What If the Baby Is Like Me?
"I hope [the baby] takes after you, love. I would wish this magic on no-one."Anxiety by parents-to-be that due to particular or unusual traits that may be passed on from their partner or themselves, their children will lead a difficult life. This is often felt by the Inspirationally Disadvantaged who have one on the way, though this can be a particularly complicated issue if one of the parents happens to be the Friendly Neighborhood Vampire/Werewolf/Demon/what have you. Extreme family issues, Fantastic Racism (or standard racism, of course) or curses might be a cause for concern also. When it's played for drama, it's often used as a method of yanking the dog's chain, as this now means The Woobie might have ignorantly forced his burden onto an innocent child. In most cases, however, these worries end up being completely needless. The offspring in these situations usually turn out completely normal, or if anything, only inherit the parent-in-question's "good" attributes. If the parent is a vampire, the child might inherit his super strength, but have a normal human diet and be immune to sunlight. If the parent is The Grotesque, the child will probably only inherit his Innocent Blue Eyes. Related to and may result in Give Him a Normal Life. Compare with Evil Parents Want Good Kids and Turn Out Like His Father, contrast with Fetus Terrible.
— Malcolm Hawke, Dragon Age II
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Anime and Manga
- In Lucky Star, Kanata wishes that her daughter Konata won't have her mother's height or her father's eccentricies and love for eroge. She gets all of the above.
- In Osamu Tezuka's Ode to Kirihito, a woman inflicted with Monmow (a disease that gives the victims the face of a dog) worries that her baby will inherit it, and has a nightmare about giving birth to a puppy. She ends up delivering a normal, healthy baby and cries in relief.
- A somewhat different example occurs in the anime movie Wolf Children Ame and Yuki. Hana and the Wolf Man know full well that Yuki will be half-wolf as is he, but not knowing whether she will be born in human or wolf form, they opt for a home birth without any outside assistance. It is implied that this is the reason for Ame's home birth as well.
- A subversion occurs in the Fruits Basket fic Unshakable; when Akito reveals herself to be pregnant with Shigure's child, she's not really worried about the baby turning out like her; rather, she's terrified of being a bad parent like Ren. Come the sequel fic, Silence, and it turns out she's a great mom.
- The titular character of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button stresses over this through a significant portion of the film. His daughter is born normal.
- This crossed Forrest's mind in Forrest Gump. Upon meeting his son for the first time, he asks the mother, "Is he smart? Or is he like..." while gesturing to himself. She assures him that he's "very smart".
- The Fly (1986): After Veronica discovers that Seth has impregnated her while he was already beginning to mutate into a man-fly, she has a nightmare in which she gives birth to a maggot. She quickly tries to arrange an abortion.
- The Fly II: Beth has a nightmare after discovering what Martin's experimenting on, in which she gives birth to a human-scale maggot baby.
- Averted in the Teen Wolf franchise: the trait is a family trait and they all treat it like it's a pretty cool thing to have happen. It enhances your physique to near-peak levels and makes you rockstar-popular, and the only drawback is that you're in desperate need of a razor on the full moon - not much to complain about, really.
- In Psycho IV: The Beginning, the finale of Norman Bate's story, an apparently rehabilitated Norman Bates nearly murders his pregnant wife Connie since he believes that his insanity is genetic and he doesn't want to inflict another Norman Bates on the world. Connie convinces him that they can ensure their child doesn't become a monster, which helps Norman become rehabilitated for real.
- In The Thin Man, Dorothy Wynant comes to the conclusion that she should dump her fiance when it looks like her father may be an insane murderer, and worries that it runs in the family. The case isn't helped by her Nightmare Fetishist/Cloud Cuckoo Lander brother, who rather than comfort her theorizes that it is a recessive trait, and that therefore there is only a one in four chance of her child being insane. So she should limit herself to three children. Then he changes his mind because "The first one might be the bad one".
- Played straight with Remus in Harry Potter. He expresses a lot of anxiety that his child will be born a werewolf like him (apparently werewolves marrying and having children is extremely rare, so the exact effects on the child are not known). His son turns out normal, except for inheriting his mother's natural shape-shifting ability.
- In The Time Traveler's Wife, this is a major concern for the Cursed with Awesome main character who suffers from spontaneous time travel. His daughter does indeed inherit the trait, but she also has a good deal of control over the ability.
- Brought up in the Honor Harrington book At All Costs when Emily Alexander is confronted with a reason she never tried having a baby. A horrific accident left her wheelchair bound because she was one of the rare minority who couldn't use regeneration technology to heal. She feared her child having the same problem and ending up in the same situation.
- Richard Wilson's Nebula-winning short story Mother to the World has this at its conclusion: A male scientist and a not-too-bright cleaning woman are the sole survivors of a worldwide event. They set out to re-populate the world, and at the end the man quizzes his son, to test whether he's smart (and thus, whether the human race will be viable or not). He is.
- One of the characters in the first Wild Cards book is seriously concerned about this issue, to the point of losing his Love Interest because she wants to have children and he's determined not to and won't tell her why.
- He's justified though, as she has a latent version of the same condition herself. So the child has a 90% chance of dying early and a 9% chance of being born physically mutated.
- In the Ender's Shadow trilogy (with Bean leading his own life), he worries about this after his engagement to Petra, to the point where he calls the Mad Scientist who altered his genes in the first place to ensure that it doesn't happen.
- Armun in West of Eden is convinced her and Kerrick's child is going to inherit her cleft lip. He doesn't.
- Cal Leandros is so afraid of having a baby with his Auphe blood that he refuses to have sex with any girl who's capable of reproducing.
- This is a concern of Alexia's in The Parasol Protectorate. Preternaturals (which Alexia is) tend to breed true, and cannot tolerate being even in the same room as another preternatural. Alexia assumes that she will either miscarry or go insane from prolonged physical contact with her preternatural fetus.
- In Still Alice, Alice's early onset Alzheimer's Disease turns out to be due to an identifiable mutation, and two of her three children get themselves tested for it. Anna has the gene as well, giving her a pretty much 100% probability of eventually getting Alzheimer's herself. She is concerned enough about bearing a child with Alzheimer's that she decides to have pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, and successfully produces twins who don't carry the gene.
- In Fear, the fourth sequel to Gone, Diana is particularly concerned that her baby might be evil, like its manipulative, lying mother and its sociopathic, violent father. She was right.
Diana: Its father is evil. Its mother is just the same. How could it be anything but?
Live Action TV
- Before Connor was born in Angel, there was a bit of concern over what kind of being would be born to two vampires. He seems to have been born a normal human, but he later develops into your average Dhampyr, more or less.
- Dexter. In the TV series, his pondering over this continues even after his son is born since it's too early to tell.
- In the Dexter novels, it's Dexter's stepchildren who end up being "like him"... and he ends up teaching them the same code he was taught by his own father. As before, it's too early to tell with baby Lily Anne.
- In the original V, Robin is afraid the baby is like its father once she's learned that the Visitors aren't as cuddly and human looking as they'd led everyone to believe.
- When Daphne and Niles were having a baby on Frasier, Daphne was worried it would turn out to be a sissy like him, while Niles was worried it would turn out to be a drunken ruffian like Daphne's brothers.
Daphne: Oh, a Moon boy I know how to handle, but what if he's a little genius, teasing me in French by the time he's 6?Niles: That is so funny. I've been worried he's going to turn out like your brothers. I was sure when he kicked that speaker off your belly that you had a little Simon in there.
- In 3rd Rock from the Sun, Vicki Dubcek gets pregnant and Harry believes the baby might be his. The others fear that the child will come out an alien and expose their secret identities.
- In Star Trek: Voyager, B'Ellana, who had a difficult childhood due to being a Half-Human Hybrid, is so worried about her and Tom's child having the same problems that she reprograms the Doctor so he won't see altering the unborn baby's genetics as unethical. Eventually, Tom convinces her that her problems were down to her dad, not herself.
- Related: One CSI episode had a primordial dwarf kill his (normal-sized) daughter's dwarf boyfriend for fear that they would have children - his daughter would have a very good chance of giving birth to another dwarf as a result. He was too late; she was already pregnant, so he'd killed the guy for nothing.
- A variation in Bones. Angela and Hodgins are both carriers for a certain gene which, if passed on, will result in their baby being born blind. (Both of them have full vision.) Their worries are for nothing, and their baby is born healthy.
- Brennan herself talks of a sort of positive version of this;she's sure her child will inherit her exceptional intellect.
- Ryan Lavery from All My Children came from an abusive father, a drunk mother, and his brother is a murderer. Fearful of this, he gets fixed. Bianca Montgomery's first daughter was a child of rape and held the same fear the baby would turn out like the child's father.
- In a more humorous fashion, Ross and Rachel from Friends reveal in one episode that they are worried that their daughter will inherit Rachel's real nose. They are apparently saving money in case their daughter needs a nose job in the future.
- In Being Human (UK) when Nina becomes pregnant, she planned to secretly get an abortion because she was apprehensive about having a baby that would be born to monsters. George adamantly disagreed, and later Nina revealed that what she was really afraid of was that she'd become like her emotionally abusive mother. They eventually decided to go through with the pregnancy. Nina eventually does give birth to a healthy baby girl, but tragically she's killed by vampires who wanted the baby as a gift to their elder, since she was the first ever werewolf who was born and not made. As it turns out, the baby doesn't have the werewolf gene and is completely normal. Well, except that she's The Chosen One.
- Commented on briefly in the song "What Could Be Better" from the musical Baby. While Lizzie sings of their good qualities they could pass on to their unborn child, Danny teases her by singing "What could be better than if our little spawn/Got all his brains from his dad/And from his mom got his brawn?"
- In Arsenic and Old Lace, Mortimer tries to call off his marriage to Elaine when it becomes clear just how severely insanity runs in his family, and is afraid of what their kids would be like. At the end of the movie/play he discovers that he's not genetically a Brewster and changes his mind.
- The Dragon Age II expansion "Legacy" reveals that Malcolm Hawke, father of the PC and their siblings, didn't want his kids inheriting his magic. While at least one of them (Bethany) did, he evidently got over it and ensured they knew how to handle their powers responsibly.
- If the player marries Dylas in Rune Factory 4 and hope for a son, Dylas whose monster form is a unicorn and he has animal ears and a tal will say that they can make things right and raise the boy to be nice and not like him.
- Namir Deiter: This is the reason Twix was unwilling to have kids with Snickers. Twix is a cat, the rest of his family are giant slugsnote and he didn't want any child of his to suffer the feelings of isolation he felt (despite the best efforts of the rest of the Dorpes)
- Earth's "Gene pool improvement act" in Schlock Mercenary forbids total idiot couples to reproduce naturally to avoid this trope.
- In one episode of the X-Men animated series, Jean Grey worries about this when Scott proposes to her. Scott's response? "I wouldn't have it any other way."
- George Bernard Shaw was pestered for a while by an actress who had an over-inflated idea of her own attractiveness, and insisted that she wanted to bear Shaw's child, who would of course be the perfect combination of his genius and her beauty. Eventually Shaw got exasperated enough to reply to her, "But, my good woman, what if it turns out to have my looks and your brains?"
- Comedian Rob Newman once did a sketch based on this, where he speculated about Shaw's reaction once he realized he had just turned down sex with a beautiful actress for the sake of a one-liner.
- Referenced in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, when a Russian ballet dancer approaches Holmes with a similar offer, prompting Holmes to make a similar reply. Unfortunately for him, she's made of stronger stuff than Shaw's actress, meaning he eventually has to feign being closer to Dr. Watson than anyone suspects in order to get out of it.
- A man with an extreme case of hypertrichosis who worked in a circus as an acrobatic wolf man was terrified that his wife's child would be born with his condition.
- This can be a real problem for people with genetic diseases. For instance, the child of a sufferer of Huntington's disease has a 50% chance of inheriting the trait and will usually develop symptoms younger than their parents, who may not have been diagnosed at the time the child was conceived.
- Sarah Silverman has stated that she doesn't want to conceive kids of her own, to spare them the chances of inheriting her depression.