Created By: Hodor on July 23, 2013 Last Edited By: Antigone3 on August 21, 2013
Troped

Maternal Death, Blame The Child

A character is hated (usually by their father) because their mother died giving birth to them.

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Trope
Since the original draft was flagged Up for Grabs, I'll see what I can do with it. Hodor, if you want this back just say the word.

Sometimes, when a woman dies in childbirth, the child is seen as the mother's last gift to her surviving family. But then there's these cases, in which the child is blamed for the mother's death.

Typically, this involves being hated or otherwise ill-treated by their father. Other relatives are free to join in, though. Who's actually to blame for the death is completely irrelevant -- there's too many historical cases of Death by Childbirth caused by doctor screw-ups, but if this trope is in play the kid's still getting full blame.

Needless to say, this child will commonly grow up to be The Unfavorite.

This is a subtrope of You Should Have Died Instead. Compare Replacement Goldfish, when the (often female) child is seen as a preservation of her mother.

Rolling Updates

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Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Eureka Seven: This is part of the reason Dewey Novak, the series' antagonist, despises his younger brother Holland. Because of the event, the title of Sacrificial King is passed on to Holland. Of course, Dewey's account may be all in his head.
  • Kodomo no Omocha: Akito's issues turn out to be largely caused by his sister Natsumi blaming him for their mother's Death by Childbirth. He assumed this was the case with his father as well, but it turned out Dad was just distant because he's a Workaholic.
  • In CLANNAD, this is the main reason behind why Tomoya's father has a rough time getting along with him. In a twist of fate, Tomoya's wife also dies at childbirth and he chose to neglect their newborn daughter for about five years. It wasn't until his grandmother calls him on it that he realizes he's being like his old man.
  • Borderline example in Berserk. Guts was discovered as a newborn beneath the corpse of his mother (who had apparently been hanged while pregnant). After the woman who found him dies of a plague, Guts' adopted father blames him, believing him to be cursed. For bonus points, he namechecks the supertrope, You Should Have Died Instead.

Comic Books
  • In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, Snivley's father Colin tried to avoid this trope, but Snivley growing up with several traits he despised caused him to resent his son. This resulted in the demeaning nickname, and him going to work for Dr. Robotnik.

Literature
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Tywin Lannister loathes his son Tyrion, because Tywin's wife, Joanna (who was pretty much Tywin's Morality Chain) died giving birth to Tyrion. The fact that Tyrion was born with dwarfism and other deformities doesn't help. Tywin only acknowledges Tyrion as his son to the extent necessary under social norms, and openly tells Tyrion that if it wasn't for the love Tywin bore his mother, Tywin would have left him to die at birth.
    • This is also a part of Daenerys's backstory, whose mother also died giving birth to her while her mother and brother were on the run from assassins. For that, her narration states, her older brother Viserys had never forgiven her, although he continued to care for her until his Start of Darkness.
  • In Best Served Cold, the Barbarian Hero Shivers justifies his participation in helping to carry out a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, because Shivers wants to avenge the death of his beloved brother, who everyone considered The Ace. Later on, Shivers POV reveals this is a lie. In reality, Shivers hated his brother. Shivers' mother died giving birth to him, and because of that, his brother would cruelly abuse him when others weren't watching.
  • In the prologue to Unnatural Issue, Richard Whitestone's wife dies giving birth to Suzanne. Richard immediately blames Suzanne:
    No, it was this interloper that had murdered his beloved.
  • Invoked in The Eyes of the Dragon, when the universally beloved Queen Sasha dies giving birth to the rather useless Prince Thomas. Thomas imagines that not only his father, but pretty much everyone in the kingdom is thinking, "We lost your mother, and we got you instead?"
  • Present in some adaptations of A Christmas Carol, which explain why young Ebenezer was left at school over the holidays with this trope. [[hottip:*:The existence of Ebenezer's younger sister argues against it, but his father might have remarried.]]
    • Fred might also be an example; he resembles Scrooge's sister enough to cause Scrooge emotional pain whenever uncle and nephew meet.
  • The Kite Runner: Baba blames his son Amir for the death of his wife.
  • The Elric Saga: Elric's father, Emperor Sadric, is said to not have cared much for his son because of this trope. Interestingly enough, he still chose the sickly Elric to succeed him to the throne over his ambitious cousin, Yyrkoon. In the novels, Sadric is a Posthumous Character but in the prequel comic, Elric: Making of a Sorcerer, we get to actually see him interacting with his son. In the comic, Sadric seems to be occasionally genuinely worried about his son's wellbeing and it is hypothesized by Cymoril that at least a part of him loves Elric even though he claims to spurn him.

Live Action Television
  • Like the books, Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones makes no effort to hide the fact that he blames his dwarf son for his wife's Death by Childbirth.
    • Cersei also blames Tyrion for their mother's death, and after Tyrion makes a joke about her hidden relationship with Jaime she makes an even crueler taunt that Joanna died for his sake, which should be Tyrion's greatest joke. Jaime is in fact the only one who loves Tyrion unconditionally.
  • In quite possibly the only justified example on this page, Angel is particularly furious at season 4 Big Bad Jasmine, whose birth put Angel's Love Interest into a coma. It's justified because Jasmine manipulated/possessed Cordelia to create the conditions so that she could essentially give birth to herself using Cordelia's body.
  • One episode of Dollhouse has a client hire the Dollhouse to program a mother for his newborn whose actual mother died in childbirth. He blamed the baby and could not give him the love he needed. In a rare subversion, the client knew it was irrational and still wanted the child to be loved which was why he had them program Echo to think she was his mother. By the end of the episode, he's gotten over his issues and takes care of his son on his own.
  • A good portion of Ben Linus' Freudian Excuse on Lost was the ill-feeling his father Roger Linus seemed to have for him due to his mother's death in childbirth.

Mythology

Theatre
  • In the musical of [[Wicked, Elphaba is blamed for her mother's death even though she died after giving birth to her younger sister Nessarose. Their father wanted to make sure there were no more green kids in the family, so he made the mother chew milkweed pods. The result was a fair skinned but crippled daughter and the mother died soon afterwards.

Video Games
  • Final Fantasy VI: After Gau's mother died giving birth to him, his father was driven to insanity, thought he was a demon and threw him out into the wild.
Community Feedback Replies: 60
  • July 24, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    If memory serves, the 1980s TV version of Charles D Ickens' A Christmas Carol (with George C. Scott as Scrooge) gives this as the reason young Ebeneezer was left behind at the boarding school during the holidays. I think there was also a suggestion that Scrooge was doing something similar with his nephew Fred (Scrooge's beloved sister Fan was said to be frail, so it wasn't a surprise that she suffered Death By Childbirth). I cannot recall if the idea is in the original novel or not.
  • July 24, 2013
    Generality
    ^ Yes, this is the case in the book. Not only that, but Fred's appearance is very similar to Fan, causing Scrooge anguish whenever he sees him, thus encouraging him to stay distant.
  • July 24, 2013
    Antigone3
    Would Blame The Infant be a better name?

    A female example is in Unnatural Issue, after Suzanne's mother dies in childbirth, Richard immediately blames her.
    No, it was this interloper that had murdered his beloved.
  • July 24, 2013
    Sibuna
  • July 24, 2013
    oztrickster
    Is this different to You Should Have Died Instead?
  • July 24, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    ^ I think it's a subtrope to You Should Have Died Instead, specific to Death By Childbirth situations. Somewhat understandable, considering the loss of someone known and loved for the gain of a "little stranger".

    Seconding Blame The Infant.
  • July 24, 2013
    DAN004
    While it would be somewhat clear for what the infant should be blamed for, I'm still tempted to think a better title than Blame The Infant.

    Perhaps Mom Dead(comma)Blame The Infant?

  • July 25, 2013
    Hodor
    I like the second one, although I'd prefer Mom Dead (comma)Blame The Child.

    As the examples indicate, the person receiving the hatred is often an adult by the time the story starts, and so infant isn't really accurate (child also implies a younger character, but not as explicitly).

  • July 25, 2013
    Antigone3
    Found an example in You Should Have Died Instead and pulled it over here.
  • July 25, 2013
    1810072342
    I get the feeling there should at least be a comma in that title somewhere to make it easier to read.
  • July 25, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    In my opinion, something like Murder By Childbirth would make up for a lot less awkward title (or maybe Matricide By Childbirth?).
  • July 25, 2013
    Antigone3
    ^^ Adding a comma will have to wait until after launch
  • July 25, 2013
    azul120
    • Eureka Seven: This is part of the reason Dewey Novak, the series' antagonist, despises his younger brother Holland. Because of the event, the title of Sacrificial King is passed on to Holland. Of course, Dewey's account may be all in his head.

    • Final Fantasy VI: After Gau's mother died giving birth to him, his father was driven to insanity, thought he was a demon and threw him out into the wild.
  • July 25, 2013
    DAN004
    Older Than Feudalism
    • In Japanese Mythology, the god Izanagi ends up killing his son Kagutsuchi because his wife Izanami died giving birth to him.
  • July 26, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Murder By Childbirth is much better. Current doesn't even imply Death By Childbirth. Murder By Childbirth could lead to some confusion since it sounds like it's about someone killing a woman through childbirth rather than someone believing it, but given the former is patently absurd it's clear enough.
  • July 26, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Yeah, Murder By Childbirth doesn't work, because there's no actual killing involved. Alleged Murder By Childbirth is better, but not by much and still lacks a certain ... charm.

    PS: YKTTW titles should be spelled exactly how you want it to appear, including custom-titling (punctuation, etc.)
  • July 26, 2013
    Larkmarn
    There's two things it needs to communicate:

    Murder By Childbirth implies that it is the child's fault, as though he is within the womb, tapping his barely developed fingers together plotting his mother's death. Mom Dead Blame The Child doesn't touch upon the Death By Childbirth aspect at all.

    Anyway:

    • Like the books, Tywin Lannister in Game Of Thrones makes no effort to hide the fact that he blames his dwarf son for his wife's Death By Childbirth.
    • In quite possibly the only justified example on this page, Angel is particularly furious at season 4 Big Bad Jasmine, whose birth put Angel's Love Interest into a coma. It's justified because Jasmine manipulated/possessed Cordelia to create the conditions so that she could essentially give birth to herself using Cordelia's body.
  • July 26, 2013
    DAN004
    Matricide By Childbirth works better I guess.
  • July 26, 2013
    crazysamaritan
  • July 26, 2013
    Hodor
    I like the current title. The two above suggestions sound like they could just be alternate titles for the current Death By Childbirth.
  • July 26, 2013
    SKJAM
    • Kodomo No Omocha: Akito's issues turn out to be largely caused by his sister Natsumi blaming him for their mother's Death By Childbirth. He assumed this was the case with his father as well, but it turned out Dad was just distant because he's a Workaholic.
  • July 27, 2013
    Antigone3
    The problem with using Matricide in the title is that it's a specific form of murder. We don't have a single example where the fetus deliberately kills Mom. If the death isn't murder, we shouldn't (IMO) be calling it one.
  • July 27, 2013
    Marz1200
    • One episode of Dollhouse has a client hire the Dollhouse to program a mother for his newborn whose actual mother died in childbirth. He blamed the baby and could not give him the love he needed. In a rare subversion, the client knew it was irrational and still wanted the child to be loved which was why he had them program Echo to think she was his mother. By the end of the episode, he's gotten over his issues and takes care of his son on his own.
  • July 28, 2013
    Synchronicity
    Addendum to A Song Of Ice And Fire: This is also a part of Daenerys's backstory, whose mother also died giving birth to her while her mother and brother were on the run from assassins. For that, her narration states, her older brother Viserys had never forgiven her, although he continued to care for her until his Start Of Darkness.
  • July 28, 2013
    xanderiskander
    Call this "Maternal Death Blame The Child". At least then it's clearly about dying during pregnancy and giving birth, instead of just any kind of death.
  • July 28, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    ^^^^ that's the thing; the child is being blamed for murder, regardless of whether it was intentional or not.
  • July 30, 2013
    Randomwaffle23
    I'm working from memory here, but I'm pretty sure it was The Kite Runner where Baba, possibly without realizing it, blames his son Amir for the death of his wife.
  • July 30, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ My thought exactly, though I have to admit that I myself wasn't quite sure about the name.

    Anyway, I got an example:

    Literature
    • The Elric Saga: Elric's father, Emperor Sadric, is said to not have cared much for his son because of this trope. Interestingly enough, he still chose the sickly Elric to succeed him to the throne over his ambitious cousin, Yyrkoon. In the novels, Sadric is a Posthumous Character but in the prequel comic, Elric: Making of a Sorcerer, we get to actually see him interacting with his son. In the comic, Sadric seems to be occasionally genuinely worried about his son's wellbeing and it is hypothesized by Cymoril that at least a part of him loves Elric even though he claims to spurn him.
  • July 31, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    How about Child Blamed For Death By Child Birth or Death By Child Birth Blame Child (Death by Child Birth, Blame Child) current title sounds awkward.
  • July 31, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Those are a bit wordy :D
  • July 31, 2013
    xanderiskander
    ^^Those sound more awkward than the current one. Too long as Paradisesnake said. One problem with finding a good title for this seems to be that there isn't a way to make it clear/descriptive enough about the trope, and be concise at the same time. So it's best to keep with the current one because it's more clear and concise, unless we find something else that's less wordy.
  • July 31, 2013
    crazysamaritan
  • August 1, 2013
    Antigone3
  • August 8, 2013
    Morgenthaler
    • Game Of Thrones addendum: Cersei also blames Tyrion for their mother's death, and after Tyrion makes a joke about her hidden relationship with Jaime she makes an even crueler taunt that Joanna died for his sake, which should be Tyrion's greatest joke. Jaime is in fact the only one who loves Tyrion unconditionally.
  • August 9, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Please cut the Game Of Thrones example from the Live Action Television section. The same information is already stated in Literature (A Song Of Ice And Fire). There's no need to list examples from the same franchise under several media.
  • August 9, 2013
    Hodor
    Why not, its an adaptation, which could theoretically play things differently (like for instance, I don't recall Cersei blaming Tyrion in the books- she hates him for even less reason there).

    By the way, really like the trope description/wiki magic that has been done. Thanks.
  • August 9, 2013
    TrustBen
    A good portion of Ben Linus' Freudian Excuse on Lost was the ill-feeling his father Roger Linus seemed to have for him due to his mother's death in childbirth.
  • August 9, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ That will become reasonable only when there is a certain amount of Adaptation Distillation (which the Game Of Thrones doesn't really have). Otherwise we should only list things that are actually done differently in the adaptation, or people will just end up listing exactly the same examples in two different places (you don't see two different bullets for every single manga and its anime adaptation, for example).
  • August 9, 2013
    hbi2k
    What about Death By Childbirth Scapegoat? Ties it to Death By Childbirth and specifies that the child is being unfairly blamed.
  • August 9, 2013
    Hodor
    ^^ I posed the issue on Ask The Tropers- wasn't sure if there was a general rule.

    With this specific examples, there are some differences- someone will need to refresh my memory on this, but I don't think there's any mention of Cersei hating Tyrion because of this factor in the books.

    Also, not that it would necessarily be listed in the example, but the show makes a point of Tywin giving a The Reason You Suck Speech to all three of his children, which seems to cast some doubt on the extent to which Tywin is cruel to Tyrion because of the Death By Childbirth versus Tywin just being a jerk.
  • August 9, 2013
    DarthLink22
    In Archie Comics Sonic The Hedgehog, Snivley's father Colin tried to avoid this trope, but Snivley growing up with several traits he despised caused him to resent his son. This resulted in the demeaning nickname, and him going to work for Dr. Robotnik.
  • August 9, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ In any case it would be preferable if all the examples were listed under the same media in a form like: "trope occurs in the books like X, whereas in the series it occurs like Y". Otherwise the same examples will inevitably be listed twice.
  • August 10, 2013
    Psyga315
    • In Clannad, this is the main reason behind why Tomoya's father has a rough time getting along with him. In a twist of fate, Tomoya's wife also dies at childbirth and he chose to neglect their newborn daughter for about five years. It wasn't until his grandmother calls him on it that he realizes he's being like his old man.
  • August 10, 2013
    Sandbylur
    ^^ If we were to do that, people who decide to skip over one of the sections (e.g. someone who doesn't watch TV and isn't interested in tropes from that medium) may miss information that would pique their interest. It's trivial to gloss over an example you saw mentioned elsewhere on the page. It's nigh impossible to find an example in a section you don't read.
  • August 11, 2013
    Mauri
    Well got one example: Anime and Manga:
    • Berserk: It is inferred due to how Guts is found and later dialogues that this is how Guts came to life via taking without knowing his mothers life. Given that the adoptive father is a mixture of a Manipulative Bastard and a Well Done Son Guy. It is revealed later that the woman who died giving birth to Guts was said individuals lover.
  • August 11, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ I'm not sure if Berserk really fits this trope. Shisui was only Guts' foster mother, she didn't actually give birth to him.
  • August 11, 2013
    Mauri
    Well not sure on some aspects but considering the aspect of where they find him in the manga version... Still I'm not the judge on this one.
  • August 11, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Storywise it's basically the same as Gambino blames Guts for killing Shisui even though he had nothing to do with the death of his adoptive mother. However, this trope is at the moment built around the Death By Childbirth scenario so I guess it's sort of a borderline case...
  • August 12, 2013
    hbi2k
    I'd phrase the Berserk example:

    • Borderline example in Berserk. Guts was discovered as a newborn beneath the corpse of his mother (who had apparently been hanged while pregnant). After the woman who found him dies of a plague, Guts' adopted father blames him, believing him to be cursed. For bonus points, he namechecks the supertrope, You Should Have Died Instead.
  • August 12, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Yeah, I was actually thinking that something like that could work.
  • August 20, 2013
    Hodor
    Bump? Ready for launch?
  • August 20, 2013
    littlemissmuffet
    One more for theater!

    • In the musical of Wicked, Elphaba is blamed for her mother's death even though she died after giving birth to her younger sister Nessarose. Their father wanted to make sure there were no more green kids in the family, so he made the mother chew milkweed pods. The result was a fair skinned but crippled daughter and the mother died soon afterwards.
  • August 20, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    ^^ I think the name is still in question; it's been changed several times after already attracting hats.
  • August 21, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Current title is good already...
  • August 21, 2013
    xanderiskander
    ^^ Not really. The current name is good. This is probably the most clear and concise that it's going to get.
  • August 21, 2013
    crazysamaritan
    paycheckgurl, xanderiskander, Antigone3, and Ihave still been exploring other name options. We believe the current name is awkward.
  • August 21, 2013
    xanderiskander
    ^ I am xanderiskander. So don't speak for me. And I've consistently said the current name is as good and clear as it's gonna get, and there's no way to get a perfect name that's clear/descriptive/witty enough, and be concise at the same time for something as specific as this, because you have to describe 3 things that are happening in one title. All the other names suggested have been more awkward and less clear than the current one. So we should just stick with this because keeping the title understandable is most important.

    I added the 5th hat btw.
  • August 21, 2013
    DAN004
    So... what now? Launch?
  • August 21, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    EDIT: Actually now that I look at it closer, there's quite a lot of examples that haven't been added to the draft by the OP yet. I say add them and then launch.
  • August 21, 2013
    Antigone3
    Sorry, real life interference. I'll pull the final examples in and launch.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=rnihwb4hx43ei1mi26sixdev&trope=MaternalDeathBlameTheChild