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Evil Parents Want Good Kids
"Kolyat, I've taken many bad things out of the galaxy. You're the only good thing I ever added to it."
Thane Krios to his son, Mass Effect 2

Raising children is one of the most daunting challenges a parent can face. You have to supply material needs like food and shelter, as well as providing a moral education by teaching through example. You can see where this would be problematic when a parent supplies the latter by breaking kneecaps or threatening global annihilation.

Some parents make ends meet through frowned-upon trades like prostitution, others turn to crime, some master crime and become The Don, and there's more than a few Super Villains who start families... unintentionally. The thing is, not every villain turned parent is a sociopath who chastises Overlord Jr. for not being evil enough. Quite a few realize the choices they have made and that the life they lead is a fundamentally destructive one and don't want their child to mimic them as a family legacy.

What ends up happening is that the dad (and it's usually the dad who's the villain) hides his villainy one way or another. The easiest and hardest is to give the child up for adoption or abandon the mother. Non-deadbeats create a Secret Identity where they have a mundane, even boring job. If he doesn't bother hiding his nasty day job, he will either whitewash it to not seem villainous (replace "mob hit" with "rat infestation", for example) or say "do what daddy says, not what daddy does" without a trace of shame. If he's possessive and/or overprotective and has the means to, his children may become a Lonely Rich Kid Mafia Princess who is trapped in a Gilded Cage.

Of course, their kid is going to find out the truth and either be horrified at the Double Standard, or naively eager to become their dad's sidekick. Sometimes, to dad's dismay, they will prove that villainy is In the Blood despite his best intentions. The realization (and some heroic coercion over revealing the truth to his kids) may lead to pulling a Heel-Face Turn.

Compare White Sheep, Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter, Turn Out Like His Father. Contrast Daddy's Little Villain and Upbringing Makes the Hero.

For related generational dynamics going the other way, see Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas and Don't Tell Mama.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Mark Waid's Empire. Good god, Empire. Golgoth has conquered the entire world, he rules with an iron fist, he's killed or captured every superhero, he slaughters people at the drop of a hat... and he works very hard to keep all of this from his beloved daughter, whom he tries to raise normally in every way. Turns out, she knew a little bit more about his lifestyle than he wanted, and she wants in. Then she decides to show him how good of a supervillain she'd be. Then the horror really starts.
  • While not evil, Wolverine is fine with killing when necessary but he really doesn't want X-23 involved in that type of lifestyle and wants her to have a normal life. Her mother Sarah Kinney under went a Heel-Face Turn to try and secure a normal life for her. It ended tragically.
    • In "Schism", Logan feels this way about all of the younger mutants, and rebuilds the Institute in Westchester to give young mutants a chance to be kids.
  • Subverted in Kick-Ass by Damon MacCready, a.k.a. Big Daddy, who despite looking like Ned Flanders, raises his little girl to be a ruthlessly efficient vigilante in order to exact revenge on D'Amico not really revenge, he was just bored with his life and wanted his daughter to have an interesting life.
    • Played with in the film. Chris D'Amico, a.k.a. Red Mist, is entirely aware of what his father Frank does for a living, and wants to be a part of the family business, but his dad won't allow it. Oddly, it seems like it's more because he has no faith in his son's abilities (telling Hit-Girl that he wishes he had a kid like her) than because he wants a better life for him.
  • Daredevil's father "Battling Jack" Murdock was clearly not evil, but he was adamant that his son not be thought of as a muscle-bound moron like him. So he insisted that young Matt forego athletics entirely and spend all his time studying. (As a result, Matt became quite a bookworm, and other kids called him "daredevil" as a sarcastic insult, a name which would later inspire his nom de guerre.) Neither his father nor anyone else knew that Matt was actually trying to train himself in secret, although it wouldn't actually be until he met his mentor Stick that he become good enough to become the Man Without Fear.
  • Runaways has The Pride, made up of six couples who led double lives to conceal their supervillainy from their children, while trying to raise them to be normal kids (at least until they destroyed the world for their kids as they planned to). The very fact that their kids happen to be good (most of them anyways) is what causes them to run away the moment they see the parents kill someone in a ritual blood sacrifice.
  • The toy maker in Wanted had his wife and daughters fooled he was a regular and even Sickeningly Sweet and fastidiously proper toymaker and not a supervillain. Interestingly, he enjoyed the services of hookers in other dimensions.
  • Onomatopoeia from The DCU leads a double life as a loving family man with a wife and two kids while spending his time away from home as a masked Serial Killer who hunts Badass Normal vigilantes.
  • Astro City has the original Quarrel intending for his daughter to have a better life than he does, one where she won't be a criminal. In a sense, he succeeds; she becomes a hero, using his name, equipment, and a costume patterned after his. In another sense, he fails; he's not around to see it happen, and she's bitter about the fact that her father was a criminal, to the point that she refuses to talk about him.
  • In one issue of the Justice League Unlimited spinoff comic, Mirror Master has a young son whose room is full of superhero paraphernalia up to and including a Flash action figure. He is shocked to discover that a fellow villain wears his costume in front of the baby.
  • In Batman: The Long Halloween, Mafia don Carmine Falcone takes great pride in his son Alberto graduating from Harvard, but doesn't want him to be a part of the family business. Unfortunately, Alberto takes this as an insult and decides to make a name for himself as a serial killer instead.
  • Subverted in The Superior Foes Of Spiderman, where Beetle's father Tombstone objects to her dreams of becoming a supervillain since he thinks that as a Columbia Law School graduate, she's much too intelligent for such things and would be better off as a corrupt lawyer, which he considers crime that you can't get arrested for.

    Fan Works 
  • In Harry Riddle Voldemort wants his son to stay safe and out of trouble.
  • Similarly in The Indecipherable Riddle, an AU where Harry is revealed to be Voldemort and Bellatrix's son, Bellatrix may be psychotic but she's a pureblood witch and believes her son should be raised with proper manners and Voldemort scolds Harry about his less than stellar grades in school.
  • In A Different Lesson, this turns out to be the reason for Po's parents.
  • In A Different Medius, Buwaro is adopted by Azurai and Iratu. Granted, only the former is still evil, but Azurai genuinely loves "his" son, despite being the same guy who murdered the kid's parents in the first place, and is surprisingly nice to him.

    Film 
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has Nathan, who hides his job as the Repo Man from his daughter Shilo and protects her from the world and keeps her to himself by poisoning her.
  • The backstory in Coward Of The County
  • Michael Sullivan in Road to Perdition.
  • In The Godfather, Vito Corleone initially wants Michael, at least, to have a legitimate career and become a politician after he leaves the army... however, it's reasonably ambiguous whether he really wants to save him from the family business, or just wants to manipulate Michael's youthful Defector from Decadence tendencies to give the family a front of respectability and a whole new level of power.
    • Everyone always talks about Michael, but this already happened before, with Sonny. When Sonny comes to his dad and asks to be part of the family business, and dad asks why, he reveals he followed his dad and watched him murder a man and dispose of the evidence. The Don realizes the indelible effect this had on his eldest son and reluctantly brings him into the bussines.
  • In the second Pirates of the Caribbean film, Will Turner's father Bootstrap Bill is rather upset to discover his son followed his footsteps into a life of piracy.
    • Will didn't follow him into a life of piracy (he broke the law, but the law was Lord Cutler Beckett, so that just makes him Chaotic Good); it's still an example because he doesn't want that life for him, but he's only upset that Will found out and that he wasn't there for him when he needed him.
  • Paul Newman's character in Absence Of Malice had a father who was a bootlegger. After being caught by his father in doing something illegal his father locked him up in a cabin for a period of time. However the purpose wasn't to necessarily prevent the son from being bad just showing what he should get used to if he goes into a life of crime.
  • In Face/Off, Castor Troy's girlfriend Sasha's dying words as she dies in Sean Archer's arms are "don't let [our son] grow up to be like us." She gets her wish as Archer adapts Sasha's six year old son Adam after he gets his face back.
  • In American Gangster Frank Lucas sets his nephew Steve up for a baseball career with the New York Yankees… only to have Steve refuse the offer and stick with Frank's gang. Frank seems genuinely upset by Steve's decision.
  • In Matchstick Men, lifelong Con Man Roy is appalled when he learns his newfound daughter Angela isn't a innocent little waif; he is repeatedly shocked at her poor study habits, juvenile delinquency, and eagerness for con jobs.

    Literature 
  • Artemis Fowl is a case of this. Artemis comes from a family of very successful criminals, but his father was moving their money into legitimate fields shortly before he went missing. Artemis spent the years they were apart maintaining the family fortune (through crime), funding the search for his father (ditto) and looking after his depressed, bedridden mother. After his father's rescue, there's some friction between what Artemis's parents want for him and the life he's used to.
  • In the Robert Crais novel The Two Minute Rule, bank robber Max Holman mentions how he used to pray every night that his son Richie wouldn't end up like him. Might be seen as a subversion: Aside from being a bank robber, Max is more or less a good guy. He even stopped robbing a bank to save a man who was having a heart attack, which resulted in his arrest.
  • A Japanese light novel Durarara!!!! has a case of this. The Awakusu-kai are rather known local yakuza family. Awakusu Akane is a really good kid who wasn't aware of her family's shady dealings and how much the parents of her classmates go out of their way to look out for her well being, like teaching their kids to always obey her, in fear of the Awakusu name.
  • Judge Knott's father is a bootlegger (retired) who is very proud of his law-enforcing daughter.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel Villain Episode sequel Sir Percy Hits Back reveals the extents Chauvelin went to in order to conceal his job from his daughter.
  • In the Spanish novel The Last Caton, main character Ottavia Salina, a nun with a doctorate in Paleography and History of Art, eventually discovers from a girl she knew in her infancy that her father was a capo, that her mother is now the Don of the famiglia Salina, and that the reason her mother pushed her and two of her siblings to become part of the Church was because she wanted them to act as the white face of the family.
  • Maglor from The Silmarillion. Despite all his misdeeds, and probably because of his father, Fëanor and his Type II Anti-Villain status, raises Elrond and Elros to be wise and compassionate. And he did pretty well.
  • Part of the reason Diana Ladris attempts a heelfaceturn during the GONE series is because she wants to be a better example to her unborn child. Doesn't work out as planned...
  • Sergeant Bothari in the Vorkosigan Saga is an insane monster, knows that he's an insane monster, and is determined to raise his daughter Elena "right and proper."
  • In Andre Norton's The Zero Stone, downplayed. Jern's father was not ashamed of his Thieves' Guild past and has many illegal connections. He thinks Jern will go farther if he shakes off any illegality, and so apprenticed him to a world-hopping master gemnologist.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, the Bull stays away from his daughter because he doesn't want her to grow up to be a supervillain like him.

    Live Action TV 
  • In an early episode of City Homicide, a bank robber stayed out of his illegitimate son Brett's life to avoid "tainting" him. Then he disappeared and Brett got involved in his father's gang, quickly proving himself to be a violent sociopath anyway.
  • In the classic Star Trek: The Original Series, "Conscience of the King," the presumed dead mass murderer, Kodos the Executioner, has been hiding as the actor Anton Karidian for years, raising a daughter who he hope would never learn about his sordid past. To his horror at the end of the episode, he learns that not only does she know, but she's become an Ax-Crazy fanatic Serial Killer determined to eliminate all the witnesses to her father's true identity. Just as she's about to shoot Kirk, Kodos sacrifices himself by taking the shot, which causes his daughter to break down and be sent to an insane asylum.
  • The Wests from Outrageous Fortune try to turn away from their life of crime after the patriarch is arrested and sent to jail for four years. It doesn't go entirely as planned.
  • In the episode "Riding the Lightning" of Criminal Minds, a pair of serial killers on death row had a child. The official story is that the mother killed her baby, but Gideon doubts that. Turns out he's right, and the mother has been hiding her son all these years to keep him away from his father's influence. He doesn't know who his biological parents are, and eventually the team decides to leave him be and not tell him (which, consequently, means his perfectly innocent mother got executed by the state- her choice, but still a bit of a What the Hell, Hero? moment).
  • Lionel Luthor in Smallville raises his son as a bitter, resentful Bastard Understudy and grooms him to take over his corrupt corporate empire....until he undergoes a Heel-Face Turn, at which point he plays this trope straight (albeit, with a few bumps along the road). These mixed messages, along with the fact that he starts treating local do-gooder Clark Kent like he should have treated his own son, just makes Lex even more of a bitter, resentful Bastard Understudy and culminates in Lex murdering him.
  • Tony Soprano of The Sopranos is adamanent that his son AJ doesn't go into the life like him, partly because he's simply not cut out for it. Jackie Aprile also felt this way towards his own son, and arranged with Tony to make sure this wouldn't happen before he himself died in the fourth episode. Tony doesn't succeed and Jackie Jr. ends up dead later on, further strengthening his decision to keep AJ out of it.
  • Home and Away
    • An older brother/younger brother variant of this, with Darryl Braxton trying to keep teenage brother Casey Braxton in school and out of their family's criminal activities. In a subversion, their mother Cheryl has no such desires, kicking Casey out after he decides to stay in school. Middle brother Heath is somewhere in the middle - though he willingly takes part in Cheryl's activities and is similarly scornful of Casey's decision, he has shown some morals, not least of which was when he refused to sell April stimulants for her studies.
    • Subverted by Johnny Cooper, who actively thwarted his brother Rocco's efforts to go straight after his release from juvenile detention, eventually having him murdered when Rocco betrayed him to the cops.
  • General Hospital shows this with not-so-evil mob boss Sonny Corinthos's Happily Adopted son Michael. Though Michael was raised in a mob environment and wants nothing more than to join his father's mob, both Sonny and his uncle Jason refuse to let him do so because they want him to choose a better path in life and not make the same mistakes they themselves did.
  • Dexter panicked when his girlfriend Rita got pregnant because of this trope. He's terrified that his kid will grow up to be a serial killer like him.
  • Wee-Bey Brice, the fearsome Brute of the Barksdale Organization in The Wire wants something better for his son Namond, to the point that when Wee-Bey is serving a life sentence without parole for multiple murders, he leaps at the chance for retired policeman Bunny Colvin to become a guardian for his son. When his self-centered wife objects for her own selfish reasons, (she wants Namond to be a drug dealer so she can keep living in style) Wee-Bey angrily threatens to have her hunted down and killed if she even tries to interfere with Namond's chance at a better life.
    Look at me up in here. Who the fuck would want to be that if they could be anything else?
  • A variant occurred in an episode of NUMB3RS. In the episode "One Hour", the Victim of the Week's father fit this trope to a tee, except that his Heel-Face Turn predated his son's birth. As far as the son knew, his dad was just the owner of a record company. So when the son was kidnapped by one of dad's old associates, wanting his share of a heist gone wrong, the dad was understandably distraught. After Megan pushed some of the right buttons, the former gangster was more than happy to cooperate with the FBI.
  • On Teen Wolf, Allison Argent's parents are werewolf hunters, and though they aren't evil they do practice extreme ruthlessness; for example 3 out of 4 of her immediate relatives see no problem with protracted torture. That said, they try to keep her out of the hunting lifestyle first by keeping her in the dark and later after her mother dies her father does this by retiring from the family business.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Forgotten Realms has Lazouril, Zulkir of Enchantment in Thay and possibly the most charismatic of all villains in the setting. In Simbul's Gift it turns out that he realized that the position of a Zulkir marks him not only as being among the greatest masters of arcane magic on the planet, but also as a monster. Accordingly, his daughter discovered this fact only by accident. He even kept her far away from any Thayan magic, starting from his own... not that it helped much, given that her father was a magical talent this bright and her mother was a daughter of his predecessor.

    Video Games 
  • Thane Krios from Mass Effect 2 may be a cold-blooded assassin who sees himself as nothing but a weapon doing the deeds of other people, but he definitely does not want his son Kolyat either finding out or following in his footsteps, something that becomes the entire basis of his Loyalty Mission.
    • If said Loyalty Mission succeeds, Kolyat becomes a priest in Mass Effect 3.
  • Former outlaw John Marston wants his son Jack to grow up without following the same path that he did in Red Dead Redemption. Needless to say, after John's murder by a corrupt government official and Jack murdering him in revenge, this doesn't work out.
  • Mad Father: Dr. Drevis, a serial killer, wants his daughter Aya - his most precious treasure - to remain unsoiled forever. So he comes to the logical conclusion of killing her and turning her into a doll. A New Game+ playthrough reveals that he had discovered Aya was hiding dead animals in her room, just like he had when he started out. Other notes found in a second playthrough also reveal that Aya's mother subverts this; she is actually thrilled at the prospect of Aya following in her father's footsteps.

    Web Comics 
  • The Erlkönig in Roommates is an interesting example, he is an amoral ruthless villainous fae lord and was married to a Card-Carrying Villain. He was booted out of the family for giving their son weird ideas about love, heroism and such things when his wife wanted Overlord Jr.. And the kid turned out to be... an amoral ruthless fae lord with delusions of heroism. (For his mother's great dismay and his father's general amusement.)
  • The Order of the Stick
    • Evil Overlord Tarquin is genuinely proud of his heroic son Elan. He spelled his name out on a hillside using burning prisoners! However the reason seems to be because he wants to become a legend, and what's more legendary than being overthrown by your own son?
    • Tarquin's teammate Laurin mentions that she has a daughter who has no part in her evil plans, and Laurin is perfectly happy with her being safe and normal as a plumber.
      Tarquin: Laurin, if it were your daughter-
      Laurin: Hannah is a plumber, thank you, and she thinks I'm just a well-connected interior designer. I do this thing we do so she can have a good life far away from all this.

    Web Original 
  • Devilmaster of the Whateley Universe is a fearsome supervillain who scares the spit out of most people. At home, he's a 'college professor' with a wife and kids. They didn't know he was a supervillain until the kids found some of his stuff and unleashed a devil in the house. His teenaged daughter appears to be well-adjusted, sweet, and disgustingly cute. And she was eager to go home for Christmas, even knowing what her father really does for a living.

    Western Animation 
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, it is revealed late in the show that the Enforcers have nephews around Jade's age, and they know nothing of what their uncles do, and their uncles don't want them to.
  • Felicia Hardy's father in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, as well as The Spectacular Spider-Man.
    • However, in the animated series at least, he wasn't so much evil as an unwitting dupe for evil people, and he did a Heel-Face Turn when he figured it out.
  • In Sidekick, Trevor's father (or may or may not be the Secret Identity of XOX) tries to raise Trevor with love and prevent him from turning out evil. It's not working very well. This frustration often switches him to his XOX persona, who wants to kill his son, who admires XOX.
  • In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, space criminal Pops Vreedle enrolls his sons Octagon and Rhomboid in the Plumbers Academy, so they can have a better life then he did.
  • The Legend of Korra: Hiroshi Sato didn't want his daughter to know he supported the Equalists. However, it didn't keep him from trying to get her to join once she learned.
    • Sadly, this is eventually subverted at the end of the first season; when he realizes that she will never turn against benders and join his cause, he makes a genuine attempt to kill her.
  • One of the weidest examples of this trope occurs in Codename: Kids Next Door. Mr. Boss is one the worst enemies of the KND; his daughter, Fanny, is Numbuh 86, one the highest-ranking members of the KND. Strangely, this situation does not seem to have hurt the relationship between father and daughter at all; they get along just fine.
  • On Ninjago, Lord Garmadon didn't want his son Lloyd to be evil, and was proud of him for not following in his footsteps.
  • In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, two female members of the Jokerz are introduced, twin sisters Delia and Deidre Dennis (who called themselves Dee-Dee as a team) Harley Quinn's granddaughters. Who their actual parents are is not known, but the now-elderly Harley clearly does not approve of them being crooks, scolding them harshly after bailing them out of jail at the end.


Evil NephewFamily TropesEvil Uncle
The DonCriminalsEvil Poacher
Evil MatriarchThe Parent TropeExtra Parent Conception
Evil OverlordAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Evil Pays Better
Evil Former FriendCharacters/The AwesomesFriendly Enemy

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