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Anime and Manga
- Very irritatingly avoided in Please 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. She is later adopted by Lady Une, who was Treize's then-current girlfriend in the series proper, until Wufei killed him in the final episode.
- Naruto Gaiden does a Mommy DNA Test, when Sasuke's daughter, Sarada, begins to suspect that her father's former teammate, Karin, may be her real mother. The DNA test comes out positive, seemingly confirming this. But it later turns out that the test was positive because the umbilical cord used as a sample for it was actually Sarada's, not Karin's, so Sakura was Sarada's biological mother all along.
- 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.
- In the final chapter of MGLN Crisis, Fate takes a DNA test and it's revealed that her father is her adoptive mother's late husband, Clyde Harlaown. Though the truth turns out to be slightly more complicated when she does further investigation in the sequel.
- 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. It turns out to be the surrogate mother's, but it's okay, because she gets pregnant herself by her new boyfriend.
- 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.
- In Maeve Binchy's Minding Frankie, the hero tests if he really is the father of the eponymous Frankie. He finds out he is not, then decides the DNA result does not matter, he is her father in every way that matters.
- In Malorie Blackman's book Boys Don't Cry, Dante takes one of these tests to check that he is really the father of baby Emma, when his ex-girlfriend dumps her at his house. He decides that he'll have to give up his place at college to look after her before the results arrive, even if she isn't his daughter. She is.
Live Action TV
- Used to establish that Christian is the father of Matt in Nip/Tuck.
- House gets a DNA test after his father's funeral, proving that they're not related. Given that they had an extremely tempestuous relationship House is relieved to find this out.
- Amusingly enough, the man House presumed to be his biological father also wasn't. Meaning his mother had ''at least'' one more affair.
- One episode revolves around House going to great lengths to prove that his patient's father is not the real father and gets both the parents tested. Turns out both aren't his biological parents and he's adopted.
- House also performs a paternity test on one of his 'friends' and his current patient, who told him she's his estranged daughter from an old fling. House tells the kid that his friend is her father, but the test result House gets later on turns out to be negative.
- Another episode has House trying to prove that at least one of Taub's kids isn't his. Eventually Taub gets the results, but shreds them without looking.
- The titular heroine of Veronica Mars suspects at one point that her real father is her ex-boyfriend Duncan's dad, so she runs a paternity test, which she shreds without reading, deciding she doesn't need to know. Later in the season, Keith Mars has his own test done, which confirms that he is, after all, her real father. This is also why Duncan doesn't talk about the night he and Veronica (who was drunk and roofied at the time) had sex for the first time. He assumes it's because both of them are ashamed of Brother–Sister Incest. In fact, Veronica simply doesn't remember.
- Also done, though not with a DNA test, with Trina Echols, who was adopted. Trina claimed publicly that she needed a bone marrow transplant to smoke out her real parents. Her mother came forward. Her father was a Jerk Ass.
- Dorothy and her mom from The Golden Girls.
- Sidney and Jack Bristow from Alias had to go through this due to speculation that Sidney's biological father was actually Sloane. Turns out Jack is her real father.
- In My Two Dads, the dads throw away the results, but they needed a little persuading.
- Often featured on sleazy daytime shows like The Jerry Springer Show, where it's used to determine whether a woman was cheating on her boyfriend/husband with another man or to prove that a man is the father of a child when he denies it.
- These days every other episode of Maury.
- Led to a Crowning Moment of Funny when a young mother brought no fewer than a half dozen possible fathers onto the show for testing. After a long drawn-out process of discussing her lifestyle and her complicated parenting situation, the results come back and… none of them are the father! Like a pack of hounds, all the tested would-be fathers round shouting at the girl. "There's even more?!"
- These days at least once an episode on The Jeremy Kyle Show.
- In Ugly Betty, Daniel Meade receives a letter telling him he is the father of Daniel Jr., the child of a French model he met years ago on a business trip. The paternity test reveals that Daniel Jr.'s father is Alexis Meade, now Daniel's sister.
- In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Gets a New Shrink," Dr. Kroger is revealed to have a stormy relationship with his son Troy. Namely, because Troy has made him take three paternity tests because he didn't believe they were related. Also, Randy has arrested Troy on at least one or two previous occasions.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia averts this—Charlie is, more likely than not, Frank's son, but Frank refuses to have the DNA test.
- A staple of Soap Operas. Count on someone to conceal and/or falsify the results.
- Used on Lois & Clark when a little boy displayed Kryptonian powers. The boy's mother claimed that Superman was the father, while a shocked Superman protests that he's never seen her before, let alone slept with her. One guy claimed the test wasn't needed, as it must be obvious that Superman is the father. The boy was human, and the super powers had been transferred to him.
- In My Name Is Earl, Earl has Dodge and Earl Jr.'s DNA tested to find out who Dodge's real father is. It turns out it was him all the time. Earl and Joy conceived Dodge at a Halloween party. It's also revealed that Earl Jr.'s real father is not Darnell as was previously thought. It's never revealed who his father actually is. Word of God says Earl Jr.'s father was supposed to be someone famous, but due to the series' cancellation, they never got to do that plotline.
- In an episode of Smallville a woman appears who thinks Clark is her son and demands a DNA test. Clark gets his Secret Keeper Pete to donate a DNA sample after breaking into the lab, so the results won't reveal that Cark isn't human.
Pete: Man, this "Mission Impossible" stuff is great. But other than my scintillating conversational skills, I still don't understand why you brought me along.
Clark I need your spit.
- Dexter has a DNA test done to confirm that the man whose house he inherited was really his birth father.
- Done confusingly on Gossip Girl in season three with Elizabeth who claims to be Chuck's (supposedly dead) birth mother. Chuck gets a DNA test which proves that she is his mother, but it's implied that the results were tampered with by his Uncle Jack. As of season four we still haven't found out for sure whether or not Elizabeth is his mother.
- Parodied on Dinosaurs: due to a mix-up, it's suggested that the Sinclairs accidentally got another family's egg (the one that hatched into Baby) while the other family got theirs. Earl and the other father are subjected to battery after battery of bizarre tests (including a centrifuge)... and then the doctor just takes the blood test anyway. The test said the eggs were switched but it was later revealed it was a mistake.
- Warrick got one on CSI just before his death, as part of his attempt to gain custody of his infant son. His colleagues only discover this when they find the test results while retrieving clothes to bury him in.
- High-tech alien version occurs in the series finale of Farscape. The fact that Aeryn needs to find out who her baby's daddy is forms a major theme of the final series.
- Earlier, Aeryn is convinced that an alien is her long-lost father via high-tech DNA test. The test results were actually faked.
- Boston Legal: A man who was born out of artificial insemination was dating a woman who was born the same way and they were afraid of being half-siblings. To learn if they had the same father or not, they sued the lab to force them to tell because a DNA test using only the couple's blood would be inconclusive if they were half-siblings or complete strangers. (Whether this counts as a case of the writers failing to do the research or just "Because The Plot Demanded It", it's still scientifically incorrect: Half-siblings should be a roughly 25% genetic match, and as such, fairly easy for a DNA test to catch, particularly if they have DNA from either of their mothers.)
- On NCIS, Abby tests her DNA against the DNA of the woman that she thought was her mother and finds out that she's adopted.
- Drives the plot of the Firefly episode "Heart of Gold." At the titular bordello, a local petty tyrant forcibly takes a DNA sample from the unborn child of one of the prostitutes, promising to return for the child if it's his (and it is, of course). The madame hires the crew of Serenity to help drive him off.
- In Gilmore Girls, April shows up at Luke's one day, tells him that she's the daughter of his old girlfriend, and asks for a DNA sample. The unique part is that she only wants to do the test as a science project. The bigger implications of identifying her father seem lost on her at that point.
- On The Red Green Show, an old rich guy dies, and since he amassed his fortune by donating to the local sperm bank, everyone in town gets DNA tested hoping to get a match, and therefore be entitled to the inheritance. Shockingly, all of the DNA tests turn out to be exactly the same. Incestuous implications aside, this unfortunately only entitles everyone to a few bucks each since the inheritance has to be split so many ways. It turns out that this was because Mike stole all the test tubes, so the testers had to use the lids off pickle jars, and simply ended up testing the chemical composition of pickle juice. The reason this matched the old guy's DNA was because he was always pickled himself.
- In the later half of Season 1 of Shameless (US), Monica does one of these to prove that Liam, long believed to be from a fling from a black man, isn't Frank's son. Turns out he really is Frank's son. Of course it then gets revealed that Ian isn't Frank's son but one of his uncle's sons.
- Moonlight: Mick finds out that he might have a son with a friend's wife he slept with while they both thought his friend was dead. It seems likely at first, given that the baby was born seven months after his friend got back. Mick snabs a sample of the guy's hair and some DNA of his own from his human days for a test. It shows that Mick isn't his father, and the son was just premature.
- 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)
- One arc of Casey and Andy had Jen meet her Kid from the Future, who accidentally left a strand of her hair behind. She takes it to the titular Mad Scientist duo to have them determine who she would have the kid with. The test confirms that the father is her Love Interest Quantum Cop, though a quick shot from the last panel of the arc teased the (ultimately unused) possibility that the father might have been his evil alternate dimension counterpart, Quantum Crook.
- 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 The Boondocks episode "The Story of Lando Freeman", Robert Freeman goes on The Steve Wilkos Show, where a DNA test reveals that the titular Lando is his long-lost son… but this is subverted by the reveal that they lied about the test results on camera, only putting a disclaimer in the credits. Lando'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. The reason they hid the truth was because Tenorman was a member of the Denver Broncos and the townspeople didn't want to ruin the team's good season by distracting them with an illegitimate child scandal.
- In Futurama Kif's Bizarre Alien Biology means that when he's "receptive" he can be impregnated by anyone he makes skin-to-skin contact with. Necessitating the use of the Professor's "maternifuge" to determine who the DNA donor was. It was Leela, but by Kif's cultural norms his girlfriend Amy is still considered the "mother" as she triggered his receptive phase, the only reason they bothered with the test was to make sure it wasn't Zapp Brannigan.
- On BoJack Horseman, 18-year-old Hollyhock claims to be Bojack's long-lost daughter, and they are a DNA match. This trope ends up being subverted in the end of the season when it's revealed that she's his sister, not his daughter, resulting from an affair his father had with the maid.
- The paternity of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter, Dannielynn, was a tabloid sensation during late 2006 and early 2007, with Smith's boyfriend and several other alleged lovers claiming paternity. A paternity test revealed a former lover as the father.
- Patty Duke had several lovers over the years, and a test was eventually done to determine the true father of her son Sean Astin. His father is Michael Tell, but her other lovers Desi Arnaz Jr., John Astin (who official adopted him), and Michael Pierce all helped raise him.