It should come as no surprise to regular listeners of Breaking the Glass Slipper that we take issue with female characters being included in a narrative purely to act as a love interest. Unfortunately, it happens all too often. The conversation has flared up again around the plethora of superhero/comic book films where this problem happens tie and time again. A recent article on the Guardian website looks specifically at Marvel’s Doctor Strange, but this is not a new issue (just look at this 2013 article on the same issue).

While we do see this ‘token love interest’ character popping up more often as a woman, it isn’t limited to female characters. Men also suffer from pigeon-holing into characters that are nothing more than a love interest, having no agency or interesting plot line of their own. TV Tropes argues that this phenomenon of adding an unnecessary romance plot is part of Hollywood’s attempt to appeal to the widest audience possible. But does it? Does a story in a genre you would otherwise not be interested in become more palatable with the addition of a romance?

We discuss everything from the most egregious examples of token romances to its overuse in YA, and why it is Richard Armitage not the addition of a romance plot that would get Charlotte into a cinema…

Texts we mention in this episode include:


  • The Hobbit
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • The Terminator
  • The Princess Bride
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Ladyhawke
  • The Avengers
  • Ant-Man
  • Plunkett & Macleane
  • Moulin Rouge
  • James Bond
  • Jupiter Ascending
  • Star Trek


  • Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
  • The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
  • The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas