[[quoteright:316:[[Literature/PrincessBelleEtoile http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/WithStarOnTheirForeheads.JPG]]]]
[[caption-width-right:316:The Wonder Children from ''Princess Belle-Etoile'', with stars on their foreheads]]

[[MyBiologicalClockIsTicking Biological clocks]] are [[TheOldestOnesInTheBook nothing new.]] The childless older woman or older couple has been a staple of folklore and FairyTales. Typically, one's first introduction to such a character will be the phrase, "Character X had always wanted a child." [[LawOfInverseFertility Which, of course, guarantees infertility.]]

However, in the realm of fairy tales, this is never the end of the story. Through ThePowerOfLove, [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor wishing]], MosesInTheBulrushes, or some other [[DeusExMachina supernaturally-empowered]] device, a child will come into the life or lives of the poor, childless person or couple. However, due to the unusual circumstances of his or her birth, the child given to the couple is a little bit... unusual. They have amazing magical powers, or they have a strange appearance, or something similar. This is the WonderChild.

While a WonderChild often appears from some supernatural source or is [[MysticalPregnancy conceived in some magical circumstances]], they are, occasionally, merely [[ObliviousAdoption adoptees]] whose real parents were significantly less mundane, resulting in MuggleFosterParents. Regardless of their origins, they frequently have some sort of [[TheQuest quest]] or goal to fulfill by the story's end. Compare ChangelingFantasy, though the two can overlap.

If their appearance is unusual, they often feature as the ShapeshiftingLover; either the wedding transforms them or inaugurates a time when they can switch back and forth.

The term comes from folklorists; strictly speaking the wished-for child is the Wish Child, and the marvelous child is the Wonder Child, but they have ''always'' had substantial overlap.


[[folder: Anime ]]
* Although younger than most of the above examples, Isamu and Ai Amami wished on a falling star for a child. The "star" turned out to be a [[Anime/GaoGaiGar giant mechanical lion]], who delivered their wish [[DeliveryStork directly]]. Interestingly, when Galeon shows up again as part of Gao Gai Gar, they start worrying that it will come to take their son Mamoru ''back''.
* Goku of ''Manga/DragonBall'' was adopted by Grampa Gohan (who he eventually named [[Characters/DragonBallSonGohan his son]] after) after he fell to Earth in his pod as an infant. Even as a baby he exhibited superhuman strength.
* Although altogether average kids, the Katsura sisters fall into this category for ''Manga/HayateTheCombatButler''. There's nothing inherently special about them, but their adopted parents were unable to have children of their own, so when Yukiji was looking for foster parents and chose her former teacher and his wife, they were probably thought of as this.
* Guts from ''{{Manga/Berserk}}'' serves as a much darker example of this trope. Shisu, a young woman who had recently miscarried her own child, is grieving her loss and is on the verge of going insane. But when all hope is lost, what does she pass by? Why, a baby! ... that was just born from its mother's dead and hanged corpse! ... [[NauseaFuel Yay!]]
** More fun: the group of mercenaries she was in thought the baby was dead, too. So when she cradled it, their leader knocked it out of her hands... and when it hit a puddle, it cried. And that's how main character Guts managed to survive infancy. Yes, his life sucked from ''birth''.


[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* An elderly, childless farm couple wish that they had a child. [[Franchise/{{Superman}} They find a baby in a rocket, who has Powers And Abilities Far Beyond Those Of Mortal Men]].
* A queen wanted a child badly, but lived in a land with no men. So she made a clay statue of a baby, and the gods, in reward for her faithfulness, [[Franchise/WonderWoman turned it into a real girl]].
* Deconstructed in ''ComicBook/{{Irredeemable}}'', where the flashbacks show that the Plutonian's (an {{expy}} of the aforementioned Big Blue Boy Scout) many different MuggleFosterParents were utterly afraid of (or at least had no idea how to handle) the wonder child's powers, causing him to be bounced around several different homes. This lack of stability and love leads to Plutonian becoming a desperately LoveHungry person who CantTakeCriticism of any kind.

[[folder: Fairy Tales ]]
* The fairy tale "Hans-my-Hedgehog" involved a couple who wanted a child, but who had difficulty having one--until the woman says, "I wouldn't care if he were ugly as a hedgehog!" She then, naturally, has a baby who looks like a hedgehog. This was later adapted into a well-loved episode of ''[[InCaseYouForgotWhoWroteIt Jim Henson's]] Series/TheStoryteller.''
* "Literature/{{Thumbelina}}" is, of course, about an older woman who plants a magic barley seed. The eponymous girl appears from the flower that grows from the seed. As her name would suggest, she's only a few inches tall.
* "Literature/TomThumb" is similar to Thumbelina, but with a male hero.
* "Momotaro" is a Japanese fairy tale similar to "Thumbelina", only instead of a flower, the tiny titular character appears inside of of a peach found floating down the river. Or, in the earliest version of the story, the peach [[FountainOfYouth makes the old couple young again,]] so they can have a second chance to have a baby.
** This is used as the Cyclops alternate's backstory in an X-Men Elseworlds story. The twist is that the pit from the peach is in Cyclops' eye socket, and he can use his laser-vision in that eye by removing it.
* "Literature/TheGingerbreadMan", though unfortunately for the couple, the speedy youngster soon dies.
* ''The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter''/''The Tale of Princess Kaguya:'' A bamboo cutter finds a tiny thumb-sized, glowing baby inside a bamboo stem. He takes her home to his wife and they name her Kaguya-hime--she grows up to a normal-sized, unearthly beauty who many men, including the Emperor, fall in love with. She ends up returning to whence she came--the moon. This space alien subtext is stronger depending on the variation you read.
** One variant of the story has her weeping in farewell as she ascends, and [[TearJerker her tears become fireflies]].
** This one is retold in a side quest in ''VideoGame/{{Okami}}''. [[spoiler: She leaves in a ''spaceship''.]]
** This fairytale is also referenced in ''Anime/RahXephon''.
** Likewise, this is part of the backstory for the ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' game ''Imperishable Night''. Kaguya Houraisan turns out to be a [[{{Ultraterrestrials}} Lunarian]] princess exiled to Earth for drinking the [[ImmortalityInducer Hourai Elixir]].
* In Russia, this is "The Snow Maiden", who melts at the end of winter, but returns with the first frost.
* There's a Japanese folk tale called "Kachi-kachi Yama/ Fire-Crackle Mountain" in which a farmer and his wife raise a baby rabbit as a human/ are good friends with a local rabbit; in return, when a tanuki kills the wife (and [[ImAHumanitarian feeds it to the farmer]]), the grown-up rabbit hunts down and kills it out of filial piety. (Almost like ''ComicBook/UsagiYojimbo''.) The name comes from one of the torments the rabbit inflicts on the tanuki: while the tanuki caries tinder on his back, rabbit lights it and explains that the sound is coming from the mountain of the story's name. While Tanuki isn't killed he's badly hurt, just as Rabbit planned.
* Issun-boshi ("One Inch Boy"): The wife of a childless couple prays to have a child, even if he's only one-inch tall. Said one-inch child comes into being and is raised by the couple. Issun then ventures into the city and becomes a bodyguard for a princess, despite being small and ridiculed for it. He and the princess are attacked by a demon one day, and said demon swallows Issun whole, but spits him out because Issun kept poking the demon from the inside with a pin. The demon flees, leaving behind a "Lucky Mallet", which is used to make Issun grow to normal size.
** This one is also referenced in ''VideoGame/{{Okami}}'' with the character Issun and the Ryoshima part of the story. The Lucky Mallet in this case is used to make the protagonist smaller. And leads into the version of the one mentioned above.
** And the ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' series, where the Mallet ([[SpellMyNameWithAnS or some similarly-named item]]) inflicts and removes [[IncredibleShrinkingMan the Mini status]].
** The ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' game ''Double-Dealing Character'' introduced Shinmyoumaru Sukuna, a decendent of Issun-Boshi. Like the rest of her lineage she's normally [[{{Lilliputians}} very, very small]], but with the ancestral Miracle Mallet, she can grow to become... the shortest character in the series.
* In "[[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/facetiousnights/night2_fable1.html The Pig King]]", the child is born a pig. Unusually, the queen had not made a rash wish about any child, even a pig; this was the caprice of three [[TheFairFolk fairies]].
* In "[[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/pentamerone/2myrtle1911.html The Myrtle]]", the child is born as a sprig of myrtle, after her mother expressed a rash wish for a child, even a sprig of myrtle.
* In " Literature/TheDancingWaterTheSingingAppleAndTheSpeakingBird", the heroine says that if the king marries her, she will bear "two sons with apples in their hands, and a daughter with a star on her brow". Earnestly desiring such children, the king marries her, and she does. (Complications arise when her sisters try to murder them.)
** Similarly, in "[[http://www.maerchenlexikon.de/etexte/707/te707-004.htm The Boys with the Golden Stars]]"; in "[[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/authors/aulnoy/1892/princessbelleetoile.html Princess Belle-Etoile]]", a literary FairyTale; and "[[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/facetiousnights/night4_fable3.html Ancilotto, King of Provino]]".
* "[[http://www.mythfolklore.net/andrewlang/073.htm Stan Bolovan]]", a fairy tale where a couple wish for children, the more the better, can't have too many... [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor aaand suddenly there are a hundred kids in the house]] and the husband has to go out to get money.
* The Chinese-Tibetan fairy tale "Qing Wa Qi Shou" (The Rider in Green Clothes), which is one of the most important folk interpretations of the political relationship between those two historical states, has a very old couple who always wanted a child. The elderly woman finally gets pregnant for four months and bears a FROG. Later it is shown that in a rare occurence, after he gets his wife, the frog is able to turn into a handsome, skilled rider for a certain festival. But the wife stays at home and accidentally burns his frog skin. Therefore, the young frog man must die; if she hadn't done that he would have been the saviour of the Tibetan people, turned the inhospitable lands into fertile ground, and China would have been a tribute state to Tibet instead of the other way round. See?
* A Hebrew wonder-child tale features a girl named Kohava (star), who is born with a shining stone in her hand. The stone contains her soul, so if she ever loses it, she falls asleep until someone gives it back. She has a SleepingBeauty -ish story arc when a princess jealous of her beauty takes her soul away, but of course a prince finds her and gives the shining stone back.

[[folder: Film - Animated]]
* In ''Disney/{{Pinocchio}}'', Pinocchio is brought to life by the Blue Fairy, to make Geppetto a father.
* In [[Franchise/DisneyAnimatedCanon the Disney version]] of ''Disney/{{Hercules}}'', Hercules' adoptive parents have been praying to the gods for a child. When they find the baby Hercules, with the symbol of the gods on a medal around his neck, they naturally assume the gods sent him to them. (He is, of course, actually a god made near-mortal in this version, [[HijackedByJesus dissimilar to the original myth as it is.]])
* Naturally, ''WesternAnimation/{{Thumbelina}}''.
* The movie ''WesternAnimation/JosephKingOfDreams'' had a song titled ''Miracle Child.'' As per [[TheBible the source material]], he was born to Rachel, who was believed to be barren (though his father, Jacob, already had ten older sons).
* In ''Disney/{{Tarzan}}'', Kala and Kerchak lose their son to Sabor. Tarzan loses his parents to Sabor. Kala and Tarzan both fill the void in each others' lives. It takes Kerchak much longer to accept Tarzan as his son, but he eventually does [[spoiler:right before he dies]].


[[folder: Literature ]]
* Lynne Reid Banks's ''Literature/TheFairyRebel'' is about something like this. A childless couple saves the life of a fairy, who decides she owes them one and agrees to give them the child they long for. The child is mostly normal, but she has a streak of blue hair which has magical properties. The fairy queen did not give her approval to the business, so the child is also effectively cursed with a nasty enemy...
* In ''Literature/TheAdventuresOfPinocchio'', Geppetto carved Pinocchio from a living log.
* In the medieval ChivalricRomance of ''Robert the Devil'' and all its variants, the parents [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor wish for a child -- whether from God or the Devil]]. The son is therefore born possessed by evil. (Fortunately for him, in due time, he repents and does penance for his evil. This results in either [[RagsToRoyalty marrying]] [[StandardHeroReward the princess]] or becoming a saint.)
* Creator/TanithLee does a takeoff on this in one of her ''Literature/TalesFromTheFlatEarth'' books. The lady who wants a child has a date with an angel. They kiss, and she is told she'll conceive the next time she and her husband are together; she does, and thereby hangs the tale.
* There's a story in one of the ''Cricket'' magazines that features something like this. The man and wife don't have any kids. However, one day the man is doing his job as a woodcutter, and he finds an enormous gold and purple butterfly cocoon. He takes it home, and they put it by the fire. The next day there is a baby girl with purple eyes wrapped in a golden cloak. Her parents insist that she avoid the forest where she came from, but it turns into a TearJerker when [[spoiler: she searches the forest for healing herbs to save her mother, and touches the bush where the purple butterflies swarm. She brings back the plants and saves her mother, but the next day, she turns back into a butterfly.]]
** There was another ''Cricket'' story about a child born of a magic potato vine. The man who sold the magic potatoes to the couple was also childless and wanted the baby for himself, but they persuaded him to accept one of the new potatoes they'd grown instead.
* In Norton Juster's ''Literature/ThePhantomTollbooth'''s BackStory, the old king had two sons, but regretted having no daughters. Then he found two golden-haired girl babies in his garden: the Princesses Rhyme and Reason.
* In the Laurel Series, Laurel was left on the doorstep of her parents, and later learns she is a fairy.
* In Creator/VictoriaForester's ''Literature/TheGirlWhoCouldFly'', Piper is a surprisingly late birth to a childless couple, and she can (surprise!) [[{{Flight}} fly]]. It subverts the rest, as her parents were shocked and ashamed to have a child so late -- it's just not the way things are done -- and her mother's first reaction is that such results are to be expected when things aren't done the way they're supposed to be done.
* In ''Literature/HarryPotter,'' the title character's father James was a mild example. WordOfGod says that part of the reason that he was such a JerkAss as a teenager was because he was [[OnlyChildSyndrome an only child]] born when his parents were already getting old [[WizardsLiveLonger even by wizarding standards]], leading him to be a bit spoiled.

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* In the last season of ''Series/LoisAndClark'', Clark finds out that he is unable to impregnate Lois due to being an alien, even though they both want children. The last episode ends with them mysteriously finding a child in their living room with no explanation. The story probably would have been something like this trope, except [[ExecutiveMeddling it was cancelled]].
** A similar plot was used in the comics, where it was revealed that the kid was actually the son of Superman's nemesis General Zod and his wife.
** Superman himself is, of course, an example of this trope.
* Baby William of ''Series/TheXFiles'' is this. By all accounts, he shouldn't exist, and how he came to be when his mother apparently had no ova was never established. And because he is a Wonder Child and "more human than human," all the bad guys want him.

[[folder: Music ]]
* "Hijo de la Luna", by the Spaniard group Mecano, tells the story of a [[UsefulNotes/{{Romani}} Romany]] woman who prayed to the moon for a husband. She got it, but in return, she had to give the moon her first child. He turned out to be an albino; the man thought she cheated on him because he was white instead of dark-skinned, killed her, and abandoned the kid in the mountains. Since that day, the moon becomes full whenever the kid is happy, and wanes to become a rocker whenever the kid is sad.

[[folder:Religion and Mythology]]
* Naturally, this occurs in Literature/TheBible, with Sarah giving birth to Isaac. Sarah was 90 years old--too old to bear a child, presumably past menopause. But if Yahweh makes a plan that involves the son of Abraham (who is 100) and Sarah founding the Jewish nation, then Sarah will miraculously give birth even though she's past menopause.
** This also happened with Isaac's own wife, Rebecca, who dealt with infertility before God blessed her with JacobAndEsau. Then Jacob ''also'' had this with his [[{{Polyamory}} favorite wife]], Rachel, who eventually gave birth to Joseph and Benjamin. Though Jacob had ten older sons [[OutnumberedSibling and one daughter]], the Bible specifically says that Rachel's kids were his favorite because they were born later in his life.
** Also in the Bible, Hannah, who vows that she will give her child back to the service of God if she is blessed to have one. She fulfilled this promise with her firstborn, [[BooksOfSamuel the prophet Samuel]], and went on to have [[MassiveNumberedSiblings five kids after him]].
** In the N.T. we have John the Baptist, and in the NT Apocrypha, the Virgin Mary.

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* A modern version: In the Game Boy Advance RPG ''Robopon 2,'' an alien crash-lands near the house of an old couple and disguises herself as a human little girl. The old couple takes her in. When her ship gets repaired and it comes time for her to leave, the couple tells her that they've come to think of her as their own child. [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming Awww.]] To thank them for their kindness, she both promises to visit them from the moon as often as she can, and uses her alien powers to [[FountainOfYouth give them back their youth.]]
* The origin story of the little girl in ''VideoGame/PrincessMaker 2'' follows this: She is a "pure soul" sent by the gods to live with a human hero so that she can learn about the world.
** The origin for ''VideoGame/CuteKnightKingdom'' is somewhat similar [[spoiler: except with aliens]], but not the first game in the series, which is more a case of Swapped At Birth.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Loom}}'', the protagonist Bobbin is given birth when the childless Lady Cygna weaves a magical thread into the Great Pattern, after which she is banished by being [[{{Animorphism}} turned into a swan]].

[[folder: Web Comics ]]
* Elie, the "ice gift" girl from the ''Webcomic/GiftsOfWanderingIce''. She had been frozen inside an ancient machine for hundreds of years and came to life when found. She experiences painful "reminiscences" about distant past almost every time she sees any other "ice gift". Also, the ancient machine she'd been found into recognizes her "psi profile" (whatever it is) and responds to it. Elie is being raised by adoptive parents who are normal people.
* In ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob,'' Bob and Jean were brought together by their shared status as "parents" of [[CuteMonsterGirl Molly the Monster]]âa fuzzy pink lab accident whose spontaneous generation they were responsible for. Apart from being pink and fuzzy with "claws, [[CuteLittleFangs fangs,]] and a tail," Molly is also a super-intelligent GadgeteerGenius. And also incredibly naive.

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheFlintstones''. Betty and Barney tried for a child shortly after Pebbles' birth, and had no luck. Then they wished on a falling star, and Bamm-Bamm turned up on their doorstep shortly thereafter. He had super-strength and could walk even as an infant. The super strength stayed with him all the way to adulthood.
* Yugo from ''WesternAnimation/{{Wakfu}}'', who's a DoorstopBaby who grew up having the power create [[VideoGame/{{Portal}} mystical space-bending portals]].

[[folder: Real Life ]]
* Otto Rank's book ''The Myth of the Birth of the Hero'' points out that, in fact '''everyone''' is a Wonder Child, having gone a tremendous transformation from a foetus living in the mother's womb into an air-breathing, independently living person.