Created By: fleb on September 16, 2008
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New Child Left Behind

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An Always Male main character--for obviously biological reasons--gets an unimportant minor character pregnant, and it doesn't have any long-term repercussions whatsoever. He probably doesn't even know she got pregnant; because she's just so considerate she decides not to tell him. In that case, his blissful ignorance neatly evades any and all of the inconvenient Moral Dissonance of being a Deadbeat Dad.

  • O'Neill's Going Native Time Skip-wife in Stargate SG-1, "A Hundred Days." It's obviously implied the way she holds her belly in the last shot.
  • I've heard-it-said that something like this happened to Colossus in X-Men comics.

Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • September 16, 2008
    pawsplay
    Some Batman stories have this element.
  • September 17, 2008
    Etrangere
    Happens in Farscape's season 2 in the Look at the Princess episodes. The pregnant mother is stuck for the next 80 years or so in a kind of unaging stasis which Crichton cannot undergo anymore, so at least he's got a (ridiculously) good excuse.
  • September 17, 2008
    Kilyle
    Gah, I hated how that Stargate ep ended.

    And, in general, I hate this trope. We must have this trope. We must give this trope a page. So I can hate it some more when I browse by it on other trope pages. (I shall do my best to hate it silently and without any visible rants.)
  • September 17, 2008
    Iphigenia
    Isn't James Bond supposed to have had a son by one of his many conquests? (In the new books, not the original ones.)
  • September 17, 2008
    Kahuna Burger
    Believe both Mac Gyver and Indiana Jones have this trope...

    In Colossus's defense, in the Fling Story the girls seduced him with the expressed intent of getting pregnant, and he objected on the basis that he couldn't stay to be a father. They told him children were raised by the whole tribe and they really did want his babies because he was obviously good breeding stock. (OK, it wasn't quite that bad.) So the writers went out of their way to avoid the implication of the (young and idealistic) character acting without consideration for the consequences.

    In one Hercules ep, a reunion of old school heroes visits a training academy and one of the older heroes is casually introduced to his daughter. Of course since the mom was an amazon, her lack of a father growing up as completely unremarkable and not a source of angst to anyone but him.
  • September 17, 2008
    Sackett
    The original version of this is for this to happen during a war movie.

    The protagonist has shore leave or something just before shipping out to the war zone, or maybe the war came unexpectedly and he got drafted without warning. He leaves to go off to war leaving behind a pregnant Love Interest. Can be combined with Altar The Speed.

    Occasionally even the mother didn't know she was pregnant until after the male leaves, but often the lover left behind will not tell the father because she "didn't want to distract him" or "worry him"- Still, it's just as common for the father to receive a letter announcing the birth. Usually this is done when the father is in either a prison camp, or in a muddy foxhole while under fire. Something to juxtapose the brutally and ugliness of war with the joy and innocence of a new baby. Expect the father to become stunned and speechless for several minutes, and for his comrades- even the cynical Deadpan Snarker or Drill Sergeant Nasty of the group- to become respectful and moved by the news. A joyful makeshift party might follow. If in a prison camp this has a strong possibility of a Pet The Dog moment for the prison guards.

    Sometimes the Love Interest deliberately wanted to get pregnant (Lampshaded, and then averted in Since You Went Away). This was a Truth In Television, and in many places still is. It represents the desire of a woman to have something of her lover to keep in case the worst happens to him. Of course there is also some Wish Fulfillment for the man as well, in that he wants to leave some kind of mark on the world, but is going off into danger. A child means that part of him will live on if he dies.

    This war movie trope has then been extended to other settings where the Hero has to leave to go risk his life to save the world- or something else that's dangerous but necessary and suitably heroic. This often captures the emotional aspects of the trope but can lead to Fridge Logic, particularly the further away from the war movie setting you get, as you wonder why the father can't at least show up in between his adventures. Sometimes it can be handled well though given enough justification.

    There has always been some Value Dissonance with the trope, and it has become increasingly so with the shift in values in the West. That doesn't change the trope from being an expression of strong silent desires held by both men and women.
  • September 17, 2008
    Sackett
    • Kirk from Star Trek has this in Wrath of Khan. Justified when Kirk comments to the mother: "I did what you wanted, I stayed away".
    • Lampshaded and then averted in Since You Went Away
    • Superman Returns

    Seen It A Million Times...
  • September 17, 2008
    Sackett
    Oh.. and Needs A Better Title, but I can't think of anything snazy right now.
  • September 17, 2008
    VampireBuddha
    Harry Keogh's wife falls pregnant at the end of Necroscope, but he doesn't find out until the sequel (when he's already dead).
  • September 17, 2008
    Nate the Great
    At least one of Wildcat's kids is like this...
  • September 17, 2008
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    This is basically the entire plot of Mamma Mia
  • September 17, 2008
    Sackett
    I tired to think of some way to make a title out of "Bun in the Oven" and "Baker's Surprise" but I failed.

    Maybe something straightforward like: A Child To Remember Him By?
  • September 17, 2008
    dupreewith2es
    I dunno, I really enjoy the title New Child Left Behind.

    This also may or may not have happened in Supernatural. Despite what the mom said her son was Dean incarnate.
  • September 17, 2008
    Sackett
    • The Natural had this happen when the protagonist left to play Baseball.
  • September 21, 2008
    MasterKnight
    I believe it happens in the recent anime Code Geass, though the male isn't the main character, but instead it's Ohgi.
  • September 21, 2008
    fleb
    Master Knight, gonna need details. (The spoiler's for Code Geass, for you all reading at home.)

    I'm starting to think there are two tropes here, actually. The one I started with: girl gets pregnant, she and the kid are both utterly unimportant-- it's just the Rule Of Drama at work. The other one: woman's existence is Retconned so that the main character can suddenly have a son (of course a hero sires a male heir. Unless this is Mary Sue fanfic).

  • September 21, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    In the case of Mary Sue Fanfic, expect a Copy Cat Sue forthcoming in the form of a Kid From The Future.
  • September 22, 2008
    Arivne
    Baywatch episodes "Baywatch Down Under (parts 1 and 2)". One of the lifeguards discovers that an Australian woman he married and later separated from had a son without telling him. She withheld the information because she knew that if she had told him, he would have felt obligated to stay with her.
  • September 22, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    I happen to think the title New Child Left Behind is Made Of Win.
  • September 22, 2008
    Yaguar
    Grandpa Simpson has a kid like this.
  • September 23, 2008
    Arivne
  • September 23, 2008
    Kilyle
    New Child Left Behind works fine. Better than fine - great. It says what it means to say, fairly obvious about that, and it's snappy and memorable.

    While not falling under this trope, I'm recalling a bit of Elf Quest with that bit about "leaving a kid behind so in case I die, there will still be something of me left." Skot said this shortly before his death. Basically, to the Go-Backs, life was just doing what you could for as long as you could, and then having a kid who could keep going after you. It was described visually as a person walking through the snow, then collapsing, and another person carrying on from that point... a little depressing, but solid enough as a belief.
  • October 1, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    Bump-- I think the kid-retcon is actually already Luke You Are My Father.

    The whole "He's dead, but hey, I'm pregnant, so that's something" trope is definitely splittable. I read that it happened in that quasi-Groundhog Day movie, Premonition, too.
  • October 2, 2008
    Nate the Great
    This happened to the Flash, kinda. The one-nighter clearly thought that the kid was Flash's, for the baby's eyes flashed with lightning. She died before she could tell Flash (and I'm not sure she was gonna, for she respected his current marriage to somebody else). I was afraid that this was going to be a dropped plot point, but it turns out that it was actually the Weather Wizard's. Awkward.
  • November 1, 2008
    Sackett
    bump
  • November 2, 2008
    Jupiah
    Do we seriously not have a trope for Deadbeat Dad?
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