Created By: ReverendMeteor on June 8, 2011 Last Edited By: intastiel on February 9, 2018

Heteropaternal Superfecundation

Fraternal twins who have different fathers

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In medicine, heteropaternal superfecundation is when a woman releases two ova that are fertilized by two different men's sperm presumably in two separate instances of intercourse in a relatively short period of time resulting in fraternal (non-identical) twins who are half-siblings.

In fiction, this could also be the result of a Mystical Pregnancy or of working on Designer Babies.


Anime and Manga
  • Boku wa Imouto ni Koi o Suru: Twins Yori and Iku have different fathers. —ZCE

  • Bryce Courtenay's Australian Trilogy: Twins Tommo and Hawk Solomon —ZCE

Live-Action Television
  • This has happened twice on Maury in baby paternity episodes. In typical fashion a woman brings a man to the Maury Povich show and shouts at him about being the father of the twins. The guy comes out and shouts that he isn't. Turns out they're both wrong and he's the father of only one of them.
  • One Life to Live: When Victoria Lord (who has multiple personality disorder) is raped by villain Mitch Lawrence, she became pregnant with twin girls: Mitch's daughter Jessica and her husband Clint's daughter Natalie. Mitch kidnaps Natalie and has her raised by another family while Jessica is raised by Clint and Victoria. Years later, Mitch marries a grown up Natalie in a bizarre revenge plot to steal Victoria's fortune.
  • Days of Our Lives: Sami Brady is raped by EJ Dimera while she is married to Lucas Roberts. She later gives birth to twins John and Alice. John is EJ's son while Alice is Lucas' daughter. Later in typical soap fashion Sami falls in love with her rapist EJ and has another daughter with him.
  • Guiding Light: Blake Thorpe Marler gives birth to fraternal twin boys Jason and Kevin, then discovers that Kevin was fathered by her lover Rick Bauer but Jason was fathered by her husband Ross Marler. Subverted when it is revealed that a hospital employee swapped DNA results to make it appear that Rick was Kevin's father, when both twins were really fathered by Blake's husband.

Myth and Legend
  • In Classical Mythology:
    • Heracles and his twin brother Iphicles share a human mother, Alcmene. Iphicles is the son of her human husband King Amphitryon, while Heracles is the son of the god Zeus, thanks to Zeus pulling a Bed Trick on her.
    • In some accounts, Zeus is the father of two of the human princess Leda's quadruplets. One night he came to Leda as a swan. Leda gave birth to four eggs from which hatched her four children Castor, Pollux, Helen of Troy, and Clytemnestra. Zeus is the father of Pollux and Helen, while Leda's husband Tyndareus is the father of Castor and Clytemnestra. As a Semi-Divine being, Pollux is immortal, and spends some time as the Angsty Surviving Twin before he and Castor are reunited as the constellation Gemini. Helen, meanwhile, is the face that launched the Trojan War.

Real Life
  • A news item in 2009 reported a Texas woman who gave birth to twins from different fathers. She and her partner got suspicious when one of the twin boys didn't resemble him, and she eventually admitted to an affair with another man.
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • June 8, 2011
    1. I approve of this trope

    2. It needs a different title or no one will ever be able to find/remember it.
  • June 11, 2011
    You got Castor and Pollux mixed up somewhere in there. Read it carefully.
  • June 11, 2011
    Rising Stars: It turns out two of the characters are half-brothers, their mother having an affair, sleeping with one a few hours after the other during the Mass Empowering Event.
  • June 11, 2011
    Sesquidepalian Locquaciousness title - and the fact that I can't even spell that one correctly shows exactly what the problem is. It'll be impossible to link to.
  • June 11, 2011
    Yeah, this really needs a better name. How about Castor And Pollux, as one of the ur-examples?
  • June 11, 2011
  • June 11, 2011
    Contradiction in the Zeus example: "Leda's husband Tyndareus is the father of Pollux and Clytemnestra. Pollux being Zeus's son is immortal while his brother Castor is not."

    ^ Fraternal twinness is an indispensible component of the trope, and your suggestion does not imply this component in the slightest. Besides, it shouldn't be limited to males; I say Fraternal Twin From A Different Father.

    ^^ Characters being the main names of a trope is greatly frowned upon; I don't see a problem with making that a redirect, however.
  • June 11, 2011
    We could probably shorten it further to just Twins With Different Fathers. That about sums it up.

    (Also, I recall learning that there was some kind of ancient culture that believed ALL twins were conceived this way, thus treating twins as proof of adultery, but the details elude me.)
  • June 11, 2011
    Just out of curiosity, should we add a disclaimer saying "Any attempt at adding Twins With Different Mothers 'examples' using Gender Inverted Trope as an excuse will be zapped with extreme prejudice"? Or is Twins With Different Mothers really possible?
  • June 12, 2011
    Real Life: Neil Patrick Harris and his partner David have twins conceived through Artificial Insemination (both eggs from the same donor) and carried to term by a surrogate. Neil fertilized one egg and David the other, and they both took.
  • June 13, 2011
    This is bordering on People Sit On Chairs territory. A medical oddity is not a trope.

    I can see it as a kind of Daytime TV trope, where it's used as the Take A Third Option resolution to the question of twin paternity. This would keep the Maury and Soap Opera examples, but excise the mythological ones and some of the Real Life, since they really have nothing in common trope-wise.
  • July 17, 2011
    ^ Why not? It's not everyday that you hear of such a case IRL, let alone in fictional media.
  • February 7, 2018
  • February 7, 2018
    I can see this being a sub trope of Televisually Transmitted Disease if the right kind of examples are gathered
  • February 7, 2018
    Formatted the examples section, added wicks to works pages and related tropes, marked zero-context examples, and did some proofreading.
  • February 8, 2018
    Not sure how related this is: but there's also a similar but opposite phenomenon in several Celtic myths where one child would be born from one egg inseminated by two separate men at the same time. This is commonly referred to as being 'two fathered'.

    Now, as to why I bring this up...

    In the "Merideth Gentry" series by Laural K. Hamilton, BOTH end up happening AT THE SAME TIME to the titular protagonist's three children. (Her sex life is WEIRD...)

  • February 8, 2018
    Needs a more Laymans Terms name; Twins With Different Fathers is the best proposed one so far.
  • February 8, 2018
    The description acts like we wouldn't know what fraternal twins are but acts like we would know what superfecundation is. Also, "hetero-" immediately connotes "straight" when discussing media. At least for me. Differently Fathered Twins for a name suggestion.
  • February 8, 2018
    The current title sounds so Wikipedia-ey, and We Are Not Wikipedia...

    I'm thinking Fraternal Twins With Two Fathers or Fraternal Twins With Different Fathers.
  • February 8, 2018
  • February 8, 2018
    I think "Twins With Different Fathers" would do the trick. If someone somehow manages to have identical twins by different fathers, it'd probably be strange enough to merit noting here.
  • February 8, 2018
    I agree with Jaytee from... six-odd years ago.

    This isn't a trope. This is people sit on (very, very specific) chairs. The examples are effectively saying "this happens" and not actually saying what the potential trope here actually means from a storytelling perspective.
  • February 9, 2018
    ^I think frankly that it's done for little more reason than because of its rarity, possibly to show how much sex the woman had (or in the Child By Rape case, had done to her). As it happens I have examples of each:

    • Exaggerated in the Merry Gentry novels. Merry, who has been having orgy after orgy with her bodyguards and any number of other supernatural beings in order to conceive, finally becomes pregnant with twins who each have three different fathers (lots of magic was involved).
    • Familias Regnant: In one book a noblewoman from Familias Regnant space is taken captive by a fringe planet and made a Breeding Slave, and impregnated by two different men. It's mentioned she's considered more valuable because she drops two eggs at a time.