What better way to introduce the protagonist of the story than start at his/her birth? This device is used to have the audience fall in love with the character, because who can't love a baby? A protagonist may be concieved and born in extraordinary or even supernatural circumstances which portend that they will grow up to be a hero. A lot of expectation may be placed on them from birth depending on if their parents are royalty needing an heir or suchlike. On the other hand, they may be born to poor parents or a mother abandoned by her partner, indicating that their early years will be full of hardship.
Mainly comes in two types.
- Type 1: Work literally begins from the birth of the protagonist. A Time Skip or two are permitted.
- Type 2: Protagonist is shown as an infant at the beginning. Might overlap with Doorstop Baby.
Compare A Minor Kidroduction.
Examples of type 1:
- The manga adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons opens with Link's birth, showing his Triforce mark from those games as a birthmark.
- Rose of Versailles begins just a moment before the birth of Oscar in her family's château, with her father anxiously hoping for a boy to carry on the Jarjayes family name as trusted guards of the royal family. He gets his hopes up when he hears a loud cry from the other room that's strong like a boy, and is upset to find that the child is another girl. However, instead of giving up his ambitions, he decides to give her the masculine name Oscar and raise her as a boy.
- Basara begins with the birth of the main character, Sarasa, and her twin brother Tatara.
- Berserk: Although the manga starts In Medias Res with grown-up Guts in the Black Swordsman Arc, it's immediately followed by the Golden Age Arc which shows How We Got Here and begins with Guts' inauspicious and vaguely supernatural birth. A group of mercenaries including their leader Gambino and his mistress Sys pass by a grisly tree with perhaps a dozen people hanged by nooses from its branches, and see a newborn baby boy lying motionless beneath his mother's corpse. Sys, who lost her mind three days before from miscarrying her own baby, picks up the child; when Gambino forces her to drop him, the baby that everyone but Sys thought was dead comes to life and begins to wail. Gambino changes his mind and allows Sys to keep the baby, figuring he will probably die soon and console Sys in the meantime, despite one of his men saying it's bad luck to take in a child born from the womb of a hanged woman. The boy is named Guts, and after Sys catches the plague and dies three years later, Gambino blames everything on Guts, saying he should have died instead. What all this means is that Guts was born into the world surrounded by death, but from the very beginning he struggled to live. He is fated to live a life of suffering, but imbued with the ability to survive no matter what.
- 101 Dalmatians: 15 of the main characters are shown being born. Of course, the puppies are not so much the heroes of the tale as their parents are.
- Aladar the Iguanodon in Dinosaur is taken from his mother's nest as an egg by a Pteranodon and winds up hatching in the presence of a family of lemurs.
- Finding Nemo begins by showing Nemo and his siblings as eggs.
- Hercules - Hercules was not only once a baby, he was once a god.
- Littlefoot, in The Land Before Time, is introduced in a similar way to Bambi. This also helps to develop his attachment to his mother, to make her death all the more tragic.
- Simba in The Lion King, with definite heroic overtones as all the animals in the kingdom come to see him. The film actually begins a short time after his birth; it opens with his formal presentation to the animals as their future king.
- After the opening Oner, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron begins with Spirit's mother in labour.
- Bambi begins with assorted wildlife coming to view the just-born Bambi and his mother. Seeing his adorable first steps is particularly endearing.
- Look Who's Talking starts at conception. Actually a few moments before conception.
- James Kirk in the Star Trek reboot movie. A deleted scene would also have done this with Spock. The prior version of James Kirk had barely anything about his life pre-captaincy.
- Amélie actually begins with the conception of the heroine.
- Stories of King Arthur tend to begin with the retelling of his conception, a rather convoluted event involving adultery, war and magic, following in the tradition of Celtic heroes having unusual affairs.
- By the time of Malory it's even more nuanced, as he has to keep the story of the strange conception, but also needs to make sure that Arthur isn't a bastard. Hard to make that work. The story then goes on to his birth and how Merlin christens him and whisks him away to Sir Ector.
- Tennyson has a very different account of Arthur's arrival, having him wash up on shore in a manner similar to Schyld Schefing, on the night Uther dies. It's all part of setting him up to be a truly pure hero.
- And, speaking of which, Schyld Schefing. The book begins by recounting his birth and life, even though the story isn't about him.
- Averted with Beowulf himself, oddly enough, who enters the story as a grown man from a foreign land; little about his childhood is ever revealed, save that he was weak as a child. This seems a small subversion of the typical hero story when they are born under unusual circumstances and have remarkable childhoods, but the unassuming child has become a recognizable trope in itself.
- White Fang starts a little before the birth of White Fang, actually.
- Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne begins with the hero's conception. And his troubled birth sets up much of the humor that follows. It's kind of a parody of this trope, considering the rest of the book(s).
- In the Drizzt Do'Urden series, one of the prequel books starts off with Drizzt's birth, and the consternation surrounding it. His mother nearly sacrificed him to Loth.
- Frequently in The Bible.
- Many people are more aware of the story of Jesus's birth than anything else he did. The story is considered pretty important since Jesus was conceived divinely.
- Taken to the extreme in the genealogy sections where you get long, long family history of who was begat by who, leading up to the people who are more familiar.
- Tarzan of the Apes starts with the adventures of his parents and is already well into its third chapter before Alice Clayton saves her husband's life, kills a bull ape, becomes insane, and bears Tarzan in less than a day.
- The Gormenghast novels were conceptualized as the fictional biography of the protagonist from birth to death. The first book begins on the day of his birth and follows the events surrounding his infancy. Instead of going on with a Time Skip, the first book ends before our protagonist is even old enough to speak.
- Firebringer opens with the birth of Rannoch... And the death of his father. The book also ends with the opposite, with Rannoch, now old and on his last legs, being called by Herne to join the herd of the afterlife.
- A slightly strange example: Although the movies already introduced us to him as an adult, the Re-Cut home video release of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles's first episode has the opening scene of baby Indy being handed to his parents shortly after his birth; complete with voice-over narration from a teenage-ish Indy.
- Allegro begins with the birth of a son to Joseph and Marjorie Taylor, with the whole town celebrating the news:
His hair is fuzzy, his eyes are blue,
His eyes may change—they often do.
He weighs eight pounds and an ounce or two—
Joseph Taylor, Junior!
- The protagonist of Fallout 3. The game starts out with the player seeing the protagonist's father through their baby eyes and later moves one to their early childhood.
- The first memory in Assassin's Creed II is of Ezio's birth. The sequence is fittingly titled "Birth of an Assassin."
- Dragon Quest V begins with the main character's birth. He eventually becomes the father of twins, one of whom is the actual Legendary Hero.
- The Famicom RPG Tao provides opening exposition while an embryo - presumably the protagonist's - gestates in the background.
- The second story arc in Fatebound begins with the birth of Hadral "under a mourning moon" before jumping ahead to his mid/late teens.
Examples of type 2:
- Naruto begins with the details of what happened to him as an infant.
- Sol Invictus began with Luffy as a newborn baby.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Yes, Quasimodo was a baby. Even as a baby he was ugly enough that Frollo had to be talked out of throwing him down a well.
- The Outside Chance of Maximillian Glick opens up at the title character's bris.
- Years before the version of The Wizard of Oz everyone remembers, there was a silent adaptation of The Wizard of Oz that, among many, MANY other changes, established Dorothy Gale's arrival in Kansas as a Doorstop Baby delivered by a mysterious, supernatural figure.
- Superman: The Movie, as above.
- Harry Potter, in full Doorstop Baby mode.
- In The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain, a collection of short stories which form a prequel to the Prydain Chronicles, Dallben is a Doorstop Baby for Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch. He would later raise his own foundling, Taran, though the circumstances of Taran's babyhood are not revealed until the final chapter of the final book.
- Oksa Pollock: The prologue of the first books shows how Oksas father sees his new-born daughter the first time.
- Mario and Luigi for the entire game of Yoshi's Island.
- The Bugs Bunny cartoon What's Up, Doc? involves Bugs narrating his life story to a reporter, starting with a flashback to the day he was born and he realized he was a rabbit.
Please sort if you know which type the examples are
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button This one has elements of both types because in the movie, it shows Benjamin's birth and then him being delivered as a doorstop baby to Queenie. In the original story, it only has his birth as he is raised by his actual parents. It's kind of a weird inversion anyway since in his "infancy" he's an adult.
- In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, one of the first cutscenes shows Master Xehanort leaving a dying Ventus on the paupu fruit tree in the Destiny Islands. Ven's heart is badly damaged after having his darkness ripped from him to create Vanitas, and is only saved by the heart of an infant Sora... who was just born offscreen. That's right: Sora has been helping those in need right from his own birth.
- Penguins of Madagascar starts with young versions of Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico rescuing a runaway egg, which hatches to reveal Private.