"I guess I'm just trying to say… my parents aren't perfect, but they tried their best. I guess that just makes them human, in the end."Alice and Bob are nice. You'd like them if you met them. Bob's the boss of the big advertising company down the street, and Alice's a physics teacher at the nearby high school. They were High School Sweethearts, and are still clearly in love. They play tennis together on a Saturday, but on Sunday Bob goes fishing while Alice goes white water rafting. They're always busy, but always friendly. Nice folks. Oh, and they have a 13-year-old son named Charlie. When they remember him, they're Doting Parents… it's just that they keep forgetting he exists. Unlike the all-powerful but under-characterised Parent Ex Machina, the reader/viewer knows about The Protagonist's parents. They have friends outside the home, hobbies that take them out of the house and full time jobs. The audience will also be able to discern what kind of relationship the two have as a couple—whether they're still as starry-eyed over each other as they were when they started dating, or on the brink of divorce. They will have quirks, character strengths and character failings. They'll also be hopeless as parents. This couple are not usually nasty—or, if they are, we'll be told all about their Freudian Excuse. They're probably at least sympathetic, if not downright likable. We'd probably like to have them as friends, but definitely wouldn't want them as parents. If you're a protagonist, and your parents are given lots of witty one liners, lots of characterisation and inhabit the Competence Zone to some degree, expect to suffer Parental Abandonment as they pursue their hobbies and relationships at your expense. If mum and dad are still together, you'll be a living example of the phrase "the children of lovers are orphans," as the parental units will be too wrapped up in each other to spend much time with you. On the other hand, if they're fighting constantly, they'll be too busy yelling at each other to notice that you haven't eaten in three days. One particular type of this parent is one, usually-single parent that is firmly in the Competence Zone, and probably a part of their child's zany schemes. Their friends will think these parents are "cool" and they will probably agree… he just wishes his dad would occasionally show up to parents' night, and that mum remembered to cook dinner every so often. The "golfing dad" is an old trope, and if dad's the only absent parent the child probably won't suffer too badly (until the plot calls for it). However, if mum has a hobby that takes her out of the house, works at a demanding job or has a problem that makes her borderline unfit as a parent, parental neglect will almost certainly be a plot point. How it's approached varies from show to show, from the mother realising she'd go mad without her career, to an enormous guilt trip about abandoning her child. If this happens in a family of sufficiently high social standing, particularly in a medieval setting (being a king requires a lot of work, you know), there is a chance that the protagonist and/or one or more of his siblings may become Royally Screwed Up as a result. Unlike Parent Ex Machina, these parents aren't infallible, and they can't solve all of their kids' problems because they can barely handle their own. Their son or daughter can't blithely assume that "dad will take care of it," because he won't. Or he'll try to and fail spectacularly. To compensate, there's usually an alternative mentor who fills in for the absent or ineffective parent. If not, the child will be an adult long before his time as being the Only Sane Man in a crazy family will force them to take care of themselves. If they're the oldest sibling, they'll probably be the "alternative parent."
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Anime & Manga
- The Hirasawa parents in K-On! are usually away on romantic hijinks, leaving younger sister Ui to serve as a surrogate parent for Cloudcuckoolander Yui. In the manga, the rest of the main cast finally meet them on the day of Yui's entrance exam to college, and only because they came over because they were worried she might sleep too late.
- Prof. Yumi from Mazinger Z sincerely loved and cared for his daughter Sayaka, but he was too Married to the Job and busy trying to save the world to take care of her properly, and often Sayaka missed her father.
- Momomiya Ichigo's parents in Tokyo Mew Mew are completely wrapped up in each other. Her mother is quick to squeal over whichever boy she's seen her daughter with, and her father is overprotective and goes off on a Rant-Inducing Slight. However, they're shuffled off to Parental Abandonment-land when she has to save the world, only to come back and punish her for being late to get home. They're seen as good people, they just… don't get it.
- Izumi's mother from Fullmoon O Sagashite is eventually depicted as this, though she was originally more portrayed as an abusive woman. Her husband's apparently sudden and early death had her stricken with grief, to the point that she wasn't capable of giving comfort to her son, Izumi/Leo, and caring well for him, needing comfort herself. She got her comfort by continuously dating and sleeping with men, but their rejection because she had a child was too much for her and she, wrongly, blamed him for it. When Izumi/Leo runs off and commits suicide in front of her, she realizes the mistakes she has made and that she was not and could not be a good mother to him, even crying when she sees that her son prefers death than to live with her any longer…
- Part of the Deconstruction in Neon Genesis Evangelion revolves around this trope. Many Super Robot shows have a teenage mecha pilot and a long-absent father who designed the mecha, so Evangelion shows how traumatizing it would be for a real teen to fight in a giant robot—and what kind of father would be long-absent to design the robot.
- If one were to account parental guardians in this, Misato definitely counts. She tries as hard as she can to be nurturing and protective to Shinji and Asuka, but due to her own pressing emotional baggage, she has trouble getting close to them.
- In fact Super Robot series very, very often show the teenagers being traumatized due to the absence of their parents. Mazinger Z? Dr. Kabuto was a Mad Scientist in the original manga, Sayaka missed her father constantly and it took a long while for Shiro to forgive his and Kouji's father for letting them believe he was dead FOR YEARS. Great Mazinger? Tetsuya Tsurugi is EXACTLY the same character Asuka is (but created twenty years before) due to being an orphan and his adoptive father Kenzou being more concerned with saving humanity than being a good father and helping him with his inferiority complex, lack of self-steem and jealousy (since Kenzou is coincidentally Kouji and Shiro's father, as mentioned above). Kotetsu Jeeg? Hiroshi Shiba stated in the FIRST episode his father could not care less about his family and therefore he could not care less about him (and later it was shown that, no matter what his father's computer-mind told him, Hiroshi was still hurt). Zambot3? His father being missing right when he needed him was one of the many traumas Kappei Jin was forced to endure throughout the series. Mobile Suit Gundam? Amuro's father hardly had time for his family, and was killed off ignominiously, while his mother chose to stay behind on Earth and is heavily implied to have been having an affair. And so on.
- Digimon loves this trope:
- Ken Ichijouji's parents ignored him in favor of his genius older brother, Osamu. When Osamu was hit by a car and died, they were too grieved to pay any attention to him and missed a lot of things that could have prevented his Start of Darkness, such as the creepy e-mails he was getting from one of Mr. Ichijouji's coworkers. They did not seem to give their younger child the time of day until he started showing signs of genius tendencies and it was like Osamu reborn. They were suitably repentant when Ken, to all appearances, ran away from home and came back with Easy Amnesia, culminating in a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when he aknowledges them as his parents again, and ever since then their relationship is more normal.
- Juri Katou's father was simply not prepared to deal with his wife's early death and was a serious believer in tough love, and so he inadvertently warped his little girl into a Stepford Smiler who believed it's her destiny to be unhappy. When he realized his mistake, it was almost too late.
- Also Ruki's mother Rumiko, who cares for her kid but due to having her when she was 17, takes quite a while to really assume her motherly role.
- What about Mr. Lee? The man has a good heart and does try to help, but he completely neglects to inform Jian that Terriermon would be used to defeat the D-Reaper at the cost of all the kids losing their Digimon. And boy, does it hurt not just Jian, but everyone.
- Note that he did not tell them deliberately, since there was the very real risk of the kids refusing to go through with the plan And allowing the D-Reaper to fuse Mother D-Reaper and Cable Reaper to complete it's plan, i.e, the end of all life. In a way, it's also part of a deconstruction of what it would mean for the parents to have to rely on their children to fight.
- Touma Norstein's father Franz, who couldn't stand up to his mother when she told his half-Japanese son that he wasn't good enough to be a Norstein, days after his mother's funeral and being transplanted to Austria, and nearly sold out the planet to a Mad Scientist because he promised to cure his Ill Girl daughter by fusing her with a Digimon. Touma, logically, was PISSED at that.
- Yamato Ishida's dad Hiroaki is the "one foot in the Competence Zone" variety—he's probably the fourth most plot-involved parent in the franchise (losing to guys who significantly influenced the back stories of their canons) and basically treats his son like a House Wife sometimes. His ex-wife Natsuko fares somewhat better in regards to Takeru, but she's still unable to drive him to school on his first day there.
- Sora's parents, Toshiko and Haruhiko. Toshiko was a traditional Yamato Nadeshiko who tended to be bossy and disapprove of Sora's more hotheaded nature (she scolds young Sora for talking to her when not properly seated once, and barring her from going to a soccer match when she was injured), whereas Haruhiko was too absorbed in his work outside of Tokyo. They do much better in the second season.
- Koushirou's parents, Masami and Yoshie. They're technically Good Parents, genuinely loving and even doting a little on him… but didn't tell Koushirou that he was actually their nephew, and they adopted him after his parents died in a car crash as a baby. Which also coincided with the death of their own child. Koushirou learned this "little secret" while overhearing a talk between them, and it caused him lots of angst. But then, they talk about it openly and get better.
- Try Kouji and Kouichi's parents in Digimon Frontier. Both boys were raised on the story that their Disappeared Dad (Kouichi)/Missing Mom (Kouji) was dead and until the death of their maternal grandmother, neither knew the other existed. On the other hand, Kouichi's mother is technically a good mother if a bit of an adult Ill Girl from the two flashbacks we see of her and Kouji's father at least seems to be a decent enough dad.
- Nazuna's parents in Hidamari Sketch. When they first appear to help Nazuna moving in, the other Hidamari residents instantly like them, since they're friendly and apparently doting. However, a few comics later it's clear that they have basically abandoned their child, as Nazuna's dad was transferred and her mother decided that her teenage daughter was better suited to living alone than her husband, a grown man. So she decided to go with him, and left Nazuna to fend for herself. Good thing the Hidamari residents are so close-knit.
- To a lesser extent, Yuno's parents. They can be a little oddball and embarrassing, but did at least worry about their daughter's decision to live alone. Her dad is also the classic Overprotective Dad, so they haven't completely abandoned their parental roles, even if they do like to recapture their youth by visiting amusement parks.
- From Eroica with Love briefly examined the repercussions of this—an unusually serious take for a comedy manga. Dorian's dad was a gay aristocrat, who was presumably pressured into marrying. After three daughters (who he doesn't seem to have concerned himself with), he is delighted with his son, who he sees as "an ally in a house full of women." He no longer bothers pretending to be respectable, and fills the house with his assorted friends, including thieves and criminals of various types, introducing his son into this social sphere. Dorian takes to thievery like a duck to water, and his father encourages this. That's the last straw for Dorian's mother, who packs up her daughters and leaves the family home, which eventually has to be sold to pay for the divorce settlement.
- In Sakende Yaruze!, meeting for the first time at the ages of 17 and 33 respectively, Nakaya and Shino both have trouble sorting out their father-son relationship precisely because at this point in their lives they are inclined to see each other as people first and don't know where to draw lines or how they should act once Nakaya comes to live with Shino. Ultimately, Shino does fail as an ideal parent and chooses not centre his life around Nakaya, but Nakaya also chooses not to ask him to.
- Fruits Basket: if the Sohma parents don't abuse their cursed children, they're likely to end up as this. I.e., Ritsu's mom Meshou is a Fragile Flower who Apologises a Lot, and Kisa's mother almost gives up raising her because she's too stressed and sad upon not being able to help Kisa with her school troubles.
- Sailor Moon: While Kenji and Ikuko Tsukino are Good Parents and Minako's dad and mom are also hinted to be that way, Ami's mother falls into this squarely. She has good intentions, yes, but is simply too absorbed by her job as a doctor to spend time with Ami, and for worse she's also a single mom since her ex-husband is an artist who lives and works abroads.
- Natsue from Prétear, specially in the anime. Though she does care for her family, she simply doesn't seem to be cut out for motherhood, and at times she and Kaoru are just too wrapped up in each other to notice the problems between Himeno, Mayune and Mawata. Specially in the case of Mawata.
- Kaoru, too. It's clear he loves Himeno, but he himself is a very irresponsible Man Child until almost the end of the story.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Relena is shown to be somewhat resentful of her father's job keeping him away from his family; in fact, one of her first lines of dialog has her admonishing him to take some more time for himself. This isn't helped by the fact that he brings her along on business trips so they can spend time together but keeps getting called away. However, there's no question that her father loves her, and that she loves him and understands that he's a very important man (being the Vice Foreign Minister to the entire planet). Later in the series, she admits that she was selfish for not seeing just how important his work was. Even the revelation that she's adopted does nothing to change how she feels, and in The Movie she takes up the Darlian surname once more.
- Hamtaro mostly has Good Parents, but Mimi's family falls squarely into this. It's understandable if we consider that the Iwata family is very large by Japanese standards (four children, including their newborn baby), and they do try to aid her, but one can't help feeling bad for poor Mimi when she spends a lot of her time alone at home.
- Kotetsu from Tiger & Bunny is a single father who struggles with the fact that his dream job as a superhero means that he can't really spend much time with his daughter, Kaede, who lives with her grandmother and uncle.
- Satoshi and Eriko Oginome from Mawaru-Penguindrum. They do love their daughter Ringo, but the death of their eldest daughter Momoka in a strange incident completely trashed the family dynamics, since Satoshi insisted that they should move on and Eriko couldn't let go. Now they're divorced and the teenaged Ringo lives with Eriko, while Satoshi takes her out in periodic outings. But Satoshi neglects to tell Ringo that he is dating again… which unintentionally makes Ringo despair and speed up her "Project M", causing the infamous Attempted Rape incident of episode 8 and all that came up next.
- Mariko Shinobu's parents in Oniisama e.... They're not bad persons per se, but they have very serious issues, which really don't contribute to Mariko's convoluted emotional state.
- Kore Wa Koi No Hanashi
- Haruka's parents. Her mother has become mentally instable after her son's death. Incapable of accepting reality, and his death, she flees into a sort of fantasy world, where Kazuma is simply 'not at home' and becomes worried when he's late. This kept going, until she started to see her daughter as her deceased son, calling her Kazuma and is implied to have simply forgotten that she had a daughter. And talking back to her, reminding her of her son's death, causes Haruka's mother to lash out violently. As horrible of a person she is, one cannot help but feel sorry for her.
- Haruka's father fares a bit better. He's often overseas on business and never took a great deal of influence in the house, before or after his son's death, since he figured his wife had everything under control. After he has to cart his wife off to a hospital and continue to work himself, he gets a housekeeper to drop in a few times a week, to cook for Haruka and take care of the household. He just overall lacks the contact he initially needed with Haruka and has difficulty creating some now.
- Shinichi's parents, if one looks at them from a certain angle. Both were hardworking people, trying to keep their family afloat, but the father was an alcoholic, who also was verbally and physically abusive to his wife. And his wife took the beatings, with Shinichi realizing years later that she might have stayed with him, simply to give Shinichi two parents to grow up with. Ultimately results in his mother burning down their apartment to create a family suicide, started to choke her son, but he was the only one out of the three to survive the suicide. At the age of eight.
- Haruka's parents. Her mother has become mentally instable after her son's death. Incapable of accepting reality, and his death, she flees into a sort of fantasy world, where Kazuma is simply 'not at home' and becomes worried when he's late. This kept going, until she started to see her daughter as her deceased son, calling her Kazuma and is implied to have simply forgotten that she had a daughter. And talking back to her, reminding her of her son's death, causes Haruka's mother to lash out violently. As horrible of a person she is, one cannot help but feel sorry for her.
- Ed and Al's dad in Fullmetal Alchemist is a Disappeared Dad for most of their lives, but when he lived with them while their mother was alive, he's implied to have been this trope—spending most of his time holed up in his study working on his alchemy researches. He was mainly researching a way to cure his near-immortality so he wouldn't outlive his wife and children, but discovered the sinister plot his former friend had with the entire country.
- Yusuke's mom in YuYu Hakusho. She genuinely loves him but gave birth to him when she was 15 and has a lot of associated problems with being a Hard-Drinking Party Girl.
- Spirit Alburn in Soul Eater tries to be a loving father but is a terrible husband, as evident by his wife divorcing him due to his womanizing, which in turn, causes tension between his daughter who loses her respect for him.
- Maka's mother could be considered one. In the manga, next to nothing is known about her and even her name was a result of a mistranslation. While she did leave Spirit, we don't even see her return to try and stop Asura with driving the whole world mad. There appears to be no confirmation on her even being dead and alive (albeit since she's such a strong meister, we'd hear if she was dead.)
- In One Piece, Bellemere is this to her adopted daughters Nojiko and Nami. She tries to care for them, but does not make much money from her tangerines, and occasional immaturity (for example, Nami claiming that Nojiko's not her sister because they're not related is a Berserk Button for her). However, she cares for them more than anything and when Arlong attacks the island, she pays their fee instead of her own, dying for them.
- In Saki Shinohayu -dawn of age-, Kousuke, Shino's uncle, is this after he takes her in following the disappearance of her mother, who is his sister. He does his best to care for her, but is also busy with his job and searching for his sister. As a result, he makes the mistake of thinking that mahjong does nothing but remind Shino of her Missing Mom, and tries to sell it, much to Shino's displeasure. Thankfully, he was unable to sell it due to missing a tile, and after he sees her having fun at a tournament (partly in hopes of getting her mother to find her), he apologizes and returns the set.
- Hana's mother, Yuri, in Girls und Panzer. While she orders Hana out of the house after learning that she's doing tankery, it's implied that she's otherwise warm and caring for Hana, and her initial reaction to hearing that Hana is doing tankery is to worry that something is bothering her, and to respond to her belief that flower arrangement is no longer enough for her by saying that she's done well so far. She also eventually reconciles with her daughter.
- Naruto: Gaara had every right to hate his father, the Fourth Kazekage. The man all but killed his mother to make him the Jinchuriki for Shukaku, and then drove him to his insanity by making him believe that he was never loved and that no one would ever love him. Ultimately, however, he came to understand that his cruelty was in the name of the village they both held dear, through his own burdens as the Fifth Kazekage. When the Fourth, resurrected by the Edo Tensei, is finally sealed, he has already made his peace with his son and leaves the village in his hands.
- The epilogue shows Naruto as Hokage, which strains his time with his family. When his and Hinata's son Bolt starts acting out in order to get his attention (very much how Naruto was at the start of the series), Naruto tells him that his job means he can't be his dad all the time, so he must learn to endure it, because he's a ninja as well. He is also shown to try and balance his time better after this, though it is clear that this is a hard balance to make.
- Menma's mother Irene in anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day had neglected her remaining child in her grief over her daughter's death to the point she refused to leave the house and see others. Thankfully, she got better by the end of the series.
- In Pokémon Special, Grace and her daughter Y don't see eye to eye as Y dropped Rhyhorn racing in favor of Sky Training. That said, it's clear that Grace isn't a cruel person and Y does worry when Grace goes missing.
- Kyo Kara Maoh! has a couple examples:
- First, there's Lady Cecilia, the mother of three of the main characters, a beautiful, flirtatious and extremely flighty woman eternally on a quest for 'free love'. She loves her sons very much, and they love her, but all of them acknowledge her as being an unreliable and often irritating wild card in social and political situations. She is shown to have a deeper side occasionally: Conrad's father was human, and given the longer lifespan of Mazoku, this relationship ended predictably and tragically, and she seems to still mourn him. She also regrets that her weakness contributed to so much strife and sorrow during her reign as Maou.
- Secondly was Conrad's father Dan Hiri himself. Although he seems to have been a pretty good parent to Conrad and Parental Substitute to Jozak, to Gwendal he was his endlessly irritating new stepfather, and a human, to boot. Dan Hiri seemed to find Gwendal's childish wrath amusing (while his mother appears to have simply been oblivious, as is her wont, to something she didn't want to see). This only worsened when Dan Hiri decided to leave his family behind and continue traveling the world in search of an immortal legacy he could leave, feeling the weight of his human lifespan. They eventually get some sort of closure when Dan Hiri dies in Gwendal's arms and Gwendal begins to understand how short and frail human lives really are, but the validity of his choices is left ambiguous by the story.
- Tsuna's parents in Katekyo Hitman Reborn!. Although they do care for him, his mother constantly belittles him and cares very little for his future. His father, a Disappeared Dad most of Tsuna's life, who without even talking to Tsuna about it, decided to force him to become a Mafia crime lord that made him a target for countless assassins.
- In Koe no Katachi, Shouko's mother was well-meaning but harsh to her daughters to toughen them up, resulting in friction between her and her daughters, especially the youngest one.
- Shouya's mother is too busy at work and oblivious that her son wanted to commit suicide and when Shouya fell into a coma, she was so overwhelmed by the situation that she doesn't know what to do.
- In Ouran High School Host Club, Haruhi's father loves her dearly but tends to overwork himself a lot for her sake and Haruhi herself would rather have her dad stay home and rest than go see her at school events.
- Lyrical Nanoha:
- This is an important part of Fate's characterization from StrikerS onward. Despite her desire to be the best mother possible for her adopted children, her position as an enforcer means that she's often away on missions for long stretches of time (which is part of the reason why Erio and Caro never lived with her). Vivio even teases her about it in ViVid.
- The movie adaptation of the first season shows that Precia was also like this prior to her descent into insanity.
- Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Kobayashi's parents were like this while she was growing up, and she ends up as one when she becomes Kanna's Parental Substitute.
Kobayashi: Parents day... my parents never came. They were busy with work. It was to support the family, and I understood that.
- In My Hero Academia Midoriya's mother is a slightly more positive depiction of this trope. She clearly cares about her son and wants to support him, but at the same time isn't always sure of the best course of action to take. Early on, when she finds out that her son's dream of being a superhero is basically crushed by his lack of a quirk, she's heartbroken for him, but doesn't give him the encourgment and optimism that he really wants. Later on she decides to transfer him to a different school, which would further torpedo his dreams. True to the trope, she does have a very sympathetic reason for doing so (she's extremely concerned for his safety after he's repeatedly injured in encounters with villains, to the point that his hand is permanently disfigured) and she does change her mind after discussing the matter with Midoriya and All Might. In short, she does want what's best for her son, but what she wants for him isn't always what's best or what he wants.
- In the Blue Devil comics, Kid Devil aka Eddie Bloomberg's parents were this to him, with his aunt Marla Bloom being the alternative parent and Blue Devil being a kind of surrogate uncle. His parents' neglect ended up having some effects on Eddie later in life when he joined the Teen Titans, making him very desperate to have a family.
- General Ross has been presented chiefly as this sort of parent since the mid-80s in Hulk comics (as he is in the films, below). He loves Betty, but he's not equipped to get emotionally close to her, particularly not since the death of his wife, and his obsessions have often gotten between them. He's trying to reconnect with her these days, but it's not proving easy.
- It's shown to be generational, as Ross's own father was a career officer who was rarely around.
- Atlas is pretty much as you'd expect classic Superman to be as a father: Somewhat bumbling, well-intentioned and eager to show his superpowered son how to take part in the 'family business', but also chronically busy saving the world and somewhat uncomprehending of the fact that his son is a slight Shrinking Violet who'd prefer to become a musician. That said, he's way better than Tyler's parents…
- A major recurring theme of the Alexandra Quick series. None of the parents in the story have been shown to be outright Abusive Parents yet, but they all have significant flaws. The only parental figure that is close to ideal is Thalia King.
- In the Katawa Shoujo fic Weekend at Hisao's, Shizune's father and Hisao's parents are seen in this light. Shizune is frustrated with her father's persistent attempts to get her to speak (in the fic, it's indicated that she can speak but sounds terrible), but sees that he wants her to succeed and appreciates that he doesn't treat her any differently from her non-disabled brother. Hisao says he didn't like his parents' frequent absences from his life due to working, but realizes that they worked so hard so that he could grow up in a nice house that they never had in their childhoods, and were willing to sell that house if it was necessary to cure his condition.
- In the Mega Crossover Ultimate Re-Imaginings, Tony Stark is portrayed like this, even though Blair thinks he's neglectful and has made it more than clear if it wasn't for her adoptive mother she wouldn't have anything to do with him despite him trying to be a father; he's just not very good at it.
- In Marie D. Suesse And The Mystery New Pirate Age!, Mar's parents have a troubled marriage at the start, before the Suesse family falls into the One Piece world. Her father, Garreth, often spends time at work to avoid having to come home, and Mar, at one point, believes that he has no serious desire to rescue her mother. Mar's mother, Blake, is strict with her, putting expectations on her that are difficult for her to meet. And yet, when Mar is separated from both of them after falling into the One Piece world, she can't help but miss them, in spite of their flaws.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic The Twilight Child depicts Twilight Sparkle, of all people, as this. While she does care about her daughter, she also frequently fails to understand her interests and desires are different from Twilight's, causing the two to become increasingly distant as time goes on, eventually resulting in a very nasty argument between them. It doesn't help that Discord has caused some Laser-Guided Amnesia behind the scenes.
- TRON: Endgame Scenario: Alan and Lora were this to Jet. Lora was stuck in Washington DC, trying to rebuild the Shiva laser while Alan was trying to put out all the fires Flynn left behind at Encom, run the Flynn Lives project, try to keep Sam in line, arrange the boys' futures, and so forth - which left little time and energy for Jet. As a result, Jet rebelled hard against his father's wishes until the F-Con incident
- In Eroninja, Naruto is shown to nearly hate his father for sealing the Kyuubi within him. Regardless of how things turned out (including Naruto and Kyuubi becoming lovers), the fact remains that Minato chose to act like so many before him and leave a problem for the next generation to deal with. Especially since Naruto learns from Mito that resealing the Kyuubi inside Kushina would have healed her, so Naruto being an orphan was completely unnecessary.
- It's made worse when Naruto goes back to the past and Kushina, who's replaced the Kyuubi inside Naruto, decides to warn Minato of Tobi unsealing the Kyuubi. Minato erases his memory of the event, causing both Naruto and Kushina to conclude that like making Naruto into a jinchuuriki, he was making a hard decision in a way where he wouldn't have to live with himself afterwards.
- The Potters in Princess of the Blacks truly want to reconcile with their daughter Jenny after learning they were wrong and she wasn't a squib. Unfortunately for them, Jen wants nothing to do with them at all and they can't seem to realize that. James in particular reacts poorly to anyone telling him Jen doesn't want to reconcile, even if it's Jen herself saying so.
- Rumple is very much aware of how much he screwed up with his firstborn son Baelfire, and discovering he fathered another son in Dark Dynasty makes him fear he will repeat the same mistakes with Harry. Belle assures him he can be a good father, and even if he's really far from perfection, Rumple really does try.
Film - Animated
- Coraline's parents are too busy trying to move into a new house and meet a publishing deadline to cater to their bored daughter—as her mother points out, she is old enough to entertain herself. What she finds when she goes exploring is more than enough to make her appreciate her lovingly boring parents. The book has a similar vibe, but Coraline's mother is harsh and unsympathetic, while her father is loving, but too distracted to pay much attention.
- In Frozen, the King and Queen meant well but understandably did not know how to handle a daughter with vast magical powers. Their attempts to keep her isolated from everyone and telling Elsa to "conceal, not feel" prevented disaster in the short-term but they also strained the once close bond between their children and left them both with issues. Worse, the psychological toll this had on Elsa ensured that when she did eventually lose control she would lose it to such a degree that the entire kingdom was threatened.
- Judy's parents in Zootopia have a loving, supportive relationship with their daughter but they wish she would choose a safer career. They mean well but they do acknowledge and advise to a young Judy that it's near impossible for her to be a police officer and try to attempt to convince her to "settle" and be a carrot farmer instead.
Film - Live Action
- Maisie's biological parents in the modern adaptation of "What Maisie Knew." The father, though self-absorbed, is implied to feel seriously insecure about his paternal capabilities. Her equally self-absorbed mother tries to lavish Maisie with as much affection as she could but eventually pulls a I Want My Beloved to Be Happy and allows Maisie to stay with her kind stepparents.
- Mary's parents, in an adaptation of The Secret Garden, are hopelessly self-absorbed people who accidentally abandon their daughter during an earthquake because they forgot about her.
- For that matter, Uncle Archibald would also count. He loves his son and sees to it that he has the best care, but is so driven to grief over his wife Lillias's death and the fear that Colin inherited his hunchback condition that he is almost never home at all. This is also the case when he becomes Mary's guardian. He sees her exactly once before the end of the story, but when he meets her, he makes sure that she has everything she needs to be well looked after.
- Juno uses this Trope to a degree. The title character's parents are divorced, leaving her with her Dad, step-mom, and half-sister. She hasn't seen her mom in years, only communicating through letters, and her Dad and stepmom don't exactly react too horrified or shocked when they hear she's pregnant, aside from Dad proclaiming an intent to punch the boy who did it in the balls. At the same time, Juno's stepmom sticks up for her in the doctor's office when an x-ray tech makes a passing insult, and when she's feeling doubtful about a potentially serious relationship, her Dad is there to offer some good advice (albeit admitting that as a divorcee, he isn't the best person to give it).
- The reason Cobb in Inception took Saito's job was so he could return to America to see his children. Mal was like this too, but after being unable to tell reality from dreaming, she committed suicide, believing herself in a dream, so she could be with her children again, not realizing she was already in the real world. Or was she?
- In the stupid Mexican kids' movie Santa Claus, presented as a Christmas episode of MST3K, one of the children Santa visits is a little boy whose socialite parents literally needed Santa to drug them in order for them to remember that they have a kid.
- General Ross from The Incredible Hulk has a few moments where he seems to care about his daughter Betty but most of his life and time is devoted to capturing the Hulk. In fact, in his determination to subdue the Hulk, his actions nearly got Betty killed at one point. Psychiatrist Dr Samson points out to him how he was lying when he said Betty's safety was his main concern.
Dr Samson: "I never knew why she never talked about you… I do now."
- They had this problem in the earlier Hulk film as well. General Ross wanted to be a part of Betty's life but couldn't because of his work. He also disapproved of her relationship with Bruce, but only because he knew about Bruce's abusive parents and wanted to keep her safe. By the end of the film, Betty's house, phone, and computer are being monitored in case Bruce ever attempts to contact her, but the two of them make an effort to stay on good terms.
- Regina's stepmother in Mean Girls. She is so desperate to be the "cool mom" to her stepdaughter that she effectively spoils Regina rotten, letting her get away with anything, and contributes heavily to Regina's lack of respect to other people.
- King George V in The King's Speech is strict and harsh to his younger son Albert who has a speech impediment, especially when he was younger where George was a bit of a Jerk Ass towards him. But because his oldest son is shirking his duties, he knows that Albert may eventually have to take over his duties as a king (whether Albert wants it or not) and he is trying, in his own way, to fix Albert's stuttering. On his deathbed, he does approve of Albert as king but he never actually told Albert.
- In Before Midnight, Jesse and Celine are shown as parents who try very hard and love their kids to bits but ultimately are flawed and imperfect at being parents. Celine later confesses how ashamed she was of being clueless as the mom of their daughters and making mistakes and how she felt she was supposed to be instinctual and a natural at this parenting thing. Also, Jesse totally steals a half-eaten apple from his sleeping daughter!
- Herc Hansen from Pacific Rim is a good man and is trying hard to be a good father but he and his son Chuck suffer from poor communication and trauma from when Herc had the Sadistic Choice of either saving his son or wife when the Kaiju attacked. Chuck is implied to have Survivor's Guilt in regards to his father saving him over his mother and resents his father for not saving her.
- James Reid from The Green Hornet is a very good example. He was a well renowned publisher, a strong believer in a free press which costs him his life at the hands of the corrupt DA Scanlon , and beloved by his employees. He was also a widower with a young son who had problems in school. Mr. Reid's response was to treat him with contempt, even in a case of self-defense. The result was a young, lazy playboy with no respect for any of the values James preaches. Over the course of the movie, however, Britt comes to learn about more about what his father believed in, and while still thinking he was a lousy dad, he was still a respectable human being, enough to put the head back on his statue.
- Over the Edge: The parents of New Grenada pretty much built not only their lives, but their town around their lives and careers. Their children, left in a town without much to do, were driven to delinquency, and the solutions their parents proposed only made things much worse.
- In The Descendants, Matt is a workaholic who struggles to connect with his two daughters after his wife goes into a coma. His wife Elizabeth is a self-absorbed adrenaline junkie who cheated on her husband and her refusal to admit her affair when her oldest daughter caught her only caused a lot of problems for said daughter.
- The Kents as they appear in Man of Steel and later, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, unlike most depictions of Clark's adoptive parents who tend to have perfectly instilled wisdom; here they admit that they are making up much of what they do as it comes since neither of them was prepared for accidentally adopting an alien child with immense power.
- The aging Hank Pym had a strained relationship with his daughter, Hope, for not telling her the details of her mother's death. Because of this, Hope defected to Darren Cross when he took over Pym Industries until she found out Cross is not a nice man. Despite returning to her father, she's still angry at him particularly for choosing a con-man, Scott Lang, to take the Ant-Man mantle instead of her. Then it turns out that Hank is just trying to protect her because he doesn't want her to end like her mother who made a Heroic Sacrifice during their mission. In the end, they made up and Hank decided to let Hope inherit The Wasp mantle from her mother.
- Scott Lang is an ex-con struggling to find work so he can help in taking care of his daughter, Cassie. Though Cassie loved him, his ex-wife thought that Scott is a very irresponsible parent.
- Jacqueline Wilson is diligent in depicting her Parents As People. Often likable, these characters don't fall into stereotypes… but the reader still wouldn't want to be related to them. In The Illustrated Mum, Marigold, a manic-depressive single mother, adores her two children, but feeds them cake rather than cooking them a proper dinner. In The Suitcase Kid, Andy's divorced parents marry new partners who already have families of their own. Her parents are so involved with their new lives that they don't realize they're using Andy as a pawn to "get back" at each other. In The Diamond Girls, the heroine and her sisters have lived in continual disorder all their lives, with their mother frequently changing boyfriends and moving her family to new homes. Amber, an early novel, was about a girl who rebels against her traveller mother and struggles to live a normal life.
- Judy Blume uses the trope as well.
- In Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret., the religious issues affecting Margaret affect her parents too—her mother was raised Christian, her dad raised Jewish. They're good parents for most of the book, until Margaret's maternal grandparents show up… whereupon they cancel Margaret's holiday in order to meet them, only to spend the entire visit using her to placate or annoy her grandparents.
- Tiger Eyes is about a teenaged girl named Davey whose father, a convenience store clerk, was shot during a robbery and, it is eventually revealed, died in her arms. Davey's mother turns into pretty much a space cadet for most of the novel, unable to function, and transplants Davey and her brother Jason to the opposite side of the country. The three live for most of the story with the dad's sister and her husband, who try to act as substitute parents for the kids, but do so in the most ham-fisted manner possible.
- There's also the stories about Peter Hatcher (the Fudge series). His parents are nice, but often butt heads with their sons over various things (moving temporarily to Princeton, having a third child, etc).
- A Patch of Blue has the mother and grandfather of the blind protagonist Selina: Rosanne, the villain, and Ole Pa, a sympathetic failure of a man, respectively. They both work most of the day in bathrooms, and Rosanne moonlights as a prostitute. Ole Pa is a stone-dead-drunk most of the time, but tends to be more humane to Selina, whereas Rosanne frequently beats her.
- This is key to the mystery of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime—it turns out that being an adult does not automatically make you Able or willing to adapt to parenting a child with a highly stigmatized disability. Nor does it make you capable, nor enable you to face up to that in a mature and constructive way.
- Jodi Picoult's parents are often good parents to one child with exceptional needs, but pretty terrible parents to all of their other children. The story will detail the parent's private and legal struggles on the behalf of their child, while the rest of the family falls apart due to neglect. A classic case is in Handle with Care, where the mother sacrifices her best friend, her husband and her oldest daughter supposedly on behalf of her youngest daughter, only to realize that the real issue was not her invalid daughter, but herself.
- Jon and Thayet are Royals Who Actually Do Something in the Tortall Universe books, but according to Word of God, being king usually takes precedence over being a daddy in Jon's book (he blackmailed his daughter out of becoming a knight in case that endangered her marriage prospects), and Thayet is often busy with the Queen's Riders military group.
- In They Never Came Back by Caroline B. Cooney, Murielle's parents are like this, eventually abandoning her to escape charges of embezzlement.
- Annabeth's human father in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, who is a brilliant man and cares deeply for his children, though he is a bit absent-minded at times.
- Diana Wynne Jones, as noted below, wrote her nearest thing to an autobiographical novel and called it The Time of the Ghost; it is about this sort of family. The father is a towering professor known to his children as Himself, who runs a boys' school, where the lead and her three sisters live, and the mother spends all her time keeping the school in order, and all four girls are really shockingly neglected. Getting food regularly involves raiding the school kitchens and doing their bet to get away with it. Both parents, however, despite fairly limited page time due to their disinterest in their children, are highly realized characters with internal lives of whose shape we get a sense.
- Dresden Files: Maggie LeFay, having the best intentions, skirted the bounds between white and black magic, falling in with what one might call "the wrong crowd", one of whom murders her in childbirth. Her son inherits one hell of a legacy.
- Harry's father was a different story; Malcolm Dresden was a decent, kind, hard-working and loving man, all traits which drew Maggie to him. Then he died under mysterious circumstances....
- And now Harry is a father… which just kind of says it all, really.
- Mr and Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Mrs Bennet is a shallow airhead who is an Amazingly Embarassing Parent attempting to match-make her daughters off in unsubtle and humiliating methods. When Elizabeth calls her out on her behaviour, she reveals her real fear that she and her daughters will be utterly destitute if they don't marry well. Also, Mr Bennet copes with his ill-matched marriage by finding refuge in his books and sarcasm. He could care less that he exposes his wife and younger daughters to the ridicule of the world. By the end of the novel, he accepts responsibility for his daughter's mistake and takes measures to instill some sense into his two unmarried daughters.
- An Old Republic survey team, well before Galaxy of Fear, crash landed on Dagobah and couldn't get off. They couldn't find enough food to support themselves, but a few years into this some still paired off and had children. This meant there were more mouths to feed, and not enough food for any of them, especially as more and more of the adults died from animal attacks and fevers. The remaining adults started to feed the bodies to their children, a practice which the kids adopted when the last parent died, when the oldest child was seven. Malnourished and uneducated, the Children felt cannibalism was an expression of love—and they're forced to confront the truth that in fact it was filled with desperation and horror.
- Lampshaded by Poirot in Five Little Pigs: He finds strange that every witness of a case seems to forget that the murder victim has a baby daughter: Discussed when Miss Williams as a governess explains Poirot that middle class children know that his parents love them, but they are busy providing for them to pay them attention, but the affluent murder victim and his wife’s lives were so intense that the baby will never be their first concern.
- Fanny Hatter in Howl's Moving Castle, while having good intentions, sends off her daughters to their new placements without really considering their own thoughts on the matter. She also used her eldest step-daughter Sophie to run her hat store without pay and has implied to have an It's All About Me mentality.
- All four of The Ultra Violets's mothers, who are all brilliant scientists and consumed with work. The only time they ever do get involved with their daughters is when they unintentionally impede on their plans to save Sync City.
- With the introduction of child viewpoint characters in Edenborn, several of the characters from the first book get this characterization.
- Vashti and Champagne see maintaining humanity as their highest goal. Thus they raise many children but don't spend too much energy on any one of them, which leads to tensions between Penny and her siblings. Vashti spends most of her time researching; Champagne spends hers on studying and composing artwork.
- Isaac sees the spirituality of humanity as a key component of its revival and does not accept rebellion against his fundamentalist principles. This drives a wedge between him and his teenage son, as well as between his fundamentalist oldest child and the younger siblings.
- Halloween teaches his son all the skills that Halloween needed to survive. He does not adapt to the circumstances around them, nor does he train Deuce to address novel situations.
- In The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel's parents are shown to be very loving and supportive of her but also have their obvious frustrations with the burden her illness has put on their personal lives.
- The Empress Alexandra VII is a terrible mother to her youngest son because of unresolved feelings about his bastard of a father. She doesn't mean to take it out on Roger but she does.
- Petunia Dursley probably doesn't realize she's taking out her anger at the Wizarding World for stealing—and killing—her beloved little sister on Harry. She doesn't mean to to turn her own son into a spoiled, selfish oaf either. Petunia needs some serious counseling.
- Molly Weasley is a good person with noble intentions and is an excellent Parental Substitute for Harry but because she has so many kids, her youngest son Ron feels ignored/neglected sometimes. She has a tendency to treat Harry better than her own children, particularly Ron, when her other children are right next to Harry.
- Janine Hathaway from Vampire Academy is a legendary guardian but Mother of the Year she is not. When we meet her she barely knows Rose, Rose doesn't like or trust her at all, and Janine has the tendency to project her own fears and failures onto Rose.
- Kasia's mother Wensa in Uprooted loved her daughter "carefully" once she saw that Kasia was going to be pretty and intelligent and therefore most likely to be taken away the wizard called the Dragon. Wensa also sent Kasia on exhausting walks to other villages to learn how to bake, sew, etc fit for a lord's mistress and set her to frightening tasks to make her braver. When Kasia was not picked, the return home was therefore rather awkward, but Wensa is still distraught enough to go all the way to the Dragon's tower and beg Agnieszka's help when Kasia is abducted by the Wood. At the end, Kasia elects to remain with the royal children for a while. Her strained relationship with Wensa is a major reason why.
- Jessica Darling's parents aren't particularly good at being parents to her, but it's not for lack of trying and good intentions. Jess notes at one point that they clearly have her best interests at heart, they just have no idea what those interests actually are—and she finds it hard to hold that against them, because most of the time she can't even figure out herself what actually would make her happy.
- A Song of Ice and Fire has several noble parents who only see their children as pawns for political alliances and never bother their wellbeing. But there are a few who really love their children; it's just that they live in a Crapsack World where they need to make alliances:
- Catelyn Stark has to leave Winterfell to find those responsible for the crippling and attempted assassination on her younger son, Bran. She stayed with Robb, when the War of the Five Kings broke out to help him rescue Sansa and Arya, leaving Bran and Rickon in Winterfell which is later invaded by the Ironborn and sacked by Ramsey Snow. While Catelyn loves her children, her desire to protect and save made dire consequences which resulted to the downfall of her family.
- Doran Martell is not much of a good parent as his brother, Oberyn. He even send his eldest son, Quentyn, to a rival house due to Oberyn's mishap with its lord, causing his wife to leave him. His daughter, Arianne, noted that he doesn't mind that she lost her virginity at a young age and arranges marriages to very old people which made her think that he's going to pass her inheritance to Quentyn and all the important duties at Sunspear are done by Oberyn rather than her despite being the heir. But it turns out that Doran really cared about his family except that he's too caught up in wanting to avenge the brutal deaths of his sister, niece and nephew and paranoid in not telling his plans to Arianne and his brother's bastard daughters. It takes Arianne's failed coup to realize his weakness.
- Lysa Arryn loves her sickly son, Robin, to the point of being My Beloved Smother due to suffering several miscarriages in the past. When she heard that her husband planned to take Robin away, she poisoned him with the help from her childhood friend and crush, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. Except that Littlefinger is only manipulating her to further his plans sow distrust between the Starks and the Lannisters and admits to Lysa that he loved Catelyn before killing her. As of A Feast Of Crows, poor Robin is under Littlefinger's care who is using him to further his plans.
- Ronja the Robber's Daughter: Mattis loves his little girl deeply, but his pride and stubbornness make it impossible for him to end his feud with Borka, even for her sake. In fact, these traits make him the closest thing this book has to a primary antagonist.
- Journey to Chaos: Basilard tries to be a good father for Zettai but the fact that he became her father because a Trickster Archetype twisted his arm into committing sacrilege to his clan's religion makes it difficult for him to accept her.
- Danny, the Champion of the World: Danny's father is a good man and very much a caring and attentive father, but he is also a poacher who risks getting killed and leaving his son an orphan for sport (not to mention that he is stealing someone else's precious game birds).
- Blanche Devereaux from The Golden Girls clearly didn't enjoy being a mother, mainly due to her vanity and It's All About Me personality, basically leaving childcare to nannies and even admitting that as they got older she would tell people they were her husband's from a much earlier marriage. It all comes back to haunt her as she gets older and none of them want anything to do with her. An interesting perspective flip, as this is told from the view of the "bad" parent rather than the child. (Also, in a show known for its Negative Continuity, this is one of the few details portrayed consistently).
- Supernatural: John Winchester is a good-hearted man who had something awful happen to his family but no matter how much he tries or how much he loves his sons, he's just incapable of being a good father. Before he dies, he gives Dean an extra-horrible order to kill Sam if he can't save him, treats Sam like a child and Dean like a blunt weapon, and an awful lot of their issues that are still going on today can solely lay the blame at his feet.
- In general terms, this is a popular trope in drama series like The Bill or Holby City when the children of characters in high-pressure or high profile jobs (such as doctors, teachers, political figures or rescue services) are involved. Often the child will have a scene where they berate their parent for being a hero to everyone else but their child (i.e. a successful doctor who's never home because she refuses to abandon her patients, or a teacher who goes the extra mile for her pupils while completely forgetting her own son's graduation).
- Any parent on Shameless.
- My So-Called Life can be considered the Trope Codifier in Teen Drama—Patty and Graham played just as large a role in the plot as Angela herself, because a Written-In Infirmity (Claire Danes's age—child-labour laws prevented her from spending a full work day on set) necessitated Two Lines, No Waiting.
- Rumplestiltskin in Once Upon a Time is a Doting Parent towards his son Baelfire but to save his son from being drafted into the Ogre Wars, he becomes the Dark One to get power, becoming increasingly ruthless and would even kill people in front of Baelfire as a massive overreaction to any injury done to his son. When offered the chance to live with Baelfire in a world without magic, he was unable to let go of his power and ended up losing his son.
- Rumplestiltskin's wife, Milah, may also count since when she was around before Rumplestiltskin became the Dark One, she was often at the village's tavern and seems to not think about her son. Not to mention running away on Captain Hook's ship and letting her family believe she was dead.
- That series runs on enough Big, Screwed-Up Family to power a whole season of Jerry Springer; Charming and Snow didn't get to be parents due to the curse, and are starting from scratch when dealing with Emma (who is now thirty and was raised by the Department of Child Disservices). Regina (aka Snow White's stepmother) is the adopted mother of Henry (Emma's biological kid from a Teen Pregnancy), but neglected the boy for hours on end because bullying the townsfolk into submission and batshit crazy revenge schemes against her old enemy Snow White were a more "worthwhile" use of her time. Regina's own mother, Cora, was weapons-grade sociopathy, and Regina's birth was nothing more than part of the plan to have the whole universe bowing to her in revenge for the royals making fun of Cora's low birth as a miller's daughter… It's bad when the boy who hasn't yet hit his teens is a good candidate for Only Sane Man.
- In Flashpoint, Ed Lane struggles to be a good father and husband but his job often comes first, causing strain between his wife and son.
- Parker's alcoholism had caused his wife to divorce him and his son to refuse to see or speak to him. But since then, he has cleaned up his act, resulting in reuniting with his son for the first time in ten years and eventually, his son Dean decided that his father is a good man and came to live with him.
- Lily's father Mickey in How I Met Your Mother loves his daughter and can occasionally be a Doting Parent for her but he was emotionally apathetic towards her during most of her life and his gambling and money problems hurt his relationship with Lily who has difficulty trusting him. It's pointed out in a later episode that when she was a baby he was an exceptionally good parent. His flaws didn't manifest until she reached school age and he had to find other things to fill his time.
- Graham and Jan in the Inside No. 9 episode "Last Gasp." They do love their daughter, who is terminally ill; but have no qualms in taking advantage of her illness for their own ends (Graham wanting money, Jan wanting to meet her favourite pop star.) When the pop star dies while blowing up a balloon for their daughter's birthday, they spend most of the episode ignoring her, instead preferring to argue with the singer's staff over who owns the balloon; which contains his literal last breath and as such is worth a lot of money.
- Devin's parents in The Kicks aren't perfect, but they do their best and are generally pretty on top of things.
- Danny's father in "Danny, the Champion of the World" is very clearly a loving father, but he is also overcome by his love of poaching pheasants, which easily could have left Danny an orphan.
- Martin Crane in Frasier is a down-to-earth, likeable and friendly guy, especially when compared with his uptight, snobby sons, so it's easy to see why people tend to get on better with him and take his side in the tension he has with Frasier and Niles. But it's made pretty clear, and Martin himself at times concedes, that he has as much if not more responsibility as they do for the difficult relationship he has with them. While he clearly does love them, he appears to have been a rather distant parent who was largely uninterested in the more esoteric and refined interests of his sons and didn't make a lot of effort to bond with them, tends to take other people's sides in arguments against them (including bullies) and appears to have spent more time at his favourite bar than bonding with them, something he later comes to regret.
Martin: Maybe if I'd spent less time at Duke's and more time with you guys I wouldn't be sitting opposite a son who places so much stock in one beer.
- Hester Crane, Martin's wife and Frasier and Niles's mother, gets this somewhat less because she's deceased by the events of the series and all three choose to abide by Never Speak Ill of the Dead. Nevertheless, while she was a loving mother and wife to her family, she had feet of clay as well; she had a brief affair at one point, her overly clinical and psychological method of parenting appears to have directly resulted in a lot of Frasier and Niles's neuroses, and she appears to have been actively hostile to a lot of the women her sons chose to date.
- This is a realisation that The Divine Comedy had come to in his song 'Mother Dear', but uses this fact to sing her praises for how she was ever able to put up with him in his youth.
It was not that long ago it first occurred to me,
That my mother was a person in her own right.
Now I realize how very lucky I have been,
And there, but for the grace of God, go I.
Mother dear, she can see inside.
Mother dear, and I've nowhere to hide.
Mother dear, did I spoil your plans?
Mother dear, I do the best I can.
- The Ur-Example would have to be Mom and Dad from Calvin and Hobbes. Dad routinely complains about having children, exclaiming that what he really wanted was a dog, and has given up on education or instilling respect in his delinquent son; quite the contrary, Dad's favorite pastime is filling his son's head with complete nonsense about how science works. (This may actually stem from Calvin criticizing Dad's ignorance in this field in a past strip.) Mom generally keeps her game face on, but even she has her limits. Artist Bill Watterson said in response to angry complaints about the cruel parents, 'They do a better job than I would.'
- They're trying, and their better efforts tend to produce wonderful heartwarming moments. But they're ordinary people and Calvin is—well—extraordinary. (Take that whichever way you like.)
- Tidus' father Jecht and Tidus' mom from Final Fantasy X. From the one scene we see of them together the two are Sickening Sweethearts. When it comes to their son, Jecht is an emotionally abusive jerkass (and a drunk to boot). Tidus' mom actually cares for her son, but outright ignores him whenever Jecht is around and when he disappears, she dies of a broken heart, essentially abandoning poor Tidus.
- Despite the Heartwarming Moment at the end of the first game, poor Ashley Robbins suffered this between the first and second Another Code games. While it's forgivable in that Richard still had a ton of issues to sort out after coming back into his daughter's life and his social skills probably atrophied during ten years of self-imposed isolation, the two flubbed the initial bonding effort and had to work through another game to patch things up.
- Parents in The Sims do very little to raise their children. Babies and toddlers will need constant attention, but older children only really need homework help and food cooked for them and teenagers can live in total independence.
- Tales of the Abyss has Luke's father. Duke Fabre has a high standing in Kimlasca and is very hands-off and incredibly cold, almost harsh, to his son. He eventually admits why he remains distant. Since the Score predicted that Luke would die at the age of 17, Duke Fabre felt that it was better to just not get to know a son, who was destined to die so soon, at all, so that he wouldn't be sad or regret anything when the time came. But as Luke survives and the two talk, Duke Fabre admits that he feels like he missed out on Luke and tries to rectify things.
- A few cases in World of Warcraft.
- Magni Bronzebeard was quite disappointed that he was unable to get a male heir, leading to some distance between him and Moira. Anduin has great respect for Magni, but notes that it was partly his fault that Moira turned out the way she did, joining the Dark Irons out of love for their emperor, Dagran Thaurissan.
- Varian Wrynn toward his son, Anduin. Varian's Lo'gosh side and his more warlike ways cause a rift between him and his pacifistic son Anduin, leading him to send Anduin to stay in Ironforge while he works through his issues. Later on, Anduin goes to study under Velen, rather than Archbishop Benedictus as Varian suggests, but Benedictus brings the two together to help them reconcile. Varian openly admits on a few occasions that he is a less than perfect father.
- Persona 4 has Ryotaro Dojima, the protagonist's uncle and guardian for the events of the game. While he's a hardworking, honest cop and genuinely loves his daughter Nanako, he often neglects her thanks to lingering issues regarding his wife's unsolved hit-and-run death and his fear that he alone is inadequate as a parent, which he hides from by avoiding Nanako and burying himself in his work. Fortunately, it's possible to help parent and child overcome their problems and become a true family again.
- The game also has Eri Minami, a young woman who has become a stepmother to a young boy and has difficulty bonding with him. Her social link allows you to help the two bond as well.
- Crusader Kings: If you've played this game the Empress Maria Theresa example in the real life section may just come across as eerily familiar. You might really love your charitable, brave, gregarious daughter who happens to be a genius, but that won't stop you from setting up an Arranged Marriage to a man she hardly knows in order to help secure your borders from invasion.
- A spoilerrifc example—coming to terms with this is actually the crux of Cheryl's issues in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Harry and his wife Dahlia did seem to have a happy relationship at some point in the past, but they also had plenty of issues that made getting married basically out of high school and raising a kid pretty tough. (Depending on the player's actions, the ending can also reveal that the couple ended up going through a divorce, that either one of them was abusive, or that Harry ended up cheated on his wife.) Then Harry dies in a car crash, causing Cheryl—who was seven at the time—to grow up obsessing over her few rose-tinted memories of him, while also viewing her mother as a bitter, washed-up tramp; Kaufmann's Wham Line and accompanying speech at the end of the game break down exactly how harmful such an unrealistic worldview is for the psyche.
- An obscure example in Evolve is Ida Lennox. She's an engineering genius who vastly prefers designing space stations and colonies to interacting with people, has an (admittedly deserved) ego, and admits to switching men out every once and a while. Her performance as a parent is described by Word of God as being a hands off affair, allowing the child to find their won way, to the point where there's only a single line of dialogue mentioning she's a parent. The line in question comes from her son: Jack.
- Fire Emblem has many of these:
- Greil from Fire Emblem Tellius was a loving father who cared not just for his own kids but for his entire mercenary company, but kept a lot of secrets from Ike and Mist. For example, the fact that he killed their mother Elena in a berserk rage, due to the effects of a cursed medallion that only Elena (and later Mist) was able to handle without going crazy. Or that Ike had witnessed the entire thing and had the memory magically sealed and repressed by Sephiran.
- The entire first generation of Fire Emblem Fates. Because birth control was harder to come by in those days and several of the First Generations are Blue Blood (so they're in desperate need of heirs), any couple married during the war produced a child or two and in order to protect those children, their parents had to send them to the Deeprealms. They visit the kids but not too frequently as they keep fighting, so they eventually do reunite with their children for real, the parents are aware that maybe sending them away wasn't the perfect choice due to some of the kids having abandonment issues or being pissed. The resulting support conversations delve into the troubled relationships and ultimately prove that even if circumstances weren't ideal, the parents do very much care about their children and want to keep them safe above all else. And in the end, the kids do recognize that they're loved even if their parents aren't perfect.
- King Rhoam in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a stern and harsh parent towards their child Zelda, admonishing them for not being able to awaken the divine power of Hylia and forbidding their child from pursuing their interests and studies. They had good intentions but their methods only made things worse and it was after his death, Zelda sacrificing herself to seal Calamity Ganon and the fall of Hyrule that they realized their mistake.
- Umineko: When They Cry is one of the most radical examples of this trope. The parents aren't just people, they're full-fledged main characters. All of the mothers got some great development, and the fathers have quite a bit as well. (Except Hideyoshi, who despite being really nice we don't know much about, to the disappointment of the fanbase.) They also have one of the Biggest, Most Screwed Up Families you're ever going to meet.
- Averted in CLANNAD with Nagisa Furukawa's parents. Her father Akio has the phases of the tough guy and an Overprotective Dad, while her mother Sanae has the sensitive and loving personality as The Ditz and Moe. They are willing to do everything to protect and help Nagisa whilst trying to maintain a healthy, loving relationship between their own selves. It was eventually revealed that the two indeed followed this trope earlier in their lives, as they were constantly busy pursuing their dream careers in acting (Akio) and teaching (Sanae) and little Nagisa was left alone home constantly. After an incident where Nagisa fell seriously ill while they were working and they just managed to save her before she nearly died, they find out she was born sickly and have decided to both quit their jobs to pursue the goal of protecting Nagisa instead. This explains the bakery, and why Sanae is so horrible at baking to begin with. Poor Nagisa doesn't know this, and falls into an Heroic B.S.O.D. after she finds out, but eventually recovers when her parents tell her directly during an important play she was doing that she shouldn't blame herself.
- Phoenix Wright from Ace Attorney is obviously a loving, devoted father to his adoptive daughter Trucy, and while they have a very close relationship, he isn't infaliable. For example, he jets off to Khura'in when he believes his old assistant Maya is in danger, just days before Trucy's big television debut. When it turns out Maya is fine, but isn't going to be done with her training for a few more weeks, he decides to stay in Khura'in rather than come home to support his daughter. When Trucy gets accused of murdering her costar during the show, he still doesn't come home; while Apollo may be a capable attorney, the game makes it clear he's a complete legend by this point, and even if he weren't, Trucy would probably appreciate her father being there for her.
- Arguably occurs in Friendly Hostility. Padma and Nefertari Maharassa are still besotted with each other, and they aren't conventional parents—especially since "conventional parents" generally don't have a pet Satanist (Rafi) occupying the spare room. They're not bad parents though; the Maharassa kids have a interesting/fun childhood, it's just prone to some… drama. Such as the parents leaving Rafi to babysit only to find he'd lost their daughter to cannibals. Fatima, their oldest child, has a strange love-hate relationship with her family, but then again she's an extremely cynical Deadpan Snarker. Their younger son, Fox, just adores them. Padma and Nefertari are always there for their now grown-up children, but they're still prone to some rather eccentric behaviour.
- In comparison to Collin's ultra-conventional, narrow minded family, however, the Maharassas are model parents. "Different is good" is a bit of a mantra for this webcomic.
- Danny in Other People's Business (same creator as Friendly Hostility). Though she feels a certain amount of shame at not having custody of her son, she admits late in the comic that the first moment he called her "mommy" she felt like she wanted to die. She hated being a parent, and begrudgingly admits to feeling relieved that she doesn't have to be a full time mother anymore.
- Anthony Carver in Gunnerkrigg Court is a cold, distant, and emotionally abusive father to his daughter Antimony, but as chapter 53 showed, he's a deeply flawed and neurotic man who blames himself for his wife's death, and deeply regrets the choices he made in its wake. Anthony does love his daughter, but he's so neurotic that he's assumed that she blames him for Surma's death and that it would have been better if he just stayed away from Annie's life. Especially after he discovers that the "ritual" that would bring his wife back from the dead is a fake and nearly killed their daughter in the process. He was also unprepared to see Annie after such a long time and how much she looked like Surma and admits that humiliating her in front of class was wrong, but has yet to apologize to her for it.
- We don't see them, but The Nostalgia Critic's parents. Abusive, scary, implied to have expected way too much of him and apparently raised him as a girl for a short time, but took him out for a meal when he got an A—and his mum sorted things out when he was getting bullied as a child. That last bit more than likely induced Stockholm Syndrome, as he's still living with her and calls her his world.
- Jobe in the Whateley Universe has parents like this. His parents are still together, but his father is a megalomaniacal supervillain who now runs his own country, and his mother is The Ditz. They seem proud of the fact that they have managed to raise a sociopath. The biggest area of friction before this year was that Jobe prefers bio-devising while his father is a robots-and-power-armor kind of inventor.
- CollegeHumor: In "The Six Ways You'll See Your Dad", the last way you'll see your father, after viewing him as a superhero, a clown, a tyrant, a sell-out, and a source of income, is that he's a guy with his own hopes and dreams just like you.
- Timmy Turner's parents, in The Fairly OddParents!, exemplify this trope. They're silly, affectionate, devoted to each other… and leave Timmy in the care of a psychotic babysitter while they're off pursuing their hobby-of-the-week. They do make earnest attempts at being good parents (and are always quick to declare You Are Grounded), but the fact is that Wanda provides the more traditional "motherly" role. In the pilot, they were unaware it was possible to hire someone to look after your children and were just sickeningly devoted to giving Timmy all their attention.
- Ray Rocket, Reggie and Otto's dad in Rocket Power, is a "cool" dad with one foot firmly in the Competence Zone… so he falls victim to this trope occasionally. One examples is in Race Across New Zealand, where he lets his own macho pride turn into Parental Favoritism, to Reggie's dismay.
- Arnold, from Hey Arnold!, is the "old before his time" result of this trope, despite living with his grandparents rather than his parents. His grandma and grandpa are of the loving-but-eccentric variety, (though his grandpa can step up to the plate pretty well when called upon) which means Arnold spends a lot of time alone or with his friends.
- In sharp contrast to Arnold's absent-minded but loving family set-up, Helga lives in the purely dysfunctional version of a family whose parents have both personalities and serious issues. If anything, the extensive characterization given to her parents, particularly her disillusioned and possibly-alcoholic mother, make her and her sister's situation seem even more tragic: Helga is cynical, bitchy, Tsundere and disenchanted because they pay so little attention to her, whereas Olga is a deluded Shrinking Violet and Stepford Smiler because they give her too much attention.
- Ickis, one of the main characters in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters is often described as the son of the Great Slickis. Many characters, particularly Oblina and the Gromble gush about how talented Slickis is (in stark contrast to Ickis' struggles to successfully complete his assignments.) Slickis is shown to be a very friendly, laid-back monster who is often traveling the world while he son attends a boarding school, so consequently they don't talk to each other much. The first time they try to reconnect, Slickis honestly cannot remember whether or not his son likes certain activities and Ickis gets mad because everybody else wants to hang out with Slickis, and he wants to spend the day with just his Dad. They end up going to the surface world together in an attempt to scare the humans. Ickis messes up, Slickis saves him, and then decides NOT to humiliate his son by revealing what happened after they return to the Academy. Ickis is puzzled but pleased, and the episode ends with the two monsters finally having a nice conversation. Later seasons mention Slickis, who Ickis still wants to impress, and he actually does come to watch his son win a Sewerball game (the monster version of baseball) but mostly he remains too busy with his own career to help Ickis.
- The parents of the characters on South Park, especially Mr. and Mrs. Marsh, have received a surprising amount of development, even to the point of directly impacting the episodes' plots. Similarly, Kyle's mom Sheila often ends up causing more problems than she solves, both for her son and the town in general, when she starts off on one of her social crusades.
- Ron's parents in Kim Possible could be said to fit this trope. His parents—particularly his dad—are relatively pleasant people, but show little interest in their son. They barely even include him in decisions they make which affect his life, such as moving to Norway in The Movie or adopting a second child. The fourth season did, however, see them become a little more involved in his life, such as the episode in which Mr. Stoppable, who is an actuary, helped bring down a villain whose power was his ability to do math.
- Both Daria and Jane's parents are portrayed as people who have good hearts but whose self interests and issues, be they with work, emotional needs, or personal concerns tend to vastly overshadow their interest in their own children. Daria's mom Helen is a huge Workaholic, her dad Jake is a clownish Man Child, and Jane's parents Vincent and Amanda… well…
- The Rugrats parents were funny and developed, and their subplots were an important part of what made the show entertaining for adults as well as kids. However, the entire premise of the show relies on them being completely oblivious to their toddlers wandering off on dangerous adventures.
- Professor Membrane on Invader Zim is a generally-affable and utterly brilliant Bunny Ears Scientist who is entirely too wrapped up in fixing every problem in the world to pay much attention to his children. His relationship with his son Dib is particularly strained because Dib won't get involved in "REAL Science" (he's an eleven-year-old paranormal investigator), while his daughter Gaz's desire to spend time with him is arguably the only time in the series she shows a desire to be around anybody.
- Jack and Maddie on Danny Phantom are sometimes more obsessed with their latest ghost-hunting activities to pay attention to their children—like, for example, to notice their son is the half-ghost kid they're hunting. Their older daughter Jasmine actually Lampshades this, though her diagnosis is a bit of an exaggeration—-when not distracted they can show plenty of interest in their kids, often to the point of clinginess.
- Harold and Honey Buttowski from Kick Buttowski.
- Doctor Doofensmirtz, resident Mad Scientist from Phineas and Ferb would probably fit into this trope. After having a Hilariously Abusive Childhood, he's very dedicated to being a wonderful dad to his daughter Vanessa… except he isn't very good at it. When he isn't making the usual 'embarrassing parent' mistakes, conflicts result from the fact that he's sometimes too obsessed with his job of causing evil to care for his daughter. However, he's still over-all presented as being one of the Good Parents.
Vanessa: I can't believe you brought work with you!
Dr. Doof: What do you mean?
Vanessa: Dad, you've got some guy tied up here.
Dr. Doof: No, Vanessa. We've got some guy tied up here.
- In the Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise:
- The Legend of Korra:
- Tenzin is mostly a good father to his kids. However, when it becomes clear that his daughter Jinora is much more spiritually talented than him, he ignores that due to both pride and to avoid feeling inadequate as a spiritual mentor. He gets better after a pep talk from his student.
- Tenzin's own father Aang spent more time with Tenzin than he did with Kya or Bumi since Tenzin was the only airbender (and thus the only one who could help revive the Air Nomad culture). Kya and Bumi resent Aang and Tenzin for this even in the present day though they get over it in the second season, and when Bumi becomes an airbender in the third season he takes it in stride.
- Toph was very "hands-off" with her daughters due to her resentment of her own parents' opposite methods. Her younger daughter Suyin resented the perceived lack of attention and acted out, resulting in her being forced to leave her home, something her older sister Lin took very badly. Suyin in turn tried to keep her own daughter Opal from seeing the world though she relents in the end, in a manner eerily remniscient of her grandparents' treatment of Toph. The Bei Fong family in general seem to be prone to making mistakes in parenting despite the best of intentions.
- Korra's father Tonraq, the chief of the Southern Water Tribe, never revealed to her that he used to be the heir to the Northern Water Tribe, but was exiled due to his recklessness, or that he raised her in near-total isolation because Aang said so, so Korra is understandably pissed off when she learns about the first from her uncle. Of course, then it turns out her uncle was behind the exile in the first place, and in the third season it's revealed Korra was hidden away because a terrorist group wanted to kidnap her for their own ends.
- Hiroshi Sato is a Rags to Riches success story and devoted to his daughter ever since his wife was murdered by a firebender. Then when it turns out he funding the Equalist movement, he ends up trying to kill his daughter when she stays with the Avatar. He redeems himself later on though.
- Yakone was a crime lord with the exceptionally rare ability to bloodbend without a full moon, later taken away by Aang. His sons Noataq and Tarlok inherited this ability, and he put them through traumatic Training from Hell to perfect it, resulting in Noataq running away to become Amon, while Tarlok went into politics, both trying to achieve their father's goal of taking over Republic City.
- The parents from the original series are hardly better: never around (Katara and Sokka's dad), overprotective (Toph's parents), overbearing (Mai's family), ran away (Ursa), and of course Zuko's Archnemesis Dad Ozai. A meme in the fandom holds that Unalaq, proud father of Creepy Twins he felt no need to rescue once they were no longer necessary to his plan to Take Over the World, still wins Dad Of The Year award compared to the others.
- The Legend of Korra:
- The Simpsons has Homer, who does admit he's a terrible parent, and he does try to rectify this (usually), but he and Bart don't usually get along, he and Lisa are too different, and with Maggie, Homer sometimes forgets she even exists, or what her name is. At one point he even tries to be a better and attentive father, only for Bart and Lisa to tell him they prefer him being a "half-assed under-parent".
- Marge can be considered a more mundane variant, while she's a more competent parent, she is still imperfect and sometimes vents her personal issues and overbearing nature onto her kids despite her devotion to them.
- Batman: The Animated Series: Mayor Hamilton Hill is portrayed as this. He is a competent public official, but he used his own son Jordan's birthday as a platform to promote himself, and disapproves of the boy's interest in magic. This eventually drove the kid to run away. They do eventually make up.
- A major theme of Steven Universe is that all of Steven's parental figures are, for all that he looks up to them, people, with problems and issues of their own. Particularly the main maternal figure in his life, Pearl, who has been a neurotic wreck ever since Steven's mother left her for his father, with resulting projection issues.
- Steven's father Greg is a very loving, supportive, and open minded parent who dotes on his son as much as he can. However, due to him almost always working just to support him financially and Steven's constant training to become a Crystal Gem, they don't always see each other as much as they want. It even becomes a plot point in one episode where Greg fakes an injury just so they can spend more time together.
- Both Jerry and Beth of Rick and Morty often show concern for their kids and the effect Rick's antics can have on them, however they are continuously hindered by their own psychological problems and their failing marriage.
- Tino's dad in The Weekenders obviously cares a lot about his son but due to insecurities about being boring, fails to realize that all his son wants to do when he's visiting his dad (or his dad is visiting him) is to spend time with him and just him and is so upset by the latest visit that he just wants it to be over. He eventually fixes it but it takes a full-hour episode to do it.
- Futurama: Fry's parents were odd individuals, with his Mother being a hard drinking sports fan and his father being a paranoid Conspiracy Theorist obsessed with the then disbanded USSR. Though neglectful at times, the flashbacks showed that they really did love Fry and raised him as well as they were able. They even tried searching for him when he went missing.
- Diana Wynne Jones' childhood, as she tells it, was this to a T.
- She put this to a direct use in The Time of the Ghost, a rather good novel in which the main character is a ghost and which happens to be her nearest thing to an autobiographical work.
- Austrian Empress Maria Theresa is described as such by history, media and The Other Wiki. She was affectionate to them (showing some favoritism towards her fifth child Maria Christina, both for being born in Maria Theresa's 25th birthday and for being classy, talented and cute), but also used them as pawns via Arranged Marriages like pretty much every Habsburg and non-Habsburg monarch; she wrote to them frequently to keep close contact with each son or daughter, while not being above of trying to use her motherly authority to influence their lives. And you know how… well that worked in a certain case.
- Edward I of England was a famously doting father to his several daughters but that did not keep him from using them as political pawns; it was after all his job as king. It might also be argued that going along with such arrangements was the girls' job as princesses. Two of the daughters were able to make love match second marriages with their father's (reluctant) approval.