Sometimes, what parents want for their children differs from what the children want to do, especially if the parent has plans for the child to Follow in My Footsteps. Sometimes the child wants to be himself in a career the parent dislikes. And sometimes, the parent struggles with this, but eventually comes around and supports his child.
And sometimes he doesn't. And if the child (usually a son) doesn't step into line quickly, the offending parent quickly disowns him, disavowing all knowledge that this "son" ever even existed.
Cue the sad violin music — it looks like the kid is going to have to learn to make his own way in this harsh, harsh world all alone.
This doesn't mean that reconciliation is impossible further on down the track. But it usually happens years later, when the kid's a success and often when the parent is on their deathbed, and it's a long, bitter road until that happens.
Rest assured, however, that the chances of this happening are far higher than one might expect. The initial I Have No Son sequence typically takes place in flashback — we only learn the story because the now successful disowned son is giving us a sob story about how much he wishes his father would approve, or at leastacknowledgehis existence. If we see the event unfold in real time, then usually it gets wrapped up much sooner.
Bear in mind that the parent doing the disowning might not be entirely a jerk; sometimes, the kid just crosses a line they shouldn't cross (especially if they've grown up wrong) and deserves being kicked out with all ties severed. Again, reconciliation isn't an impossibility, but since this kid's bitter and twisted anyway don't expect it happening any time soon. And rest assured that the parent is going to have to justify their actions to the audience explicitly anyway, since the act of disowning one's own flesh and blood for any reason is well, pretty harsh. A justification commonly seen in a Crime and Punishment Series is when the parents essentially disown the child due to a crippling drug habit that the child has plunged into; this is often accompanied with a justification about how "there's only so long you can watch or enable them to destroy themselves before you have to sever all ties."
This trope has various roots — most obvious is the tendency of many writers to be of Jewish descent. Orthodox communities could be particularly unforgiving when it came to children (particularly males) who decided to try and make their way outside of the Jewish community.
Of course, overuse of this term has caused the words themselves to be considered a Dead Horse Trope, if not the entire plot itself. As a result most modern examples tend to skew toward the side of comedy. When the question is not about comedy but the descendant actually is the culprit, this trope can constitute Know When to Fold 'Em.
The Up to Eleven variant of this trope is honor killing, where the parents not only disown the child, but murderhim or her.
See also: Changeling Fantasy and Where Did We Go Wrong?. Not to be confused with That Thing is Not My Child!.
Downright Weird Guy: I wish I'd given Oak to my son when he was a child...haha, just kidding, I don't have a son, well technically I do, but he's in real estate.
The Marvel Comics character Cable once had an evil clone named Stryfe. This evil clone captured Cable's wife Aliya and raped her, leading to her having a son that, while genetically the same as if it had been Cable's, was not his son. Cable had a lot of issues with the boy; it got so bad that Professor X (who was halfway into his Manipulative Bastard turn then) called Cable on it when Cable referred to him as "Aliya's son" at one point.
In X-Statix, Vivisector's father insists that the fact that Myles is his son is "a matter of opinion". Why? Simple - Vivisector is a gay mutant. Joining the X-Force was evidently the last straw, because by becoming a celebrity daddy couldn't pretend he didn't exist anymore.
Supporting character Lacuna actively tries to get this reaction from her parents after discovering she's a mutant. When they accept her mutation with open arms, she tries to join the X-Force... and they're supportive of that, as well. Finally, she becomes a talk show host, squandering her incredible gift by chatting up celebrities. All she ever wanted was for her parents to be disappointed in her. Because how else do you know you're doing the right thing?
In Magneto Rex, Quicksilver is captured by a rival faction and Rogue asks Magneto to organize a rescue. Magneto flatly tells her that since Pietro keeps refusing to join him in ruling by his side, he has no son◊.
This is a large concern for many young mutants, but a particular standout would be Surge from New X-Men. When her father finds out that she's a mutant, he disowns her, because he "doesn't believe in mutants." When she tries to get back in contact with her family, in particular her little brother, he basically says that she's not his daughter. It should be noted that this is entirely on his part, as her mother is just relieved that she's safe and learning to control her abilities.
Renee Montoya's parents disowned her when Two-Face outed her as a lesbian and she admitted it to them in the Gotham Central arc "Half A Life."
In the initial "Moon Knight" series, Marc Spector (Moon Knight) has this in his background. It happened after he one-punched his father, which should count as some sort of justification.
In V for Vendetta, Valerie brings her girlfriend and tells her parents she's a lesbian. The parents were furious and scream at their daughter to leave the house. Then, the mother, in tears, grabs a picture of her daughter when she was young and throws it in the trash.
Iron Man: Tony Stark's verbally and emotionally abusive father, Howard Stark, is brought back in spirit while Tony is trapped in Mephisto's Realm in the Iron Man: Legacy of Doom run. After cruelly and viciously castigating Tony, Howard sneers, "You're no son of mine."
Green Arrow threw out his ward Roy Harper when he discovered Roy was a heroin addict and called him a no-good punk, then later acted proud as if he was responsible for Roy going cold turkey and beating his addiction, when it was really because of Black Canary and Green Lantern.
Much later, after Roy's arm was cut off and his daughter was killed, Roy angrily lapsed into being a drug-addicted anti-hero before he was found and knocked out by Dick Grayson. When he awoke, Roy discovered he had been strapped to a bed in St. Virgil's, a center for supervillains with substance abuse problems. Dick had done this with Black Canary's consent, who later flat out said that Roy was beyond help and washed her hands of him.
After Klara Prast began talking to the plants on her farm (and they started responding), her religious asshole parents not only disowned her, they sold her to an alcoholic creep who took her off to America to be his wife... at 11 years old. All manner of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse ensued. Thankfully, she later befriended the Runaways, who took her off to the future, where her asshole parents and abusive husband were both long dead.
Princeless: Devin's father went as far as saying that.
Parodied in The Bojeffries Saga in which Reth Bojeffries was disowned by his entire family after achieving literary fame with a memoir all about how much he hated them. When they're brought together again, they aren't reconciled. Instead his Uncle Festus kicks him to death, with the others' reactions ranging from apathy to And There Was Much Rejoicing.
Endrin practically says he's given up on Trian and Bhelen in Dragon Age The Crownof Thorns, only it's the dwarven noble protagonist that he tells it to, just before the whole kinslaying happens (or does it?) and he sweeps the second son under the rug while passively watching Bhelen get things going his way. It's no wonder the DN takes matters into his own hands and manipulates the entire city-state, including Endrin, Trian, Bhelen, you name it,the way he does.
Later, it is revealed that Endrin played it straight with Bhelen, although the fact he didn't do it publicly allowed the guy to take control of House Aeducan after the king died.
An interesting variant of this trope happens in the Reading Rainbowverse when Spitfire disowns Lightning Dust. At first it seems the usual "disappointed mother" route, but then Spitfire is relieved of duty and forced into therapy; she admits she's actually very sure that Lightning Dust hates her and that she deserves a better mother.
Empath: The Luckiest Smurf: Papa Smurf in the alternate timeline story where he marries Smurfette, has a child through her, and was run out of the village by his little Smurfs along with his new nuclear family, reacts to the news of Empath and the other Smurfs being trapped in time by calling them his "former little Smurfs", disavowing even his relationship to Empath.
In the Girls und Panzer fic, Boys Und Sensha-do, found here, it is revealed that Shiho is still planning on disowning Miho, despite her having won against Black Forest because her way is not the traditional Nishizumi way, and she now has boys on her team. Shiho carries out this threat in Chapter 7, while Miho is in the hospital no less, although she later claims that it's to allow Miho to follow her own path, with the support of her friends.
In Saki After Story, Teru keeps denying that Saki is her sister, even though Sumire knows otherwise. When Saki tries to go over to talk to Teru after defeating her in the final round of the tournament, Teru flies into a rage and beats up Saki with a metal pipe, a box cutter, and a chair (also attacking Nodoka when she tries to help). It takes the rest of Teru's team to restrain her, and Sumire telling Teru that she spoke with her parents and obtained proof that Saki is her sister before Teru realizes what she's done.
Inverted in The Prayer Warriors, when Percy Jackson is raiding the Temple of Zeus. Before killing Zeus, Percy declares that Zeus is not his father (in canon, Poseidon is), because if he doesn't, he'll be committing the sin of patricide.
In Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change With The Light, Harvey Broxtel's parents call their son a "monster" and declare that he's dead to them. They also show more concern for Spider-Woman than for Harvey, even though she was the one who beat him unconscious. This is because Harvey is a sadistic psychopath with a long history of committing very violent crimes who became the full-blown Pyro Maniac Firebrand after he acquired the ability to generate and control fire. The reason Harvey's parents are thanking Spider-Woman for knocking him out is because he tried to kill them for cutting him out of their will and using their money to compensate all of the people he murdered both before and after he became a supervillain.
Slightly more underplayed in the 1927 version, with the Trope Namer title card "My son was to stand at my side and sing tonight - but now I Have No Son."
In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wilbur Wonka's father, a dentist, did not want his son to be a chocolatier, so Willy tells him that he will run away from home. Wilbur angrily responds, "I won't be here when you get back." Taken Up to Eleven when Willy returns to find the entire house missing from the street. However, it turns out that he had saved every newspaper article about his son.
Justified in There Will Be Blood: As it turns out, the father in this case has a very valid reason to make such a claim.
In The Karate Kid Part II, Shozen refuses to help Daniel rescue a girl from a hurricane, and when his uncle Sato helps Daniel instead, Sato declares Shozen dead to him...thus setting up the final climactic battle between Shozen, Daniel, and uncle issuesnote When Sato tries to talk him out of it, he throws his words back in his face: "I cannot hear you, Uncle. I am dead to you, remember?".
In Shanghai Knights, Chon Wang's father has disowned him for staying in America and abandoning his family. The ending may or may not be a subversion due to the puzzle box message.
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham adds a twist since the disowned son is actually adopted and states that if his father had not specifically said "You're not my son", he may have actually tried to mend bridges sooner.
Lord of War - An unusual example, in that it happens towards the end and isn't reconciled. The main character's brother is killed after being dragged back into an illicit business for "One last time," and the main character is arrested. He calls his parents from jail to tell them what happened to him and his brother, to which the mother's only response is "Both my sons are dead."
Derek Zoolander's estranged father feels and acts this way when the remaining family members are in the "Mining Shaft" bar in rural "Mine Country" and a somewhat embarassing advertising spot comes on TV that shows Derek as a Mermaid uttering nonsensical phrases about water and being wet.
Derek's father: You're dead to me, son. You're even more dead to me than your dead mother. I just thank the Lord she didn't live to see her son as a mermaid! Derek: Merman! Merman!!!
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier: Sybok was exiled from Vulcan for his heretical beliefs and lifestyle. He was cut-off from his family officially and so completely that Starfleet had no record of Spock having an older brother until circumstances forced a confrontation between Sybok and the Enterprise. Although Sybok and Spock reconciled, Sybok's outcast status did not.
The 2012 Hong Kong film Cold War. Deputy Commissioner Lee discovers his own son Constable Joe Lee — a talented police constable — is behind the conspiracy to abduct five Hong Kong police officers (to discredit Lee's rival for promotion, whom his son thinks is a desk man not suited to the job). Joe refuses to believe his father will arrest his only son, only for Lee to draw his pistol on him...then offer it butt first. Joe smirks and takes the pistol, only to be immediately shot by a police sniper. Lee says afterwards that offering Joe the pistol was a test, and that by failing it he is no longer his son.
Played With in X2: X-Men United. When Xavier asks William Stryker how he could think of lobotomizing his son, he replies "my son is dead", but before he orders him to launch his attack against all mutants, he says "Make me proud, son."
Yashida: Mariko. It's me, your grandfather. Mariko: I buried my grandfather.
A brotherly version happens in the Walking with Dinosaurs movie, when Scowler callously kicks Patchi out of the herd and leaves him to die. When Juniper tries to get him to help because they're brothers, he coldly tells her "I don't have a brother".
American History X: After the Neo-Nazi Derek attacks his own sister during a family dinner and drives his mother's Jewish boyfriend away, she realizes how lost her son is to her and disowns him. When she later visits him in prison she tells Derek that Danny worships him and is starting to follow in his path, but she doesn't want to give up both her sons. After Derek gets out of prison and becomes The Atoner, his relationship with his mother has improved a lot.
Also, band member Mike Rutherford's solo hit "The Living Years".
Victor Lundberg's Vietnam-era spoken-word hit "Open Letter to My Teenage Son" ends with the narrator-father telling his kid, "If you decide to burn your draft card, then burn your birth certificate at the same time; from that moment on, I have no son!"
Inverted in the Pearl Jam song "Daughter", where the aloof speaker tells her mother, "Don't call me daughter." Theories abound.
In W.A.S.P.'s 1992 concept album The Crimson Idol, the protagonist Jonathan calls his estranged parents one last time after realizing how unfulfilling his life as a rock star is. The conversation ends with "we have no son." Jonathan then kills himself on stage during the concert later that night.
The Courtyard Hounds' song "Ain't No Son," which deals with a father disowning his son, directly references this trope.
He said "You ain't no son to me
You ain't no son to me
Eight pound baby boy I bounced on my knee
No, you ain't no son of mine
Doonesbury did a series of strips where Mark Slackmeyer's father used this phrase when he came to the conclusion that what he really had was, "...a parasitic offspring who year after year just barely manages to pass his classes in time for me to shell out another four thousand bucks".
Hilariously parodied in 3rd Rock from the Sun in the episode "World's Greatest Dick" when Dick screamed this about Tommy for flubbing a quiz question. Tommy is not, in fact, Dick's son, but the Earthlings don't know that.
The early 20th-century musical The Jazz Singer, (probably better known today as being the first talkie) featured this as the central plot: Jakie Rabinowitz wants to sing jazz in blackface and his rabbi father disapproves. No, not for the same reasons we would disapprove of this action today. Actually somewhat Based on a True Story, making this one Truth in Television.
At the end of The Lion in Winter, a despondent Henry II makes this remark about all of his sons' collective betrayal.
Well, in the next line, he acknowledges that he had offspring; what he seems to be saying is "My children aren't real men" rather than "I have no children".
In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye agonizes over his first two daughters willfully opposing tradition and marrying men they choose rather than ones chosen for them by the matchmaker. The first begged for permission to marry her childhood friend, which Tevye granted; the second married an itinerant tutor who had been teaching her, and they made clear that they would be marrying, permission or not, but would be grateful for his blessing. Tevye eventually came around on that one, too... but when his third daughter marries outside the faith, Tevye can't take it: "if I bend that far, I'll break!" Though it breaks his heart, he disowns her.
In the original stories by Sholem Aleichem, Tevye can't ever bring himself to forgive her; in the musical, just at the end, Tevye bends just enough to at least acknowledge her, and her husband, when the husband makes a valid point:
Fyedke: Some are driven out by edicts. Others... by silence.
Subverted in The Music Man when Harold Hill suggests that the Mayor order a fluglehorn on the grounds that his son would be a virtuoso. The Mayor almost falls for it before realizing (loudly) that he doesn't have a son.
In Spring's Awakening by Frank Wedekind, after Moritz flunks out of school and commits suicide his father says at Moritz's funeral that Moritz was "no son of mine."
Damn that is cold..
No literal disowning, but in La Traviata Germont utters a phrase like this after Alfredo insults Violetta by throwing money at her. Alfredo immediately repents, and the two are later shown as reconciled.
Played with in The Importance of Being Earnest: Cecily tells Jack his brother Ernest is in the dining room, and he replies "I haven't got a brother". Cecily thinks he's disowning his brother, and the other characters on stage think Ernest has just died, but Jack actually means it literally; he lied about having a brother, and the man in the dining room is his friend Algernon pretending to be Ernest who is later revealed to actually be his brother.
Because they abandoned him in favour of seeking power over Thebes and only sought him out once he was useful to them, Oedipus curses his sons to kill each other in Oedipus at Colonus shortly before he dies.
Oddly enough, averted in The Merchant of Venice: despite Shylock's anger at his daughter's marriage and conversion to Christianity, he never actually disowns her. Later in the play, he mentions her, saying "I have a daughter..." The Al Pacino film version changed the line to say "I had a daughter", turning the film into a straight example. As a matter of fact, it's Jessica who disowns Shylock: "I have a father, you, a daughter lost."
In The Gentleman Ranker, Lieutenant Graylen was cashiered from the army after forging his father's signature on a bank draft. He rejoined as Private Smith, and ended up under his father's command. When they recognized each other, Colonel Graylen said that his son was dead.
Tatsuzou Sudou from Persona 2: Eternal Punishment went to a LOT of effort to get his son, Tatsuya Sudou, sent to a sanitarium so he could be rid of him and he also worked very hard to eliminate any connection said son had to him. Justified, as he's a politician and his son became a crazy arsonist, and that would not have been good for his political career, among other things.
A scene like this kicks off the plot of Metal Max Returns. A more moderate version also kicks off Metal Saga.
In Riven: The Sequel to Myst, if you fail to imprison Gehn before opening the Star Fissure, Atrus will show up only to be surrounded by Gehn and his goon. Atrus will react to his unexpected appearance (you were supposed to have imprisoned him before signaling Atrus, after all) with "Father..." only for Gehn to shout "[Y]ou are no longer my son!" before having his henchman shoot him.
When Jessica of Dragon Quest VIII stubbornly declares her intent to find her brother's murderer and bring him to justice - at the urging of her brother's ghost, no less - her mother (who wants her to stay at home and "mourn like a proper lady") equally-stubbornly declares that she has no longer has a daughter.
In Guild Wars, Adelbern does this in spirit, if not using the exact words, after the Nolani Academy mission. He wants to continue to defend his kingdom from invasion, while his son wants to evacuate to one across the mountains.
Inverted in Mass Effect 2. Jacob Taylor's loyalty mission is to rescue his father, who went missing ten years ago. It turns out that his ship crashed on an unknown planet. However, after they find out that Ronald Taylor forced his crew to eat the local food (which causes brain damage) while keeping the good food from the ship for himself long after they repaired the beacon that justified withholding it in the first place, killed the other officers, exiled the male crew, and turned the females into his personal harem, Jacob disowns his father.
And by "disown", what is meant is that one outcome, if the player chooses the right conversation options for Shepard, is that, when the camp is under attack by the surviving male crewmembers (who went feral), Jacob hands his father a pistol - with one round. Guess what he's expected to do with it. Then Shepard and the team leave, evacuating the female survivors.
Even in the Paragon ending, Jacob denies that Ronald is his father any more, and the only thing preventing him from gunning him down right at that moment is that he doesn't believe Ronald is worth the effort of pulling the trigger.
Happens in the climax of PokÚmon Black and White, when Ghetsis storms in and disowns N for allowing the player to defeat him, spoiling Ghetsis's plans to conquer Unova. Rather than saying, "I have no child", the line is "you are unworthy of the name Harmonia", but the effect is the same.
When the party inadvertently breaks into the Wyndian royal castle in Breath of Fire 2, the king and queen completely ignore Nina's presence as they have the group ejected, even silencing their other daughter when she attempts to identify her older sister. They know perfectly well who she is, and actually do this out of kindness. Nina was born with black wings - and any child with black wings is supposed to be put to death, since they're prophesied to bring tragedy to Wyndia. The royal family covered up the truth and disowned her so at least she'd have a chance to live. Nina understandably has a complex about this, but doesn't blame her parents for it.
Wild child Gau in Final Fantasy VI was abandoned at birth by his father because the mother died during childbirth and he went mad from it. This leads to Gau being raised by monsters and while Gau isn't fully capable of meshing with society, he considers the main characters his friends and he helps them out to save the world. A year later after the world is ruined, the party finds Gau's father and they go to great lengths to dress up Gau and teach him how to speak properly so that the reunion would be a happy one. However, the man is still insane and claims that he has no son, but briefly mentions that he once had a nightmare of the birth of a "demon child" that he abandoned. He actually believes that it was only a dream and that he really never had a son, but he compliments Gau on being a fine young man. Gau chooses not to tell him the truth, but is happy that he was able to see him again.
In Injustice: Gods Among Us, we find out that the Nightwing in the Regime universe is actually Damian Wayne and that, prior to the story, he killed Dick Grayson. When Insurgency!Batman and Regime!Nightwing fight and Batman wins, he tells Damien "You're dead to me." ... Except the tie-in prequel comic revealed that Damian killed Dick by accident and was devastated at what he did, but Batman still ignored his pleas and takes away Dick's body, leaving Superman to take Damian in.
Inverted at the end of The House of the Dead III, where after defeating the Final Boss, Dr. Curien as the Wheel of Fate, Curien's son Daniel rejects him as his father before Daniel and Lisa kill him with one final blast.
In Riven, one of the bad endings in which you signal Atrus before trapping Gehn leads to this.
Gehn: I am no longer your father because you are no longer my son! [Shoots Atrus]
asdfmovie: "Now son, don't touch that cactus..." *touches cactus* "YOU'RE DEAD TO ME."
Michael Alan Avariss of Gene Catlow is this way about his son, Steven over his associations with anthropomorphic animals, or, as Michael puts it, "beasts".
Parodied in Sluggy Freelance in the Oceans Unmoving storyline. Callix sends one of The Greys, aliens with a slim to nil understanding of human social behavior, to talk to his father being held captive in the hold. Hilarity Ensues as the Grey is clearly incapable of understanding that the proclamations of I Have No Son are strictly for dramatic effect.
A sibling variant in El Goonish Shive. While clarifying the relationship between Tedd and Nanase (their mothers are sisters) for the Fourth Wall Mail Slot, Amanda phones Nanase's mother to ask why Tedd's mom never gets mentioned. When she gets the reply "I have no sister!", she wonders if her initial explanation was wrong.
Considering her doting over Tedd, she must feel that Noriko's abandonment was something no mother should ever have done.
In the Order of the Stick prequel Start of Darkness, Right-Eye and Redcloak always called each other "Brother" rather than going along with Xykon's renaming of them based on visual traits. When Redcloak kills Right-Eye to protect Xykon (since Xykon is needed to continue the Plan that Redcloak has devoted his entire life to fulfilling) , Redcloak says "Goodbye, Brother." Right-Eye says "Goodbye, Redcloak". With his dying breath, Right-Eye disowned Redcloak as his brother and denounced him as Xykon's lackey.
In The Gamers Alliance, Sumrah, Belial's older son, begins to rebel against his father's methods and refuses to follow the path he has set him on. Their arguments escalate over the years until both become so frustrated with one another that Sumrah leaves his home and enlists in the Maar Sulais military and Belial disowns him.
Often, Truth in Television. Especially when a child has proven a spendthrift, a sociopath, a substance abuser or criminal, staining the family name and reputation.
VERY often happens when a child either resigns from family religion or marries outside the religion.
William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, was disowned by his father when his father learned that he was sympathizing with the despised Quaker sect. Indeed, the name "Pennsylvania" is actually a Take That at the younger Penn; he wanted to call the colony "Sylvania," but Charles II insisted that it be called "Pennsylvania"...after his father. Through the efforts of his mother, however, William was eventually admitted back into the fold.
The mother of author/musician/songwriter James McBride was disowned by her Orthodox Jewish family after marrying a black man, even changing her name from Rachel Shilsky to Ruth McBride.
Osama bin Laden was disowned by his family for his extremist attitudes. Can you really blame them?
There are plenty of parents out there who disown their children (read: kick them out of house and home) for being gay, bisexual or transgender. This happens with such frequency that LGBT teenagers account for approximately forty percent of America's under-eighteen homeless population.
Prominent banker Amos Kling and newspaper publisher Warren Harding were enemies for several years. To Florence Kling, daughter of the banker, this made Harding irresistible. She pursued him until Warren agreed to marry her in 1891. Amos' reaction fits the trope: he disowned his daughter, and refused to speak to either her or his hated son-in-law for the next eight years.
German actress Sibel Kekilli was disowned by her Turkish Muslim parents after they found she had been a porn star.
The father of Yūsuke Katayama has gone on record as threatening to disown him if it turns out he was the one who had infected and remote-controlled several computers, which, among other things, infamously resulted in the false arrest of a Gundam assistant director and three others and embarrassed the Japanese government in the process.
Benjamin Franklin cut off communication with his son William after William supported the British in the American Revolution.
British Politician Leo Amery disowned his adult son John Amery, because the latter was a Nazi Sympathizer during World War 2.