"All my life I've played second fiddle to that weakling—why? Because his mother was a princess and mine was not. I'm the eldest son, but he was the Crown Prince, he lived in the royal palace, he dined with kings. Well, today the table is set for Rudolf — but it's Michael who's going to the feast."He's the son of the ruler of the land. Therefore, he's the Prince, next in the line of succession, and a privileged member of his society, yes? No. Royal Blood aside, he's a nobody. He's a literal bastard, and the reason for the negative connotation of the word. Born with the shame of unmarried parents, he is marginalized at best, reviled and banished at worst (not to mention unable to inherit)—but unlike his more sympathetic counterpart, the Heroic Bastard, the Bastard Bastard is not trying to rise above society's expectations. Instead, his Parental Abandonment has created the ultimate Freudian Excuse. He's the Jerkass Woobie who's got it in for his father, his siblings, or maybe even the world. His issues have driven him to seek revenge, or made him vulnerable to manipulation by the forces of Evil. Generally male, although female examples are becoming more common. In older works, this can be seen as a Space Whale Aesop: Don't cheat on your partner and have bastard children, because they will be evil. In these cases, the bastard's evilness can be a sort of Moral Lamarckism — that the moral failings of your forebears express themselves in a taint on your own soul or karmic bank balance. This trope can be found in any society where rank or wealth can be inherited, if it also has a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate offspring — making it Older Than Dirt. While not exactly a Discredited Trope, the subversion is more common today. Modern audiences have a less stringent view toward children and wedlock and tend to be more accepting of a literal bastard character. While modern settings don't really make use of this trope as plenty of modern fiction deals with settings that draw inspiration from the middle ages—particularly high fantasy, but plenty of other genres too—it'll continue to be relevant for as long as people want to write about aristocracies and so forth. Stands a good chance of being a Manipulative Bastard. While it's possible, he is unlikely to be a Magnificent Bastard. There's nothing magnificent about this quivering pile of daddy-issues. Don't you dare compare him to his legitimate brother The Evil Prince. Subversions belong to Heroic Bastard. A subtrope of The Resenter.
— Black Michaelnote , The Prisoner of Zenda
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Anime & Manga
- Reimei No Arcana: Cain, the blond older brother of Caesar, because apparently, black hair is very important in the royal country. He's got quite a grudge for it.
- Romeo X Juliet has Lord Montague himself, who is also responsible for the series' other bastard-born character.
- Pandora Hearts has Jack.
- Gremy Toto from Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ miiiiiiight be this. He certainly is a bastard, but the "miiiiiiight" part comes from how it's speculated that while he claims to be a clone of Gihren Zabi, he may actually be his bastard son. Apparently, Word of God has said that Gremy is Gihren's bastard son with a Newtype woman.
- Towards the end of Ayashi no Ceres, we learn that Kagami is this. His mother was the second wife of his stepfather and he was her bastard child, meaning that he actually has no blood ties to the Mikage.
- Fantastic Children Has Dumas. A melodramatic and arguably Sissy Villain born out of wedlock and to the king's brother to boot. Subverted in that he doesn't actually want the throne. He just wants his sister to go back to Greecia so they can be together. It's his father, A Literal Big Bad, who wants the throne.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Part VI has three of Dio Brando's sons working for the Big Bad, contrasting with Giorno, who was The Hero of the previous part.
- The Big Bad of said previous part is also an example, given his father's identity is unknown.
- Prince Dmitry in Heavy Object is knee-deep in corruption and nepotism, including being connected to the assassination of other claimants to the throne of Volga. The suspected reason is that claims of his birth mother being a "surrogate" are a lie covering up the King's indiscretion. As Volga is a matrilineal country this would leave him with no right to the crown unless he can wipe out all the legitimate heirs and make himself the only option for a continuous line. After his death, his co-conspirators admit they were hiding DNA tests proving his illegitimacy.
- Reiner Braun from Attack on Titan turns out to be one of Mixed Ancestry, with enormous issues stemming from not having a father. Raised by a controlling and resentful mother, they actually thought they were a Heroic Bastard that was going to reunite their broken family through their heroism. These fantasies of a happy family and glory as a champion of good were slowly and systematically ripped to shreds, leading to a downward spiral of Sanity Slippage and self-hatred. While not high-born, he was led to believe that becoming a Warrior would mean getting to live outside the ghettos with his Marleyan father. Instead, Reiner is completely rejected by the man who insists the "Eldian devils" are plotting to kill him and his real family by exposing his past indiscretion to the authorities.
- This trope could just as easily be called The Loki. Son of a powerful ruler? Check. More popular, heroic, half-brother who is heir to the kingdom? Check. Freudian Excuses out the wa-zoo? You betcha!
- Though Loki is actually the adopted son of Odin.
- In Manhunter, it's eventually revealed that Kate's birth father Walter Pratt is one of these, since he's the child of Iron Munro and Sandra Knight, the original Phantom Lady and was given up for adoption after birth. The reason he hasn't been around? He's been in prison for killing Kate's mother in front of her when she was a baby, and when he shows up in the story it's because he's been diagnosed with blood cancer and needs Kate's blood, so he kidnaps his grandson and tortures Kate's ex-husband. Real stand up guy.
- In Usagi Yojimbo: Tomoe's evil, bloodthirsty cousin Noriko is actually her half-sister due to Tomoe's father being in love with Noriko's mother, who happened to be Tomoe's mother's sister. When she confronted Tomoe's father he rejected her so she killed him, and poisoned her "step" father for being a weakling for good measure.
- In the Ultimate Marvel universe, the Red Skull is the illegitimate child of Captain America — and every bit as horrible as his mainstream counterpart.
- In the Oneiroi Series, Deirdre because she was an accident and her parents were on opposite sides of a conflict. (They were Redcloak and Vaarsuvius from The Order of the Stick.)
- Hivefled: Gamzee was found by his bloodlink (trolls don't raise their own young so he had to be tracked down in later life} and horrifically abused, then found out he was produced when said bloodlink mated with his moirail, which is strictly forbidden on penalty of death and from Gamzee's point of view akin to finding that one's parents were siblings. Gamzee is now convinced that both his genetic line and his psyche are tainted forever, and is only resisting his Ax-Crazy urges for the sake of his own moirail.
- One Less Lonely Gurl has the Villain Sue C'ren, a bastard child who was abused by her father's wife.
- Downplayed with Harris Flowers in Forum of Thrones, being the Anti-Villain castellan of Raylansfair.
- Played absolutely straight with Rodrik Stone, who is a kinslayer and rapist on top of being a major Jerkass.
Films — Live-Action
- Will of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is Robin's illegitimate half-brother, who blames Robin for their father abandoning him and his mother.
- Played with by Lord Henry Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes who was conceived out of wedlock during a magical ritual. His mother dies during childbirth, he goes on to murder several people (including his father), and tries to seize control of the British Empire by making the world fear him. While Holmes mentions that he's a former member of the House of Lords, it's because his parentage was kept secret. Holmes only figured it out by comparing his facial features to that of the Lord Chief Justice and noticed a family resemblance.
- Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street isn't called "the bastard son of a 100 maniacs" for nothing. He was conceived when dozens of insane inmates in a mental asylum raped his mother Amanda, a nun who was working there. Freddy was a child murderer in real life and became a spectral nightmare killer after his death.
- General Hux from Star Wars is the illegitimate son of an Imperial commandant and a kitchen staff member. He's also an arrogant Jerkass who thinks he's more important than he is. Though, compared to his comrades like Kylo Ren or Captain Phasma, he's also practically the First Order's Only Sane Man.
- Katherine Kurtz's Deryni series. The House of Festil had several of these, notably King Imre's son Marek (by his sister Ariella). King Donal Haldane has several, and Prince Conall Haldane has one born posthumously.
- A Song of Ice and Fire's Loads and Loads of Characters has many bastard children who come in many different varieties — some are Heroic Bastards while some are Bastard Bastards. Nine surnames are reserved soley for the use of natural children born of noble families while natural children of smallfolk are not granted a last name. These surnames differ, depending on the area of Westeros from which the illegitimate child with noble blood is from. While there are good-hearted and loyal illegitimate kids, such as one of the main protagonists Jon Snow who is of the heroic variety, there are Bastard Bastards out and about as well — such as Ramsay
SnowBolton and Joffrey Baratheon. Joffrey's bastardy isn't common knowledge, but his siblings (also bastard children) are genuinely decent and kind kids. Generally, while there are Heroic Bastards and Bastard Bastards, many others are just in the background trying to live life the best they can and are decent ordinary people, such as Mya Stone and Edric Storm.
- Walder Rivers. He is known as "Bastard Walder", the eldest bastard of Walder Frey, and is a tough soldier and a bit of a jerk. But compared to some of his relatives — particularly Black Walder — he's positively noble, considering he comes from one of the nastiest Houses in Westeros. It is mentioned that he hates being a bastard and hates anyone who isn't. Jaime Lannister considers him more dangerous than his trueborn brothers.
- Craster, a wildling North of the wall and uncertain ally of the Night's Watch, is the bastard of a Night's Watch ranger and wildling woman from Whitetree. He is called a "kinslayer, liar, raper and craven". Craster is notorious for marrying his daughters — and don't get started on what he does to his sons. However, calling him a bastard is a Berserk Button for him.
- Also, while Bastard Bastard is listed as an "Always Male" Trope, female versions occur in A Song of Ice and Fire. At Shield Islands, Lord Humfrey Hewett makes his illegitimate daughter Falia Flowers become a servant to her legitimate half-sisters and Falia is treated like absolute crap by her trueborn family due to her illegitimate status. When the Ironmen conquer her home and take them captive, Falia sides with the conquerors and enjoys exchanging clothes with her sisters and forcing them to serve her, even having an affair with the Ironmen's King Euron Greyjoy. Though considering how cruelly they were described as treating Falia, it may be a case of just desserts for the adults. However, it becomes too harsh since some of her sisters are just children and some of them are raped while their father is Forced to Watch. Falia's own fate is cruel as well and wins her some sympathy — after she becomes pregnant by Euron, he cuts her tongue out and ties her to his ship's prow.
- The Sand Snakes, Oberyn Martell's eight bastard daughters. They're not as bad as most of the other examples (and some of them are little girls with not a lot of time given to them) but they're still not very nice and share most of their father's bad traits. However, it's easy to root for them since their new mission is to infiltrate the other realms in order to bring down the Lannisters, who are planning to kill their cousin and could be considered the primary villains of the series.
- Aurane Waters, the Bastard of Driftmark (his family the Velaryons rule Driftmark). Cersei appoints him to the Small Council as Grand Admiral (Master of Ships), partially as he reminds her of Rhaegar Targaryen (the Targaryens and Velaryons are distantly related and both have Valyrian blood). However, when Cersei is imprisoned, Aurane flees King's Landing with the new dromonds and uses them to become a pirate. There are fandom theories that say he has other motives but, for the time being, he just looks like a greedy opportunist.
- The Sadistic Ramsay Snow is, next to Joffrey, probably the best example A Song of Ice and Fire offers. Especially notable because his father openly blames this on his 'tainted blood.' It's clear that, though Roose Bolton is cruel and vicious, he's pragmatic about it and doesn't let it affect his plans. Ramsay, however, is just a Serial Killer with a noble title and is threatening his father's own power with his wanton cruelty and is suspected of poisoning Roose's legitimate son Domeric so he could become heir. Ramsay hates being referred to as a bastard and murders people who say he is. He is considered by many people to be the evilest character in the series, which is a legitimately impressive feat considering the level of competition.
- The "Great Bastards" of Aegon IV "The Unworthy", who legitimized them all on his deathbed out of spite at his only legitimate son, Daeron II "The Good". Daemon Blackfyre, bastard of Aegon and one of his Targaryen cousins, tried to overthrow Daeron, and may have been persuaded into this by another of Aegon's bastards, Aegor Rivers "Bittersteel", who had a feud with his half-brother Brynden Rivers "Bloodraven" (their mothers were from Feuding Families Bracken and Blackwood). After Daemon was killed in battle by Brynden, Aegor continued trying to seat Daemon's descendants on the Iron Throne for the rest of his life. Even a century after his death, and over a generation after the extinction of the Blackfyres (at least in the male line) Daemon is still looked upon as an archetypal treacherous bastard by Westeros. Bloodraven plays with this, being a sinister figure who used ruthless methods to oppose the Blackfyres, the descendants of Daemon, even killing Daemon and two of his sons in battle, executing another of Daemon's sons despite an offer of safe conduct, and turning the Seven Kingdoms into a Police State with his spying methods when he was Hand of the King to Daeron's son and successor Aerys I. He was unpopular among the people and believed to be a sorcerer which seems to have been true, but seems to be one of the most morally ambiguous characters in a world full of such figures. The Reveal he is the Three-Eyed Crow adds to this.
- Cotter Pyke, a bastard Ironman and Commander of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea at the Wall comes across as a bit of a jerk but is still obedient to the Night's Watch.
- Historically there is Ronard Storm, bastard brother of Morden II Durrandon, who usurped his brother and imprisoned them, ruling the Stormlands.
- Hugh Hammer and Ulf the White (or Ulf the Sot) were "dragonseeds" (illegitimate descendants of those of Valyrian blood) which helped them in claiming dragons. They were recruited by Princess Rhaenyra to fight for her claim. However, they ended up betraying her, joining the forces of her half-brother Aegon II, and sacked the town of Tumbleton, performing a mass of atrocities. The stigma against illegitimate children is shown when Rhaenyra declared all "dragonseeds" traitors and ordered their execution, despite others of illegitimate birth having shown themselves completely loyal. Addam Velaryon subverts this, despite Rhaenyra trying to have him arrested, and he ends up dying fighting for her cause at Tumbleton. Hugh and Ulf establish themselves as two of the nastiest characters in the Dance of the Dragons narrative, being selfish, hedonistic war criminals who take over Tumbleton as tyrants. They even try and usurp the crown themselves. As a result, they end up being killed by their own men.
- Eric, bastard son of Oberon and Faiella of Karm in The Chronicles of Amber locks his brother Corwin up and burns his eyes out with a red hot iron. Though among Oberon's sons, legitimate or otherwise, the ones who aren't scheming SOBs stick out. Corwin eventually realizes his rivalry with Eric comes from having a lot in common.
- Due to a complicated morass of relationships, there are at least three living princes who can semi-legitimately claim that they are the true and proper heir to the throne of, essentially, all of creation:
- Benedict is the oldest living child of Oberon and was born fully legitimate. Then Oberon had that marriage nullified in such a way that legally it never existed. Is he now retroactively a bastard? If so, then the heir becomes…
- Eric, who was born to Oberon and Faiella (wife #2, but before she became wife #2) and was never officially recognized by Oberon as his child (Oberon did officially recognize a later bastard as his child), making him a questionable heir, in which case it devolves to…
- Corwin, who is Eric's full brother, born after his mother was married to Oberon. Since she died before Oberon could get around to divorcing her, Corwin is the first in the line whose claim to the throne is absolutely unimpeachable (at least as far as legitimacy goes). He personally seems to think Benedict has the best claim should he choose to press it, but Benedict doesn't seem terribly interested, and Corwin definitely doesn't want Eric (who is a bastard in more ways than one) to have it.
- Due to a complicated morass of relationships, there are at least three living princes who can semi-legitimately claim that they are the true and proper heir to the throne of, essentially, all of creation:
- Sort of Black Michael in The Prisoner of Zenda. He's a usurper and one of the villains of the novel, but he's more of an Anti-Villain, and atypically, he's the popular one; it's his brother, the King who is an insecure incompetent.
- Abimelech, son of Gideon in the Book of Judges 8:29-9:56 is the Trope Maker. The good parts:
(Judges 8:30 ESV) Now Gideon had seventy sons, his own offspring, for he had many wives. And his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he called his name Abimelech. And Gideon the son of Joash died...
(9:5) And he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone.
(9:22) Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech.
(9:53) And a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. 54 Then he called quickly to the young man his armor-bearer and said to him, "Draw your sword and kill me, lest they say of me, 'A woman killed him.'" And his young man thrust him through, and he died. 55And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, everyone departed to his home. 56 Thus God returned the evil of Abimelech, which he committed against his father in killing his seventy brothers.
- Then, after a months-long conquering spree:
- Cesare Borgia, the illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, who crops up a lot in Machiavelli's The Prince, although a lot of what Machiavelli attributes to him was actually the work of his father…
- Female version: Senna Wales, from Everworld, who is the daughter of a human man and the witch who apparently seduced him. Definitely illegitimate, and definitely a bastard.
- Brokenstar of Warrior Cats. Since his mother, Yellowfang, is a medicine cat who is not allowed to have kits, he is considered illegitimate. His father, Raggedstar, who is also the leader of ShadowClan and his mother have to pretend that he is an orphaned kit, so as not to arouse suspicion. He murders his father to become leader.
- Implied with Vlad Tepes in Count and Countess.
- Hadz in White as Snow is the bastard son of the king and he somehow not only becomes something of an underground crime lord, he has probably murdered several people and regularly rapes his own half-sister.
- Laverham, a crime lord from Patricia Wrede's Mairelon the Magician, was the bastard son of a minor lord.
- The killer in Tamora Pierce's Shatterglass uses this as his excuse to murder the yaskedasi.
- Rhys ap Llewellynne ap Owain in Fiona Patton's The Granite Shield. Zigzagged by the tug of war between two opposing religions; one considers him a royal bastard, unable to take the throne, while the other sees his birth as immaterial and considers him the legitimate heir.
- Brother Cadfael The novel Monk's Hood uses this trope interestingly: the bastard son is not on the list of suspects for a squire's murder, as, because he lives with his father but will inherit nothing, he has only to lose by his father's death... until Cadfael realises the bulk of the victim's property is in Wales, which has a totally different law, whereby bastards inherit the same as any other son, so it was worth poisoning his father before he could sign over his property to the church.
- Played with in Doctrine of Labyrinths, where most people suspect late, treasonous consort Gloria Aestia's possibly-bastard son Shannon of monstrous intentions. In reality, while he's far too spoiled, sullen, and shallow (at least in the first two books) to qualify as a Heroic Bastard, his real ambitions are mainly limited to sniping at his ex-lover and attending every play performed in Melusine.
- Achlesydd in The Realm Of Albion is based on Edmund in King Lear, one of the ur-examples. So of course he fits the trope too.
- Hoby, one of Arcamand's slaves in Powers. He's the son of the family patriarch and a Sex Slave, making him automatically a slave. He's mean, violent, resentful, brutally bullies Gav. Then he participates in the rape and drowning of Gav's sister, Sallo. Then, late in the book, Gav finds out that Hoby is chasing him as a runaway.
- The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy is an illegitimate child and a Serial Killer.
- Malediction Trilogy: Lessa, Tristan's older half-sister, daughter of king Thibault and a mixed-blood servant. Even though there is little human blood in her veins (she looks like a troll and is very powerful), legally she is still mixed-blood, which means a life of servitude in another troll household. No wonder she hates her father and would stop at nothing to gain what she perceives as her rightful position. At one point she even proposes a political alliance and marriage to her younger half-brother Tristan - who is already married - and when turned down, tries to kill him.
- The Dark Wizard Of Donkerk: Rowan is a bastard, and one descended of the Queen, not the King. Therefore, he is not in the line of succession. However, it is debatable as to whether this actually drives him from evil. He notices that his father does not actually teach him the things he needs to do to rule, and therefore he assumes he is just The Un Favourite.
- Game of Thrones: In Westerosi society, bastard children are often mistrusted as they are thought to be born of lust and deceit and believed to have a vested interest in their trueborn siblings' demise. Although Heroic Bastards Jon Snow and Gendry subvert this, Joffrey Baratheon, Ramsay Snow, and the three Sand Snakes play it straight. It's revealed that Joffrey is not Robert's son, but the product of Jaime and Cersei's incest. In the second season, he learns of it through Stannis' pronouncement and asks his mother about the terrible rumor he's heard about her and "Uncle Jaime". He orders the murder of Robert's illegitimate children as a form of insurance for his title as king. Ramsay is a modern Trope Codifier — not that his dad's a great guy, either. Much like Ellaria, the Sand Snakes don't really do much to disprove the negative views Westeros has of illegitimate children. As of Season 6, they've killed the legitimate heirs of their household to seize power for themselves.
- Tess Mercer on Smallville is The Baroness. She's a cold-blooded Broken Ace Corrupt Corporate Executive and Manipulative Bastard, and a Well-Intentioned Extremist who takes no crap from anyone, even after the reveal that she is Lionel Luthor's bastard daughter. Her Earth-2 counterpart, on the other hand, who was raised by her father in the shadow of his legitimate children? She's a whiny mess of Parental Issues, who can't decide if she wants to be Daddy's Little Villain or stab him in the back, and is in an incestuous relationship with her adopted brother Clark. Jeez. What a difference an upbringing makes.
- Dr. Gregory House's parents were married… just not to one another.
- In the Blackadder episode "Born to be King", Prince Edmund is revealed to have been born on the wrong side of the blanket. His identical descendant Lord Edmund Blackadder is also canonically a bastard. Both men repeatedly and underhandedly scheme to take the throne of England.
- The series Merlin (2008) has Morgana as a female partial subversion. The King has treated her as his daughter her entire life but has not told her that she actually is his daughter. When she discovers the truth, it leads to a rather jarring bit of artistic license when she attempts to assassinate her father and half-brother so she can claim the throne. When Morgana does claim the throne and crowns herself, the people refuse to accept her. So, while she thinks she should have a legitimate claim to the throne (and it's strongly hinted that, to her sister, this is just a bonus and they'd have seized the throne anyway), no one else does.
- The Palace: Subverted with Prince George. When his brother King Richard's legitimacy is in doubt, all four royal siblings take a DNA test just to be sure. Thinking he might turn out to be the rightful heir to the throne, George asks palace staffers for reigning advice with undisguised enthusiasm. The show really makes it seem like he will turn out to be illegitimate, so it's surprising when it doesn't happen.
- On How I Met Your Mother, Barney Stinson, Corrupt Corporate Executive and unscrupulous pick-up artist extraordinaire, believes himself to be the illegitimate son of game show host Bob Barker. Barney eventually admits this isn't true. Later, Barney and his brother meet their respective fathers and Barney seems better off for it.
- In Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, a flashback episode for Jafar reveals he was a bastard son of the sultan, was abandoned, and kept as a servant to a cruel blacksmith. He goes to learn dark magic to get revenge on the Sultan and probably on everyone else.
- On Once Upon a Time, Zelena is revealed to be Cora's illegitimate daughter and Regina's half-sister. She is extremely envious of her royal relatives and her main goal is to steal back the life that she believes should have been hers. This changes at the end of season five when it is discovered Zelena and Regina were once close as sisters but their mother Cora erased their memories of this period in their lives. Zelena and Regina regain these memories and their relationship is, for the most part, restored and Zelena is able to mostly let go of her envy.
- Elias on Person of Interest is this. As an adult, he's a cunning and slippery mob boss. As a child, he saw his mother shot to death, and ended up in foster care. He got his Start of Darkness when he tracked down his Mafia don father, hoping to become part of the family or at least part of the organisation, only to learn that his father was the one who ordered his mother's death—and he learns it from the assassins sent to kill him too. Decades later, he gets his revenge.
- On Green Wing, Dr. Guy Secretan, an arrogant jerk and bully, is the illegitimate son of a Swiss ski instructor. Guy's parentage is revealed to the audience just before he becomes a literal and figurative motherfucker as well.
- In the Supernatural episode "The Things We Left Behind", Crowley the King of Hell asks his estranged mother who his father was. Since Crowley was conceived during an orgy long before the invention of the paternity test, she doesn't know.
- Ari Haswari from NCIS is the illegitimate son of Mossad Director Eli David and a Palestinian woman, born specifically to be The Mole in Hamas. After his mother is killed, he turns on his father and Israel.
- "Wrathchild", by Iron Maiden.
My mother was the Queen, my father never seen, I was never meant to be
Now I spend my time looking all around for a man who's nowhere to be found
- "Your Lucky Day In Hell" by Eels from their album Beautiful Freak.
Mama gripped on to the milkman's hand
And then she finally gave birth
- The World War II propaganda song "Schickelgruber" portrays Adolf Hitler as this:
You were born a child of shame.
You have always been a bastard,
Even though you changed your name.
- Mordred was the illegitimate son of King Arthur and his half-sister, and plotted against his father. Virtually every modern adaptation of the legend has this, though usually in different ways. Special mention goes to the Merlin (1998) series, wherein Mordred's bastardry was taken Up to 11. However, in the earliest references to "Medraut" very little is known about him, including his relationship with Arthur and whether he was friend or foe. The earliest myths to assign him a relationship to Arthur place him as a nephew but still don't assign him a Bastard Bastard role. That came much later.
- While Mallory makes Mordred's mother Arthur's less evil half-sister Margause and the conception an accident (because Arthur didn't know who his birth-mother was at the time), other versions have the conception being done deliberately by his Dark Magical Girl sister Morgan le Fay in disguise.
- Aigisthos, son of Pelopia, who was raised by Pelopia's uncle Atreus as his own son. He was actually the result of Pelopia being raped by her father Thyestes and went on to murder his adoptive father Atreus and later also his adoptive brother Agamemnon, after seducing his wife Clytaimnestra. Later killed by Agamemnon's son Orestes.
- This might be a case of Values Dissonance, because Aigisthos did these things to avenge his father's suffering and his brothers' deaths at the hands of Atreus.
- Hagen (in Scandinavian versions: Högni), the illegitimate (usually half-elven or half-dwarven) half-brother of Gunther/Gunnar started out as one of the protagonists of the story of the downfall of the Burgundians, but gradually evolved into the major heavy of later retellings as in the context of the Nibelungenlied, where he no longer is Gunther's kinsman. But even in early versions such as the saga of Atli (Attila), Högni does become responsible for Gunnar's death when he tells Atli that he and Gunnar are bound by oath not to reveal where the Burgundian hoard is hidden so long as both of them are alive. Atli then has Gunnar killed only to have Högni tell him that he is not going to tell him anyway. So Högni ends up dead too, but the secret dies with him.
- He doesn't seem that villainous within context, considering in the Volsung Saga Gunther has him killed the same way. Character Exaggeration in "Gotterdammerung" turned him into the villain.
- Big Finish Doctor Who:
- One of the rituals in The Holy Terror is that the Queen always has two sons: one legitimate, one a deformed and evil bastard who will conspire to overthrow the heir.
- The first episode of I, Davros reveals Davros' mother Calcula's husband was sterile when he was conceived and his real father was Counciller Quested. And Davros is about as evil as they come, having created the Daleks and wiped out his own race to do so.
- Forgotten Realms has a lot, especially Cormyr-related: Obarskyrs tend to be rather passionate in general, but due to the attitude and habits of Azoun IV an absurd amount of Cormyrean young nobles (and not only them) look embarrassingly alike. Some joined one of the coups, some are loyal to the official Obarskyr line's rule. Champions of Valor even had it as one of alternative backgrounds, whereby "Bastard of Azoun" comes across as comparable in spread with "Bardic tutelage" or "Monastery Orphan". Although given that the background was printed in a book dedicated to rules for heroic characters, the subversion is probably far more common.
- Similarly, this is the basic plot of the Baldur's Gate series, with Bhaal fathering thousands of bastards and the main character having to be one or be a Heroic Bastard to complete the game.
- A Champions module features a team of supervillains called the Zodiac. Aquarius falls under this trope, being the son of King Henry VI and an unnamed peasant woman (who was later burned as a witch). His goal within the team is, naturally, to become king of England.
- Edmund from King Lear. He gets a lengthy soliloquy on why his bastard status causes him to be treated as a lesser man than his brother Edgar. Unlike most examples, his noble father the Earl of Gloucester acknowledges and loves Edmund, but that's not good enough—he wants to be the heir, and he'll do what it takes to make it happen.
- Though Gloucester can come across as unfeeling sometimes. He calls Edmund whoreson and talks about how he was conceived like it is a joke. It seems that Gloucester is not being mean, he just doesn't understand the hurt he is causing to Edmund. Yet the play is Fair for Its Day in Edmund reasoning his actions and showing some good as he dies.
- Thing is, Gloucester doesn't treat Edgar any better, especially when they're both onstage. Even Edmund himself admits that his father loves both of his sons equally. How much love that equates to depends on the interpretation.
- Don John from Much Ado About Nothing is also a bastard and a villain, but since he's in a comedy instead of a tragedy, he's less effective—albeit narrowly. If Hero had actually killed herself, he could have been as vile and magnificently bastardish as Iago from Othello.
- Depending on how you read Prospero's line "unnatural though thou art," his brother Antonio from The Tempest could be construed as this.
- Hagen in Richard Wagner's Götterdämmerung—the son of Alberich and queen Grimhild, the mother of king Gunther. The mastermind behind everything in the last day of the tetralogy, who also does not mind murdering Siegfried and Gunther himself to lay his hands on the Ring his father made.
- Margin for Error invokes this trope with regard to Adolf Hitler, or "Mr. Schicklegruber," as Denny likes to call him:
"Schicklegruber, that's Adolf's real name. His mother's name. His father never gave him one, as everyone realizes intuitively."
- Prince Weiss from Arc Rise Fantasia has shades of this as well as shades of Heroic Bastard. His Jerk Ass attitude led to quite a few people who believe that he shouldn't be on the throne because he's a concubine's son and acts war-hungry throughout the game, not hesitating to invade another country without any formal declarationsnote , his response to them is "Up yours". On the other hand, he was very protective and caring towards L'Arc, and he also knowingly got himself cursed trying to save his and L'Arc's mother. Then there's the fact that all of his actions, as horrible as they may be, is ultimately meant to free humanity from the clutches of religion, a goal the the heroes soon pick up after his death.
- In the Crusader Kings series, bastards can be quite problematic, although any of your children or relatives can end up rebelling against you if you do something that makes them angry (including fully legitimate heirs trying to unseat kings in their 70s, apparently out of impatience); bastards just have less reason to like you
- Marcello of Dragon Quest VIII straddles the line between this and Heroic Bastard. Born to a philandering rich guy who almost made him his heir, only to ditch him and his mother after his wife gave him a son, Marcello does work tirelessly to claw his way above the stigma of his social station, and does manage to make a name for himself… unfortunately, he does so by playing into the corrupt factions of the Church of the Goddess. Eventually, he goes sailing over the Moral Event Horizon with eyes wide open by assassinating the Pope and stealing his station, robbing him of any sympathy... for most people.
- In Shadow Hearts: Covenant, Nicolai Conrad, who first appears as a Vatican exorcist. It turns out that he's the illegitimate son of Russia's Tsar Nicolas, using the resources of a secret society to plot the overthrow of his father. It gets worse when he makes a contract with one of the universe's three strongest demons.
- Kratos from the God of War Series is born out of one of Zeus many affairs and both father and son are bastards in their own rights.
- Caius d'al Cazarosta, of Sabres of Infinity saw his own aristocratic mother executed before him as a boy because of his country's laws against banebloods note and baneless note reproducing with each other. As a result of this, he's spent his entire life being a social pariah whose willing to do anything to get a job done. And isn't afraid to destroy anyone who becomes "an obstacle".
- "Black Mask", The Heavy in Persona 5 responsible for all the death and destruction commited by The Conspiracy throughout the story, is eventually revealed to be the illegitimate child of a politician Big Bad Masayoshi Shido. Also lampshaded, as he explains being treated like an unwanted child all his life is precisely why he thinks so little of humanity.
- Crow Harbor from Sunrider was one of the Ryuvian Infinite Emperor’s three sons, and the only bastard among them. When the Emperor and the crown prince were assassinated (which may or may not have been his doing), Crow went to war against his surviving brother, plunging the entire galaxy into a devastating civil war in order to put himself on the throne.
- In Criminal Case's Pacific Bay Season, the Arc Villain of the Inner City region is the son of the two leaders of the warring Chinese and Russian factions (they were Star-Crossed Lovers in the past, and they had to give up their newborn child for adoption, under peer pressure). He hired an unscrupulous Back-Alley Doctor to steal organs from various murder victims throughout the district, then killed his own father, the Russian leader in a bid to unite the two factions with him as leader.
- In Drowtales, the Nidraa'chal were a group of demonic summoners who called themselves "The Bastard Daughters of Sharess" and while drow don't have an equivalent of human marriage and in fact inherit through the mother it seems to carry the connotation of "unrecognized" and "unable to inherit" that it's had historically. And one of their leaders, Kalki, is specifically referred to as Snadhya'rune's illegitimate daughter, which seems to refer to the fact that she's apparently not legally recognized as a member of both mother's family.
- Girl Genius history offers a nearly endless potential supply:
- Vin Vulpen in Kevin & Kell. There are other literal bastards in the comic, but only he was a product of infidelity, and the archnemesis of his half-brother Rudy (years before they found they were related).
- The bastard twin sisters of the Baron Richmond, in Twig, are kept from even the Baron's tiny scrap of power by virtue of their illegitimacy. They channel it into creative sadism and madness instead.