Do not underestimate the little old couple. They're the reason he's The Cape
rather than an Evil Overlord
Jonathan Kent: "You're the answer, son. The answer to 'are we alone in the universe'." Clark: "[...]Can't I just keep pretending to be your son?" Jonathan: "You The super-powered hero is raised by normal human foster parents
are my son."
, sometimes unaware of his true heritage
until his abilities manifest
. This can be used as an open plot device for a Luke, I Am Your Father
later in the series. Though they might not get combat training or magic instruction while hidden, they usually find out Upbringing Makes the Hero
This is a frequent trope in mythology. If the foster parents are not called the child's mother and father, they are frequently their aunt and/or uncle. This is a throwback to older times, where children whose parents died were often adopted by the parent's brother.
Don't expect them to live too long once they've served their purpose
, and their "son" might not be terribly grief struck either
. On other hand, if they are still around into the hero's adulthood and you are stupid enough to threaten
them, you've just hit his Berserk Button
and he will smash you flat if you harm one hair
See Tell Me About My Father
, can be Happily Adopted
. Contrast Raised by Orcs
, Turn Out Like His Father
. See also Changeling Fantasy
and Raised by Natives
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Anime and Manga
- This is fairly common for the Cute Witch subset of Magical Girls if she comes from another dimension. Her foster parents either know of her powers, or are hypnotized to think they always had a daughter and that she's a normal girl.
- Minky Momo in Magical Princess Minky Momo
- Nina Sakura in Ultra Maniac, but only her foster mother is a muggle; her foster father is magical, too.
- Tickle from Majokko Tickle pretends to be the twin sister of a mundane girl.
- Comet-san from Cosmic Baton Girl Comet San lives with the mundane family of two toddlers she makes friends with, as a home stay student.
- Subverted in the Italian magical girl series W.I.T.C.H.: Elyon is the true heir and ruler of Metamoor; the couple she thought were her natural parents are, in fact, caregivers who have been looking after her on Earth, but they aren't human, either; they are good Metamoorans.
- In Sailor Moon, Usagi's parents were her biological parents; but she also had a moon ancestry through Reincarnation. However, it comes closer to the description with her daughter Chibi-usa who (not knowing them to be her Grandparents and Uncle, at least not in the anime) hypnotized Usagi's parents and brother into thinking that she (Chibi-usa) was their niece and cousin. Chibi-Chibi is probably closest, in the anime she's not related to Usagi at all, and hypnotizes her Mother into thinking she has a second daughter; she does the same in the manga but there she is apparently, an disguised version of Usagi from an alternate future and so is related to Usagi's family.
- Majokko Meg-chan not only had a muggle foster family (except for the mother, Mami, who also a witch): she actually had no concept of family life herself being a witch from a realm where families don't exist. The focus of the show being Meg learning what a family is like. Mami, the motherly ex-witch and Parental Substitute, uses what remains of her magical powers to make people believe that her protegče is her biological daughter, including her own husband and biological kids.
- Implied in Tweeny Witches: Genki Girl quick-magic-learner Alice's bio-dad is a Bad Ass Adventurer Archaeologist and it's implied that the head of the witches is her bio-mom based on their shared love of long red nails and the amount of time she spent with Alice's dad. Alice's "real world" mother, on the other hand, appears to be suffering from severe depression caused by her husband's long absence; however, she still has a sense of humor so it's possible she really is Alice's mother.
- Sarutobi Ecchan is a ninja Magical Girl who moves in with her muggle friend, Miko, and Miko's grandparents.
- Mahou Shojo Lalabel is similarly taken in by her muggle school-friend, Teko, and her grandparents.
- Averted in Mahou Tsukai Chappy: Chappy's parents actually go to fetch their daughter after she leaves the Magical Land, but end up staying on Earth.
- Also averted in Sally the Witch: Sally's parents do wacth over her but they stay in Astoria almost all of the time since they're the Ruling Couple there, while she lives and trains in Earth. Sally's friends and teachers believe that they work abroad, and a whole episode of the 1989's series is dedicated to her trying to make up an excuse when her teacher says he'll go to her house...
- Glass Fleet's Vetti and Cleo were raised by these. Cleo was raised by his father's right hand man, while Vetti was raised by former subjects of his father's, who weren't so nice to him.
- The Arima family for Shiki in Tsukihime. It actually counts twice because of his mixed upbringing by the Nanaya (assassins, but good) and Tohno (half demon clan) families. When he finally goes back to the Tohnos, he uses his Nanaya abilities to quell problems related to the Tohnos to some extent depending on the route. Also vampires.
- Goku of Dragon Ball Z was found as a baby and raised by a human Cool Old Guy named Son Gohan. He thought of himself as one until his long-lost brother told him of his alien origins.
- Honoka of Chibi Devi becomes the surrogate mother of Mao, a demon baby. Slight variation in that Honoka is only 14.
- Played with in Silver Diamond - while Rakan's MOTHER is also from the other world, his "grandfather" is not.
- To a degree, Gundam SEED does this with Kira Yamato's adoptive parents Haruma and Caridad, though Caridad is actually his maternal aunt. He was created to be the perfect human, with capabilities beyond the reach of anyone else. But it was his adopted parents who raised him in a neutral nation, making him a peaceful and kind young man, rather than a weapon for war.
- Pictured above: Superman was raised by the Kents in Smallville.
- In an Alternate Universe named The Nail, he was raised by Amish and didn't become Superman, but was a simple Amish farmer. By the end of that issue, his Amish parents were brutally killed in front of him, almost causing him to cross the Despair Event Horizon. The Kents take him in, and this is how Superman was "born" in that particular AU.
- In the Superman: Red Son, after landing in the USSR, Superman was raised in a collective farm in the Ukraine rather than in Russia, which later caused Supes to become an Evil Overlord, as mentioned above.
- And in "True Brit", he's raised by British nitwits to become one himself, resembling John Cleese (who co-wrote the story).
- In The DCU, Jade and Obsidian, the children of the first Green Lantern, were raised separately by normal adoptive parents, unaware of their parentage or each other's existence until their late teens when their powers manifested.
- ElfQuest: Wavedancers has Wavelet, who was raised by humans from infancy. Being an elf, the "adopted" part was rather obvious, though her being one of the few treeshapers, she became very respected by the tribe that raised her as "good spirit of plenty".
- In some Harry Potter fanfics, Petunia's parents were this to Lily, destroying the only reason Harry could be sent to live with the Dursleys instead of any wizards who want him.
- This is the big twist of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic Mommy Nearest. Rainbow Dash is actually Celestia's daughter, sent to be raised by a pegasus couple to protect her from unicorn prejudice in Canterlot. The pain in her head is in fact from her horn growing in belatedly.
- Godzilla Junior hatched inside an institute and was cared for by a female biologist he saw as his mother. By time we see him all grown up in The Bridge we see the effect. Instead of a destructive True Neutral like his adoptive father, Senior, adult Junior is a Gentle Giant and the Big Good of the benign kaiju.
Films — Animated
- In the Disney Version of Hercules the protagonist has these, ala Superman. In this version the reason Hercules is a Demi-God is because he was Zeus and Hera's son but was fed a 'mortal potion' as a baby but didn't complete it allowing him to retain his strength. In the original tale, it was because Zeus had sex with a mortal woman — and for this main reason, Herc's main nemesis in the original myths was Hera, not Hades.
- Anastasia, who lived in an orphanage before discovering her real heritage.
Films — Live-Action
- Luke and Leia in Star Wars, though Luke was well aware he was living with his aunt and uncle. Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, Luke's caregivers, were about as Muggleish as anyone gets in Star Wars. Leia's foster parents were royalty.
- Rebecca, in Birth Rite, had foster parents before she found out about her witch heritage.
- A lot of fairy tales invert this trope by having a mortal hero/ine who is stuck with a Wicked Witch Stepmother and step-siblings.
- Harry Potter, the source of the trope name, has a strange twist since the Dursleys hate Harry and vice versa.
- In an aversion of this trope, Hermione and all muggle-borns are naturally-gifted humans born to parents who are unaware of magic. Their extended families are presumably unaware of magic as well. It's mentioned a few times on how Hermione has to help her parents with magical-related things, including wizard money. It's also implied that there was probably a wizard somewhere on the family tree; see The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
- The opposite of this is the Squibs: they're unmagical humans born to magical families and are usually looked upon with disdain or at least pity. Filch is presumably mean to his students because he is jealous and bitter. An advertisement for a product that teaches magic to Squibs is presented like a Hollywood diet pill, including testimonials. It doesn't work, of course. However, Squibs do serve as excellent (if eccentric) informants, witnesses, and spies for wizards amidst Muggles.
- In the Mahabharata, both Karna and Krishna are brought up by foster parents who don't realize their real power. Both end up fighting in opposite sides of the Kurushetra War.
- In Inheritance Cycle, Eragon was raised by his Uncle Garrow (mother's brother) and Aunt Marian. The latter died sometime prior to the story, while the former dies near the beginning.
- Pratchett's Discworld has Carrot Ironfoundersson, born human but raised by dwarves; he is in fact the legitimate heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork. He doesn't claim the title, though: he doesn't want the job, and there's a good chance Vimes would literally have his head if he did. It's the biggest Open Secret in the city.
- In The Wheel of Time, Rand is found by Tam al'Thor on a battlefield, and Tam decides to take him home to his wife Kari to raise as their son. Tam isn't completely a muggle however. He is a skilled swordsman and Rand uses basic techniques Tam taught him to survive his first brushes with baddies before he can get more training. Also subverted in that it appeared Tam was going to be a Death by Origin Story, but he survives and becomes an active member of his hometown's resistance fighters and has a heated confrontation with Rand in book 12 that leads to Rand having a My God, What Have I Done? / Epiphany Therapy moment.
- Chronicles of Prydain: Inverted, Taran is a muggle with a Magician for a foster parent.
- Subverted in Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. Sunny has magical abilities, but her parents don't. However her parents are her biological parents, the magic just skipped a generation.
- In The Sword of Truth, Richard Cypher is kind of raised by a muggle foster father in the non-magical land of Westland, and although his mother is his real mother, she's also non-magical. It's only much later that he finds out that the BigBad, who is a powerful wizard, is his father and that the 'friend' he's known all his life is actually his grandfather and a powerful wizard as well, which is where he gets all his awesome wizard powers from.
- Since magic is passed down by familial lines, and Richard is explicitly said to have inherited magic from both the Rahl and Zorander sides of his family, it's very probable that his mother did have magic, but there doesn't appear to be direct evidence either way.
- Inverted in Septimus Heap, where Princess Jenna is adopted by a Wizard family.
- In the Alcatraz Series, Alcatraz goes through 27 sets of these.
- The Changeover: The romantic lead, Sorenson 'Sorry' Carlisle, was raised by the abusive kind.
- In The Sanguine Chronicles, Marko is raised by distant relatives (he doesn't know who his father is, and his mom is dead)). They know exactly what he is, and help him cope.
- In Animorphs, Tobias is raised alternatively by an aunt and uncle who live on opposite sides of the country; neither was very good at it. An odd example of this trope, because while Tobias has a supernatural origin (his father was an alien who Shapeshifter Mode Locked himself as a human) he was in every other way a Muggle himself before the series begins.
- Morgan of the Sweep series is a blood witch who was adopted by a Catholic family.
Live Action TV
- Twice in Kyle XY: In the first season, when Kyle himself is unaware of his true origins, and in the second season, when Kyle wants to live the normal life that his genetic father was never allowed to have and so returns to his old foster family.
- Subverted in Heroes, where Claire's
foster adoptive dad is an incredibly badass secret agent, whereas her superpowered mother is a regular woman who lives in a trailer.
- Though her real dad is a flying incredibly wealthy politician.
- Sylar is later revealed to have been adopted by Muggle relatives. His real father has a similar power to him, which makes him just as Ax-Crazy as he is and caused him to murder Sylar's mother.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 'True Q' involved a similar scenario except the parents were biological rather than foster.
- In Charmed, Paige Matthews was given to normal parents after her birth and didn't know her true heritage until her powers started manifesting thanks to a spell Piper had cast to bring Prue back.
- In Tin Man, DG believes her parents are her real parents. Later it is revealed that they are robots with nurturing chips.
- In Merlin., this applies to the Uther and Morgana relationship, until season 3. Then we find out he IS her father, though he isn't a sorcerer either.
- Grimm has a teenage blutbad who gets adopted by humans. As a result, she ends up being unable to control her animalistic nature until she meets Monroe, who helps her.
Mythology & Religion
- Joseph in The Bible, being the literal stepfather of Jesus. Averted with Mary, who actually is Jesus' birth mother.
- Lloyd Irving in Tales of Symphonia was raised by a Dwarf, unaware that his mother was involved in experiments to create Cruxis Crystals (crystals that turn people into Angels) and that his father really is an Angel. Rumors also claim that Colette's real father, Frank, is really a Muggle Foster Parent and Colette's real father is an angel. Angel Remiel tells the party that Colette is not the daughter of an Angel but simply a human chosen to become the new host for Martel, and that he never actually said he was her father and just played along since they assumed so.
- In the Golden Sun series, Ivan was surrendered by his family to the merchants who founded Kalay to ensure his eventual destiny, and Sheba is a foundling who was Happily Adopted by the town leaders of Lalivero.
- Amiti of Dark Dawn counts as the "raised by uncle" type, though Paitos's "Muggle" status is uncertain— one line he has suggests that he is a very weak Venus Adept.
- Agatha from Girl Genius was raised by people she knew as Adam and Lilith Clay, who she referred to as her parents, but it was later revealed that they were the Heterodyne Boys' construct sidekicks, Punch and Judy (not quite Muggles, but pretending to be), and the famous Bill Heterodyne was her real father.
- She still treats them like her parents and is enraged when Von Pinn handwaves their destruction.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Molly the Monster—arguably the most intelligent being on Earth but still young and very naive—is being raised by the very human Bob & Jean.
- Subverted in the '80s cartoon Wildfire, in which our heroine is a mystical princess from another dimension being raised on Earth by a Muggle foster father...who, it turns out, is her father, brainwashed to think he comes from Earth.
- In Wakfu, Yugo's Muggle foster-father was hand-picked by a dragon.
- In Codename: Kids Next Door, Nigel Uno/Numbuh 1's dad is seen as a Bumbling Dad. However, he is actually Numbuh Zero, one of the most legendary KND members. Numbuh 1's mother has something similar as well.
- Uncle Dudley for Billy on Young Justice. Oddly he seems to be the only example, since all the other kids were either raised by their biological parents and/or adult superheroes.
- In Winx Club, Bloom was saved from a fire and adopted by two loving, normal humans. When she's around 16 she learns she's a fairy with magic powers. After learning that she was adopted, she eventually discovers that she's the princess of the destroyed planet Domino. Her adoptive parents take the revelation of magic with some surprise, but they support Bloom however they can.