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[[quoteright:318:[[Myth/NorseMythology http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/KingSkjold.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:318:King Skjold, floating ashore.]]

->''Moses was found in the stream\\
Li'l Moses was found in the stream\\
He floated on water\\
'Til old Pharaoh's daughter\\
She fished him--she says--from that stream.''
-->-- "It Ain't Necessarily So", from Gershwin's ''PorgyAndBess''

An infant is saved from some calamity by being [[ParentalAbandonment cast into the hands of Fate by his parents]], whose lives are sometimes claimed by the same calamity. Fate promptly deposits the young hero with a family (usually poor and humble) who will raise him up to be good, just, noble and strong. He remains ignorant of his true heritage, except perhaps for [[OrphansPlotTrinket some trinket]] -- a ring or maybe a pendant, or sometimes even a distinctive birthmark -- which can identify him to someone who knew his parents.

Sometimes the infant is abandoned in the wilderness by the villain, who doesn't want to murder the child directly, and instead wants it to die from exposure. This never works out as planned.

Often the hero is an [[BlueBlood aristocrat]] or even a [[RoyalBlood prince(ss)]], whose nurture by a humble family gives him a refreshingly egalitarian view on things when he finally [[ReallyRoyaltyReveal discovers his heritage]] and takes his rightful position. A vital stage in the GenocideBackfire plot.

Also known as a FoundlingTale. Contrast with CinderellaCircumstances, ChangelingTale (which is the [[InvertedTrope inverse]] of this trope).

See also ChangelingFantasy. Compare DoorstopBaby, SwitchedAtBirth, SeparatedAtBirth, MuggleFosterParents, WonderChild, WildChild, NobleFugitive. See also ParentalAbandonment, FlingALightIntoTheFuture, and TheArk which is another ancient motif. Results from a NiceJobBreakingItHerod.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Arika in ''Anime/MaiOtome'' appears to be the infant princess set adrift to escape invaders in the very first scenes of the series. Then again, so does ''Nina'', and the official story was that it was Mashiro. The series plays with the ambiguity for a while before TheReveal (heated fan debates and inevitable EpilepticTrees continued all the way until episode 23 aired). As it turns out [[spoiler: That was Arika as an infant in the first scene but that wasn't actually the princess but instead the daughter of the King's retainer being set adrift. The actual princess was Nina, who was snuck out in a different fashion off screen. Mashiro was a fake, but is allowed to continue to reign anyway.]]
* A parodic twist of the concept: In ''DragonBallZ'', it was revealed that Goku was a Saiyan, sent to Earth as a newborn to conquer it for Frieza's planet trade organization.[[note]]The combination of Earth's inhabitants being incredibly weak compared to other races and the planet having full moons far more frequently than other planets (Saiyans can use the full moon to turn into Oozaru, incredibly powerful giant weremonkeys) would mean even a single Saiyan infant could conquer the planet.[[/note]] In a twist, this saved him from the near-genocide of his race caused by Frieza himself, and he was raised into a good person by a succession of quirky father-figures (it also helped that he received a blow to the head as a child that gave him EasyAmnesia).
** The nameless Namekian who would later [[LiteralSplitPersonality split himself into Kami and King Piccolo]] was sent to Earth from Namek to escape a disaster that killed nearly every other Namekian.[[note]]Except Grand Elder Guru and the anime-only, then exiled Lord Slug. Luckily, Namekians reproduce asexually, so unlike the Saiyans, they recovered from the near extinction of their race.[[/note]] Unlike most examples of this trope, the nameless Namekian had no parental figures to raise him, so he [[TearJerker spent his entire childhood alone, in a frozen wasteland, waiting for someone to come looking for him]]. Eventually, after years of waiting, he leaves to explore Earth.
* Mamoru in ''GaoGaiGar'', although in this case, the "basket" is a giant mecha-lion that hand- or rather, mouth-delivers him to his MuggleFosterParents. Notable that for most of the series, the parents still have a lingering fear that one day, the lion will return and take him ''back''.
** [[spoiler:He does, sort of.]] And it's heartbreakingly inverted in the ending of ''FINAL''; [[spoiler:the heroes can only open a couple of tiny, ephemeral wormholes back to Earth, and they choose to send Mamoru and Kaidou ''back'' to their foster parents, entrusting the future and their story to the children]].
* ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds'': Yusei Fudo's father evidently borrowed Kal El's spaceship to save his son from Zero Reverse.
* ''Manga/ViolinistOfHameln'' has Princess Flute, who was slipped out of her kingdom during a war (in which her older brother had already tragically died). She was eventually left on a doorstop in a small village far, far to the south of her home country, with only a letter saying "take me" and a [[OrphansPlotTrinket crucifix]] - but in a {{Subversion}} of the trope, was ignored by the house's inhabitants and the passersby [[WhatTheHellTownspeople tried to act like she didn't exist]]. She would have died had not the visiting elder of a nearby village taken pity on her.
* In ''Manga/{{Vagabond}}'' Sasaki Kojiro is found by his foster parent this way after being sent by his samurai father from a besieged castle on the brink of falling. Kojiro wasn't actually alone on the boat from the start, but the adults accompanying him had been swept overboard and killed by time he reached his destination.
* In ''Anime/{{Godmars}}'', the infant Mars is sent to Earth as the vanguard of an alien invasion by the evil Emperor Zule along with a giant robot set to destroy the Earth if he dies (or gives the right order). Two things get in the way of this: first, his non-evil alien father secretly sent another five robots to protect him; and he was found and raised by a good human couple, who name him Takeru Myojin.

* Downplayed in the Literature/{{Child Ballad|s}} ''Literature/FauseFoodrage'', where both Wise William and the queen, having exchanged her son for his daughter, know where the child is, and even have a code phrase where they can let the other know that the child is doing well. Both children remain in ignorance until nearly grown.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''Comicbook/{{Superman}}'' is the classic modern example.
** A twisted variant happens in ''Superman: The Dark Side'' where Superman is raised by Darkseid. Darkseid eventually translates a message where Jor-El says he coded the anti-life equation into Superman's genes so he could enslave Earth using superior Kryptonian science. His father would not be proud of his foolish attachment to these primitives.
* Subverted in the case of Superman's foster son, Chris Kent/[[spoiler: Lor-Zod]]. At first it looks, and Superman believes, this trope has happened, but in reality [[spoiler: Lor-Zod was sent to Earth by his father, the villain General Zod, to provide a link that he can use to escape the Phantom Zone]]
** And (sadly) subverted in the storyline "Superman and the Legion of Superheroes". Two members of a dying planet try to [[InvokedTrope invoke this trope]] by launching their son to Earth, hoping Earth will make him as great as Superman. [[spoiler: Unfortunately, the alien child lands on Earth in the xenophobic 31st Century, where it is immediately shot and killed by the couple who find it.]]
* Superman is not the only DCComics hero to invoke this trope. Comicbook/{{Aquaman}}, at least in some versions of his origins, was cast away from Atlantis at birth and raised by a lighthouse keeper who named him Arthur Curry.
* Nightcrawler of the Comicbook/{{X-Men}} was thrown over a waterfall by his mother, later he is rescued and adopted.

[[folder:Fan Fic]]
* Invoked in ''FanFic/TheDarkLordsOfNerima'' (A {{Ranma}}-SailorMoon Crossover) where it looks like we are being set up for the Amazons to be given a Moon Kingdom origin story with a folktale of their founding based on a set of baby twins sent to Earth in a lifepod along with the records of the Fall of the Kingdom so they will be safe [[spoiler:then [[TearJerker heartbreakingly]] subverted when it is revealed that the two most holy relics are tiny infant skeletons]].

[[folder:Fairy Tales]]
* In ''Literature/TheDancingWaterTheSingingAppleAndTheSpeakingBird'' and ''[[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/authors/grimms/96threelittlebirds.html The Three Little Birds]]'', the king's [[WonderChild children]] are abandoned and grow up in ignorance of their birth, until a magic bird informs the king and children of the truth.

* ''Film/TheTenCommandments'' and ''WesternAnimation/ThePrinceOfEgypt'', by virtue of having Moses as the protagonist.
** And parodies such as ''WhollyMoses''
* The Penguin in ''Film/BatmanReturns'' (1992) is a villainous version of this trope; the Penguin even plans to kill the firstborn of every family in Gotham as revenge for his upbringing.
* Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia in the ''Franchise/StarWars'' movies, although the trope is slightly distorted in their cases. For one, they are directly given to the Larses and Bail Organa, though not by their parents. Bail knew who Leia was and that she could play a major role in striking against the new Empire, but it looks like the Larses knew less about Luke and the goals Obi-Wan had for him.
** The prequel trilogy implies they have a pretty good idea of it and just don't want him getting involved.
* Parodied in the movie ''Film/KungPowEnterTheFist''. The baby Chosen One, having narrowly escaped the thugs that killed his parents, ends up rolling down a steep hill. He is found by a peasant woman, who picks him up, hugs him... and sends him rolling down the hill again. Chosen One also has an identifying mark of destiny -- his tongue is a living creature.
* This is one of the few tropes that the movie ''Film/{{Spaceballs}}'' actually played straight: Lone Starr was raised in a monastery, with only a medallion to tell him of his past. No one could tell him what it meant until he encountered Yoghurt... who told him in a fortune cookie that he was a prince, with just enough time to sweep Princess Vespa off her feet.
* In teaser for the Western spoof ''Film/EvilRoySlade'', the titular character was the last survivor of an Indian attack. The Indians looked at him, then walked away. Then wolves found him, sniffed him for a bit, and ran away yelping. As the credits roll, we see Roy as a very angry toddler stalking out of the desert, toward the camera.
* In ''Film/TheNightOfTheHunter'', Missus Hooper finds the two Harper children washed up on shore in a little boat amid the bullrushes. Although they're both a bit older than baby Moses, they're still compared to the Biblical event.
* Elora Danan in ''Film/{{Willow}}'': born with a birthmark that destined her to bring about [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen Bavmorda's]] downfall. Her mother sends her away with a benevolent nursemaid and is then is killed by Bavmorda's enforcers. Willow finds her floating down a river, having been sent away to safety by the nursemaid moments before she's tracked down and murdered.
* In ''ClashOfTheTitans'', baby Perseus, being an illegitimate demi-god, is locked into a coffin with his young mother and thrown into the sea, but Zeus has Poseidon make certain the waters will gently take Perseus and his mother to safety, Perseus is then raised on an island paradise. This scene is based on the original Greek myth of Perseus.
* In the first ''WesternAnimation/IceAge'' movie, the human mother just so manages to deposit her young son with the protagonist animals before dying. Counts, because how could she know that they would take care of him?
* In ''Animation/TreasureOfSwampCastle'', Princess Szaffi is lost in a flood and adopted by a gypsy woman.
* The {{Disney}} version of ''{{Disney/Hercules}}''.
* In ''Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanTheCurseOfTheBlackPearl'' Will Turner was rescued by the British navy from the shipwreck of a pirate ship he was in, Elizabeth hid the evidence that he is related to pirates.

* In the ''Literature/LoneWolf'' spinoff series ''World of Lone Wolf'', the hero Grey Star was an infant who was stranded on the legendary Shianti's island after an especially violent storm. This was nothing short of miraculous since the island had enchantments specifically meant to prevent anyone from reaching it without the Shianti's permission. The Shianti sensed that destiny had a hand in the child's arrival and raised him as their own. This was especially fortuitous, since Shasarak the Wytch-King [[spoiler:a rogue Shianti]] had established an Evil Empire that threatened all of Southern Magnamund. The Shianti were forbidden to interfere directly, but nothing prevented them from sending their adopted human son Grey Star armed with their magical knowledge against Shasarak.

* The villainous Benedetto ("blessing") from ''Literature/TheCountOfMonteCristo'' is a definite subversion of this trope. He is the product of an adulterous affair and left for dead by his [[ParentalAbandonment parents]]. He is raised by criminals, and is much worse than his adoptive family. If they manage to impart any values to him, it is an utter hatred of his birth father.
* This is Shasta's {{Backstory}} in Creator/CSLewis's ''TheHorseAndHisBoy'', part of ''[[{{Narnia}} The Chronicles of Narnia]]''... Except for the part where his adoptive father is horribly nasty and tries to sell him as a slave. The talking horse Bree is actually the one who helps teach him values.
* A version occurs in ''Literature/TheDeedOfPaksenarrion'' by ElizabethMoon: In ''Oath of Gold'', the third book of the trilogy, Paks takes up the task of locating the rightful king of Lyonya, a man with elven blood and specific birthright powers that make him the only one the [[OurElvesAreDifferent elves]] will accept as ruler. He was stolen by evil forces as a child, and, it turns out, enslaved for some years and forced to endure some terrible things that the book doesn't go into great detail on. A visitor contrived to give him a chance to escape, and he found his way to some distant relatives who didn't realize who he was, but raised him well. He went on to make his own life, and it isn't until Paks figures out who he is that his true purpose and powers are revealed - but it turns out that half a dozen people ''actually knew where he was'', but feared to bring the truth to light, because 1) his time in the hands of the evil ones could have damaged him beyond help (specifically, making him an unstable ruler or making him unable to wield the powers needed to perform his duties as king), and 2) until shortly before the story begins, his sister was alive and showed great promise as a ruler.
* In Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'':
** It's all but admitted out loud that Carrot Ironfoundersson is the long-lost heir to the long-empty throne of Ankh-Morpork. He was found in the wild and raised by dwarfs (and still considers himself an unusually tall dwarf), and he has both a crown-shaped birthmark and a sword (which, while not enchanted, is far from ordinary). Carrot, however, is happy with his position as a captain in the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, has no intention of reclaiming the throne, and even goes out of his way to obfuscate any more evidence he's the lost king of Ankh.
** Pratchett also subverted this in ''Discworld/WyrdSisters''. After the true heir to the throne of Lancre is revealed, everyone discovers he doesn't want to be king, and would rather be an actor, like his adopted father. Fortunately, an alternative heir is found when Magrat realizes he has a half-brother, who turns out to be [[spoiler:the court jester. In a further subversion, Magrat later discovers that the half-blood was not because the king disported with the jester's wife; it was because while the king was out disporting himself with the peasants, the queen got lonely]].
* ''Literature/HarryPotter''. Parents killed? Yep. Whisked away? Yep. DoorstopBaby? Yep. Raised somewhere safe? Yep (Dumbledore has enspelled Harry as long as he lives with the Dursleys). TheChosenOne? Yep. Comes from a background much different from the way he is raised? Yep. Distinguishing special mark? Yep. Identified by tons of people who knew his parents? Yep. Has to step up and face the BigBad? Yep. What more can you ask for? [[spoiler: Has to sacrifice his life freely in order to save everyone? Yep!]]
* Simon, the hero of TadWilliams' ''MemorySorrowAndThorn'' trilogy, is orphaned shortly after his birth with nothing but a name and a [[OrphansPlotTrinket mysterious ring]]. He is taken in by chambermaids, raised as a scullion, befriended by a [[TheObiWan wise doctor]], forced to flee into the wilderness when [[TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive evil takes over his home]], [[TheHerosJourney goes on adventures]], and eventually [[WhereItAllBegan returns to the Hayholt]] to battle the BigBad SealedEvilInACan Storm King. [[spoiler:Naturally, it turns out that he is a direct descendant of the former king and therefore the only valid claimant to the throne, since just about all of the other eligible characters have been killed.]]
* [[spoiler: (King Bel)garion (of Riva)]] in ''Literature/TheBelgariad'' is a slightly further-removed example -- he's the descendant of the original MosesInTheBullrushes, a few hundred years down the line -- strange birthmark and all, although the heirloom sword would be an immediate giveaway apart from the fact that it stayed in the throne room -- he claims it when he finds out his station.
* In the ChivalricRomance ''{{Havelok}}'' is dumped as a child by the BigBad in a castle and then sent to be drowned by a fisherman. Then, the fisherman has a HeelFaceTurn and decides to protect and raise the boy instead to fulfill his [[TheChosenOne destiny]] after a weird mark shows his heritage.
* In the ChivalricRomance ''King Horn'', the boy Horn is set adrift in a boat by the usurper of his father's throne. Similarly, in ''Havelock'', the fisherman the usurper hired to kill Havelock actually smuggled him to England.
* In the ChivalricRomance ''The Swan Children'', the [[ShapeshiftingLover swan maiden]] who marries a king gives birth to children, and her wicked mother-in-law has them exposed, replacing them with animals that she claims her daughter-in-law has given birth to.
* In the ChivalricRomance ''Lay La Freine'' -- and many others -- a woman gives birth to multiple children, and another woman taunts her, saying that this is possible only in cases of adultery. This other woman is promptly punished for her slander with a multiple birth of her own, and exposes the excess children to avoid being charged herself.
* In the ChivalricRomance ''Literature/TristanAndIseult'', Tristan, poisoned during his [[PoisonedWeapons duel against Morholt]], is sent on a craft without rows or sail in hopes of happening onto someone who can cure him; said person happens to be Iseult, who turns out to be Morholt's niece.
* In the Medieval French ''Suite du Merlin'' (and works which followed its story, including Thomas Malory's ''Literature/LeMorteDarthur''), King Arthur, on finding out that he has [[BrotherSisterIncest fathered a son on his own half-sister]] who is prophesied to kill him, orders all the boys born around the right time to be put out to sea in a ship, which is then wrecked. Naturally the only survivor is the son in question, Mordred, who is found and fostered by a shepherd and brought to court at fourteen years old, where his true lineage is recognized. Something of a subversion in that this is usually a heroic-origin trope, and Mordred is about as unheroic as you get.
** And, in Lord Tennyson's version ''Literature/IdyllsOfTheKing'' Arthur himself is found this way, and is not necessarily son of Uther so much as the God sent King.
* In the ''WheelOfTime'' series, Rand learns that his father found him as a baby on the slopes of Dragonmount after his mother died in battle. This is a key part of the Prophecies of the Dragon, which requires that he be raised by the blood of Manetheren.
* An interesting variation occurs in Creator/LFrankBaum's second [[Literature/LandOfOz Oz book]], ''Literature/TheMarvelousLandOfOz'': Tip, the young protagonist, spends almost the whole book searching for the missing Princess Ozma of Oz: It turns out the Wizard gave her to a witch, [[GenderBender who turned her into a boy]], who just happens to be... [[TomatoInTheMirror Tip]]! Needless to say Tip was [[GirlsHaveCooties not particularly pleased by this development]]. But [[SecondLawOfGenderBending he got used to it]].
* Inverted in the Franchise/StarTrek novel ''The [=IDIC=] Epidemic'', in which a young woman thought to have been the sole survivor of a destroyed Vulcan colony is discovered to be Romulan instead. The likely explanation is that she was kidnapped in infancy by a Romulan noble family's rivals, then left to be adopted by Vulcans, so her presence among the Romulan Empire's hated enemies could later be revealed, bringing shame upon her biological parents' name. Ironically, she ''still'' winds up becoming a savior of sorts, as her Romulan blood turns out to be the key to stopping a plague within the Federation.
* Salome in Creator/RobertEHoward's ConanTheBarbarian story "A Witch Shall Be Born". Alas, owing to a {{Curse}} she ''was'' the calamity, and since exposure failed to kill her, she returned to [[TheUsurper usurp]] her sister's throne, use ColdBloodedTorture on that sister, and institute a ReligionOfEvil with HumanSacrifice.
* Hector Malot's 1878 French novel "Nobody's Boy".
* Scyld Scefing, later to become king of Denmark, is washed up in this way on the shore of Denmark in ''Literature/{{Beowulf}}''. His parentage and place of origin is never revealed.
* Averted in ''TheSilmarillion'', where the young half-elven princes Eluréd and Elurín (the sons of Dior and the brothers of Elwing) are abandoned in the wilderness... and never seen again.
* In Creator/DevonMonk's ''[[Literature/AgeOfSteam Dead Iron]]'', Rose Small's backstory was being abandoned on the step of her adoptive parents' home.
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', [[spoiler: this is the generally accepted story for Aegon VI Targaryen suddenly popping up in the Free Cities...if it really is him.]]
* In Creator/PoulAnderson's "[[Literature/TimePatrol Brave To Be A King]]", the story of how Cyrus was like this was brought up and dismissed. [[spoiler:A time traveler was taken for the abandoned infant, now grown up.]]
* In Creator/PatriciaAMcKillip's ''Literature/TheForgottenBeastsOfEld'', Tamlorn, the child of Queen Rianna, is brought to the sorceress Sybel to keep him safe. She raises him in ignorance of his heritage.
* An interesting variation occurs in ''ThePillarsOfTheEarth''. Tom's wife dies in childbirth, so he decides to leave the child in the forest because he has hard time feeding his other sons too, so the child would surely die if he brought him with himself. Later the child is found and is raised by monks. Then Tom gets to build a cathedral for the same monks, so the child grows up being near his father without even knowing about it. [[spoiler: His true identity is only revealed to Philip and him at the end of the story, long after Tom's death.]]
* In Creator/PoulAnderson's "Literature/TimeLag," Elva gave her baby to one of their marginal intelligent ServantRace and tells it to flee the attack. The story, however, focuses on her. [[spoiler:At the end, her rescuers tell her that he survived, is now (owing to the title time lage) an old man, and the father of one rescuer, who was named for her dead husband and is in turn the father of her great-grandson.]]
* A weird version of this trope occurs in ''Literature/TheQuestOfTheUnaligned''. In order to ensure his elemental impartiality, Crown Prince Alaric of Caederan is sent to be raised by foster parents in magicless Tonzimmiel, ignorant of his true heritage. While the plan was to retrieve him around his tenth birthday, this fails when his foster parents die and he disappears into Tonzimmiel's orphanage system. He is located mere weeks before he must be crowned in order to avert a civil war.
* Cadance according to ''Literature/TwilightSparkleAndTheCrystalHeartSpell'', making her reveal as the [[RightfulKingReturns Crystal Princess]] even more {{Troperiffic}}.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''{{Smallville}}'' uses this same sort of variant as ''DragonBall Z'' to distinguish itself from the standard {{Superman}} back story. Superman deciphers a message from his father and it ends with an instruction to "rule [Earth] with wisdom".
* Part of the mythology in the fourth season of ''{{Sliders}}''. [[spoiler:Quinn was the infant son of the greatest living physicist on a parallel Earth, who placed his children with his childless alternate selves to shelter them from a war on his homeworld.]]
** By the same token, [[spoiler:Colin, Quinn's brother, who was likewise given to their alternates on a technologically backward world]].
* Was done to Hera in ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'' until her parents recovered her.
* Emma Swan from ''{{Series/Once Upon A Time}}'' was sent to the non-magical world as a baby so that she may one day be prepared to face the evil queen who was trying to kill her. She was [[spoiler: initially suppose to be sent with her mother, Snow White, so that she wouldn't grew up ignorant about her home world and mission, but the plan was averted at the last minute and a humanized Pinnochio was sent in her place.]] Unfortunately, [[spoiler: Pinnochio abandoned Emma in the orphanage that they were sent to and]] Emma grew up without knowing her real heritage, except for the blanket that Snow White wrapped around her the day she was teleported away.
* In ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', Odo was discovered in the Denorios Belt in the Bajoran system as an infant. As an adult, he discovered that he was one of one hundred infant Changelings sent out to explore the Alpha Quadrant by his people, the Changeling Founders. He was less than pleased to discover that the Founders were also the leaders of the tyrannical Dominion.

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* In ''PricklyCity'', when Carmen coaxes Winslow into talking about his past, he starts with being found in a basket among reeds.

[[folder:Religion and Myth]]
* Named for the canonical [[Literature/TheBible biblical]] example of this trope in action: Moses was set adrift in a basket of reeds to escape the slaying of all firstborn male Hebrew slaves; he was found and raised by the daughter of Pharaoh. (In this example, however, the baby is born to peasants and raised among royalty instead of the other way 'round.) (Exodus 2:3-6)
** That, and, since his biological mother was his nursemaid, he was familiar with his background from an early age.
* Herakles/Hercules, Sargon of Akkad, Oedipus, Cyrus the Great, and KingArthur are just a few of many examples from mythology. The writer [[ComicBook/CartoonHistoryOfTheUniverse Larry Gonick]] has said this is a common trope in the myths of ethnic groups who have a hero from a different ethnic group; he's actually one of them but was swapped as a baby.
* In some versions, King Arthur tries to avert the prediction that his son Mordred will kill him by having him put out to sea on a raft. In some cases, it's said that he actually put all the children who shared that birthday onto a raft, to avoid the shame of killing his own son. Either way, a fisherman ends up finding and raising Mordred.
* [[Myth/NorseMythology The Norse and German]] legend of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigurd Sigurd]], the dragon slayer who was raised by a blacksmith to discover that he was the rightful heir to a kingdom. Depending on the source this one also counts as an InterspeciesAdoption.
* OlderThanFeudalism: This is extremely prevalent in Hindu Mythology
** In the ''{{Mahabharata}}'', Karna was the first illegitimate son of Kunthi and the sun god Surya. Since Kunthi is an unmarried princess at that time, she sets him adrift on the river on a basket of reeds with a pair of amulets and chest armor as his inheritance (that incidentally makes him invincible). He gets adopted by the charioteer Atiratha[[note]](who served the house of Kurus -- ironically, the same house Kunti married into when she married Pandu)[[/note]] and later joins the evil Duryodhana's side as his [[TheDragon most trusted friend]] and against his (unknown to him) five brothers.
** Krishna is another. A prophet told Kamsa, King of Mathura, that his sister's offspring with Vasudeva would one day overthrow him. So he had her imprisoned. When she had a child, its body was throw against the prison wall. Krishna and Balarama were smuggled out of the prison, and raised by farmers in the countryside. Later, he and Balarama returned to Mathura, killed Kamsa, and freed their parents.
* Romulus and Remus, legendary founders of Rome, are an example where the villain cast them out to die. Their mother was not only a Vestal Virgin, but had been forced to become one by the relative who murdered her father for the throne. Since they were not only the offspring of a disgraced Vestal Virgin, but also a threat to his throne, the king ordered them to die by exposure. Luckily, a "she-wolf" found them and nursed them before they were found by shepherds who took them in and raised them.
* A more tragic subversion is the story of Oedipus. His father. King Laios, lived under a curse that stated that his own son would kill him. To defy fate, he hammered a spike through his infant son's feet and left him on a hill to die. The baby was found by farmers who named him Oedipus ("swollen foot") and raised him. As an adult, he got into a fight with a stranger on the road and killed him. He didn't realize that [[YouCantFightFate this stranger was in fact his birth father, King Laios.]] And it keeps going FromBadToWorse.
* Taliesin, a reallife [[BadAssBookworm warrior poet]] of medieval Wales, eventually developed a [[ExpansionPackPast complicated mythology around his origins]]. He began as a slave child forced day and night to stir the cauldron of the evil [[WickedWitch Ceridwen]]. By accident, he splashed some of her potion of ''awen'' (inspiration) on his hand. He gained [[RenaissanceMan instant and complete knowledge of the world]] - including that Ceridwen was about kill him. To evade her, he [[ShapeShifting turned into a grain]] hidden among a million others. Still, she dug him out eventually and swallowed him. [[LawOfInverseFertility Nine months later]], she gave birth to an infant who she could not bear to kill even though he was her enemy. So, she put him in a skin bag and threw him into the sea; he washed up on shore and was discovered, and in time grew up into the great poet and bard.
* Scyld Scefing, the legendary ancestor of the Danish royal lineage is described as arriving this way in ''Literature/{{Beowulf}}''.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''LegendOfTheFiveRings'' has Daigotsu, the hidden heir to the throne. Subverted in that rather than being raised by an upright peasant family he is raised by evil cultists and becomes the new BigBad.
* Mortarion, Primarch of the Death guard from TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}.

* In ''{{Bionicle}}'', most of the Av-Matoran were spread across the Matoran World by the [[HeroSecretService Order of Mata Nui]] to ensure their safety from evil hands, mindwiping the whole population of the Matoran world to forget the whole several month period this moving took place to make even more sure nobody knew.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Lloyd in ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'' was abandoned by his birth father (who thought he had died) and raised by a dwarf.
* In ''VideoGame/CastleOfTheWinds'', the BigBad kills your parents in an attempt to kill you, the ChosenOne. Your parents knew it was coming, however, and left little baby Player in the hands of a elderly farmer couple.
* Another videogame example(and spoiler): in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'', [[spoiler:Princess Garnet is revealed to be one of the last Summoners, who survived a great catastrophe by going away with her mother on a boat. Her mother, though, had died as soon as they got to Alexandria. Also, Zidane qualifies once the full scope of his origin is revealed]]
* Seemingly played straight in ''FireEmblem: Radiant Dawn'' with Pelleas, lost heir to Daein, except that he isn't taken in by a family and grows up in an orphanage. However, it's subverted when [[spoiler:[[HundredPercentCompletion after fulfilling a boatload of conditions]], you find out in the epilogue that [[DeadpanSnarker Soren]] is the true heir. A subversion in that not only does he not become king, he doesn't even ''know''.]] Made particularly ironic when it's revealed that Pelleas' special birthmark that identified him as the heir is [[spoiler:actually a Spirit Charmer mark; Soren, who has the genuine Brand, probably owes his survival to being confused for a Spirit Charmer.]]
** Micaiah is one of these as well.
* The PlayerCharacter of ''JadeEmpire'' was a baby Spirit Monk taken from the destruction of Dirge and raised by Master Li to reclaim his/her heritage.
* As explained in the ExtendedGameplay of ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVIII'', The Hero is [[spoiler:the son of the wayward prince of Argonia and a Dragovian princess. His pet mouse is actually his grandfather in disguise, who protected him when his Dragovian bretheren sealed The Hero's memories (which conveniently immunized him from all curses) and sent him away. His Argonia heritage paves the way for ''him'' to marry Medea rather than Prince Charmles.]]
* In ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime Ocarina of Time]]'', it's revealed that Link is a Hylian, left in Kokiri Forest by his mother as she died at the feet (roots?) of the Great Deku Tree.
* Variant used in ''VideoGame/OdinSphere'' with Oswald who wasn't abandoned, but adopted by Lord Melvin of Ringford who [[spoiler:found him after [[NobleFugitive his parents]] had been murdered by assassins sent by Oswald's grandfather- King Gallon of Titania.]] Possibly a subversion as Melvin DIDN'T raise Oswald with care and love to be a noble and good man, but raised him distantly to be a cold, emotionless killing machine.
* Another variant is in ''VideoGame/KingsQuestIII'', where Gwydion, the game's protagonist, is really [[spoiler:Prince Alexander]], who was kidnapped and enslaved by the evil wizard Manannan.
* This trope serves as part of the opening cinematic of ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfSpyro: A New Beginning'', with Spyro's egg literally floating down a river on a makeshift raft.
* A variation occurs in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'', but it was never really elaborated on until the DS version: [[spoiler:as a baby, Cecil's father, the Lunarian [=KluYa=], was murdered, and his mother Cecilia died in childbirth. Cecil's brother Theodore (later known as Golbez), abandons the baby Cecil at the edge of Baron's woods, since the evil influence of Zemus led him to believe that Cecil's birth was the direct cause of his parents' deaths. Cecil is taken in and raised by the King of Baron.]]
* Xiba from ''[[SoulSeries Soulcalibur V]]'' is [[spoiler:the biological son of Kilik and Xianghua. Unfortunately, because of that, he inherited his father's Evil Seed. And so, after consulting Edge Master for advice, Kilik puts him in the care of Kong Xiuqiang]]. 17 years later, does he look Malfested to you?
* In ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'', Grey Mann was captured and raised by an eagle soon after his birth. He eventually kills the other chicks, eats them, and then climbs down the mountain. He ultimately kills his brothers, Redmond and Blutarch.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'', [[http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=2954 Percy decides to launch Yarnie to another planet, a la Superman, so he can leave without worrying about his "child."]]
* In, ''{{Webcomic/Zelfia}}'', Mayy's birth mother attempts to [[InvokedTrope invoke]] this when she leaves her infant daughter on the doorstep of a human florist. [[RealityEnsues The florist promptly calls Child Protective Services and puts the child into the foster care system.]]
* Happens in, ''Webcomic/ComplicatedNess''. In the novel version Ozzie finds a baby Ness in his bag at the airport when he first lands in the USA. This was to protect him from the color war.

[[folder:Western Animation ]]
* For much of the series, Leela in ''{{WesternAnimation/Futurama}}'' is believed (by herself, the rest of the main cast, and the viewers) to be an alien abandoned on Earth. It is later discovered, however, that [[spoiler:she was born to a pair of mutants living in the sewers of New New York. As mutants are rejected by society and forbidden to leave the sewers, they placed her on the doorstep of an orphanage with a note written in an alien language, so that people would think she was an alien rather than a mutant.]]
** [[spoiler: In a heartwarming twist, her parents did watch over her for her entire life as they best could and as soon as Leela discovers them she tries as hard as she can to have a close, normal parental relationship with them (while still living above ground where mutants are banned).]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/WinxClub'', Bloom is an ordinary Earth girl. Or at least that's how she seems until she discovers that she is a fairy and has magic powers. Later she learns from her parents that her father saved Bloom from a fire and adopted her. Eventually she learns that she is the lost [[EverythingIsBetterWithPrincesses princess of Domino]], the planet that was destroyed by the Ancestral Witches.
* ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda2'' reveals Po to be this, finally explaining how a panda can have a goose as a father. The ending reveals that [[spoiler:Po's father is still alive along with a number of other pandas who managed to escape Lord Shen's slaughter]].
* While it's pretty clear that Tygra from ''[[WesternAnimation/{{Thundercats 2011}} [=ThunderCats (2011)=]]]'' is adopted (considering how he's a Tiger in a royal family of Lions), it was never brought up in the show itself until the episode "Native Son". [[spoiler:His father Javan sent him away in a hot air balloon when he was unable to sacrifice him to the Ancient Spirits in order to save their clan from a deadly disease. The balloon eventually found its way to the city of Thundera, where he was raised by King Claudus and his queen and would later gain an adoptive brother, Lion-O.]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwenllian_ferch_Llywelyn Princess Gwenllian]], daughter of the last native Prince of Wales, fits into this trope. Her mother died in childbirth, her grief-stricken father got himself killed fighting the English less than a year later, and she and her cousins were taken prisoner by King Edward I. Gwenllian was reared in a convent from infancy onward; Edward didn't want to kill her because she was a baby, she was a girl, and she was a member of his own family (her mother had been his niece), but he wanted her kept where the Welsh couldn't make her a symbol of uprising. The trope is subverted, however, in that she eventually was made aware of her own status, but she never left the convent.