Visit by Divorced Dad

In a show where the main child character is mentioned to have divorced parents (or at least parents that aren't together anymore), they're pretty much always shown living with their mom, who's typically depicted as being the more mature and responsible. However, often times, there will end up being an episode the child's father visits (usually but not always as part of some custody arrangement).

This rarely works in the reverse—in fiction, dads and/or father-figures usually aren't depicted as raising kids on their own unless the mother of the child (or children) is dead or something.

Compare When You Coming Home, Dad?

Contrast Daddy Didn't Show.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Kodomo no Omocha, Sana's (adoptive) mother's ex-husband shows up at their house a couple of times asking for money. Of course, due to the comedic nature of the show, he is likely to be (harmlessly) blasted with some sort of large weapon, sending him flying away. Played with in that Sana and her mom's ex-husband don't actually consider themselves father-and-daughter, and legally-speaking, they're not—Misako (Sana's adoptive mother) actually adopted Sana as a single parent, which happened long after Misako and her husband got divorced.
  • In Noein: Mo Hitori no Kimi e (To Your Other Self), both Haruka and Yu both seem to be being raised by single mothers and Haruka brings up child support and running away to Tokyo to live with her dad in an early episode. It turns out Yu's is just always at work, but Haruka's dad's monthly visits becomes a plot point when fellow quantum physicist Uchida plans to use it to catch him and get him to help her save the world from their mutual research. There's always bloody quantum.
  • Yuki's divorced father Kurou visits him in the hospital more than halfway through Future Diary. However, a chance for father-son bonding isn't the real reason he's there...
  • In Tonari no Kashiwagi-san Sayaka arranges to meet with her father, and brings Kazuki along for moral support. She only wants to know one thing: Was it worth marrying her mother despite how it ended up? The answer is quite simple: Yes, because Sayaka was born.

  • Happens in W.I.T.C.H., and gets its own subplot. Will's dad, Thomas Vandom, threatens to take Will away from her mother if the latter doesn't give him the huge sum of money he wants.

  • The Baby-Sitters Club movie had an example, where Kristy's Disappeared Dad visits for the summer. He only reveals himself to his thirteen-year-old daughter (ignoring his fifteen-, seventeen-, and seven-year-old sons), forcing her to keep it secret and basically lie to her family and friends all summer, before he leaves unexpectedly because his job prospect didn't pan out. The main series has another example where Dawn and Jeff's dad visits Stoneybrook briefly before a summer trip. He has breakfast with his ex-wife, her New Old Flame husband, and her stepdaughter. It's just as awkward as it sounds.
    • The Spin-Off series, Friends Forever, had Kristy's dad get married again and finally remember that he has kids - because he wants the three oldest ones to be in the wedding. He doesn't even seem to remember that the youngest child (who was a baby when he left) exists, and is kind of a Jerk Ass throughout the whole thing.
  • In the movie Armageddon, one of the guys who has to go to space visits his son. The mom doesn't tell the boy that this is his father, but that he's a salesman. Later, after taking part in a plan that saves the planet, they see the man on TV. When the boy says, "That salesman is on TV." The mom responds, "That's not a salesman. That's your dad."
  • One that does not end well in The Rebound.
  • Happens in Pay It Forward, when Trevor's estranged father suddenly shows up at the door. It doesn't work out between the two.

  • Another kind of inversion happens in Amelia's Notebook where Amelia gets a letter from her divorced father, then she comes to visit him. There still seems to be tension between her parents, though.
  • In Animorphs Rachel is visited occasionally by her father, who lives in another city. She actually seems closer to him than to her mom because they have a lot in common.
  • A rare reversal in Sweet Valley High as Lila lives with her single father and her mother lives in France. When Lila is nearly date raped and the therapy she receives isn't working, her dad reaches out to her mother. This leads to them eventually remarrying in Book #98: The Wedding.

    Live Action TV 
  • Desperate Housewives
  • Monk, who finally meets his dad, who is in trouble for a murder his boss committed.
  • The Parkers (on more than one occasion)
  • Kate and Allie (many occasions for both divorced moms)
  • One Day at a Time
  • Who's the Boss? (multiple visits; one included a brief reconciliation with the mom)
    • The first visit actually revealed they hadn't been divorced yet. He came back from an extended trip after being served with papers. That led to the attempted reconciliation.
  • Gilmore Girls, though in this case, the parents were never married to begin with. Multiple visits; one brief reconciliation with mom. One attempted reconciliation with catastrophic effects.
  • Hank Summers appears in the first-season Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, "Nightmares," and is supposed to meet Buffy, but cancels, a few other times over the series's run.
    • In "Nightmares" everyone's worst fears come true, so Hank tells Buffy that it was all her fault her parents divorced. It wasn't really her father as it turned out, but Buffy never gets over her Disappeared Dad, a fact that lampshaded in Season 7 "Conversations With Dead People".
    • Joss Whedon was raised by a single mother. Coincidence?
    • It got the point where, in the 5th season, after Joyce dies and Dad doesn't even show up for the funeral, Dawn going to live with their Dad is listed as only a slightly preferable alternative to foster care if Buffy were to be deemed an unfit guardian.
    • Played With and Gender Flipped in season six—when Buffy was temporarily dead Willow and Tara became Dawn's substitute mothers, but later they broke up and Tara moved out. In "Smashed" she and Dawn go out together in what seems intended to represent a sort of parental visitation.
    • Seems to be an example of Characterization Marches On, Hank's appearance in the season finale indicated that he genuinely cared for Buffy, and his divorce from Joyce came out of irreconcilable differences(if the second season finale offers any hint), not from some sort of parental neglect. It isn't until the third season that his incompetence as a parent truly becomes apparent.
  • A few times in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
  • Interestingly The Sarah Jane Adventures has an example of a child with divorced parents living with their father. This trope isn't used because the Mum shows up so often that she's a Drop-In Character. It's later played straight when Clyde's father pays a visit for the first time in five years in "The Mark of the Berserker".
  • Sports Night has a Visit to Divorced Dad by Casey's son Charlie.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air used it for a Very Special Episode where Ben Vereen appears as Will's career-first father. Initially Will is excited, but when Uncle Phil tries to warn him against getting his hopes up, Will throws it back in his face. Of course, Mr. Smith plans on leaving without telling Will, triggering a Crowning Moment of Awesome Papa Wolf rant from Philip, as well as a combined Tear Jerker-cum-Crowning Moment of Heartwarming at the end when Will's attempt to look strong in the face of this latest abandonment fails and, breaking down, asks Phil, "How come he don't want me, man?"
  • Castle inverts this trope, since Rick Castle is raising his daughter Alexis (or in his case, possibly the other way around) and they get the occasional visit from his even more irresponsible ex-wife. (Even one of his other ex-wives, who isn't Alexis's mother, occasionally turns up to spend time with her.)
  • Inverted in The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Amy and Ashley live with their dad George( or did until Amy moved in with Ricky and Ashley went on a road trip with Toby). Their mom, Anne, and their baby brother Robbie live in another town near Anne's ailing mother. The girls (and occasionally George) sporadically visit Anne and Robbie. Anne keeps up semi-regular phone communication, but never really physically visits them, except when she's dropping Robbie off for his time with George.
  • Gossip Girl has done this with both parents. Blair's father (who comes to visit once or twice per season) and Dan and Jenny's mother (who appeared in a minor arc in season one).
  • Modern Family, with Gloria's ex-husband (Manny's father).
    • Also reversed, when Jay's ex-wife visits (though both of her children are now adults).
  • Eureka does the Gender Flipped version when Zoe's mom shows up. In a twist, she's showing up because it's her turn to get custody, and Carter needs to convince her not to put Zoe on a bus back to Los Angeles.
  • The Vampire Diaries has a two episode arc in which Caroline's dad shows up. Of course, then he proceeds to torture her.
  • In the Power Rangers episode "Return of an Old Friend", the parents of the Rangers are kidnapped and used as hostages. This includes Kimberly's divorced parents, with the dad being in the middle of this.
  • Several episodes of New York Undercover focus on this trope between Det. Williams and his son, G.
  • Happens pretty regularly on My Name Is Earl. One episode involved Earl discussing his list for Dodge's class and it's revealed that he is Dodge's biological father. Another episode involved signing the kids out of camp to take them to Mystery Fun Land...only to find that the amusement park has been torn down. Dodge and Earl Jr. forgive "Old Daddy" and cross "Never took the kids to Mystery Fun Land" off the list.
  • Blossom is the living-with-father variety. On a couple of occasions, the mother (who just walked out on the family one day) comes back for a visit. The last time she came to visit, Blossom's dad tells her not to come back.

    Video Games 
  • Presumably occurs at the beginning of Among the Sleep, judging by the sound affects when Mom goes to answer the door in the first cutscene and via clues revealed throughout the game. Said 'visit', unfortunately, is nothing more than an entirely offscreen argument between Mom and Dad, ending with Mom shouting 'NO' loudly and clearly and apparently slamming the door in his face before giving you the present he had for you. By the way, you're a 2-year-old. Dad returns at the very end, after Mom has been revealed as alcoholic, and you open the door and let him in. It's assumed this visit was actually to take you away after winning custody.

    Web Comics 
  • Red String inverts this. Reika decides to visit her father while she's in Tokyo. Upon entering, she discovers that her father has not only remarried, but he already has a son that was born around the time of the divorce (plus another one on the way). Then her father reveals that Reika was an unplanned pregnancy.

    Western Animation 
  • Happens to Buster in Arthur, though sans melodrama on his part. It eventually culminates with Buster leaving for an extended period to travel with his father. Later to be used as fodder for a spin-off series.
  • An interesting subversion of this trope occurs in the Emmy-nominated ep of As Told by Ginger, "Hello Stranger", where Ginger invites him to see her read a poem. However, he never shows up. Dad would, however, later visit Ginger in "An Even Steven Holiday Special" and "Losing Nana Bishop".
  • After not coming to a family pinic in the Nick run of "Doug", we finally meet Roger's father in the Disney run episode "Doug's Movie Madness". Despite what's implied about him before,he proves to be a good, if not better parent than others. When all the children want to see an R-rated movie. Doug's parents use trailers and reviews that can lie to a viewer, to make their choice to not let Doug see it. When Roger asks his dad to see it, he says he'll have to watch it first to jugde it fully and ends up walking out half-way in since in this case the trailers actually kept a lot of the bloodier parts out. He tells Roger this who still doesn't understand. Later on, all the kids told no go to see it anyway and Roger's father is the only parent who catches their kid doing this, physically takes Roger from the movie and has a better, gentle, talk with him about it. Doug's parents dont find out until after and while Roger learned that sometimes parents do know what they're talking about and a better understanding of his dad, all Doug learned was that he got nightmares, and grounded without fully understanding why his parents did it in the first place. The other kids never even get caught.
  • In one of those rare reversals, Dr. Katz actually has custody of his son, and is visited by his ex-wife only once for Thanksgiving.
  • Home Movies (on multiple occasions; the divorced dad eventually evolved into a Recurrer.)
  • King of the Hill had a few episodes sort of like this, when Luanne, a Woman Child who lives with her aunt and uncle, got visits from both of her parents. The mom had previously been in jail, while her dad had been as well.
  • Monkey Dust had a recurring sketch in the first series based around this. In each sketch a divorced dad has a custody visit with his young son Timmy; only to kill himself in various horrible ways when Timmy talks about how great the mother's new boyfriend is. The divorced dad eventually discovers that his ex's boyfriend is Timmy's real father, but on this occasion decides not to kill himself and just be there for Timmy. However, in the last sketch featuring the characters, the dad commits suicide yet again on discovering that a now-teenage Timmy has become a juvenile delinquent.
  • Pepper Ann: her father visits fairly often, though as a blimp pilot he's usually away.
  • Inverted on Phineas and Ferb, where main character Dr. Doofenshmirtz occasionally goes through with his evil plans while his daughter, Vanessa, is visiting; most of the time she's with Doofenshmirtz' ex-wife, but unlike most of the men on this page he keeps regular contact. Even if she sometimes wishes he wouldn't.
  • Rocket Power with Sam's workaholic father.
  • The Weekenders had Tino's dad show up for one episode, causing a temporary awkward moment as his dad and mother's boyfriend initially have no idea what to say to one another, and then wind up bonding over Tino's mom's terrible cooking.
  • Wheel Squad had an episode where Jessica's father visited her.
    • It's unclear if Emilie might have a similar experience, since it's not known if her birth father died or simply divorced her mother.
  • W.I.T.C.H. features this a couple times with Will's dad, especially in the episode "Q for Quarry".
    • It happened in the original comics, too. However, Will's dad there isn't so nice...