Villains often try to [[RulingFamilyMassacre kill off the whole royal line]] in their attempts to take the throne. This hardly ever works and they [[EvilOverlordList really ought to know better]], as a Lost Orphaned Royal will surely turn up sooner or later to take it back. That is this trope. If the orphan in question was lost as a baby or SwitchedAtBirth, that is also this trope. If the orphan was sent away by the King and Queen to be raised by simple peasant folk for what doubtless seemed like a very good reason at the time, that is also this trope. If the orphan was accidentally dropped down the laundry chute by an absent-minded cleaning woman and adopted by a pack of [[SewerGator Sewer Gators]], that is still this trope.

Basically, this trope is when a child raised as an orphan turns out to actually be the [[RoyalBlood next heir to the throne.]] The orphan may or may not be aware of the situation, and ditto with the reader and the rest of the characters; what matters is that the child was not raised as royalty and was, at some point and by somebody, presumed Lost.

For an interesting spin, the orphan could BE the villain, obsessed with getting the life he or she deserves to have, being the true heir and all...

Often overlaps with or leads to ReallyRoyaltyReveal, HiddenBackupPrince, ManInTheIronMask and RightfulKingReturns. SuddenlySuitableSuitor is a common plot twist.



[[folder: Film ]]
* Lone Starr of ''Film/{{Spaceballs}}''

[[folder: Live Action Television ]]
* In ''Series/OnceUponATime'' Emma Swan is the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White, who was the reigning Queen before the curse takes effect. As a baby, Emma is sent away through a portal to our world by her parents in their efforts to save her from the curse. In the real world, she is raised in foster care without any idea of who her parents are [[spoiler:until the curse is lifted from Storybrooke and she is reunited with them.]] Emma is the heir to her kingdom's throne but this has yet to be a plot point in the series.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'' confirms the fan theory that [[spoiler:Ned Stark's illegitimate son Jon Snow is actually his nephew -- [[TheGreatestStoryNeverTold Jon is the secret trueborn child of Ned's sister Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen]] and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, kept hidden to save his life from being killed by the new ruling regime after the Targaryen dynasty is deposed. Rhaegar was killed in battle before Jon's birth and Jon's mother Lyanna dies shortly after giving birth. Before her death, Lyanna passes her newborn son into her brother Ned's care, who [[ThePromise promises]] to protect his sister's child (Jon) from the new king Robert Baratheon as Robert wants to kill anybody with Targaryen blood. Ned claims his nephew Jon as his own illegitimate child to protect him and raises him as his own son alongside his children, concealing the truth to keep Jon safe. At this point in the show, the only living persons who know the truth of Jon's origins are Jon's adoptive brother/cousin Bran, his best friend Sam, and Howland Reed who was with Ned when Lyanna was found after giving birth to her son.]]

[[folder: Literature ]]
* Shasta, from Creator/CSLewis's ''Literature/TheHorseAndHisBoy'' is one. He was [[spoiler: abducted by an EvilChancellor, lost in the middle of a naval battle between the Chancellor's forces and the royal navy]], and then was taken in by a fisherman. [[spoiler: Later he finds his true family and grows into Cor, King of Archenland.]]
* Jenna from ''Literature/SeptimusHeap'' is effectively this; her father is alive, but virtually nonexistent.
* Literature/{{Discworld}}: Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson was orphaned as an infant, then raised by dwarves, before eventually travelling to Ankh-Morpork to become a city guard. He turned out in fact to be the rightful 'eir to the throne, and from all appearances he'd be damned good at it, what with his essential king-ness meaning the entire city, horrible selfish jerks to a human, actually like him. But he really doesn't want to be king, and the man in charge doesn't want a king, and Sam Vimes, his ''boss,'' really doesn't want kings. So he isn't the king, and everyone is happy. Well, everyone within reason.
** ''Discworld/WyrdSisters'' also has Tomjon, the King's son, who was taken out of the palace so Felmet couldn't kill him, and then found by the witches and given to a troupe of actors so that he would move around the Discworld and not be noticed until it was time for him to retake the throne. He ''didn't''; he preferred to stay as an actor, but there was another lost royal orphan: Verence, the Fool. (He's not actually the son of the ''king'', though; he's [[spoiler: the son of the queen by the previous Fool]].)
* [[spoiler: Aegon Targaryen, a.k.a. the Young Griff, a.k.a.]] the WalkingSpoiler in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', is supposedly an orphan and the adopted son of an exiled knight. The orphan part is completely true, though. He is well aware of who he really is, and his adoptive father is preparing to put him on the throne.
** However, [[{{WMG}} some fans think]] he may be a [[spoiler: Blackfyre descendant, Illyrio's son, a combination of the previous two, or just a random kid with Valyrian features]] raised to believe that he is [[spoiler: Aegon Targaryen, son of Rhaegar]], in an elaborate plot cooked up by [[spoiler: Varys and Illyrio]].
** If [[EpilepticTrees fan theory is true]] and [[spoiler:it ''does'' prove to be true in its TV adaptation, ''Series/GameOfThrones'']], [[spoiler: Jon Snow]] is the hidden son of [[spoiler:Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark]], potentially making him the heir to the Iron Throne after [[spoiler: the death of Viserys]], but nobody -- save for very few people -- know this. [[spoiler:Jonís]] biological father died in battle before he was born and his mother died after giving birth to him, but not before she [[DyingWish asks her older brother]] [[spoiler:Ned Stark]] to make her [[ThePromise a promise]]. As shown in the TV adaptation and speculated in the book series, [[spoiler:Ned promises his dying sister that he will protect her son from the new king, Robert Baratheon, as Robert would kill Jon if he found out his true parentage. Ned brings his nephew Jon home with him to Winterfell, raises and loves Jon as his own child alongside his trueborn offspring, and claims him as his own illegitimate son in order to keep him safe from the fatal wrath of their family's enemies, namely the Baratheon regime. As a result, while Jon is raised as the highborn bastard son of Lord Eddard (Ned) Stark and receives a highborn upbringing in a loving family, virtually nobody has ''any'' idea he is royalty, just the illegitimate son of a lord, and he also has [[ObliviousAdoption no idea of his biological parentage]] as Ned has devoted the rest his life to protecting Jon by hiding this dangerous truth that would threaten Jonís life.]]
* The [[Literature/{{Deryni}} First Festil]] isn't as careful as he should have been to get every single on of the Haldane King's several sons. This comes back to bite his descendants big time.
* In the ''Literature/JacobsLadderTrilogy'', the servant girl Rien, who was raised as a Mean orphan in Rule, discovers that she is actually an Exalt noble from Engine, a member of the royal Conn family who was given away as a hostage as part of a past arrangement between the kingdoms. Being a Conn means she is eligible to claim the empty throne of the Captain of ''Jacob's Ladder''.
* According to ''Literature/TheMarvelousLandOfOz'', Princess Ozma is this - she was the daughter of the last king of Oz, whose father sold her as a baby in exchange for an immortality potion. The witch to whom he sold her disguised and raised her as a boy named Pip. She gets her rightful name, title, and body back at the end of the story. [[note]]However, L. Frank Baum wasn't exactly known for his continuity in the Oz books, and later titles change Ozma's backstory more than once.[[/note]]
* In the ''Literature/PrydainChronicles'', Eilonwy turns out to be this. Her royal status isn't revealed until the absolute last page of the first book, but eventually Taran (and the reader) learns that she is the last Princess of Llyr, whose parents have been dead for years and who was stolen as an infant by the evil Queen Achren. There isn't much of a kingdom of Llyr left for her to claim, but she still has the RoyalBlood and all the inborn magical powers of its true princess.
** [[spoiler:Taran himself]] is a subversion of the trope. He's definitely an orphan, and he was definitely lost as a baby - but [[spoiler:when Dallben finally reveals what he knows of Taran's origins, he confesses that he has absolutely no idea who the boy is. He may or may not be of RoyalBlood. Regardless, he ends the series by being named High King of Prydain.]]

[[folder: Legend and Mythology]]
* KingArthur, at least in most versions of his story, is this. He grows up knowing that the nobleman raising him isn't his real father, but neither he nor anyone else has any idea that he's actually the missing son of the late Uther Pendragon until he pulls a certain sword out of a certain stone.
* In Greek mythology, {{Oedipus}} was of the 'sent away by the king and queen' variety. A prophecy foretold that the baby prince would one day kill his father and marry his mother, so they sent him away to prevent it. As a young man, he learns of the prophecy - and believes it means his ''adoptive'' parents, since he has no idea he was adopted. Horrified, he runs away to try to prevent it. No prizes for guessing what happens next.

[[folder: Video Games]]
* Slackjaw from ''VideoGame/{{Dishonored}}''. He was raised by a whore and the heart reveals that he is actually a prince, but that he'll never know.
* [[spoiler:Alistair]] in the ''Franchise/DragonAge'' games believes himself to be this, being the son of the late king and "a star-struck maid." Whether he makes an attempt to claim his father's throne or not is largely up to the player character in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins''. [[spoiler:However, the trope is subverted because, unbeknownst to Alistair, his mother isn't dead. (She's also not a maid.)]]
* In ''VideoGame/QueenAtArms'', [[spoiler:protagonist Marcus is actually Princess Callista, whose parents were murdered when their throne was usurped]]. This particular orphaned royal is so very lost that most people don't even realize she exists.
* In ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' series' backstory, Barenziah, the future Queen of Morrowind, was [[RulingFamilyMassacre the last surviving member of her noble Dunmeri family]] after [[TheConqueror Tiber Septim]]'s Imperial Legions sacked Mournhold. Septim's Dunmeri General, Symmachus, convinced Septim to spare Barenziah and had her secretly placed into the foster care of the Count and Countess of Darkmoor (Imperial loyalists) until she would old enough to take the throne in Morrowind as a [[PuppetKing legitimate vassal ruler]] for the Empire. She would, of course, escape her foster family and went on various adventures in her teenage years. Notably, she spent some time as TheArtfulDodger as a member of the ThievesGuild and engaged in TheOldestProfession. She would be found and brought back by Symmachus to serve her purpose. She would outlive both Symmachus and Septim, going on to achieve more than either could have imagined.

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyTales'': "Princess Problems" revolves around the King and Queen of the Isle of Pony coming to Ponyland as part of their long search for their lost daughter. Naturally, [[WeirdnessMagnet Patch matches all the descriptions]]. She's not happy about it at all, as she's HappilyAdopted and scared of the prospect of losing her adopted parents. Subverted when it turns out she wasn't the lost princess; her old friend from the same orphanage Rosy is, and is reunited with her long lost parents.