It is discovered that a character, or a baby, has a parent whose identity is not known. Solution? Get a DNA test. Prove beyond a reasonable doubt
who the father really is, and proceed from there. All the other guys who aren't the dad can go home. Well, unless the real daddy is a Glorified Sperm Donor
and the fake one has actually been there for the kid their whole life. In which case, go take a hike sperm daddy.
This trope can also occur with mothers, but that's a much rarer occurrence (barring a babynapping, a switcheroo with a different newborn, or a delivery while the woman is unconscious, the mother knows the baby she just birthed is her own). This test can also be used indirectly to link siblings together. In any case, how long it takes for the DNA test to get finished typically depends on the speed of the plot
. The DNA test is not infallible: if the bad guys know about the test, they may attempt to keep the Status Quo
by altering the test results (of course, they must force other characters into secrecy
about that, and in any case it won't last for long
). It is also subject to The CSI Effect
, as the test may be inconclusive if the the potential fathers are closely related (especially brothers), since they already share many of the same genes.
May result in a Surprise Incest
, if the character was in a love relation with an offspring of the man who turned out to be the father.
Almost always happens at some point after a Luke, I Might Be Your Father
revelation. Also happens if a woman decides to have My Secret Pregnancy
. The Trope Breaker
for Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe
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- Very irritatingly avoided in Onegai Twins. They explain that it "costs too much money"... the episode before they win a lot of money and blow it on a Hot Springs Episode.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, Mariemaia claims that Treize being her father has been confirmed through DNA testing. We never actually see the results of the test though, and there is considerable doubt on Mariemaia's parentage all the same.
- In a story arc in Batman: Gotham Knights had the villain Bane discovering evidence suggesting that his real father was an American doctor, and, as the doctor has died, seeking a DNA matching test with the doctor's son — Bruce Wayne.
- A variation in H'el on Earth When Superman puts his battle-suit on Superboy, the family crest should have changed the instant it identified his Kryptonian bloodline. It stayed the same, confirming Superman's suspicions that Superboy's his clone.
- Done in Elf to confirm that Buddy is Walter's son.
- The So Bad, It's Good movie Une chance sur deux (Half a Chance): Alice gets a DNA test to find out who her real father is but she likes the two possible dads so much that she throws away the results.
- In Ratatouille to see if Linguini is Gusteau's son. The testing hit a slight snag when the first sample was identified as "rodent".
- Baby Mama actually has the inverse with a court ordered maternity test. The premise of the movie was that a surrogate mother is artificially impregnated using the other woman's egg and her own husband's sperm. The test is because she has the child rather late after the egg was inserted and it's unclear who the biological mother is.
- Plays an important role in the Adrian Mole series, where a DNA test reveals that Adrian is the father of Glenn Bott, and later that his sister Rosie is the daughter of their mother's ex-lover Mr Lucas.
- The Tales of Kolmar series takes place in a medieval world, but it's apparently possible for a demon to confirm who someone's father is.
Live Action TV
- Batman and Sons mentions that Bruce is taking care of baby Terry, but not baby Damien, because Catwoman thought to do a DNA test before handing over her kid, whereas Talia keeps Damian to herself and just keeps sending him bills.
- In Something Positive, Davan has Sex for Solace with the ex-girlfriend of his friend who recently committed suicide. Years later, the two meet up again and Davan finds out she had a son named Rory, whose father is either Davan or the man she dated shortly after their tryst. The test shows that Davan isn't the father, but Law of Inverse Paternity kicks in and he becomes Rory's Parental Substitute anyway.
- A Victorian version on Hark! A Vagrant. (Fourth down)
- When Homer on The Simpsons wanted to know if his dad was Abe or a lifeguard named Mason Fairbanks. He wasn't, but Abe switched the labels because Homer seemed too interested in Fairbanks.
- In one episode of The Boondocks, Granddad Freeman goes on a talk show where a DNA test reveals he has a long-lost son. Except the host lies about the test results on camera, only putting a disclaimer in the credits. The man's real father is Billy Dee Williams.
- In Gargoyles, Dr. Sevarius does a DNA test on Angela (against her will) and happens to discover that Goliath is her biological father. This shocks her and winds up causing some drama, since Goliath follows the gargoyle tradition where biological relationships aren't important.
- In South Park, Eric Cartman had no idea who his father was. Neither did his mother considering the number of possible candidates so a blood test was taken. It was then revealed his father was his "mother", who was actually a hermaphrodite who had a penis (much to the disgust of the men who only learned when Dr. Mephisto brought it up) and impregnated some woman. Cartman briefly asked who his real mother was, much to the horror of the men who believed they could have been his Dad, but, once Ms. Crabtree the school bus driver, Principal Victoria and the Mayor of South Park were introduced as options, Cartman decided he didn't want to know.
- Of course many many seasons later it was revealed that The whole thing was a ruse, Cartman's mother is actually biologically female, and Cartman's father is Scott Tenorman's father, who Cartman had killed and tricked Scott into eating in a bowl of chili.