Preacher's Kid

Pornographic undertones completely intentional.

"Well the preacher tried his best
To keep the girl in line
She undermines all that he believes
The beast could not be caged
And the daughter has her way
The souls of town, they could not be saved!"
3 Inches Of Blood, "The Preacher's Daughter"

All children are individuals who exhibit good and bad behavior, regardless of what their parents do for a living.

Except these kids.

If you're a preacher's kid in fiction, you're either a perfect little angel or—more commonly—a beastly little devil more devoted to mischief and/or promiscuity than any kind of religious study. Bonus points for being the latter while people think you're the former, an ability no doubt gained from your years of living under a household where learning to hide your extracurricular activities proves to be a tad bit more important than mathematics. It also is easy to be bad if your ordained father is a Sinister Minister.

Of course, in actuality preacher's kids run the gamut in personality traits, but their screw ups tend to be far more public. Think about it: If you're the child of say, a chef, and you're caught doing something morally ambiguous or even downright illegal, well, how many people in your town would really care? (Even if you're a bad cook, people will merely consider it amusing.) But if you're a preacher's kid? Let's hope you didn't inhale. From the kid's perspective, it might be because everything is Forbidden Fruit. Making something morally off-limits only makes it more tempting for many kids to do. Worse, this tendency to magnify even the smallest infraction makes it easy to get started on the vicious Crime After Crime cycle with a very small initial offense.

In regard to such kids being portrayed as sexually promiscuous, compare Catholic Schoolgirls Rule.

Note that Roman Catholicnote  priests are supposed to be celibate (as opposed to most Protestant and Orthodox Churches), so any examples from that denomination are going to be of necessity illegitimate. If the writer doesn't want to go down that route, one can either (a) substitute the Catholic for an Anglican (who are, in the words of the late Anglican Robin Williams "Catholic Lite") or (b) substitute a deacon for a priest (married Catholic men are allowed to become deacons—indeed, most deacons who aren't in training for the priesthood are married—and deacons, being neither fully laity nor fully clergy, are held to a similar standard of conduct as priests).

Subtrope of The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes (for the beastly kind).



  • The kids in The Preacher's Wife.
  • Rev. Spence's children in One Foot in Heaven are polite, well-behaved, good kids, who still chafe at their father's strict Methodist discipline and how it constricts their lives. Hartzell says that girls are shocked when he tries to hold their hand, thinking that he's a pure-hearted preacher's son, while his sister Elizabeth complains that boys think exactly the opposite. They win a small victory when Hartzell takes his father to the movies and convinces the reverend that film-going isn't inherently sinful.

  • Dane O'Neill, of The Thorn Birds fits into this category, subverted somewhat, because he is unaware of his parentage.

Live-Action TV
  • George Michael's girlfriend Ann Veal in Arrested Development.
  • Sturgis Turner in JAG.
  • Kolby from Preacher's Daughters takes her religion very seriously. She was devastated when she found out that her sister was not a virgin when she got married.
  • In the "Hook Man" (S01, Ep07) episode of Supernatural, Lori is starting to explore Forbidden Fruit at college, but her guilt and anger over challenges to her sense of morality summon the titular Hook Man.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons:
    • If you extend this trope to the children of the extremely religious in general, Rod and Todd Flanders are an example.


  • In the movie based on Michael Shaara's Civil War novel The Killer Angels, one of the soldiers from the 2nd Maine regiment transferred to the 20th Maine is introduced to Colonel Chamberlain as a preacher's son and "the best damn cusser you ever heard. Knows more fine cuss words than any man in Maine!"
  • Footloose provides an example of this with Ariel Moore who rebels against the town's and her father's rules against dancing, alcohol, controversial books, etc.
  • Holly in Keeping Mum is a minister's daughter who has casual premarital sex and has a new boyfriend every time she enters a scene.
  • In Korean romantic comedy Marriage Blue, Yi-ra is this. She's a good person, but she carefully conceals her life of partying, short skirts, and premarital sex from her strict Christian minister father. Hilarity Ensues when her boyfriend knocks her up and they have to enter into an Altar the Speed marriage.

  • In old Russian novels, you can sometimes find "you son of a priest" as an insult — see possible explanation under Real Life below. note  In Greece there's a proverb that translates into: "Priest's kids, devil's grandchildren".

Mythology and Religion
  • Older Than Feudalism, since there are cases in The Bible: Eli was a renowned priest and judge. His two sons by birth were corrupt ministers who had respect "neither for the Lord; nor for the priests' duties for the people; they treated the offerings to the Lord with disdain" (1 Samuel 2:12b,13a,17b). The priesthood eventually went to the adopted son for whom the book is named.
    • Apparently a real problem with the holy men of ancient Israel, as Samuel also had his kids go bad (1 Samuel 8:2,3).
    • Also, the very first High Priest, Aaron (the brother of Moses), had two of his sons mess up (Leviticus 10:1,2). The immediate pronouncement of a decree from YHWH about not drinking "wine or strong drink" when doing priestly duties has led some scholars to speculate that alcohol may have been involved.


Western Animation
  • Jessica Lovejoy on The Simpsons is a juvenile delinquent. Although Reverend Lovejoy himself is a pretty terrible preacher and an even worse father.

Real Life
  • In Tsarist Russia, children of Orthodox clergy were very disproportionately represented in the fields of revolutionary movement, materialist philosophy and natural sciences (one explanation of this fact is that they transposed religious attitude to secular ideologies). From a conservative standpoint, "priest's son" was pretty much synonymous with "iconoclast and troublemaker." In addition, many noblemen's sons who went to universities found it humiliating to be taught by professors of such lowly origins, and mocked science and university education as a bunch of Techno Babble invented by bearded priests' sons.
  • Gudrun Ensslin, one of the founding members of the West German leftist terrorist group Red Army Faction, was the daughter of a pastor.


Anime and Manga
  • Kimberly, a character from a Christian manga series named Serenity, is the adopted daughter of a minister and helps run a Christian youth group, but she is portrayed more-or-less as Alpha Bitch and spends most in the series in a love triangle with her boyfriend and the title character.
  • Kyoko Sakura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica was angelic until her father committed Pater Familicide and she became cynical, but nowhere near as mind-blowingly diabolical . She goes back to being angelic after Kyubey lets slip the Awful Truth about Puella Magi.
  • Sankarea: Chihiro Furuya ( son of a Buddhist priest) might not be a hell-raiser, but he is obsessed with zombies, and has even created two: a cat (intentionally) and a human (unintentionally).

Comic Books
  • In the Wilhelm Busch story about Saint Anthony of Padova. The bishop has to decide whether Anthony is worthy to be a saint. Anthony asks a boy who's supposed to be mute who his parents are. The boy starts: "The bishop Rusticus is -" and is instantly interrupted by the bishop who decides that Anthony is indeed worthy.
  • Zig-zagged in Creature Tech: Dr. Ong is the son of a quantum-physicist-turned-Baptist-minister who started out pursuing priesthood himself, then rebelled and went into hard science, atheism, and wild parties. The events of the comic reconnect him to his father and religion.


  • In Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature, one of Mena's nemeses is the preacher's daughter.
  • The Meredith kids featured in Rainbow Valley.
  • The disciple Levi-Matthew in The Bible. He was a member of the all-preachers Levite tribe who turned to tax collecting, a job that made him a traitor in the eyes of the other Jews, and many of them also embezzled public funds. Yes, this trope predates Christianity.
  • Both Steve Ellerby and Mark Brittain in Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes. Each of them ultimately subverts one of the extremes: Steve is both clearly a good guy from the outset, and not even nearly as irreverent as he comes off at first. And Mark's nowhere near as pure as he'd like everyone to believe.
  • Sefalet more than Anglitora in Dirge for Prester John. Sefalet is both angelic and diabolic.
  • Tuppence Beresford, of Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence novels is a clergyman's daughter, a fact which comes up in the books about twice. This is presumably why she's named Prudence.
  • The title character in Colby Rodowsky's Lucy Peale is the daughter of a tent preacher who kicks her out for refusing to denounce the illegitimate baby resulting from a night of non-consensual sex.
  • The Harlequin in Heart of Darkness mentions that he is the formerly-rebellious son of a Russian Orthodox archpriest. How this modulates his role as Kurtz's Sycophantic Servant is debatable.

Live-Action TV
  • All the Camdens on 7th Heaven. Which end of the spectrum they tended to was directly related to how old they were that season.
  • English DJ and presenter of the UK version of Pimp My Ride, Westwood, also known as Timothy Westwood, son of the Anglican Bishop of Peterborough Bill Westwood.
  • Jennifer Coates on JAG was diabolic in her Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Jimmy Farrell in BreakerHigh in a flashback to his first day on the ship, is implied to be a bit diabolic, but more 'embarassing frat boy' than rebellious.
  • Abena on Youngers, while not diabolical, doesn't seem to care that she is the daughter of a Pentecostal priest. Yemi finds this out the hard way when he is tasked with watching over with her when she is more interested in going to a nightclub.

  • Tori Amos. One of her songs, "Icicle", is about masturbating while her father conducts a service downstairs.
  • Marilyn Manson.
  • The girl mentioned in Toby Keith's song "God Love Her". While she is rebellious by dating (and going to California with) a motorcycle riding, leather clad outcast, she also helps introduce him to the faith and helps to save him.
  • Katy Perry also grew up as one of these, and was originally a Christian pop singer before her mainstream turn. Let's just say, her parents were pissed when they first heard "I Kissed a Girl".
    • With what she said about Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" music video, she might not be so divergent from her Christian roots as she appears to be.
    • Also, one of the reasons for her divorce from Russell Brand was said to be the fact that he often makes jokes at the expense of Christianity (although that could easily be chalked up to her not appreciating her husband mocking her parents).
  • Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy is the son of a bishop. Would you guess that from listening to Casanova, an album about... well, look at the title? (He did also write the theme music to Father Ted, mind you).
  • Alice Cooper and Sheryl, his wife. They are devout Christians, much to the surprise of many fans and even Christians themselves.
  • '90s One-Hit Wonder Adina Howard started her career singing for the choir of her local church... until one day, when her clothes mysteriously vanished.
  • Know that slightly suggestive 70's hit song "Ring My Bell"? Singer/writer Anita Ward is actually a preacher's daughter.
  • Marvin Gaye's father was first a Seventh-Day Adventist and then a Pentecostal minister in D.C. He eventually fatally shot his son after an argument.
  • Billy Ray in the song "Son of a Preacher Man" made immortal by Dusty Springfield, which focuses on a young romance with one of these. It's even more awesome when you hear the gay version by Cam Clarke. Son of a preacher man sneaking around behind his daddy's back... with another boy!
  • Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach".
  • Jessica Simpson

  • Donna Barkley of Adventures in Odyssey had to wrestle with this trope, but otherwise she's a fairly normal girl.

Recorded and Stand-Up Comedy
  • Sam Kinison wasn't just a preacher's kid, he was a preacher himself before going into standup.
  • Stan Freberg's father was a Baptist minister. He's admitted that this background helps account for the occasional dips into moralism in his comedy ("Green Chri$tma$", "Incident at Los Voraces").

  • Phil Jackson, the Hall of Fame basketball coach best known as head coach of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s and the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2000s, is the son of two Assemblies of God ministers.
  • Mark Few, current head men's basketball coach at Gonzaga University, is the son of a Presbyterian minister. His father also presided at his wedding.

Western Animation
  • Metalocalypse: Toki Wartooth hits both ends of the spectrum. He's the most innocent, childish, and kind-hearted member of his group... then again, his group are world-famous death-metal rock stars, and he is prone to increasingly frequent Freak Outs and bouts of Unstoppable Rage.

Real Life
  • James Herriot mentions that in during his RAF training, one of the cadets singing the bawdy songs loudest was the son of an archbishop.
  • John Cho's father is a minister in the Church of Christ.
  • Pornstar Melrose Foxxx is the daughter of a preacher.
  • Baptist Preacher William J. Murray is the chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, author of books such as The Church Is Not For Perfect People, Let Us Pray: A Plea for Prayer in Our Schools, and The Pledge: One Nation Under God. He is the son of (in)famous atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, and pressured the police to find out what happened to her.
  • Inversion: Maria von Trapp, inspiration for The Sound of Music, did indeed intend to become a nun. She was brought up by a socialist atheist.
  • On another tack, Friedrich Nietzsche's father and maternal grandfather were both Lutheran ministers. Naturally, he grew up to be a harsh critic of Christianity, more or less painting it as the worst thing ever to happen to Western civilization. note .
  • Jim Bakker, the controversial televangelist who ended up going to prison for fraud had a son, Jay Bakker. Jay's faith flip-flopped, resulting in some trouble with the law before he returned to Christianity and became a minister himself. He is now the head of a pro-gay marriage alternative church in New York. He was the focus of the Sundance channel's One Punk Under God documentary series.
  • Martin Luther King Jr was one. He followed in his father's footsteps and became a minister himself. His children were of course Preacher's Kids as well and some of them also became ministers. He was "mixed" in that his father didn't really appreciate his particular approach to theology - and likewise, his kids who have become ministers have taken different approaches (particularly on the gay rights issues, where some are pro-gay and some are anti-gay, though of course all insist that they're upholding their father's legacy).
  • Malcolm X was the son of a minister. He too became a minister like his dad but of the Muslim rather than Christian faith.
  • Billy Graham's son Franklin was the bad seed type before he turned his life around and has since followed in his father's footsteps— though perhaps not very well.
  • Frank Schaeffer. Son of televangelist Francis schaeffer, raised fundamentalist Christian. Left the Religious Right in the mid-eighties and later wrote a book entitled Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back.
  • The book Bare Your Soul has an essay titled "Daughter of a Preacherman", which hangs a huge lampshade on this trope. The woman who wrote it doesn't fit either category.