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->''"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''', ''Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay''

An amazingly large number of children in the media suffer from ParentalAbandonment. Other children are "lucky enough" to have both parents, but unfortunately live in worlds where there are no HappilyMarried 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 [[GoodParents 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 are never around (or ignore them). If the parents in question are [[DeceasedParentsAreTheBest dead]], they may have known them and are able to answer when the child says TellMeAboutMyFather. They often tell the kid they are SoProudOfYou. 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 Jerker}}s, especially if it follows TakeCareOfTheKids. If it's an older sibling who's taken over the parental role, that's PromotionToParent. The OldRetainer may take over this role in event that his employer's children are suffering from ParentalAbandonment. If an entire society has teens become parental substitutes, that's a TeenageWasteland. If the child gets into a big argument with the substitute, expect to hear "YoureNotMyFather" by the time things get really heated.

ImaginaryFriend is often involved. If the Parental Substitute decides to make their status official, as it were, the kid becomes HappilyAdopted.

Compare and closely related to PromotionToParent (when it's a sibling) and AdoptivePeerParent (for non-relatives), LikeASonToMe, TeamMom, and TeamDad.
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!!Examples
[[index]]
* ParentalSubstitute/AnimeAndManga
* ParentalSubstitute/ComicBooks
* ParentalSubstitute/FanWorks
* [[ParentalSubstitute/LiveActionFilms Films Live-Action]]
* ParentalSubstitute/{{Literature}}
* ParentalSubstitute/LiveActionTV
* ParentalSubstitute/VideoGames
* ParentalSubstitute/WebComics
* ParentalSubstitute/WesternAnimation
[[/index]]

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Fairy Tales]]
* In ''Literature/TheDancingWaterTheSingingAppleAndTheSpeakingBird'', the princes and princess are raised by a deer, which oddly enough does not produce RaisedByWolves. Then, kind-hearted fairies provided her, so perhaps it was magic.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* Fish, for Eggs in ''WesternAnimation/TheBoxtrolls''. Eggs indirectly calls the boxtroll his father at one point.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheIronGiant'': Dean [=McCoppin's=] a father-figure/mentor to Hogarth, whose actual father was a pilot in the American Airforce (and was presumably killed in the Korean War). Hogarth himself has a [[KidWithTheLeash fatherly/big-brother relationship to the giant robot in the title]], who has the mentality of a very young child.
* Baloo acts as this to Mowgli in ''Disney/TheJungleBook'' for the brief time they are together. Prior to him, he was RaisedByWolves, his adoptive father Rama even referring to him as being "like a real son".
** Bagheera also takes on a fatherly role with Mowgli, in the live action [[Film/TheJungleBook2016 remake]] it's pretty much established Mowgli cares for him as a father, maybe even more than Akela or his biological father.
* Though Hiccup's father is alive and well in ''WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragon'', it's Hiccup's boss Gobber the Belch who, despite being frustrated with the boy's overall clumsiness and uselessness, is nevertheless supportive and protective of the boy. He urges Hiccup to be happy with who he is, pressures Hiccup's father to let the boy train to fight dragons when it's clear that's what he wants to do, and even defends the boy from the bullies. He's harsh and InnocentlyInsensitive with his encouragement, but he genuinely means well.
* In ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda'', Shifu is to Tai Lung and later Tigress, and Mr. Ping to Po.
** The Soothsayer to Shen in ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda2''. AllThereInTheManual, though some of her interactions with Shen imply this. You get the feeling that if ''anyone'' else tried to take a bite out of his robes, they would get a knife to the throat.
* ''Disney/LiloAndStitch'':
** Nani tries to be this for Lilo after their parents death. It's hard for both of them.
** In [[Franchise/LiloAndStitch the sequels and]] [[WesternAnimation/LiloAndStitchTheSeries TV show]], [[MadScientist Jumba]] and [[WholesomeCrossdresser Pleakley]] end up as this too in a weird sort of way; Nani has no problems leaving Lilo and Stitch with "Uncle Jumba" and "Aunt Pleakley" when she's busy. David could end up as this (or at least a BigBrotherMentor) since he hang out with them a lot as well and gets ShipTease with Nani.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TitanAE'', the Parental Substitute relationship between Kale and Korso is made even more complicated by the fact that Korso is TheMole.
* Silver is a mentor and father-figure to Jim in ''Disney/TreasurePlanet''. Considering how the story goes, is one of the more turbulent examples, but it all worked out in the most satisfying way possible.
* Flora, Fauna and Merryweather are the mother figures to Princess Aurora in ''Disney/SleepingBeauty''. While Aurora's mother never died, she did grow up without her mother close to her, so it fell on the fairies' hand to raise the child well. Aurora calls the three her aunts, tho.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Mythology and Religion]]
* Myth/GreekMythology:
** 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 Myth/NorseMythology, Odin sometimes comes off as this to Loki in some stories (most likely the reason behind Loki becoming his adopted son in the Creator/MarvelComics [[ComicBook/TheMightyThor 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.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Pinballs]]
* In ''[[Pinball/WHODunnit WHO dunnit]]'', Trixie sees her father's business partner, Tony, as a substitute dad after her real father disappears in an auto accident.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* On the 2016 ''[[Wrestling/RingOfHonor Road To Best In The World]]'' Silas Young took it upon himself to act as ACH's father after coming to the conclusion his seven year old son was more of a man than ACH. ACH was offended, already having a good relationship with his biological father.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theater]]
* In ''Theatre/HenryIV'' Falstaff likes to think that he is this to Hal. If anything, it is the other way round, at least in ''Theatre/HenryIVPart1'', where Hal is usually the one deciding what they're going to do, protecting Falstaff when he's in danger from the police, and telling him off when he behaves inappropriately. This makes Hal's rejection of Falstaff at the end of ''Theatre/HenryIVPart2'' a devastating example of ParentalAbandonment.
* ''Theatre/IntoTheWoods'': Cinderella becomes one for Little Red Riding Hood and probably for Jack too.
* In ''Theatre/{{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.
* ''Theatre/{{Hamilton}}''
** George Washington is this for the protagonist, which causes no small amount of taunts from Hamilton's enemies. (It should be noted that, historically, Washington was aso a father figure to Lafayette and John Laurens.) Hamilton actually resents Washington's paternal feelings since he's got a lot of DaddyIssues, and it causes a major rift in "Meet Me Inside."
** The older Mulligan also says that he stands ''in loco parentis'' for Hamilton, Laurens, and Lafayette.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Several cases take place in the ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'' series:
** In ''Justice For All'', it's revealed that Phoenix's mentor Mia Fey left her little sister Maya in their aunt Morgan's care when she left the village to [[spoiler:search for her and Maya's mother Misty]]. The sisters were unaware of [[spoiler:Morgan's jealousy toward Misty and her daughters]], and were ''very'' upset to find out that [[spoiler:[[BrokenPedestal their beloved aunt would try to frame Maya for murder]], so [[StageMom her own]] ChildProdigy daughter Pearl would be the heir.]]
** In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyTrialsAndTribulations'' Bikini is this for Iris.
** In ''[[VisualNovel/AceAttorneyInvestigationsMilesEdgeworth Investigations 2]]'', [[spoiler:Hakari Mikagami]] becomes [[spoiler:Shimon Aizawa's adoptive mother]] after the death of his mother, Ami. His father, [[spoiler:the ''real'' president of Zheng Fa]], [[DisappearedDad is already dead.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* In ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'', after their mother didn't return from a mission and was presumed dead, Yang became a mother figure for her younger sister Ruby.
** Said mother was actually Yang's stepmother, who raised her after her biological mother walked out almost immediately after she was born.
* In ''WebAnimation/TrueTail'', a giant brute bear named Brutus looks after a small young kitten named Caleb. Caleb is also an orphan, so in this series, a bear is the closet thing the kitten has to a protective father.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Pierce filled this role for troubled teenager Kate Bishop in ''Roleplay/DinoAttackRPG'', at least until [[spoiler:it turned out he actually ''was'' her father]].
** Over the years, [[TheBartender 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 ''Grand''parental Substitute to Mary Rose, especially because she was too young to realize that he is not actually her grandfather.
* In the ''Roleplay/LeagueOfIntergalacticCosmicChampions'' Artsy-Fartsy became the substitute mom to MysteriousWaif Quito Power.
* Mirrorfall - Ryan for Stef, starts referring to her as his daughter in the third book.
* ''WebVideo/SuperMarioLogan'':
** Because Bowser is usually in the other room watching his favorite ShowWithinAShow, ''[[ProtagonistAndFriends Charleyyy and Friends]]'', Chef Pee Pee is usually the one watching his son, Junior.
** Mario becomes this to Jeffy in all of Jeffy's appearances (excluding "Bowser Junior's Playtime 4", "Franchise/{{Pokemon}} Part 6", "Bowser Junior's Game Night 4", and "The Dog Show!"), because Jeffy's mother was too annoyed by him and didn't want to deal with him any further.
[[/folder]]
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