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A Hero Is Born

What better way to introduce the protagonist of the story than start at his/her birth? This device is used often and is used to have the audience fall in love with the character, because who can't love a baby?

Mainly comes in two types.
  • Type 1: Work literally begins from the birth of the protagonist. A Time Skip or two are permitted.
  • Type 2: Protagonist is shown as an infant at the beginning. Might overlap with Doorstop Baby.

Compare A Minor Kidroduction.

Examples of type 1:

Anime and Manga
  • The manga adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons opens with Link's birth, showing his Triforce mark from those games as a birthmark.
  • Rose of Versailles begins just a moment before the birth of Oscar.
  • Basara begins with the birth of the main character, Sarasa, and her twin brother Tatara.
  • Berserk has our hero (well, Anti-Hero) being born (well, ripped from the womb of his mother's hanged corpse) at the start (well, after a two-volume long prologue), and the story proceeds to follows his journey until it catches up with where it was at the start. A pretty straight example, really.

Film
  • Look Who's Talking starts at conception. Actually a few moments before conception.
  • James Kirk in the Star Trek reboot movie. A deleted scene would also have done this with Spock. The prior version of James Kirk had barely anything about his life pre-captaincy.
  • Amélie actually begins with the conception of the heroine.
  • Man of Steel begins with Superman's birth on Krypton.
  • Bambi begins with assorted wildlife coming to view the just-born Bambi and his mother. Seeing his adorable first steps is particularly endearing.

Literature
  • Stories of King Arthur tend to begin with the retelling of his conception, a rather convoluted event involving adultery, war and magic, following in the tradition of Celtic heroes having unusual affairs.
    • By the time of Malory it's even more nuanced as he has to keep the story of the strange conception, but also needs to make sure that Arthur isn't a bastard. Hard to make that work. The story then goes on to his birth and how Merlin christens him and whisks him away to Sir Ector.
    • Tennyson has a very different account of Arthur's arrival, having him wash up on shore in a manner similar to Schyld Schefing, on the night Uther dies. All part of setting him up to be a truly pure hero.
  • Beowulf:
    • And, speaking of which, Schyld Schefing. The book begins by recounting his birth and life, even though the story isn't about him.
    • Averted with Beowulf, oddly enough for an epic, who enters the story from a foreign land, long grown up, and little about his childhood is ever revealed, save that he was weak as a child. This seems a small subversion of the typical hero story when they are born under unusual circumstances and have remarkable childhoods, but the unassuming child has become a recognizable trope in itself.
  • White Fang It starts a little before the birth of White Fang, actually.
  • Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne, which begins with the hero's conception. And his troubled birth sets up much of the humor that follows. It's kind of a parody of this trope, considering the rest of the book(s).
  • In RA Salvatore's Drizzt Do'Urden series, one of the prequel books starts off with Drizzt's birth, and the consternation surrounding it. His mother nearly sacrificed him to Loth.
  • Frequently in The Bible.
    • Many people are more aware of the story of Jesus's birth than anything else he did. The story is considered pretty important since Jesus conceived divinely.
    • Taken to the extreme in the geneology sections where you get long, long family history of who was begat by who, leading up to the people who are more familiar.
  • Tarzan of the Apes starts with the adventures of his parents and is already well into its third chapter before Alice Clayton saves her husband's life, kills a bull ape, becomes insane and bears Tarzan in less than a day.
  • The Gormenghast novels were conceptualized as the fictional biography of the protagonist from birth to death. The first book begins on the day of his birth and follows the events surrounding his infancy. Instead of going on with a Time Skip, the first book ends before our protagonist is even old enough to speak.

Theatre
  • Rodgers and Hammerstein's Allegro:
    His hair is fuzzy, his eyes are blue,
    His eyes may change—they often do.
    He weighs eight pounds and an ounce or two—
    Joseph Taylor, Junior!

Video Games
  • The protagonist of Fallout 3. The game starts out with the player seeing the protagonist's father through their baby eyes and later moves one to their early childhood.
  • The first memory in Assassins Creed II is of Ezio's birth.
  • The Famicom RPG Tao provides opening exposition while an embryo - presumably the protagonist's - gestates in the background.

Western Animation
  • 101 Dalmatians - 15 of the main characters were shown being born. Of course, the puppies are not so much the heroes of the tale as their parents are.
  • Finding Nemo - Nemo was shown as an egg.
  • Hercules - Hercules was not only once a baby, he was once a god.
  • Littlefoot in The Land Before Time is introduced in a similar way to Bambi. This also helps to develope his attachment to his mother to make her death all the more tragic.
  • Simba in the The Lion King, with definite heroic overtones as all the animals in the kingdom come to see him.
  • After the opening Oner, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron begins with Spirit's mother in labour.

Examples of type 2:

Anime and Manga
  • Naruto began with the details of what happened to him as an infant.

Comic Books
  • The standard Origin Story for Superman shows him as a baby when he is sent to Earth in a spaceship.

Film

Literature

Video Games

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • Aladar the Iguanodon in Dinosaur is taken from his mother's nest as an egg by a Pteranodon and winds up hatching in the presence of a family of lemurs.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Yes, Quasimodo was a baby. Even as a baby he was ugly enough that Frollo had to be talked out of throwing him down a well.
  • The Bugs Bunny cartoon What's Up, Doc? involves Bugs narrating his life story to a reporter, starting with a flashback to the day he was born and he realized he was a rabbit.

Please sort if you know which type the examples are

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button This one has elements of both types because in the movie, it shows Benjamin's birth and then him being delivered as a doorstop baby to Queenie. In the original story, it only has his birth as he is raised by his actual parents. It's kind of a weird inversion anyway since in his "infancy" he's an adult.
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, one of the first cutscenes shows Master Xehanort leaving a dying Ventus on the paupu fruit tree in the Destiny Islands. Ven's heart is badly damaged after having his darkness ripped from him to create Vanitas, and is only saved by the heart of an infant Sora... who was just born offscreen. That's right: Sora has been helping those in need right from his own birth.
  • Penguins of Madagascar starts with young versions of Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico rescuing a runaway egg, which hatches to reveal Private.