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A Hero Is Born

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"Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit."

What better way to introduce the protagonist of the story than start at their 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 conceived 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.

  • At birth: Work literally begins from the birth of the protagonist. A Time Skip or two are permitted.
  • As infant: Protagonist is shown as an infant at the beginning. Might overlap with Doorstop Baby.

Compare A Minor Kidroduction.


At birth:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Legend of Zelda (Akira Himekawa): The adaptation of Oracle of Seasons opens with Link's birth, showing his Triforce mark from those games as a birthmark.
  • The 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.

    Comic Books 
  • Laika: The second chapter begins with Kudryavka and her littermates being born. Her owner's landlady is not happy, as she doesn't want more dogs in the house.
  • Traditionally origin stories for Wonder Woman begin with her "birth", given its strange nature as a birth from clay or a clay vessel rather than from her mother's womb.

    Fan Works 
  • Dragon Ball Reboot: The prequel spin-off opens with the birth of Gine on Planet Vegeta, followed by a scene where doctors working for Frieza's empire decide to sort her with the other newborn Saiyans allowed to stay on their homeworld instead of being sent off-planet.
  • The End of the World: Haymitch knows the parents of most District 12 characters born after the Second Quarter Quell and takes note when their kids are born. He has no way of knowing they'll be heroes, though, so the casual way he discusses some of these births can be humorous at times.
    Ruth has her baby at the beginning of May. I don't visit; I haven't really talked to Ruth in years, and I only see Glen on rebellion business. Glen carries the baby around the square one day, though, singing a song. The baby is a girl. They name her after some plant.
  • Paradoxus: The third chapter's opening scene is that of Daphne, Marion, Sky, and Thore in a waiting room while Bloom gives birth to Altalune, one of the heroines of the story and Domino's heir presumptive. As it's customary for Domino in this fic, as soon as she's born, the princess' runes are read by one of the realm's elders—they conclude that her path will diverge from that of her mother and that the one who'd inherit the crown hasn't been born yet. The trope is Played With as this is not the actual beginning of the fic, although it's one of the plot-relevant, chronologically earliest events.

    Films — Animation 
  • Arlo the Alligator Boy: This is how we first meet Arlo Beauregard at the beginning of the movie, showing him as a newborn and abandoned in the sewers on the night of his birth.
  • Disney Animated Canon examples, in chronological order:
    • Bambi begins with assorted wildlife coming to view the just-born Bambi and his mother. Seeing his adorable first steps is particularly endearing.
    • 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.
    • Simba in The Lion King (1994), 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.
    • Hercules - Hercules was not only once a baby, he was once a god.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Argentinian animated film Manuelita (or at least, the main story of the film) begins with the main character gradually hatching from her egg as she makes her way from a random nest in a barn to her parents' house, not fully hatching until she reaches her destination.
  • In their movie, The Powerpuff Girls weren't so much born as they were created purely by coincidence. From the get-go, they knew they were different but their sense of heroism would reach full maturation by the movie's third act.
  • After the opening Oner, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron begins with Spirit's mother in labour.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Look Who's Talking starts at conception. Actually a few moments before conception.
  • James Kirk in the 2009 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.
  • Man of Steel begins with Superman's birth on Krypton.
  • The Crowd starts with John Sims being born on July 4th, 1900.
  • The first proper scene of Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love shows Suzie giving birth to Raun.
  • Super Mario Bros. (1993) combines this with Doorstop Baby and given the unique twist that a heroine is hatched, being that she comes from Dinohattan.
  • Thunderpants begins with the protagonist's mother farting him out in birth, since the plot revolves around a boy who always farts.

  • Frequently in The Bible.
    • Many people are more aware of the story of the birth of Jesus (being the origin of Christmas) 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.
  • Arthurian Legend tends to begin with the retelling of King Arthur's 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.
  • Beowulf:
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • The Sight follows the above formula with Larka. Justified in that the book is set in the same universe as Firebringer and are both written by the same author.
  • Child of the Wolves starts with Seppala giving birth to Granite and his siblings.
  • Halfway through the first chapter of The Wolves of Paris, the protagonist's birth and puppyhood are explained.
  • Frequently used in the Warrior Cats book series, particularly in the larger sub-series of Super Editions which typically start from the protagonist's days as a young kit. Most main series start from when the protagonist is an apprentice (essentially a t(w)eenager in this world), however.
  • The Golden Hamster Saga: I, Freddy begins with Freddy's birth in a pet store.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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' 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.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019)'s background is that a Bizarre Baby Boom resulted in several non-pregnant women around the world spontaneously giving birth to superpowered children. Seasons one and three open with the births of two of the protagonists (Viktor in Russia and Ben in South Korea respectively) before segueing into how Reginald Hargreeves adopted a group of them and trained them into superheroes.

  • 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!"
  • In the first song in Wicked, "No One Mourns The Wicked", Galinda explains Elphaba's backstory, starting with her birth, which is played out.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • Dreamfall Chapters opens with a juxtaposition of April's Viking Funeral and the birth of the game's new Player Characternote , Saga, who is later revealed to be her Reincarnation.
  • Princess Maker 3: The opening cutscene says, which presumably refers to the fairy girl who will be raised:
    The fairy was born with the splendor of the morning dew.

    Western Animation 

As infant:

    Anime & Manga 
  • Naruto begins with the details of what happened to him as an infant.

    Comic Books 
  • The standard origin story for Superman shows him as a baby when he is sent to Earth in a spaceship.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Harry Potter, in full Doorstop Baby mode.
  • Oksa Pollock: The prologue of the first books shows how Oksa's father sees his new-born daughter the first time.
  • Old Kingdom: Sabriel begins with the title character nearly dying just after her birth and her mother's Death by Childbirth, so her father has to enter the First Precinct of Death to rescue her from both Death and Kerrigor.
  • In The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain, a collection of short stories which form a prequel to The Chronicles of Prydain, 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.

  • Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto begins with Cesare as an infant, an illegitimate child, being observed as the proof of his father's "sin". When it shifts forward to the time of the main story, 1491 when Cesare is 16, the musical style shifts with it.
  • Cross Road shows protagonist Niccolo Paganini as a baby in an early scene. He was a sickly child, and the song that his mother sang to him then becomes an important part of the rest of his life. Interestingly, this comes after a scene that takes place later, where we saw an adult Paganini who has made his Deal with the Devil, met a Bonaparte princess to be his patron and lover, and mastered his Cape Swish.

    Video Games 
  • Mario and Luigi for the entire game of Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island.
  • 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.

  • The second story arc in Fatebound begins with the birth of Hadral "under a mourning moon" before jumping ahead to his mid/late teens.

    Western Animation 
  • 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 these 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.



The introduction of Bambi, the new forest prince.

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