- having a Distinguishing Mark such as a birthmark
- the identification of an Orphan's Plot Trinket
- a declaration of Luke, I Am Your Father or otherwise identification of a Mysterious Parent or Long-Lost Relative
- a present parent or guardian revealing the truth, generally as a way of delivering the Call to Adventure
- the Big Bad stopping long enough to tell the character why they are trying to kill them
- the use of an item which Only the Chosen May Wield
- displaying a Royalty Superpower
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Anime & Manga
- In ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Jean finds out that his mother was actually the second princess, believed to be dead, and that he is the heir to the throne. This is revealed rather abruptly in episode 7 when Mauve grabs him on the street and tells him. She found out from a report that her subordinates gathered.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, the Mysterious Waif Vivio is revealed to be the clone of the last Sankt Kaiser, and the reason why the Big Bad has been targeting her is because the Saint's Cradle could only be operated by members of the then extinct Sankt Kaiser royal family. As the last Sankt Kaiser is also the Jesus analogue of the setting, she's literally treated like royalty by the Saint Church after this is revealed, though they do respect her wishes to grow up as a normal girl with her adopted mothers.
- Shows up in Alibaba's backstory in Magi – Labyrinth of Magic. He was raised in the slums by his mother, but one day the king of his country showed up and revealed that Alibaba was his son and that he must come and live in the palace. Later on (in-series), Alibaba decides that the entire system is screwed up and decides to turn his country into a republic instead.
- In One Piece, Sanji is revealed to be the third son of the Vinsmoke family, formerly the rulers of the entire North Blue (which is to say roughly 1/4 of the world), and still recognized as royalty despite no longer having any land and now operating as assassins for hire.
- In the first The Legend of Zelda manga, Link is revealed to be the Heroic Bastard love child of the previous Zelda and her elf lover. Link was abandoned by his mother because she knew her husband would kill the child. Link himself never actually learns his heritage. His younger sister Zelda never tells him. This becomes awkward as Link had an (unrequited) crush on her.
- Hulkling of the Young Avengers is actually the son of the Skrull Princess Anelle, and grandson of Emperor Dorrek VII and Empress R'Kill. His grandfather wanted him killed at birth, as his father was the Kree Captain Mar-Vell, an enemy of the Skrull Empire. His grandmother had one of her servants flee to Earth with him instead, where she raised him as a human child with no knowledge of his ancestry. However, his parents and grandparents are now all dead, and he is the last surviving member of the original Skrull royal line. The Super-Skrull tries to put him on the throne as Emperor Dorrek VIII in the hopes of reunifying the fragmented Skrull Empire.
- A large part of the basis for Child of the Storm. James Potter was really Thor, incarnated as a mortal for the first go round at this humility thing. It didn't go as planned, what with him dying as James and consequently having to be mind wiped. A lot of the plot features Harry adjusting to the fact that he's now royalty - divine royalty, no less.
- In Tangled In Time, Fyrus was born to Gerudo and Hylian barkeepers in Castle Town and grew up as a normal child, not realizing that male Gerudos are a big deal. When Ganondorf takes over Castle Town, he and his family flee to the Gerudo Desert, where he ends up being crowned king. He jokes that he should have realized it when his mother called him "her little prince."
Film — Animated
- This forms the basis of the plot of Anastasia. The audience knows ‘Anya’ is actually Grand Duchess Anastasia, but due to her suffering from amnesia, she can only vaguely recall her childhood and doesn’t remember her true identity. The only clue she has is a necklace from her grandmother, engraved with the words ‘Together in Paris’. She teams up with two con-men, Dimitri and Vlad, who intend to take her to Paris and present her as Anastasia to collect the reward money after seeing how much she looks like the Grand Duchess…unaware she’s the real thing. Dimitri figures it out first, after Anya recalls escaping from the palace during the revolution via a secret passage, with the help of a kitchen boy…who was actually Dimitri. It takes a little longer for everyone else to catch on, but in the end, Anastasia realises the truth when she begins to recall Repressed Memories of her childhood, and when her grandmother recognises her necklace.
- Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights: The Sultan won't allow his son to marry someone of low class. However, when the Sultan hears Aliyah-Din's name, he mentions that's the name of the missing Princess his son was supposed to marry.
- In Tangled, this reveal is a major plot point near the climax, and is a long-running case of irony throughout the whole film. While the audience is told in the beginning that Rapunzel is the princess of Corona, the plot relies on whether or not Mother Gothel can continue hiding it from her, or if she figures it out on her own. Even when she's outright told that the "birthday lights" are from a lantern festival for the princess, she doesn't put it together, possibly because she doesn't know that she shares the princess's birthday. She finally does figure it out when she recognizes that she's been painting Corona's sunburst symbol as a motif in all the murals in her bedroom. This triggers her early memories of her real parents and leads to her realizing that Mother Gothel has been lying to and taking advantage of her all her life, and the plot probably would have ground to a halt if Rapunzel hadn't realized her "mother" was a lying, murderous kidnapper. (Arguably, this whole plot would have been moot if Mother Gothel had simply lied to Rapunzel about when her birthday was).
- In Wreck-It Ralph, King Candy usurped the throne of Princess Vanellope von Schweetz by replacing his code with hers. He couldn't outright delete her code, so he turned her into a glitch, leaving her as a prisoner in her own game; locking up the memories of everyone in the game, including Vanellope herself, and developed a Fantastic Racism against her in order to keep her from racing and resetting the game. Her true role is revealed when Ralph sees her image on the outside of her game console, showing both that she is supposed to be there and that she is important.
Film — Live-Action
- At the end of The Da Vinci Code Sophie Neveu and the hero Robert Langdon have finally followed all the clues and reached the end of the quest to find the "Holy Grail", except they only find the "Grail documents", papers and details that follow the descended bloodline of Jesus Christ. Right at the bottom, Robert shows Sophie that she's the last heir.
- Played with in A Knight's Tale. When William is in the stocks for masquerading as a noble-born knight, the Black Prince shows up announcing that he has discovered that William is actually the descendant of a distant branch of the royal family, and therefore off the hook. It is implied that the Prince just made this up in thanks for William being willing to joust against him earlier.
- In The Princess Diaries, out of the blue, Ordinary High-School Student Mia is told that her father has died, making her now the heir to the small European kingdom of Genovia. Now she just needs to learn how to be a proper princess...
- In Spaceballs, Lone Star was raised in a monastery, with only an unreadable medallion to tell him of his past. Eventually it is revealed that it is a certificate verifying him as a genuine prince, thereby making him eligible to marry Princess Vespa, and just in time to interrupt her Arranged Marriage.
- Star Wars: Luke Skywalker discovers that he is the son of Darth Vader; and also brother to Princess Leia — which turns out to be a useful way of resolving their Love Triangle with Han...
- Tears of the Sun: Lt. Waters and his team have been escorting a U.S. citizen, her staff, and other refugees to safety in war-torn Nigeria. A local militia has been so doggedly pursuing them for days on end that Waters eventually forces the refugees to reveal the truth: that one of them is actually the last survivor of a deposed royal house whom the militia wants to see dead.
- Bardic Voices: In The Lark and the Wren, once he is encouraged to remember who he is, it turns out that Kestrel is actually the prince of Birnam, fled after his uncle deposed his father and running from the assassins chasing him. However, when they go to confront his uncle, it turns out that his father was the tyrant while his uncle is a good and popular king who only reluctantly sent the assassins in self defence. Kestrel chooses to renounce his claim to the throne in favour of his uncle and cousin — in the process showing off his stammer to the people — then completely disqualifies himself by marrying a gipsy and becoming a Bard.
- King Belgarion of Riva in The Belgariad is the descendant of a Moses in the Bulrushes, a few hundred years down the line. He has a strange birthmark, and an heirloom sword which he claims from the throne room where it was stored when he finds out his station.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: In The Horse and His Boy Shasta discovers that the reason he and Prince Corin look so alike is that they are actually twins Separated at Birth. Being slightly older, he ends up being heir, and later king, of Archenland, much to his twin brother's relief.
- In Oath of Gold, the third book of The Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy by Elizabeth Moon, Paks takes up the task of locating the rightful king of Lyonya, a man with elven blood and specific birthright powers that make him the only one the elves will accept as ruler. He was stolen by evil forces as a child, and, it turns out, enslaved for some years and forced to endure some terrible things that the book doesn't go into great detail on. A visitor contrived to give him a chance to escape, and he found his way to some distant relatives who didn't realize who he was, but raised him well. He went on to make his own life, and it isn't until Paks figures out who he is that his true purpose and powers are revealed - but it turns out that half a dozen people actually knew where he was, but feared to bring the truth to light, because 1) his time in the hands of the evil ones could have damaged him beyond help (specifically, making him an unstable ruler or making him unable to wield the powers needed to perform his duties as king), and 2) until shortly before the story begins, his sister was alive and showed great promise as a ruler.
- Throughout the first Deltora Quest series, Lief and his friends are trying to gather the gems to the magical Belt of Deltora so the hidden heir can oust the Shadow Lord. In the middle of the final battle, Lief realizes that the reason why it didn't shine when Jasmine (the person who they thought was the heir) put it on was because the gems were in the wrong order. He fixes this and goes to take it to her, putting it on again to free his hands. It promptly shines for him instead, revealing that his parents are the deposed king and queen, merely disguised as a blacksmith and his wife.
- On the Discworld it's all but admitted out loud that Carrot Ironfoundersson is the long-lost heir to the long-empty throne of Ankh-Morpork. He was found in the wild and raised by dwarfs (and still considers himself an unusually tall dwarf), and he has both a crown-shaped birthmark and a Cool Sword (which, while not enchanted, is far from ordinary). Carrot, however, is happy with his position as a captain in the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, has no intention of reclaiming the throne, and even goes out of his way to obfuscate any more evidence he's the lost king of Ankh.
- Danzi tells Ping in Dragon Keeper Trilogy that she must be the descendent of one of the two dragon keeper families, which is why she is able to hear him.
- In The Dragons of Babel by Michael Swanwick, the king of Babel has been missing for a few decades. Will, the protagonist, falls in with a con man named Nat, who comes up with a plan to pass off Will as the king's bastard son and therefore the sole heir to the throne. In the end, it turns out that Nat is both the long-lost king and Will's biological father, meaning that Will really is the heir to the throne.
- The Dresden Files: Genealogical research prompted by Harry Dresden on a hunch reveals that apparently all present-day Knights of the Cross are distant descendants of well-remembered royal figures. Probably less of a stretch than some other examples since all the intervening generations necessarily mean that royal DNA had plenty of time to get around, and wielders of the Swords are definitely chosen at least as much for their actual character as for any other reason... but as pure coincidence it certainly would make for a curious one.
- Inheritance Cycle. Eragon is the son of a Dragon Rider. When he and Murtagh start comparing their families they discover that they have the same mother; Murtagh later yelling that his father's Cool Sword should have gone to his eldest son not his youngest... It later turns out that they are only half-brothers, Eragon's father actually being Brom, also a past Dragon Rider.
- In The Land of Bad Fantasy by KJ Taylor, Ana discovers that King Petrolum wasn't lying when he told the lizard army she was his daughter and heir after all...
- In The Lumatere Chronicles, Froi thinks that he is the orphaned son of Lumaterians lost when the curse cut off the refugees from Lumatere and the scattered across the continent. He then turns out to have the distinctive features of Serka Charionite, revealing that he is the son of the queen and her lover, the inventor who has just been mentoring him. It comes as a surprise to all three of them and they form a seriously Dysfunctional Family.
- Simeon from the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series was a foundling with a gold ring revealing him to be a direct descendant of the Fisher King (the last ruler of the previous dynasty). By the time he is told at the end of the series, he is left as pretty much the only eligible heir to the throne, and able to marry his girlfriend, daughter of the previous king (and the other current claimant).
- In the Old Kingdom books, Lirael discovers in a vision that her father was the Abhorsen, meaning that she is now the Abhorsen-in-Waiting. This is why her Clayr seer power never developed. Instead, she ends up with the ability to see the past thanks to her mixed heritage. Something that is much more important to the plot than it seems at first.
- In L. Frank Baum's second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Tip, the young protagonist, spends almost the whole book searching for the missing Princess Ozma of Oz. It turns out the Wizard gave her to a witch, who turned her into a boy, who just happens to be... Tip!
- The Perfect Princess, one of the Quentaris Chronicles books has Tab, an orphan working in the Dung Brigade with a fascination for theatre. One day, she meets a mysterious stranger who claims to be searching for her on behalf of her mother, her hero the fabled missing Perfect Princess. Rumours get out, and people hail her as the new Princess while the Archon, Duelphs and Nibhellines – the three most powerful factions in the city – try to bribe her to leave and maintain the status quo. At the last minute she decides that it is all too much pressure and publicly rejects the throne, claiming that it was all a ruse and she is just an actor; then going off to meet her parents.
- Crown Prince Alaric of Caederan in The Quest of the Unaligned was sent away as a young child to be a Hidden Backup Prince. He was supposed to only stay in Tonzimmiel for about ten years before being informed of his. This plan was unwittingly wrecked when Alaric's Tonzimmelian foster parents died and Alaric was spirited off by Tonzimmiel's orphanage system. Then a Mysterious Stranger shows up, claiming that Alaric is a prince, and tricks him into going on the titular quest, during which he comes to accept his true heritage.
- Subverted in The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibotson. The protagonist, Annika, is a foundling brought up by the cook and housekeeper of three Absent Minded Professors. She dreams that someday her true mother will come for her, and prove to be someone rich and important. Then Edeltraut von Tannenberg turns up claiming to be her mother. It is later revealed that she is an Impoverished Patrician who only wanted to get her hands on the jewels a friend had left Annika, which were supposedly fake but she discovered were actually real. Annika is still willing to go with her, until her friends find the midwife who identified Edeltraut as her mother and prove she was baught off. At this point, Annika happily abandons her 'mother' and goes back to being an apprentice cook with her foster family.
- In the book Stardust, Tristan's mother is a kidnapped princess held as a slave. So when she and his father's flirtations turn into a wonderful afternoon, she's horrified at the prospect that her son will be just as much a slave as she, so she leaves him at the father's doorstep. Eventually the witch holding her captive is killed, and she tells Tristan his true parentage. Thanks to a lot of plot, a dying proclamation, and fratricidal tendencies on the part of his uncles, Tristan is not only revealed as a member of the royal household but the last surviving male heir to complete the challenge set forth by his grandfather in order to become king.
- In Rebecca Reisert's novel The Third Witch, a retelling of Macbeth, the titular character is a young girl called Gilly who was taken in by two old women living in the woods after she was orphaned as a child. Her main goal is to kill Macbeth, the man who murdered her father and married her mother, the future Lady Macbeth. In the end, it is revealed that Gilly is a princess as she is the great granddaughter of a previous king, Kenneth. Her real name is Roah, the same as her mother.
- In Vampire Academy, Jill Mastrano is introduced as a non-royal Moroi in Shadow Kiss, and spends the next two books in this role. In Last Sacrifice, she is later revealed to be royalty, the paternal half-sister of Princess Lissa Dragomir. Rose announces Jill's true parentage in a public session of Court. Jill's existence is used to give Lissa status as head of a living royal house, giving her voting rights in the royal council, and a valid claim as a candidate for the throne. Jill herself is made a Princess.
- In The Wheel of Time, through a convoluted series of events and prophecies, Rand is actually the son of Andor's previous Daughter-Heir, Tigraine. At first he is worried by a noblewoman referring to his and his Love Interest, Elaine's, mothers as cousins, but careful questioning reveals that this is only in the sense that all the noble families are related. However, this is less important than the fact that Tigraine became an Aiel Maiden of the Spear and gave birth to him on Dragonmount, thereby making him the Dragon Reborn.
- Kvothe from The Wise Man's Fear is heavily implied (but not yet confirmed) to be a slightly inverted example. Turns out his mother may have been a Vintish noblewoman who eloped with a the Edema Ruh. Unfortunately, the implications come when his prospective patron is about to marry his aunt, who now has a serious grudge against the Edema Ruh.
- Once Upon a Time
- Emma Swan discovers that the reason she was abandoned as a baby is because her parents are actually Snow White and Prince Charming, and they sent her through a magic wardrobe to protect her from the world-destroying curse. She is more concerned by the fact that, thanks to the stasis produced by said curse, she is now the same age as her parents.
- Henry actually goes through this several times by the end of season 3. From starting as the adopted son of the town mayor, it turns out that his adopted mother is the Evil Queen (and his step-great-grandmother...), his mother is the Chosen One, and his grandparents are Prince Charming, Snow White and The Dark One. Go back another generation and there are various additional royals. While he believes his heritage from the start, thanks to his book of fairytales and their too-accurate pictures, it is only confirmed once the curse is broken.
- To top it off, it's revealed that one of his great-grandparents is Peter Pan.
- Our Miss Brooks: One of Miss Brooks' students in "King and Brooks".
Religion & Mythology
- Takes a particularly dark turn in the Mahabharata epic — After slaying their treacherous cousin in a costly and bloody war of succession, Arjuna and his brother find out that Karna, said cousin's best friend and Noble Top Enforcer , whom either they or their teacher mocked for being a lowborn commoner, was actually their long lost older brother - the princes are startled to realize not only that they have just commited fratricide, but that they could have avoided the whole bloody mess as both they and their cousin may have been willing to accept him as king, had they only known of his true lineage.
- In Oedipus Rex neither Oedipus nor the audience know until near the end that he is the son of the King & Queen of Thebes who had been left to die of exposure as an infant because the Oracle at Delphi predicted that he'd murder his father & marry his mother. He was raised by a woodman who kept the secret from him; when Oedipus went to the Oracle he received a similar prediction and, thinking that his adopted mother & father were his real parents, left home so he wouldn't do that. Oedipus gets in a fight with a rich man and kills him, then later comes to Thebes and answers the Riddle of the Sphinx, thus ridding Thebes of the threat and winning the Queen's hand in marriage. When Thebes is in the midst of a famine Oedipus investigates the reason and is told that he must discover the murderer of the previous king. Oedipus finds out piecemeal all of these various elements, putting two and two together to realize he himself is the reason.
- Martin from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has this reveal delivered by the Player Character; all legitimate heirs to the Imperial throne are dead, so here comes the illegitimate Hidden Backup Prince.
- Two examples in Final Fantasy V:
- Faris is really the older sister of Princess Lenna, having been lost at sea when she was five. She and Lenna have matching pendants, and Lenna confronts Faris by calling her "sister" during an optional scene at Castle Tycoon. Faris herself, however, tries to stay in denial about it until they both find their Disappeared Dad.
- Galuf is King of Bal. He's got amnesia until he reunites with his granddaughter Krile, but neither of them see fit to mention their royal status until the others follow them to their own world and find Galuf sitting on a throne. Since both of them are Modest Royalty, they'd rather be treated like friends than monarchs.
- The Fire Emblem series like this trope, though they play with it occasionally.
- In Fire Emblem Gaiden, Celica is an Internal Reveal version of this trope: she, her starting party members and the player know she's the last remaining heir of Zofia, but Alm (her childhood friend) doesn't find out until more than halfway through the game, long after he already made some brutal anti-noble comments towards her. It also turns out that Alm is really royalty, he's the only son of Emperor Rudolf of Rigel, the country he's fighting. He only finds out the truth from his father after he mortally wounds him. Naturally he does not take this well. Interestingly, the spoilered example combines the Birthmark of Destiny, Luke, I Am Your Father and Only the Chosen May Wield version of this trope.
- In Genealogy of the Holy War, Patty and Faval had no idea about their Missing Mom Briggid's noble origins... until midway through the game's second half, when Team Dad Lewyn explains it all.
- In Fire Emblem Blazing Sword, Lyn finds out early on in her story that she's not just The Chief's Daughter, she's also the heir to the throne of Caelin (her mother fell in love with the chief of the Lorca tribe, and they eloped) and has to take it back from her Evil Uncle.
- Played with in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones on two occasions. First, Joshua is revealed to the the prince of Jehanna mid-way through Eirika's story, but he was well aware of this, he was just hiding it from the rest of the party (and the player). Secondly, L'arachel tries to Invoke this dramatically on Eirika, but no-one was ever fooled for a moment.
- Inverted in Radiant Dawn when Pelleas is revealed to not be the prince of Daein, the birthmark he supposedly had was really the mark of a Spirit Charmer. Played straight with Micaiah being Sanaki's long-lost big sister and the true Apostle of Begnion, however she declines to act on this and becomes Queen of Daein instead. Played with in regards to Soren, who is revealed to be the true prince of Daein through his mother Almedha recognising him. However, he never becomes aware of this himself... and considering how his father is the Mad King Ashnard, it's probably for the best.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, Validar reveals himself first as the King of Plegia and later as the player character's father, and by extension the Avatar is now the heir to Plegia's throne. Virion is also revealed to be the head of a noble house in Valm at the start of the game's second act, though this is pretty obvious given how he acts.
- Played with in Fire Emblem Fates since the protagonist is royalty, but not the royalty they think they are. They were raised as royalty of Nohr, but later find out the king kidnapped them as a toddler after killing the King of Hoshido. They later run into their long-lost Hoshidan kin... in the middle of a war between the two countries. Whether they choose to reclaim their birthright or keep fighting for the family who raised them leads to completley different storylines. A third route reveals that the protagonist is actually the heir to a third kingdom ruled by their actual biological father who is a dragon, and this comes up when he/she runs away from BOTH realms and, with the help of their best friend, go into said kingdom itself...
- Lysander's campaign in Heroes of Might and Magic IV ends with him drawing the legendary Gryphonheart sword which only a member of the Gryphonheart bloodline can wield. Script notes by the game's writer reveal that he's not the only Gryphonheart on Axeoth. The protagonists of the Might and Death campaigns, Waerjak and Gauldoth Half-dead, are his brothers, though none of them are aware of their familial bonds.
- In King's Quest III, the slave boy Gwydion finds out halfway through the game from an oracle he stumbles upon that he is really the long-lost Prince Alexander of Daventry, kidnapped by his wizard master as a baby. And also that his sister Princess Rosella just happens to need rescuing from a dragon, if he can escape his master and get to Daventry fast enough...
- Oswald from Odin Sphere is eventually revealed to be a long-lost member of Titanian royalty by the end of the game. In fact, this enables him to get around King Gallon's immortality, since he can only be killed by a member of Titanian royalty.
- In case the title wasn't a clue, this is a big factor in the plot of Queen at Arms. With her adoptive father dead, protagonist Marcus does not and cannot know that she is the rightful Queen of Orthera until her big brother Nick tells her.
- DuckTales: In "Jungle Duck", the eponymous Jungle Duck happens to be the long vanished Prince Greydrake.