A man's girlfriend leaves him and marries someone else. She and her new husband have a son together. The man, jealous, develops feelings of resentment and even hatred towards the boy, whom he believes to be the offspring of the woman he loves by another man. When they meet, the relationship between them is tense at best, homicidal at worst.
Then one day someone reveals
the truth. The man was the child's father all along! He's spent years resenting someone who was in fact his own son!
This is a common variation on the Your Son All Along trope. This trope covers any situation where a man believes that a child is his love-interest's by another man, then discovers that he is in fact the true father. Basically, it's the inverse of cuckholding.
For obvious reasons, the parent in these stories is almost always male. For less obvious reasons, the child is usually male, too. In many cases there is an adversarial relationship between parent and child prior to the revelation, but not always.
Sub-trope of Luke, You Are My Father
and Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe
. The distinguishing feature is that the parent originally believes the child is someone else's, and only discovers the truth later - sometimes not till after the child is dead! This is significant because in most examples of Luke, You Are My Father
, the surprise comes from the man learning that he is a parent, with the potential responsibilities that that entails. In this
trope, the surprise comes from the man learning that he is the parent of a particular child
. This forces him to rethink his relationship with that child and also, potentially, with the child's mother.
Expect lots of unmarked spoilers.
- Used hilariously and tragically in the French duology Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. In the first film, the protagonist wants the titular Jean to sell him his land, and plays many tricks on him to pursuade him to do so. It doesn't help that Jean is the son of his childhood sweetheart Florette, who left him and married another man while he was away at war. In the end, he successfully drives the Jean to his death and takes the land. In the second film Jean's daughter, Manon, takes revenge for her father's death. It is only at the end of this film that the main character discovers that, contrary to what he thought, Jean was not Florette's son by her husband, but his own son, and that he has unwittingly caused the death of his only child and been in conflict with his granddaughter!
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has Indy finding out that Mutt is his son.
- Inverted in The Mayor Of Casterbridge. The title character drunkenly sells his wife and infant daughter to another man. Two decades later, the other man dies and the wife returns to her original husband, bringing her daughter along with her. It is only upon the wife's death that the protagonist learns that the daughter is not the same child he gave up, but a different child fathered by the second husband.
- The Thorn Birds. Although in this case, Ralph adored Dane the moment he saw him (only after Dane's death does he admit that deep down, he probably knew all along), and instead harbors some resentment towards his mother Meggie, assuming that despite their passionate interlude (when Dane was conceived), she returned to her neglectful husband Luke.
- In Scrubs when Jordan becomes pregnant the first time she claims that the father was someone she had a one-night stand with, but is unclear which one. It is actually Dr. Cox's baby, but she doesn't tell him in order to hold their relationship together. Eventually it leaks to Dr. Cox that Jack is his son, at which point Dr. Cox is angry at Jordan for keeping it a secret from him.
- Inverted on Days of Our Lives. Craig is floored when wife Nancy confesses that she had a teenage daughter (Chloe) that she gave up for adoption. He asks her how she could hide the fact that "they" had a child together (they'd been childhood sweethearts but lost touch when he left for college, reuniting years later) and is devastated when she tells him the girl is her daughter, not his, meaning that she had cheated on him. After a rough start, the three are able to bond as a family. Until the girl becomes ill and needs a bone marrow transplant, at which point Nancy confesses that she's the result of her rape. However, when the rapist's blood type doesn't match the girl's, Craig realizes that the young woman who he's grown to love as if she were his own daughter. . .is his daughter.
- On General Hospital, Alan and Monica spent several years believing that their son AJ was the result of Monica's affair, before finding out that he was Alan's son after all. Unfortunately, crucial bonding time had been lost between the two, resulting in years of AJ being The Unfavorite (to the son conceived during Alan's affair) and him being an alcoholic failure. Decades later, AJ (correctly) suspected that he was the father of Carly's unborn child, but she lied and told him that his brother Jason was, fearing that either AJ or her boyfriend Tony would take the child away from her. Years later, Jason's girlfriend Robin finally told AJ the truth.
- In Love Never Dies, the Phantom realizes at the end of Act One that Gustave is his son, not Raoul's.
- A rare female version can be found in Umineko no Naku Koro ni when it's confirmed in Ep 8 that Battler's biological mother isn't Asumu but Kyrie. A baby switch was made by Rudolf when Asumu's child was a stillbirth and he thought it would be easier since he and Asumu was married while Kyrie was a lover.