's dramatic and/or comic worth.)
  • In the Middle East and South Asia, a more relaxed form of omiai is practiced: the parents' expectation that their children marry is more hinted at than stated, as it is generally disguised as simply inviting "a nice family" or "a good young lady/man from a good family" over for tea or lunch/dinner. The hope is that the prospects will like each other anyway, but occasionally the intended courters can feel pressure if circumstances (money, family honor, social standing, in some cases politics, or the embarrassment of having an unmarried child--especially a daughter--that age) get in the way. Also different from omiai is that it is not a formal introduction, since the families are frequently friends, and occasionally even relatives (an old saying in the Middle East to a woman who has been having trouble getting married is, "well, there's always your cousin"). This custom also exists among Ashkenazi Orthodox Jews (non-Ashkenazi ones are generally culturally Middle Eastern in the first place), although going through a matchmaker is more common.
  • Sometimes the villain (commonly a Lawful Evil villain) may attempt to "arrange" a marriage between himself and the heroine/the hero's love interest. If it is questionable whether the fiance is actually a hero or a villain, the arranged marriage will often take the shape of payment of a debt from the heroine's family to the fiance or fiance's family. Then part of a plot will be a mystery where the heroine struggles to figure out whether the fiance's motives are at root noble or nefarious; a more stubborn, action-oriented heroine may spend a lot of time trying (and failing) to pay that debt before even noticing that the fiance might actually be worth marrying. In more extreme versions the heroine may be a captive or a slave who becomes the legal property of the 'fiance'; again, plucky heroines may spend a whole plot arc trying to escape or earn their freedom before considering whether they actually want to escape. The hero's trust issues become a lot more noticeable in this variant when he is afraid not just of her choosing a rival or running away, but of actually killing him. Generally the conflict cannot be resolved until the heroine finally gets to a position of freedom or power, then has to use it to support or outright rescue the fiance.

The idea of an arranged marriage is anathema to Westerners. "What happened to freedom," they ask, "and what happened to The Power of Love, and True Love's Kiss? People should Marry for Love!" The answer is that this is one situation where it was better to be poor. It's easy to forget that history is by and large written only about the rich, and that in most countries well over 90% of the population were either peasants, slaves/serfs, or dirt-poor townsmen whose lives have for the most part been unexplored (or, in the past, deliberately ignored) by historians. These people didn't have arranged marriages because they had no reason to: they owned no property, titles, or status to hand down, they didn't need to make alliances, and they had no long-held traditions to uphold. The poor married for love or infatuation or to legitimize children (although often their form of marriage was what we would consider cohabitation), but this all happened well under the radar.

For anyone with land, money, wealth, titles or any other inheritance they wanted their children to hold, the Arranged Marriage was the way to go. It was more of a business arrangement: two families would agree to a mutually-beneficial exchange, and seal the pact with grandkids. Compatibility was not disregarded (after all, an alliance works better if it isn't held together by a Crack Pairing), and love was held in high esteem... but it was considered a product of marriage, not a cause, which should be born from long familiarity with one's spouse: Ten Minutes in the Closet, except over the course of a lifetime. (See The Makioka Sisters for an example.) Finally, the Perfectly Arranged Marriage, the love-child of the Arranged Marriage and Love At First Sight, was developed by ancient tropers in acknowledgement of the fact that love is a desirable part of a marriage. But the thing about these arranged marriages was that they weren't between a husband and wife: they were between two families, with the husband and wife simply being the ones who formalize it. Love can be fleeting, but family is eternal and fortune precarious; The Needs of the Many must take precedence.[1]

In most instances where a formal Arranged Marriage is introduced into a plot, it will become a source of tension and contention. Most people don't really want to marry a total stranger (much less have sex with them), and if that total stranger turns out to be a complete rogue and a cad, it may be necessary for the heroes to spring into action and rescue the hapless member of their group who is being forced to walk down the aisle. (Of course, being Big Damn Heroes, they'll have to do so in the most overblown and dramatic way possible.) Sometimes, the person in the arranged marriage takes matters into their own hands and becomes a Runaway Fiance.

Conversely, in a Romance Novel, an Arranged Marriage can be used as a technique to lock the hero and heroine together so that their disputes can not end with one of them washing his hands of the other.

A common tactic is for the daughter of a wealthy but common family to be matched with the Impoverished Patrician, for his title. Occasionally, it's the other way around, with a titled daughter and a moneyed son.

The Arranged Marriage is not to be confused with: a Childhood Marriage Promise (whereby a prepubescent couple voluntarily pledges their own non-legally-binding, future troth); a marriage which may arise out of convenience; or a marriage that arises from some kind of cultural mistake. For clarity's sake, the Arranged Marriage trope will deal only with more binding, traditional types of unions.

See also Parental Marriage Veto, You Have Waited Long Enough, and Old Man Marrying a Child. A Shotgun Wedding is a short-notice forced marriage. If someone agrees to an Arranged Marriage but loves someone else, Courtly Love may be involved. If the people doing the "arranging" in the marriage aren't the parents, that's a Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage.

Often involves Prince Charmless and Rebellious Princess. At least recently, one of the potential spouses was as likely as not to try to defy this. When the audience really doesn't want this marriage, expect the Big Damn Heroes to show up right at the Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace line.

To see the types of follies and foibles associated with modern dating services, see Dating Service Disaster.

Very much Truth in Television for many time periods and even a lot of countries today, though usually without so much drama.

Examples of Arranged Marriage include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • An anime example occurs in Tenshi na Konamaiki, whereby the heroes discover one of their group entangled in an Arranged Marriage from which they must extricate her via a Zany Scheme.
  • Ranma ½'s entire plot revolves around the chaos created by two former training partners determined to force their children to wed, despite the vehement protests of the children in question (and, in the eyes of some readers, despite the ridiculously dysfunctional relationship between said children). Adding even more chaos to the mix is the fact that the son, through no intention of his own, has gathered an Unwanted Harem consisting of a Bifauxnen Unlucky Childhood Friend with an Arranged Marriage (he made a promise to take care of her always as kids, though he didn't remember that, and shortly afterwards his father agreed to engage him to her—and then stole her dowry and Ranma both and ran off, leaving her behind), an Accidental Marriage to a Anime Chinese Girl with large breasts, and a Strange Girl Stalker with a Crush who is enacting her own warped version of a Rescue Romance (he saved her from a fall, having accidentally knocked her off the roof in the first place, so she's decided he's her destined lover).
  • Among the reasons why Urusei Yatsura's Ryuunosuke is sometimes considered the inspiration for Ranma (squabbling father and only child, vicious battles, gender confusion, father's a freaking maniac) is because she also has an Arranged Marriage made between her father and one of his own friends, and thusly a fiance she'd rather do without. In her case, though, she has to deal with a Loveable Sex Maniac Wholesome Crossdresser rather than a Covert Pervert Tsundere.
  • One of the subplots of Gankutsuou: Eug?e de Danglars is initially arranged to marry Albert de Morcerf, but after a scandal in the Morcerf house, her father breaks the arrangement and makes a new one with Andrea Cavalcanti, to her horror.
  • In Macross 7, Miriya unintentionally sets off the series' central Love Triangle by setting up an omiai between her daughter Mylene and Gamlin Kizaki.
    • Then she messes things up again in Encore 2 by trying to convince Mylene and Basara to marry while at the same time she sets up another omiai between Gamlin and Miho Miho, one of the Bridge Bunnies. Of course it's justified that she thought she was dying at the time.
  • When he becomes 30, the mother of Keitaro Sato arranges an omiai for him, to his big chagrin. Turns out the prospective bride is quite appealing to his tastes, and everyone's. And so, Happy Negative Marriage is born.
  • Kaoru Hanabishi and Aoi Sakuraba of Ai Yori Aoshi are matched in an arranged marriage as young children, to cement a relationship between their powerful corporate households. This is an odd example, however, in that like the previously mentioned Gankutsuoh example, the engagement is technically broken off (Kaoru left his family after being orphaned and then terribly abused by his grandfather): the series' drama results from the two main characters genuinely falling in love and still wanting to get married, but not being able to do so for the whole scandal it'd bring.
  • Minamo's parents suggest to her (often) to try a modern arranged dating/marriage in the Azumanga Daioh anime. Fellow teacher, best friend, and pain in the rear Yukari shrugs the idea off and says to just do whatever she wants.
  • Sayaka in Kaitou Saint Tail is trapped in an unhappy engagement that centers around a veil belonging to the other family; if Saint Tail steals it and returns it to Sayaka's fiance, she'll be free to go. The only problem is that Sayaka has a tremendous crush on Asuka Jr. Meimi quickly helps the poor girl anyway, but the situation muddles her feelings even more.
  • Present in the Ero-OVA series, Moonlight Lady: it was originally arranged for Suzuna Kuraki to marry her cousin, Io Azuma. When he grew up to be a "total pretty boy" instead of a "Hunk", it was then decided that she would marry Kouichi Hayama.
  • In the last episode of Doki Doki School Hours Mika-sensei attends an omiai, which leads her students to fear losing her. Without much reason, though.
  • In Maison Ikkoku Shun Mitaka is introduced to his eventual wife Asuna Kujou by way of an omiai arranged by his uncle. He objects strongly to the union, partially because he is in love with Kyouko, but also because of her large number of dogs, which he is deathly afraid of. After accidentally proposing to her due to a misunderstanding, he warms up to the idea a bit more.
  • One story in School Rumble features Harima and Tenma saving Eri from an arranged marriage (mostly by accident).
  • In Ouran High School Host Club, the final arc of the anime shows Tamaki being engaged to a girl named Eclair Tonnerre, which creates havoc in the club. When that becomes an obvious non-starter for everyone involved, the engagement is broken off, but both Tamaki and Kyouya's fathers show interest in marrying their respective sons to Haruhi, the spunky protagonist.
    • An earlier arc also features two students in an arranged marriage to seal a business alliance between their families. It's clear that they love each other, but he thinks he's too dull for her and wants to study abroad so he can become more worldly, and she's hurt because he made the decision without consulting her. Of course, the Host Club can't help but make sure the misunderstandings get cleared up... using the most convoluted means as possible.
  • One episode of Magical Project S revolves around a potential arranged marriage for one of the teachers.
  • In Futari Ecchi, main characters Makoto Onoda and Yura Kawada (later, Onoda) meet in an omiai. They actually like each other so much that they end up Happily Married, and the manga follows them in their daily life and principally in their attempts to improve their sex life.
  • In Basilisk, Oboro Iga and Gennosuke Koga were engaged since childhood as a part of the truce between the Iga and Koga clans. It certainly helped that they came to genuinely like the idea when they knew each other better.
  • In Gundam Seed, Lacus Clyne was in an arranged engagement with Kira's old friend Athrun Zala before falling for Kira. After their break-up and getting together with Kira and Kira's twin sister Cagalli, respectively, they remain friends. At the same time, Flay Alster was engaged to Kira's friend Sai Argyle, and she breaks off said engagement after her father dies to pursue Kira.
  • In Ojamajo Doremi, Aiko's divorced father goes to an omiai with the daughter of his boss, the sweet Midori, much to Aiko's distress since she still hopes to get her parents reunited. Ironically, Kenji wanted to marry Midori because he believed Aiko needed a motherly figure. They don't go through it.
  • Koshiro from Koi Kaze works at a marriage-arranging company and setting up omiais is part of his job. At one point his boss also arranges an omiai for Koshiro himself, since clients would rather be assisted by someone who is married. Koshiro blatantly refuses to attend it though, because he and his sister are hopelessly in love with each other.
  • Yamazaki from Welcome to The NHK unwillingly attends an omiai arranged by his parents. He immediately falls in love with the woman and gets married to her shortly after.
  • In Gravitation, Eiri Yuki is engaged to a young girl named Ayaka Usami, who sincerely likes him and tries to go through the engagement. However, she does realize that it won't be the best option, so she pulls an I Want My Beloved to Be Happy so Yuki can be with Shuichi. After she gets better, Ayaka starts dating Hiroshi Nakano, Shuichi's male Unlucky Childhood Friend.
  • There are two arranged marriages featured in Code Geass:
    • Cool Big Sis Milly Ashford is engaged by her family to Count Lloyd Asplund. She manages to sneak her way out of it. Lloyd doesn't mind. Well, not too much. He was in it for the cool mecha, anyway - Milly's family built and owns the first true Knightmare Frame, Ganymede. He was in it for that alone.
      • Before Lloyd, the Ashfords tried to set Milly up with various nobles in the hope of restoring their status. According to official info, she screws up the dates by acting overly goofy and exuberant and getting the men sick on roller coasters. The novels (authorized but not written by an official writer) say that she simply kicks them in the junk instead.
    • First Prince Odysseus and the figurehead Empress Tianzi of China are arranged to get married by Britannian Prime Minister Schneizel and the Chinese Eunuchs. And the Black Knights use this to stage a Gambit Roulette.
      • After saving the Chinese Empress, Diethard floats the idea of arranging a political marriage between her and one of the Black Knights, which Lelouch mentally admits is not a bad idea; before Lelouch can get a word in edgewise, all of the Black Knights' higher-up female members (except Kallen, who is absent) shoot it down and call Diethard an idiot.
    • Also, in the beginning of the first season Lelouch toys with the idea of marrying his sister Nunnally to his best friend Suzaku, before both guys realise they're each other's enemies.
      • In the pre-series Picture Dramas, Suzaku's father and Japanese Prime Minister Genbu Kururugi attempts to marry Nunnally to... himself, Genbu Kururugi, so that Britannia would think twice about the possibility of invading. Suzaku attempts to change it to himself, because he was disturbed by his 50+ year old father marrying an 8 year old crippled blind girl, but apparently Suzaku, too, had his own arranged marriage, and the Sumeragi clan wouldn't approve Lelouch and Kaguya. When Lelouch finds out, he convinces Genbu and Kirihara, a pair of much older, highly intelligent and vastly more experienced men to let the matter go... completely off screen. Damn.
        • Word of God says he bought them off with information about Britannia's new super-weapon, the Knightmare Frame; still something that would have been cool to see, though.
      • In the Nightmare of Nunnally, manga, Nunnally is set to marry Suzaku so that Genbu can become related to the royal family and have a place in the post-war administration of Japan.
  • Akane-Iro ni Somaru Saka has Yuuhi being arranged to marry Junichi, since Junichi's parents saved her father. Yuuhi doesn't approve of it, but that may change.
  • Domyoji Kaede, the main antagonist of Hana Yori Dango, arranges for both of her children to marry the children of wealthy entrepreneurs in order to acquire their companies for the family's vast corporate empire. When her children Tsubaki and Tsukasa prove to be unwilling, she resorts to less than ethical means to browbeat them into it with mixed success.
  • Konoka Konoe in Mahou Sensei Negima is usually in an Arranged Marriage of some kind, set up by her grandfather. This causes her great annoyance since most of the suitors she's set up with tend to be somewhere around twice her age or older. She generally either turns them all down without a look or runs away and hides till they're over.
    • Recent events imply that another problem with the above mentioned suitors may have been their gender.
    • When Negi Pactios with Fei Ku, she states that he is now "committed to become her groom." She's pulling his leg, though. Chamo comments that FeiNegi is possible, given what his descendant Chao looked like.
  • Ikoku Irokoi Romantan features a wedding aboard a Mediterranean cruise ship, meant to improve relations between two powerful Yakuza groups. The bride and groom have been friends since childhood, and go into the wedding willingly, if not happily. This being a Yaoi title, the unhappy bride throws the groom out of their cabin on their wedding night, and the groom promptly goes off and gets shagged by a hot Italian Seme.
  • In Diamond Daydreams, the main point in Atsuki's story is her struggle against her looming Arranged Marriage.
  • Bubblegum Crisis. Lenna's parents arrange for her to meet a prospective suitor, and she is surprised to find that she actually likes him. But she decides to return to Tokyo to rejoin the Knight Sabers anyway.
  • In Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid Melissa Mao reveals that she joined the Marine Corps after becoming a Runaway Bride from an Arranged Marriage.
  • In Pumpkin Scissors, Alice is engaged to be married to a high-ranking noble named Lionel Taylor. However, this went against her wishes to stay unmarried and continue working for Section III. She was even willing once to go as far as to try and get her fiance to call off their engagement.
  • The premise of Zettai Heiwa Daisakusen, although the people getting married in question set it up themselves to put an end to the war between their respective countries. Hilarity Ensues, surprisingly.
  • The "Flower Festival" arc of Rosario + Vampire involves Mizore trying to escape an arranged marriage with a leader of the powerful "Fairy Tale" group. Hilarity emphatically does not ensue.
  • Haruka in Moyashimon is the daughter of an executive and is in an arranged marriage, with the caveat that she won't have to marry until she is done with the university. Naturally, she intends never to graduate, and an attempt by her father to push matters leads to him and the fiance exposed to point-blank Surstr?ng.
  • Appreantly, the parents of Miyabi "Professor" Oomichi of GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class already arranged her a husband—despite she's only a tenth grader. A later chapter showed that she was not particularly pleased with that, and was glad that the omiai was delayed.
  • Rose of Versailles covers arranged marriages from several angles: Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI wind up kinda ok, little Charlotte... not so much.
  • Narrowly averted in episode 19 of Fushigiboshi no Futagohime when the Evil Chancellor arranged a marriage between Princess Mirlo and the very young son of a rich man. When the father learned the reason was entirely due to the Water Drop Kingdom being broke, the father called it off.
  • Otoyomegatari starts with one between the two main characters. They get along pretty well despite the fact she's from another culture, making her a Tomboy compared to the other women, and there being an eight year age gap between them (she' 20, he's 12).
  • Less prominent, but the OAV Tenchi Muyo! storyline features Aeka betrothed to Yosho; she's happy with the idea (until she falls into Tenchi's Unwanted Harem, of course).
  • Hayate the Combat Butler has both an arranged marriage and a omiai set up:
    • Nagi and Wataru are arranged to be married, presumably for the Sanzenin fortune. While Nagi and Wataru are antagonistic to the idea, both are 13, and show signs that there are the beginnings of love between them, hinting that they might not be entirely opposed.
      • Since Nagi no longer will be the inheritor of the Sanzenin fortune, whether it still stands at all hasn't been touched on.
    • Saki and Kaoru are set up on a omiai by their families. Both admit to being interested in other people, so nothing comes of this.
  • In Fairy Tail, this turns out to be the cause of the events in the Phantom arc, as Lucy's father hired Phantom to bring her back home just so he could have her take part in one of these. However, Lucy did come back...to tell him where he could stick it.
  • Gankutsuou: Several plot points revolve around these, which are apparently common amongst futuristic aristocrats.
  • Sachiko and Suguru have an arranged marriage in Maria-sama ga Miteru. Given that they're both cousins, and their family is incredibly rich, the marriage is to ensure the family business remains in the family. It's eventually called off.
  • Featured between Nozomu and Miu in Stepping on Roses (Hadashi de Bara wo Fume), which is likely a source of their dysfunction. Since protagonist Sumi and male lead Soichiro both marry for money, however, they're not that much better off to start with.
  • In the Amagai filler arc of Bleach, Lurichiyo, the heir to the Kasumioji clan, is set to mary Shun. One of her friends has a similar arrangement, which she is not very happy about, and arranges to meet Lurichiyo and her other friends one last time before she's married.
  • Childhood friends Wako and Sugata are in an arranged marriage in Star Driver.
  • In The Secret Agreement, Iori is the heir to an Impoverished Patrician family and has to marry into wealth. He doesn't see his marriage as an obstacle to his relationship with his lover, Yuuichi, simply because it's always been a fact of life and he doesn't feel he has to love his wife.
  • In Mens Love, Daigo's father tries to force him into a marriage that will be favourable for the Mercury company, to the extent of bribing and threatening Daigo's lover to break up with him.
  • In Happy Yarou Wedding, Kazuki shows up at his brother's doorstep claiming he's there to drop off marriage candidate portfolios for him. When Akira confronts his father about trying to arrange a marriage for him his father replies that he knows better than to try to interfere with his life and that the candidates were actually arranged for Kazuki, not Akira.
  • Ciel and his cousin Elizabeth in Black Butler have been engaged since they were young. While they aren't going to actually marry anytime soon, it doesn't stop Elizabeth from pouring her affections onto Ciel.
  • The plot of Flower Flower revolves around a princess arriving in a country to be arranged to a prince only to reject him as he's a Wholesome Crossdresser. She chooses his younger sibling instead, unaware that she's marrying another woman.
  • Jenny Doolittle of Bodacious Space Pirates is set up in an arranged marriage, as much to prevent her from gaining control of her family's shipping firm as to solidify an alliance. She shoots her way out of it, then hires the Bentenmaru to get her to safety.

Comics[edit | hide]

  • Starfire (Princess Koriand'r) of DC Comics has twice been married to men from her home planet and both times she went through with the marriages to satisfy family and political obligations. The first time this happened, Starfire was romantically involved with Robin (Dick Grayson) and she didn't understand why Grayson was so upset. She said that in her culture, marriage was merely a social obligation; she did not believe that her marriage to another man should interfere with her romantic relationship with Grayson.
  • Karolina and Xavin are brought together by one of these in Runaways. This might've been tricky to do as Karolina is a lesbian... but Xavin is a shapeshifting Skrull and can get around this problem.
  • In Usagi Yojimbo, the series' premiere Action Girl, Tomoe Ame, is currently roped into an arranged marriage engagement by her young lord who gets talked into by a villainous adviser on the idea that she should be happy. Whether that kid will realize that he should have had the simple logic and decency to ask if she wanted it (she does not, but is too loyal a proper samurai to protest) is unanswered for now.
  • In the recent Secret Invasion: The Inhumans storyline, the Inhuman Queen Medusa needs an alliance with Ronan, the ruler of the Kree Empire. He demands Medusa's sister Crystal as his bride. Over Crystal's objections, Medusa agrees.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog comics, Princess Sally's parents were the result of an Arranged Marriage, but they're happy together. Sally's father on the other hand tried to set up an arranged marriage between Sally and her fellow Freedom Fighter Antoine D'Coolette. She wasn't thrilled about the idea, but went through with it because she felt it was her duty. The groom turned out to actually be Antoine's Evil Twin, however, and the marriage was hastily annulled.
  • In Scion, King Dane arranges for his daughter Ylena to marry King Bron in order to end the war between the kingdoms. What no one knows, however, is that "Dane" is actually Mai Shen in disguise and the real Dane has been abducted.
  • In the shortlived Furry series, Tales of the Fennick, the series began with a prologue story with a mother telling her story to her children about how as a girl she was being maneuvered for an arranged marriage by her parents who were losing patience with her continually and defiantly exercising her lawful right to refuse the beaus they are offering. However, she found her last beau is actually no more enthusiastic at their meeting than herself. However, a combination of the boy showing that he is a genuinely kind and charming fellow and the chance meetings with gossipy friends who assume they are engaged puts them in an awkward position as they are both growing to like each other. In response, make a secret pact to stall any wedding plans by pretending to have a long engagement so their friends and family will leave them alone. As it is, the mother admits to her daughter that this was simply a mutual rationalization to allow them both to submit to social expectations while feeling that they have some free choice in the matter since they married in the long run. At this, the young daughter playfully declares she is not going to marry, but become a soldier like her father. The mother humors her about this in the prologue story, but in the series proper, the mother is shocked to learn that her now adult daughter is now an even more strong willed, if more quietly defiant, girl than herself who is still serious about following through on that intention and imitating her mother's self-deceptions is not going to be enough for her.


Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • More popular than it has any right to be in Harry Potter Fan Fiction, in which it's frequently used as a contrived device for hooking up two characters who wouldn't otherwise give each other the time of day. Usually, it takes the form of a Ministry decree that all purebloods must marry a muggle-born, causing either a) Lucius Malfoy to purchase Hermione Granger's contract for his son, or b) Severus Snape to do the same to "save" her from the previous.
  • It's also very popular in Lord of the Rings fanfiction, especially to get a Mary Sue together with Legolas, or to give her something to spunkily run away from... straight into Legolas' arms.
    • Some fans tend to believe that the higher class Hobbit families (mainly Brandybuck and Took) marry through arrangements, which is a good way of adding fanfic drama. This belief seems to come from the fact that Merry is an only child, Pippin has three older sisters and no brothers, and only one child of his own (a son), which could suggest that the parents simply get separate bedrooms once an heir has been born. There is, however, no indication in Tolkien's work that this is actually the case.
  • In Sweeney Todd fanfiction (yes, it exists), Benjamin and Lucy Barker are sometimes said to have had an arranged marriage, which is odd as (a) arranged marriages were nearly kaput by the nineteenth century, (b) it seems unlikely that Lucy's parents would aim no higher than a barber, and (c) the way the man who used to be Benjamin remembers Lucy gives every indication of it having been a love match. Of course, the arranged marriage is often used to undermine their marriage in a case of Die for Our Ship.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Fanon has an arrangement called j'fallen in the Trill culture. The Symbiosis Board itself occasionally sets up two Joined Trills for marriage on the justification that their children will be of better stock and more likely to be among the Joined elite of the society. How well it works Depends On The Author.
  • Heavily implied by Gratuitous Japanese and a conversation with a character's father in Kyon: Big Damn Hero. Between Kyon and Tsuruya.
    • Confirmed, and Kyon and Tsuruya now realize. They're not too happy.
      • Unlike most examples however, the main reason they are not happy is that they both realize what will happen when Haruhi finds out. Turns out, she isn't near as angry as they thought she would be and Kyon and Tsuruya come to terms with their engagement.
  • Some fanfics of The Legend of Zelda use the concept in various ways. Those who like the Link/Zelda pairing may use it to get them together, such as having him be the long-lost prince of another country or having him save her from an arranged marriage she doesn't want. Those who prefer other pairings may use it as a way of ensuring that Zelda is taken out of the pool of available persons.
  • Naruto fanfics tend to use this for Hinata, often to get her together with Neji (and potentially as a way of explaining why she is not with Naruto).
  • There's a complicated example in Through a Looking Glass Darkly: Jack was genuinely in love with Grace. Then his parents brainwashed her into being someone more suitable. By the time we catch up to them, he's given up on getting the girl he fell in love with back, and considers his engagement with her to be purely politcal and arranged by his parents.
  • In the Code Geass Fanfic Dauntless, Lelouch is forced into one with a noble girl named Abigail after being discovered and brought back into the Royal Family. Surprisingly, she ends up turning into quite the Ensemble Darkhorse.
    • Schneizel was also supposed to marry a European (what specifically, not noted) noble, but he keeps putting it off because he knew there would be no real point to it as Britannia was going to attack the EU eventually.
  • In One Piece Parallel Works, Aki is in an arranged marriage, which fuels the events of the Noblesse Oblige Saga.
  • In the How to Train Your Dragon fanfic "Crash Courses in Marriage," Hiccup and Astrid are roped into an arranged marriage. To their parents' credit, they thought the kids wouldn't have any problem with this considering their big public smooch at the end of the first story. As it is, they are not enthusiastic at all at being forced, but admit they are each other's best choice in better circumstances and decide to cooperate.
  • In the The Tainted Grimoire, this is part of the plot of the St. Galleria arc.
  • In the Death Note AU Dark Fic The Faceless Light's parents arranged it so that he would marry Misa for her fortune.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Fiddler on the Roof took place in an early 20th century Slavic Jewish community where Old Traditions (Arranged Marriage) were rapidly clashing with New Ideas (marrying for love). The practice was to keep marriages within the Jewish community, but the musical points out that this is why the system fails.
    • Tevye and Golde's duet Do You Love Me? addresses the belief that an arranged marriage can ripen into love, while Matchmaker, sung by the daughters, addresses both the pros and cons of arranged marriages.
  • Corpse Bride's main character Victor was engaged to Victoria Everglot by their parents, because she's the daughter of a poor nobleman and he's the son of a nouveau riche fishmonger. It's an ideal match in that respect, but they both feel nervous about whether they're going to get along. As it turns out, it's a Perfectly Arranged Marriage and they're attracted from the first meeting. Of course, he then runs out of the wedding rehearsal in a wretched fit of anxiety, and accidentally gets engaged to a zombie, but it works out eventually.
  • Spaceballs: "Excuse me, I'm trying to conduct a wedding here, which has nothing to do with love!"
  • Pick a Bollywood movie. Any Bollywood movie.
    • Yes, but arranged marriages have been common in India for centuries now, and it's only recently that Indian parents are moving away from this. That said, most couples still need parental permission. In some of the movies, this is actually subverted, as some have them get married by arrangement first and fall in love later.
      • ...And, since "marriage first, love later" is how an Arranged Marriage is supposed to work, those "subversions" are actually playing the trope straight. (It's only us Westerners, with our blind assumption that love has to come first, who see it as a subversion.)
  • Ever After involves an arranged marriage between Prince Henry and a princess chosen by his parents. Both Henry and the bride are in love with other people; the bride sobs loudly throughout the ceremony, ultimately prompting Henry to call off the wedding so they can both be happy.
  • Mulan begins with her trip to a matchmaker in hopeful preparation for an advantageous marriage. Naturally, this ends in disaster, setting Mulan up nicely for The Call which comes a few hours later (and for the love match that eventually results).
    • In the direct-to-video sequel, Mulan II, she and her friends are given an Escort Mission to conduct three princesses to their intendeds.
    • At odds with Western ideals, the girls don't object to their arranged marriages, though they all end up in conventional romances and (presumably) marry for love.
  • In The Princess Bride, after the supposed death of her true love, Buttercup is forced to marry Prince Humperdinck. At first she's resigned to go along with it, but she eventually plans to kill herself after the ceremony.
  • In Masaki Kobayashi's Samurai Rebellion, the son of a prominent samurai is ordered by his daimyo to marry a concubine who has fallen from favor. At first, he objects, but as in some of the other examples on this page, the couple eventually find happiness. Later, the daimyo's primary heir dies and he demands the concubine back. The samurai (played by Toshiro Mifune) refuses, as he wants his son to have the happiness he was denied in his own loveless Arranged Marriage. This ends about as well as you'd expect.
  • In The Karate Kid II, it's revealed that Mr. Miyagi left Okinawa so he wouldn't have to fight his best friend over his friend's bride-to-be, with whom he'd fallen in love. Miyagi discovers that his first love has refused her family's arrangement and remained single, awaiting his return. Now if he'd just left an address, she could have written and told him so saving them both a lot of time. (Of course, one scene in the first movie indicates that Miyagi was a widower, so that might not have worked...)
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail features an attempted arranged marriage between a noble's son and a maiden with "huge...tracts of land." When the son protests he'd "rather...just...sing," his father attempts to substitute Sir Lancelot, who arrives on the scene believing he's rescuing a beautiful girl instead of the son.
  • Many of the works of Yasujiro Ozu, considered to be one of the three undisputed masters of Japanese Cinema, deal with this, including his famed "Noriko" trilogy: Late Spring, Early Summer, Tokyo Story.
  • Given measured historical treatment in Perfume. Nobleman Antoine Richis arranges the marriage of his daughter to a wealthy, handsome, and good-natured nobleman he knows well. His daughter protests that she doesn't know if she loves him, but ultimately bends to her father's wishes.
  • The 2004 Czech film, Želary, puts an interesting spin on this trope. The main character, Eliska, works for an underground resistance movement in the Nazi-occupied city of Prague, Czechoslovakia. When her conspirators are captured, the resistance sends her to a remote mountain village with a new identity to hide from the Gestapo. To keep her under the radar, she is ordered to marry one of the local farmers to avoid attracting attention. She is understandably pissed off about this arrangement and acts coldly towards her intended. Of course, the man she marries is quiet, kind and chivalrous, so there's only so many directions that their relationship could go.
  • This trope is the entire driving force behind the plot of Eddie Murphy comedy Coming to America. Finding that his parents have arranged for him to marry a hopelessly servile young woman who has been trained all her life to mindlessly obey him, Prince Akeem devises a scheme to travel to the United States (under the pretense of "sowing his royal oats") and find a bride who will love him for who he is and not for his royal status.
  • In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Jen was in one of these, much to her dissatisfaction and her lover's ...
  • The movie Arranged is about two school teachers, one Jewish and other Muslim, who become friends by sharing the highs and lows as their families arrange their marriages.
  • In Alpha and Omega, Kate is to be married to Garth, to prevent war between rival packs. That plan is disrupted when she and her omega friend, Humphrey, are darted and relocated to a distant American park. As the pair struggle to get back to Jasper, Garth inadvertently falls for Kate's omega sister and thus both are in an awkward situation when Kate returns. Even though both confess their true feelings with Lily's sister perfectly willing to substitute for Kate, the packs don't accept this and go to war that sparks a caribou stampede that threatens the pack leaders, but Kate and Humphrey's rescue of them convince them to change their minds.
  • In East Is East, it's George's repeated attempts to arrange marriages for his British-born sons that finally causes their Culture Clash relationship to boil over.
  • In Avatar, Neytiri is the daughter of the chief and the priestess. She is to be the next priestess and must bond with the next chief, who is supposed to be Tsu'tey. Naturally, when he finds out she slept with Jake Sully, he's not pleased. They do mend fences later, though, and Tsu'tey names Jake his successor as chief before dying, preserving the tradition.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • As noted in the Film folder, Buttercup and Prince Humperdinck in The Princess Bride. It's a bit more complex in the book, since in order to be eligible to wed the prince she has to be made a princess and sent to royalty school.
  • There are vast numbers of historical romance novels built around this plot.
  • Jelka Tolonen in David Wingrove's Chung Kuo series has been arranged to marry the son of her father's life-long friend
  • In the Chivalric Romance Havelock the Dane, the Princess Goldborough is married off to a kitchen boy, because he is a strong, handsome, and impressive fellow, and her guardian had promised to marry her to the best man he could. Unfortunately for the guardian, he was also the rightful king of Denmark in hiding. Once he claimed his throne, he brought his army to claim hers, as well.
  • In David Eddings' Belgariad, the Accords of Vo Mimbre degree that an Imperial Princess shall marry the lost heir of Riva when he finally returns as prophesied, a prophecy the secular Tolnedrans don't believe in. Centuries later Princess Ce'Nedra finds out that she's going to get stuck with the bill, which just came due. Fortunately, the two kids eventually fall in love anyway.
    • Very fortunately, since Ce'nedra has accepted that she's not going to get to choose who she marries. In a rather moving explanation, she says essentially "I'm an Imperial Princess, an asset of the House of Borune. I won't get to choose my husband, I'll be married where I can best serve the House. I've known this all my life."
    • The Belgariad plays with this trope a lot, probably because it focuses on the doings of kings and lords. Large portions of the prequel novel Belgarath the Sorcerer have him running around brokering arranged marriages in accordance with divine plan. But things generally work out for the couples because Destiny grants happiness to people who accept their fate.
    • Less prominent in the sequel series to the Elenium, the Tamuli, but mentioned. The Emperor of the Tamul empire has nine wives, one from each kingdom that makes up the empire. He and his first wife were married when they were children.
  • In Teresa Edgerton's Celydonn series:
    • The Grail and the Ring: Princess Tinne was forced into marrying one of the Sons of the Boar (who faked an omen to pressure her into agreeing to it).
    • The Moon and the Thorn, Lord Macsen makes it a condition of his support that Mahaffy Guillyn marry his daughter Tiffanwy.
  • In Barbara Hambly's Circle of the Moon, it is mentioned that Raeshaldis (known simply as the Eldest Daughter in her own family), ran away from an Arranged Marriage to study Functional Magic. She is not happy to learn that one of her younger sisters -- much younger—now looks like being forced into the match instead.
  • In Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings sequence:
    • In the Farseer trilogy, Verity, the second son of the ruler of the Six Duchies, has an Arranged Marriage with the only daughter of the ruler of the Mountain Kingdom. The arrangement gets off to a very bad start.
    • The sequel trilogy The Tawny Man features another Arranged Marriage between Verity's son Dutiful and Elliania of the Outislands.
      • Both of those marriages actually turn out quite well, actually. A more realistic instance is the web of custom relating to marriage-based alliances among the Bingtown and Rain Wild Traders, who often pressure their children to make advantageous matches. Though no main character is ever involved in one, several are threatened with the possibility on occasion.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones' Castle in the Air, Prince Justin of Ingary ran away from such a marriage with the Princess Beatrice.
  • In William King's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Wolfblade, Ragnar is told how the Navigators marry: to whom they are told to marry.
  • In the Liaden Universe books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, aligned clans Korval and Erob trade off having members of their clans marry each other every other generation or so. Val Con was technically one of those promised to marry someone of Erob. However, he disappears for many years and ends up marrying on his own an ex-mercenary he meets on another world altogether. As it turned out, her grandmother is a lost member of Clan Erob, who shipwrecked while pregnant and never returned home. It's pointed out that had Val Con known he was doing what he was "supposed" to do, he certainly wouldn't have done it!
  • In CS Lewis's The Horse and His Boy, Rebellious Princess Aravis's Wicked Stepmother had arranged a marriage for her to get rid of her and win power within Calormen (the fiance was a high-ranked Smug Snake). She was at first Driven to Suicide, but after her mare Hwin talks her out of it, her inner Tsundere kicks in and she and Hwin run away to Narnia.
    • In that same book, Queen Susan the Gentle and her younger brother King Edmund the Just travel to Tashbaan (the capital of a neighboring kingdom) to consider an offer of marriage to Susan from Crown Prince Rabadash. She ultimately doesn't want to marry the Prince, having seen his true colors, but Rabadash plots to force her go through with it anyway. They escape back to Narnia, and when Rabadash attempts to seize her by force he ends up failing in the most humiliating way possible.
    • Also, when Aravis ends up in Tashbaan she meets up with her best friend Lasaraleen, who has already married a wealthy nobleman and it's hinted it was an Arranged Marriage as well. Unlike Aravis, though, Lasaraleen doesn't seem to mind.
  • George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series includes several, as befits a fantasy series with somewhat higher pretensions to historical accuracy than the average. The first volume devotes much effort to contrasting the marriage of Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully with that of Robert Baratheon and his queen Cersei Lannister; while both were arranged to form political alliances, the former grew to love each other and build one of the least dysfunctional families of the series, while the latter shared a mutually abusive and adulterous relationship. Somewhere in between we find the marriage of Daenerys Targaryen and the barbarian warlord Khal Drogo, which grows from something terrifying if not outright abusive into mutual respect and considerable passion. The series being what it is, however, there's a good chance for all of these to end badly.
    • End badly? I'll say - all three men are dead by the end of the first book...
    • Considering much of the plot involves lords and kings squabbling over territory and alliances, this is used constantly as a plot device, with varying degrees of cooperation from the individuals involved.
    • It should be noted that any marriage agreement, instigated for any reason whatsoever, will find a path to lead directly to bloodshed. Backing out and sending the other party into a tiff, calling the heirs' legitimacy into question through sneaking around, sitting next to your wife just in time for the Gambit Roulette wheel to clunk into place... The only exception is Ned and Catelyn...except for the little fact that Catelyn's other suitor was Petyr Baelish.
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's The Bell At Sealy Head, Princess Ysabo is told she will marry a knight, and when she asks why she must, the knight hits her. Her servant is distraught—that she would question it.
  • Rhian's proposed marriage to Lord Rolf in Karen Miller's Godspeaker Trilogy, which just allows the High Priest Marlan to run the kingdom by proxy. Rhian, of course, has other ideas.
  • In Andre Norton's Witch World series, Arranged Marriages are the norm for the nobles of High Hallack. The parties are married by proxy when one or both are young children; they may not meet until it is time for them to begin living together, usually when the younger member of the pair is about sixteen.
    • The short story "Amber Out of Quayth": Ysmay's marriage is arranged as part of a deal with an amber trader, as her dowry is an amber mine that her family hasn't got the resources to exploit. She accepts the arrangement because it isn't very different from what she could have expected if a war hadn't resulted in a glut of unmarried women on the market.
    • The Crystal Gryphon: Kerovan's marriage with Joisan is arranged at the beginning of the book, when they are both children; his father wants to safeguard Kerovan's position and make it clear that his son will be his heir, while her family has received a prophecy that the wedding is necessary for Joisan's future. Incidentally, it is made clear, after one of Joisan's cousins falls in love with her when she is grown, that while the right of bride refusal exists (so that Joisan could refuse to complete the contract), that exercising such a right invariably brings about a blood feud between the families involved, so in practice it is not used. Joisan is very angry when accused of encouraging the cousin.
    • Year of the Unicorn: the terms of the Were Riders' treaty with the Dalesmen in the Invaders' War was that in exchange for their help, they would receive thirteen brides of noble birth, to be delivered at the beginning of the Year of the Unicorn. One of the girls volunteered, since various powerful lords would be obligated to help her family afterward, but none of the other girls had a choice.
  • Many of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael novels have this as an element of their romantic B-plots, reasonably enough, considering they're set in a time and place when arranged marriages were closer to the norm than the exception for anyone in the merchant class or higher.
    • The Devil's Novice: Meriet Aspley's elder brother is about to conclude an Arranged Marriage contract with a neighbouring landowner's daughter, with the ceremony taking place late in the book (since it provides an excellent means of putting all the suspects in one place). Fortunately, Meriet's brother and the girl are in love.
    • An Excellent Mystery: Brother Humilis arranged a marriage for himself with a very young girl prior to going on Crusade, since he knew he'd be gone for years and wanted to have children. However, when he returned, he entered a monastery rather than completing the contract. She then supposedly entered a convent; the plot is set in motion when it is realized that she never arrived at the convent.
    • The Hermit of Eyton Forest: The boy's grandmother is trying to force him into an Arranged Marriage with the grown daughter of a neighbouring landowner. Neither potential spouse is keen on this.
    • One Corpse Too Many: Hugh Beringar and his betrothed are on opposite sides of a civil war; she is trying to escape from Shropshire and the marriage, while he is trying to find her.
    • Dead Man's Ransom: The young Welsh hostage Hugh hopes to exchange for a captive Sheriff Prescott has been betrothed to a girl 'who is very well indeed and if I must, she'll do.' from childhood. Then he meets the Sheriff's beautiful daughter....
    • The Leper of St. Giles: A beautiful young heiress has been forcibly betrothed to a much older baron by her abusive guardians. They know about the handsome young squire who loves her, but they don't know that her long lost grandfather is hovering nearby, determined to see his grandchild happy.
    • Summer of the Danes: Heledd has been betrothed to a man she's never seen by Owain Gwynedd. She, however, is determined to take her fate into her own hands and that includes marrying a man of her choice.
  • In Jennifer Roberson's Chronicles of the Cheysuli, the protagonists are attempting to fulfill a prophecy that requires a child with certain bloodlines. Consequently there's, on average, about one arranged marriage per book, some of which work out and some of which...really don't.
  • Meghan Sayres' Anahita's Woven Riddle is about an Iranian girl who defies a traditional arranged marriage by declaring that she will only marry the one who solves the riddle she weaves in her carpet. The winner is the first man she meets other than her Unlucky Childhood Friend.
  • This is played around with in War and Peace, given that the financial future of the Rostovs seems to depend on whom their children marry. There is a short-lived conflict between Nikolai and his parents when he chooses to marry the nice (but technically poor) Sonya, but he had to do a lot of "should I go for personal happiness or the happiness of my family" soul-searching first.
    • The fact that Nikolai ends up with the wealthy Maria would indicate that he ultimately chose the latter; however, there was an attraction between them from their first meeting, and the Distant Finale portrays him as honestly in love with her. It is of course perfectly possible to fall in love with a 'Good' match.
  • Nearly every marriage in Lin Yutang's Moment in Peking is arranged.
  • In Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles, this pops up twice. First, in Dealing With Dragons, Princess Cimorene's parents try to pawn off their difficult daughter on the braindead Prince Therandil and tell her she has no choice; Cimorene runs away instead. In the next book, Searching for Dragons, King Mendanbar of the Enchanted Forest finds himself eternally arguing with his steward, who pressures him to get married to ensure an heir. Three guesses who ends up married to whom, and the first two don't count.
    • In Wrede's The Seven Towers, Prince Eltiron's domineering father betroths him to Princess Crystalorn from a neighboring kingdom. Both characters are horrified by the idea, but once they meet and survive the book's plot together, they rapidly slide into a Perfectly Arranged Marriage.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's A Princess of Mars, having captured Dejah Thoris, the Jeddak of Zodanga insists on her marrying his son as the price of peace with Helium. Her grandfather rejects it.
  • In Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series it is several times explained that elite women are expected to marry where suits their menfolk's interests without complaint. Some of these marriages are disastrous, others work out quite well. Nor are the girl's feelings invariably ignored.
    • One of Julius Caesar's reasons for breaking his Julia's engagement to Brutus is he's become aware that she does not love him, and happily she does have a crush on Pompey who's an even better political match. Years later young Octavius includes his sister's liking for the man on his list of reasons for accepting the suit - admittedly after the political and financial qualifications have been considered.
  • Somewhat averted in the Judge Dee series. Though arranged marriages were the rule in Ancient China the Judge encounters a truly amazing number of couples making love matches - sometimes with his assistance. "I'd better resign as a magistrate and set up business as a professional matchmaker!" he grumbles in The Haunted Monastery. In all fairness genuine Chinese literature shows that love matches were not out of the question, providing one had the good sense and good taste to fall in love with a suitable person.
    • This cultural ambiguity is lampshaded by Judge Dee's own household. His marriage to his First Lady was arranged; his marriages to his Second and Third were not.
  • The book Serving Crazy With Curry presents two more modern approaches to this trope- a) the protagonist's older sister asks her parents to arrange a match when she becomes disenchanted with dating (the resulting match is less than successful), and b) the protagonist's grandmother decides to help her by finding some appropriate Indian men to present to her.
  • Jane Austen's books are full of references to this trope. The older generation usually sees it as the norm, with the younger generation finding it ridiculous. Arranged marriage is out; love is in!
    • Sense and Sensibility: Edward's mother arranges a marriage for him with the rich Miss Morton. He refuses, so he is disowned, and an Arranged Marriage between Miss Morton and his brother Robert is put on the table. The heroine Elinor wonders, to her brother's disbelief, if Miss Morton gets a say in this. Colonel Brandon's Backstory also includes him and his first love being separated by an arranged marriage.
    • Pride and Prejudice: Lady Catherine claims she and her sister privately arranged a marriage between her daughter Anne and her nephew Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth scoffs at the plan (or at least, at Lady Catherine's undying reliance on it), and Mr. Darcy is never shown taking it seriously.
      • Elizabeth takes it seriously when she first hears about the engagement early in the book, believing it to be the reason for Darcy's indifference to Caroline Bingley. It's only revealed as a MacGuffin with Darcy's first proposal to Elizabeth (showing he'll marry whomever he wants), hence her indifferent response to Lady Catherine's warning at the end. (Most movie versions leave the earlier reveal out.)
      • Also from P&P: Mrs. Bennet tries to force Elizabeth to marry Mr. Collins against her will. This is only prevented when Mr. Bennet makes it clear he sides with Elizabeth, in one of the best lines in the book:

Mr. Bennet: "Very well. We have now come to the point. Your mother insists upon your accepting it. Is it not so, Mrs. Bennet?"
Mrs. Bennet: "Yes, or I will never see her again."
Mr. Bennet: "An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day, you must be a stranger to one of your parents. - Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do."

      • It's not so much that he sides with Elizabeth, as he doesn't like Mr. Collins. The joke is that if Elizabeth marries him, then Mr. Bennet will be stuck with him for a son-in-law, and so seeing Elizabeth (his favorite child) will mean also seeing Mr. Collins.
    • The clash between the old and new attitudes towards this trope is best shown in Mansfield Park: Maria Bertram's Jerkass aunt arranges a marriage for her with the rich but ditzy Mr. Rushworth. Her father, although satisfied with the match himself, later offers to break it off in the engagement phase because he can see she doesn't love him; Maria chooses to go through with the loveless arranged marriage. The tragic irony is that Sir Thomas Bertram later (unsuccessfully) tries to convince the heroine, his niece Fanny Price, to marry a man she doesn't love. Guilt and misery ensue for all.
  • The protagonist of Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey finds himself first promised to marry Constance Oxblood, and later to Violet deMauve.
  • The financially-motivated version is brought up on some occasions in The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar, as it was pretty popular among European nobility in general and in early 19th century Russia in particular. Some characters refer to the main character's marriage with Princess Nina Chavchavadze as this, but note that the couple itself has been in love for quite some time prior to this.
  • The Sandarians in Michael McCollum's Antares series practice arranged marriages, befitting a monarchic society like theirs. Crown Prince Philip was betrothed at the age of three. Fortunately, he and his fiancee have fallen in love by now.
  • The overarching plot of The Pillars of the Earth is set off by a broken Arranged Marriage, which becomes a major local scandal.
  • Rare non-period Western example: In The Westing Game, Angela Wexler and Violet Westing are pressured into de facto arranged marriages by their social-climbing mothers, who care more about bagging a son-in-law with an impressive title (doctor or senator) than about their daughters' happiness. Neither bride-to-be copes well with the situation....
    • Author Ellen Raskin is making a point. The book was written in the early 1970s, and the Violet Westing story took place about 25 years earlier. Back then, women were supposed to care more about the social status, and earning ability, of their prospective husbands, than about companionability or character, although times were changing. This is why Violet was doomed, but Angela manages to scramble out at the 11th hour. Not to mention that Anglea's mother had bucked the system and married for love herself and didn't think it had turned out so well.
  • The twelve-year-old Rindi, from the Morris Gleitzman book Bumface, is the child of a Middle-Eastern ex-pat family living in Australia, who is being heavily pressured into an arranged marriage with a much older man by her family. Much of the plot of the book consists of her and Angus coming up with Zany Schemes to get her out of it.
  • All the female characters in Moment in Peking ended up in arranged marriages. Since this was the norm for their time and place, they simply learned to deal with it.
  • The Star Wars EU gives an unusual take on this, that also crosses into the High-Class Call Girl trope. The Kuat system of planets apparently uses an unusual form of marriage, to prevent inbreeding in the nobility, where middle-class families may choose to raise one of their children as Telbun, where in they receive advanced training in academics, athletics, and social behavior. At the end of the training the Telbun are required to take a retinue of tests to determine their standing in terms of intelligence, health, genetics and social behaviors. The noble families then bid on a telbun to act as a consort (and servant) for a member of the family. In the event of a child, the Telbun helps raise it, though the Telbun is not considered part of the family himself/herself.
    • The main reason this crosses into the high class call girl trope is that the Telbun's original family is compensated for the Telbun's services.
  • A hilarious example is found in Georgette Heyer's A Lady Of Quality. The lady of the title encounters a young couple whose parents are pressuring them into such a match. The girl, desperate, resolves to run away - with the assistance of the boy! This becomes less peculiar when it is revealed that they have been best friends from childhood, which also explains the total lack of romantic chemistry between them. Never-the-less another character predicts that they will eventually fall in love, once they mature a little and learn to see one another as an attractive man/woman rather than the kid they've known all their lives.
  • Judith, the teenaged protagonist of the young adult novel The Minstrel's Tale, is forced into one of these by her stepfather. Not only is she deeply put off by her bridegroom, who is at least thirty years her senior, but on the night of their betrothal dinner she falls in love with the young minstrel who comes to play and sing for them. So she runs away.
  • Aral Vorkosigan's first marriage, mentioned a few times in the books, was arranged. It did not turn out well.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The People of the Black Circle", Conan the Barbarian laughs at Yasmina's offer of reward.

"Would you make me your king?" he asked sardonically.
"Well, there are customs-" she stammered, and he interrupted her with a hard laugh.
"Yes, civilized customs that won't let you do as you wish. You'll marry some withered old king of the plains, and I can go my way with only the memory of a few kisses snatched from your lips. Ha!"

  • In Alien Tango Kitty learns Martini is betrothed in one of these, not that he or his arranged bride ever agreed.
  • Shows up in Buddenbrooks, with Jean and Tony's first marriage
  • The novel StarCraft Ghost: Nova reveals that the Old Families of the Terran Confederacy were, pretty much, aristocracy. Nova's parents had no love for each other and married only because their families wished to merge their fortunes. The marriage contract allowed each partner to have a live-in lover, as long as no children were produced out-of-wedlock. In fact, Nova treated her father's mistress almost like a big sister and she was on good terms with her mother's jig. Other contract clauses include the distribution of power and responsibility. Nova's father is in charge of all business decisions, while his wife controls anything related to the family. Attempts by either party to infringe into the other's "area of influence" is grounds for divorce.
  • In the Dragon Jousters series by Mercedes Lackey, arranged marriage is common among nobles, but required for Altan monarchs—the oldest pair of male twins among the royal clans must marry the oldest set of female twins among the royal clans. Kaleth and Marit fall deeply in love with each other, but Toreth and Nofret ... well, Toreth states openly that he would never interfere with Nofret seeking pleasure elsewhere, and sees no reason why she would interfere with his pleasures. Part of the Magis' plans to take over Alta involve establishing themselves as a fake royal clan, declaring two of their members twins, and forcing a marriage between them and Marit/Nofret once Toreth is murdered and Kaleth disgraced.
  • In Emperor: The Field of Swords, Julius Caesar has to promise his daughter's hand in marriage to Pompey in order to secure the latter's support in his bid for consul.
  • In the Star Trek Novel Verse, this is the foundation of Andorian culture, a result of their low birth rate and general infertility. Having four sexes and a thin window of opportunity for successful births, they need to get their young adults making babies as soon as possible. Quads are brought together after genetic mapping to determine likely success in breeding. Andorians are taught to revere the four-way marriage bond above all else: One alone cannot be Whole, nor two, nor three. The social implications are explored in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine Relaunch in particular.
  • This is the entire concept of the book Matched. The government chooses your job and who you marry, and you're not supposed to refuse (though sometimes the couples don't work out and are allowed to be rematched, IIRC)
  • In the Hex Hall series a witch is betrothed on her thirteenth birthday. Sophie's father arranged her engagment without ever having met her and without telling her that she was engaged never mind who to. However it's established that it's done more out of tradition than anything else as either party can say no.
  • In Dream of the Red Chamber Lin Daiyu and Jia Baoyu slowly form a very close relationship, but in the end Baoyu's mother and aunts decide whom he gets to marry, with dramatic results.
  • Used somewhat oddly in Chronicles of Amber, where Corwin's brother Random is forced to marry a woman in punishment for having seduced and eloped with Queen Moire's daughter, who later committed suicide. Moire explains that the girl, being blind, has no suitors, and would gain great rank from marrying a Prince of Amber...and would eventually recover from whatever harm he did her. To everyone's surprise, it turns out to be a Perfectly Arranged Marriage instead.
  • In Charles Dickens last novel "The Mystery of Edwin Drood", Rosa Bud and Mr Drood are to enter into a marriage arranged by their late fathers.
  • Elizabeth Bathory and Ferencz Nadasdy in Count and Countess, as was the norm for that time period.
  • Camille and his cousin Thérèse in Therese Raquin. It was his mother's idea, and Mme. Raquin is the only one who's particularly happy about her brilliant plan.
  • In The Silmarillion, the villainous forced version almost happens to Lúthien, the princess of Doriath. She and Beren are in the middle of their quest to try to fulfill her father's ironic, impossible Engagement Challenge: steal a Silmaril from Angband. Celegorm and Curufin, ruthless elven princes determined to get the Silmarils for themselves at any cost, kidnap Lúthien and try to force her father to "give" her to Celegorm. Fortunately, Celegorm's awesome dog, Huan, helps her escape.
  • In the first book of the Collegium Chronicles, Healer-Trainee Bear is betrothed without his consent (or even awareness) by his parents, whose only criteria seems to have been the odds that any resulting children would have the Healer's gift.
  • In Altraterra series by Yvonne Pioch, Anne, a 14-years-old girl, is forced by the Magical Academy to marry Miraz, her brother's teacher. Notably because unlike many other works, which relegate the consequences to Fridge Horror territory, here it is explicitly stated that the sole purpose of said marriage is to produce a male heir, and as soon as possible. Since Anne has a crush on Miraz, she willingly agrees. then her brother, who made a Face Heel Turn, intevenes...
  • In Enchantress From the Stars Evrek is clearly Elana's designated fiance. The chemistry between them is ... less then stellar.
  • Every marriage in Pentexore is arranged via the Abir in A Dirge for Prester John, though the people feel free to make that work or not, and take lovers whether they are happy or not with their spouse.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Vulcans in the Star Trek universe have a quite complicated marriage arrangement process. This often involves telepathically bonding the intended spouses in childhood, and breaking one's marriage commitment carries dire consequences (especially when one or both of them are in their pon farr mating cycle).
    • Explored with T'Pol in Star Trek: Enterprise, who had to debate whether to enter an arranged marriage which would entail her leaving the ship and returning to Vulcan. Although she refuses, the fourth season episode "Home" shows that her suitor has not given up and T'Pol is required to go through with it, even though she has fallen in love with Trip Tucker by that stage. Her husband divorces her voluntarily however when he realises the marriage is not working.
    • Also in the Star Trek universe, Betazoids have arranged marriages; this is explored in the TNG episode "Haven."
  • An episode in the first season of Blackadder spoofed the "royals using marriages to form alliances" phenomenon. In one scene, the king calls his elder son Harry to inform him of a marriage he wants to arrange for him. Harry then pulls out a scroll and recites a long list of the women he's already engaged to. This episode also spoofed the young ages at which said marriages took place when, in the end of the episode, Edmund is married to a 9 year old princess. The final episode of the third season involved King George III announcing that he wished his son to marry a rosebush. Not just any rosebush; a specific rosebush.
  • The British miniseries I, Claudius has the hapless title character, a 48-year-old man, being forced to marry his teenaged relative, Messalina. (This at the behest of Claudius's nephew, the insane Emperor Caligula, who thought it would make for a funny joke.) The marriage seemed happy at first, until Messalina started showing her true gold-digging, nymphomaniac colors. She was eventually executed after a failed plot to depose Claudius and make one of her lovers ruler of Rome.
  • In a recent episode of Pushing Daisies, a man offers his daughter's hand in marriage as a bet in a dim sum poker game.
    • And loses. Of course, his opponent was cheating...
  • In the Power Rangers RPM two-parter "Ranger Yellow," the Yellow Ranger is coerced into an arranged marriage by her filthy-rich parents. The marriage was decided on when she was five, and they probably would've let her decline had the Venjix computer virus not nearly wiped out humanity, leaving her parents with only enough money to pretend to be filthy rich until she married someone who was still rich.
    • Used in Super Sentai by Gekiranger a couple of years earlier. Geki Yellow is taken to an omiai of the modern variety. Not wanting to break up the team (or lose the only female member in Ken's case) the guys attempt several plans that backfire rather spectacularly. The situation is eventually resolved when Ran convinces her mother that her responsibility as Geki Yellow is more important.
  • On Farscape, John nearly gets married off to a princess because her bloodline is so polluted she can't create children with anyone else. Eventually he just leaves her pregnant, frozen as a statue for a hundred years with the man she loves. It Makes Sense in Context. Originally he considers just going along with it to avoid death, though Aeryn is not amused.
  • In Rome Vorenus and Niobe have a discussing with their eldest daughter about arranging a marriage between her and a senator, and she doesn't seem to object. The parents point to themselves as an example of loving married couples, with Niobe adding "strange marriage it would be if you loved them from the start" as if the idea was completely foreign to her.
    • Season two also has Posca marrying Jocasta, courtesy of Atia's arrangements. Jocasta is upset and cries through the ceremony, but they end up becoming one of the most loving couples in the entire show.
      • The crying was probably mostly about her entire family having been murdered only slightly before. Not that she was very thrilled about the marriage either, as it was direct result of the aforementioned event.
  • Rayyan of Little Mosque on the Prairie ends up in a traditional arranged marriage by her father. She doesn't mind, though, as she has time to get to know her prospective groom before he proposes, and has the power to call it off at any time. It ends badly, but not because of the arranged part.
  • Divya of Royal Pains is drifting towards accepting her arranged marriage to a childhood friend. At the beginning, she tried to call it off, but when the engagement ceremony came around, she couldn't bring herself to do it. However, it's not like she couldn't call it off or she hates the guy (he's kind of clueless and cheerful, actually); she's simply not certain she should be married to him. Meanwhile, Evan keeps hoping....
    • So he's handsome, rich, nice and she likes him a lot, and he wants to marry her but she is not certain she should marry him? What an Idiot!. On the other hand if she has feelings for Evan....
  • Season 9 of Degrassi:The Next Generation introduced an Arranged Marriage plot for Sav Bhandari. His traditional Indian parents arrange a girl to come meet him from India, who competes with his white-Canadian girlfriend Anya. Anya has sex with Sav in the limo to try and keep him, resulting in a teen-pregnancy-scare plot.
  • In Babylon 5, the Centauri have Arranged Marriages of the forced variety. This results in a culture that believes weddings should be somber affairs with tears and recrimination, while funerals are joyous affairs. To celebrate a wedding is seen as bad luck.
  • An episode of Chuck includes a sub-plot where Lester (an Indian Jew) is pressured to marry a girl from his hometown. When he tells it to Big Mike, Big Mike assumes this is because he is Indian. However, Lester's parents are from Saskatchewan, Canada. Apparently, their culture is a mix of Canadian, Jewish, and Indian culture, which is shown when Lester sets up a "traditional" den at the Buy More, which is a mix of both cultures, with Lester himself wearing an Indian robe and a fur hat. The girl is also from a Canadian-Jewish-Indian "Hinjew" family, whose parents are pressuring her to marry Lester. She is initially put off by his "traditional" exhibit, but he reveals that he just did this to impress her. She warms to him a little... until he puts her on the spot and sings to her. Embarassed, she leaves, calling off the wedding.
  • Young Blades: An arranged political marriage between King Louis XIV and the princess of a newly rich kingdom drives the plot of "The Girl from Upper Gaborski." The princess whines and complains about it for the whole episode, leading to this bit of marital advice:

Queen Anne: A state marriage is like a state dinner: you might not like the menu, but it's impolite to show it.
Cardinal Mazarin: If you would, think of Louis as... asparagus.
Queen Anne: Eat your vegetables in public, dear, but have your dessert in private.

  • Practically all marriages featured on The Borgias are based on political alliances (this is Truth in Television for the time period, of course), with poor Lucrezia being saddled with a violent rapist, and thirteen-year-old Gioffre having to marry Sancia of Naples - a woman about twice his age, who sees nothing wrong with screwing Gioffre's older brother Juan mere minutes before consummating her marriage with Gioffre himself.
  • Season 3 'Merlin , when Uther attempts to coerce Arthur into marrying Princess Elena for political betterment.
  • In Downton Abbey, Patrick and Mary pre-series one.


Religion and Mythology[edit | hide]

  • Older Than Feudalism: Zeus arranged the marriage between Aphrodite, the Goddess of love and beauty to the deformed Hephaestos -- apparently to stop the other gods from squabbling about her. Although that did not stop Aphrodite from dallying around in any way...
    • For that matter, Aphrodite arranged for Helen of Troy to fall in love with Paris, as reward for Paris giving a golden apple to her instead of to Hera or Pallas Athena. Of course, since Helen already was married, this led directly to the Trojan war. Which indicates how little Aphrodite cared about the idea of marriage in the first place.
    • Aphrodite and Ares (illegitimate) daughter Harmonia was given away in an arranged marriage to the mortal Cadmus. Apparently they were happy but what happened to their kids!
  • According to Christian martyrology, in order to escape an arranged marriage to an pagan king, a princess named Wilgefortis pleaded to God to make her repulsive in appearance so she could remain unmarried and keep her vow of virginity. Soon she grew a beard, utterly repulsing the suitor who called the arrangement off. For this, her evil father had her crucified. With time, Wilgefortis was canonized and became the patron saint for women trapped in abusive marriages.
  • Fairly common in The Bible, often perfectly. Isaac and Rebecca, for example, were arranged when Isaac's dad, Abraham, sent his servant Eliezer to find a suitable wife in the family's homeland. Jacob also arranged Rachel, and got a couple of other wives in the process.


Music[edit | hide]

  • The folk song "Annachie Gordon"

Down came her father and he's standing on the floor
Saying, Jeannie, you're trying the tricks of a whore
You care nothing for a man who cares so very much for thee
You must marry with Lord Saltan and leave young Annachie

"Marry me", he said, through his rotten teeth, bad breath, and then: "Marry me instead of that strapping young goatherd", but when I was in his bed and my father had sold me I knew I hadn't any choice, hushed my voice, did what any girl would do."

  • In the English folk ballad "The Tree They Grow So High", the young woman protagonist blames her father for marrying her to a mere boy half her age. She comes to love the boy afterward and bears his child, just before fate snatches her dear young husband from her.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Gilbert and Sullivan deploy this in Princess Ida and The Gondoliers. In fact, in The Gondoliers the bride is surprised with the knowledge that she had been married off as an infant.

Duke. When you were a prattling babe of six months old you were married by proxy to no less a personage than the infant son and heir of His Majesty the immeasurably wealthy King of Barataria!
Casilda. Married to the infant son of the King of Barataria? Was I consulted? (Duke shakes his head.) Then it was a most unpardonable liberty!
Duke. Consider his extreme youth and forgive him.

  • Shakespearean examples:
    • Shakespeare's most poignant use of this trope may have occurred in Romeo and Juliet, whereby Juliet finds herself forcibly betrothed to Count Paris. His steady, mature love may actually have made him a better match for Juliet than the hot-tempered Romeo. (But how dramatic would that have been?). Romeo and Juliet was published in 1597.

Juliet: Is there no pity sitting in the clouds
That sees into the bottom of my grief?
O sweet my mother, cast me not away!

    • In All's Well That Ends Well, the king arranges a marriage between his ward Bertram and Helena. That ends better, once Bertram has been persuaded to accept it.
    • A Midsummer Night's Dream features Hermia, who is betrothed to Demetrius despite being in love with another man, Lysander; matters are further complicated by the fact that Hermia's friend Helena is in love with Demetrius. The matter is finally resolved when Oberon and Puck enchant Demetrius to fall in love with Helena; when he cancels the previous arrangement, Hermia's father allows her to marry Lysander instead.
    • In Two Gentlemen of Verona, Sylvia's father insists that she marry Tyrio, when in fact she's in love with Valentine.
  • Fiddler on the Roof discusses this as a tradition; the original books suggested that it was a good idea, while the musical adaptation was more neutral on the subject. Each of Tevye's teenage daughters ultimately ended up with the man she wanted, but each suffered the consequences: Tzeitel lives in abject poverty with Motel, rather than the relative comfort she would have had with Lazar Wolf; Hodel winds up in Siberia and Chava is disowned.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac:
    • It’s implied Count De Guiche married Cardenal Richelieu’s niece only to improve his connections at the Court.
    • De Guiche tries to set up one for Roxane, as she says in Act II Scene VI:

Roxane (who has unmasked): That dandy count,
Whom you checkmated in brave sword-play
Last night... he is the man whom a great lord,
Desirous of my favor...
Cyrano: Ha, De Guiche?
Roxane (casting down her eyes): Sought to impose on me...for husband...

  • While the Commedia dell'Arte had no fixed plot (it was rather a set of stock characters), generally whatever the day's plot was involved this. The parents were generally Pantalone, a rich old merchant, and Il Dottore, an old doctor; usually Il Dottore's daughter was engaged to Pantalone but in love with his son, but they occasionally swapped parents. The plots were made up mostly of these four and a variety of servants and acquaintances that could work for any of them trying to unite the lovers and either get rich or laid.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Go through Mitsuru's Social Link for enough time in Persona 3 and you'll discover that, to stabilize the Kirijo Group after her father's death, the board of directors has arranged for her to marry a much older man. She seems to have accepted it, but (judging by the proper answers to the dialogue prompts) the main character isn't fooled.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, the Princess Ashelia B'nargin Dalmasca has an arranged marriage to Lord Rasler of Nabradia intended promote an alliance. He dies soon after (not a spoiler since it happens in the opening tutorial).
  • Kaori in Crescendo intended to go through with an omiai arranged marriage (and presumably does so offscreen on the occasions when the player fails to achieve her good ending, or chooses a different path)
  • Hatsuhime from Yo-Jin-Bo was intended to be married to a ten-year-old by her retainer Yahei, because said ten-year-old was the only "suitable" match for a princess to be found in the entire clan.
  • Imperium Nova allows you to arrange marriages between members of your house and those from others. The lower status house gains status from the marriage and the higher status house often loses status but dowrys can be offered to soften the blow. It also decreases feud score.
  • Dragon Age. In the City Elf origin, you have an arranged marriage to another city elf. It doesn't end well.
    • Arl Howe tries to set one up between the Human Male Warden and his daughter Delilah (or a Human Female Warden and his son Thomas) in the Noble Origin, but seeing how the story turns out, it never comes to pass. Then, in Awakening, you actually meet Delilah, who wasn't at all pleased about being set up with the Male Warden, and has since married a commoner in Amaranthine, with a child on the way.
  • In Star Ocean: The Second Story, the prince of Krosse and the princess of Lacuer have an arranged marriage. If you trigger a certain series of Private Actions in Krosse, however, you can stop the wedding so that one of them can be with their true love. However, it's implied that the other royal did actually have feelings for their arranged partner.
  • The Chaos Heart can only be awakened to its full, reality-sundering power by the marriage of two individuals never meant to be together. Count Bleck invades Mario's reality to abduct Peach and Bowser for his attempt to Divide by Zero, and Nastasia is forced to take control of Peach to get the doom train out of the station (Peach, naturally, would never agree to wedding Bowser).
  • In Final Fantasy Legend II / SaGa 2, the New God Venus arranges the marriage between Nills (Julius in Japan) and Flora (Olivia), despite the later's relationship with Leon (Anthony) whom Venus has banished from her city due to his damaged leg. It's up to the protagonists to stop the marriage from taking place.
  • The iDOLM@STER 2 - Takane route involves one.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Introduced in strip 27 of Xawu.
  • It's the central plot for the two main characters, Miharu and Kazuo, in Red String. It's also the center of the subplot for Miharu's cousin Karen and her betrothed, Makoto.
  • In Tsunami Channel, Yamato Nadeshiko Haruna arrives and stays because she has promised with the protagonist, or so she claims. It's eventually discovered that she was in an tight arranged promise before, made when she was still a child. However, she and her fianc?ventually fell in genuine love with each other, but the boy got a mortal disease and dissolved the promise a couple of days before his death. Obviously, she was devastated, until the professor Hasegawa showed her a photo of the protagonist who, coincidentally, was too similar to her dead fianc?This reveal is done by her new arranged fianc?who was a friend of the dead one.
  • The Cyantian Chronicles: Tira and Caite. Twice.
  • Eight Bit Theater: In Elven society pre-marital courtship consists of an elaborate system of blackmail and counterblackmail. And that's mild compared to what went on a few centuries earlier.
  • The first story arc of The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob involved a squicky forced political marriage between Green-Skinned Space Babe Princess Voluptua and Starfish Alien Ahem.
  • No Rest for The Wicked: The backstory of the comic is that (Princess) November ran away from home in order to escape a Standard Hero Reward with the unnamed "Boy," a naive peasant who managed to rescue a huge treasure from a haunted castle. The Boy seems genuinely smitten with her, however; between November's own story arcs the comic features him traveling around the world with an upbeat spirit, hoping to find her. Well she is the youngest if you catch my drift.
  • And for a modern Western example? Ozy and Millie has Ozy bethrothed to one of his more distant cousins, Isolde. There is a notable age difference, as only one of them is physically mature. Ozy 'talks' his way out of it: after an exceptional performance at a family sporting event, he breathes fire on the betrothal papers. His father objects to the idea; it's described by a matriarch-like figure that it'd be the best way for Ozy to really do good for his family, given the species gap.
  • The Spirit Engine 2 has Ferwin, caught in the traditional business-pact-marriage. It's complicated further by the fact that there's another woman who he does love, and wants to marry her instead. This causes him to become a Runaway Fiancee.
  • Rabbit society in Kevin and Kell is fond of this trope. Kevin was supposed to have married who would be his rival in the school board elections, Fran Caudal, but Fran's parents called it off because Kevin had no fear (and therefore abnormal in their eyes).
    • Angelique had arranged a marriage between Lindesfarne and a hedgehog without telling Kevin, only bringing it up-and that it hasn't been broken off-when she got engaged to Fenton. Turns out though that the hedgehog, Quinn, was dating Lindesfarne's best friend Rhonda, and they got married so Lindesfarne was free to break the contract and marry Fenton.
      • And Quinn's parents, who were very enthusiastic about the marriage (to the point of putting in quill-proof rubber walls in anticipation of children) vowed to force a divorce between Quinn and Rhonda until Rhonda defended them against her jilted ex-boyfriend.
    • Long ago, the marriage of George and Martha Fennec had been one of these, done to add some diversity to their respective gene pools. Except they hated each other, and eventually divorced when they caught each other cheating.
  • Mose in Templar, Arizona is betrothed to an 11 year old girl back in Egypt that he's never met in the flesh. His current friend-with-benefits, Tuesday is not happy about it.
  • Wildy of DMFA is due to be married to one of five possible candidates, they seem relatively okay with this.
  • In Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, Glon has to marry three orc ladies for political reasons when his mother is crowned Queen of Black Mountain. At first, he loathes the idea, but he soon grows to like them. The situation is not quite Perfectly Arranged Marriages, but Glon does enjoy their company, turning to them for advice and taking one of his wives along on at least one adventure.
  • In Erstwhile, the king persuades the prince to agree to one of these. After all, it's been seven years. He agrees and hopes the bride will manage to make him forget his lost love.
  • In No Rest for The Wicked, one was arranged for November in the Backstory.


Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender's final episodes of the first season, Sokka falls for Princess Yue, who is very unhappy to be headed for an arranged marriage to Hahn. She gets out of it by becoming the moon spirit, and by Hahn having a played-for-laughs death (Come on, thrown off a boat into Arctic waters? Dude is dead).
    • Word of God says Fire Lord Ozai and Princess Ursa were also an arranged marriage. Which might hint that Zuko and Mai may have been arranged for each other early on as well, although they're so genuinely in love with each other (even blushing around each other as children) that it doesn't really matter anyway.
    • Sokka and Katara's grandmother, Kanna, was once arranged to be married to the bitter and misogynistic Waterbending Master Pakku (who did saw her as the "love of his life"). She ran away from the Northern to the Southern Tribe to avoid him and the Northern Tribe's traditions. It appears to have been the latter that was the problem, however, because months after Pakku - having had a change of heart after meeting Katara - travelled to the Southern Tribe, he had married Kanna, this time in mutual love.
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: Just in case you forgot that Mira Nova was a princess (and considering how Action Girl she is, it's pretty easy), one episode has Mira finding out about an arranged marriage that has been set up for her.
  • Danny Phantom where Sam is stuck in an arranged marriage with the ghostly Prince Aragon after his sister spent half the episode finding the perfect human bride.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Sleeping Beauty had an Arranged Marriage between Princess Aurora and Prince Philip from different kingdoms. In contrast to the prevailing modern view of Arranged Marriages as loveless, Aurora falls in love with Philip before she discovers that he's her betrothed husband, making the Arranged Marriage one of true love.
    • In The Lion King, Simba and Nala are betrothed, much to their confusion ("I can't marry her -- she's my friend!" "Yeah, it'd be so weird..").
  • In The Swan Princess, Derek and Odette are betrothed as children by their parents, and forced to spent every summer together. This leads to a musical montage of them growing up hating each other, until one summer (having grown up), they realise that they've actually fallen in love.
  • An episode of The Simpsons followed Apu attempting to dodge an arranged marriage by claiming to already be married. After sufficient hilarity ensues, the ruse is discovered and the wedding goes forward over Apu's objections. However, his bride Manjula turns out to be a good match for him, and they remained happily married until they had 8 kids. Their marriage pretty much derailed from there.
  • (Princess) Starfire almost went through with one of these in Teen Titans; she'd been told it would end a war but in fact it was a ruse by her big sister Blackfire.
    • Based on a story in the original comics, in which she actually does go through with it. The husband would later die.
  • Another arranged hook-up that actually worked out was between Princess Layla and Nabu on Winx Club. The circumstances are similar to that in the Sleeping Beauty example: When Layla sees Nabu for the first time, she doesn't know it's him, and he doesn't tell her that he is either. (Doesn't stop Layla from being p-o'd at him, which makes me wonder why they even bothered with the ruse.)
  • on The Fairly OddParents, Mark did a Heel Face Turn to avoid an arranged marriage to Princess Mandie.
  • An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had Lucius arranging for Beezy to marry the Weavil Princess in order to get a large amount of treasure from them (which they were willing to sacrifice in order to get rid of her).


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • There's a reason that royalty is often involved in Arranged Marriage plotlines: For Western historical examples, you need only read up on European royal houses from the last few centuries. Such tight inbreeding often resulted in diseases like schizophrenia becoming commonplace in such families, not to mention the horror that was known as the Hapsburg Chin.
    • Conversely, any diseases that have absolutely nothing to do with inbreeding (such as porphyria and hemophilia) are sometimes assumed to be caused by inbreeding if they arise in a royal family. Inbreeding increases the risk of recessive or polygenic conditions (good and bad, incidentally), but not dominant conditions like porphyria or sex-related ones like hemophilia. Some hemophiliacs have been denied work not because of their disease but because the employer assumed that hemophilia = inbreeding and inbreeding = stupid.
    • It's also the reason infidelity was so tolerated among men. You had to marry the princess to pump out the required legitimate heirs. What you did outside of business hours wasn't your wife's concern. On the other hand, any woman, even one with no enemies, could find herself on the wrong side of an executioner's axe (or could doom her lover to that fate) by having an affair - in some cases, even a merely emotional affair.
      • Though the logic behind that Double Standard is simple to understand: if the woman had an affair, there could easily be an illegitimate heir, which could have caused problems in theory. In reality, though, an illegitimate heir was often the healthiest thing the queen could provide her husband, and often there was no way to know.
      • Some ruling queens and empresses (Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great - particularly the latter - are good cases in point) avoided the problem by simply never marrying (or, in Catherine's case, remarrying). Catherine, of course, is known for her famous string of lovers, who were selected through an exacting process. Since she was Empress and Autocrat of All the Russias, there really wasn't anything anyone could do about it.
    • It's possible that Charles Windsor and Diana Spencer's marriage was this, leading to a real-life example of Unwanted Spouse.
  • Arranged marriages were fairly common right up to the 20th century in many western countries and still fairly common in African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries even today.
  • Among certain segments of society, they're still common even in Western countries. For example, Orthodox Jewish couples still largely meet via the services of a matchmaker, though websites such as Saw You At Sinai are trying to streamline the process. However, only the most conservative Hasidic families still practice the most extreme version of this trope; most will meet via a matchmaker but date for a month or two before deciding whether or not to marry. The combination of formality and desire to marry someone "compatible" has resulted in the infamous "shidduch problem" amongst Western Orthodox families whereby many singles remain single out of the inability to really find someone they connect to using this system.
  • The Unification Church ("Moonies"): all the marriages amongst the flock are arranged by Reverend Moon.
    • While that may have been true for the First Generation of the Unification Church, the children of those marriages now adhere to the more "traditional arranged marriages" mentioned above, with the matching being done by the parents. Interestingly, there's a whole sort of ideology behind it, where the parents should marry their children for lifelong "true" love. This means that they look for someone who is opposite of, and therefore complements their child. The hope is that they will personally grow into a better person, and grow in love. After doing a sort of courtship, the couple can decide whether they fit. Personal experience says it seems to work pretty well, although it helps that a lot of them really believe in it. Ironically, there is still a large percentage that would rather be married by the Reverend Moon, and some who do not trust their parents/church enough to do either.]
  • Some very conservative Christian groups practice "betrothal," meaning that they believe fathers have the authority to determine who their adult children marry via Arranged Marriage or Parental Marriage Veto. Most other Christians maintain that, even when taken literally, The Bible actually teaches the opposite. (An example of the latter view can be found in this article.)
  1. The fact that Westerners, Americans in particular, are so determinedly individualistic is yet another factor in their resistance to this trope.