Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?
Primarily a film and literature trope, though not impossible in television.
Our romantic couple breaks up for some reason. We know, however, that everything will work out well in the end; misunderstandings will be solved, mistakes forgiven, they will end up happily together.
But sometimes, things go wrong and one of the partners comes off as more of an ass than intended, to the point that it's completely unbelievable that the wounded partner would ever take the wounder back. We are pretty much forced to root for them, even if we feel that not only would the "hero" not be taken back - they absolutely shouldn't be.
Note that despite the title, this is a trope that can be employed by either sex, even if the majority of examples seem to be a female taking back a dodgy male. Inversions are actually becoming more and more frequent in media, where the guy almost always goes grovelling back to his spouse begging to be taken back no matter whose fault it was.
Anime and Manga
- Hot Gimmick with Ryoki and Hatsumi's relationship. They break up and get back together countless times. It mostly ends with Ryoki going to Hatsumi, demanding her to ask for forgiveness and tell him she wants to become his girlfriend again. Which she does each time, without fail. This is also the reason why so many fans hated the ending to the point where the author decided to make a novel continuation where Hatsumi ends up with a much nicer man.
- At the end of the Area 88 manga, Ryoko and Shin reunite, after Shin has repeatedly broken Ryoko's heart. Then again, this is Ryoko we're talking about.
- Pick any romantic comedy. Go on. Hell, any modern Hollywood film with a romantic subplot where the two lovers have some sort of spat at one point could qualify.
- Ellen agreeing to go out with Vlad at the end of the movie Camp definitely smacks of this, though they technically weren't dating before - he was leading her on while he had a girlfriend outside of camp, slept with another girl in camp, and moments before asking Ellen to date him, had been offering himself to their gay friend.
- Arguably the heroine of The Devil Wears Prada should not have taken back her boyfriend - or indeed her entire group of friends. It's worse in that she's presented as being in the wrong all along while they treated her work commitments (and her daring to speak to a man that wasn't her boyfriend) as a personal betrayal. While it is somewhat justifiable that she probably didn't need to obsess over her job to the point that she was even blowing off an evening with her father to book Miranda a flight out of Miami in a hurricane, her friends generally berated and abused her for even attempting to stay employed - in New York City no less. Note that her boyfriend, as a chef, would likely be working the same crazy unpredictable hours as well, so this just comes off as a Double Standard. Not to mention that incredibly dicky bit where she gives them all that nice stuff and they pay her back by stealing her phone when she's taking a work call. Thanks, guys. Ironically, in the book, her friends were much more sympathetic - and one of them actually encouraged her to talk to the guy.
- Failure To Launch is a rare Gender Flip version; the man is expected to take back his girlfriend, even though said girl had only pretended to be in love with him to drive him out of his parents' home (see, if you boost a man's self-esteem by dating him, he'll start doing things for himself and it'll stick even if you dump him later on) and he's understandably pissed when he finds out.
- Hitch has the reporter, who spends most of the film trying to expose the title's "Date Doctor" while (unknowingly) going out with him. She ends up exposing him, destroying his anonymity and business, and almost destroys another relationship. She does so under the misguided belief that Hitch only helped jerks get laid based on one incident where she only had half the facts (the jerk acted on his own) where a friend of hers got hurt, proving she is a lousy, not to mention unethical, reporter; you don't write a story with one viewpoint, and you don't write a story you're personally involved in. All of which Hitch calls her out on, as well women like her making dating impossible for ordinary guys. Although she later gives him a heartfelt apology, Hitch very deservedly refuses to accept it. What should have turned out to be a Crowning Moment of Awesome, ends in a major cliche—when Hitch later goes to her door to beg for her forgiveness! And after that she responds to his begging for forgiveness by basically just deliberately jerking him around for awhile. Just for her own sadistic amusement. It's only after she further breaks his heart and makes him plead a bit more that she finally takes him back.
- The film Life/Drawing. Mark Ruffalo's 'hero', a struggling artist is a complete ass to the female lead when they are together, being patronising, insulting and indifferent/hostile to her life and beliefs as a member of the USAF while she tries to take an interest in his - her worst and only crime is being Book Dumb and (mildly) ditzy.
- Over Her Dead Body is another Gender Flip. Note in both this and Failure to Launch (and Hitch for that matter) the female lead explicitly sets out to deceive the male lead.
- The Heartbreak Kid, but at least it knew it.
- In the movie version of Jumper, the heroine isn't all that bright to begin with, after accepting an immediate trip to Rome with a man who just reappeared without explanation after being missing for eight years with tons and tons of cash. Then she gets arrested because of him at the Colisseum, put on a plane when she asks for an explanation, gets kidnapped by the hero from her own apartment, gets caught in the middle of a gun and flamethrower battle, and then gets captured by the Big Bad who uses her as bait for the hero. She then apologizes to the hero, and after he rescues her happily joins him in his rootless and furtive lifestyle, forever pursued by church militants.
- In Notting Hill, Anna is the one that constantly assumes the worst of William and ditches him without explanation. Yet it is William who has to scour London and basically beg her to come back to him at the end of the film.
- That does ignore the preceding scene where she came crawling to his shop to beg him to take her back and he turned her down quite resoundingly (he kept the Chagall original she brought him, though).
- Good Luck Chuck outright deconstructs this trope by having our "good guy" Chuck veer off in a tear of obsessive, controlling, paranoid and downright creepy-stalker behavior after spending the night with Cam. Eventually he stops, is willing to set up a date with another man for her, and later explains himself and apologizes, sincerely saying he's willing to leave her life if she wants him too. In most movies, his crazy actions would just win the girl over, but here he actually has to work at it.
- Semi-averted in Crazy Heart. Bad Blake is a good guy, but after he gets drunk and loses his girlfriend's four-year-old son in a shopping mall, it's hard to disagree with her when she never wants to see him again, even after the kid is found. When Bad stops drinking and generally puts his life together, he finds she's moved on and is engaged, but the two of them manage to still be friends.
- In Flubber: Professor Brainard blows off his wedding to Dr. Reynolds because he was he lost track of things discovering Flubber. Problem: This is the third time he's done that. And apparently the first TWO times, the reason was "I forgot." They're back together by the beginning of the third act. And they do get married at the end of the movie... where Prof. Brainard is there by video proxy, meaning he made a conscious effort not to show up this time, not that it works very well.
- As Flubber is a remake of the film The Absent Minded Professor, and the entire idea of Brainard abandoning his fiance appeared in that film as well - meaning that when John Hughes sought to rewrite the script in the 90s for Flubber, he didn't actually think this was enough of a problem to alter it for the remake.
- A double example in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, in which both partners start the relationship under false pretenses and with ulterior motives, since she's trying to get dumped and he's trying to hang on and keep his job. Both halves of the deception are revealed; both parties are hypocritically furious and dump each other, then decide in the end that they're meant to be together after all. Of course, many viewers thought that two such horrible people deserve each other.
- In A Bronx Tale, featuring a taboo-breaking interracial relationship in the eponymous New York borough in The Sixties, the white protagonist is Easily Forgiven by his black girlfriend for calling her brother a nigger. Even in context (he was extremely angry at the time) it warranted more of a cooling off period than it got.
- The gender-flipped version of the trope is in most of Buster Keatons films. A common scenario is his love interest will flat-out refuse him at the beginning unless he "makes it big". With few exceptions he always wins her heart in the end, with broken ribs and concussions in the process.
- In The General, even after he saved the girl from the enemy, and stopped an invasion, it appeared as if she was still going to dump him when he was forced to take off his uniform at the end. But then he gets a shiny new Lieutenant's uniform, causing her to run into his arms.
- In COPS, when the girl refuses him at the end he commits suicide. At least it's implied because the "The End" card has a tombstone.
- In The Boat That Rocked/Pirate Radio, Carl takes Marianne back after she sleeps with Dave. She ran off to sleep with him in the five minutes it took Carl to run upstairs and ask Gavin for a condom. Later on, Dave makes mention that they did it three or four times, suggesting that after Carl caught them together, they decided to keep at it until she left the next morning. All the while with Carl heartbroken right across the hallway. And he takes her back.
- In Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the protagonist is in a relationship with Gordon Gecko's daughter Winnie. When he meets Gecko, she refuses to have a relationship with her father, and warns the protagonist about him. The protagonist then starts to see him behind Winnie's back, and the pair plot to win her over. The protagonist then finds out that Winnie has a fortune on a foreign bank account and persuades her into giving all of it to his pet project. They're then double crossed by Gordon, the truth is discovered, and Winnie promptly dumps the protagonist. So far so good, but here's the kicker: the protagonist hunts down Gordon and literally trades access to his and Winnie's unborn child in return for him giving the money back - money that Winnie doesn't care about, mind you. The movie ends with Gordon hunting the crazy kids down and giving a speech asking Winnie to take the protagonist back. In that speech he also lets slip that he not only knows the child's gender, but that the protagonist is its father too, effectively telling Winnie that her ex betrayed not only her yet again, but their son as well. What happens next? Happily ever after of course!
- In Dreamscape, Jane is rather forgiving of Alex after he essentially raped her by inserting himself into her dreams to have sex with her, intentionally deluding her into thinking it was just a fantasy.
- When Edward leaves Bella in New Moon, she goes into a catatonic state for months, and is slowly restored to normal only with the help of her best friend Jacob, who is also in love with her. After Edward returns, she takes him back as if nothing had happened. Really, there are quite a few points in Twilight where many readers were left wondering why Bella puts up with Edward. He frequently belittles, controls and manipulates her well into the last book, and she hardly ever calls him up on it. And Edward continues his controlling behavior even after he and Bella are married and she's a vampire, meaning that she's just as powerful and fast and able to take care of herself. In one memorable scene, Bella comes back from a shopping trip and full-out admits to herself that she knows that Edward will be breaking into her car and checking her odometer to see if she told him the truth about where she went out to. And she shows no emotion over this.
- Bella can be pretty emotionally manipulative to Edward too, though not anywhere near as bad as he is to her. The mere idea that they might break up causes her to flip out and she makes him promise that he will never hurt or leave her as long as she wants him around. During their temporary break-up in New Moon, she puts herself in several life-threatening situations because she doesn't want to live if she can't have him. When they do get back together, she feels the need to bring up her exploits on quite a few occasions and unleashes the guilt trip. She treats it as if it would have been HIS fault if she killed herself because it's clearly entirely his fault that she wasn't able to handle the break-up. Never mind that the only reason he broke up with her was for her safety. He didn't want to accidentally lose control of his vampire instincts and subsequently hurt or kill her.
- Also played with when it comes to Jacob Black. He's introduced as one of the nicest and out-and-out most good people in the series, who is actually friends with Bella due to common interests and helped bring her out of her depressive shell after Edward ran off in New Moon. Jacob eventually develops feelings for Bella, but she's still hung up on Edward, and the moment he re-enters her life she drops Jacob. That's when his ugly side starts coming through, since he gets insanely jealous of Edward on numerous occasions and tends to take his jealousy out on Bella. He forces her to kiss him three times in New Moon with a not-so-subtle rape overtone to the interactions and in Breaking Dawn he gets so angry with her that he starts to violently shake her, resulting in Edward AND Jacob's own pack having to intervene. Bella doesn't see anything wrong with this. Edward might have the emotional abuse down but Jacob is prime for the physical abuse. Really, it's a wonder Bella puts up with either of these two.
- In Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult you kind of get this feeling with both characters. The book is about a woman, Paige, who leaves her doctor husband Nicholas and young son because her mother did the same and she didn't know how to mother. On Nicholas' point of view, why would you take back a woman who just leaves a young baby with and doesn't comes back for 2 months? On Paige's side, why would you get back with someone who was ready to divorce you and get a restraining order?
- In Death: Siobahn Brody and Patrick Roarke. Patrick beat up Brody a lot. She had a kid - Roarke - and wanted Patrick to marry her and make a proper family. Unfortunately, she supposedly didn't find out until later that he was already married, and was just using her to bear him a son. She was taken to an abuse shelter along with Roarke. However, she ended up going back to Patrick with Roarke, because she wanted her son to have a father. Unfortunately, Patrick was furious that she ran away from him and with his son. So in a combination of fury and You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, he murdered her. Roarke was unhappy when he discovered all this years later.
- Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Played with in The Jury. Karl Woodley and Paula Woodley do not love each other, in fact, they loathe each other. Karl abused Paula, and broke every bone in her body! The Vigilantes, upon finding this out, go to Karl's house and break every bone in his body! Despite the fact that Paula apparently had had it with his abuse, and despite the fact that the book even had an Author Filibuster on Domestic Abuse, Paula went back to Karl! You can be sure at least one reviewer thought the title of this trope. However, Collateral Damage either reveals or retcons this by saying that Paula did not actually take Karl back so much as the US government pretty much dumping him into her hands! Karl happens to be best pals with the President of the United States, as well as his National Security Advisor. It is not clear if the government knew what Karl was doing, or if they turned a blind eye to it, but it certainly makes the government come off as stupid and thoughtless. Karl did have to resign thanks to becoming wheelchair-bound. Paula ends up taking great pleasure tormenting him for all the years he tormented her! Not once does divorce or seeing a psychologist come up in any of this, not once!
Live Action TV
- Some fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were very disappointed that Tara took Willow back after having her memories tampered with twice (other fans consider it part of the shows Dork Age and ignore it).
- From the same show: Would you date a guy who made a sexbot version of you, tried to kill you multiple times, and attempted to rape you? If the answer is yes, you should be a slayer!
- And as a Gender Flip: would you remain hopelessly in love with a woman who constantly belittled and beat the crap out of you while leading you on with routine rough sex play? If the answer is yes, you should date a slayer!
- Being fair to the show, at no point is the Buffy/Spike relationship ever shown as being anything but dysfunctional, wrong, and bringing only pain to all parties involved or proximate. Literally none of Buffy's friends or acquaintances approve, and some of them think she's flat-out crazy. Even Dawn, who at one point had a crush on Spike herself, thinks her older sister needs her head examined for going there.
- Lily dumps Marshal shortly before their wedding and runs off to San Francisco at the end of season I of How I Met Your Mother. She returns, begging forgiveness at the beginning of Season II. To the show's credit, the damage she caused Marshal isn't Hand Waved, and she spends much of the beginning of season II getting back into Marshal's and Ted's good graces. But since the show is told in flashback, we already know Marsh and Lily end up together.
- Done particularly well in the X-Mas episode after they get back together. Lily is cleaning up, plugs the answering machine back in, and hears Ted calling her an offensive word in old message for Marshal (left during the break-up period). Ted tries to apologize and explain, but Lily won't hear it, so he takes back the apology and calls her out on abandoning not just Marshal, but him and all their friends, and never having apologized to Ted about the way she acted.
- The rest of the group asks this of Ted when he considers getting back together with Zoey at the end of season 6 of How I Met Your Mother. You know, the woman who tried to destroy your career, manipulated you, lied to you, and secretly taped your conversations so that she could screw you over? Why wouldn't you take her back?
- Robin and her ex-boyfriend Simon, who waited to dump her after she helped him load all his band's equipment into his van and then told her he was leaving her for Louise Marsh because her parents had a pool. Despite all her friends telling her she shouldn't go back to him, she still does and at the end of the episode, Simon dumped her the same way he did the first time - after moving his band's equipment to his van and for the same girl Louise Marsh because now her parents have a jacuzzi.
- Sex and the City star Carrie is constantly taking back Mr. Big no matter how many times he bails on her or is an ass to her. In this case it is presented more that she has a constant lust and chemistry with him that she knows rationally will not end well. Carrie's friends even call her out on it when she gets back with him the second time.
- Carrie as well, when she cheats on Aiden with Big. Repeatedly and with no apparent sense of guilt. She does confess to Aiden, and begs him to forgive her, even saying "You have to forgive me!" He briefly takes her back after some hesitation due to her violating his trust once, but they end up breaking up permanently, probably in part because she never did anything to make him believe she was sincere.
- Veronica Mars reunited with her ex, Duncan Kane, despite the fact that he dumped her without an explanation, ignored her every time she asked him why and sat idly by as their peer group turned on her. She later finds out why Duncan broke it off: He thought she was his half-sister. But he slept with her anyway. But Veronica had been accidentally roofied as well, so she didn't remember consenting and spent an entire year thinking she'd been raped (Turns out she had been. But that's a whole different issue). Granted, it doesn't last. Mostly because she fell for Duncan's best friend, Logan Echols - the son of the man who murdered Lily Kane, Veronica's best friend and one of the ringleaders of the "Treat Veronica Like Trash" brigade, and the same guy who had been starting to sexually assault her with a bunch of other guys before Duncan saved her. This is a non-issue to her for some reason.
- Played with when it comes to Phoebe/Cole on Charmed, as after Phoebe kills Cole to vanquish The Source of All Evil inside him, he steals powers from the Demonic Wasteland to return to life and get back with Phoebe, only to have her keep saying, "You're evil, you're evil, you're evil." This is a guy who became a DA to put criminals in jail and counter the demonic side he was born with, helped Phoebe escape the Underworld, ultimately had his demonic side vanquished, became The Source only as a side effect of helping slay the previous Source, came back from the dead solely because of his love for Phoebe and kept trying to prove he was a good person, only giving up completely after she and her sisters tried to kill him again. There's a reason many fans referred to Phoebe as Phoe Me after Season Five, and in this case the main question fans had was why Cole would take her back.
- Leo on Will and Grace. He keeps leaving on doctor's missions in Africa after marrying Grace, pays her no attention when she finally decides to go with him, and cheats on her after she leaves, leading to their divorce. She keeps going back to him and ultimately has his baby.
- The writers of Gossip Girl managed to turn their Super Couple into this. Most fans still want Chuck and Blair to get back together, but it's difficult to see how Blair will be able to forgive Chuck for selling her to his creepy uncle in exchange for a hotel.
- In Degrassi the Next Generation Johnny Di Marco dumps Alli because he doesn't want to admit to Holly J that he's dating a ninth grader. She takes him back after this and continues to pine after him.
- Also, Ashley takes Craig back after he cheats on her with Manny and attempts to justify it by calling her a prude.
- Terri gets back with Rick because he apologized for abusing her.
- Mia gets back with Lucas who blew her off the second she got pregnant, several years prior.
- In Frasier, when Niles' marriage to Maris begins falling apart, there are several occasions where Maris tries to win him back, often causing Martin and Frasier to pretty much ask this question. Differs in that Niles generally listens to them, or had concluded that he didn't want to get back with her on his own after the first time he did take her back right at the end of their marriage, only for her to promptly turn around and cheat on him with their marriage counselor. This was the straw that broke the camel's back, and he never seriously considered taking her back again. Later on, when they've almost finalized their divorce, Maris begs him once again to reconcile, sending him gifts and love letters, only for him to explicitly invoke this trope to her face. She tries to sue him for every cent he has in retaliation. Yeah, there's a reason the writers felt there was no way any actress could do her character justice.
- In Lost during a flash-forward Jack, while engaged to and living with Kate, has a bad day. He then goes home, sends the nanny home early and proceeds to get drunk and high while home alone with her adopted three year old son. When she gets home he demands to know where she's been. She tells him she's been doing something for Sawyer, his former romantic rival, but won't tell him what it is out of loyalty to him. Jack yells at her, telling her that Sawyer "chose" to stay on the island and it was Jack who saved her. In a later episode we learn that is patently untrue. Sawyer jumped out of the chopper because it was too heavy and swam back to the island. He had no reason to believe that they would not be able to come back for him. And then, to cap off the argument, when Kate tells him quite reasonably that if he has a drug problem he needs to leave and get help because she can't have him like that around her son, he yells at her, telling her that he's not really her son, she's not even related to him, with the implied meaning that because he is Aaron's biological uncle, he has more of a right to raise him than her, even though she's been mothering him since he was a few months old and clearly loves him and only wants what's best for him. In the show's end she tells him she loves him and they get back together in the afterlife.
- Also worthy of mention, one night, post breakup, Kate shows up in Jacks bed, lying practically catatonic. He asks her what happened to Aaron and she tells him to never mention Aaron to her again. It's clear that she's gone through something traumatic. She kisses him and he doesn't stop her. He proceeds to take advantage of her exceedingly vulnerable state and has sex with her. He also shows no concern for what happened to his nephew.
- In the first season of Glee, Finn breaks up with Quinn once he realises that she lied to him about him being the father of her baby, and the fact that she cheated on him with his best friend. So, when he breaks up with Rachel in season two, and actually gets back together with Quinn, his excuse of "when we kissed, there were fireworks" just doesn't seem good enough to justify it. The trope is played with when Finn admits that he doesn't really trust Quinn AT ALL due to her track record (she cheated on Finn with Puck, and in getting together with Finn, she cheated on Sam), and that he can't quite justify why he's actually with her again. This trope could also be applied with Finn and Rachel, since they break up and get back together more times than you can count, and they usually break up over something stupid - the break up that caused Finn to date Quinn again, for example, was caused when Rachel found out that Finn lost his virginity to Santana (while they weren't together, mind), and she decided to cheat on him with Puck to get her own back. The audience knows that they're going to keep getting back together, but you have to wonder why they keep doing it.
- In Andy Capp, Flo occasionally throws Andy out (whenever she grows a spine), but always takes him back later. In one strip she feels depressed, seemingly for no specific reason. Then Andy comes by the door and asks her to take him back. She accepts, and adds to herself: "I might as well 'ave a reason!"
- Believe it or not, this trope is tangentially responsible for naming the X-Pac Heat trope. After DeGeneration X had broken up, X-Pac had feuded with the members of the stable who had turned heel (Triple H, Chyna, Billy Gunn) and started a tag team with Kane. There was absolutely no reason for him to go back to working for Triple H when he'd been getting standing ovations for kicking Trips in the face. But X-Pac rejoined D-X and backstabbed Kane for no damn reason. His career never really recovered from this ill-timed heel turn.
- Another Non-Romantic example is with CM Punk and the New Nexus. On the Raw before Wrestlemania 27, he buried them, saying that they were just pawns for him to use and to dispose once their usefulness ends. Two weeks later, the New Nexus is still under Punk's leadership.
- Much Ado About Nothing's (allegedly) main plot has Claudio, with no faith in Hero and only the most superficial idea of love for her, but their reconciliation is meant to be a good thing anyway. After the Friar's speech, though, the Friar-suggested Zany Scheme goes into full effect and Claudio realizes that he truly did love Hero to the point where he happily takes her back in the finale. Much of this trope is invoked if Claudio overplays the pivotal moments in Act 4, Scene 1 - if he's being a Jerkass there, it's understandable, but if he's playing a deceived man who shall punish himself further, then it averts this trope. Definitely a case of the actor portraying Claudio providing Your Mileage May Vary.
- The BBC series Shakespeare Re-told didn't change that much of the politically incorrect The Taming of the Shrew, they did change the ending of their adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing because the way Claudio attacks Hero and shames her in front of her family is really beyond the pale. Specifically, Hero doesn't take Claude back after he humiliates her in front of her friends and family.
- Alls Well That Ends Well is worse. The entire point of the play is that Bertram is an insufferable boor who reneges on his promise and gives a series of impossible demands on his betrothed. Then, at the climax when she reveals that she has completed his impossible tasks (which included pretending to be another woman so she could get pregnant with his child), he somehow declares that he loves her. The only sympathetic version that I've seen has him get seriously injured in between the last two scenes, giving a reason for his change of heart.
- Averted in Ibsen's A Dolls House, in which after the conflict is settled, the lead character recognizes her husband's poor character and leaves him. This only happened because Ibsen was forced to change the ending for some German productions because people didn't like the first one. The changed ending has Nora fighting with her husband and is then led to her children, where she collapses and decides to stay, playing this trope straight, but as some protest demonstrated, at least one troupe reverted to the original.
- At the end of The Marriage of Figaro, after the Count has been shown up by Figaro, Susanna and the Countess, he asks his wife to forgive him. She does. This despite the fact that:
- he's been chasing after another woman for most of the opera,
- he's had enough of an affair with Barbarina, a servant girl, that she's able to blackmail him,
- he's repeatedly tried to ruin the wedding of Susanna, her best friend and confidante, and also tried to blackmail her into sleeping with him,
- And please, let's not forget that whole section in act two where he was trying to find out who was in the Countess's wardrobe, and calls her a lot of unpleasant names in the process as well as threatening to scrag her relatively innocent godson. Yes, he had a reason for it, and he does apologise for that one at the time, but that doesn't do much to excuse his behaviour (in one production he even hits her!).
- All this means she'd be perfectly within her rights to have him dance the humiliation conga some more, but because she's 'kinder than him' she forgives him almost right off the bat, and admittedly the music makes it a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. (One only wonders how long he's going to stay faithful this time...)
- In A Streetcar Named Desire, Stella runs off from Stanley after he beats her up, however, seconds after that scene, she runs back to him. Blanche calls her out for it and even asks her what she sees in him. It's been implied that this happened several times. The Film subverts it as in the end, she runs off from Stanley after what he did to Blanche.
- Magical Diary: Horse Hall: The player character's friends not only wonder this, but are furious if they find out that you've taken up with Damien again. Considering that, by this point, he's come close to killing you - and certainly not for lack of trying - it's a wonder that they don't ask that you be locked up for your own safety. Potsdam herself isn't thrilled by your asking to let him back in for the May Dance either, pointing out that she's given him four years' worth of second chances and some things are beyond redemption. Notable in that Damien himself doesn't try to argue that he should be forgiven for his actions or that he even can redeem himself for them.
- The Simpsons: Any episode where Marge considers leaving Homer only to take him back. A memorable incident is is "The War of the Simpsons" when they go to a marriage retreat and Marge has a Long List of her husband's faults and even Rev. Lovejoy agrees with her. Homer throws back the fish he caught and that is enough to make up for everything else, as the two happily head home. This was seasons before he became a Jerkass. While the fish was meant to be a symbol that he actually did love her more than anything else, the example still holds up. It also goes both ways. Marge has repeatedly done things to Homer that show her to be petty and vindictive, and with a bit of a wandering heart/eye.
- The Movie has Homer's selfish behavior finally catch up with him, with Marge taking the kids and leaving, even recording a "Dear John" message over the video of their wedding. However, Homer realizes what he's done and race to win back Marge's love by proving that he really does care about more than just himself.
- Then there's Apu and Manjula. In her first episode it looks like they have a Perfectly Arranged Marriage. Then they have eight babies, which is understandably stressful. But Apu cheats on her because they'd become distant due to the stress of raising their children, which caused them both to act in ways that were unacceptable and detrimental to their relationship. When the affair is discovered it's a wonder either of them takes the other back, all of which is Something In Hindsight when you again recall that first episode, where Manjula herself says "If it doesn't work out, we can always get a divorce."
- Duncan to Courtney in Total Drama Action and then vise versa in World Tour.
- Batman: The Animated Series: Harley Quinn to Joker. She is head over her heels in love, goes mad, gives up her life as a psychiatrist for a life of crime all for her "Mr. J" and he can't take a few moments out of his day to "rev up his Harley". He abandons her, rats her out, abuses her, tries to kill her, and yet she always ends up by his side again sooner or later. She's actively called out on this by pretty much the whole rest of the cast, especially Batman and Poison Ivy, but is too far into Mad Love to really understand why he's bad for her.