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Parental Substitute

"Watching John with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The Terminator would never stop. It would never leave him, and it would never hurt him, never shout at him, or get drunk and hit him, or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there. And it would die to protect him. Of all the would-be fathers who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only one who measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice."
Sarah Connor, Terminator 2: Judgment Day

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.

Imaginary Friend 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.

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • 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 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 Bleach, Kenpachi could be seen as this to Yachiru and Kirio Hikifune is this to Hiyori Sarugaki. Urahara is this to Ururu and Jinta.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Gohan even chooses to wear a battle costume like Piccolo's rather than Goku's gi when facing Cell.
  • 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.
  • 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.
      • One of the novels actually has Ed being mistaken for Roy's son, and the parallels are made pretty clear.
    • In the 2003 anime version, Sloth is this to Wrath.
  • Chibi from Ginga Nagareboshi Gin comes to love his foster dad Moss the mastiff after his father Kurojaki dies.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Quatre from Gundam Wing has four of these: the four highest-ranked members of the Magnac corps, led by Team Dad Rashid.
  • 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 the Hellsing manga and OVA, Alucard acts a little like 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 she literally 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.
    • Father Alexander Anderson acts like a surrogate father and teacher to Maxwell, Heinkel, Yumie, the rest of Iscariot, and the children at his orphanage in Rome. His most human and compassionate moments involve the children he's raised, which includes the majority of Iscariot's ranks. It's the main reason why they're so loyal to him.
  • Dan'l Baboon from Kimba the White Lion acts as a father figure to the title character.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The same goes for Jiraiya, who spent three years training Naruto and spending time with him- probably the first period in Naruto's life where there was constantly an adult around to look after him. When Jiraiya dies, Naruto is devastated and says he finally understands what Sasuke went through.
    • To a lesser degree, Kakashi might also count as one. He made sure Naruto ate vegetables pre-timeskip, and post-timeskip the two develop a close bond.
    • Kurenai Yuuhi acts as a surrogate mother to Hinata, after Hinata's strict father all but abandons her.
    • It seems likely that Gai and Lee have a relationship along these lines.
    • Fanon occasionally has this as a general relationship between the teachers and students, due to the high number of orphaned kids and kids whose family lives are either awful or unknown.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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. Genzo is sometimes seen as a father-figure to Nojiko and Nami.
    • 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 (especially given that they even looked quite a bit alike early on, though Art Evolution has made their faces more distinct). 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Saki Shinohayu Dawn Of Age, after Shino's mother disappears, she's taken in by her uncle Kousuke, who's her mother's brother. He tries the best he can as a single father despite also holding down a job and searching for his sister, and while he mistakenly assumes that mahjong does nothing more than remind Shiho of her Missing Mom, he sees the error of his ways and apologizes.
  • In Sangatsu 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.
  • Balsa in Seirei no Moribito varies between this and Cool Big Sis to the young Prince Chagum, who she has been hired to protect. At one point in the series, she even gives a knife to him, a symbolic tradition of coming-of-age in her home country. Tanda even points out that her vow to protect him from all harm for as long as is necessary means she is, for all intents and purposes, his mother.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Tiger & Bunny, Maverick is this to Barnaby. He is also the man who killed both of his parents because they knew about his involvment with Ouroboros, manipulated his memories into believing the murderer was someone else and, later, into believing he was the one who raised him when Freeze-Frame Bonus reveals Barnaby grew up in an orphanage. And Barnaby is totally unaware of it.
  • In UQ Holder, Yukihime acts as one of these for Touta after his parents died in a car accident.
  • In Vampire Knight, Yuki has Cross as her adopted father and to an extent, also Kaname.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle's Fai D. Flourite and Kurogane turn into this for Sakura, Syaoran and especially R!Syaoran/Tsubasa in the final arc. They've had the names Fai-Mommy and Kuro-Daddy for most of the series but they fit surprisingly well and they do act as if the three kids were their children. After a certain point R!Syaoran starts to think so as well.
  • Mobile Suit Victory Gundam: 12 year old Shakti takes in a baby named Karlmann early in the show, as he was orphaned in a Zanscare attack. Shakti takes care of Karl for the rest of the series (helped now and again by the others, but she's the primary caretaker), and even in the epilogue is still shown raising the child.

    Comicbooks 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
    • Bruce/Batman is also a father substitute for Cassandra Cain (Batgirl II), who also has a mother substitute in Barbara Gordon (Batgirl I/Oracle).
    • Alfred has, through the years, gone back and forth between an objective servant to an adoptive-father-figure and back, depending on the writer. However, it's become very common to portray him as an amalgam of the two - officially a servant, but acting as Bruce's surrogate father. This is shown strongly by Alfred being the only one who can tell Bruce off without any repercussions, and is openly stated by Alfred in the recent "Battle for the Cowl" arc:
      Superman: Alfred, are you alright?
      Alfred: Alright?... No, sir, I'm not... my son has died.
      • Bruce acknowledges this as well; in a Batman and the Outsiders special following Batman RIP, Bruce has left a prerecorded message for Alfred in case of his death where he calls Alfred his second father, and takes the opportunity to say "Goodbye, Dad".
      • In the first issue of Superman/Batman, Clark's thoughts are about how complicated the relationship between Bruce and Alfred is, and that even he can't understand it completely.
    • It seems that now Dick has become promoted to father of Batman's Anti-Hero son, Damian.
    • Leslie Thompkins is occasionally referred to as a mother figure by Bruce.
    • Jim Gordon is sometimes played up as this as well - particularly in one episode of the animated series where Batman says that part of his close connection with Gordon is because Gordon is approximately the same age Thomas Wayne would be were he still alive. As for Alfred, Batman R.I.P. stresses it to the point where the possibility is raised that Alfred might be Bruce Wayne's true father, if the scandalous rumors spread by the Black Glove are to be believed.
    • Damian Wayne, Bruce's son, is starting to see Dick Grayson as a mix of an older brother and a father. Especially after his mother Talia was actually cloning him and deemed him not perfect enough and kicked him out of the Al Ghul's house.
    • Batman's frequent role as a surrogate father-figure was ultimately deconstructed with Stephanie Brown (Spoiler/Batgirl III). Stephanie was the daughter of the criminal Cluemaster and went into costumed crime-fighting to oppose him, and eventually gravitated into the Bat-family, but after she became Batgirl she realized that Bruce had been a horrible father figure (She even slapped him). She criticized him on all the manipulation that he put her through, as well as the generally condescending and dismissive attitude he had, and pointed out that the improvements she has made in her life were in spite of him, not because of him.
      • During her own series, Oracle/Barbara begins to act as one for Stephanie as well, which is strange considering Steph's mom is very much alive. She also acts like this to Wendy Harris, helping her deal with the loss of her legs and her brother, and help her re-enter the superhero world.
  • During Marvel's Civil War, Tony "Iron Man" Stark and Peter "Spider-Man" Parker fell into a father/son relationship, until Peter realized he didn't like what Tony was up to and tried to rebel against Stark's superhuman registration initiative. After that, they stopped seeing eye-to-eye.
  • 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.
  • 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 Gail Simone's Secret Six series, Bane tries to become a father figure to Scandal after she becomes depressed about the loss of her beloved Knockout. While he's not always good at it, since he never had a normal family life himself, they do eventually end up genuinely caring for each other this way. The fact that Scandal's actual dad is an asshole who doesn't accept her sexuality doesn't hurt either.
  • 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.
    • 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 the original Spider-Woman series, Charles Magnus serves this role for Jessica Drew.
  • The Ur Example in comics has to be Superman's Earth parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent. While Kal-El would always have powers by virtue of being Kryptonian by birth, the comics stress repeatedly that it was the Kents' values that made Superman the hero he is. Lampshaded in the "Reign of the Supermen" series with regard to the Jerk Ass Superboy clone:
    Jonathan Kent: "No son of ours would act like that, powers or no!"
    • Superman, in turn, has taken on this role to Supergirl and, to some degree, to Jimmy Olsen.

      Also Nightwing's, if Nightwing: Year One is any indication. After Batman fires him, he goes to see Clark. It's not hard to interpret it as a child getting away from his abusive father (the story portrays Batman as a Jerk Ass) and instead staying with his mother (the caring, nice Superman).
  • 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.
  • In Venom we learn that Bennet Brant (Betty Brant's older brother) had a surrogate father-figure in the form of the Crime Master. This had the unfortunate effect of causing Bennet to take up the Crime Master identity years later when he decided to become a supervillain and continue the legacy of the original. He also took on Jack O'Lantern as a protégé/son-figure; given that Jack O'Lantern is basically an Ax-Crazy lunatic who runs around with a pumpkin on his head, you can guess how well that turned out.
  • 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").

    Fairy Tales 

    Fan Works 
  • Bait and Switch: Lieutenant Commander Reshek Gaarra's mother died when he was two, and his father was an officer in the Bajoran Militia's local garrison and had to go out on maneuvers a week out of every month. He was raised by his father and his paternal aunt Nefris.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Grand Ruler for Lightning Dawn in My Little Unicorn. Not that their relationship has any significance on the overall plot.
  • In Pokemon The Great Adventure, Ash gets one in the shape of Silver, a mysterious tailed man with silver hairs that raises him like his own son and teaches him everything he knows. Even after learning the truth about his legacy, the man is still the only one Ash calls "Father".
  • 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 the Back to the Future fanfic Ich Liebe Dich, Marty tells Doc that back in 1985, he's more of a father figure to him than George is.
  • 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.
  • Played with in The Twilight Child, when Princess Celestia admits she sees Twilight as a daughter, and Twilight points out she already has parents, whom she loves dearly. Doesn't mean she isn't touched, though.
  • In "Dear Scootaloo", Rainbow Dash was raised more or less personally by Firefly, former Wonderbolt and founder of the Cloudsdale Home for Wayward Pegasi, and as far as she's concerned Firefly was her mother.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • Aside from Uncle Ben and Aunt May, 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.
  • 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.
  • Henri Ducard to Bruce in Batman Begins, for a few short years when the boy was in serious need of guidance. At the end of those years Bruce finds himself disgusted with his ruthlessness.
  • Cloak & Dagger features super-spy Jack Flack, an imaginary mentor who amazingly enough looks like Davey Osborne's real dad.
  • Vincent Lauria in The Color of Money eventually sees Eddie Felton as a father figure.
  • 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.
  • In ET The Extraterrestrial, E.T. himself (itself?) serves as a two-pronged parental substitute, offering fatherly advice and motherly attention simultaneously.
  • In Finding Neverland, the Llewelyn Davies boys increasingly look to James Barrie as a father figure.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ray, of Off The Black, starts to take on the role of father to David.
  • In Second Hand Lions, young Walter ends up getting raised by his two great uncles, Hub and Garth.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Uncle Ben is this to Peter Parker in the Spider-man films.
  • In 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Agammenon in Time Bandits. Unlike Kevin's slothful, stupid, greedy parents, he watches out for Kevin and instructs him.
  • In TRON Legacy, Alan took over as father figure to Sam after Kevin disappears. In one of the clips in the news montage on Kevin's disappearance, it looks like he's about to go Papa Wolf on some hounding reporters harassing young Sam.
  • X-Men:
    • Charles Xavier plays this role to all of the X-Men, but it's most notable in X-Men: First Class with a young Hank and the teenaged Alex and Sean, all of whom remain loyal to him before and after Cuba. The mere mention of Sean's death in X-Men: Days of Future Past makes Charles visibly distraught, which is in direct contrast to all of the other names that Erik throws at him.
      • There is one exception. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Charles claims he raised Raven, and Erik corrects him—they grew up together. He is not her father. This ties into the end of the film, when he stops trying to control her and lets her make her own choice.
    • Wolverine to Rogue.
    • Ichirō Yashida for Mariko in The Wolverine, as Shingen, her actual parent, is not a nice man.
  • This is what King Stefan intended the fairies to be for his daughter in Maleficent. Unfortunately, the three of them were terrible caretakers. So who were the ones who actually fed, played with, and watched over Aurora? Maleficent and Diaval. Yes, the good guys were so incompetent, the villains had to take care of the baby for them. This actually ends up being plot-important, as their paternal love for Aurora is what starts their Heel-Face Turn and allows Maleficent to break the curse.

    Literature 
  • In A Little Princess, Sara becomes this to Lottie.
  • Dr. Montgomery in A Series of Unfortunate Events is a good example. In The Penultimate Peril, volunteers Kit Snicket and Dewey Denouement answer some of the Baudelaires' questions and the latter offers to become their guardian. All three of them die.
  • 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).
  • In The Baby-Sitters Club, Claudia's grandmother Mimi was this to both Mary Anne (whose mother died when she was very young) and to Claudia (whose parents are alive but don't really "get" her).
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • In William Alexander's Goblin Secrets, the children were taken in by Graba.
  • In the Goosebumps} book A Night in Terror Tower, Morgred the sorceror is set to fill this role for Edward and Susannah when they finally escape into the future to live new lifes away from their evil uncle and the High Executioner. As the late, rightful King's court mage, he promised to protect them from harm.
  • 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), Minerva McGonagall and Arthur & Molly Weasley. And because this is Harry Potter, things don't end well for all but the last four.
    • 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 aunt as nearly her entire family were killed by Death Eaters
  • 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.
  • Bush towards the decade-younger Hornblower in the Horatio Hornblower books, evolved out of a Big Brother Instinct from early in their careers; he's constantly worrying that his captain isn't getting enough rest or credit or human contact and Hornblower compares him to a mother hen at one point. Not that Bush quite realizes this since he's Britishly out-of-touch with his own emotions.
  • 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.
  • Jim could be seen as this to Huckleberry Finn, whose own father is a violent and uncaring drunk.
  • Haymitch develops this kind of relationship with Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games.
  • John Cleaver's therapist in I Am Not a Serial Killer acts like a father figure for John.
  • In Andre Norton's Ice Crown, the princess was raised by her grandfather. Roane appears to be in her uncle's charge, though he seems more taken with the notion of another pair of hands with less regulation, since she's related
  • 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 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.
  • Liz Pennykettle for David Rain in The Last Dragon Chronicles. Later, it turns out that she actually is his mother in an parallel universe. She even acts as a mother to Zanna at times.
  • In The Lightbringer Series Dazen, masquerading as his brother Gavin, takes on the role of father to Kip, who is actually his nephew.
  • 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 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.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, Lindsey contrasts Lucian's pride in her to her own father.
  • The Mortal Instruments: Luke helped raise Clary along with Jocelyn. In a way, he was sort of a father figure to Simon, too, as the latter's father died when he was younger.
  • In Seanan McGuire's October Daye novel Late Eclipses, Toby reflects on how Sylvester has been this to her, despite his failings.
  • 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."
  • George serves as this to Lennie in Of Mice and Men
  • 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.
  • RCN: Given Cordel Leary's frequent absences from the Leary household due to his political activities, Hogg serves as a substitute father for Daniel, teaching him what it means to be a man.
  • Oliver to Lionel in Rafael Sabatini's The Sea Hawk.
  • Septimus Heap: Marcia Overstrand is this to Septimus, according to Word of God.
  • Mrs. Alowo becomes this to her orphaned students in Someone Else's War.
  • 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.
    • C-3PO, in a pinch, makes a surprisingly effective babysitter.
  • Jaxon is the closest to a father that Corie and Elisandra have in Summers at Castle Auburn, and he tells them all the time how proud their father would be.
  • Vikus from The Underland Chronicles is the closest thing to a parent Luxa has.
  • In The Witches of Karres, Captain Pausert fills this roll for Goth and The Leewit while they are sailing with him.
  • 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.
  • Tamora Pierce: What with her penchant for killing off/extremely distant parents, it only makes sense that...
    • Alanna of Song of the Lioness first has Old Retainer Coram, who reminds her that he changed her diapers. As a page, she has Myles of Olau, who is such a good replacement father that he eventually adopts her.
    • The Immortals' Daine is "mothered" by three different women—Queen Thayet, K'mir warrior Buri, and horse trainer Onua.
    • Kel of Protector of the Small actually has living Good Parents, but obviously they're not around while she's training for knighthood and they're ambassading. Lord Raoul, her knight-master, essentially pulls her through the crappy, 15-18 years. And Kel herself becomes a substitute parent to Tobe when she basically adopts him by buying his indenture from an abusive master.
    • 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.'
  • In the Age of Fire series, each of the three main protagonists gets one at some point or another after their parents are killed and they're scattered as hatchlings: AuRon had NooMoahk (the elder dragon who served as his mentor during his last drakehood years), Wistala had Rainfall (the elf who raised her most of her life), and RuGaard had FeHazathant (who took pity on him and adopted him into the Lavadome's Imperial Line when he arrived), respectively.
    • AuRon himself was in turn one to Heiba, the orphaned human girl he was tasked with protecting until he could get her back to her own kind, which took long enough that they ended up bonding closely.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Given how she was constantly shuffled between foster homes in her youth, Agent Coulson is the closest (And longest lasting) thing to a father figure that Skye of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has ever had. It gets lampshaded in an early episode when Skye refers to an argument between Coulson and May as 'Mom and Dad fighting'. Coulson outright confirms this status in an episode where Skye is critically injured and tells the doctor who wants to summon her family so they can say their goodbyes that the team is Skye's family.
  • 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.
    • Sheldon's mother tends to be this for Leonard; for all that she tends to be The Fundamentalist and is not particularly well-educated, she is nonetheless a much more loving and sympathetic figure than Leonard's own mother, who treats Leonard as an errant test subject. Likewise, Sheldon sees Leonard's mother this way, as the two of them have much more in common with each other than with Leonard.
  • 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.
  • Breaking Bad has one of the darkest examples possible, to the point of possibly being a subversion. Due to his rocky relationship with his parents, Jesse Pinkman constantly seeks the approval of his former high school chemistry teacher and current partner in the meth business, Walter White. Walter does truly care for Jesse as he always goes out of his way to protect him, but mixes this care with horrible psychological abuse, emotional blackmail, and manipulation.
  • 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.
    • Maggie Walsh was a surrogate mother to Riley and Adam; the latter even refers to her as "mother".
  • Gideon to Reid in Criminal Minds. So when Gideon quits, Reid experiences the second loss of a father in his life.
  • 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.
  • Doctor Who: 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.
  • 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.
  • On Friday Night Lights, Matt Sarecen sees Coach Taylor as this. Matt has a father, but he's a much better soldier than parent.
  • 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.
  • Family Matters: Steve Urkel's parents, in addition to being The Ghost, are abusive, and Steve regularly mentions how much open disdain they show for him. This is part of the reason he always goes over to the Winslow house. Carl Winslow is more of a father to Steve than Steve's father is, even if Carl doesn't usually want him around.
  • 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*
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
    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.
  • Once Upon a Time: Red was obviously raised by her grandmother, but Granny is also implied to be a parental substitute for Snow White.
  • 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'.
  • 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.)
  • 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 (and has Lavinia use exactly that phrase to describe Sarah Jane.)
    • 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.
  • Series 3 makes it rather obvious that Mycroft was this to the titular character of Sherlock, since their actual parents were very well meaning but out of their depth with two prodigy children. Interestingly for this trope, it's also implied Mycroft wasn't necessarily a particularly good parental substitute.
  • 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 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.
    • 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 with variable success. Their interaction was as much about Seven's continued Character Development as the kids', if not more.
  • 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. 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.
    Dean to Bobby, episode "Lazarus Rising": You're about the closest thing I have to a father.
    • 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, and it's shown that Dean and Sam knew him as "Uncle Bobby" when they were young. Interestingly, before Bobby's introduction at the end of season one, they had spent an unspecified amount of time estranged from one another (apparently John had threatened Bobby with a shotgun because he felt Bobby was subverting his parental authority).
    • In season six, when Sam wants to avoid regaining his soul, which he fears will destroy him by bringing back memories of his time in Hell, he is told that he can prevent it from returning by committing a grievous sin, specifically patricide. Literal patricide is out of the question, but Sam is reassured that "it needs the father's blood, but the father need not be blood", leading him to chase Bobby violently through his own house in the attempt to commit the murder. (Keep in mind that Sam isn't himself at the time. He knows enough to identify Bobby as his father figure, but not enough to be horrified by the thought of killing him.) The episode also gave us the hilarious Fridge Horror line "Nobody kills me in my house but me!"
    • When they find themselves caring for a baby and have to come up with a name for it impromptu, Dean decides to call it Bobby and Sam decides to call it John. In an effort to not confuse the woman asking about the baby, they hastily restate that the baby's name is Bobby John.
    • Sam also sees Dean as a father figure. 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.
  • 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.
  • Warehouse13: Artie is, to quote Pete, "so much like [Claudia's] dad it's kinda annoying."
  • 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).
  • 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!"
  • The X-Files: In the first season, mysterious informant Deep Throat is something of a father substitute for Mulder even though Mulder's father is still alive at this point.
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Uncle Phil is a better father figure to Will than Will's own deadbeat dad ever was. The only episode when Will's dad makes an appearance cements this. At the end of the series, Will even admits that he looked up to Phil and wanted to follow his example.
  • In The Vampire Diaries we see Damon being a fatherly substitute to Jeremy. Even taking guardianship over him while Jeremy's sister Elena is at college.

    Mythology 
  • 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.

    Pinball 
  • In WHO dunnit, Trixie sees her father's business partner, Tony, as a substitute dad after her real father disappears in an auto accident.

    Roleplay 
  • 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.

    Theatre 
  • Into the Woods, Cinderella becomes one for Little Red Riding Hood and probably for Jack too.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, the late King Krichevskoy acted as one to the orphan Etna, taking pity and raising her as a daughter.
  • 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.
  • Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury is this towards Geese's son Rock after he adopts him. To Rock, he's is a better father than his real one could have ever hoped to be.
  • Auron to Tidus in Final Fantasy X's backstory, and to a lesser extent during the game itself.
  • Artemus of Thief was Garrett's mentor and father figure when he was still with the Keepers, and apparently still keeps tabs on him.
  • 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.
  • 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, so they went the "Better to Die than Be Killed" way.
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: Pontifex Mansel from Rausten raises his niece L'Arachel as his heiress and daughter figure, after the death of her parents.
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn also provides Micaiah and Sothe, at least at the beginning of their relationship. In a variation, you can get them hitched if you want to.
  • 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.
    • As a result, Cortana admitting that she finds Master Chief (one of the aforementioned Spartans) attractive is very disconcerting for Halsey, since Cortana's personality is based on Halsey's.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
      • During the Time Skip between 2 and 3, Grunt picks up another parental substitute in the form of Urdnot Wrex, assuming Wrex survives the first game. Wrex is the king of Clan Urdnot, and is busting both his primary and secondary guts to reform krogan society, but he's literally older than the works of Shakespeare and can't last forever, so he seems to be grooming Grunt to take over for him. Of course, this means that Grunt's substitute parents are two of the biggest badasses in the Mass Effect universe; most of both those parents' friends are also huge badasses; and nearly all of those parents' love interests are huge badasses.
    • Captain Anderson is this to Shepard, even calling a male Shepard 'son' at the end of the third game. This especially notable if Shepard's parents were killed when s/he was still a teenager, or s/he never knew his/her parents.
      • He calls female Shepard 'child' at that scene. Also, while Shepard can be abrasive, sarcastic or just plain rude to everyone, he/she is always respectful to Anderson.
    • 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, complete with The Talk.
  • 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, only making the inevitable end of the game an even bigger twist of the knife.
  • 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 NieR, Emil was essentially taken care of for thousands of years by his non-human butler Sebastian. Eventually, the eponymous protagonist becomes one to him, extending his general fatherly nature to help the boy cope with his numerous issues.
  • 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.
  • In Skullgirls, twenty-five-year-old Badass Princess Parasoul is this to her little sister Umbrella, who would have been very young when both of their parents died.
    • Big Band and Ileum serve as the father and mother figures for the orphans of Lab 8, respectively.
  • 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.
  • Tales of Graces: As lampshaded by the resident Genki Girl, Cheria and Asbel function as this to Sophie while Malik is this to the group.
  • 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.
  • 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—
  • 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.
  • Chin Gensai from The King of Fighters is this towards both Sie Kensou and Bao. Chin is actually explicitely said to be Bao's adopted father.
  • Lee Everett 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 Season 2, Kenny tries to fulfill this role, though Clementine is far more capable this time around.
  • In Xenoblade, Dickson found Shulk orphaned at the age of four, and adopted him as his own.
  • Terry Bogard adopts Geese Howard's child Rock in his Fatal Fury 3 ending (although that specific scene doesn't take place until the ending of the sequel, Real Bout Fatal Fury, where Geese actually dies). He pretty much had to, though: he (unintentionally) killed Rock's father Geese, who in turn had killed Terry and Andy's father Jeff. There's an implication that Geese refused to let Terry Save the Villain because he knew Terry would be a better parent for Rock than he was (as well as saddling him with the aforementioned guilt of having caused a boy's orphanhood).

    Visual Novels 

    Webcomics 
  • Toshubi is becoming this to Jessica.
  • 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 Doc Rat, Col for Pippie.
  • In Domain Tnemrot, Dae is like this for Mia, who actually has a father, he just flat out ignores her. Angel is her substitute mother, as her real one is comatose. Despite them having an easy escape from their slavery, they are staying with Mianote  because they are literally the only people who care about her. Their plans even include finding a way to bring Mia with them when they do escape.
  • 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 thingsfor a panel. And even afterwards she keeps him with her and cares for him in his comatose state.
  • Agatha Heterodyne, the titular Girl Genius, was raised by Adam and Lilith Claynote  after the supposedly tragic deaths of her parents and the disappearance of her uncle Barry.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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?
  • Asia Ellis from morphE collects these. This official ask blog entry explains this and displays Malloy has become her replacement father figure while she is in captivity.
  • 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.
  • Obadai alternates between this and Trickster Mentor with respect to Elysia in Rumors of War.
  • 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 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.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender finds his parental substitute in his eccentric Badass Grandpa uncle, Iroh.
  • Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond functions as this to Terry McGinnis until the reveal that he is Terry's biological father because of a crazy governmental genetics program.
  • On The Fairly Oddparents, Cosmo and Wanda act more paternal than Timmy's amazingly neglectful parents could ever hope to.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Frankie is this to Mac, whose mom is hardly ever home.
  • 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.
    Bender: Sometimes I wish your real parents were alive. [Hugs Fry] Not often though.
  • 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.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • Twilight Sparkle can be seen as a mother or sister figure to Spike knowing that she hatched him as part of passing the entrance exam at her school as revealed in "Cutie Mark Chronicles" and also following the events in "Owl's Well That Ends Well". According to Lauren Faust, Spike's original backstory had him raised by Celestia as well since Twilight was a filly herself at the time, but she also said this a storyboard concept and not official at the time.
    • Celestia herself is an odd example; although she's officially Twilight's teacher/mentor, they tend to act more like family even before Twilight becomes her niece-in-law through her brother marrying Cadance. But Twilight's parent's aren't absent at all, and there's no indication that they have a troubled relationship with her, so it's more like Celestia becomes an additional parent to her.
    • Celestia is also this for her adopted niece Cadance, who was an orphan before ascending to alicorn-hood, and fanworks tend to depict her as acting as a parent for her younger sister Luna when they were growing up since we have no idea what their parents were actually like.
    • Mr. and Mrs. Cake serve as this for Pinkie Pie. She lives with them in Sugar Cube Corner and Lauren Faust said they see her as a daughter. Furthering the connection, she is a Cool Big Sis and the go-to foalsitter for their blood children.
    • Granny Smith acts as this for Big Mac, Applejack and Apple Bloom since their parents are absent. Big Mac and Applejack sometimes fill in as this for their little sister as well.
  • 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.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars Plo Koon seems to be filling in this role for Ahsoka, though Anakin Skywalker, normally a Big Brother Figure, can be this on occasion.
  • The three adult Crystal Gems in Steven Universe serve as the titular character's guardians, mentors, and family after the death of his mom. Among them though, the general consensus is that Pearl acts the most like a mother to him and fits this trope the best. Unlike most examples, Steven's dad is still alive, but isn't really in best shape to be raising a kid.
  • In TaleSpin Baloo mirrors this relationship with Kit. He also has moments of this with single mother Rebecca's daughter Molly.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • While Brock is a Papa Wolf to both of the boys in The Venture Bros., 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Both Captain Planet and Gaia serve as Parental Substitutes to the Planeteers. Gaia herself even says, "Children. They make a mother proud" as she watches them head off onto a mission and truly loves them like her own children. Captain Planet himself is extremely good to the five kids and will not hesitate to protect them with his life. Also, considering some of their histories (Wheeler's father was an abusive alcoholic, Ma-Ti's parents were killed), it's clear that the Planeteers really do rely on both Gaia and Captain Planet as they would actual parents.
    • Gi also will occasionally play Team Mom in the field, particularly towards Wheeler and Ma-Ti.
  • In Grojband Trina Riffin is this to her younger biological brother, Corey Riffin, whose father is never seen yet.
  • Steven Universe lives with the Crystal Gems, a trio of magical beings whose team his late mother belonged to. Though his (human) father is still alive, a combination of factors (including said dad not being fit to look after a half-magical child) has them raising him instead.

Parental AbandonmentOrphaned IndexPromotion to Parent
Parental Sexuality SquickThe Parent TropeParent Ex Machina
Oblivious AdoptionAdopt An IndexPet Baby, Wild Animal
Parental IncestParental IssuesMotherly Scientist
Opponent SwitchSubstitution TropesPoisoned Chalice Switcheroo
Parental AbandonmentCharacters as DeviceParents as People
Neutral GoodSelflessness TropesSelfless Wish
Parental IssuesImageSource/PhotographyParty at My Index
Ooh, Me Accent's SlippingSeries/MomPromotion to Parent
Organ TheftSeries/Jale PrepRaging Stiffie

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