Maternal Death? Blame the Child

Tywin Lannister: I will let myself be consumed by maggots before mocking the family name and making you heir to Casterly Rock.
Tyrion Lannister: Why?
Tywin Lannister: Why? You ask that? You, who killed your mother to come into the world?

Sometimes, when a woman dies in childbirth, the child is seen as the mother's last gift to her surviving family. But then there's these cases, in which the child is blamed for the mother's death.

Typically, this involves being hated or otherwise ill-treated by their father, their (maybe) Resentful Guardian. Other relatives are free to join in, though. Who's actually to blame for the death is completely irrelevant — there's too many historical cases of Death by Childbirth caused by doctor screw-ups (and Streptococcus pneumoniae), but if this trope is in play the kid's still getting full blame. Keep in mind, this trope also applies for when only the child blames themself for "killing" their mother.

Needless to say, this child will commonly grow up to be The Unfavorite. Bonus points if someone mentioned that the child should've died instead.

For actual cases of children killing their mother, see Matricide.

This is a subtrope of You Should Have Died Instead. Compare Replacement Goldfish, when the (often female) child is seen as a preservation of her mother.


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     Anime and Manga  

  • In CLANNAD, this is the main reason behind why Tomoya's father has a rough time getting along with him. In a twist of fate, Tomoya's wife also dies at childbirth and he chose to neglect their newborn daughter for about five years. It wasn't until his grandmother calls him on it that he realizes he's being like his old man.
  • Eureka Seven: This is part of the reason Dewey Novak, the series' antagonist, despises his younger brother Holland. Because of the event, the title of Sacrificial King is passed on to Holland. Of course, Dewey's account may be all in his head.
  • Kodomo no Omocha: Akito's issues turn out to be largely caused by his sister Natsumi blaming him for their mother's Death by Childbirth. He assumed this was the case with his father as well, but it turned out Dad was just distant because he's a Workaholic, and working out his grief in his own way.
  • While it's not made a topic in the Marginal Prince anime, the website for the game it's based on all but states that this is what happened to Henri. His father is anything but fond of him and as a direct result, he said to crave for love.
  • In the backstory for Legend of Galactic Heroes, Oskar von Reuenthal's mother committed suicide when he was born because his distinctive two-tone eyes were living proof of her infidelity. Reuenthal spent his entire childhood being told by his father that life would have been better had he never been born, which very much warped his sense of self-worth.

     Comic Books 
  • In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, Snivley's father Colin tried to avoid this trope, but Snivley growing up with several traits he despised caused him to resent his son. This resulted in the demeaning nickname, and him going to work for Dr. Robotnik.
  • In Atari Force, Christopher Champion was believed to be blamed by his father Martin for his mother Lydia's death at birth. It was only years later that Dr. Lucas Orion, the physician present at the birth, realized that Martin blamed the Dark Destroyer for Lydia's death.
  • Played With in Spider-ManHarry Osborn's mother, Emily, died within the first year or so of her son's life; it wasn't Death by Childbirth, but Norman Osborn still muses that losing her and gaining Harry was a sort of trade—and, since Emily seems to be one of the few people he sincerely cared about, he feels like he got the short end of the stick.
  • A dying Red Skull weaved this trope into his Unreliable Narrator account of his Freudian Excuse life to Captain America, saying that his father blamed him so much for his mother's death in childbirth he attempted to drown the baby right there and then.

     Fairy Tales 
  • Tattercoats's mother died in childbirth. Her grandfather hates her as a consequence.
    He hated her bitterly, because at her birth his favourite daughter died; and when the old nurse brought him the baby, he swore, that it might live or die as it liked, but he would never look on its face as long as it lived.

     Fan Fiction 
  • The original Fallout: Equestria has Deadshot Calamity be the victim of this. Not only was it how he got his name, but his father hated him because of it.
  • Karma Graves from The Predespair Kids was a serious victim of this. After her mother died giving birth to her, her father blamed her and kept her locked in the basement for the first thirteen years of her life. She was eventually rescued by an agency and became the Ultimate Secret Agent, but the damage from her experience has continued to plague her. Her creator has heavily implied some of the things she experienced during her childhood, and well...

  • Apur Sansar: Apu abandons his baby with his in-laws after his wife Aparna dies in childbirth. It's because Kajal is alive that Aparna isn't."
  • Present in some adaptations of A Christmas Carol, which explain why young Ebenezer was left at school over the holidays with this trope. note  It may also explain why he's so cold towards his nephew, Fred, whose mother (Ebenezer's sister) is said to have died giving birth to him.
  • Boy (2010): Boy apparently told Rocky that their mother's death is his fault, and that his 'super powers' killed her when he was born. Rocky even apologises to their father for that.

  • In Best Served Cold, the Barbarian Hero Shivers justifies his participation in helping to carry out a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, because Shivers wants to avenge the death of his beloved brother, who everyone considered The Ace. Later on, Shivers POV reveals this is a lie. In reality, Shivers hated his brother. Shivers' mother died giving birth to him, and because of that, his brother would cruelly abuse him when others weren't watching.
  • The Elric Saga: Elric's father, Emperor Sadric, is said to not have cared much for his son because of this trope. Interestingly enough, he still chose the sickly Elric to succeed him to the throne over his ambitious cousin, Yyrkoon. In the novels, Sadric is a Posthumous Character but in the prequel comic, Elric: Making of a Sorcerer, we get to actually see him interacting with his son. In the comic, Sadric seems to be occasionally genuinely worried about his son's wellbeing and it is hypothesized by Cymoril that at least a part of him loves Elric even though he claims to spurn him.
  • In The Eyes of the Dragon, when the universally beloved Queen Sasha dies giving birth to the rather useless Prince Thomas. Thomas imagines that not only his father, but pretty much everyone in the kingdom is thinking, "We lost your mother, and we got you instead?"
  • The Kite Runner: Baba blames his son Amir for the death of his wife.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Tywin Lannister loathes his son Tyrion, because Tywin's wife, Joanna (who was pretty much Tywin's Morality Chain) died giving birth to Tyrion. The fact that Tyrion was born with dwarfism and other deformities doesn't help. Tywin only acknowledges Tyrion as his son to the extent necessary under social norms, and openly tells Tyrion that if it wasn't for the love Tywin bore his mother, Tywin would have left him to die at birth. His older sister Cersei also treats him this way.
    • This is a part of Daenerys's backstory, whose mother also died giving birth to her while her mother and brother were on the run from assassins. For that, her narration states, her older brother Viserys had never forgiven her, although he continued to care for her until his Start of Darkness.
  • In the prologue to Unnatural Issue, Richard Whitestone's wife dies giving birth to Suzanne. Richard immediately blames Suzanne:
    No, it was this interloper that had murdered his beloved.
  • The Great Alta Saga starts off with the heroine's mother dying in childbirth and the father handing the new baby over to the midwife to be fostered, because he can't love the child who killed his wife.
  • Shadarii suffers from this in A Whisper Of Wings by Paul Kidd, although it's more a case of her mother dying in egg-laying (the anthropomorphic butterfly-winged fox race lay eggs) and suffering mostly hate from her older sister and indifference from her father.
  • Averted in Greg Egan's Orthogonal trilogy. For most of the first two books, it is universally accepted that a mother is incapable of surviving childbirth (which involves fission) — so Death by Childbirth always applies. This is almost universally accepted as a fact of life.
  • In the Chronicles of the Kencyrath, Ganth's birth weakened his mother, and his sister Tieri's killed her. Their father, Gerraint Highlord, blamed both of them for her death, and showed extreme Parental Favoritism to his eldest son Greshan.
  • In the Disney Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs prequel Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen, this is part of the Queen's backstory. Her father, the finest mirror maker in the kingdom, resented her as she grew up and continued that abuse after his death in the form of the Spirit of the Magic Mirror.
  • Discussed in Carpe Jugulum, when Granny Weatherwax assists at a difficult birth and realizes that the mother and child aren't both going to survive. She focuses her efforts on saving the mother because she judges that this would be the result if the mother died and the child survived.
  • Inverted in Cruel Beauty: Nyx came out of her mother's womb easily but her twin sister Astraia's birth soon after caused fatal complications. However, their father favors Astraia because she strongly resembles her mother and treats Nyx as The Unfavorite because she resembles him instead and Nyx theorizes that the lack of difficulty of her birth only reminds him of how he himself escaped the suffering his Deal with the Devil caused his beloved wife and Astraia.
  • In The Legend Of The Ice People Tengel, the hero of the first few books, was repeatedly told as a child that he'd killed his mother.
  • The entire point of Juan Rulfo's short story 'La Herencia de Matilde Arcangel' (The Legacy of Matilde Arcangel)
  • In the Deptford Mice trilogy, Isaac Nettle abuses his son Jenkin, mainly because his mother died giving birth to him.
  • Subverted in the novel The Doctors, where a character's mother survived childbirth. However, she developed post partum depression that led to her killing herself, so his father blames him for his mother's death anyway.
  • In the V. C. Andrews The Casteel Series, the heroine correctly assumes that her father hates her because her mother dies in childbirth. But as the series continues, she learns that his resentment is heightened by the fact that she isn't even his daughter to begin with. (She's the result of her mother's rape by her stepfather)

     Live Action Television  

  • Angel has possibly the only case where this is justified: season 4's Big Bad, Jasmine, is one of the Powers That Be who possesses Angel's Love Interest, Cordelia, uses her to have sex with Angel's son Connor, and then gives birth to herself as a Physical Goddess. After giving birth, Cordelia is in a coma, and Angel is naturally pissed. (At least, once he shakes off Jasmine's Mind Control.)
  • One episode of Dollhouse has a client hire the Dollhouse to program a mother for his newborn whose actual mother died in childbirth. He blamed the baby and could not give him the love he needed. In a rare subversion, the client knew it was irrational and still wanted the child to be loved which was why he had them program Echo to think she was his mother. By the end of the episode, he's gotten over his issues and takes care of his son on his own.
  • Game of Thrones: Like the books, Tywin Lannister makes no effort to hide the fact that he blames his dwarf son for his wife's Death by Childbirth. Cersei also blames Tyrion for their mother's death, and after Tyrion makes a joke about her hidden relationship with Jaime she makes an even crueler taunt that Joanna died for his sake, which should be Tyrion's greatest joke. Jaime is in fact Tyrion's only immediate relative who loves him unconditionally.
  • A good portion of Ben Linus' Freudian Excuse on Lost was the ill-feeling his father Roger Linus seemed to have for him due to his mother's death in childbirth.
  • Could be the case on Gossip Girl. Chuck Bass spends the first two seasons believing his father hates him because Mama Bass died giving birth to him. Then season three features a woman who claims to be Chuck's mother and that Bart simply told him she was dead because she ran out on them when Chuck was a baby. Said woman then proceeds to con him out of his hotel and leave town and the show never bothers to make it clear whether or not she was his mother or a con artist who knew the Basses back when Chuck was little. To make matters more confusing, in season two Bart talks to Chuck about his mother and claims he doesn't blame him for her death but has a hard time connecting to his son because he looks so much like the wife Bart lost. Then in season six Bart is pretty much plain evil and hates Chuck for no apparent reason.


  • The subject of the song, "You Gave Me A Mountain" written by Marty Robbins, made famous by Elvis Presley.


  • Older Than Feudalism: In Japanese Mythology, the god Izanagi ends up killing his son Kagutsuchi because his wife Izanami died giving birth to him.
  • Subverted in The Bible: Jacob's favorite wife, Rachel, dies in childbirth with her second child, Benjamin. He and Rachel's other son, Joseph, are Jacob's favorite children, and Jacob becomes especially protective of Benjamin after Joseph's "death." Rachel named him Ben-Oni, which means "son of my pain." Jacob opted for Benjamin, "son (born in) the wilderness."


  • In the musical of Wicked, Elphaba is blamed for her mother's death, even though she died after giving birth to her younger sister, Nessarose. Their father wanted to make sure there were no more green kids in the family, so he made the mother chew milkweed pods. The result was a fair skinned but crippled daughter and the mother died soon afterwards.

     Video Games  

  • Final Fantasy VI: After Gau's mother died giving birth to him, his father was driven to insanity, thought he was a demon and threw him out into the wild.
  • Metal Gear Solid has Psycho Mantis. His father held a great deal of resentment towards him for his whole life, and then tried to kill him when his psychic powers emerged.
  • This is part of the backstory of Roger Samms, the protagonist of Bad Mojo.
  • Heihachi Mishima, the Big Bad of Tekken, was a very nice man who loved his wife. Then she died while giving birth to his son, so he threw said son off a cliff and set about building an army to conquer the world.
  • When Alistair "reunites" with his older half-sister Goldanna in Dragon Age: Origins, she accuses him of killing their mother in childbirth. According to tie-in canon, his mother is someone else entirely and they're not actually related.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Lemkil of Rorikstead openly blames his twin daughters for his wife's death.

     Web Animation  

  • In Ultra Fast Pony, Apple Bloom's parents committed suicide for unknown reasons, and Granny Smith blames her for it. It's unclear if Granny actually believes it, or if she's deliberately invoking this trope to screw with Apple Bloom's mind.


  • It's implied in Gunnerkrigg Court that Anthony Carver may have some feeling of this towards his daughter Antimony, given the way he disappeared on her and her mother's statement in flashback "he still loves you very much" (emphasis added), but given his total lack of contact it's hard to say for sure. The reason is that Surma was part fire-elemental and passed that on to Annie, which means Annie literally took her mother's life force as she grew older. And when Anthony does turn up as a teacher, his behavior towards Annie is rather heartless. When she is given an opportunity to spy on him during a vulnerable moment, it's revealed that Anthony really blames himself for not being able to find a way to save Surma. His cold behavior towards Annie was an unhealthy reaction to her startling resemblance to Surma (which is why he insisted on her removing her makeup), and he expresses great shame about it later in private.

     Western Animation  

  • While it's left ambiguous, Tygra of the ThunderCats 2011 series may blame Lion-O for the death of his adoptive mother, the queen. Of course, her being a delicate waif at the time of Lion-O's birth has probably never occurred to him. To complicate matters further, the king treated Tygra like a son up until then, but their relationship changed with the birth of Lion-O, who was pretty much guaranteed to inherit the throne by virtue of being a biological heir, no matter what the older Tygra may have done to be more deserving of the throne.
  • The second season of Steven Universe reveals that Steven worries that the Crystal Gems may secretly blame him regarding the death of their leader, his mother Rose Quartz. He likely developed the notion after season one's "Rose's Scabbard", in which Pearl yells at him for even suggesting that he could understand his mother's actions, doesn't come to his aid when he nearly dies trying to chase after her following said outburst, and openly wonders how much of her was left behind in him. Though in Pearl's case, her extreme reactions are somewhat Justified because Rose was her Love Interest and said death was just salt on the wound of losing her to Greg, who she openly treats with disdain until the third season.

     Real Life  

  • In her Autobiography, Adeline Yen Mah states that her birth mother died shortly after her birth, causing her siblings and father to resent her.