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Luke I Am Your Father / Literature

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Unexpected familial revelations in literature.


  • In the Alcatraz Series, Alcatraz Smedry learns that the person he thought was his emotionally abusive social services case worker was really his mother and one of the evil librarian cultists that rule the world.
  • In All the King's Men, Judge Irwin was revealed to be Jack Burden's father at the precise moment it was also revealed that he had shot himself.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's short story —All You Zombies—, the main character is revealed to be his own father. And mother. And responsible for getting them together. And taking away his baby self away and putting her in an orphanage. And he's the bartender selling booze to most of the above throughout the story. Did we say "main" character? We meant only character.
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  • At the end of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Joe is revealed to be Tommy's real father. Sam married Rosa after the child's conception to conceal Joe's out-of-wedlock parenthood as well as his own homosexuality.
  • Neil Gaiman's American Gods: Shadow's father is Mr. Wednesday, the man who hires him after he is released from prison. Mr. Wednesday is also the Norse god Odin.
    • Shadow's real name also happens to be Baldur.
  • In the Animorphs supplemental novel The Andalite Chronicles, we find out that Elfangor, the Andalite prince that gave the kids the power to morph, is actually Tobias' father, from some fancy time manipulation care of the Ellimist. Tobias himself only learns in book 23, via a message Elfangor had left behind with his lawyer when he was posing as human.
    • Marco's mother has been taken over by the leader of the invaders.
  • In the Brother Cadfael novel The Leper of St. Giles by Ellis Peters, the titular leper turns out to be the unwilling bride's long-lost grandfather, whom everyone thought had died in the Crusade. Subverted in that, while he admits the truth when Cadfael confronts him about it, his leprosy has disfigured him so badly that he refuses to reveal himself to anyone else, not wishing to be a burden or to spoil tales of his Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Cadfael himself also turns out to be the father of Olivier, a young man from the Holy Land who makes his first appearance in "The Virgin in the Ice".
  • In the second book of The Casteel Series, Dark Angel, it is revealed that Heaven is the daughter of Tony Tatterton, who she thought was only her step-grandfather. Tony had been repeated raping Heaven's mother Leigh, who had ran away after finding out she was pregnant. This is played with in the fourth book, Gates of Paradise, where Heaven's daughter Annie finds out her real father is Heaven's uncle Troy. Annie doesn't learn this until the end of the book, but it's spelled out pretty clearly in the previous installment, Fallen Hearts.
  • Inverted in The Chronicles of Prydain, where Taran goes on a search for his parents. He encounters a crippled shepherd who reveals that he is Taran's father but after a few months of living with Taran, the guy has a fatal accident and reveals that he was lying, that his son died years ago and that he told Taran this because he was so lonely.
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    • Inverted again at the end of the series, when it's revealed that the identity of Taran's parents will never be known.
  • Clockwork Century: In Boneshaker, Dr. Minnericht is said to be the (supposedly) dead Mad Scientist father of one of the main characters. He's lying.
  • In the first book of Richelle Mead's Dark Swan series (Storm Born), it is revealed, fairly early on, that Storm King is Eugenie's father. On a slightly different note, it is also revealed, much later on - close to the very end of the book, in fact - that Jasmine is her half-sister.
  • Charles Dickens had a thing for lost parents.
    • In Great Expectations, Magwitch, Pip's benefactor, turns out to be Estella's father.
    • In Bleak House, Lady Dedlock and Captain Hawdon ("Nemo") are Esther Summerson's mother and father.
    • In Nicholas Nickleby, Ralph Nickleby turns out to have been Smike's father, but he only finds out after Smike's death. The revelation drives him to suicide.
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    • In Oliver Twist, Mr. Brownlow is an old friend of Oliver's Disappeared Dad, Edwin Leeford, and he actually adopts Oliver as his son in the end. What else? The Smug Snake Monks is Oliver's half-brother (real name: Edward Leeford) and Rose Mayley is Oliver's aunt (his deceased mother Agnes was Rose's older sister). (The musical Oliver! simplifies matters enormously by making Mr. Brownlow Oliver's grandfather and leaving Monks and the Mayleys out entirely.)
    • The best Dickensian example of this trope is in Barnaby Rudge, in which the mysterious robber, murderer and general villain that has haunted the book turns out to be Barnaby's father. He even reveals this using the phrase "I am your father". If only he'd said "Barnaby, I am your father" it would be perfect. Being simple-minded, Barnaby doesn't react with the same horror as Luke.
  • Terry Pratchett does a great job of Lampshade Hanging on this one in the Discworld novel Maskerade. In an early scene, Nanny Ogg explains the plot of the opera La Triviata to Granny Weatherwax thusly: "Well, there's a lot of humorous dressin' up, etcetera, someone will probably turn out to be someone's long-lost father or somethin'..." Near the end of the book, it is revealed that the star singer in the production of Il Truccatore really is the long-lost father of a young man in the audience. When Agnes (the junior witch) complains "This sort of thing does not happen!" the more Genre Savvy Nanny replies, "Happens all the time in opera."
    • A more interesting variation happens in Thief of Time. First, Susan has to tell Lobsang Ludd that he and Jeremy Clockson are the twin sons of the Anthropomorphic Personification of Time. Later, she admits she was lying, sort of: Lobsang and Jeremy aren't twins, they're the same individual, bifurcated at birth by the complexities of Time going through labor. For that matter, Susan's discovery that there are other children of Anthropomorphic Personifications, and natural-born, not adopted, almost qualifies but fails the "met before" requirement.
    • Subverted in Witches Abroad, where Mrs. Gogol never does more than hint to Ella that she's her mother.
  • Pol discovers that Ianthe is his mother and not Sioned as he believed in Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince. The readers know this before he does.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden gets this once proper and a second time revealed by a third party.
    • In Blood Rites, Thomas Raith, who has helped Harry out the past few years, reveals he is Harry's older half-brother by Harry's mother. Harry even lampshades this when not fully believing Thomas by saying, "This is where you say, 'Search your feelings, you know it to be true.'" It takes a soulgaze for Harry to accept this as truth.
    • In Changes, Harry's enemies have kidnapped his unknown-until-the-past-few-days daughter as vengeance. Not against him directly, though that's the icing on the cake. They plan to use her in a blood sacrifice that will kill all his blood relatives and her mother's blood relatives as vengeance for the slaying of a Red Court nobleman. Their target, the assassin, is the father of Harry's mother, Ebenezar McCoy, who dropped a satellite on the nobleman's home for his trying to kill Harry. Before this, Harry just thought of Ebenezar as a second mentor and surrogate parent figure. After the climax of the book, Ebenezar confirms the truth to Harry.
  • Inverted in Dune, as it is actually Alia Altreides who reveals her relationship to Harkonnen, her grandfather, just after she poisoned him, and it is actually Harkonnen who is shocked at the lineage. It also comes to bite her in the ass in Children of Dune, as being related to him allows his genetic memory to possess her.
  • At the end of Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East trilogy, the demon prince Orcus realizes that Ardneh is his father in a sense (not the biological sense, since neither being is biological), and that, in killing Ardneh, he has also destroyed himself.
  • Done once or twice in Evil Genius: Cadel knows his adoptive parents aren't his real parents, and he's told by his psychologist, Thaddeus, early in the story that his "real" father is Phineas Darkkon, and his mother is dead. Later in the novel, however, Thaddeus mentions how lucky it is that Cadel looks like his mother rather than his father, which confuses Cadel. It's revealed that Thaddeus is actually Cadel's father, which nearly gives him a Heroic BSoD.
  • In Meredith Ann Pierce's The Firebringer Trilogy, Jan, the lead character and prince of the unicorns (all the main characters in the trilogy are unicorns), discovers in the third book that his father Korr mated with another mare before he pledged himself with Jan's mother—which is something of a problem, as the other mare's child is Jan's own mate and the mother of his children, and unicorn custom absolutely forbids incest. Lucky thing then that it turns out the mysterious, renegade stallion Calydor, who Jan felt oddly connected to upon meeting for the first time, was actually Jan's mother's first love—and Jan's biological father.
    • Another Meredith Ann Pierce example: the white witch Oriencor is actually the daughter of Ravenna the Ancient. Her excuse for becoming the Big Bad was that she felt cheated of her inheritance since Ravenna promised, falsely, that she could one day return to Oceanus with the Ancients; Oriencor's schemes to take over the world are really just Part One of her attempts to get there on her own. The heroine of the trilogy, Aeriel, also has one: raised an orphaned slave in the land of Terrain, she later discovers she's the heir to the suzerainty of Pirs. Made squicky by her uncle, who killed her father and attempted to force her mother to marry him, and tries to seduce Aeriel.
    • And another: Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood. Hannah is the "daughter" of the Queen, having grown from the branch the Wizard stole. Pierce really likes this trope.
  • In Flora's Dare, Flora learns that Hotspur really is her father, but her biological mother is the notorious Butcher Brakespeare.
  • In Christopher Moore's Fool, titular character and king's fool Pocket learns that his father was King Lear's brother, since Lear made him rape Pocket's mother. Uh-huh. (This means he's been screwing and lusting after his first cousins.)
  • Not father, exactly, but the eponymous heroine of Friday discovers ... after his death ... that she's genetically related to the man she knew as Boss.
  • Subverted in the Gentleman Bastard books with Locke, whose only memory of his mother is a hazy image of sewing, when he meets a Bondsmage who reveals that she once called herself "Seamstress". She dryly agrees with his horrified "No!" and confirms that they're not related — but that they do have a history.
  • Near the end of Hannah Tinti's The Good Thief, Ren discovers that he is the son of Mc Ginty's sister and Benjamin Nab. That last is a big maybe, however.
  • An example from Harald: Though the individual characters know the relationship from the beginning, King James is lead to believe that Harald will join him against Carala, and he gets this sort of surprise when Harald reveals that he's her father.
  • Occurs in Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot series (and the Poirot TV adaptation based on it):
    • In The Clocks, Millicent Pebmarsh is the mother of Rosemary Sheila Webb, but only in the original novel.
    • In the Poirot adaptation only, Frances Cary is Norma Restarick's half-sister in Third Girl; Dr. Theodore Gerard and Dame Celia Westholme are the actual biological parents of Jinny Boynton in Appointment with Death; and Marie McDermott is the cousin of Celia Ravenscroft in Elephants Can Remember.
    • In both the novel series and TV adaptation, it happens near the end of The King of Clubs and Dead Man's Mirror In the former story the glamorous actress turns out to be a daughter of the middle class suburban family who succored her, a fact they all wish to hide; and in the second story the murderer is the birth mother of the victim's adopted daughter, Poirot agrees to keep her secret. Also in Sad Cypress, and Hallowe'en Party. The latter depends on the ending: while Michael Garfield poisons himself with the drink he prepared for Miranda Butler before it is revealed that he is her father in the original novel, making the ending so bittersweet, the TV adaptation has Michael get arrested for attempting to poison her, and allows him time to reveal himself as her father in the denouement scene. It feels so much more like a brief family reunion, but heartwarming nonetheless.
  • His Dark Materials: Lyra's father is Lord Asriel, the man she thought was her uncle, while her mother is Mrs. Coulter, the first book's major villain. Though this could be seen as a rather knowing use of the trope, given that the reveal occurs unusually early in the story. In the film adaptation, on the other hand, it appears in the typical place as a third act plot twist.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Gudule is Esmeralda/Agnes' mother. If you know about Victor Hugo's love for One Degree of Separation, you saw it coming.
  • Inheritance Cycle: Murtagh reveals that the evil Dragon Rider Morzan was Eragon's father, making Eragon and Murtagh brothers. This is subverted in the third book, when it turns out that Morzan is not Eragon's father, and it was actually Brom, who fell in love with Selena, Morzan's consort (also known as the Black Hand), thus making Murtagh and Eragon only half-brothers. There is also a scene where Arya is revealed to be the daughter of the elf queen Islanzadi, but this may or may not qualify since both Arya and Islanzadi knew about it even if the reader did not.
  • This happens not once, but twice, and to the same character, in Ann Radcliffe's 1796 Gothic novel, The Italian. In the first instance, the evil monk Schedoni is about to murder the virginal heroine in her sleep when he happens to glimpse her locket — her ownership of which reveals that she is (gasp!) his long-lost daughter!... Only, turns out she isn't. Still, it was a pretty good reveal, wasn't it? She actually turns out to be the long-lost child of a nun who was nice to her earlier in the book, and to whom she'd previously felt a "mysterious connection."
    • Even though it turns out that Schedoni isn't Elena's father, he does turn out to be the brother of her long-deceased father whom he closely resembles, making him her uncle. Thus, this is perhaps an example of Everyone Is Related.
  • In The Last Book in the Universe, Spaz finds out from Ryter in the final moments of his life that Billy Bizmo is his father and Lotti Getts is his mother.
  • In the Brazilian book Lobo Alpha (Alpha Wolf) the main character (Amy) finds out about Creatures (beings that can change shape into animals) and befriends (soon falling in love) with Marco, a Wolf Creature (white wolf to be precise) who is the Omega of his pack. Some time after, they find out that Amy is adopted and that she, too, is a Creature after being killed -only turns out she wasn't- by Bloter while Marco was fighting Cannish (Members of Marco's pack). Amy is called a Crossbred (meaning that one of her TRUE parents was a creature and the other was a human. Although this breeding is rare, she eventually meets another Crossbred near the end of the book). She learns more about her true mother, Yuu. At first everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) thinks that Amy is the daughter of Wulfmayer (the Alpha wolf, who had been in love with Yuu despite being married) until, during a dinner with the said pack, Wulfmayer reveals that he raped Yuu (along with Bloter) but didn't kill her because he felt she was pregnant and that Amy is actually Marco's daughter (cuts to "eeeewww" since they were in love and had already had sex).
    • Only, right after, Marco and Amy talk and he reveals he cannot be her father, since he and Yuu were never close in that level, Wulfmayer just assumed it because they were always together. Amy's father turns out to be Cannish. Amy is LESS than pleased, which makes it harder when they have to travel together.
  • The Lost Symbol: The main antagonist throughout the book is revealed to be the son of one of the main protagonists.
  • Maximum Ride: In Saving The World and Other Extreme Sports, Max is horrified to learn that the Director and leader of Itex is her mother. Later, Jeb informs her that this is a lie and he is her real father and Dr. Martinez is her real mother. She takes this revelation much better, though is just as shocked.
  • Used straight in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, with the revelation that Camaris is Josua's father, rather than King Prester John, and rolled into the Aesop that lies told and retold are what shape civilizations. This also retroactively explains the Cain and Abel relationship between Josua and Elias, even before their falling out over the death of Elias' wife.
  • Miss Marple: Mrs Lestrange (no, not that one) is Lettice Protheroe's mother in The Murder at the Vicarage.
  • Played with in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn. Main character Vin knows from the beginning of the story that her father is an important nobleman (she inherited her powers from him), but doesn't know his identity. He turns out to be Tevidian, High Prelan (priest) of the Corrupt Church and right-hand-man to the Lord Ruler. Surely this leads to a dramatic moment where the rebel Vin confronts and defeats her badass Dragon father? Wrong—when we meet Tevidian, he turns out to be a coward who toadies to the Inquisitors (the real Dragons) and gets killed offhand for essentially annoying them without ever getting a chance to speak with his daughter. But honestly, nobody was really that torn up about it.
  • The Mortal Instruments:
    • Jonathan Clark, the man Jocelyn told Clary was her father, was just a mere acquaintance. Clary’s real father is The Big Bad of the series, Valentine Morgenstern.
    • Michael Wayland was never Jace's father. Valentine Morgenstern is, he raised Jace while under the guise of Michael Wayland. Though City of Glass reveals that Jace's father was actually Stephen Herondale. Valentine adopted him after his mother died, but he kept him a secret from his real son, and vice versa.
  • In The Mysterious Benedict Society, Kate's Disappeared Dad is revealed to be Milligan.
  • In The Night Angel Trilogy, the Godking does this to both the protagonist and someone else. In the protagonist's case, the Godking is just screwing with his mind. In the latter case, she kills him anyway.
  • Night Watch: In Sixth Watch, Zabulon reveals that he is actually Anton's grandfather. Anton was originally supposed to be a Dark Other, but Gesar deliberately initiated him on a good day in order to turn Anton to the Light, as he didn't believe that Svetlana would marry a Dark Other. Zabulon's hatred for Anton is partly driven by Anton liking being a Light one.
  • In Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series, Lirael finds out the identity of her real father at the end of book two: it's the former Abhorsen, Terciel, making Lirael Sabriel's younger sister, and Sameth's aunt. This accounts for much of Lirael's Wangst — that is, morbid tendencies, et alia. Fortunately, she had already prevented her nephew becoming attracted to her by saying that she was thirty years older than him.
  • It's played straight in On the Jellicoe Road with Taylor, who finds out who her dad is the boy in the picture and her aunt is Hannah. This is played with for Jessa; Taylor (a third party) finds out her father is the Hermit late in the story but its unclear if Jessa connects her dad to the Hermit.
  • In Alan Garner's The Owl Service, Gwyn has just found proof that Huw, the mad gardener, killed his mother's lover Bertram and accuses Huw of killing his father. Huw then reveals that he is Gwyn's father.
  • Jacek Soplica, the Mysterious Parent of the titular Pan Tadeusz, turns out to be father Robak - a politically active monk.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero in Hell, Miranda learns that her mother was not who she thought she was. (Her half-siblings let it slip, not realizing she doesn't know.) She's Caliban's half-sister! And while William Shakespeare fictionalized some events in The Tempest, the Attempted Rape in the Backstory is not one of them.
  • The Radix: Played with. The fact that Edgar Wurm is Adriana Borgia's father comes as a surprise for the reader, but both characters have known it from the beginning.
  • Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings: Inverted (and partly subverted) in the Tawny Man trilogy, where the main character is forced to interact with his children, who don't know who their real father is.
  • In Stephen Hunt's The Rise of the Iron Moon, Black is astounded to recognize his own features in his daughter; he had seen her mother fall, with a head wound, in a fight.
  • Done intelligently in Rafael Sabatini's romantic historical adventure Scaramouche: André-Louis Moreau spends most of the book as the nemesis of the abhorrent Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr, who dun DUN DUN, unsurprisingly turns out to be his father—but Andre-Louis has never particularly cared for anyone except his Parental Substitute; and the fact is resolved within a couple chapters.
    • The 1952 movie had the Marquis turn out to be his older brother.
  • Septimus Heap:
    • At the end of Magyk, Boy 412 is revealed to be the Heaps' supposedly dead son Septimus.
    • In Flyte, the man who keeps asking people about Jenna turns out to be her father, Milo Banda.
  • Shannara: Played with for Mareth, the young Druid-in-training in First King of Shannara, has revealed to her during the course of the journey that the innate, nearly out-of-control magic she possesses was inherited from her father — a Skull Bearer. She has the appropriate reaction, and almost succumbs to a Heroic BSoD until Kinson Ravenlock snaps her out of it. In the end, however, it is never revealed if this was actually the truth, or part of a trap by the Warlock Lord to ensnare her powerful magic through her longing for her Disappeared Dad.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Dark Lord—The Rise of Darth Vader, Roan Shryne and Olee Starstone, a pair of fugitive Jedi, fall in with a crew of smugglers. Their captain Jula just happens to be Shryne's mother — his father had given him up to the Jedi over her objections. Jula is Force-sensitive herself and claims to have guided her ship to them on purpose.
    • In Star Wars: Annihilation, Republic Supreme Commander Jace Malcom does the math and concludes that Theron Shan is his son, the product of the relationship he had with Theron's Jedi mother Satele Shan during the early stages of the current war against the Sith Empire. Theron is not impressed when Jace sees fit to drop this bombshell on him right before Theron is due to set out on an important operation, but after an awkward start the two men agree to at least try to get to know one another better when they have the chance.
  • In Terry Goodkind's Wizard's First Rule, the first book of the Sword of Truth series, it is revealed that Richard is actually the son of Darken Rahl, the antagonist. Yes, his name is Darken. And he's the father of the protagonist, who has a magic sword, and is taught by an old man.
    • The TV series loosely based on the books also follows the trope but replaces Luke, I Am Your Father with Luke, I Am Your Brother, and this time, Zedd is not the one who reveals the truth. The substitution is likely because the actor playing Rahl is much younger than the character in the novel, making Richard only about 10-15 years Rahl's junior in the show. This is one of Goodkind's better instances of Playing with a Trope. It starts with Darken Rahl accusing Zedd of being Richard's father. Zedd responds, in short, "Actually, I'm his grandfather. Remember how you raped my daughter? You're his father." Richard is not present for this scene, and doesn't find out himself about either of these relations until the next book.
  • Doctor S in The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign is actually Kyousuke's father (the 'S' stands for Shiroyama, their surname).
  • Vampire Academy:
    • In Blood Promise it is revealed that Rose's father is Abe Mazur. Funny thing is, she doesn't find out till after she's back on the other side of the world. And then her reaction is just priceless:
      "Oh God," I said, "I’m Zmey’s daughter. Zmey Junior. Zmeyette, even".
    • Happens to Jill in Last Sacrifice when she finds out that Eric Dragomir is her father and she's royal. Subverted in that Eric knew about her and she never meets him due to finding out after his death.
  • In Ben Bova's Venus, the protagonist, Van, is really Fuchs' son, not Humphres'.
  • In Villains by Necessity, it turns out near the end (hinted at earlier subtly) main antagonist Mizzamir is Sam's father, and wiped his mother's mind after raping her, proving Light Is Not Good, indirectly helping to put Sam into his life of being a cold-blooded hired killer.
  • In The Warlord Chronicles, Derfel gets an unusually subtle version of this from Aelle, who instead of telling him straight out instead criticises him for not visiting his mother and leaves him to work it out for himself. Later, Aelle declares Derfel to be the best of all his sons. Just before Derfel kills him.
  • In Warrior Cats, the former Thunderclan leader Bluestar is revealed to be the mother of three Riverclan cats, Mistyfoot, Stonefur, and Mosskit. The kitten died though.
    • Yellowfang also reveals to Brokentail that she is his real mother, after she fed him the deathberries that would kill him.
    • In the third series Leafpool reveals that she is the mother of the Three.
    • The sixth series has a rare heartwarming example: Hawkwing reveals to Twigpaw that he is her father; he had believed that she and her sister Violetpaw were both dead, and is overjoyed to meet them for the first time.
  • Welcome to Night Vale: Josh wants his mother Diane to tell him more about his missing father Troy. Jackie suffers from amnesia and does not remember that her father is also Troy, through use of Time Travel and magical cloning, making Jackie and Josh half-siblings.
  • Wicked: Son of a Witch: While the title implies it pretty strongly, it's left very much in doubt whether Liir is Elphaba's son until the very last line, when Liir's own newborn daughter is revealed to be green like Grandma. Apparently the complexion is genetic, but only expressed in females.
  • In The Wildcats by J.T. Edson, Calamity Jane discovers that Madam Bulldog is actually her mother.
  • In The Wild Hunt Trilogy, Judith's father is revealed to be her husband's friend, seduced at age 14 by her mother to appease her husband's demand for an heir.


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