"Do you mind?! I am just trying to have a quiet meal with my secret other family!"
The ultimate way to introduce Parental Issues
short of a murder plot. Your dad is revealed to have been hiding a life with a whole other family. In fact, if he's sneaky enough, from that family's perspective, yours
might be the Secret Other Family.
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Anime and Manga
- In Mushishi, Ginko helps a woman and her son; the woman's husband is missing, and neither of them know what became of him. In the end, they find him living with his other family and child. Bittersweetly, the woman will never remember it, because of her anterograde amnesia. But she won't have to deal with the pain of knowing her beloved husband left her, either.
- Satoshi Oginome in Mawaru-Penguindrum either falls under this or Parent with New Paramour as we find out in Episode 8.
- One of The Intimates' signature info scrolls mentions that when Punchy is 40, erectile dysfunction will threaten both of his marriages.
- Lois Lane discovers this about Superman.
- Don't worry, Lois—it's actually a robotic clone of Superman. Obviously.
- Takeshi Kitano's Kikujiro no Natsu has this as a MacGuffin.
- One of the characters of The Vertical Ray of the Sun by Tran Anh Hung has a Secret Other Family which he regularly visits while ostensibly on photographic field trips. His wife later says that she knew all along, as he couldn't refrain from putting his other wife and kid in too many of his pictures.
- The Captain's Paradise had Alec Guinness as a naval captain trying to keep his wife in Algiers unknown to his wife in Gibraltar and vice versa.
- Eulogy: This is part of the Video Will Reveal.
- What drives the main plot of People Like Us, as the main character finds out he has a long-lost sister from another family his father had.
- Frequent Flyer has a pilot having a wife in Dallas and another in Chicago. And then he ended up getting married to a third one in Hawaii.
- The 1953 film The Bigamist.
- In Girl Shy the cad who is about to marry Harold Lloyd's girlfriend is revealed to already have a wife hidden away in the country.
- Pasquinel in the novel (and later miniseries) Centennial.
- According to one of the Armsmen in the Vorkosigan Saga, one of the other Armsmen has one family in the city and one in the country.
- A legionnaire in Codex Alera had to transfer far away from both of his usual postings when the wife in post A learned about the wife in post B.
- The book No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay used this trope. The protagonist and narrator was married to a woman called Cynthia, and her father was secretly married to another woman. He used his job as an excuse to keep an eye on both families. His first wife was an abusive, domineering psycho who turned their son against him. While working, he met Cynthia's future mother, they hit it off, had Cynthia and an elder brother, and he managed to keep the act going for years. Then the first wife, suspicious, discovered the second family, killed the mother and son while they were shopping, and was about to kill Cynthia until the father promised to never have contact with her again.
- In the Montague Egg short story False Weight, the late Mr. Wagstaffe had, under various aliases, wooed and married a woman in his every port of call. When the truth came out, there was a blunt object with his name on it.
- In the P. G. Wodehouse story The Luck Of The Bodkins, about a transatlantic steamer, the author writes that on landing in New York, those of the crew "who are bigamists have long since got over the pang of parting from their wives and children in Southampton and are looking forward with bright affection to meeting their wives and children in New York."
- The financial difficulties arising from supporting a Secret Other Family was the criminal's motive in the Sherlock Holmes story Silver Blaze.
- Shows up once or twice in Judge Dee, usually due to a jealous First Wife denying her husband any concubines.
- In Lives of the Monster Dogs Augustus Rank, the creator of the titular Dogs, discovered that his father had one of these after his mother had died when his father moved back in with his mistress, formally marrying her shortly after. Later on Augustus murdered his half brother after he found out that they were competing for the same woman and that his brother planned to run away with her.
- In The Mortal Instruments Jace was unaware of Sebastian's existence, which led him to believe that he was Valentine's real son. Also Clary's father and brother.
Live Action TV
- Speculated by Roseanne in "Kansas City, Here We Come" when they discover their father's decades-long affair. "Roseanne, Dad could have kids with this woman. They would be, like... Darlene's age." "Oh, man, that would serve him right."
- Jack's dad on LOST: implied late in season 3, spelled out in the fourth season finale.
- Chris-In-The-Morning's dad on Northern Exposure.
- The murder victim in the CSI episode "Grissom Versus the Volcano".
- In "Divorce Party" of CSI: Miami also had the father who had a Secret Other Family murdered by his own son after the son discovered that he had been dating his half-sister. They fell in love and were having a baby together.
- Shawn on Boy Meets World discovers that his dad had another family, and that he has a half-brother he never knew about.
- The premise of Brothers and Sisters. Rumor has it that the spare illegitimate daughter is eventually revealed to have another father altogether.
- Don Geiss in 30 Rock turned out to have a secret Canadian family and a secret attic family.
- In Malcolm in the Middle, Lois' father had a secret other family that he treated much better than his own. Ida simply cheated on him and conceived Lois with another man.
- The bartender from Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire.
- King Silas maintains a second family in the countryside on Kings. Of course, since he's the king, his mistress is fully aware that he's married.
- There was an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit where a pillar of the community turned out to have maintained two families for a long time. Then two of his children started a relationship, without knowing they were half-siblings.
- The victim in an episode of Bones had two wives and a kid by each, both with the same degenerative bone condition that he had. Interestingly his two wives and the third woman he'd been romancing were not the ones who killed him.
- The victim in an episode of Life - "Farthingale" - had two wives under two different names. Turns out he was living a triple life, in reality an employee of the IRS, and was killed by an anti-government bomber.
- In one episode of Castle, a man is found dead and his wife and fiancee both show up to claim the body. Except that he and the fiancee were both playing each other, in a complicated bit of corporate espionage.
- The whole premise of Lone Star: Bob is a Con Man who maintains two separate lives with two different women, and claims to love both of them.
- Quantum Leap: Sam leaps into a man who has two families, and decides that he's there so both wives will break up with him and go on to lead successful lives of their own. He gets them both to break up with him by admitting to both that he's a bigamist; then just before he leaps the third wife & family show up.
- On The Drew Carey Show Drew winds up married to his long-time friend/obvious series-long Love Interest Kate and an old girlfriend at the same time. (This happens shortly after he was in a mental hospital, so he may not have been thinking clearly.) He tries to keep them from knowing about each other until he can figure out what to do, only for them to figure it out and both leave his life permanently.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Gul Dukat had a wife and seven children. He was very proud of them. That didn't stop him having a Secret Other Family of the most scandalous kind possibly for a Cardassian in his position of power: a Bajoran lover he had a Bajoran betrothal pledge with and their half-Cardassian, half-Bajoran daughter.
- In one episode of The Closer, a man, his wife and their young daughter are brutally murdered. The only surviving family member, a teenage boy, is initially the prime suspect, but the actual killer turns out to be the man's other teenage son, who had discovered that his dad had another family.
- On Third Watch, after a much-publicized rescue, police officer Ty is approached by a young woman. Assuming she's romantically interested in him, he takes her to dinner, only for her to reveal that she's his sister—the child of a woman with whom his father had a long-term affair. When he reveals this to his other sister, she admits that she already knew and had met the girl for lunch several times, then informs him that their mother knows as well, citing a weekend when they were abruptly sent to stay with an aunt as a time when their parents were trying to work things out. When Ty confides in his partner Sully (who had been his father's partner), it turns out HE knew also. Ty is left utterly disillusioned with the memories of his father and infuriated at everyone for concealing the truth from him.
- "It is revealed that the reason Billy takes over as cartoonist for a week every now and then is that Daddy's visiting his secret other family out in the country." — Ways to make Family Circus funny
- Taken to deliberately absurd lengths in series 4 of Bleak Expectations, when Harry Biscuit, paranoid about losing his new wife to the villain who stole his last one, marries 92 other women as spares and must then prevent any of them from meeting. For added ludicrousness, this takes place confined to a ship in the middle of the ocean. Upon arriving in America, Harry solves his problem by becoming a Mormon - Whereupon, of course, all 93 wives immediately desert him for the villain.
- In the Sherlock Holmes radio drama "The Peculiar Persecution of Mr John Harden", the title character is a millionaire who turns out to have yearned for a simpler life, an urge he indulges by having a secret life and family in a small village in Wales. Neither his Welsh family nor his wife in his own identity are aware of the deception, and his son is extraordinarily pissed off when he finds out.
- Homestar Runner's Strong Bad claims to have one. "Claims" being the operative word. Ol' SB has a rather... overactive imagination.
- In any case, his "first family" is just his two brothers.
- In Nightshift, Roxy knows full well her father had a secret other family... she just doesn't know said family is still perfectly alive and healthy.
- One A Softer World strip is about this.
- As shown above, Mayor Quimby from The Simpsons.
- Snowball V/II was secretly visiting another family that considered her their cat.
- A commercial of pills to help people sleep had a list of things that make people too worried to sleep. "Secret Other Family" was in the list.
- Family Guy did a joke about Peter having one.
- Except Peter was the mother. He dressed as a stereotypical housewife and spoke in falsetto.
- American Dad! had an episode where Roger, their live-in alien friend, was secretly a part of/spending time with dozens of other families as well. This was treated as if he was having an affair.
- Real Life example: Vito Fossella, a Congressman from New York City, was arrested for drunk driving in Alexandria, Virginia. When a member of his Virginian Secret Other Family came to pick him up, guess who didn't get to run for re-election...
- Chris McCandless, who's had the book Into the Wild based on him (and a movie based on that book), found out his dad had another family. At least, it was secret to him and his sister. His mother knew, and in fact it was why they moved at one point.
- The late French president Francois Mitterrand revealed to the public shortly before leaving office that he had a Secret Other Family. The French have always taken a fairly relaxed view of their politicians getting up to this sort of thing so it didn't really affect his approval rating, except possibly with his wife, and both families were present together at his funeral.
- Knowing that he had taken good care of his illegitimate daughter actually made him more popular and sympathetic.
- Eva Peron was one of the daughters in a wealthy rancher's Secret Other Family; however, on his death her father left the family a document stating that the children were his so they could use his surname, Duarte.
- But Eva, her mother and siblings were refused entrance to his funeral... and his death left them absolutely, desperately poor.
- A variant sometimes happens with free-range pets, especially cats, who simply go from one "owner" to another to get extra food.
- Josef Fritzl started a Squick-y one of these with his daughter Elisabeth. He imprisoned her in the cellar when she was eighteen years old and she was successfully kept there for twenty-four years. Meanwhile, Josef raped her enough times that she gave birth to seven children all fathered by him. And the way Elisabeth and the three children who he kept down there with her lived, they were certainly one of these for Josef Fritzl, with himself as the loving and benevolent patriarch who would come down to give his other wife (Elisabeth) flowers and have consensual (as he described it) sex with her and spend time with their children.
- Twenty-nine years after his death it was discovered that Charles Lindbergh had three of these in Europe, fathering seven illegitimate children between 1958 and 1967 as part of a strange eugenics-inspired belief that he should spread his superior genes as much as possible. His children were unaware of their father's true identity until the 1980s.