Created By: MrInitialMan on September 17, 2011 Last Edited By: StrixObscuro on September 14, 2014

Child Beyond Redemption

GoodParents, terrible kid.

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And I turned 21 in prison doing life without parole
No-one could steer me right, but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama Tried by Merle Haggard

A person tries to be a Good Parent—but no matter what they do, the child still does their own thing and charges headlong into trouble. This can lead to the parent disowning their child.

Compare Antagonistic Offspring, Enfante Terrible, Where Did We Go Wrong?.



Live-Action TV
  • In EastEnders, Dot Cotton, a god-fearing, chain-smoking member of society raised Nick. Although, she apparently did try.
  • Inverted with Joxer of Xena: Warrior Princess, who is the White Sheep of the family - he comes from a long line of warlords but no matter how hard he tries, he just can't be evil.

  • "Mama Tried" by Merle Haggard. He talks about turning 21 in prison, doing life without parole, and states he is the only one to blame, as Mama tried.
  • The first verse of "Don't go chasing waterfalls" by TLC has a mother trying to dissuade her son from dealing drugs. He gets killed.
  • Johnny Cash: "When I was just a baby, my momma told me 'Son, always be a good boy, don't ever play with guns' but I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die..."
  • Another song, called "Don't take your guns to town".

Western Animation
  • While Drew and Charlotte often spoil or enable Angelica in Rugrats, Drew frequently attempts to properly discipline and educate her, but she never learns.

Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • September 22, 2011
    Seems very similar to the newish trope Mama Didnt Raise No Criminal. Not sure if this would be a separate trope or not.
  • September 23, 2011
    Mama Didnt Raise No Criminal is about the parents' denial that their Darling Little Angel has done wrong. In this trope, there doesn't need to BE denial--often, the parent is aware that the child is going wrong and does everything to right the kid's path--but to no avail.

    In the Merle Haggard song, the chorus includes the line "Mama tried to raise me better/but her pleading I denied", which doesn't sound like denial on the parents part.
  • September 23, 2011
  • September 23, 2011
    Fridge Logic: If the parents did everything right, why did the kid go wrong? In The Blood? (But would that be possible with the parents being genuinely good?) Bad influence by other people the kid knows?
  • September 23, 2011
    Trying to do right isn't necessarily the same as actually doing right. Also yes, In The Blood, and outside influences can also play a factor.
  • September 23, 2011
    @Frank75: When he choose to do evil and reject his parents ways.
  • September 23, 2011
    Between Mama Didnt Raise No Criminal, Where Did We Go Wrong, and new Antagonistic Offspring (which I admit, I created and launched) do we have this covered?
  • September 23, 2011
    Most likely the dramatic subtrope of Where Did We Go Wrong where the kid ends up on the wrong side of the law or justice.

    Basically, the kid's a serious screwup, and the work in question doesn't blame the parents--and often, neither does the kid (Merle Haggard's song lays no blame on the titular Mama.)
  • September 23, 2011
    Played For Laughs on My Name Is Earl, where Earl's & Randy's parents tried.
  • September 25, 2011
    • Johnny Cash: "When I was just a baby, my momma told me 'Son, always be a good boy, don't ever play with guns' but I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die..."
  • September 27, 2011
    C Omics: Arcade in the Marvel universe. Rich spoiled kid, but his parents are unremarkable. He murders his parents because they cut him off.
  • June 29, 2013
    This can lead to the parent disowning their child.
  • June 29, 2013
    The Apple Falls To The Dark Side

    Hmm... probably too obtuse...
  • June 29, 2013
    • While Drew and Charlotte often spoil or enable Angelica in Rugrats, frequent attempts are made to properly discipline and educate their daughter, she never learns.
  • June 29, 2013
  • June 29, 2013
    This seems like a part of Where Did We Go Wrong
  • June 30, 2013
    It is definately related--but it's not just a child growing up different from a parent, it's the parent(s) trying to keep their kid out of trouble, while the kid refuses to stay out of it.

    Basically a combination of Good Parents + Redemption Rejection = Enfante Terrible (though it doesn't have to be a child that goes wrong).
  • August 14, 2013
    • Game Of Thrones: However cruel and idiotic she is, Cersei Lannister did try to be a good mother to her children. While things worked out with Myrcella and Tommen, the same can't be said for her eldest, Joffrey.
  • August 25, 2013
    Child Beyond Redemption sounds about right.
  • August 26, 2013
    If it's really In The Blood, compare Evil Parents Want Good Kids.
  • August 26, 2013
    • East Enders: Dot Cotton, a god fearing chain smoking member of society raised Nick. Although, she apparently did try.
  • August 26, 2013
    Inverted with Joxer of Xena Warrior Princess who is the White Sheep of the family - he comes from a long line of warlords but no matter how hard he tries he just can't be evil.
  • September 9, 2013
    Does this count?
    • One Piece: Vice Admiral Monkey D. Garp is often referred to as the "Hero of the Marines", being a legendary Marine officer since the Pirate King's day. And yet, his grandsons are powerful pirates. May have something to do with the fact that he practices Tough Love - as in, putting them into dangerous situations just so they may grow into strong Marines - and the fact that he left the two to a mountain bandit leader to be raised when he's away. He's still proud of the two, though. He just doesn't like to arrest them.
  • September 11, 2014
    So in a debate in Nature Vs Nurture, I guess this children is "Neither". Or, more correctly, "my own choice."
  • September 12, 2014
    This does seem to overlap a lot with existing tropes. However, if it runs... We Need To Talk About Kevin.
  • September 12, 2014
  • September 12, 2014
    • Examples section formatting
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Added blank line(s) for readability.
      • Blue Linked media section title(s).
      • Namespaced and italicized work name(s).
      • Namespaced Music names.
      • Put song titles in quotes instead of italics as per Welcome To TV Tropes - Editing Articles.

    "Don't take your guns to town" is a Zero Context Example.
  • September 12, 2014
    I've tried to further clean up the examples...
  • September 12, 2014
    This title makes it sound like another variant of Antagonistic Offspring.
  • September 13, 2014
    • Multiple examples in Agatha Christie's works.
      • Nemesis has the son of a rich man be accused of raping and violently murdering a young girl he was in love with. The psychologist Miss Marple talks with agree that he's a hardened criminal, but not a mentally disturbed one (they also acknowledge that it's not so much "rape" as consensual sex out of wedlock, and the girl's mother tells her to call it rape).
      • Ordeal by Innocence: Mrs. Argyle is murdered and everyone believes her adopted son Jacky did it (the Black Sheep of his also-adopted siblings), and died in prison claiming his innocence. It turns out the scientist who could have given him an alibi suffered a concussion and left to Antarctica for years before returning, Jacky having died in the meantime. By the end of the novel it's revealed Jacky had seduced the governess into helping him: she killed the mother while he was away, but when it turned out he'd never had any intention of marrying her and was in fact already married to a horribly vulgar woman, she shut up and let him die in prison, since Jacky's plan hinged on his being the most likely murder suspect but with a perfect alibi.
      • Hickory Dickory Dock: the murderer is a criminal genius and son of a nobleman who started by forging checks and moved on to murder his mother for money. His father, not wanting to soil the family name, made him sign a confession, kicked him out of the house (Nigel presented it as an abusive husband killing her) and gave the letter to his lawyers, talling them to release it if ever it turns out Nigel had persisted in his ways after his father's death.

  • September 14, 2014
    Does this only count if we see both of the parents and know they're trying to raise the kid right, or does it still work if just one parent shows up in the story?

    • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Diamond Tiara is a bully with few redeeming characteristics, and a recurring antagonist to Apple Bloom. Her father, Filthy Rich, is an upstanding guy who disciplines his daughter when he learns that she's been a bully. Diamond Tiara has yet to learn anything.
  • September 14, 2014
    ^ Just one parent is okay.
  • September 14, 2014
    A Criminal Minds episode ("Shades Of Grey") revolves about finding a child murderer. It turns out that said murderer is the child's own brother, only a year or so older, who is The Sociopath (cruel enough to shove a wrecked model airplane down his brother's throat in retaliation for him breaking it.). From what we see, both parents loved both children very much, enough to make a local pedophile the Fall Guy and then try to take the blame for the child's death rather than have their remaining son arrested.