A common subtrope of Parental Abandonment
. In a nutshell, someone brings up a potential topic about someone close to them. Another one asks what happened to them, and the former frowns, saying "They're dead
Cue awkward silence
This isn't when a main character's parents are dead. Someone has to say some variation of "My Parents Are Dead".
It might not stop certain characters
from cracking a Your Mom
joke anyway, despite (or maybe especially because of) having this knowledge. On the flip side, the target of such a joke may very well use this as a rebuttal, regardless of whether or not it's true.
A Self-Made Orphan
may use this as a half-truth to garner undeserved sympathy.
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Anime and Manga
- In Lucky Star episode 4, Kagami and Tsukasa find out that Konata's mother is dead when Kagami asks her if her mother doesn't have a problem with her playing eroge. Konata being Konata, she follows up the revelation with "I've had to do housework since I was little, which is why I'm way better at it than Kagami!"
"You can't say things like that when the mood is like this!"
- Played with in Fullmetal Alchemist when a bunch of thugs asks Al about where his brother is, he replies "He's gone" (as in; gone to renew his State Alchemist-license). Everyone assumes he's dead and wonders if they were rude to bring it up.
- Subverted in Yotsuba&!.
: Father... isn't with us.
Fuuka: No, no, no, Dad is at work. Don't give people the wrong impression.
- Relatively early on, Mr. Koiwai reveals that Yotsuba isn't his biological daughter, that her "adoption" was basically him finding her and taking her home, and that he has never even seen her parents, implying he thinks her biological parents are dead. (Naturally, some fans insist that she's actually an alien who got lost.)
- Early in Mahou Sensei Negima!, Negi wonders why Asuna is working so hard to pay her school fees when her parents could just pay them and Asuna replies matter-of-factly that her parents are dead. Negi freaks out in apology, but Asuna never even knew her parents because she was so young when they died, so she has always just accepted it as a fact of her life.
- At one point in Little Busters, Mio nonchalantly (and characteristically snarkily) asks Riki whether his parents never taught him manners, and he equally nonchalantly responds that he doesn't have any. She is genuinely apologetic, making it quite possibly the first time Riki is able to breath through her stoic facade.
- Batman, to the point of Memetic Mutation. (The title image, contrary to popular belief, is actually a photoshopped rendition of this panel◊.)
- Barbara Gordon once complained about her father James Gordon being too overprotective and intrusive into her life, then followed it up with "...but you know how weird parents can be about these things." Bruce's response: "I wouldn't know."
- Happens in Identity Crisis without the orphaned party being present. Clark is insisting that he be allowed to help pay his parents' bills, while his parents insist they can take care of themselves. Martha then quips "I bet Batman never gives his parents this much trouble." Clark immediately goes quiet, and the narration states that he was suddenly reminded of just how fortunate he is.
- In one Peanuts strip, when Peppermint Patty is going to stay at Charlie Brown's house while her father is away, Marcie asks her, "Why can't you just stay home with your mother?" Patty replies, "I don't have a mother, Marcie!"
- In this Teen Wolf fic, when Stiles mistakenly assumes that Derek's track record when it comes to relationships can't possibly be worse than his own:
Stiles: I've never had a relationship last more than four months.
Derek: I've only had one.
Derek: She set my house on fire.
Stiles: ... oh.
Derek: My whole family died.
- From Voldemort Goes Back To School:
Harry: Why can't you just directly ask your mother or father? You could Fire-Call them, right?
Harry: Oh, I'm, er, so sorry. I, er, know what it's like to... not have a family.
Draco: Nice one, Potter. I think the prize for the Gryffindor's stupidest House-member just got handed over from the Weasel to you.
- In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf novel, Papa Smurf gives his little Smurfs the reminder that their own parents are dead after his revelation that Empath is Papa Smurf's only biological son.
- Aliens has this conversation:
Ripley: Is Timmy around here, too? Maybe hiding like you were? Any sisters? Mom and Dad? Newt, look at me. Where are they?
Newt: They're dead, all right? Can I go now?
- In Hanna, Hanna is eating dinner with a nice (If slightly weird) family that are not aware of her history as a trained killer and current status as a fugitive from the CIA. When they ask her why she is on her own she explains that her father encourages independence and that her mother is dead. There is a bit of an awkward silence before the father asks how she died, to which Hanna calmly replies "Three bullets." There is a suitably hilarious Spit Take in response.
- Silent Night, Deadly Night:
Mr. Sims: Hey, what'cha doin', huh?
Billy: I was, uh, thinking about my parents.
Mr. Sims: Oh, good! Good! Good, that's fine. That's fine. A boy should think about his parents at Christmas. Good boy.
Billy: They're dead.
Mr. Sims: Oh, God.
- One of The Hardy Boys books had this: A guy randomly asks Frank what became of his girlfriend, he replies that she died in a terrorist bombing.
- In Harry Potter, even though everyone knows that his parents are dead, uncomfortable topics might come up. When Ron once expressed his jealousy over Harry's fame, and his scar, he darkly replied "Would you really want that?" implying that it was the result of his parents dying.
- In Louise Penny's novel A Fatal Grace, a group of people at dinner are talking about things they used to dream of when they were children. It's gotten real enough for the gay man among them to say that he dreamed of being straight. When series detective Inspector Armand Gamache is asked he says, "That I saved my parents."
Live Action TV
- El Chavo doesn't have parents and has never known any kind of filial love, but since he rarely brought it up the rest of the cast simply doesn't bring it up either or just ignore it for the sake of keeping the series funny. Because of this, any time Chavo's orphanhood is reminded, is an instant Tear Jerker for both the other characters and the audience
El Chavo: (after hearing Kiko complaining about his mom not buying him a toy) Well, I'd be just happy if I ever had a mom, even if she never give me toys...
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Eleventh Hour", young Amy Pond says "I don't have a mum and dad." Which is true, but they're not, strictly speaking, dead...
- Kurt on Glee answers the phone this way:
- Parodied on MADtv's alternative ending of The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy screams this at Glinda.
- In the 2007 adaptation of Northanger Abbey, there's this exchange between Catherine (protagonist) and her new friend Eleanor:
Catherine: And is your mother in Bath with you as well?
Eleanor: Our mother is dead.
- In Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Usagi tells Makoto is must be hard to be transferring school. Makoto brings up the topic, saying it's even harder as she lives on her own since her parents' death.
- Happens in a Last Comic Standing challenge where one comedian performs their act and the other heckles them. When Chris Porter, in the role of the heckler, cracks an I Banged Your Mom joke at Josh Blue, Blue responds with this trope. Later, when their places are reversed, Porter makes the same joke in response to one of Blue's heckles, except with "sister" in place of "mom". Blue again says she's dead, but this time Porter's ready with the comeback "No, she just doesn't call you anymore."
- Said disbelievingly by Rick on The Young Ones, when Mike informs him that his parents had died that morning. Subverted in that, rather than an awkward silence commencing, Rick immediately starts ranting about how selfish they were to die and leave him with nobody to stay with for the summer holidays.
- Parodied in No More Heroes. When the fourth ranked assassin Harvey Moiseiwitsch Volodarskii invites Travis on stage as part of his magic show, Harvey compliments Travis on his name and his parents on choosing the name. Travis, smiling and cheerful, simply says, "My parents are dead!" At this point, Harvey regrets what he said, but Travis forgives him. It's actually a really important plot point. Along with money and, later on, "doing it" with Sylvia, this is why Travis became an assassin, with the final boss being the one who killed his parents.
- Persona 4 has the protagonist and the Investigation Team taking Nanako to the food court at Junes after Dojima's job forces him to break his promise to her about going on a vacation together. While discussing making boxed lunches, the team suggests a "cook-off" and Yosuke says that maybe they'll whip up something as good as her mom's cooking. Nanako's response is that she doesn't have a mom, and that she died in an accident. This is the first inkling of just how sad Nanako is under her adorable exterior.
- The trope-naming Batman example pictured above was parodied in this PvP webcomic.
- Exterminatus Now subverts this: Eastwood tells Lothar his girlfriend is dead, at which point Virus calls bullshit: not only is his girlfriend not dead, she broke up with him, and he had her new boyfriend declared Hereticus Abomini and shot him several dozen times while on the toilet. (Amusingly enough, the boyfriend was a heretic, it's just he was already dead when that was found out)
- A variant appears in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja when Ben Franklin meets the Beeman in the restaurant on the other side. Franklin, being cranky and noting the obvious similarity to Batman, sardonically jokes "who killed your parents?". Beeman responds that he has no idea; they never caught him. Que Spit Take and awkward silence before Franklin gets his bearings and apologizes.
- In El Goonish Shive, Noah says if everything was public knowledge his "parents would still be alive".
- Done in the Boxdog webcomic by Weaver twice. The first one, about Boxdog's parents, is more or less a Shaggy Dog Story. The second one is about her friend, Teadog.
- Played for laughs here.
- The infamous "THEN WHO WAS PHONE" creepypasta:
So ur with ur honey and yur making out wen the phone rigns. U anser it n the vioce is "wut r u doing wit my daughter?" U tell ur girl n she say "my dad is ded". THEN WHO WAS PHONE?
- The musical parody A Very Potter Sequel makes fun of the way Harry is treated like the only orphan in the wizarding world with the following quote (about his invisibility cloak):
"It was left to me by my dad, my dad that's dead. My father is dead. I have a dead father."
- Deirdre Rees's parents killed in a drive-by when she was seven in Night Hunters
- In Death Note The Abridged Series Kpts4tv Near gets fed up with some of the insensitive comments of his colleagues.
Halle Naomi: When I was a young orphan my parents took me to Disneyland.
Near: Go buy a dictionary and look up the word orphan!
- This is the core joke of the Olde English sketch "Arthur Got a Haircut."
Diner: Mentally disabled children, huh? Did one of them give Arthur his new haircut? Heh.
Arthur: My mom gave me this haircut. And then she died.
- A variation is Played for Laughs in the Yule Ball installment of Potter Puppet Pals:
Voldemort: You kids know about the killing curse, right?
Harry: Uh, no, my parents died of old age. OF COURSE I KNOW!!
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: When Chip, Dale, and Monty go looking for Geegaw Hackwrench, they find his daughter, Gadget, instead. When they ask about him, her words are ambiguous, but her tone is not; only Dale doesn't get it, so she has to be more clear. When Monty says he'll be missed, she says, "He already is."
- In Futurama, when Leela's former Orphanarium declared her "Orphan of the Year" for successfully holding a normal blue collar job, her Spoiled Sweet friend Amy Wong says "Your parents must be so proud... oops."
- The Great Mouse Detective: Basil, depressed about failing to catch Ratigan yet again and playing the violin to console himself, dismisses Olivia's request that he find her father with "Surely your mother knows where he is." Olivia responds, "I don't have a mother", and Basil's playing comes to a screeching halt.
- Played with in the South Park episode "The Jeffersons", where Michael Jefferson's son Blanket is asked about his mom. Because Blanket was "made in a laboratory" (via in vitro fertilization) and born from a surrogate, he doesn't consider himself to have any mother, living or dead.
- Brought up quite a bit in Avatar: The Last Airbender , since a hundred years of war isn't without its casualties. Quite often it gives a chance for bonding.
Katara: The Fire Nation took my mother away from me!
Zuko: That's something we have in common.
- In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra episode "The Revelation," Mako snaps at Korra when she comments she has people to take care of her, and his brother Bolin explains to Korra that they've been orphaned for quite some time. Later, Mako elaborates further, revealing to Korra that at age eight, he witnessed his parents' murder during a mugging by a firebender.
- Amon's (the leader of the Equalists) parents were killed by a firebender, but that may be a case of Unreliable Narrator. Also, Asami Sato's mother was killed by a firebender as well. It's a pretty strange coincidence.
- In the first season finale, it's explained that Amon's whole story is a lie—his father was a waterbending gangster and neither of his parents were killed by a firebender, nor is it fully explained if either of his parents are even actually dead.
- MAD: Parodied episode segment "Super Hero Millionaire Matchmaker."
- On The Simpsons, Milhouse is staying with the family while his parents are out on their second honeymoon. Just after he discovers that they were lost at sea, Bart comes in and sprays him with a hose, as a prank.
Bart: (laughter dies as he notices everyone's expressions) Hey, who died?
Milhouse: My parents, probably.