Family of Choice YKTTW Discussion

Family of Choice
A group of characters have strong bonds of emotional support and familial obligation despite not being related by blood.
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(permanent link) added: 2013-02-06 17:25:46 sponsor: Makoyi edited by: StarValkyrie (last reply: 2013-06-13 19:26:50)

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Often in fiction, a character who starts out Conveniently an Orphan will pick up extremely loyal companions along the way. Sometimes these relationships are forged through the fire of conflict, but with Families of Choice, its a bit different. Members of a Chosen Family mourn the lack of family in their lives and decide to build one of their own out of people they care for and who care for them in turn.

As in Real Life, this is most common when something has happened to these characters to isolate them from blood relatives - perhaps they were thrown out of their home for being gay, or maybe they have a supernatural secret they can’t share with their parents. They might have survived all their family members or they could just have a bad home life in general. To fill the vacant roles in their lives, some characters build their own families with people they choose to care about.

Some common examples of Family of Choice include an adult meeting the future heroes as children and deciding to be the Parental Substitute that they need, children who grow up together without family of their own and claim each other as Brother and Sister, or an adult friend of a single parent that takes it upon himself to always be there for the main characters and thus becomes an Honorary Uncle. Adopted and blended families, however, are not examples of this trope because they do have legal status as family.

Examples of this trope must describe not just the nature of the relationship but how, when, or why the characters came to feel this way about each other. Remember, if they came to think of each other as True Companions because the plot has brought them closer together, its more likely to be Fire-Forged Friends, Band of Brothers or just True Companions than this trope.

Subtrope of True Companions. Compare/Contrast with No Blood Ties and Thicker Than Water. Hint: If an example includes the words "in the end" then it's more likely Fire-Forged Friends than this trope (which is about characters forming a family in the beginning, before all that plot stuff happens).



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
  • Manga/Naruto: Naruto, whose entire family is dead, has formed close bonds with his 'Grandfather' the third hokage, his 'brother' Sasuke and his 'father' Kakashi.
  • The Yagami family in the Lyrical Nanoha franchise are a borderline example, since the Knights are dependent on Hayate Yagami's mana output. The Huckebein and Grendel families in Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force are more obvious, since both are groups of unrelated Eclipse infectees who banded together around Curren Huckebein and Kurt Grendel's leadership, respectively.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
  • The Holo Brothers are three humanoid aliens of three different species. They were all orphaned too young to remember their real family, and grew up together in an orphanage. They refer to each other as brothers and act in every way as if they actually were.
  • This is explicitly the relationship between Cutter and Skywise in the ElfQuest stories. They become "brothers in all but blood" when young,even going as far as to share "soul names", something normally reserved for immediate family or reproductive mates. Their relationship is somewhat strained during The Palace War and when Skywise wants to stay in the Palace after, but is never broken while they both live.
  • Teen Titans: This is how the Titans are described as seeing each other in the comic books. They support each other in all the good ways of a family, but they're also a family in all the worst ways with all the conflicts, you'd usually suspect from living together like one. They do have some disagreements, but it always leads into more character depth.
    • This is adapted very well in the Teen Titans animated series where their family-like relationships are used to look deeper into each of the character's back stories and character flaws.

  • In the film Leave It On The Floor a group of gay young men form a replacement family around the head Drag Queen (whom they call Mama and who refers to them as her children) of their drag competition team.
  • The Hawaiian term for this is "'ohana"', as anyone who has seen the movie Lilo & Stitch, with its "family" composed of two sisters, a reformed all destroying monster, the (mostly) reformed creator of said monster and an incompetent bureaucrat knows:
    "'Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten."
  • The Blues Brothers met each other while they were both in an orphanage, and used a string from Elmore James' guitar to become Blood Brothers.

  • The four protagonists of Circle of Magic are rescued from similarly isolated backgrounds and brought to a school of magic where they immediately form a strong bond. Especially Sandry and Daja, since Sandry, responding to an act of cruel injustice by a third girl, takes an "us against the world" approach before she even knows Daja's name. The family can also be seen to include the children's teachers, especially Lark and Rosethorn who live with the children as well as teach them. By the end of their stories, the children even refer to each other as siblings.
  • Burke of the crime novels of Andrew Vachss has no family by blood or law but has such close bonds with the people he’s chosen for his family that he would kill anyone who hurt them.
  • At the end of the first book in the Star Ka'at series, two unrelated orphan human children are adopted and referred to as "kin" by intelligent, sapient space-cats.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
  • On Full House, three girls are raised by their father, their maternal uncle Jesse and their father's best friend Joey. The three men (and later, Jesse's wife and kids) all live in the house together. At first, it was practical, to help raise the girls, but the arrangement continued long after the girls had grown beyond needing that level of care because the bonds of family were so strong.
  • Supernatural: Brothers Dean and Sam had a rough start to life, with their father raising them on the road after their mother was killed by a demon. Their father's obsession with the demon led him to make often unrealistic demands of the boys, but family friend Bobby did his best to let them be kids whenever Sam and Dean stayed with him. The brothers consider Bobby family and he tells Dean (in the Season 3 finale): "Family don't end with blood, boy." In the season seven episode "Death's Door", he says:
    Bobby: I adopted two boys, and they grew up great. They grew up heroes.
  • Friends was described by one critic as a show about a bunch of young adults finding a replacement family for their own, dysfunctional ones. Lampshaded by a Guy of the Week of Phoebe's whose minor flaw was his incessant psychoanalysis of the group. The cast of Friends could be considered as a Real Life version, too.
  • The main crew of Pushing Daisies: Olive and Chuck are like sisters, and when Chuck comments on Ned needing to reconnect with his family, he says that Chuck and Olive are his family. Emerson is a lot more reluctant to express affection for the others, but it's there.
  • Spaced; "They say the family of the 21st century is made up of friends, not relatives." Said to try to convince Marsha that she's the favourite auntie to brothers Tim and Mike, sister Daisy, and... weird cousin Brian.
  • The Space Cases episode "It's My Birthday, Too (Yeah!)" has this as the theme. The cadets have to make family trees, but Radu is stymied by the fact that Andromedans were born in group hatcheries with no family ties while enslaved by the Spung. He first tries making up a pretend family, but when that gets exposed, he eventually decides that the cadets and teachers have become as good as family, with a little help from Thelma.
    Thelma: Why were you upset at your party?
    Radu: Because I lied and they all knew I lied. That's why. I just wanted to have a family. Even a pretend one was too much to ask for. You couldn't understand.
    Thelma: I couldn't? My understanding has always been that a family is not only those from whom you are born, but those to whom you belong. [beat] Did I screw up, too?
    Radu: No... no, not at all.
  • Dawson's Creek: Jack is taken in by Jen's grandmother when he needs a place to live, even though she barely knows him. She and Jen treat him like family for the rest of the series.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined), Bill Adama mentioned a couple times that he regards Kara Thrace (Starbuck) as "family" (implied above and beyond any Band of Brothers comraderie within the Fleet), and seemed to have a soft spot for her under his tough leadership exterior. It's never really mentioned why though, other than they go back a way (but so does he with a few others in the fleet)--and her being responsible for his son Zak's death (by not washing him out of flight training when he was failing, due to having relations with him) makes it even more perplexing.
  • Explicitly stated in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Tara's Abusive Parents try to take her home, but Buffy and her friends insist that they are Tara's family instead, as they actually care for her.

  • In RENT the main characters, most of whom are isolated from their families and other friends, band together in the wake of Benny's Face-Heel Turn, just to try to get by in life. All but Joanne are desperately poor, half of them are HIV-positive and the relationships between the couples are rocky at the best of times, but they support each other and won't let any of the group go through it alone. Even Joanne, an Ivy League lawyer who was only there because she was dating Maureen, gradually joined the gang and stuck around after the couple's breakup which was fortunate, since Angel's death brought them back together.

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • In Sly Cooper, main characters Sly, Benteley, and Murray met in an orphanage and became as thick as thieves (pun intended.)

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • The Freedom Fighters of the Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon are clearly a tightly-knit group of friends, all of whom have lost their actual families and so turn to each other for that kind of support; Tails even considers Princess Sally his "Aunt", and she treats him very much like her own son at times. Likewise, Sonic and Tails have a very brotherly relationship.
  • Fagan's canine posse in Oliver & Company survive aboard a derelict boat as a band of scroungers and thieves. They even extend their circle to include the kitten Oliver. When Oliver becomes stranded in the limousine, Tito insists upon a rescue: "We got to do something, man. He's family. He's blood." Since the dogs are completely different breeds and Oliver, the he in question, is a cat, Tito is clearly speaking about the strength of their bonds rather than any literal blood relationship.

[[folder:Real Life]]
  • The term Family of Choice (or “Chosen Family”) is well-known in the gay and lesbian community. A 2010 study by Met Life and the American Society on Aging found 64% of LGBT baby-boomers said they had a chosen family, with the term being defined as "a group of people to whom you are emotionally close and consider 'family' even though you are not biologically or legally related."

Indexes: Family Tropes Friendship Tropes Sibling Tropes Ensembles Adopt An Index Queer as Tropes Love Tropes Gender and Sexuality Tropes
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