Invisible Parents

In some series, the young hero lacks a mother or father. In others, the parents are present, but are so incompetent that they might as well not exist or else so hands-off as to leave the hero effectively independent. This trope pertains to another option — a character who does have parents that are never seen. It doesn't have to be the case that the child is neglected. Their parents are probably as good as any. It's just that the audience never or very rarely sees them due to their lack of importance to the plot.

See also There Are No Adults.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is extrememly common in dating sims, visual novels, and the animes based on them. Characters are typically adolescent and live with their parents but despite the fact that they all know each other and go over to each others houses frequently, even date each other, parents always seem to be conveniently absent if not dead and play no role in the story. Number of parents is usually limited to a single attractive mother or something similar.
  • So far in Ano Ko ni Kisu to Shirayuri wo, none of the girls' parents were seen or mentioned, even when they are at home (except Ayaka's mother during a brief flashback, but faceless). Yurine and Sumire do mention their "family" a few times, but it seems like it consists of just the two of them.
  • In Bakuman。, Moritaka Mashiro talks with his father once on the phone, but he is never seen in person, and it's been noted that they don't talk often. Miho's father has also not appeared in the series yet.
  • In Detective Conan Ayumi, Mitsuhiko, and Genta's parents are almost non-existant, as these kids can go off to a dangerous mystery case on a whim, as long Professor Agasa is at least supervising. There was an earlier episode where the parents are seen for a few seconds, then they don't really make an appearance ever again. Ayumi's mom's voice spoke once when leaving her apartment, and Genta's dad was a suspect on a episode. Also Genta's mom does apppear, but mostly in background or flashback everytime Genta talks about his mom.
  • Pretty much all characters in Gatchaman Crowds. Rui is an astonishingly rich teenager, who lives by himself (well, with an AI whom he constructed). Hajime and Sugane are also underage and live with the rest of the G-Crew. Hajime is shown talking over phone to her mother, who apparently takes no issue with her daughter leaving home and moving in with a bunch of strangers.
  • Parents are never seen, and barely even mentioned in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The only they're even mentioned are Kyon's little sister briefly saying something to her mother, and when Haruhi told Kyon how her father took her to a baseball game as a child, and for the first time she understood how many people there are in the world. Even in that flashback only Haruhi herself is actually seen as anything but Faceless Masses.
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler, on a trip to a hot springs, Hinagiku's parents are supposedly taking her on the trip as a late birthday present since her father couldn't be there for her birthday. Neither parent is ever shown through the entire arc, even after Hinagiku faints in the hot springs and needs to be fished out.
    • Most of the characters parents are mentioned as either: dead or run away (leaving the children with massive debts).
  • Sasagawa Ryohei and Kyoko from Katekyo Hitman Reborn!. The manga has never even hinted at them having parents.
  • Only two parents ever show up in Komori-san wa Kotowarenai!, Komori's mother and Megumi's father (the latter of which only appears as a hand).
  • We never see any of the girls' parents in K-On! during the regular seasons, except during an imagination sequence of Yui and Ui's parents happily spending Christmas together in a foreign country. However, Yui and Ui's parents finally show up briefly at home during the movie.
  • In Love Hina many of the residents of the Hinata House's parents seem to be completely absent. Keitaro's parents are never seen in either the manga or anime. Naru's and Shinobu's parents are seen in the anime, but not the manga. Kitsune, Motoko, and Suu's parents are also nowhere to be found.
  • Alisa and Suzuka's parents in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha are never shown. The closest we get to meeting them was the cast-wide picnic they were invited to in the third Sound Stage of A's, where they remained unheard and obviously unseen, although Alisa is once heard speaking to her father. Same goes with the parents of Rio and Corona of ViVid, who we only know exist via side-comment from Fate-mama. Then again, both pairs are Those Two Guys.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, out of all the 3-A students, we only see the fathers of Yuuna and Konoka. The former has her dead mother appearing in flashbacks, but that's it. Evangeline and Misora are stated to be orphans, Hakase and Chao might count as Chachamaru's co-mothers, Sayo's parents most likely died decades ago, and Asuna's past is so obscure it's unknown if she ever actually had parents in the strict sense of the word.
  • Several characters' parents from Naruto are never shown: Rock Lee's parents (if he even has any!), Tenten's parents (assuming she isn't orphaned), and the mothers of Neji, Hinata, Choji, Ino, and Shino mothers (though we see Hinata and Chouji's in the anime; the former only in a flashback which, along with her being absent from Hinata's marriage to Naruto, implies she is a Posthumous Character). Sakura's parents were unseen for a decade, but finally shown and named in the sixth Shippuden movie, along with an anime episode tying in with it. As the manga's author was involved with the story and character designs of said movie, those names and appearances can probably be considered canon.
  • The protagonists' parents in Pokémon Adventures rarely have visible parents, except in the Ruby & Sapphire arc. Red has never even mentioned his, which is odd considering his game counterpart has a prominent mother (and invisible father) who appears in the original games and its sequel. For Blue and Silver, this is justified due to being kidnapped as children, with Silver having amnesia of who his parents are. For everyone else, there's little justification as to why their parents are left unseen.
  • Almost all of the parents in Princess Tutu, probably because the bulk of the story takes place in a Boarding School.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, only Madoka's parents are ever seen. While a couple of the girls are later confirmed to be orphans, the parents of the rest simply never show up.
  • Sailor Moon:
  • A few cases in Saki.
    • Saki and Teru's mother has never been seen yet.
    • Nodoka's father has so far made only two appearances, but her mother, whose job is the reason why Nodoka keeps changing schools, has never appeared.
    • Touka occasionally mentions her father, but he has never been seen.
    • In Saki Achiga-hen, the Matsumi sisters lost their mother at a young age, but their father, who owns the family inn, has not been seen.
  • In SEX teenagers Kaho and Natsu get involved with delinquents, the yakuza, and criminal activities, plus the US army; Kaho goes to live with two guys and gets involved with an assassin, Natsu bombs people, gets shot and kidnapped... without even a mention of a reaction from their parents. (Natsu's dad is mentioned once early in the story, as a plot device, and that's all.)
  • Sola. Nobody's parents are ever seen, heard, mentioned, or even alluded to. Can result in Fridge Logic when the entire incident of Takeshi breaking into the protagonist's house to kill his girl- among others -goes completely unnoticed.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • The English dub removes Yugi's mother from the show entirely. She doesn't appear that often in the original show, though, and there is no mention of Yugi's father.
    • Happens in a lesser way to some other characters- Joey's complicated family set up is mentioned but the parents in question are never seen, and the abusive dad only briefly in the Toei anime, and Atem's mother appears in a single panel in the manga and not once in the anime (despite his father having a large role in the Millennium World arc).
  • Supposedly Kousei from Your Lie in April has a father in his life but he never appears in any flashbacks or even calls (not even when his Kousei's mother dies). Kousei lives by himself despite being fourteen.
  • Yuna's parents in Yuki Yuna Is a Hero are only referenced in passing. Togo's parents only appear once, made more noticeable by the fact Togo's middle school aged friends are the ones who pick her up from the hospital. Karin has an excuse that she left away from home, while the sisters are orphans.
  • In Zegapain, the absence of parents is explained, Everything is a computer program. Most of the "actual people" are teenagers or adults. Parents would just take up more data space. "Does not seeing your mother really have much effect on your everyday life?" is actually said by one of the characters who is pointing out that the hero has never seen his mother, though he hears her voice as she leaves for work and she leaves food for him in the mornings.

    Comics 
  • The entire cast of Peanuts. The series is famous for having almost no adults appear on-screen. One very early strip where Lucy enters a golfing competition did have adults in it but it only served to set up the fact that they're still children (She abandons the competition just before it actually starts due to Charlie reminding her that it was almost her nap time).
  • Susie's parents are never seen in Calvin and Hobbes despite Calvin visiting her house several times. Susie and Calvin even speak to Susie's mother on two separate occasions, but she remains off-screen both times.

    Fan Fiction 

    Literature 
  • Hermione's parents in Harry Potter. Because they are Muggles, they are not very connected with the happenings of the magical world. Her parents do appear once in the books, taking Hermione to pick up her things in Diagon Alley. They do not interact with the rest of the cast in any substantial matter. Beyond that, they are merely referenced without appearin. They are also shown near the beginning Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
  • Max and Ruby is well-known for this, almost to the point of notoriety. The song from its stage show "Bunny Party" called "Where Are the Parents?" states "They're cleaning up the attic like busy grown-up rabbits, in the kitchen making lunch, 'cause bunnies like to munch!" though this doesn't explain why she has to give him his own bath, guide him around town, nor why she has so much maturity that she is actually able to manage things if if she really is being cared for by parents. They are sometimes cared for by their grandmother, who is seen, though this is rather more common in latter installments of the Animated Adaptation.
  • The Pevensey parents in 'The Chronicles of Narnia' are presumably good parents but they are invariably absent for one reason or another in the books.
  • The parents in the children's book series Charlie and Lola are mentioned but never shown. The same applies to the cartoon adaptation.

    Live Action TV 
  • Pretty much all the Scoobies' parents except Buffy's mom on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, though Willow's mother, Sheila Rosenberg, does appear once, playing a fairly big role in the Season 3 episode "Gingerbread".
  • Saved by the Bell, Zack's mom appears once in awhile, his dad less often, Lisa and Kelly's parents appear a couple times, Screech's mom appears once, as does Slater's dad. The main adult is Principal Belding.
  • Many of the parents on Glee.
  • On Gilmore Girls, Lane's mother is a fairly prominent character, but her father is never seen. Less observant viewers might think her father is dead or her parents are divorced, but there are several instances where Lane mentions her parents and implies she lives with both of them.

    Theatre 
  • In L'enfant et les sortilèges, only the skirt of the protagonist's mother is supposed to be visible.

    Toys 
  • Barbie apparently has parents according to licensed books but they're never referenced in the toys, nor do they have toys.

    Video Games 
  • Ness' dad in EarthBound. Aside from the occasional phone conversation he might as well not exist. He is probably a Salaryman.
  • Mom in Animal Crossing series exists only as a source of letters. Your father gets referenced in these letters but only sends you one letter.
  • Almost everyone's parents in Persona 3. Except for Yukari and Mitsuru's fathers, who are rather important to the plot, Akihiko, Ken, Shinji, and the Main Character's parents, who are dead, Junpei's father and Mitsuru's mother, who are also dead, Aigis, who doesn't have parents, and Koromaru's who are irrelevant. That leaves all of both of Fuuka's parents and the mothers of Yukari and Junpei.
  • Persona 4. Luckily for this Persona series cast the parents are present, although excepting Kanji's mom and Dojima (the MC's uncle), none are seen.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, we hear Sora's mother early in the first game, but never even see the parents of anyone on Destiny Islands. Sora doesn't mention his parents in future games either, despite being absent for years.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Mario and Luigi's parents. They are mentioned but almost never seen.
    • Early English media and manuals mention a "Mushroom King" however aside from a few references he is never alluded to in the games. It's left vague if Peach has living parents however her still being a princess implies such. As far as its been shown, Peach is the sole ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom.
  • Some of your classmates in High School Story may talk about their parents, but There Are No Adults and that includes parents (then again, Adults Are Useless in this world anyway). You'll sometimes hear about them, but even when a classmate invites you to their house for a project, you'll never actually meet a parent.

    Visual Novels 
  • Most of the cast of School Days. Sekai's mother is seen a few times, such as in the Magical Kokoro-chan OVA. She and Kotonoha's mother have a few H-scenes with Makoto in the games too.
  • Hisao's father in Katawa Shoujo only appears in one scene in the prologue, and does not have a sprite, like many of the visual novel's extremely minor and nameless characters do. Lilly's mother is also only heard on the other end of the phone in Hanako and Lilly's routes.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry Keiichi's parents are nameless, faceless, and barely present. Characters talk to them off-screen. The manga gave both designs but no names.

    Web Comics 
  • Many of the comics of Platypus Comix feature characters whose parents are either never around or rarely appear. Sometimes it's Justified, in series where the main characters are young adults.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Skippy Squirrel's parents from Animaniacs are only mentioned a few times in passing. This is actually addressed in One Flew Over The Cuckoo Clock in which his Aunt Slappy develops a condition similar to dementia after watching too many daytime talk shows. The child protective services come to take Skippy away after she's no longer mentally able to look after him and mention that his parents are nowhere to be found. When The Nostalgia Critic interviewed some of the cast and crew of the show, he asked Slappy's voice actress Sherri Stoner about Skippy's parents and she replied as Slappy that his parents are on a long vacation.
  • The babies in Baby Looney Tunes mention having parents however Granny takes care of them the entire series. Their parents are always conveniently off-screen.
  • The Backyardigans are little kids playing in their backyard so it's presumed their parents are inside. We never see them though.
  • In Beavis And Butthead the two main characters are established to live with their single mothers who are implied to be prostitutes. The duo occasionally mention them and sometimes call to them but we see them only once. However we do meet their dads in the movie: Motley Crue roadies just as stupid as their sons and their behavior is similar to theirs, that don't seem to notice their resemblance to them and abandon them after providing them with a fire for the night. Based on the foursome's conversation, Beavis And Butthead are half-brothers and one of the roadies is their Dad.
  • All the children in Chowder are apprentices of a particular trade who live with their masters. No parents are ever mentioned.
  • Most of the parents in Code Lyoko, again since the action is within a Boarding School. The exception is the Ishiyama family, who have a bit more screen time since Yumi isn't a boarder. Ulrich's, Odd's and William's parents do appear over time, as well as Jérémie's father. By the end, Jérémie's mother has only been mentioned in conversations with his father and Sissi's mother is completely unaccounted for.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy: We get multiple references to the parents of the kids but the closest we get is seeing the backside of Ed's mother ("Rock-a-Bye Ed", an All Just a Dream episode), the arms of Eddy's father and Ed's mother ("Mission Ed-Possible"), and the arm of Eddy's mother ("Smile for the Ed").
  • In Ewoks, there's the Warrick parents, there's Chief Chirpa, there's Bozzie and there are Lumat and Zeephee. However, Malani and Teebo's mother and father (who were previously introduced in a young reader book and the father was identified as being one of the Ewoks in ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'') are never seen throughout the series.
  • Two of the main characters in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends are Madame Foster, the house's founder, and her granddaughter Frankie. Frankie's parents aren't ever mentioned, though she is old enough to live on her own. The show's creator said they are still alive.
  • In Gravity Falls, Dipper and Mabel's parents are never seen (even in photos), named, or directly mentioned. The only thing we know about them is that it was their idea to send the twins to Grunkle Stan's home for the summer. Frequently, the story treats Dipper, Mabel, and Stan as if they're the entire Pines family. For instance, when Dipper and Mabel find newspaper clippings suggesting the real Stan Pines is actually dead and the one they know is an imposter, neither one considers contacting any other family members for further information.
  • Downplayed in Jem as the characters are adults. It's still noticeable that Stormer's and Roxy's parents are never even referenced, as almost everyone else has dead or absentee parents.
  • Tiifu and Zuri are two of Kiara's friends in The Lion Guard. Their mothers have yet to be seen. It's never explained if they're from Simba's pride or not, though they certainly weren't present in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride.
  • Despite numerous scenes of My Life as a Teenage Robot set in their homes, we never see Brad and Tuck's or Sheldon's parents.
  • It's not quite as bad in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic as the main characters are adults living away from home, but the complete non-existence of some of their parents has led to much idle speculation.
    • So far of the main cast, only the parents of Twilight Sparkle (whose parents were mysteriously absent for most of their son's wedding episode but appear at the end, as well as in flashbacks), Rarity, and Pinkie Pie have been shown on screen (and possibly Rainbow Dash's dad, in a rather vague flashback), while Word of Saint Paul confirms Applejack's parents to be dead. Fluttershy's parents are not seen or mentioned until Season 6 where thay appear along with Fluttershy brother.
    • Outside the six main characters, this trope is played very much straight with Scootaloo, leading to fan theories that she may be an orphan and that she wants Rainbow Dash to treat her like sister because she never had a family. In season 4, the house she lives in is shown, looking pretty ordinarily, but still no parent in sight. It is even more noticeable when they are absent when their daughter celebrates getting her Cutie Mark.
  • In Over the Garden Wall, Wirt and Greg's parents, (in fact, Wirt and Greg's mother and Greg's father, Wirt's step-father), are discussed some late in the series but never seen on-screen.
  • The various Peanuts specials involving Charlie Brown and other children.
  • In Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja parents are rarely seen, and mostly the audience see is the kids and their teachers and/or the villains. In fact, Randy's parents are not seen yet, although he names his mom sometimes.
  • Parents are only very rarely seen in Recess.
  • Shimmer And Shine: Even with most of the Season 1 episodes taking place in or around Leah's home, we never see her parents, nor are they mentioned. Same for Zac, too. He pretty much comes and goes as he pleases via the loose picket in their shared fence. Similarly, the genies don't seem to have parents, or at least they're never referred to. The only parental figure of remote is Princess Samira, who has the general appearance of a responsible teenager.
  • Most of the characters' parents in Tiny Toon Adventures have been shown at one point or another except for Buster, Fifi, Shirley, Furball, and Fowlmouth; Furball is an orphan and the others parents are either never mentioned or just never seem to be at home at the same time with their kids.
  • Word Party technically only has four babies with no adults in sight. Unless you count in the narrator.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/InvisibleParents