Glorified Sperm Donor
"I'll be a better single parent than all of my high school girlfriends combined!"In order to create a baby, a man and a woman need to have sex. Strictly speaking for the man this is an act of minimal investment since he can (and sometimes does) ditch the woman and leave her holding the bag (or baby, if you will). Unless she gets an abortion (which she only very rarely does) or puts the baby up for adoption, she either has to raise the child alone or with the help of a stepfather. This trope is what happens when the sperm donor, having been absent for most of the child's life, is revealed to be the father and all of a sudden everything is chillin' between him and his long ago Love Child. It can be justified if Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You. Still, this trope is a bit of a harder pill to swallow when the guy in question suddenly receives a Promotion to Parent in spite of not actually having done a whole heck of a lot to deserve it. This trope is commonly averted if the stepfather is a sympathetic character in the story. On the flip side, if there is a stepfather and we hardly even see him, chances are that sperm daddy is going to be the one referred to lovingly at the end of the story. Sub-Trope of Chosen Conception Partner. Be wary of spoilers as you read.
— Captain Hero, Drawn Together
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Anime and Manga
- Deconstructed in Sakende Yaruze!. When they initially meet for the first time Shino is reluctant but quickly decides to take Nakaya in and they get along well despite the fact Shino wasn't there for the first 17 years of Nakaya's life. However, their relationship proceeds to go through a series of ups and downs, Shino trying to act like a father when Nakaya doesn't want him to or not acting like a father when he does want him to, while Nakaya at times idolizes Shino and then at others pushes him away. In the end Nakaya decides to move out because he feels uncomfortable with his father's new relationship but doesn't want to ask Shino to give it up because their father-son bond is too new for him to feel right in doing so.
- In Watchmen, the Comedian, who is referred to positively by the end of the book by both the first Silk Spectre (the mother) and the second Silk Spectre (the daughter) though she spends most of the time after she learns her true parentage conflicted about his (lack of) role in her life and the circumstances that led to her conception, since he had first attempted to rape her mother but later began a consensual affair with her after he reconnected with her and she believed that he had changed, but he's still viewed as a douchebag by most of the cast and an Asshole Victim at worst. This is greatly due to the Grey and Gray Morality that Watchmen enjoys.
- This trope is often played up to insanity in fanfiction. In particular, Hermione Granger of Harry Potter, paragon of muggle-born and champion of the rights of the underdog, will immediately switch sides and become a House Elf kicking bigot the moment she finds out that Daddymort is her father.
- Fanon has been known to like playing with the idea that "muggle-born" witches and wizards are actually the illegitimate children of Pure- or Half-Blooded wizards (always dark, usually Death Eaters) who take advantage of love potions or the Imperius Curse to have their way with muggle women. It doesn't help that Merope Gaunt actually did this with Tom Riddle Sr., giving us babymort, or that Dean Thomas's father was a (very heroic) variant of the trope, being a pureblood who was killed by Death Eaters after abandoning his family to keep them safe.
- One of the numerous explanations of Ash Ketchum's Disappeared Dad is this trope.
- DC Nation: Lian Harper refers to Cheshire as a "glorified egg donor." Her stepmother (Donna Troy-Harper) is "Mom in all the ways that count!" Cheshire is less than happy to learn this.
- In The New Retcons, Wilf starts regarding both John and Elly Patterson as this, once Elly loses her mind and claims that her youngest daughter April isn't her daughter at all and throws her out, and John doesn't try to seek treatment for Elly and gives up on convincing Elly that April's her daughter. April's own feelings on the matter are...complicated.
- For years Stan Watson believed his son Michael regarded him as this, since that was what Elly told him. He's angry when he finds out that she never told Michael that Stan was his biological father, letting him believe John was his father the whole time.
- It's very popular in the Phineas and Ferb fandom to have Phineas and Candace's absent bio dad and Ferb's missing bio mom be their respective gender's version of this trope. A particularly strong example appears in ''Capturing the Past'' with Stacy out and out stating this trope albeit not by name.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfiction The Light of the World plays with this, in that it's revealed that Dawn, Buffy's magically created sister, was created from Buffy (making her the "mother") and Spike (making him the "father"). Spike slipping easily into the life makes sense because A) Dawn currently doesn't know he's her actual father, and B) even though she appears to be fourteen (and remembers fourteen years of her life) she really isn't that old at all.
- A Glorified Egg Donor Gender Flip of this trope in The Champ, wherein Andy's ex-wife swoops in and wants to take their son Dink away, years after she divorced Andy and left them both for a rich new husband.
- In Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears, Katya's lover Rudolf dumps her when he finds out she's pregnant. Twenty years later he runs into her again and insists on meeting his daughter, much to Katya's displeasure.
- In Superman Returns, Superman fills this role. He ditched Lois for five years without giving an explanation to anyone. He seems to have had no idea (until the end of the movie) that he had even gotten her pregnant.
- Used in Mamma Mia! with a generous dose of Lampshade Hanging. No one else on the island thinks the heroine's desire to find her Glorified Sperm Donor makes a whole lot of sense, and she even realizes this herself at the end of the movie.
- All three dads decide they're willing to be her dad at the end, too. One-third of a kid isn't bad...
- Deconstructed in The Kids Are All Right, which takes a serious look at the ethical ramifications of this trope. Paul's apparent status as an instant parent comes off as insulting to Nic, as she and Jules were the ones who actually raised the kids. At the same time, the kids' desire to know their bio-daddy is shown as nuanced and reasonable—he is, after all, the only biological connection between them.
- The Big Lebowski: Maude Lebowski takes the "glorified" out of this when she has the Dude become the father of her child. She doesn't want to have to see the father socially, nor does she want the father to be invested in the raising of the kid. The Dude, of course, is cool with this.
- Exaggerated in Starbuck, a Quebec film. The protagonist, David Wozniak, sold a great amount of sperm to the sperm bank, fathering over 500 people under a pseudonym. Once most of them grew up, they tried to nullify his anonymity through legal means. David sued the sperm bank to prevent this from happening, and won the case. No long after, he decides to reveal his identity publicly. All his children began to love him dearly.
- This story is remade as the American film Delivery Man featuring Vince Vaughn as the protagonist sperm donor.
- In A Brother's Price it is considered completely normal to have a sperm donor as father, as men are very rare. Women of the lower classes usually go to so-called "cribs" to get pregnant, and the sperm donor is documented to avoid inbreeding. Only from middle class up do people have an actual father. The Whistler family has a shared grandfather and shared father, and may not be otherwise related at all - Jerin suspects that his grandmothers just pretended to be sisters, in order to be able to rise to middle class.
- Martin Silenus' father in the Hyperion Cantos is this trope Up to Eleven: Not only was he completely uninvolved in Martin's upbringing, he was completely uninvolved in his conception, as well; long after he died, his wife decided to hop onto a machine "part squirt gun and part dildo" to squirt his preserved seed into her "at the magic touch of a trigger" when "the moon was full and the egg was ripe." Yeah.
- Used twice in John Varley's Steel Beach when Hildy refuses to inform her baby's father that she's pregnant even though her own mother's constant refusal to identify her father causes her considerable angst. After the baby dies her reasoning shifts from a selfish "mine, all mine" to "why ruin his [the father's] day?"
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, this is a grave insult among Mandalorians. As in "make out your will beforehand" insult. A Mandalorian father who does not stick around to raise and train his kids is violating one of the six actions central to their society and therefore considered a traitor.
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, some of the kids at camp get this; many of the kids in the Hermes Cabin are not Hermes's children but unclaimed by their actual divine parent, or who have a divine parent who does not have a cabin at camp, and this does lead to bitterness and resentment among some campers.
- In The Last Olympian, Percy puts a stop to this policy, requiring the gods to acknowledge their children at age 12, and that all the gods have their own cabin for their children. The gods aren't all that pleased about it, but Percy did just save all their hides, and that resentment fueled a great deal of the conflict, so they agree.
- In Carl Sagan's Contact, the man Ellie thought of as her curmudgeonly stepfather turns out to be her biological father, and her late, loving "dad" was merely the man who raised her. When Ellie learns this, she immediately starts referring to her biological father as "her father", a practice which most Real Life people who were adopted as children don't actually engage in.
Live Action TV
- Hotdog in Battlestar Galactica, after he's retconned as Nicky's father.
- Fresh Prince Of Bel Air devotes a full episode to that. Will's birth-dad Lou comes and Will's excited about taking a trip with him, only to be abandoned again. The episode ends with Will sobbing in Uncle Phil's arms and realizing he's the closest to a real father he could ever ask for.
- ER does it with Sam's son Alex. Just as Luka (Sam's boyfriend) has become a suitable role model and father figure, his felon birth-father Steve appears for the first of several times, causing a lot of conflict. The long plot has its ups and downs including Alex visiting his dad in prison and ending dramatically with Steve abducting Alex and Sam, raping the latter and being shot by her.
- In one arc in Gilmore Girls, Luke's nephew Jess comes to live with him. Jess has never known his father. The string of stepfathers he's lived through are implied to be pretty unreliable. Luke is the closest, most stable thing to a father he knows. But when his Bio Daddy comes to town—doesn't even say anything, mind you, just rocks out to a Bowie song with him—Jess drops Luke, his girlfriend, and everything he's come to care for just to spend some time with Daddy out in California. It was an aborted attempt at a spin-off.
- Arguably Rory's father Christopher qualifies. Lorelai realized early on that Christopher was too immature to be a husband and father, refusing to marry him, much to their parents' chagrin. While Christopher may have wanted the family with Lorelai and Rory, he was never more than an intermittent presence in their lives until Rory was in her late teens.
- One episode addressed this. Christopher accuses Lorelai of turning Rory against him and not letting her be with him more. Rory steps in and calls him out about how this and the above were not her mother's fault, but his, and that she avoided him because she wanted to.
- Also addressed when Christopher attends a Yale event and Rory's schoolmates' parents are talking about how they had to be there for their kids all of their lives, helping out with assignments, coaching the soccer team, etc. Christopher felt bad and tried to overcompensate it with not very good results. It's not certain whether he ever fulfilled the role in more ways than being an "executive parent" (paying tuition, attending college graduation). Luke, on the other hand, was indeed always there for her.
- Luke himself later finds out that he had a daughter he was never told about by an ex-girlfriend. He freaks out when he realizes that he's basically been this to her for the last 13 years. In fact, his relationship with Rory (specifically, Lorelai's character reference for him as a caring, reliable father figure) is part of what helps him earn shared custody when things get nasty between him and the mother (because she wants to move away and sees no problem with cutting him off from the daughter she never gave him a chance to know).
- When Nathan Petrelli on Heroes finds out that the daughter he thought had died as an infant is alive and well it leads to this exchange with his mother:
Nathan: I'm this girl's father, Ma!Angela: You're a glorified sperm donor. Don't get emotionally attached.
- Averted on Friends, where Phoebe's dad eventually comes back eighteen years after abandoning her and her mother, only to find Phoebe quite pissed at him. Eventually she warms up to him, but it doesn't come even close to "glorified".
- Subverted in Glee, though in this case it's an egg donor. Rachel eventually does learn that Shelby Corcoran is her biological mother, but she can't see her as a mother figure, and Shelby simply isn't fit to be a parent. Rachel keeps living with her dads, and doesn't see Shelby again.
- Quinn treats Puck as this for most of the first season, deciding that Finn (who thinks the child is his) will be her baby's real dad (that is until the truth comes out and he dumps her for cheating, lying, and manipulating him).
- Inverted on Community. Jeff finally finds his father in season four, and William puts himself on the pedestal by attributing Jeff's self-reliance and independence to him leaving. Jeff tells him to go to hell.
- On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Amaro had an affair with his target's sister while on an undercover assignment, and ten years later discovers this resulted in a child. They were forced apart by the end of Amaro's assignment and weren't able to find each other afterward, meaning she never got a chance to tell him she was pregnant, and had to raise the child alone. Amaro immediately tries to establish a relationship with his son, and is extremely pained that he missed so much of the boy's life.
- Bones: In "The Salt In the Wounds", Booth and Brennan uncover a murder connected with a group of teen-age girls who formed a "pregnancy pact"; the girls agreed to get pregnant and raise their respective children together without the aid of the fathers. Brennan found this an acceptable solution. Booth, not so much.
- Booth and Brennan themselves averted this trope in "The Cricket in the Cabernet", when Brennan, in the middle of a Word Association Test, suddenly announced, "I want a baby". She decided she wanted a child through artificial insemination and wanted Booth to be the donor, but Booth was initially reluctant, especially when Brennan indicated that his involvement in her child's life would end at conception. The plot was more or less abandoned after Booth suddenly had to have surgery to remove a brain tumor (seeing Stewie everywhere was an indicator that something was not quite right). Two seasons, as many Romantic False Leads and several Tear Jerker moments later, they conceived a child the old-fashioned way.
- Some portrayals of the Hercules myth show Zeus as being distinctly hands-off, allowing other Gods to harass Hercules at will. Admittedly, Zeus' parenthood here is glorified for good reason, since his parentage is what makes Hercules a Greek Super Hero. In fact, more often than not in Greek Mythology, the spawn of the gods get some kind of nifty powers which at least make the being dumped off by your parents pill a little easier to swallow. Zeus and ancient patriarch and/or warrior gods in general have a habit of leaving little bundles of Demi-joy all over the mortal landscape and then doing bupkis about them. And while other Greek gods didn't see their children picked on as much as Zeus', their children typically didn't see much of the divine parent, either. Which might've done them a favor, since Hera often actively hounded the (often unwilling!) mothers and children, with other gods sometimes having to step in to try and save them.
- Also, as it turns out, not getting the attention of Zeus is far better than the alternative. When Zeus finally took a good look at the mortal world, he decided there were far too many demigods running around, and orchestrated the Trojan War to thin their numbers out almost to nonexistence.
- Recalled in very realistic and bitter fashion in Death Cab for Cutie's "Styrofoam Plates". Mind you, he's saying this at said sperm donor's funeral.
It's no stretch to say that you were not quite a fatherBut a donor of seeds to a poor single motherThat would raise us aloneWe never saw the moneyThat went down your throat through the hole in your belly
- Everclear's song "Father of Mine".
- "Papa's Song" by Tupac Shakur.
- The Gaslight Anthem's "Keepsake", though the lyrics make it clear that he doesn't expect an instant relationship or much of anything.
And I'm not looking for your love, I'm only sniffing out bloodJust a little taste of where I came from
- Whether this applies in Scion is on a case-by-case basis, and usually connects to how the Scion's mortal parents were. In general, the worse a Scion's mortal family, the more likely they'll be relieved to discover they had a divine parent. Most of the sample characters are still a little bitter at the circumstances; in the opening fiction for Scion: God, Donnie Rhodes makes a point of barging in on his mother (Aphrodite - a rare glorified egg donor) to inform her that his (mortal) father is dead - and showing no surprise at her lack of reaction.
- In both of White Wolf's Werewolf lines, it's noted that werewolves aren't typically the most involved parents, given that they've often got duties that put them in the line of fire on a constant basis, a feeling about them that unsettles normal humans, and Rage that's constantly threatening to boil over. The games also note that this isn't exactly a guilt-free matter for the parents - as they've got wolf-life aspects in culture and mindset, they feel a need to protect their mate and young. It's just that sometimes, the best form of protection involves staying away, no matter how much that sucks.
- Cernd in Baldur's Gate 2 is eventually revealed to have left his wife with child when he heeded the call of nature and became a druid (it's implied that he knew this, which was why he left her). He has a sidequest which involves retrieving said child from its abusive stepfather (who probably killed Cernd's wife)... And then leaving it to be raised by druids. If you keep Cernd in your party through Throne of Bhaal, his character epilogue reveals that his son grows up a bitter, bitter person since his father is always busy with being a druid. The son becomes an Evil Sorcerer who threatens large parts of Faerun, and Cernd tries to stop him: The two fight each other to the death.
- Averted in Contrast where despite Vincenzo being Didi's biological father, she loves her stepfather Johnny more.
- Drowtales features a matriarchal society that views men as the lesser gender, due in part because drow females are generally larger and stronger than their male counterparts. Noble classes place heavy importance on producing strong female heirs and as such men are often bartered and traded between clans to mate with women of other clans to produce strong children. Depending on the couple and the circumstances it may either be this trope or Chosen Conception Partner. One clan in the setting forgoes this and is practicing methods and experiments to negate the need for a man and allow for Homosexual Reproduction.
- Averted twice, first by the father, then by the son on Young Justice. Superman is not at all happy that someone cloned him, and refuses to claim responsibility for Superboy. If you keep up on the comics, you know that Superboy has two fathers, and the other is Lex Luthor. And when he shows up, he clearly wants to instigate this kind of relationship with Superboy (for his own ends, as you'd expect) and Superboy turns him down flat. The trope is later played straight to a point when Superman accepts Superboy as a little brother, a relationship both of them are okay with after their initial awkwardness.
- Subverted by Black Manta and Aqualad. Aqualad appears to have this relationship with him, even though he did nothing (worse, he's attacked and tried to kill Aqualad in the past) to have that respect. However, it's made clear in "Depths" that Aqualad is only using him to get closer to The Light, and refers to him quite coldly as "my biological father", showing that the attachment is fake. Also played with in that Manta's attachment to him seems to be genuine given the distress he shows when Kaldur gets mind raped into catatonia by Miss Martian and Kaldur himself shows regret when he drops the act and takes his father down near the end of the season.
- Subverted in The Simpsons when it is revealed that Barney Gumble is the sole donor to Springfields sperm bank, resulting in a lot of burping babies.
- Also subverted in another episode, where it is revealed that Homer donated to an out-of-town sperm bank and that many of the customers had Homer-esque babies.
- Averted in Adventure Time when Finn finds out his human father is alive and trapped in the Crystal Citadel as a prisoner/criminal in an alternate dimension. Despite having a caring (if demanding) stepfather, Finn is determined to find and form a relationship with his biological one, probably thinking he had a good reason for not being in his life. Turns out his father, Martin, is a immature jerk who treats Finn's attempts at emotional bonding with little more than irritation, only baiting him with paternal affection when it leads to him getting what he wants. In the end, Martin completely abandons Finn with a group of other escaped interdimensional convicts, directly causing Finn to lose his arm and leaving him and Jake alone to deal and nearly get killed by the Lich. Needless to say, Finn is left utterly devastated after all this.
- Family Guy had a bit involving Superman's x-ray vision revealing a fetus growing in Lois, prompting him to bail on her with the excuse that he "forgot something on Krypton". Non-canon prequel?
- Poor Matthew Roberts, the man who made headlines when he found out his biological father might be Charles Manson (not only that, but according to his mother, he was conceived by rape). When Manson found out, he sent him a letter saying "I didn't know my father either" which all things considered is not particularly comforting.
- Gerald Ford's father, Leslie Lynch King, was essentially like this. They only met once, and all that King had to give Ford was ten dollars to get "something he normally wouldn't get". And that is why Gerald legally changed his name to that of his stepfather.
- A Dutch TV show, which aired in 2011, attempts to take (voluntary) DNA tests of everyone who has donated to, or was conceived by, artificial insemination.