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I Am Not My Father
There's that old saying about apples and how they don't fall far from the tree. Sometimes they do and sometimes that apple decides to jump and fly away to make sure it is not considered too close to the parental tree.

Enter this trope. This is when a child decides for him or herself that he isn't going to repeat the same mistakes that their parents have made. Maybe the child was raised with a Jerkass for a father, or mommy dearest was a Cloud Cuckoo Lander of the worst kind. Whether out of embarrassment or for the sake of rebellion, expect this to lead to Calling the Old Man Out.

Contrast Turn Out Like His Father, where the parent doesn't want the child to imitate someone in the family, and Pursuing Parental Perils.

Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • Black Star in Soul Eater has no intention of going down the same path as the violently dangerous Star Clan, though it takes a while for him to recognise it was a real possibility and took the Nakatsukasa Purpose's third option. His Parental Substitute and Mentor, Sid, is the one who refers to this trope the most as he was the one (in the manga) who killed White Star, and so saw the signs that Black Star could Turn Out Like His Father.
    • Invoked in a positive sense with Kid and Shinigami. Seeing what became of Asura, and realising what their father was capable of, Kid is at first hesitant to 'ascend' and become a true Shinigami. He is reassured by his friends that he is a different person, and will do things his own way. Not that Kid realises it, but this is exactly what Shinigami wanted him to do all along.
  • Like hell Rin Okumura (from Ao No Exorcist) is going to turn out like his biological father.
  • Present multiple times, subverted and played straight, in the manga Love Pistols:
    • From the furthest generation back, Makio Madarame doesn't want to become like her father so she discards all family duty and elopes with her girlfriend - her case is partly subverted because A) her girlfriend was her father's lover first, with them having the same tastes, and B) Makio has a very similar personality to her father... to the point where the most she manages is Sociopathic Hero on a good day (her girlfriend being her Morality Chain).
    • Makio's son, Yonekuni, doesn't want to become like his father's lover and goes as far as to completely hate all men (and artists) just to make sure... only for this to be subverted harshly when it turns out he has exactly the same Green-Eyed Epiphany his step-father had regarding his lover (with both previously before being unattracted to men), exactly the same slow-realisation Oblivious to Love Green-Eyed Monster relationship with his lover as his step-father did with his father, and their lovers' personalities are incredibly similar.
    • Makio's second son, Kunimasa, actually ends up being the one to play this trope straight when Makio tries to force him into an arranged marriage by unwisely threatening his boyfriend, whereupon he ended up snapping and finally Calling the Old Man Out.
  • While definitely following in his father's footsteps, Negi in Mahou Sensei Negima! picks up dark magic reasoning that no matter how much he pursues his father, he isn't him. If there's a better way to do what he has to, then he'll do it.

Comics
  • In ElfQuest, the wolfrider chief Cutter takes pity on a group of captive humans, and lets them go. His tribemate Strongbow angrily points out that his father Bearclaw would have killed them. Cutter enragedly exclaims "I am not Bearclaw! I am Cutter!" and proceeds to kick Strongbow's ass to drive the point home.
  • In the Shadows of their Fathers is an arc of Star Wars Empire where a young Luke Skywalker's faith in the image of his father as heroic and worth emulating is (temporarily) shattered as he works with the Jabiim, a people who Anakin had abandoned as tactically not worth it during the Clone Wars. Well, before Luke works with them they call for his death, beat him up, and he pleads for one to confirm or deny the allegation that his father beheaded Jabiimi children, but then he throws himself into helping them. At the end of the miniseries the Jabiimi entrench themselves and he states that he's staying with them. (mind the Art Shift)
    "I'm the reason the Empire's here - I'm responsible for all of this! My father abandoned you when you needed him the most - I won't do the same!"
    • The Jabiimi only persuade him to leave by telling him that he's not like his father; he's got little tactical sense but he cares despite persecution; him leaving is not abandonment or betrayal, but being needed more elsewhere.

Fan Fiction
  • Expect this trope to be played in any Harry Potter fanfic where Sirius Black has children who believe him to be guilty.
  • The Immortal Game: Rarity has spent years trying to not be like her father, General Esteem. This comes to a head when they end up fighting each other in the war, with Rarity effectively disowning him.
  • My Little Mages The Nightmares Return: Pinkie Pie's father is the Grand Master of the the Shadow Blades, and wants her to continue the family line of being assassins. She refuses, repeatedly.
  • The Superjail! fanfic Extended Stay starts to use this trope from Chapter 11 onwards, starting when the Mistress discovers she is pregnant and that the Warden is the father.
  • In the Pony POV Series, Fluttercruel makes it a point to be nothing like Discord (who created her by Mind Raping Fluttershy and thus technically her father)

Film
  • Subject of a joke in the film Barbershop, when Calvin rhetorically asks "Do I look like my father?", only to be met with a chorus of "Yeah." "Yes, you do." "In the nose, right here..."
    • A sadder underlying theme of the film is that Calvin, unlike his idealistic father, isn't willing to let people get by for free and his desire to finally remove himself from the barbershop and his father's shadow move the plot.

  • In Star Trek, Captain James T. Kirk does not enjoy constantly being compared to his deceased father. Kirk's father was not only a good man but also a hero who saved hundreds of lives (including Kirk and his mother) at the cost of his own. As cocky as Kirk is about his abilities, even he can't see himself living up to that example.
  • One of the major motivations of Dana Andrews' policeman character in the film noir Where The Sidewalk Ends (no relation to the Shel Silverstein book).

Literature
  • In Warrior Cats: A New Prophecy, Brambleclaw is determined to get out from under the shadow of being the son of Big Bad Tigerclaw.
  • Cathal in Heir to Sevenwaters
  • Daniel Leary, one of the two protagonists of David Drake's RCN Series, is a popular and genial military officer who cares for the lower-class people he works with and has a low regard for politics and finance...which is the exact opposite of his father, the most powerful politician in the government.
  • Shown across three generations in Purple Hibiscus: Jaja disagrees with Eugene who disagrees with Nnukwu.
  • According to Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, Darcy is one of these, but in a bad way.
  • Contrary to what Severus Snape insists on claiming, Harry Potter isn't arrogant or attention-seeking, and is definitely not the Jerk Jock his father initially was.
    • Sirius Black rejected the darkness his family is known for. He and practically every other decent person in the family was rejected for this.
    • Percy Weasley moved out of his family's home to show the Ministry he, unlike the other Weasleys, supported Minister Fudge's position of denying Voldemort's return.
  • William de Worde in The Truth really does not want to be like his arrogant, aristocratic, bigoted father. His level of success at this is variable, but he's working on it.
  • In Stephen King's novel Dolores Claiborne, Joe St. George, Jr does his very best to be the complete opposite of his father Joe Sr, who he hated. He ends up as a Democratic Party politician, a party his father hated (calling Roosevelt "Sheeny-velt").
  • In Doom, this was Fly's motivation for joining the Marines and his love of the Corps. His father was a cruel, petty criminal lout with no sense of honor or dignity. In the Marine Corps Fly could be everything his father wasn't.

Live-Action TV
  • A stock plot on all Soaps where family issues take center stage bonus points if its because they find out their father wasn't who they thought it was. Nick Newman, Bo Brady and Star Manning all have elements and some of the dynastic families like the Quatermaines and the Barlows practically run on it
  • This is a common theme in Six Feet Under. The various characters try to avoid becoming like their parents with varying degrees of success. Most notably, N Ate and Brenda, despite insistence that they will never be like their parents, ultimately go into exactly the same professions.
  • In Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, several people have made this comment regarding Batiatus. He essentially fires Doctore for this reason. It's made clear, he feels his father's patient attitude has held the family fortunes down.
  • A variation in the White Collar episode, What Happens in Burma. Neal reveals that his father was a dirty cop, and says that criminal behavior runs in his blood. Peter insists that it's not true and encourages Neal to be his own man. So in this case it's more like "You are not your father."
    • The heartwarming part comes when you realize that this is after Neal has served time as a convicted bond forger, and that Peter was the one who caught him, twice! Even after all that, Peter still believes in him and still wants Neal to realize that his choices are his own, and that it's still not too late to get his act together.
  • In Gossip Girl, Chuck Bass keeps repeating that he's not like his father. Though he can't seem to decide if that's a positive thing or a negative.
  • Lee in Battlestar Galactica.
    • It's a running theme in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica: The intellectual sophisticate Baltar does not want to be associated with his Down on the Farm father (even going so far as to alter his accent). Starbuck represents the distaff version of the trope, wanting to disassociate herself from her abusive mother. And the elder Adama himself has worked hard to distinguish himself as a military leader, quite different from the in-universe equivalent of a Mafia consigliere that Caprica reveals his father to have been (although his actual management of the fleet shows he did learn at least a few lessons from the old man). Even the Cylons come in for this: both collectively (in that they wish to prove themselves superior to their human creators) and individually (the reactions of various models, notably the Ones, toward the Final Five).
  • Simon Marsden, when first introduced in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, is suspected of rape. He invokes this trope when Benson compares him to their dad.
  • This is a source of angst for D'Artagnan in Young Blades, son of the D'Artagnan from The Three Musketeers. In particular, D'Artagnan (the younger) is willing to leave his life in the Musketeers rather than abandon his child like his father abandoned him.
  • Raylan Givens in Justified despises his father Arlo, who is a notorious criminal. Raylan became a lawman specifically to make sure he never turned out like his father. Boyd Crowder also has shades of this, though he takes it in a different direction than Raylan.
  • Arthur is trying to be this trope in Merlin. Sometimes he manages it, sometimes he doesn't.
    • In one season five episode,where a group of villagers are expecting him to kill a magic user, he actually says it. "I'm not my father".
  • Ray Langston in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation constantly worries that he'll become his father in regards to the inherited disposition to violence. He does kill a man, but it's complicated since the guy was a serial killer with a hate-on for Ray.
  • Lorelai in Gilmore Girls in general can't stand her mother and tries to be as free and different from her as possible, and is dismayed at the occasional moments where they are shown to have similarities.
  • A variation appears in Supernatural when Bobby tells Dean he doesn't have to be like John and let his relationship with Sam be ruined because he is too proud to forgive him.
  • A particularly heartwarming episode of Ugly Betty involves Daniel panicking after his father's sudden death because he's been left to run the magazine on his own but knows that he's "no Bradford Meade." After he has a brilliant idea that saves the magazine from total ruin, Betty has the following exchange with Bradford Meade's ghost:
    Bradford Meade: It was very clever. And I would never have thought of it.
    Betty: Well, you're no Daniel Meade.
  • Ned from Pushing Daisies wants nothing to do with his Father and does not appreciate being told he resembles him.
  • It's implied in an episode of Criminal Minds that Hotchner's father was an abusive man who beat his son (and possibly his wife). When Hotchner admits that while children brought up in an abusive home sometimes become abusers themselves, sometimes they instead grow up to catch such people.
  • Friends: Monica is determined not to end up like her Jerk Ass mother. As she is a great Team Mom to the gang, adores children, is a supportive friend and wife, and happily adopts twin babies, she suceeds pretty well.
    • Her boyfriend Chandler also has shades of this, terrified of becoming his flighty mother and gay father who walked out on them. He even runs away on his wedding because he's scared he'll copy his parents marriage. With Monica's help, he becomes one of the sweetest TV husbands ever and a father.
      • There's also a lot of Fridge Brilliance in Chandler's characterization. While his parents have flashy, exciting careers (famous smut writer and drag queen performer) and unconventional lives travelling and sleeping around with people, Chandler works a deadly boring 9 - 5 office job, is shy and awkward when it comes to dating, and for most of the series just wants security and stability with his True Companions. (Which he never had as a child). His Character Development is all about getting over the Commitment Issues his parents caused, and he's never happier than after he he falls in love with the Monica (the most reliable and level-headed of the friends) and they head towards the conventional 2.5 kids, white-picket fence future together.
  • Smallville: When Tess finds out that her father is Lionel Luthor, it explains a lot about her Manipulative Bastard tendencies as well as her Heel-Face Revolving Door. However, she's determined to prove that she's nothing like a Luthor. When his Alternate Universe version asks her why she doesn't just have him killed (which is something he'd do), she says that that's not who she is.
Musicals
  • In Elton John's Aida, Radames and his father, Zoser, sing a duet about how Radames refuses to follow in his father's footsteps

Sports
  • Formula One: Jacques Villeneuve, winner of the 1997 World Championships

Video Games
  • The Dragon Campaign in Battle Realms is based upon Kenji trying to distance himself from his Evil Overlord father. He utters the line verbatim to the Dragon when it asks him who he is.
  • Kazuya from Tekken hates his father Heihachi. Heihachi's adopted son Lee goes further than this by completely disowning his adopted father.
  • These are Ashelin's exact words to Jak in Jak II: Renegade.
  • One of the first things said by Liara in Mass Effect ist "I am not my mother!".
  • Silver from Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver vows never to become like his dad Giovanni in a special event-only scene.
  • When making a Charr in Guild Wars 2, two of your options is that your father was a Gladium who abandoned his warband and lives in honorless shame, or an outright traitor Flame Legion shaman, you character adresses the trope if you picked the latter when your father comes up in a discussion.
    Charr: "Yes, but I despise him, I've broken several jaws reminding people that I'm not responsible for my father's actions."
  • Vito from Mafia II explicitly states a few times that he "doesn't want to end up like his dad". Of course, that all end when he later finds out how exactly his dad died, and it turns out Vito was following in his footsteps the whole time.
  • To a lesser extent, Connor from Assassin's Creed III makes a point of not being like his templar father Haytham.
  • In Worldof Warcraft, Deathwing's son Wrathion meets with the player in Mists of Pandaria and declares that he is completely opposed to his late father's beliefs.
    Wrathion: Please understand, I mean to pay off my father's debts. I will stop at NOTHING to defend this world.

Webcomics
  • Kaji in Cinco Elementos, despite Ember's efforts.
  • Lord Skärva in The Fourth dedicates himself to destroying Blank, something he knows his father could never accomplish.
  • Helen B. Narbon of Narbonic is determined to not be like her mother even though she is a clone, but when she most strongly insists that she is not her mother, her listeners agree that she is clearly exactly like her mother.

  • In The Order of the Stick, Roy has chosen to be a fighter, against his father's wish (who wanted Roy to become a wizard like him; ironically, his father is a fighter and had the same problem). Much later, when Roy is dead, he realizes what a cynical Jerk Ass his father actually is, and makes a conscious decision not to be like that.
    • Elan is doing to same to Tarquin, Tarquin is an evil general while Elan is a hero. This doesn't bother Tarquin so much as he believes that it is his fate to be killed by a hero one day, at which point he will become infamous. He even gets to the point where he's helping Elan become a better hero, because the extra drama in having Elan kill him is all the better. Out of spite, Elan rejects Tarquin's assistance in the Order's quest for the Gates, then when fighting his father's own troops to save Roy, Durkon and Belkar, he takes on a supporting role, helping Haley fight them instead of doing the Big Damn Heroes bit himself.

Web Original
  • Apollo to Zeus in Thalia's Musings. For the most part, Apollo is a perfect gentleman to the nine goddesses who live with him. He took the position of Governor of the Muses to protect them from his sadistic, lecherous father. Zeus talks about the Muses as though they're Apollo's harem.
  • Winter of the Whateley Universe has two supervillains for parents. She wants to be a superhero. But she wants to be a superhero so she can piss off her parents, making her really very much like them.

Western Animation
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender : Zuko's Heel-Face Turn happens when he stops being a "Well Done, Son" Guy and becomes one of these instead. Taking his Uncle Iroh as his alternate father figure didn't hurt either.
  • South Park:
    • Stan in particular is pretty ashamed of his father most of the time and tries to avoid being like him, not that he always succeeds.
    • To a lesser extent, Kyle is like this, but usually with his mother. "It's a Jersey Thing".
  • The Legend of Korra: A recurring motif. Tenzin is (or tries to be) as serious and staid as Aang was carefree, and, while she shares Toph's toughness, Lin is very strict about enforcing the law and has no patience with the Avatar Korra's vigilante justice until she quits and becomes a vigilante herself.
    • Arguably the most significant is Asami refusing to join the Equalists with her father.
    • Tarrlok, and by extension his brother Amon, both seem to show shades of this. Unfortunately for them both, they ended up becoming a threat to Republic City just like their father wanted, albeit in different ways.
  • Batman Beyond: Commissioner Barbara Gordon delivers this line word for word when she lets Bruce know that she won't be working hand-in-hand with the new kid. It wasn't out of any disrespect for her father (quite the opposite). It was because, at the time, she did not trust the new Batman, Terry McGinnis. She does, reluctantly, work with Terry at times, but never reaches anywhere near the same relationship with him as her father did with Bruce.
  • In Justice League, Vandal Savage in the present says he's nothing like his grandfather, the evil Vandal Savage the League fought during a trip to World War II to prevent a Bad Future. Turns out he's not just like his "grandfather," he is the original Savage - he's an immortal who changes identity every so often.
  • In The Simpsons, Lisa discovers that Marge used to be a genius until meeting Homer essentially made her decide she didn't care about her future. So Lisa vows to be absolutely nothing like her mother, much to Marge's horror.
  • In American Dad!!, both Hayley and Steve try not to be like their father Stan - Hayley because she hates his right-wing views, and Steve because he thinks Stan is an idiot for using words like 'irregardless'. At the end of the day though Hayley IS like Stan in her obstinance, and Steve is like Stan in his nerdy nature and well-meaning but naive ideas.
  • Willy Zilla's desire of being recognized by his own merit instead of just being famous because his Dad is a rock star triggers this trope. Rock actually understands it, as his father is a cello player.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Hoggish Jr. used to share his father's views on environment but changed his mind.
  • Julie Kane, in regards to her father, the leader of Detroit Deluxe in Motorcity. Although she said she would take over for Detroit Deluxe if something were to happen to him, her intentions not being clear . . .
  • Fred Jones in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated in regards to both Mayor Jones and his biological parents.
  • Used for a quick joke on Gravity Falls; the Gremloblin's glowing eyes can make whoever look into them live their worst fears. When Dipper tricks into looking into a mirror, the Gremloblin sees itself with glasses, with his reflection screaming, "You've become your father!"


Honorary UncleFamily TropesIdentical Grandson
Follow in My FootstepsSon of Trope, Daughter of IndexI Am X, Son of Y
Honor-Related AbuseParental IssuesI Hate You, Vampire Dad

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