main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Playing With: Designer Babies
Basic Trope: Genetically-engineered offspring
  • Straight: Alice and Bob seek out the help of the local Mad Scientist to create a "super baby".
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed: The resultant embryo has genes that would allow to above average, but not prodigious, intelligence, and a talent for music — but other than that, Alice and Bob trust in their love and parenting skills to raise their kid right.
  • Justified:
    • Alice and Bob are carriers of a serious genetic condition (such as Tay-Sachs disease or Huntington's disease or Cystic Fibrosis or haemophilia or diabetes), and are seeking to use LEGO Genetics to not pass those genes onto their kids and end up torturing them. They only want to allow their children to live normal lives, not to create "super babies".
    • Alice and Bob live in a world where it is perfectly routine to have your local friendly Mad Scientist make sure your embryos have all genetic diseases removed—and to Alice and Bob this is part of being a responsible parent.
  • Inverted: Alice and Bob seek out the help of the local Mad Scientist to create an Anti-Sue.
  • Subverted: Alice and Bob seek only genetic counseling.
  • Double Subverted: But then decide that with some of the long-term health risks in their family, that they'd better find themselves someone who knows a thing or two about LEGO Genetics.
  • Parodied: Determining the "desirable" traits is done on a sheet of paper and with a roll of a die, much like in Dungeons & Dragons. Bonus Points if the parents also apply copious amounts of Min-Maxing in order to create the "perfect" baby. For example: A mute midget with no social skills that has great combat prowess and supreme hacking skills!
  • Zig Zagged: ???
  • Averted: No babies are genetically modified at any time, either during conception or growth.
  • Enforced: "We need to create a futuristic Sci-Fi setting that is somewhat of a Crapsaccharine World".
  • Lampshaded: ???
  • Invoked: Someone invents genetic modification techniques and/or artificial growth media for human embryos.
  • Exploited: Alice and Bob seek to create the "perfect" child.
  • Defied: Alice and Bob decide that this is unethical and/or not practical, and decide to just let nature take its course. If the child has a genetic disease, they'll deal with it.
  • Discussed: ???
  • Conversed: ???
  • Deconstructed:
    • With all these "super babies" running around, that could have negative effects on natural population. Furthermore, these genetic modification techniques would be very expensive; only the rich and powerful people could afford to afford Transhuman technology and have "super babies". These "super babies" born from the elite outclass "natural" children and gain an advantage over them, imposing a permanent aristocracy that the Naturals could never hope to compete against. As a result, Social Darwinism and class conflicts are only made worse, and the Naturals develop envy and resentment against the Transhuman elite, which may lead to another war and arms race. It could also be used by a Mad Scientist or evil empire to create a "perfect race" that will annihilate the Naturals once and for all.
    • Everyone tries to make their offspring corporate executives and that leads to there being no actual workers
    • Despite being genetically modified, Alice and Bob's child is still imperfect physically and mentally due to their upbringing and experiences. Nurture ends up prevailing over nature.
    • The process is technologically possible, however no genetic engineer is willing to perform it for fear of the potential consequences if the traits fail to manifest or the genetic tampering causes unforeseen problems down the line.
  • Reconstructed:
    • Strict laws are enacted (and enforced) that dictate when, where, and how LEGO Genetics are to be used. (i.e. they are used to get rid of genetic diseases, not to create "super babies" or homogenize society. Everyone has advantages and disadvantages, like normal.
    • Everyone can make their offspring corporate executives because machines do all the manual labour more efficiently anyway.
    • The "perfect" race actually does end up working out pretty well.
    • The science is actually played realistically, and it's established early on that the whole idea of a 'perfect race' is absurd: nurture plays as much a role as nature, and environment matters. The technology is used mostly to eliminate genetic diseases and to reduce the human costs involved in adjusting to new environments.
  • Played For Laughs: Alice and Bob create Punnett squares...on the first date.
  • Played For Drama: A "normal" child from a poor family must compete in a world populated by Designer Babies from old money.

Back to Designer Babies

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy