A character whose mother is a sex worker, most likely a Hooker with a Heart of Gold. Bonus Points if the father was one of her many customers. Sometimes the character was merely raised in a brothel, without either of his/her parents working there, or being born of a Sex Slave. Expect either Wangst or angst over their origin. More common amongst Anti Heroes than others. Possible Heroic Bastard.
Don't remind him of his origin too much, because in some languages this trope name is the worst insult possible. Some could take it more calmly, however, and give the insulter a good retort; others would just smash his face in, since Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas. This is also commonly used as a Freudian Excuse to explain why a character might be rather messed up; in some works of fiction, characters whose mothers were sex workers have a high rate of becoming Serial Killers (although there's usually some other form of abuse involved as well).
For some reason, this character is almost Always Male, even though a sex worker's offspring is just as likely to be female. If the character is a Daughter of a Whore, there's the additional baggage that she is expected to follow in her mother's footsteps, which is highly likely to be a Berserk Button for the character in question.
See also Single Mom Stripper. This character may be a Heroic Bastard, a Bastard Bastard, or anywhere in between.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
Alibaba from Magi - Labyrinth of Magic is revealed to be this, while his father is actually the king of Baldhad, making him a crown prince. Later, Princess Kougyouku's mother is also revealed to be a harlot too, which prompt her to ask Alibaba to be her friend.
In Fullmetal Alchemist, Roy Mustang's (foster) mother was revealed to be one Madame Christmas, proprietor of a brothel/pub. It's stated in one of the guidebooks that she's really his aunt, his biological parents died when he was young.
Prince Seiliez from Vampire Game. This made him The Unfavorite of his family's three adopted kids. Thing is, though, this also makes him the only legitimate heir to the throne of his country - while his mother was a whore, his father was the king.
Yahiko Myoujin in Rurouni Kenshin. While one bad guy tries to play on his supposed shame over his origin, he defends his mother and doesn't seem ashamed at all. Quite the contrary, as Yahiko takes pride in that his mother did whatever she had to in order to raise him until it killed her (syphilis eventually did). This also works as an Establishing Character Moment.
Seta Soujiro exemplifies this trope straight, as his mother was The Mistress of a rich man. When his parents died, he was taken in by his evil paternal family (the old man's widow as well as his younger uncles and stepsiblings) and from there it went From Bad to Worse. So much that he snapped and killed them all.
Kai of Piano No Mori is the son of Reiko, who's explicitly shown to be a prostitute in the manga, and lives with her in the red light district at the start of the series. The anime movie, geared toward a more general audience, downplays this aspect.
Mako "Nakama" Nakarai from Bokurano. Her mother Miko is an ex-prostitute, now bar hostess; Mako's been bullied all of her life because of this, but she nevertheless loves Miko since otherwise she's a genuinely good mom. At some point, Mako tries to get into Compensated Dating to get the money she needs for a small goal she has, but is steered away from it.
Ryuuji Takasu from Tora Dora is the illegitimate son of a beautiful bar hostess and a Yakuza. And he was born when his mom was, as much, 16-17 years old.
Satellizer L. Bridgette, the lead female from from Freezing.
This is Laertes Montague's Freudian Excuse in Romeo x Juliet. His father was supposedly a Capulet noble whom could have taken his son and his prostitute mother out of poverty but didn't, causing the death of the latter as well as making the first an incedibly broken and bitter Street Urchin. This provides a convinient Freudian Excuse for Montague's murderous rise to power, in which he works his way to the top of the rival clan and then massacres everyone in the Capulet group — save for a two-year-old Juliet who barely manages to escape thanks to the family retainers.
Liz: I hate the mother who abandoned Patti and me... But I guess since she was the most beautiful whore in town... I should thank her for bearing two pretty girls...
Soichirou Ashida from Stepping On Roses. His mother was the concubine of a rich man, and that's why his family loathes so much.
Rorschach in Watchmen developed a number of sexual hangups thanks to growing up around his mother's work. Well, that and being beaten and verbally abused by his mother, and bullied by other kids for being a Son of a Whore.
About the only known instance of Rorschach showing mercy was when he refused to take revenge on his landlady for lying about him to the TV reporters. When he called her a whore she begged him not to say that in front of her children: "they... they don't know". He let the matter drop, after a short silence in which he may well have been thinking that at least she was a better mother than his.
Laurie in Before Watchmen receives a watered-down version of this trope — Sally's former career as a pinup/B-movie star/Tijuana Bible favorite is more intensely stigmatized and repellent to her teenage daughter, as well as more known, than if she had a Single Mom Stripper. Her hangups about her mother never really go away, but the trauma of the sexual element is temporary.
Blade, at least the comic version. Spending a chunk of his childhood in a whore house didn't have any lasting affects on his psyche surprisingly. He has issues, but more from having his mom, father figure, childhood friends and girlfriend all murdered by vampires as he grew up. The Tomb of Dracula actually has him console another character on her sexual insecurities.
Heavily implied to be the case with Bill in Kill Bill. The only person who knows his whereabouts just happens to be a pimp who apparently raises the sons of his prostitutes to become his enforcers. Totally explains the big age and appearance difference between Bill and his brother Budd as well as his penchant for getting women to do his dirty work for him. Snake Charmer indeed.
The title character of the 1961 Biblical epic Barabbas.
Cosmo (Luis Guzmán) in Welcome To Collinwood uses this insult as blistering abuse (he is Latino, after all), but after his death another character casually remarks that Cosmo's mother was of that profession.
Someone tosses this in the face of Teri Hatcher's character in Heavens Prisoners. She calmly replies that her mother was a good businesswoman.
In 3:10 to Yuma, one of the robbers states Ben Wade to be the offspring of a hooker and makes the idiotic mistake of insulting dear old mom in front of him. Wade kills him and notes that he loves her anyway.
The title character of Richard Pryor's Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling is the son of a presumably married prostitute working in a whorehouse with her sisters.
David Wingrove's Chung Kuo has Stefan Lehmann, the son of a woman who has been a concubine to many different men
Phèdre from Kushiel's Legacy describes herself as a "whore's unwanted get." Less of a stigma about the "whore" part than is usual with this trope, because prostitution is a sacred calling in Terre d'Ange culture and women don't conceive unless they want to. If anything, the fact that Phèdre's mother deserted her is really more shameful.
Cosette from Les Misérables is the illegitimate daughter of Fantine and a man who abandoned her. After her birth her mother became a prostitute and Cosette never explicitly finds out her mother's story.
Inspector Javert was born in a prison, and he says since his mother was a RomaFortune Teller and his father was a galley-slave. It's entirely possible his mom was turning tricks. In any case, even if he's not a Son of a Whore, he's still a Son of Criminals, which is quite a big Freudian Excuse.
Mary Brown's medieval fantasy novel Pigs Don't Fly has the rather memorable opening line "My mother was the village whore and I loved her very much." Obviously, the heroine has fewer issues with her mother's profession than most characters of this sort do.
The protagonist of John Burdett's Bangkok novels is the son of a Thai prostitute who works her way up to becoming the madam of her own brothel. The protagonist is a cop who also works part-time as an organizer/benevolent pimp in his mother's business.
The Protagonist in Nightfall is also a son of a whore, when asked for a Patronymic after he's caught, he replied he has none for he's no man's son.
Richard Sharpe fits this trope exactly. In his own words on the miniseries, "I was born in a whorehouse and hope to die in the army." Total Badass.
No. 72 of Chuck Palahniuk's Snuffthinks he's the son of porn queen Cassie Wright. Turns out it was her assistant.
In Barrayar Sergeant Bothari reveals that his mother was a whore. Cordelia is unsurprised by this (Betan, you know), but expresses outrage when Bothari reveals that his mother used to sell him to her clients.
Brutus in Conn Iggulden's Emperor series. Though if memory serves, his mother became a prostitute after he was born. Still, she pretty much abandoned him in order to pursuit that career, so that ought to be pretty scarring.
Daine, in The Immortals series. While her mother isn't a whore, it is implied throughout the series that she was rather loose, sexually. (Daine says at one point, "Ma had a lot of men friends" or something similar.) Daine's real sore point, however, is in her last name: Sarrasri - meaning "Sara's daughter" in Daine's home country; it's a statement that Daine's mother never married, and Daine doesn't find out who her father is until halfway through the last book. There are several quiet hints scattered throughout the earlier books, though, that Daine's father is at least a minor god. Not just anyone can get a badger god to watch over their kid, after all. It turns out that Daine's father is a god of the hunt from her home region - which rather neatly explains just why she's so filled with Wild Magic that animals see her as one of their own.
Fergus from Outlander is one of these— raised in a brothel, unsure of which of the girls there was his mother. It's strongly implied (and shown, once) that male customers also took advantage of him, simply because he was there.
Otto Stahl, the Anti-Hero protagonist of the WW2 action-comedy novels by Leo Kessler.
Riftwar's Jimmy The Hand. His father was the Upright Man, which Jimmy wasn't supposed to ever know, but eventually found out or figured out on his own.
In one of the Circle of Magic books, there is a serial killer killing performers and dumping them in highly-respected places, which really causes problems because of that city's superstitions about death. It turns out the killer was the son of a whore and a noble.
Shakur of The Sovereign Stone trilogy is this; with the addition of his mother allowing her clients to pay for his services when he was a young boy. Perhaps one of the only examples of actually pitying a bad character for a horrific background.
Felix and Mildmay of Doctrine of Labyrinths, though technically she didn't become a prostitute until after Felix's birth. But she was a bit... free with her affections even then. Neither knows who their either of their fathers is, it never becomes a plot point despite Felix's remarkably strong magical abilities, and neither particularly cares.
Newt from Lonesome Dove was the son of the town's 'sporting woman', Maggie.
Bones from the Night Huntress books was the son of a prostitute, and was raised by the madam of the bordello. He grew up to adopt the profession himself, since he had no family connections for a respectable career and he turned out to be rather good at bedsport.
"Since the day I was born."
Scarpa from The Tamuli is stated to be the child of an Arjuni whore and a Styric renegade who happens to be Zalasta, the guy running the mortal side of the bad guys.
John the Savage in Brave New World was an outcast among his peers because he was born to a stranded outsider woman who offended the locals with her open sexual mores.
The protagonist of the Chinese classic Duke of Mount Deer (adapted countless times into movies and serials), Wei Xiaobao, rises through a series of misadventures from the mere son of a whore (one adaptation even shows an altar to seven men suspected of being his father) to the chief confidante and best friend to the Emperor himself.
Molly Bolt, the protagonist of Rita Mae Brown's Rubyfruit Jungle, finds out from her adopted mother that she's the daughter of local whore during an argument:
"You ain't so fine as you think you are, and you ain't mine neither. And I don't want you now that I know what you're about. Wanna know who you are, smartypants? You're Ruby Drollinger's bastard, that's who you are. Now let's see you put your nose in the air.
"Who's Ruby Drollinger?"
"Your real mother, that's who and she was a slut, you hear me, Miss Molly? A common, dirty slut who'd lay with a dog if it shook its ass right."
In A Song of Ice and Fire, there's a minor character named Satin who was raised in a brothel in Oldtown. It's heavily implied that he worked there, too. Robert is also stated to have scored illegitimate children with prostitutes.
The series also has a female example in the form of Obara Sand, whose mother was also an Oldtown whore. But as she is one of the Dornish prince's brother's acknowledged bastards (and lives pretty well in the Dornish palace), she doesn't seem too bothered by it.
Series star Eve Dallas is the Daughter of a Whore, and really lost the parent lottery all around. Her mother was an awful person who hated her, and her father planned to sell her. Her name is a Line-of-Sight Name from the DCFS-equivalent that found her, because her progenitors (hard to call them parents) never gave her one.
John Blue from Visions In Death. His mother was a hooker who abused him, and when he got older and refused to give him anything in her will, he responded by raping and murdering her, and then raping and murdering women who resembled his mother.
In Iron Dawn, the villain is the son of a small-town prostitute and the heir to the throne of Egypt. Unusual in that it's the latter connection that led to his being spoiled rotten, as prostitution wasn't as demonized in ancient Egypt as today; his half-brother and chief henchman plays it straight, having been forced to work in the brothel from an early age.
In Gone there's Sanjit, although in the one mention we've got of his mother he doesn't really seem to mind it.
Hinted at with Drake. Diana asks, "What is it with you and hating women, by the way? Found out your mother was a whore?" Drake then gets so enraged that he whips Diana to the point of fainting.
A huge theme in East of Eden is that Aron and Cal are this trope. They've been told that their mother is dead. Cal finds out the truth, but he keeps the knowledge hidden from Aron, since he know his brother wouldn't be able to take the news. In a moment of fury, he leads Aron to the brothel to meet their mother, effectively breaking him.
The unnamed son of Belle Watling and Rhett Butler in Rhett Butler's People.
Sunny McCreary in My Godawful Life, a parody of Misery Lit. His mother was a quadriplegic so he was forced to move her limbs for her to give the punter the impression that she was enjoying it.
Waln from Wolfs Head Wolfs Heart is a prostitute's son. The thing he seems to hate most is that his mother named him Walnut (he insists on going by Waln), and has never told him why.
There are two kinds of prostitute in the world of A Brother's Price. There are whores, women who sexually pleasure other women for money, and there are the much less fortunate crib captives, men who for whatever reason - usually they lost their virginities and/or are popularly thought to have sexually transmitted diseases - could not get married and were sold to "cribs" and kept drugged. Women without the resources for a husband pay the crib owners for nights with different men, trying to get pregnant. Most women without much in the way of land ownership have crib fathers, making them this trope, and it isn't seen as shameful. Cira mentions that she had a lover whose mother was a whore and who must have gone to the cribs, making that unnamed woman technically double this trope.
Dirisha, one of the Matadors, is the daughter of a whore from planet 313-C, commonly known as OhShit (the first thing most people say when they see it). She ran away rather than follow in the family trade. She's rather matter-of-fact about her background, but it does inform her personality (specifically her cynicism about love) and determination that she will never be another person's belonging.
Markus Jefferson Wall is the son of an Albino Exotic, a mutant strain of humans who were genetically designed to be the ultimate sex object (including the ability to consciously control their pheromones to enhance or diminish sexual attraction in the people around them). Most Exotics become sex workers of some nature; the only real difference is how high up the ladder from street whore to High-Class Call Girl they end up. Markus's mother was on one of the lowest rungs. Markus was expected to also take up the trade, but murdered the pimp and ran away instead. He has completely disguised his Exotic background, (although he still occasionally uses the pheromones and charisma he gets from it,) and is deeply upset when Khadaji lets him know that he knows about it.
Juete and Veate, respectively Khadaji's true love, and her daughter by him, who pairs off with Saval Bork. Both of them are Albino Exotics, fully aware of what that means, and are quite matter-of-fact about it. Juete was an exotic dancer and sometimes High-Class Call Girl. Her position (and Khadaji's financial support) made it possible for Veate to stay out of the sex trade completely.
In Lilian Lee's novel Farewell My Concubine, main character Douzi/Cheng Dieyi is the son of a prostitute who, after seeing a performance by a group of boys from an opera training school, puts her son in the school in the hope that he might have a better future there. The other students initially treat him as an outcast because of his mother's profession.
In The Lark and the Wren, while her mother wasn't a whore, Rune was born out of wedlock. Despite Stara claiming to be a widow, the village figured out the truth, and because Stara acts like a loose woman, several teenage boys have told Rune that she is the daughter of a whore/slut and will end up one herself.
Swedish writer Vibeke Olsson gives us a subverted example with Onesimus, a poor slave boy in the ancient Roman empire. his mother was a prostitute for some twenty years, but she was sold away from the brothel before Onesimus was conceived. And thus, she technically wasn't a whore anymore.
Simona Ahrnstedt does this with Markus Järv, who's the male protagonist in her novel "Betvingade". His mother was thrown out of her home when she became pregnant without being married, and that gave her no choice but to become a prostitute.
Dick Whitman in Mad Men. Also known as... Don Draper. He spent a good chunk of his childhood living in a brothel, to boot.
Barney from How I Met Your Mother. His mother wasn't a prostitute, but she was definitely a slut. When Barney was a kid and asked who his father was, she couldn't tell him because she didn't know who of the many men she had been with was his dad. So since The Price Is Right was on, she randomly pointed to Bob Barker and said "him." From then on, Barney grew up believing Bob Barker was his father. Yeah, Barney has issues.
The most obvious being that he takes after her in that respect.
Jin of LOST. It's unclear if he knows. But when Sun spoke to her, she made it very clear that if Jin were to ever find out his mother was alive, she wouldn't be for long.
Patsy's mother from Absolutely Fabulous was a self-absorbed bohemian who was prone to mood swings and treated Patsy like a a hindrance to be dismissed or swept away, never caring enough to find out who her biological father was. Very little is made of her sex life, but the fact that she's abusive enough to make Patsy look sympathetic is no small feat.
In one episode of NCIS, a serial killer's Freudian Excuse was that his mother was a prostitute. She was his first victim. When he was a teenager.
Connor from Angel, technically. Darla was a prostitute dying of syphilis (and not the funny kind) in Colonial Virginia when The Master (not that one) turned her. Of course, by the time he was born Darla had been a mass murdering psychotic Vampire for a couple centuries, so her previous occupation probably rated low on his list of concerns.
Charlie from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He seems to be pretty oblivious to this until Mac explains to him what all of those "Santas" were at his house for on Christmas. He doesn't react pretty well when he sees Santa at the mall. There's a good chance that Frank, one of her customers, is his father.
Karen, the adopted daughter of Vietnam War vet Boonie on China Beach, is actually the daughter of KC Koloski, the base tramp back in Vietnam, and Lt. Col. Mac Miller, one of KC's main customers.
La Croix's daughter Divia in Forever Knight. It's not stated explicitly, but can be inferred based on dialogue with a little knowledge of Roman customs of the time (first century AD).
An episode of Firefly called "Heart Of Gold" is about the crew protecting a brothel from a man wanting to kidnap his unborn child. As the battle is going on the "whore" gives birth. Once the man is captured she goes out to show him his son, looks him in the face, and puts the man down with one shot.
In Being Human, Hal claims he was both in a brothel and never knew which of the six prostitutes was his mother. As each of them died due to illness, violence or old age; he mourned each of them as if they were his mother.
One killer on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was the son of a hooker. When she brought in a John, he was forced to hide under the bed while she worked. Watching her perfectly painted toenails hang over the edge of the bed was what gave birth to his trademark foot fetish later in life.
A variation in The Feast of All Saints. Cecile, mother of main character Marcel and his younger sister Marie, isn't actually a prostitute. However, Marie does view the practice of placage (formalized relationships between white men and women of color) with disdain since she thinks of it as being owned by the man, like a slave. When Cecile tries to force Marie into placage to help the family financially, Marie realizes that her mother is completely willing to sell her (literally AND figuratively) and says she has the "soul of a whore."
In Randy Travis's Three Wooden Crosses, it turns out that the preacher telling the story to his congregation is the son of the hooker who survived the crash, who read the Bible that the preacher who died gave her to him.
In the Dear Hunter's Acts I, II and III, the eponymous Dear Hunter was the son of one Ms. Terri, a whore, and one of her patrons.
Jon Moxley is this, and its an important part of his backstory/psyche. His rival Jimmy Jacobs has scathingly said, "You've said your mother is a whore... I can only assume you were named for what your father was."
Religion and Mythology
Jephthah, one of the Biblical judges. His original band of soldiers were also various kinds of social outcasts, but prove remarkably effective against the invading Philistines because of God's favor.
The prophet Hosea married a prostitute, who notably did not give up her profession, making the parentage of her children dodgy at best. (For the record, God ordained the marriage to make a point about His relationship to Israel even as they "whored" themselves out to other gods.)
Subverted by Boaz of Bethlehem. His mother, Rahab of Jericho, used to be a prostitute, but left that behind with the destruction of Jericho and married an Israelite soldier, and there was no question that Boaz was his son.
Possibly Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. The most well-known story is that they were raised by a she-wolf as infants, but many think that their foster mother may have been a human prostitute, since the word used to describe their adoptive mother in the earliest versions could have meant either "she-wolf" or "prostitute" in context.
The Engineer in Miss Saigon. Turns out he began his career as a pimp as a child, helping his mother find customers.
Faye has a short Freak Out when she realizes one of her Civil-War-era ancestors was a whore, rather than Faye's preferred interpretation, that she was a pirate. (The point of commonality? A "boarded by se(a)men" joke.) Dora tries to calm her down by pointing out that "it isThe Oldest Profession — statistically, we probably all are".
Marten's mother is a successful fetish model. He says it's not weird to him, but it's still very awkward whenever she comes to visit.
The Simpsons: Homer Simpson's half-brother, Herb Powell, had a mom who worked at a carnival and did things Grampa Simpson's wife never did (i.e., have sex for money). When Grampa found out that he had a son with the carnie lady, Herb was given up for adoption and Grampa moved on, marrying Homer's mom (who knew about Grampa's affair with the carnie lady) and promised Grampa never to tell Homer about it. It didn't work.
Frank Grimes, Jr., who tried to kill Homer to avenge his father's death. When Homer expresses surprise at the fact that Grimey had a child, he replies "My father happened to like hookers, okay?"