An amazingly large number of children in the media suffer from Parental Abandonment
. Other children are "lucky enough" to have both parents, but unfortunately live in worlds where there are no Happily Married
families. For most such children, life is an endless series of disappointments and let-downs. A lucky few, though, manage to find a Parental Substitute
A Parental Substitute
is an adult friend who fills the children's lonely life with guidance and (often) love
. They guide the child and teach them how to stand on their own feet, how to have fun, and how to not be so bothered by the fact that Mommy or Daddy isn't around (or ignores them). If the parent is dead
, they may have known him and are able to answer when the child says Tell Me About My Father
. They often tell the kid they are So Proud of You
. Usually, by the end of the story, the Parental Substitute
leaves as well, but at that point the kid is able to stand on their own two feet.
This trope is often a feature of Tear Jerkers
, especially if it follows Take Care of the Kids
. If it's an older sibling who's taken over the parental role, that's Promotion to Parent
. The Old Retainer
may take over this role in event that his employer's children are suffering from Parental Abandonment
. If an entire society has teens become parental substitutes, that's a Teenage Wasteland
. If the child gets into a big argument with the substitute, expect to hear "You're Not My Father
" by the time things get really heated.
is often involved. If the Parental Substitute
decides to make their status official, as it were, the kid becomes Happily Adopted
Compare Children Raise You
(for less willing parental figures), Promotion to Parent
(when the parental substitute is a sibling), Like a Son to Me
, Team Mom
, Team Dad
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Anime and Manga
- Piccolo of Dragon Ball Z is one to Son Gohan, the offspring of his one-time enemy Son Goku. However, it's not mutually agreed on- Piccolo takes Gohan under his wing by force after Goku sacrifices himself to kill Raditz so that he can train for the arrival of the Saiyans. Fortunately, Gohan toughens up and Piccolo softens down. Soon, they are truly close enough for Piccolo to be considered a father figure.
- In Fruits Basket, martial artist Kazuma Sohma takes Kyo in and serves as his father figure. Eventually, he also takes Rin in.
- And before that, Rin was "rescued" from her Abusive Parents by Kagura and her parents. The rescue of sorts was genuine, but poor Rin was so messed up by her abusive situation that she simply couldn't accept or fit in with a more stable/happy family, and distanced herself from them.
- Yuki's older brother Ayame offers to act as a literal Parental Substitute, to make up for the years when he was an Aloof Big Brother to Yuki. He seals the deal by showing up the parent-teacher conference and stopping their domineering mother from planning Yuki's whole life. And in time, Yuki realizes that Tohru, though his own age, was more of mother-figure to him than a love interest.
- Before the events of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Precia's Cat Girl familiar Linith takes this role for Fate, showering her with the love that she didn't get from her psychotic mother. Linith eventually dies, fading away after her contract to train Fate and make Bardiche is fulfilled.
- In Mazinger Z, Dr. Juuzo Kabuto raised his grandsons after their parents died in a lab experiment gone wrong. After his death, Prof. Yumi took Kouji and Shiro in. However Kouji was Shiro's main parental substitute (although somewhat absent, since Kouji had to split his time between taking care of the household chores, going to school and fighting Mechanical Beasts). After the end of the series, Kouji and Sayaka left Japan for a while, and Shiro was left behind in the beginning of Great Mazinger. He was taken in by Professor Kenzo Kabuto, which is ironic, since he his -and Kouji- REAL father. In UFO Robo Grendizer, Dr. Umon found and took Duke Fleed in, treating him like his son.
- In Basilisk, male lead Gennosuke Koga is raised and trained by both his grandfather Danjou and his maternal uncle Hyouma Muroga, who was just out of his teens when he took up the role. His girlfriend Oboro, on the other hand, is raised by a nanny (who later dies) and her grandmother Ogen. Also, Oboro's fellow Iga ninja Koushirou was pretty much raised by his Evil Mentor, Tenzen.
- In Naruto, Iruka Umino couldn't forgive Naruto for a long time since he was the living seal for the Kyuubi, which killed his parents. As years passed, though, Iruka slowly came to appreciate Naruto for the person he was, realized that aside of the Kyuubi issue they were Not So Different, and by the time the series starts he acts like a surrogate father to him.
- Kurenai Yuuhi acts as a surrogate mother to Hinata, after Hinata's strict father all but abandons her.
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, China raises some of the East Asian nations, but they see him more as a brother than a father. In fact, Korea refers to China as "Aniki" ("Bro"), a rather informal term for "older brother": this is pretty important since the others don't fully acknowledge China as a brother - Japan and Macau call him "Mr. China" while Taiwan and Hong Kong refer to him as "teacher".
- Same with England and young America. Despite what bash-happy might tell you, they also have an older brother/younger brother relationship, with America at first calling England "onii-chan" and later telling him that they're not brothers anymore.
- To a degree, Hungary and Austria were like this towards North Italy when he was a young child. Also Spain, to South Italy.
- In Shoulder A Coffin Kuro, the titular heroine and her sidekick come across a pair of very young and very naive twin girls and bring the two along on their journey. They find themselves having to run herd on the kids quite a bit, as well as teaching them about the outside world.
- Pokémon is especially bad about this, with insane amounts of one-shot characters clearly being raised by a (often same-gendered) grandparent. With the original main cast, we also had Brock who experienced double Parental Abandonment, and got promoted to parent for all of his younger siblings. Reversed with Misty, whose parents are mysteriously not in the picture and her older sisters are the ones who got the promotion instead and they're not good at it at all. Also, Gary is the only recurring character to have the "raised by a single grandparent" thing. Fleshed out a bit in the manga, where it's revealed that both his biological parents are dead.
- Of the main protagonists, only May and Max have both their parents, but Brock and Cilan do have siblings. Of course that's something that's recurring with the games as well.
- Code Geass Word Of God from the staff as well as C.C.'s Japanese voice actor categorize Lelouch Lamperouge and C.C.'s relationship as mother and son. In lead-up finale episode she remarks to an Ex-comrade in the final battle that she doesn't know if she loves him. Multiple times she has been shown to be there for him. She's seen comforting Lelouch in non-romantic ways like after he performed a Mercy Kill on an accidentally Geassed Euphemia. In season 2 when the audience gets a look at lelouch's mother who is revealed to be just as much of a Manipulative Bastard as his father you can easily see who is the more genuinely affectionate and maternal figure. Hint: C.C. and not the actual mother. In fact, 10 min into episode 21 of R.2 Marianne is peppering her words with sugary bullshit to get him to agree to hand over C.C. so that she and Charles can finalize their Assimilation Plot. But thanks to Relationship Writing Fumble, it look like something else to some fans.
- Happens a lot in One Piece as most of the characters are orphaned or abandoned at a young age. The most powerful example would have to be Nami's foster mother Bellemere who sacrificed herself for her daughters because she refused to deny that they were hers.
- Tons of others worth noting, though. It happens so often it practically invites you to speculate on what Oda's childhood home life was like.
- Luffy towards Shanks, since his father's busy with his "job", and his grandfather was a well-intentioned yet really bad parental figure. They were so close, many thought they would be revealed as actual father and son. Luffy and Ace both also had a foster mother in their youth, again because Luffy's dad was gone and his grandpa simply couldn't it in parental-like shoes despite caring for them. Ace also finds this with his captain Whitebeard, since his father, whom he deeply resented anyway, is dead.
- Franky towards Tom, before...stuff happened...
- There's also Sanji and Zeff, Robin and both Clover and Saul, maybe Zoro and the dojo owner, Chopper and Hiriluk... in fact, the only two members of the main crew that don't appear to have ever had a parental substitute of some sort are Usopp and Brook.
- In Vampire Knight, Yuki has Cross as her adopted father and to an extent, also Kaname.
- In the Captain Tsubasa manga, Misugi's girlfriend Yayoi (who is stated to be a nursing student in university) temporarily becomes this to Hyuga's younger siblings when Hyuuga's mother becomes seriously sick and, due to his conflicts at work, Hyuga (who had a Promotion to Parent in the past) can't directly take care of them.
- The Baba Yaga arc of Soul Eater revealed that Sid took in Black Star after the Star Clan was destroyed by Shibusen. However, not much has been made of this relationship in a parent-child sense, though it's evident Sid looks out for Black Star. If his methods do seem a little odd at times. The reveal made sense, given the attitude towards Black Star taken by both the meister and his partner Nygus.
- Continued in principle by Black Star taking Angela back to Shibusen. More likely to be 'big brother' than 'parent' given the age difference, but Shinigami agreed she'd be looked after, and most importantly the thought was there.
- Minamoto, the male Team Mom from Zettai Karen Children, is one of the best examples of this trope in recent memory.
- Kyousuke, his anti-villain counterpart, is this even more for his followers, at least those who are still pre-adolescent.
- Oboe is the Parental Substitute for Hamel in Violinist of Hameln. It is not obvious for a long, long time, thanks to the Hamel's extreme Jerkass Façade and Oboe mostly keeping in the background (not without a reason), but in the end Hamel even directly states that Oboe is only being he'll ever call "father" when confronting his Big Bad biological parent.
- Bear in .hack//SIGN is pretty much the Team Mom. In the real world, he grieves at his broken relationship with his own son, and in the end of the series becomes Tsukasa's real self legal guardian.
- Although Nagi wishes he were more of a boyfriend, Hayate seems to be playing this role for her in Hayate the Combat Butler. Maria is her mother figure, though the role originally seemed to be that of big sister.
- Hinagiku and Yukiji found the Katsura's to be both willing Parental Substitute and get to play the Happily Adopted card when their parents dropped a large debt on them and disappeared.
- In the character profiles, Sakuya is said to have been raised by her two butlers and her nurse, instead of her parents, while also serving as the parents to her siblings.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, it's mentioned that even before their mom died, and especially after, the Rockbells' home was a home to the Elrics as well.
- Izumi Curtis also seems to consider the Elrics to be surrogate sons... not that this means she's ever going to go easy on them.
- There's also plenty of fanfic that promotes Roy Mustang to father figure for any of the teenage protagonists.
- In the 2003 anime version, Sloth is this to Wrath.
- In Bleach, Kenpachi could be seen as this to Yachiru and Kirio Hikifune is this to Hiyori Sarugaki.
- In the Hellsing manga and OVA, Alucard acts a little to a father surrogate and mentor to Seras Victoria, who is orphan and has lived in orphanages since her parents' terrible deaths. Integra Hellsing also fills in as Team Mom on occasion (at the ending is more prominent when literally she lectures Seras as if a child) when she's not having Les Yay with her.
- Hell, even the Les Yay moments made her seem motherly; feeding Seras her blood from her index finger as a mother would feed a baby from their...well, nipple. The way Integra spoke to Seras in the manga during that scene was also very motherly.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Misato Katsuragi is definitely this to Shinji Ikari (and to a lesser extent, to Asuka Langley Soryu), although in an unusual variation he seems to end up taking care of her just as often. (And, because this is Eva and things can't be nice and simple, there is a whiff of Unresolved Sexual Tension thrown into the mix....)
- In The third Rebuild of Evangelion movie, not so much. She completely disowns him after a mayor Nice Job Breaking It, Hero situation, to the point that she refers to him as "Subject DM-03" and very nearly kill him. As if his biological parents abandoning him wasn't enough...
- Quatre from Gundam Wing has four of these: the four highest-ranked members of the Magnac corps, led by Team Dad Rashid.
- Dan'l Baboon from Kimba the White Lion acts as a father figure to the title character.
- Daikichi of Bunny Drop acts as the father figure of Rin, a young abandoned relative he took in and raised (before eventually becoming her love interest). He also becomes the father figure Rin's friend boy named Kouki, so much so that Kouki proudly declares that he would be happy for Daikichi to be his father, and when his mother does remarry, he still considers Daikichi more like his dad than his actual step-father.
- Hiko Seijuro XIII can be seen as parental substitute to orphaned Kenshin, who he rescued, renamed and took under his wings in age of 8. Hiko may be too proud to admit it, but it’s clear he cares for his baka deshi and will return from retirement to help him.
- Kaoru tries to be this to Yahiko, an ex Street Urchin whom she and Kenshin rescued from being a orderline child slave to low-ranked delinquents. It doesn't always work.
- Similarly, Okina was a grand-parental substitute to Misao.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds, Yusei, Crow and Jack were taken in by Martha when they were young. Crow himself becomes one to several children.
- In Gundam Seed Destiny, Gilbert Durandal is maybe Rey's adoptive father, but at least he is a parental figure for both Rey and Shinn. It can be interpreted as manipulation, but he appears to genuinely love them. He actually forgives Ray for shooting him, as in "forgive just before dying".
- In D. Gray-Man, Cross is this to Allen when he first found the boy as shown in Chapter 206, where said character admitted to having no idea how to care for a child. Cross eventually learns how to cook and do the laundry, making this more of a promotion to housewife.
- In Natsume Yuujinchou, the Fujwara couple is a loving family for Natsume. Since they've adopted him, it's the first time he has felt like he's part of a real family.
- A few here and there in Sword Art Online.
- First, any children who were trapped in the game were adopted by friendly players in the City of Beginnings. We see one eventually; a young girl runs an orphanage with thirty or more kids.
- Second, Kirito and Asuna find a little girl named Yui wandering the woods who takes to calling them Poppa and Momma, which they accept quite quickly. It turns out the girl is actually a therapy program designed to monitor the players' psychological states, but has been glitching because she was forbidden from interacting with the players. She became Yui so that she could be the daughter of two of the only happy players in the game.
- In 3-gatsu no Lion, Akari Kawamoto, who is already acting as a parental figure for her two younger sisters, also serves as a surrogate mother figure for the meek, solitary Rei Kiriyama, even lecturing Rei when he does inconsiderate things like not answering the phone when he's sick for several days.
- In Girls Und Panzer, during the "Little Army" prequel manga, it's shown that Sakuyo, one of the Nishizumi family maids, was this to Miho, providing her advice and support.
- Chibi from Ginga Nagareboshi Gin comes to love his foster dad Moss the mastiff after his father Kurojaki dies.
- Batman is chock full of Parental Substitute goodness. Alfred Pennyworth serves as a father-substitute for Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne serves as a father-substitute for Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake (for whom Dick Grayson also serves as a bit of a brother-figure).
- During Marvel's Civil War, Tony "Iron Man" Stark and Peter "Spider-Man" Parker fell into a father/son relationship, until Peter realized what a fascist douche-bag Tony was and tried to rebel against Stark's "final solution" to the superhuman menace. After that, they stopped seeing eye-to-eye.
- Spider-Man is of course filled to the brim with parental substitutes, starting of course with Uncle Ben and Aunt May. After Ben Parker's murder, the irascible J. Jonah Jameson came to assume a quasi-paternal role, eventually playing "bad surrogate dad" to Joe Robertson's "good surrogate dad" (however Jonah, even though he is a notorious skinflint, footed the bill for Peter and Mary Jane's wedding). Gwen Stacy's father, Captain George Stacy, also took a kindly father approacht to Peter (deducing his identity with Spider-Man) until his untimely death. In later years reporter Ben Urich, Ezekiel, Doc Connors (at times, in the Animated Series he even gave MJ away at their wedding), and detective Lamont would all take a fatherly attitudes to him. Not so many mother substitutes, although Betty and Gwen did have a tendency to mother the seemingly shy and insecure Peter Parker, and Aunt Anna functioned as a surrogate mother to Mary Jane.
- In the movie adaptations, Norman Osborn tried to become Peter's paternal substitute in the first one, while there was an element of "father and son" to that between Otto Octavius and Peter Parker in the second one.
- Jameson also functioned as a father figure to Betty Brant. Betty's mother used to work as Jameson's secretary, and when she died Jameson gave Betty her mother's job to support herself. When Betty married Daily Bugle reporter Ned Leeds, Jameson was the one to give her away. She and Ned were Put on a Bus after that, and a Running Gag quickly developed that depicted Jameson going through all kinds of hassle trying to find a new secretary, which revealed just how much Jameson depended on Betty's help.
- In John Byrne's Alpha Flight, Shaman is the father-figure to Snowbird (a six-year-old adult), which is ironic considering his relationship with his real daughter. The daughter's baby-sitter and parental/big sister substitute Heather later on became the leader of Alpha Flight, after her husband (the original leader) died. Her husband has been a father substitute for Wolverine, of all people.
- X-men Professor Xavier gave this the original five, but especially serves as a father substitute for Cyclops.
- Wolverine has a tendency to become this to young teammates, especially female ones (Kitty Pryde, Rogue, Jubilee), but also e. g. to Colossus (in a more "tough love" kind of way).
- Also from the X-Men, there's foundling Nightcrawler and his adoptive gypsy family, and his kinda-stepsister Rogue, raised by supervillain couple Mystique and Destiny after running away from home.
- For a while, Scott/Cyclops himself would act like this, and occasionally still does. Unfortunately writers proffer writing him as a soldier and military leader rather than anything else so its becoming far less frequent.
- Doctor Strange has served as this for the Incredible Hulk's simple and childlike Savage Hulk incarnation. The Ancient One may have been a father-figure for Strange himself, judging by all the Like a Son to Me dialogue between them.
- The Avengers has Hawkeye and Captain America, which has been alluded to several times in canon. Hawkeye, who had an abusive, alcoholic father and several irresponsible successors of that field, unconsciously sees Captain America as a father figure. This is highlighted whenever Hawkeye has a tough time and Cap is there to give him a pep talk or lecture. The earliest examples of the relationship, in fact, took place as soon as Hawkeye joined the team. He jokingly called Cap "dad" and Cap felt a responsibility to look after him. It doesn't help that Stan Lee initially intended for Hawkeye to be Cap's long-lost illegitimate son.
- Its not uncommon for this to happen with any other young and not-so-young hero too. Bucky, Rick Jones (who himself like Doctor Strange also took care of Hulk when he was in child-like Savage Hulk mode), Spider-Man, and many other young heroes have looked up to Cap as a father and vice versa. He even acted sorta like this to Moon Knight (yes, THAT Moon Knight) in the Secret Avengers, being one of the few who didn't see him as nothing but a crazy schizoid and encouraging his more heroic attempts.
- Donald Duck to Huey, Louie and Dewey, and Uncle Scrooge to all four of them. Being raised by uncles or aunts is seen as such a big Disney convention that German Duck fans even coined a pseudo-scholarly term for the process: Veronkelung ("uncleification").
- In the Runaways series, Nico and Karolina serve this function for Molly and Klara, particularly in the last arc, "Home Schooling", in which Old Lace dies and Chase abandons the team.
- In the original Spider-Woman series, Charles Magnus serves this role for Jessica Drew.
- In Gail Simone's Secret Six series, Bane comically tries to become a father figure to Scandal after she becomes depressed about the loss of her beloved Knockout.
- In the Jackie Chan Adventures fanfiction Queen Of All Oni, Uncle notes that, even if Jackie and Jade aren't aware of it themselves, Jackie loves Jade to the point that he essentially is her parent in every way except blood.
- In Marie D Suesse And The Mystery New Pirate Age, toward the end, it is revealed that a woman named Denise was this to Madelyn, taking her in, giving her a job, and through being tough but fair, helping to make her a better person, inspiring her so much that she gave Denise's name to her daughter as her middle name.
- In Sophistication And Betrayal, the protagonist's boss Pipe Wrench becomes something of a father figure to him. Pipe Wrench's wife similarly becomes something of a mother figure, and both provide advice on how to deal with various personal problems he encounters.
- The Grand Ruler for Lightning Dawn in My Little Unicorn. Not that their relationship has any significance on the overall plot.
- In Hogyoku Ex Machina, Isshin feels this way about Ichigo's relationship with Zangetsu. He asks Yoruichi to describe Zangetsu to him leading to this.
"The soul of a fifteen-year-old formed itself a partner according to its own needs and desires, Yoruichi. And when it did…" his voice broke a little "… when it made the being it wanted to fight with for its entire existence… it made a middle-aged man. A teacher. A mentor. Stern and unrelenting, and so damn proud of him it hurts to watch." Everything Isshin had never shown Ichigo he could be. Yoruichi began to understand.
Films — Animated
- The Iron Giant: Dean is a father-figure/mentor to Hogarth. Hogarth himself has a fatherly/big-brother relationship to the giant robot in the title, who has the mentality of a very young child.
- Silver is a mentor and father-figure to Jim in Treasure Planet. Considering how the story goes, is one of the more turbulent examples, but it all worked out in the most satisfying way possible.
- In Titan A.E., the Parental Substitute relationship between Kale and Korso is made even more complicated by the fact that Korso is The Mole.
- In Disney's Lilo & Stitch, Lilo's big sister serves as a mother figure after their parents are killed in a car crash.
- In Kung Fu Panda, Shifu is to Tai Lung and later Tigress, and Mr. Ping to Po.
- According to the Manual, the Soothsayer to Lord Shen in Kung Fu Panda 2. It's never stated in the film, though it does explain their interaction throughout the movie.
- Baloo acts as this to Mowgli in The Jungle Book for the brief time they are together. Prior to him, he was Raised by Wolves, his adoptive father Rama even refering to him as being "like a real son".
Films — Live-Action
- In ET The Extraterrestrial, E.T. himself (itself?) serves as a two-pronged parental substitute, offering fatherly advice and motherly attention simultaneously.
- Part of what makes Aliens so touching is Ripley's 'adoption' of Newt. Ripley, being frozen for 50+ years, lost her daughter, and Newt's family were killed by the Xenomorphs, so the two fill the empty spaces in each other's lives. Newt actually calls Ripley "Mommy" by the end of the film.
- In Terminator 2 Judgment Day, the T-800 Terminator serves as a father-figure for John Connor. Lampshaded when Sarah Conner notes that the killing machine is a better father for John than any of her old "boyfriends".
- Cloak & Dagger features super-spy Jack Flack, an imaginary mentor who amazingly enough looks like Davey Osborne's real dad.
- In Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jin fills this role in the life of young Anakin Skywalker. Then Qui-Gon dies at the end, leaving Obi-Wan Kenobi to step in as a substitute Parental Substitute. Later, Obi-Wan and Anakin become more like brothers. Though, it's worth noting that perhaps in a strange, twisted way, Watto was also almost akin to a father-figure to Anakin. Almost.
- Agammenon in Time Bandits. Unlike Kevin's slothful, stupid, greedy parents, he watches out for Kevin and instructs him.
- Tom Sawyer acquires one of these in Allan Quatermain during the course of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
- Siblings Éomer and Éowyn from Lord of the Rings look at their uncle Théoden as this. Frodo has his Uncle Bilbo and Gandalf too.
- The Hobbit has Thorin and his nephews, Fíli and Kíli.
- Maria Kutschera from The Sound of Music in became one of these towards the von Trapp children and officially became their mother once she married their father.
- In Finding Neverland, the Llewelyn Davies boys increasingly look to James Barrie as a father figure.
- In Second Hand Lions, young Walter ends up getting raised by his two great uncles, Hub and Garth.
- Uncle Ben is this to Peter Parker in the Spider-Man films.
- Babe the pig is adopted by Fly, a sheepdog. When Fly's pups were put up for sale and she was heartbroken, Babe comforted her by asking if he could call her Mom, which she said yes.
- In TRON Legacy, after Kevin disappeared, his friend Alan take over this role for Sam. It is made more prominent during the news montage after Kevin's disappearance, Alan looked like he was going to go Papa Wolf on the news reporters hounding a young Sam.
- In the film Dark City, Dr. Shrieber literally injects himself into protagonist John Murdoch's life via an "imprint", creating memories of a father figure who taught Murdoch the skills that he uses to fight the Strangers.
- Lilli in Snow White A Taleof Terror was raised by a nurse, who was an acceptable substitute for her mother. Lilli holds Nannau's death against her stepmother.
- The role M plays as a surrogate mother to the orphaned James Bond is lampshaded repeatedly in the Daniel Craig films, and is a central theme in Skyfall. The Big Bad is a former MI6 agent that M handed over to the Chinese after he turned Rogue Agent; he's now seeking revenge on his 'mother' for having betrayed him.
- In The Sword Of Doom, Shichibei tries to be this to Omatsu after Ryunosuke cuts down her first Substitute, her pilgrim grandfather. His efforts are hindered somewhat though by the fact that Shichibei's job is that of a wide-traveling thief.
- Aside from the aforementioned Uncle Ben, Curt Connors acts as one for Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider Man. They share a love of science and it becomes clear that Peter desires Connors' approval, something he never really got from his dad.
- Henri Ducard served as one for Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. Bruce lost his parents at a young age and Ducard mentions having lost his family as well.
- Celia and Tam Lin in House of the Scorpion who are Matt's caretaker and bodyguard respectively, are pretty much his Parental Substitutes, since being a clone, he has no parents, unless you count his original's parents, which would be technically, but they have been dead for over a century.
- Tamora Pierce: What with her penchant for killing off/extremely distant parents, it only makes sense that...
- Alanna has Coram, who likes to remind her of the fact that he changed her diapers
- Myles also takes the role too during Alanna's training and would eventually adopt her as his daughter.
- Daine gets "mothered" by three different women: Queen Thayet, K'mir warrior Buri, and horse trader Onua.
- Kel's parents are not dead, but she spends all of her adolescence separated from them. Lord Raoul, her knight-master, essentially pulls her through the crappy, 15-18 years.
- The four main characters in the Circle of Magic series are raised by two women who, after a time, they refer to as their 'foster mothers.'
- Harry Potter is crawling with Parental Substitutes. Nearly every adult who has any interaction with Harry is a Parental Substitute, especially Albus Dumbledore, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Hagrid (maybe more of an uncle figure) and Arthur & Molly Weasley. And because this is Harry Potter, things don't end well for all but the last three.
- Harry's friends are not immune either. Neville Longbottom is raised by his grandmother due to his parents having been tortured to madness by Death Eaters. Harry himself also becomes one to Teddy Lupin. Although he seems to be living with his grandmother, he often visits the Potter-family.
- More stories of this are told for reoccuring background characters. Susan Bones seems to have been raised by her grandmother as nearly her entire family were killed by Death Eaters
- Running a galactic government and occasionally saving it alongside one's scoundrel husband leaves little time for parenting, as the children of Han Solo and Princess Leia learn. Much of their parenting is done by Leia's longtime friend and aide Winter Celchu.
- Twisted like most things in A Song of Ice and Fire. Sansa Stark is forced to masquerade as Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish's bastard daughter for the sake of her own survival, which would be okay except Littlefinger can't seem to work out if he views Sansa as a daughter or as a younger, more beautiful version of the woman he'd loved obsessively since childhood.
- As part of the same scenario, Sansa's cousin Lord Robert Arryn comes to view her as something between a parental substitute (for his late mother Lysa, who was murdered by Littlefinger after marrying her) and a Cool Big Sis (since Robert believes that "Alayne" is his stepsister).
- John Cleaver's therapist in I Am Not a Serial Killer acts like a father figure for John.
- J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion feature many parental substitutes: Bilbo (for Frodo), Théoden (for Éomer, Éowyn and arguably Merry), Elrond (for Aragorn), Maglor (for Elrond and Elros), Annael (for Tuor), Thingol (for Túrin) etc. Maglor's fostering of Elrond and Elros is perhaps especially notable in that Maglor had been (twice, reluctantly) involved in the slaughter of the boys' family before that, and that he had contributed to their mother's attempted suicide...
- In Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, this features twice in the orphaned Harry's Back Story. Justin exploited his need for one. Afterward, Ebneazer did a much better job of it; he is still protective of Harry and deploys such tropes as So Proud of You.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Chessman Of Mars, U-Thor received a slave woman from his jeddak; he freed and married her, and regards the son she bore the jeddak, A-Kor, as like a son to him. When the jeddak, a Royal Brat, has A-Kor imprisoned out of fear and envy, U-Thor demands an accounting.
I have made of her a free woman, and I have married her and made her thus a princess of Manatos. Her son is my son, O-Tar, and though thou be my jeddak, I say to you that for any harm that befalls A-Kor you shall answer to U-Thor of Manatos.
- Also, in the earlier books Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars Tars Tarkas, Tardos Mors, and Mors Kajak are implied to have served this role for John Carter's son, Carthoris, after Carter was returned to Earth.
- In Wuthering Heights, Nellie Dean serves as a parent to the second generation. As both children lost their mothers practically in childbirth, Nellie is the only mother either has ever known.
- In The Witches Of Karres, Captain Pausert fills this roll for Goth and The Leewit while they are sailing with him.
- In A Little Princess, Sara becomes this to Lottie.
- In Malevil, the main character Emmanuel is adopted by his uncle Samuel after he runs away from home. Samuel is far more of a father to Emmanuel then his cowardly, hen-pecked brother Simon ever was.
- Halt from Ranger's Apprentice is a father-figure to both Will and Horace. It comes up several times in the books that Will and Halt think of each other as father and son. Similarly, Pauline thinks of Alyss as a daughter.
- Peter is very much Neal Caffrey's Parental Substitute, teaching him about how to be a responsible member of society and by coincidence giving him a less anti-social outlet to his thrill seeking impulses.
- Septimus Heap: Marcia Overstrand is this to Septimus, according to Word Of God.
- In Teresa Frohock's Miserere An Autumn Tale, Lindsey contrasts Lucian's pride in her to her own father.
- Jeeves and Wooster: Since the issue of Man Child Bertie Wooster having parents is never dwelt on, there are plenty of implications that he regards Jeeves as something of a father figure. Jeeves, for his part, is often noted to cast a "paternal" eye on Bertie's antics.
- In Gene Stratton Porter's Freckles, Freckles acquires two: Mc Lean is a father figure, and Mrs. Duncan as a mother figure who assures him that she loves him like a son and weeps over how desperately he needs the affection.
- Fyodor Karamazov cares little for any of his three sons; young Dimitri goes half-naked and unfed until Grigory steps in and virtually raises him himself; Ivan and Alexei are adopted by their uncle Miusov.
- George serves as this to Lennie in Of Mice and Men
- Mrs. Alowo becomes this to her orphaned students in Someone Else's War.
- After her parents go to war in Dirge for Prester John, Sefelet is cared for by Vyala, her mother's friend's mother. They appear to bond more than Sefalet did to her real parents.
- In Ian Fleming's Octopussy, James Bond is sent to take a retired officer to justice. The man, working intelligence at the end of WWII, smuggled a cache of Nazi gold home and killed the mountaineer who had led him up to where it was hidden. It's business for Bond, but it's also personal, as he'd been a friend to the dead man, who had taught him to ski as a teen before the war, and was "something of a father to me at a time that I happened to need one."
- Oliver to Lionel in Rafael Sabatini's The Sea Hawk.
- In John C. Wright's The Hermetic Millennia, Soorm recounts how Asvid became for him the only father he had ever known, and taught him filial piety. He's lying.
- In The Lightbringer Series Dazen, masquerading as his brother Gavin, takes on the role of father to Kip, who is actually his nephew.
- Jim could be seen as this to Huckleberry Finn, whose own father is a violent and uncaring drunk.
- In Seanan McGuire's October Daye novel Late Eclipses, Toby reflects on how Sylvester has been this to her, despite his failings.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy's father has little contact with her, even after her mother dies, but Giles serves as a surrogate father. In "Helpless," another character describes Giles as having "a father's love" for Buffy. Especially noticeable when a spell causes Buffy to decide to get married and she ask Giles to give her away. In the comics, Giles does for Faith what he did for Buffy.
- Willow and Xander are similar, as well. Willow's parents are away for months at a time and have virtually abandoned her, rarely seeing her at all. Xander's parents are drunk and too busy yelling at each other to notice him most of the time. Giles often serves as a surrogate father to them both. It makes Giles' somewhat dismissive and snippy treatment of Xander in early seasons kind of upsetting - for instance in a season 3 episode he is angry at Xander for sleeping during 'Oz-watch', but later seems to find it almost endearing when Buffy does the same.
- The Mayor takes a similar role for Faith after her Face Heel Turn.
- On Star Trek: Voyager, little Naomi Wildman's father is 70,000 light years away when she is born, so several of the male crewmembers try to fill a paternal role in her life, usually her godfather Neelix.
- You could also argue that Captain Janeway serves as a positive parent to young Kes, rehumaned Seven of Nine, B'Elanna Torres (whose father abandoned her), Tom Paris (ditto, just not physically), and Harry Kim (made even more pronounced in "Endgame").
- Lampshaded in "Barge of the Dead" (where B'Elanna's mother appears in a vision wearing a Starfleet captain's uniform) and "Dark Frontier" where Janeway 'tucks Seven into bed' (plugs her into her Borg alcove) after she
wins the custody battle rescues Seven from the Borg Queen.
- Seven of Nine later became this to four creepy-ass borg children they rescued. She wasn't very good at it.
- She wasn't terrible either. Their interaction was as much about Seven's continued Character Development as the kids', if not more.
- Teen Wolf has this. Ms. Mc Call often acts like a mother to Stiles and isn't at all surprised that he has a key to her house.
- The Sarah Connor Chronicles featured several father figures for John Connor, including Charlie Dixon and Derek Reese. (Of course, since Derek is John's uncle, his falling into such a role is kind of natural.)
- Since John Winchester of Supernatural spent a lot of time away from his boys when they were young, and then died at the beginning of the show's second season, fellow hunter Bobby Singer has served as Sam and Dean's adviser, backup, and primary father figure throughout the series. They referred to him as "Uncle Bobby" when they were children, and Dean even says on two occasions (in season three's "Dream a Little Dream of Me" and season four's "Lazarus Rising") that Bobby's been like a father to him. For his part, Bobby seems to see the boys as surrogate sons, saying in the season three finale "No Rest for the Wicked" that "family don't end with blood."
- Bobby seems to have been this to a small extent even when the boys were kids. He is, for example, the only person who ever took Dean out to play ball. He'd been estranged from the family for a while when the series started, reentered toward the end of Season One because everyone they were actually in contact with had been killed off. Then John died. Two seasons later the first episode has Dean saying, "you're about the closest thing I have to a father," and in season six the phrase "it needs the father's blood, but the father need not be blood" sends Soulless Sam hunting Bobby through his own house in the attempt to commit patricide. That latter episode gave us the hilarious Fridge Horror line "Nobody kills me in my house but me!"
- The midseason finale of season seven killed Bobby off, and he spent a whole episode dying in a fascinating Battle in the Center of the Mind way. The boys handled it better than losing John, but they have had a lot of practice since then. The loss has been devastating, and unlike the loss of John it's been as devastating in practical ways as it has been emotionally, because Bobby was always there for them, whereas they'd been coping without John in various ways for ages, and almost completely for a few years.
- You could argue Sam sees Dean as one. As stated above, John Winchester used to disappear for weeks at a time, leaving young Dean in charge of little Sam. It's no wonder Dean treats Sam like his kid sometimes, calling him "Sammy" and reminiscing fondly on the days Sam was smaller and dependent on him.
- In The Big Bang Theory, Man Child Sheldon often views Penny as a substitute for his mother (who is alive, just lives away from him); he wants her to take care of him when he's sick, or sing him a lullaby. This is especially emphasized in the episode "The Guitarist Amplification", when Sheldon runs away to the comic book store, because he can't bear Leonard and Penny fighting, and Penny makes it up to him by buying him a robot and a comic book.
- Leonard takes on a fatherly role at times: taking care of his transportation needs, shopping for food and clothing, making sure he goes to bed on time and is often the one he goes to for advice on relationship matters. When he and Penny were dating they served as surrogate parents, when they broke up Sheldon was like a child in a divorce. That led to a lot of Does This Remind You of Anything? dialogue as Leonard and Penny renew their friendship for Sheldon's sake.
- In The Sarah Jane Adventures, it is revealed that Sarah Jane's parents died when she was only three months old, and she was raised by her Aunt Lavinia. Exactly how much of a mother figure Lavinia was is somewhat debatable, as Sarah Jane once described her as "always so busy, never in one place long enough to lick a stamp." It can be argued, of course, that that doesn't necessarily mean that she was uncaring or uninvolved. In fact, the pilot for the failed spin-off series K9 & Company gives us a small glimpse into their relationship, and they do generally seem to care about one another.
- There's no denying that Maria and her mother love each other dearly, but Chrissie is, to put it bluntly, a massive flake. Sarah Jane winds up picking up the slack and becomes the mother-figure Maria needs.
- From the mother series, Ace's father is never mentioned, and she has a bad relationship with her mother, so the Doctor ends up becoming a father figure to her.
- Dorota is more of a mother to Blair on Gossip Girl than Eleanor Waldorf is. Lily tries to be this for Chuck, but she's barely a parent to her biological children so... Still, cue massive amounts of squee from the audience when she told Bart Bass, back from the dead: "Charles is mine, too."
- Lampshaded in season three:
Cyrus: Dorota is family. She practically raised Blair. *cue death glare from Eleanor*
- Gideon to Reid in Criminal Minds. So when Gideon quits, Reid experiences the second loss of a father in his life.
- Full House is somewhat based in this trope. Uncle Jesse and Joey move in to help Danny raise his daughters after the mom dies in a car accident, thus becoming additional father figures in the girls' lives. Later, Jesse gets married and Aunt Becky takes on the role of mom substitute.
- Sweets from Bones was adopted by an elderly couple, but both died before he began working with Bones and Booth. After Season 4, he begins to see Booth as a father figure and also Bones something like a sister.
- Gibbs is pretty explicitly this to Ziva - during the episode "Dead Air," Tony and McGee have been teasing her about not knowing much about baseball. At the end of the episode, this exchange ensues:
McGee: Well, look at this! She do know a little somethin' 'bout baseball, huh?
Ziva: Yeah. My father taught me.
Gibbs: *face-splitting grin*
- Gibbs expresses his side at the end of the episode "Safe Harbor", after giving her some fatherly advice.
Ziva: Are you lonely Gibbs?
: You're never lonely when you have kids. (Kisses her on the forehead
) Goodnight, kid.
- There's some Fridge Brilliance in the relationship if you know that Ziva is the age Gibbs' daughter would have been if she hadn't been killed.
- To a lesser extent, Gibbs to Tony. Tony does care for his real father (even after finding out he was/is a con artist) but doesn't really need his approval. Disappointing Gibbs is something that bothers him immensely, and when Gibbs gives him a So Proud of You comment, you can see Tony practically swell.
- Stargate SG-1: Samantha Carter acts as a mother-figure for Cassandra. Even after Dr. Fraisier adopts Cassandra, the girl retains a strong attachment to Sam. O'Niell also acts as a second father-figure for Skaara (though it might be more fair to say that Skaara acts as a surrogate son for O'Neill, who's son accidently killed himself with O'Neill's gun.
- On Leverage, Archie was this to Parker as a teenager even calling himself her father. Nate and Sophie also have elements of this towards both Parker and Hardison.
- Peter to Neal in White Collar. Peter is always giving Neal "shape up" lectures, but at the same time has an affection and protective feeling toward him, and Neal starts looking to Peter for guidance.
Neal: To recently returned Dad "He's been more of a father to me than you ever were!"
- In the first season of The X-Files Deep Throat is something of a father substitute for Mulder even though Mulder's father is still alive at this point.
- Gaius for Merlin on Merlin. He did meet his real father briefly, but Balinor died before the ep was over. And his mom is still in Ealdor.
- Gil Grissom to Warrick Brown on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Warrick talks a lot about it in the video found after his death. "If I could have chosen my father, I would have chosen Gil Grissom" or something close to that.
- Falling Skies: Weaver to Jimmy. While its evidenced throughout the first seasons, from things like Weaver comforting him when he was nearly killed by a Skitter to defending his various screw ups, it really shows when Jimmy dies in the third episode of the second season and Weaver bonds with Ben, who blames himself for his death due to being there, with the two talking about what Jimmy would have wanted and sharing happy memories about him.
- Pope also offered to do the same with Tom's kids as incentive to get Tom to leave, but as it is Pope afterall, its not wise to take this as truth.
- Warehouse13: Artie is, to quote Pete, "so much like [Claudia's] dad it's kinda annoying."
- Once Upon a Time: Red was obviously raised by her grandmother, but Granny is also implied to be a parental substitute for Snow White.
- President Bartlet is a parental substitute to Charlie on The West Wing. Bartlet and his chief of staff Leo are both parental substitutes of sorts to Josh (even though he's an adult when his father dies).
- On Raising Hope, Sabrina takes on the role of Hope's mother (who's a notorious serial killer) to the point of Hope calling Sabrina 'mommy'.
- In Greek myth, the philandering Zeus fathered a number of sons, none of which he actually helped raise. Some of them were lucky enough to find substitute father figures who took care of them: Heracles was raised by Amphitryon, his mother's mortal husband, while Perseus was raised by the fisherman Dictys, who took his mother Danae in when she was abandoned by her own father, and Dionysius was raised by the mortal woman Ino and her husband, who Zeus gave to them to take care of so his jealous wife Hera wouldn't find out about his affair.
- Zeus himself was raised on a secluded island by nymphs, a goat, and his grandmother Gaia. He liked the goat best — enough to make it the constellation Capricorn after its death.
- In Norse Mythology, Odin sometimes comes off as this to Loki in some stories (most likely the reason behind Loki becoming his adopted son in the Marvel Comics version). While Odin often threatened him allowed others to punish Loki for his mischief, the two shared a blood pact which made Odin always treat him as an extension of himself, basically making Loki his child. Kinda sad that he then had to bind him to a boulder as punishment for making some mean comments/killing Baldr, driving Loki insane and turning him against the Aesir, leading to Ragnarok.
- Pierce filled out this role for the troubled teenager Kate Bishop in Dino Attack RPG, at least until it turned out he actually was her father.
- Over the years, Bartholomew Enderson became a father figure to Silencia Venomosa, or at least the closest she had to a father since the murder of her parents.
- Greybeard inadvertently became a Grandparental Substitute to Mary Rose, especially because she was too young to realize that he is not actually her grandfather.
- In Philoctetes, Neoptolemus is mostly a good guy who is lacking in guidance. While Odysseus first takes on this role for him, Philoctetes becomes a more sincere parental figure to him by the end.
- Lee becomes this to Clementine in The Walking Dead video game. While he never gets officially Promoted To Parent, several characters think Lee is Clementine's father when they first meet them, and at the end of the game, it's Lee who's going to find Clementine, no matter what. And God help anyone who tries to hurt her.
- In the Halo Expanded Universe, Doctor Catherine Halsey acts as a mother to all the Spartan-IIs, probably due to guilt about tearing them away from their childhoods. Their trainer, Senior Chief Petty Officer Franklin Mendez, kind of acts as a father figure.
- Auron to Tidus in Final Fantasy X's backstory, and to a lesser extent during the game itself.
- Final Fantasy XIII: Lighning is this for Hope. Although it could be seen as a Cool Big Sis relationship, they only act like this after Hope's mother's death, and she spends much of the story being his Resentful Guardian.
- Naked Snake, in Metal Gear Solid 3, answers Eva's question about his relationship with the Boss by saying that she was like his mother.
- Jak and Daxter don't have any parents to speak of (until the third game, at least), and Samos is the one who raised them.
- In Disgaea, the late King Krichevskoy acted as one to the orphan Etna, taking pity and raising her as a daughter.
- Mass Effect 2 features a really bizarre version of this. Shepard recovers a "perfect" krogan that was created via cloning, but is essentially born in front of his/her eyes. While the creation process taught him things, and Grunt is fully grown, he obviously has no role model—krogan or otherwise—except for Shepard. After his loyalty mission, this relationship becomes clearer that Shepard is Grunt's mentor.
- Particularly noticable in the Citadel DLC for 3, where Shepard has to bail Grunt out with C-Sec after Grunt and his krogan friends decided to celebrate his "birthday" with a wild night out on the Citadel. Much property damage and hilarity ensued.
Shepard: Grunt, you apologise to the nice man for setting his car on fire.
Grunt: Fine, I'm sorry for setting your car on fire...
*Notices Shepard's look*
Grunt: ... and I won't do it again.
- Captain Anderson is this to Shepard, even calling a male Shepard 'son' at the end of the third game.
- If you don't play Shepard as a potential love interest, the same sort of dynamic appears with Tali during her loyalty mission, especially that hug. Mixed with Cool Big Sis if Shepard is a woman.
- The right character choices in Mass Effect 3 can end up with you being like this with EDI.
- Very little "parenting" in the Kingdom Hearts series is done by the unseen biological parents of any of the characters. Master Eraqus serves as a mentor and father figure to Aqua and Terra, who themselves can be seen as older siblings or parental figures in Ven's life (the Japanese version of Birth by Sleep has Scrooge give Ven three tickets and telling him to bring "his parents" along; he gives them to Aqua and Terra). Later on in-universe, Axel's extremely over-protective behavior towards his best friend Roxas is revealed to be the result of Axel basically raising him, once again blurring the line between a big brother and father figure in Roxas's life.
- Happens frequently in any Fire Emblem game.
- Fire Emblem Jugdral: In the Seisen game Ayra takes her nephew Shanan out of Isaach on request of her older brother Crown Prince Mariccle, before their kingdom gets destroyed in the war. Later, Adean and Oifaye take Shanan in as well as many other children, including Oifaye's infant cousin Seliph and Adean's own children Lana and Lester. Travant is a darker example, as he killed Altena's parents before taking her in as his war spoil; at the same time, his retainer Hannibal takes care of a young boy named Corple (or his expy Sharlow in case Corple's mother Sylvia died childless.
- In the Thracia game, Evayle aka the amnesiac Briggid is this to Leif, Nanna and Mareeta; Leif also has a father figure in Finn, who was a retainer to Leaf and Altena's dead parents (and is Nanna's father); additionally, Nanna's mother Raquesis is said to have been a mother figure to Leif for a while, before disappearing. Finn's old friend Selphina is said to have become this in the ending, taking care of war orphans; this would get her called "Mother of Thracia" after her death.
- Fire Emblem Elibe: Douglas is this to the dancer Lalam. Lugh and Chad also mention a kindhearted priest who raised them until he died in the hand of Bernese troops and who may or may not have been Lucius. Twenty years earlier, during Blazing Sword, Pent and Louise are parental figures for the magician Erk, whose real parents are never mentioned, while his potential Love Interest Priscilla was raised by House Caerleon after her parents, the leads of House Cornwell, kill themselves since they were falsely accused of corruption and could not clear their names.
- Fire Emblem The Sacred Stones: Pontifex Mansel from Rausten raises his niece L'Arachel after the death of her parents.
- In Tales Of Symphonia, Lloyd is not short of these. He was adopted by the dwarf Drik and sees Regal as a brother or father figure. Kratos also starts to fit this, until it's revealed that he's not a substitute but instead the real thing.
- By my count Luke fon Fabre in Tales Of The Abyss holds the current Parental Substitute record for the entire franchise with five surrogate parental figures in total. Firstly, there's Guy, who basically raises Luke after his traumatic kidnapping experience at age ten leaves him with complete amnesia. Then there's Van, who is Luke's mentor and combat instructor. he also happens to be the one who created Luke, as he's the one who cloned him from the original Luke fon Fabre. Jade also counts, thanks to a scene in Keterburg where Luke calls him a "teacher and mentor." Since he created fomicry, he's also Luke's unofficial scientific father, in a way. Jade, Guy and Van are all explicitly pointed to as Luke's father figures in skits. Then, of course, we must include the Duke and Duchess fon Fabre, who are not actually Luke's parents, again, because he's a clone.
- This also comes up in Tales Of Vesperia, and mainly serves to make The Reveal that Raven is Schwann and has been working for Alexei the whole time even more of a Tear Jerker. Luckily, he gets better.
Karol: Damn it, I really liked you, Raven. I couldn't tell you before, but if my dad were—
- In Xenoblade Chronicles, Dickson found Shulk orphaned at the age of four, and adopted him as his own.
- Dishonored's Corvo Attano seems to be this to Emily Kaldwin. Though there are some hints, and it is a popular fan theory, that he is her actual father.
- Samus Aran of the Metroid franchise has the Chozo elder Old Bird as her adoptive parent and mentor after her biological parents are killed by Space Pirates.
- In Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, it's revealed that Ghetsis is this to N, although he was really just using him for his own twisted means.
- Sully is this for Nate in Uncharted. He accompanies him on most of his adventures, is constantly giving him advice or berating him for his hasty decisions, and always calls him "kid". It seemed more like an Inter Generational Friendship until Drake's Deception, where it was revealed that Nate's father gave him up for adoption after his mother committed suicide. Years later, Sully saved Nate's life when the latter was only 15 and, seeing how lost and alone the kid was, Sully took him under his wing and raised him from then on - basically becoming his father.
Sully: Kid, I've had your back for 20 years. I'm not going anywhere, obviously. I just want to make sure we're doing this for the right reasons. You've got your pride all caught up in this thing, it's making you reckless. I taught you better than that.
- Mira Kagami in Tokimeki Memorial is revealed to be unable to join clubs because she's the eldest of five children in a poor household, her father died, and she has to help her mother to take care of her much younger brothers. All of the times Mira cancels dates with you? One of the kids is an Ill Boy and she must take care of him. She's good at sewing? She fixes the kids's clothes to aid Mrs. Kagami. She doesn't let you walk her home? She doesn't want you to find out she's not the Rich Bitch she pretends to be at school.
- Agatha Heterodyne, the titular Girl Genius, was raised by Adam and Lilith Clay* after the supposedly tragic deaths of her parents and the disappearance of her uncle Barry.
- Given that the titular character's biological family moved to the United Kingdom in the comic's prologue Coming Up Violet one-ups this trope by having an entire substitute family for Ms. Oaks, complete with a mother, father, and two sisters.
- In Zoophobia, Damian's father is never, ever around, and leaves Damian to be taken care of by Tentadora and Styx, despite expecting him to take over his throne.
- Also Addison and his foster mother Latika.
- In Last Res0rt, the powerful Vaeo Family is made up of Vince, his daughter Cypress, and their cousins / nephews Nate and Damien, even though Vince will refer to and treat all three like his children.
- In The Order of the Stick, Elan sees Roy this way, though Roy sees him as more of an annoyance. The third row down of this comic is a beautiful example.
- Antimony Carver of Gunnerkrigg Court has four substitute fathers. First is her gym teacher, who used to date her mother. Then there's Reynardine, a fox spirit, who was in love with her mother. Coyote is more of a crazy uncle, but he is still protective of her. Oh, and her actual dad should show up eventually.
- Toshubi is becoming this to Jessica.
- In Something Positive, Davan initially believed he might be Rory's biological father, but a DNA test proves otherwise. The real father doesn't step up, though, so Davan becomes Rory's father figure anyway. In one recent strip he admits he wishes he was Rory's father. A Flash Forward to 2020 has one of Rory's friends refer to Davan as "your dad".
- In Tnemrot, Dae is like this for Mia, who actually has a father, he just flat out ignores her.
- Obadai alternates between this and Trickster Mentor with respect to Elysia in Rumors of War.
- In El Goonish Shive, Mr. Verres is this for Grace when she moves in with the Verres. Previously Damien was an Abusive Parental Substitute to her and before that Dr. Sciuridae took care of her because she was his Replacement Goldfish though Grace views him as a grandfather. The only real biological parent Grace ever had to care for her was Mr. Guyur (who was killed by Damien) as the other biological parents were either already dead when she was born or non-sapient.
Grace: We're a strange family.
- In Endstone, Lord Quandal had welcomed Cole to his family as a daughter; it's enough that when she's about to Mind Rape him, Cole wonders why she is doing these terrible things — for a panel. And even afterwards she keeps him with her and cares for him in his comatose state.
- In Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, Commander Badass is this for Jared.
Commander: Hey kid, how about from now on before you put anything else in that bag you pretend y' hear your dad's voice in yer head sayin' "Do you really need this?"
Jared: My dad never cared about me enough to give me stern fatherly advice like that.
Commander: Okay, look't me now, Jared. Do ya really need this? Really?
- The original 4 characters of Homestuck have several examples of this, including Dave's older brother and Becquerel, Jade's dog. The subversion is that Dave's brother really is his genetic father through the paradox that is ectobiology, while John's father is actually his half-brother.
- Troll society is structured so that most trolls are raised by wildlife, meaning that all of them have a parental substitute, but the most famous example in-universe would be the Dolorosa, who raised the Signless when it became clear that he had no chance of being claimed by a lusus. Her adoptive son would later become a Messianic Archetype.
- In Doc Rat, Col for Pippie.
- Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond functions as this to Terry McGinnis until the reveal that he is Terry's real father because of a crazy governmental genetics program.
- Zuko in Avatar The Last Airbender finds his parental substitute in his eccentric Badass Grandpa uncle, Iroh.
- On The Fairly Oddparents, Cosmo and Wanda act more paternal than Timmy's amazingly neglectful parents could ever hope to.
- Starfire's "Knorfka" Galfore, who raised her from childhood. Her and Blackfire's parents are never mentioned in the series.
- Of course, the comic books are another story. Koriand'r's (and, naturally, Komand'r's and Riand'r's) parents are alive and well and living on Tamaran.
- Ye-Ye in Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, who seems to be the only family member she lives with. Her parents never appear on the show. Kai-Lan's grandfather is always there when she needs him, and he helps both Kai-Lan and her friends when they need it.
- While Brock is a Papa Wolf to both of the boys in The Venture Brothers, Season 4 has made it evident that Hank look towards Brock as this. It's slightly tragic when you take into consideration that Hank is The Unfavorite with his actual dad.
- Rather cruelly subverted (but Played for Laughs at the same time) in Futurama: Farnsworth is the closest thing to family Fry has (he's Fry's very distant great-nephew), and Fry has a grandfather-like relationship with him. Except instead of being a Good Parent, Farnsworth is neglectful, abusive and uncaring...in a harmless sort of way.
- Also subverted in that Farnsworth seems to view the technically-several-thousand-years-old Fry as the caretaker in their relationship, and so his behavior toward Fry is like that of a bratty know-it-all teenager.
- In the episode "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings", Bender acts as a parental substitute to Fry, going so far as to attend his holophone recital and yell at the teacher when she drops Fry as a student.
- Twilight Sparkle to baby dragon Spike in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. It is revealed in "Cutie Mark Chronicles" that she was the one who hatched his egg making her his mother for all intents and purposes.
- And Princess Celestia to Twilight, since she effectively adopted her.
- According to Lauren Faust, Spike's original backstory had him raised by Celestia as well, which makes a little more sense than a filly like Twilight raising him at the time.
- Possibly subverted, as Lauren herself said that this is merely a concept that was never officially added into the show yet. And so the writers may change this backstory.
- Mr. and Mrs. Cake serve as this for Pinkie Pie.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Frankie is this to Mac, whose mom is hardly ever home.
- In Tale Spin Baloo mirrors this relationship with Kit. He also has moments of this with single mother Rebecca's daughter Molly.
- In Alfred J Kwak, Henk (a mole) functions as this to Alfred (a duck) after Alfred's parents and siblings were killed in a car accident. Discussed by Dolf, who thinks Alfred is weird or even inferior for having been raised by someone not his own species.
- In Transformers Prime, although Cybertronian culture lacks conventional "parents" in general, Ratchet tends to act in this way to Bumblebee. In Season 2, it's revealed that Ratchet had saved Bumblebee's life after he was critically wounded by Megatron and still blames himself for being unable to fix his vocalizer.
- In Young Justice, Bruce Wayne is very much this to Dick Grayson. Dick actually gets jealous in one episode when Bruce privately lectures Aqualad after a disastrous mission. Bruce then alleviates Dick's concerns by playing basketball with him (claiming that it's "training"). Suprisingly enough, this series averts the parental relationship between Bruce and Alfred. Word Of God states that Alfred deliberately remained emotionally distant from Bruce in his youth because he felt it was inappropriate for a butler to act as a father to his "master". Alfred regrets that and has since become closer to both Dick and Bruce.
- In Star Wars: The Clone Wars Plo Koon seems to be filling in this role for Ahsoka.
- In X-Men: Evolution, like in the comics Professor X, Storm, and Wolverine both serve as parental figures to Scott, Jean, Kurt, Kitty, Evan, Rogue, and the New Recruits. Logan also tried to do this with X-23 (as he's the genetic base for her and as such technically her father), but she refuses to let him as she sees herself as a weapon, not a child.
- Wheel Squad: Mr. Rotter is such a good father to his stepdaughter she's never bothered by her birth father never being mentioned in the series.
- From Adventure Time, Simon Petrikov served as this to Marceline when she was a child during the aftermath of the Mushroom War. This makes it all the more heartbreaking when Simon's crown eventually drove him irreversibly insane and transformed him into the Ice King. He still remembers her as someone that he likes, and he's still drawn to her despite her frequently moving (implied to be Marceline hiding from the Ice King because it's too painful for her to see him), but he's completely forgotten the true depths of their relationship.
- Due to the closeness (geographically and otherwise) between the Goof house and the Pete house on Goof Troop, there is a mutual relationship of Parental Substitutes. Peg serves as a substitute on several occasions for Max's Missing Mom, while Goofy serves on a few for PJ's Abusive Father. Both Peg and Goofy are portrayed as competent, caring parents not only to their own children but also to each other's.