"Glynnis, she has a birth certificate, she has my photograph, and she has my eyes."We all know the basic Mendelian model of inheritance; traits are usually either dominant or recessive. Having one copy of a dominant allele means that the person will express the dominant trait, and the only way for someone to express a recessive trait requires having two copies of a recessive allele. Even outside of scientific terms, it's common reasoning that certain traits tend to run in families and we expect relatives to "match" in some way. These facts are sometimes ignored in Hollywood casting, which can end up having (biological) families looking like just a random group of people. As a result, you'll see blondes having black-haired children, biracial people who look more black/Asian/etc. than their black/Asian/etc. parent, inexplicably large discrepancies in height between parents and children, and so on. Sometimes families can look so unrelated that it can take focus from the story. "Where did Alice get black hair and brown eyes if Bob and Carol are green-eyed redheads?" This can even interfere with the plot if a physical resemblance is a plot point (especially in an adaptation when characters get an Adaptation Dye-Job or otherwise don't match the physical description of the character in the original work). There are certain justifications; the mechanics behind real life genetic inheritance are more complicated than the Mendelian model, which doesn't factor in mutations, malfunctions, and polygenetic traits. Also, casting around to get the most plausible genetics is not always practical—after all, you're not going to turn down Harrison Ford for a part because his eyes are the wrong color. On the other hand, you don't have that excuse in non-visual media or in animation where the powers that be have complete control over how characters look. And you could always give Harrison Ford contacts. Compare Identical Grandson, Uncanny Family Resemblance, and Patchwork Kids, which can veer too far in the opposite direction. When done intentionally, the dissimilar child is a Chocolate Baby. Compare also Random Species Offspring when even the species of the offspring is different from the parents. Also see LEGO Genetics, for the Science Fiction take.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
General note before adding examples:note
- Dragon Ball was fairly realistic in this, especially considering the prevalence of You Gotta Have Blue Hair, and the exceptions are in the vein of Uncanny Family Resemblance rather than this trope.
- Bulma has her mother's blue eyes (not obvious since her mother's eyes are normally closed) and her father's purple hair, both of which she passed on to her children Trunks and Bra. Trunks has Vegeta's skin color,eye shape and eyebrows, while Bra is more or less a clone of her mother.note
- As a little girl, Krillin and Android 18's daughter Marron looks just like Krillin with 18's hair color, including having no nose. By Dragonball GT, she looks just like her mother, and bears little resemblance to her father.
- Gohan looks like both of his parents, while Goten looks exactly like Goku did in the original Dragonball, including his hairstyle. Gohan's daughter Pan in turn inherited the shape of her mother Videl's eyes but his eye color.
- Naruto averts this in general; if a character has an unusual hair color or facial feature, it's normally accounted for in their family— in the title character's case, his Implausible Hair Color and eye color were inherited from his father, while the shape of his face was inherited from his mother. Sasuke and Itachi Uchiha look exactly like their mother Mitoko except for the creases under their father Fugaku's eyes that Itachi inherited. Sakura's pink hair was inherited from her father (albeit his is a darker shade), while based on her mother's rather extreme bangs it's obvious who Sakura got her Forehead of Doom from.
- Invoked for the merfolk in One Piece: due to their unusual biology, merfolk carry the genes of all their immediate ancestors, so family members are not even guaranteed to be of the same species. These three◊ are full-brothers. Compare them in both appearance and size to their sister.◊
- Chibi-Usa from Sailor Moon generated a ton of Wild Mass Guessing and Fan Wank back in the day because her coloration (pink hair, red eyes) was so different from that of her parents (blonde, blue-eyed Usagi and black haired, blue-eyed Mamoru). According to Word of God, her coloration was meant to make her resemble a baby rabbit to match her Punny Name. Also, hair colors in the manga weren't static—sometimes her mother Usagi was depicted with silver hair and even pink hair in her original design. Usagi herself is the daughter of a purple-haired mother and a black-haired, dark-eyed father, and has a brother with light brown hair and dark blue eyes.
- Tenchi Muyo!:
- The series is a strong aversion, even regarding facial features. In fact, the only character whose look isn't readily accounted for in their family is Tenchi's mother Kiyone (silver hair and gray eyes while her parents have black hair/brown eyes and green hair/yellow eyes), and since she and her parents are two different kinds of Human Aliens, we have no idea how their genetics exactly work anyway.
- Actually invoked in the main continuity with [ Aeka. She was born with curly aqua-green hair like her mother and sister, but later underwent gene manipulation to activate her father's genes for straight purple hair. She wanted her hair to be darker to look more like her black-haired stepmother Funaho so she could win the affections of her half-brother/fiancé, Yosho.
- Takeshi and his sister from Your Lie in April have blond hair however their parents have dark hair. Similarly, Kaori's parents are brunettes but she has blonde hair. It's even more noticeable because they're the only characters in the series without black or brown hair.
- Rin from Bunny Drop is a blonde but both her mother and father are black haired (though her father's hair was grey due to age). The manga revealed late into the series that Daikichi's grandfather isn't Rin's biological father. It's possible she got her hair color from her real father.
- Nagisa from Free! is a blond but has brunette older sisters.
- Cilan, Chili, and Cress are triplets who have green, blue, and red hair respectively. Their eye colors match their hair colors.
- According to Pocket Monsters The Animation, Brock and his siblings are the result of his mother's multiple marriages, yet they all look exactly like Brock's father Flint. The Pokémon anime itself ignores the novel (for what it's worth, the book was written by Takeshi Shudo, the anime's original head writer, and is fairly revisionist in its depiction of events).
- Misty and her three older sisters have different hair colors: red (orange toned rather than bright red), pink, blue, and blonde. The aforementioned books justify this by saying Misty's sisters wear wigs; however, the anime itself holds no such implications.
- Depending on the Artist, Spider-Man's Mary Jane Watson inherited her red hair from her father. Her mother is blonde... which means her mother either dyes her hair or there is a huge elephant in the room, as the older daughter Gayle is a dark brunette. You know, Gayle being the product of an extramarital affair could partially explain why their father was such an Abusive Parent...
- Despite being a clone of Wolverine, Laura Kinney, a.k.a X-23 of X-Men is portrayed as having similar features to her mother Dr. Sarah Kinney, who while not genetically related to her, carried her to term. Some stories claim that Dr. Kinney used some of her own DNA to stabilize the sample they had from Wolverine since it was damaged (which is the canon reason she's an Opposite-Sex Clone, since the original sample of Wolverine's DNA was apparently missing its Y chromosome), which would partially justify it
- Also from X-Men, supervillain Vulcan is the black-haired son of brown-haired Corsair and blonde Katherine Summers. The black hair could be part of his mutation, though.
- In Injustice: Gods Among Us Black Canary's and Green Lantern's son is a blond. The problem is, Black Canary dyes her hair blonde. She actually has black hair. It's possible the colorists forgot that and made her a natural blonde.
- Averted and lampshaded in The Second Try. In the notes for chapter 6, the author says that it's "almost blasphemy that he didn't make Aki a chibi-Asuka".
Films — Animated
- In The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible is blond and Elastigirl is a redhead. Dash has blond hair, Violet has jet-black hair, and Jack-Jack's is strawberry blond/red. Dash's and Jack-Jack's hair colors are plausible. Violet's hair color is not, unless she has some sort of science-defying mutant superhero hair gene (perhaps the gene was not dominant because it's invisible?) or (more likely) hair dye was involved.
- In Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, an interracial Official Couple emerged at the end featuring dark-skinned, ethnically Romani Esmeralda and blonde, Caucasian adonis Phoebus. Come 2002, a direct-to-video sequel was released, in which Haley Joel Osment plays Esmeralda and Phoebus' son... who is a complete carbon copy of his father, equally blonde and white. Dark melanin pigmentation genes are stronger than light ones, and though not entirely dominant, this should result in a skin tone slightly lighter than Esmeralda's. And blonde hair is genetically completely implausible with Esmeralda's dark hair being a dominant gene over the recessive gene of Phoebus' blonde hair. In short, the only way to explain the child's completely white appearance is a retroactive Race Lift to Esmeralda, who, ironically, was already subject to a Race Lift in the original, going from a white girl adopted by Roma in the original book to a born one in the film.
- The Little Mermaid:
- According to The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning both Triton and his deceased wife Athena are redheads. Despite this only one of their daughters is a redhead (Ariel). They have two blondes, one raven, and three brunettes. Their children should only have red hair. Either merpeople's dominant and recessive genes are different from humans, or...
- Queen Athena has a blue tail and King Triton's is blue-green. Their daughters' tails are a literal rainbow (red, orange, yellow, sea green, blue, pink and purple).
- The Broadway stage production is even weirder, since Triton is black, and his daughters are variously Asian, black, and white with a rainbow of different hair colors. And they all have the same color tail, more or less.
- Elsa from Frozen has platinum blonde hair when her father had strawberry-blond hair and her mother had brown hair. It's implied though that her hair color is due to her powers, and if she didn't have them, she would have been either a brunette like her mother or a strawberry-blonde like her father and sister (her eyebrows imply the former).
- Justified in Tangled with the very blonde Rapunzel being born from two brunette parents, since the hair is explicitly magical as a result of her mother eating the magic flower while pregnant that caused Gothel to later kidnap her, so her hair would be the same color had seen been born normally and once it's cut near the end it's shown to indeed be brown like her parents, which is hinted at by the color of her eyebrows.
Films — Live Action
- Harry Potter inherited his mother Lily's Green Eyes, which is a plot point. In the film adaptations, blue-eyed Daniel Radcliffe was cast. This is fine in and of itself, since they also cast blue-eyed Geraldine Somerville as his mother, preserving the similarity. However in the film version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, during a flashback which detailed her childhood, the actress cast had deep brown eyes. Radcliffe also attempted to wear green contact lenses for close-up shots, but they irritated his eyes rather badly.
- The DVD cover for Les Misérables (2012) calls attention to a minor example of this trope. Fantine has brown eyes, while her daughter has deep blue eyes as a child, but green eyes as an adult.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day has brown-haired, brown-eyed Edward Furlong play the offspring of blonde, gray-eyed Linda Hamilton and blond, blue-eyed Michael Biehn. It's also a retcon because Kyle mentions that John has Sarah's eyes.
- Many musicals, especially onstage, will completely drop any attempts at realism and go for color-blind casting, often intentionally casting different races in the role of family members. One of the most memorable examples of this in film is Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella starring Brandi. The king is white, the queen is black, and their son is Asian. And it was completely intentional. You're not supposed to care. In the same film, the Wicked Stepmother and one of the stepsisters are white, while the other stepsister is black.
- Similarly, Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing casts Denzel Washington as Don Pedro and Keanu Reeves as his brother, Don John (the bastard son of their father). Given both that and the relative quality of their acting, it takes quite the Willing Suspension of Disbelief to go along with it. It's possible, however, that they resemble their respective mothers.
- Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare: Red-haired Robert Englund and a red-haired mother equals...Latina Elizabeth Peña?
- Fireflies In The Garden casts Ryan Reynolds as the grown-up offspring of Julia Roberts and Willem Dafoe. While this is doubtful, it's not quite as doubtful as the idea of Roberts and Hayden Panettiere being sisters (and as for Panettiere growing up to look like Emily Watson...).
- In Family Business Sean Connery plays Dustin Hoffman's father, while Hoffman in turn is Matthew Broderick's dad. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight...
- Judge Dredd: Dredd is convicted of murder because bullets from a Lawgiver pistol are tagged with the DNA of the Judge who fired them, and forensic examination revealed the tag to match up with Dredd and were actually from his twin brother Rico. It doesn't seem like the DNA should match to begin with, as Rico is clearly not an identical twin of Dredd, which is the only case where they'd have the same DNA.
- In WarCraft, Australian Travis Fimmel and Irish/Ethiopian Ruth Negga play siblings despite having notably different hair and eye colors and wildly different skin tones.
- Similar to the examples in the film series, in Harry Potter, JK Rowling really didn't pay attention in high school bio. Though magical abilities seem to act recessively (e.g. two non-magical parents can have a magical child), Rowling ''says'' that it's actually dominant and can "become dormant" in certain lineages and resurface later. (This would explain squibs— muggles from magical families).
- Magical abilities actually seem to act dominantly at times (when two magical people produce a Squib, for example), while acting recessively at other times (when two non-magical people produce a magical person because a distant ancestor had magical abilities). And that isn't even getting into the other abilities that can be passed down (lycanthropy, metamorphagus, Harry's always crazy black hair).
- Believe it or not, one fan explained a method, and wrote a six page biological paper on it. It utilizes the mechanism of single nucleotide repeats, the same mechanism for Huntington's disease.
- A plot point in A Song of Ice and Fire. King Robert Baratheon had black hair and blue eyes and Queen Cersei Lannister is blond with green eyes and all three of their children are blond with green eyes as well. But all of Robert's known bastards are black-haired and every other time their houses have intermarried the children have had black hair so Ned Stark figures out that Cersei's kids were actually sired by her brother. It's plausible to put the Baratheon children's paternity in doubt, since having three children in a row with the same recessive trait only expressed by one parent is unlikely, but having a trait stick so tenaciously to one family after centuries of mixed breeding is extremely unlikely. A child has to inherit one allele or another from each parent, even if it isn't expressed.
- In many of the Chivalric Romances, Percival has a half-brother with a white father and black mother. The brother is piebald (that is to say, he has light and dark patches of skin like a checkerboard).
- In The Hunger Games Katniss has the same typical Seam traits as her father - dark hair, grey eyes, olive skin. Her sister Prim, however, managed to inherit their mother's merchant look with blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. One might wonder how that was possible when it's strongly implied that townfolks and people in the Seam haven't interbred for generations. It's possible that their father carried those genes too but it's highly unlikely. This has even spawned a fan-theory that Prim is Katniss' half-sister and that she might even be half-sister to blonde, blue-eyed Peeta (whose father had a romance with Katniss' mother when they were young).
- A common joke in 7th Heaven 's Hatedom was Little Miss Snarker Ruthie Camden either being adopted or the product of an affair with the gardener, because Mackenzie Rosman had a noticeably darker complexion and less WASPy features than the rest of her TV family.
- Dawn Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was a magically-created clone of her sister Buffy, which would essentially make them identical twins. However, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Michelle Trachtenberg don't look similar enough to be real life siblings, much less twins, especially after Michelle Trachtenberg went through a growth spurt and ended up much taller than Sarah Michelle Gellar.
- Interestingly, Dawn and Tara certainly look similar enough to be sisters.◊
- Jasmine on Angel was black; her parents (such as they were), Cordelia and Connor, were not. This is a sci-fi/fantasy show, and she wasn't a human so much as a goddess of vast power that used a glamour at all times to look like that (her real appearance gave her sickly, green-tinged skin, with perpetual maggots crawling out of her mouth and eye sockets).
- Brown-haired, brown-eyed Hollywood Nerd Toby Isaacs on Degrassi The Next Generation had a blond, blue-eyed father and a redheaded, green-eyed mother.
- Dexter has Rita and ex-husband Paul, both blond. Their kids Astor and Cody have medium to dark brown hair.
- Dumb Blonde Kim from The Parkers is significantly shorter than both her parents (Countess Vaughn is 4'11, Monique is 5'9 and Tommy Ford is 6'4). Lampshaded by an Enfante Terrible in one episode who, when told by Kim that both her mother and father were tall, responded with Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe. Kim is also much lighter in complexion than both parents, but due to a great deal of African-Americans having recent white ancestry, this is not as implausible.
- Similar to the above, Sondra and Denise Huxtable, the oldest two daughters from The Cosby Show are much lighter than both parents (both of their actresses were biracial). Cliff's father is also very light, which could justify it, but then Cliff himself is darker than both of his parents. Two children in a row with the same trait that neither parent expresses... makes one wonder what Clair was up to at her law firm.
- In Dirty Sexy Money, Juliet has brown eyes while her parents are both blue-eyed.
- Lampshaded on the "Hackidu" episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. Ray and Debra have dark hair, while the kids have blond hair. Ray trades Ally's $65 "Hackidu" card to Bill Parker, a blond guy. After getting teased for being scammed, Ray decided to get the card back.
Ray: (to Debra) I'm going to go see your boyfriend. (leaves)
Robert: You know, this could explain why all the kids are blond.
Debra: And smart.
- Family Ties:
- This was an early concern during casting: Michael J. Fox almost didn't get the role of Alex P. Keaton because the producers at NBC didn't think it was realistic that the 5'4" Fox could be the son of 6'4" Michael Gross and 5'7" Meredith Baxter.
- While it's not really viewed this way by viewers, Meredith Baxter said in an interview that she was surprised to see someone as beautiful, dark and kind of exotic as Justine Bateman being cast with such a white-bread looking family.
- Seemingly averted, but actually played straight in an episode of House. A patient in an early episode found out that he was adopted because, as he claims, parents without cleft chins can't have a child with one, and the doctors agree with this claim. In fact, such a parent-child scenario is possible— just unlikely. Based solely on that trait, the patient shouldn't have been able to tell either way if he was adopted, and Foreman (correctly) explains that while it's unlikely for him to be his parent's child, it's not impossible.
- A plot point in Game of Thrones, despite being set in a world with no knowledge of genetics. All three "Baratheon" children all have blonde hair and green eyes like their mother, Cersei, despite the fact that their father, Robert Baratheon, has very dark brown (described as black) hair and eyes. While this in itself is possible, Ned reads through a book detailing Baratheon lineage and discovers that every dark haired Baratheon has always given birth to dark haired children even if their mother was blonde. This would make it a lot less likely that Robert would be carrying recessive genes for blonde hair. Even without knowledge of genetics, this arouses suspicion, and is what leads Ned to the conclusion that Cersei's children are actually bastards born out of incest with her dirty-blonde brother Jamie.
- Justified in The Neighbors. The Bird-Kersee family consists of father - Larry (British, blond, and Caucasian), mother - Jackie (African-American), older son Reggie (Asian American), and younger son - Dick (Caucasian, american, and red-haired). They are all genetically related, though they are aliens from the planet Zabvron, and could choose their own human appearances. Funny though, because the parents and children don't see why they aren't seen as genetically related by strangers.
- An example where family members are much too similar than is genetically plausible in Orphan Black: In the third episode, Cosima tells Sarah that clones' fingerprints may be close enough to all match, when in reality not even identical twins have the same fingerprints. Even accepting this premise leaves a Plot Hole, unfortunately. Beth's finger prints would have been put into the system when she became a police officer. If Sarah's arrest happened first, Beth would have had quite some difficulty getting into the police at all. If it happened second, the whole mess should have exploded then. Since only Sarah's fingerprints came up when Katja's were run, it must be that Beth's aren't in the system - presumably the showmakers don't know that police employees' fingerprints always go into the system. As for the "identical twins" part of things, averted entirely with Helena, who wore gloves when on the run to avoid getting fingerprinted.
- In Power Rangers Mystic Force, Udonna, who looks Irish, has a son with Leanbow, who looks Spanish. The kid, Bowen, looks Arabian, with skin about eight shades darker than either of theirs— a shade fairly close to that of his parents' close friend Daggeron. No comment is made on this matter.
- In Reba, the redheaded title character and her blond ex-husband Brock have blonde Cheyenne, redheaded Kyra, and... brown-haired Jake? In one episode it's stated that Brock dyes his hair, but it's not made clear if blond was his original color or not.
- Roots's Chicken George is the son of Kunta Kinte's daughter Kizzy and her white slave master; he is one of the darkest characters in the series, significantly more so than his mother (and looks about the same age, though that's due to a different trope).
- On Smallville, half-Dutch, half-Chinese Canadian Kristen Kreuk actor was cast as Lana Lang. Oddly, unlike their version of Pete Ross, there was no Race Lift involved—both her mother and father were portrayed by Caucasian actors. Potentially played with after the reveal that Lewis Lang isn't her biological father but then when she finds her bio-dad, he turns out to be white, too. Many viewers at first sight assume the WTH, Casting Agency? was involved.
- Kristen Kreuk has said that most of her roles involve this, as there are very few roles specifically written to be half Dutch and half Chinese. Still, putting an Asian actor in Lana's bio dad's role would've made a lot more sense.
- On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wesley Crusher has brown eyes when both of his parents have blue. Picard, on the other hand, has brown eyes... However, while eye colour is controlled by at least three genes and blue eyes mean you have to be recessive for all three, the colour alleles are not completely dominant. It is possible for blue-eyed parents to have brown-eyed children.
- Sam and Dean Winchester from Supernatural resemble each other so little that not a single character on the show who doesn't already know even ventures a guess that they're brothers, and the majority of strangers think they're a gay couple. This is true even when they're pretending to be FBI agents or have some other plausible explanation for working so closely together.
- Several on The Vampire Diaries:
- Stefan and Damon sort of (if you squint) resemble their father, but the two brothers don't resemble each other at all.
- Elena looks very different from her brother and aunt, but then it's revealed that she was adopted. Though it's later played straight when her birth parents were her father's brother John Gilbert and Isobel Flemming. While you could say she shares some of their facial features, there's no way two pale-skinned light-eyed people could have produced an olive-skinned child with dark brown eyes.
- Elijah bears no resemblance to his family either, having much darker features overall. Ironic since Klaus, who does match the rest of the family, is supposed to be the illegitimate child.
- Lampshaded in a sadistic Halloween prank in an episode, where the dark-haired Roseanne and Dan had the dark-haired Darlene and D.J., but a blonde Becky (which isn't as unbelievable as some versions of this.) When their snobby neighbor Kathy Bowman came over, she found Dan lying on the kitchen table, "gutted open" with assorted pieces of raw meat and fake blood sitting on his stomach. Roseanne walks in, covered in blood and holding a dripping knife, and she casually complains that she was so much better at this the last time. When Kathy asks what "last time," Roseanne casually says, "Becky's dad, he was blond, too."
- Averted strongly with the casting of D.J. While neither Sara Gilbert (Darlene), Lecy Goranson, or Sarah Chalke (Becky) bore a notable resemblance to their TV family, the main reason Roseanne Barr pushed for Michael Fishman to be cast was because he looked like he could be in her family, and even as an adult he looks like he could be one of her real children. He even played a younger Roseanne in flashbacks.
- Good Luck Charlie: Parents Bob and Amy are blonde and blue-eyed, but their only blonde, blue-eyed kid is PJ. Gabe and Toby are dark-haired with brown eyes. While Teddy and Charlie are blonde, Teddy has brown eyes and Charlie's eyes are either brown or green.
- Liv and Maddie: Both parents are brown-eyed brunettes and their son (Joey) looks like Robbie Shapiro (and Parker, also a brunette, is the Rooneys' answer to Ruthie Camden), so its very plausible that the two daughters are platinum blondes. Apparently the producers thought no one would notice. Blonde hair and green eyes are both recessive traits, so it is technically possible for the twins to have them though.
- Played for laughs in how people are stunned to realize chubby redhead Artie and tall, handsome dark-haired Diggle are brothers. Artie not only assumes the resemblance is obvious but that he's more handsome than Diggle.
- Actor Yaphet Kotto was cast as Lt. Al Giardello on the award-winning cop series Homicide: Life on the Street, though his dark complexion and facial features made it very implausible for him to be the biracial son of an Italian-American father and an African-American mother. One episode of the series even went out of its way to draw attention to the issue when a light-skinned African-American woman declined to date Giardello because he was "too black" for her. That said, Kotto was outstanding in the role and it's impossible to imagine another actor playing Giardello. There is a valid argument for colourblind casting.
- Although many of the families on 24 look related, a glaring example of this trope pops up in Season 4 with the Secretary of Defense and his daughter (played by William Devane and Kim Raver, respectively). To say they don't look alike is...an understatement.
- An example of Hollywood Genetics in a real family helps Jonathan Creek solve one of his mysteries. He figures out that a couple's recent good luck is the result of a wealthy, powerful benefactor, not the husband's Deal with the Devil as previously claimed. Jonathan notices that the wife has brown eyes while both her parents have blue eyes, which is unlikely, so Jonathan posits that the wife's biological, brown-eyed father is the one secretly providing for the couple.
- Life Unexpected: Lux lampshades how unlikely two brunettes having a blonde-haired child is in the second episode, where it turns out to be why she got her name (meaning "Light" in Latin). Interestingly, actress Britt Robertson, who plays her, isn't a real blonde anyway-her dark roots clearly show-and they could have just made Lux a brunette with dyed hair too.
- Became a plot point in Arrow. When the cast was revealed, many cried foul at the fact that the dark-haired Willa Holland (Thea Queen) was supposed to be the daughter of two blonde parents (Thea's brother, Oliver, is played by the also-dark-haired Stephen Amell, but flashbacks have his hair much blonder and his present-day hair is cut so short it really doesn't matter.) However, a major plot development in the second season revealed that Thea is actually the illegitimate daughter of black-haired Malcolm Merlyn.
- On Boy Meets World, most of the Matthews family look like they could be related, with the glaring exception of the main character Cory. He is played by the Jewish Ben Savage, who has dark curly hair, while the rest of the Matthews are played by WASPy-looking actors with wavy dark blonde hair. The contrast wasn't quite as obvious at the start of the series, but became quite a bit more noticeable after Ben/Cory went through puberty, where he became noticeably more Jewish-looking and even started affecting some stereotypical Jewish mannerisms. The hair inconsistency gets a reference at one point where it's mentioned that a babysitter once curled Cory's hair and it's been stuck that way ever since. The cast also joke about this at one point on the DVD commentary.
- In the Hawaii Five-O episode "A Bullet For El Diablo," the daughter of a dictator is kidnapped as part of a plot to assassinate him - they'll substitute her twin half-sister, who's a member of the gang. Yes, El Diablo impregnated two completely different women who gave birth to females who look exactly alike. No, this isn't a science fiction story. And yes, the plan does work.
- Played for laughs on Suits with Louis, a short man with a weasel-like face when his sister drops by, played by the gorgeous Amy Acker. People are stunned to see her and trying in vain to figure out how she and Louis could possibly be related. Even funnier? Louis assumes the shock is because "we could be twins."
- Gaia Online, otherwise pretty good about NPC hair colors, retconned Ian into being a vampire in '07, around the time his father Vladimir was introduced (and killed). Ian's hair has since been recolored black, which he says is his natural color. The problem? Vlad has been confirmed as having dark brown, possibly even auburn, hair, and Ian's late mother Rosalie was a blonde. Despite this, it appears black in the manga, so it could be a retcon.
- Xenogears plays with this—because both of her parents are blond (as is everyone else on the Floating Continent Solaris) and she's a redhead, Elly feels like a literal Red-Headed Stepchild to her mother, thinking that her real mother was her red-haired nanny. However, this is both plausible (the way red hair works genetically allows for blonds to be recessive for it) and a moot point anyway, since the reason she looks like she does is because she is a Reincarnation of The Anti-Type.
- Played oh-so-straight in Solatorobo, where not only can vastly different races within the species breed freely (foxes with wolves and housecats with lions, for example), but Caninu and Felineko can have children with no problems as well. To top off the Hollywood Genetics, their offspring will be either Caninu or Felineko, not some sort of dog-cat hybrid.
- A minor yet noticeable example in Pokemon Black and White: Cilan, Chili, and Cress are triplets with different hair and eye colors. Bonus points for each of them having their hair and eyes match each other AND their specialty Type all in one.
- Karen is the only girl in Harvest Moon 64 who has less than a passing resemblance to her implied grandmother, in her case Eve from Harvest Moon. The only resemblance is that Eve had blonde hair while Karen has blonde... bangs.
- Dixie Kong and Tiny Kong from the Donkey Kong universe are sisters. They both have similar fur tones and blonde hair however Tiny is bipedal and fully clothed while Dixie is less anthropomorphic looking, walking on all fours and being a Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal. The difference in looks became even more noticeable when Tiny was aged up. Tiny is a tall, Humanoid Female Animal while Dixie more resembles Diddy.
- Invoked via the musical example in Kevin & Kell, where in a production of West Habitat Story Fiona, a fox, is cast as Maria, while Rudy, a wolf, is cast as Maria's brother. Granted, Rudy does have some fox ancestry in him but he looks and identifies as a wolf. And it becomes moot when he's recast as Maria's would-be fiancé anyway.
- In Savestate, Kade and Nicole are blue merle and red merle (respectively) Australian shepherds. Their mother is a blue merle, like Kade. The author has said that their father, who has yet to be introduced, is a standard red, thus averting this trope as far as they are concerned. If both parents were merles, the result in reality would likely be a very rare and problematic double-recessive genetic combination called a white Australian shepherd, which is susceptible to genetic defects involving their eyes and ears.
- In Alice and the Nightmare, a child of two different Suits (races/castes) will only inherit a Suit of one of their parents, and there's no dominant or recessive Suit. That's why, for example, it's impossible to guess that Dee, Dum and Edith are actually siblings, as they look completely different.
- Tony and Megan from The Amazing Spiez are Ambiguously Brown, while neither their parents nor other siblings are.
- In the American Dad! episode "The Kidney Stays In The Picture", it is revealed that Francine slept with another man right before her and Stan's wedding, meaning Haley may not be his biological daughter. Francine is a brunette who dyes her hair blonde. Stan and Haley both have black hair. The man Francine slept with had brown hair. The one thing Haley and him have in common? A bandana. The funny thing is that many viewers would have thought their son Steve would have a different father, due to him having brown hair, but even if Francine was a natural blonde, such an outcome is far from unlikely.
- In Batman Beyond, Terry's mother was a redhead and his dad was blond, but Terry and his little brother had black hair. In the Distant Finale which was also a Fully Absorbed Finale (the Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue") it was revealed that Bruce Wayne is Terry's biological father by way of Cadmus mad science, fixing the whole mess. Apparently an Author's Saving Throw as a solution to people noting its impossibility (it also helps that Terry's parents already had marital issues that suspected infidelity could have contributed to). Note that it never occurred to anyone to simply suggest that his mother dyes her hair...
- From Danny Phantom Sam Manson has black hair while her father and mother have blond hair and red hair respectively. Someone in the family probably dyes their hair. Given the fact that Sam's a Goth, it's most likely her.
- Jazz Fenton is a redhead, whereas her mom is a brunette and her dad has black hair.
- Family Guy has brown-haired Fat Idiot Bumbling Dad Peter and red-haired Lois. Their children are brown-haired Butt-Monkey Meg and Brainy Baby Stewie (Stewie Griffin: the Untold Story confirms this) and blond Chris. In and of itself, this is reasonable; Peter could have a recessive blond gene (which will dominate the red). However then we get Bertram, the kids' half-brother on their father's side. He has red hair, even as a sperm cell. Peter's biological father is red-headed, so he is definitely carrying the genes of red hair for Bertram to inherit, but it's very unlikely that he's masking blond hair, too. The fact that Lois is redheaded means that she most likely only has genes for red hair, so barring a mutation, it can't come from her, either.
- On The Jetsons, George and Jane Jetson are both redheads, yet their children Judy and Elroy are both blonde (Judy's being platinum, to be specific).
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Baby Cakes", Mr. and Mrs. Cake (both earth ponies) have twins, who are a pegasus and a unicorn. Mr. Cake hastily explains that he has a unicorn ancestor, and Mrs. Cake has a pegasus ancestor, then sheepishly adds "That makes sense, right?" While the girl (the unicorn) has the same coloration as Mr. Cake at least, the boy has a completely different color pelt, mane, and eyes. What really drives the trope home: Mrs. Cake's pegasus ancestor was her great-aunt's second cousin twice-removed. Mrs. Cake does not actually share any DNA with this pegasus, yet she somehow passed it on to her son.
- South Park:
- Kenny is blond, his parents have brown hair (his father) and red hair (his mother), and his older brother and younger sister also have brown hair. The reason could be some people have blond hair as children and light brown hair as adults, but as stated before, Karen already has brown hair.
- Craig has black hair, but his father is a redhead and his mother is a blonde. Though if the blowup-doll replica of his mother and her bush is accurate, she's probably not a natural blonde.
- Young Justice:
- The Dark-Skinned Blond teenage superheroine Artemis is the biracial daughter of blond, caucasian supervillain Sportsmaster and the Vietnamese-American reformed supervillain Huntress. While not outright impossible (such as if there was a blond, caucasian ancestor on her mother's side, which could happen since Vietnam is a former French colony) Artemis' hair colour is, at best, unlikely. She's actually based on the daughter of one of the show's producers who is half-Korean on both sides (both parents are mixed race) and a natural blonde.
- Cheshire herself has a child by the timeskip in season two. Lian is Roy's daughter and inherited his red hair color. She mixes her original comic design (which took completely after her father) with her more well-known redesigned look (which looks more like her mother). As with Artemis, it's justified in that Cheshire is multiracial.
- The Simpsons: Homer (had brown hair) and Marge (blue hair) have three blonde kids. None of the Bouviers are blonde, and Abe Simpson also had brown hair... One episode claims that Bart's natural hair color is red which makes it weirder.
- Major characters in Jem have naturally technicolor hair but more minor characters don't. This extends even to parents, which causes this:
- Kimber and Jerrica are two of the very few main characters who have both biological parents shown. Jerrica is near identical to their mother but Kimber, with her pinkish-red hair, doesn't resemble either her father or mother.
- Raya's entire family has black hair except for her. She has pink hair, and according to a childhood flashback it is likely natural.
- The Dark-Skinned Blond Riot has parents who are lighter skinned and have brown hair. According to an episode his skin and hair color are natural.
- Caillou: Caillou's dad has brown hair,and his mom has black hair. His little sister...has red hair.
- The brown haired Hank and Peggy from King of the Hill have a blonde haired son Bobby, their parents also had brown hair in their youth but it's implied it comes from Hank's side of the family as his father Cotton's son he fathered from his nurse Didi looks identical to Bobby blonde hair and all.