Unrequited Tragic Maiden
Eponine: He was never mine to lose.
She is beautiful. She is sweet. She is sincere. So why can't she get the guy already? The Unrequited Tragic Maiden is (usually) a female character that seems to have all the perfect characteristics to make her the ideal romantic interest or even The Ingenue of the story, but alas, for some reason the object of her affections does not view her as such. Usually this is because she is overshadowed by another female character who has captivated the heart of the guy, placing the Unrequited Tragic Maiden on the sideline only to be seen as a friend or ward.
No matter how painful her yearning for love is, the Unrequited Tragic Maiden never truly achieves her happily ever after with the one she loves. She endures it all with a sad smile and is often reduced to a tragic fate. She is the poster child of Unrequited Love Tropes. In the end she will often sacrfice herself or her happiness to make sure her beloved is happy.
Compare to Hopeless Suitor and Romantic Runner-Up, who is the brother of this trope but usually with a less tragic end. May wind up becoming The Lost Lenore after death if the person they loved grieves for them, blames themselves for her death or else only discovers that he loved her until it is too late. Contrast to Green-Eyed Monster, in which is more prone to sabtoge and a devious nature unlike the docile nature of the Unrequited Tragic Maiden. This is starting to become a Discredited Trope as romantic portrayals of females become less dependent on the male characters.
Anime and Manga
- Ahiru from Princess Tutu is in love with Mytho, who never pursues a romantic relationship with her and eventually ends up with Rue instead. To futher add insult to injury, when it looks like Fakir and Ahiru might have a happily ever after, Ahiru turns into a duck and cannot change back, ending any hopes of a romantic realtionship for the poor girl...err...duck.
- Beatrice from Umineko no Naku Koro ni may qualify, depending on which versions of reality you believe.
- Sayaka in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. She yearns for Kyousuke's love, but he shows no romantic interest in her and ends up with Hitomi instead. Things do NOT end well for Sayaka.
- Shirley Fenette from Code Geass. And right when it looks like she may have the chance to get Lelouch's love... BAM! Bullet to the gut, pool of her own blood, death in front of Lelouch.
- Played with in Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day. Menma suffers a tragic death right after hearing Jintan deny having a crush on her. In reality, he returned her feelings while she was alive, and still liked her even when she was a ghost.
- In Daily Life with Monster Girl Meroune wants to be this, and is even if it requires helping the first... lets call it 'love rival'... she finds.
I want to give our dear sir an undying love that will never be returned!—Meroune
- In the original story of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, the mermaid rescues and falls in love with a prince. He marries a different girl whom he believes had rescued him. Because she was unsuccesful in making the prince fall in love with her, the mermaid turns to sea foam, choosing his happiness over her own life. In some versions she is rewarded for her sacrifice with a new life as an air sprite, during which time she will earn a soul (mermaids don't naturally have them) and go to Heaven.
- The Lady Of Shalott (the page image) from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem of the same name which is based on the Arthurian Legend character Elaine of Astolat, who pined after Lancelot (who, of course, only had eyes for Guenivere) and eventually died of a broken heart.
- Rebecca of York to Ivanhoe, due entirely to the fact that she's Jewish. She warns Ivanhoe not to fall for her at their first meeting and does a graceful I Want My Beloved to Be Happy bow out at the end allowing Rowena and Ivanhoe to be together and devotes the rest of her life to doing good works. Notable in that even the author preferred Rebecca and Ivanhoe.
Live Action Television
- Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer was this for a while, pining away for Xander, until she got a boyfriend of her own. And then became (or realized she was) a lesbian or a lesbian-leaning bi.
- Giselle from the ballet of the same name. In some versions, Giselle falls in love with Albretch, but Albretch is engaged to Bathilde. After dying of a broken heart, Giselle becomes The Lost Lenore.
- Ophelia from Hamlet might be seen as one, since Hamlet's act made her believe that he did not love her.
- Eponine from Les Misérables is in love with Marius and does everything she can to help him, even though he is in love with Cosette and only views Eponine as a friend.
- Namine from Kingdom Hearts is drawn to Sora and wishes she were Kairi. In the end, she wants Sora and Kairi to be happy and merges with Kairi thus destroying her own identity and existence in some ways.
- Fire Emblem has a few of these due to most characters being given multiple romantic partners.
- Path of Radiance has Titania, second-in-command and Team Mom of the Greil Mercenaries. It's revealed in her Supports with Ike that she grew close to and became with enamored with Ike's father Greil while training under him, but she pushed away her feelings for Greil when she discovered that he was already married with children. It should be no surprise that she (along with Ike and Mist) is hit the hardest by his death at the hands of the Black Knight (to the point that she breaks down into tears in their A Support when Ike thanks her for taking care of his father in his final years). She does have Ship Tease with Ike, Boyd, and Rhys in Radiance, but ultimately ends up single by the end of Dawn.
- Blazing Sword has a Double Subversion in Priscilla. She does have a number of possible lovers she can Support with, but due to her status as nobility, she ultimately ends up in a Star-Crossed Lovers situation—with all but one of them the magician Erk, who has peerage only due to his tutelage under Pent, the Count of Reglay.