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Abandoned War Child

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"I am a child of war. It's a poor way to start. My village was always ready to defend, or to placate, or to burn again. Eventually the fighting stopped, and left dozens of native graves and foreign babies. We war bastards banded together by instinct; most of us had the straw hair and flat faces of westerners, and we were easy marks. Native kids would find one or two of us alone and build their adrenaline with shouts of Your father killed my father until someone took the first step in with a raised arm or a stick."
Mars, "The Eye of the Storm" by Kelley Eskridge

Often times during or after a war, women are left single mothers to half-foreign children. This can be due to their lover abandoning them after the war, prostitution which ends up in pregnancy, rape, their lover dying during the war, or a one night stand.

This trope can focus on the experience of either the mother or the child, sometimes both. Often the women left behind and their children face derision and ostracism, often in the form of Slut-Shaming the mother for having a child out of wedlock, whether the child was conceived consensually or not. The child so subjected may be a victim of Half-Breed Discrimination.

In American media, it's particularly common for The Vietnam Vet to have sired a child by an Asian Babymama.

Related tropes include Kid Amid the Chaos, Men Are Tough and Women Are Delicate, as the character's father was a soldier and their mother is typically portrayed as a poor abandoned maiden. If the protagonist of a story, this character is likely a Heroic Bastard; if a villain or a jerkass, they're likely a Bastard Bastard.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), partway through the series Rosé Thomas is raped by soldiers who attacked her village and was left pregnant as a result. The incident left her mute and traumatized for months, though by the final episode she is shown talking and recovering. She's depicted as much livelier during her brief appearance in Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa, which takes place three years after the final episode.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, Nakago Gi Ayuru is a member of the Hin tribe (an ethnic and religious minority in Kutou), and lives with his mother until she is raped by Kutou soldiers and accidentally killed by him when he tries to rescue her. His father is nowhere to be seen; when he is taken to the palace (and goes from being a child Sex Slave to the emperor to a respected member of the military), he has to kill the current general to get his rank, finding out after the fact that the man is his Disappeared Dad.
  • Sentarou from Kids on the Slope is the son of an American World War II soldier who disappeared after the war. This explains his light brown hair (which curls when worn long, as shown in flashbacks). As a child, he received a lot of racism for being mixed.

    Comic Books 
  • A flashback to Watchmen's version of The Vietnam War has the Comedian approached by a Vietnamese woman he'd impregnated, who demands he be a father. He refuses, saying he plans to go back to the US and forget all about her, whereupon she slashes him across the face with a broken beer bottle and he shoots her dead.
  • Tavis and Gan's father was an alien who landed on Earth, ended up joining the Vietnam War in the early '60s, met a Vietnamese woman, and fell for her. Their mother didn't realize she was pregnant until after their father had already left.

    Fan Works 
  • Discussed and Inverted in Another Brother. Upon learning that the Northern Water Tribe won't be hospitable to the idea of their family having adopted Zuko, Sokka instead invents that he's their biological half-brother, conceived when their mom was raped by a Fire Nation soldier. This actually succeeds in making the Northerners more sympathetic to Zuko, but also thoroughly annoys him.
  • Tao from Embers (Vathara) is the child of an Earth Kingdom woman and a Fire Nation soldier who raped her during the initial invasion of the city of Taku. As a result, he loathes his father (whom he never met), the Fire Nation, and everything associated with it.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Dark Knight Rises reveals that Henri Ducard prior to becoming the leader of The League of Shadows, was a mercenary hired by a warlord. However, Ducard and the warlord's daughter fell in love. The furious warlord was set to throw Ducard into a Hellhole Prison, but abruptly changed Ducard's sentence to exile instead. Unknown to Ducard, the warlord's now pregnant daughter was thrown into the prison instead, where she eventually gave birth. Years later the young child escaped and found Ducard.
  • The 1977 film Green Eyes is about a man who was a soldier in The Vietnam War who decides to go look for the toddler son he had with a prostitute he fell in love with in Vietnam. All he knows is that his son looks a lot like him and has green eyes. The "green eyes" were likely due to an illness, especially since both parents have brown eyes (the father is black while the mother is Vietnamese). The child died several years ago as an infant. However, the man ends up befriending and then adopting an older boy who is an orphan.
  • In The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Dawsey is raising Elizabeth's daughter with a Nazi soldier after Elizabeth's disappearance.
  • The central plot of Savior is kicked off when Guy, the main character, meets Vera, a Serb woman captured, raped, and impregnated during The Bosnian War. She is released as part of a prisoner exchange mere hours before giving birth, and the results of trying to go home again aren't pretty for either her or her daughter.
  • In the 1922 silent film The Toll of the Sea (which is an adaptation of Madame Butterfly set in China instead of Japan) a Chinese woman named Lotus Blossom fell in love with an American soldier and married him. They had a son together but he left on a voyage before learning of the child. Her peers find her ignorant for believing he will come back and take her to America and cite others who have fallen into the same trap. When her husband does return, he comes back with news that he married his childhood sweetheart. Lotus Blossom decides to give their toddler-aged son to them by telling the boy that she was really taking care of him for his real parents. She then kills herself by jumping into the ocean.

  • In Alexis Carew: The Little Ships, Alexis encounters a young woman on Giron who was impregnated by one of Alexis' shipmates while they were all being held there as prisoners of war two years earlier in Mutineer (the other officers had given parole and were housed in the town; Alexis had refused out of concern for the enlisted crew). The narration comments that the enlisted crew is required to have contraceptive implants to prevent such accidents, but officers aren't.
  • Mars, the protagonist of the Short Story "The Eye of the Storm" by Kelley Eskridge, is one of several war bastards in her village. The legitimate children tended to gang up on them and bully them, eventually leading to the death of Mars' friend Ad Homrun. Mars reacts by getting her half-brother Tom to teach her to fight and eventually leaves the village to find work in the capital as a royal guard.
  • In the Time Wars series, part of the backstory of Forrester, the leader of the Time Commandos, is that when he was a young soldier he once had an affair with a local girl while temporarily separated from his unit, and then had to abandon her when his comrades found him again. (With the additional complication that, because it was a time war, this happened not only in a different country but in a different century.) Their son grows up with a massive grudge and becomes the series's main recurring antagonist.
  • Violet Evergarden: The titular character has this as her backstory, having been discovered in the middle of a war zone as a young girl by a group of soldiers fighting in an analogue to the first World War, and when they tried to rape her she tore them apart. The soldiers' commanding officer had her turned into a Child Soldier to take advantage of her superhuman combat abilities; and by the time she was fourteen, she was desensitized to violence, almost completely emotionless, and saw herself as a living weapon — with the bulk of the series being about her breaking free of that conditioning after the war's end.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This informs Deadshot's background on Arrow. He came home to a beautiful toddler who didn't recognize him and didn't get the chance to get to know him before PTSD-driven aggression drove him out of his home.
  • The A-Team episode "The Sound of Thunder" has the Team hired by a man who learned he has a child from the Vietnam War. That man being their personal Inspector Javert General Fullbright, in a rare moment of Enemy Mine necessity.
  • On Game of Thrones, Jon Snow is technically this trope, as he is Ned Stark's bastard by a low-born woman he met during Robert's Rebellion, according to Ned. However, this is a cover story and Jon is actually the legitimate child of Ned's sister Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.
  • M*A*S*H explored this in the episode Yessir, That's Our Baby where a newborn is left at the 4077 by her mother with a note explaining the child's father was an American soldier who was "gone now."note  Part of the episode surrounds the main characters trying to arrange for the child to be sent to the U.S. after learning such children are mutilated or even murdered but are repeatedly stonewalled. Ultimately they're forced to leave the child with a monastery that would protect the child and one day help her get out of Korea.
  • Played with in the NCIS Christmas Episode "Newborn King", where Gibbs' team is protecting a female Marine who was impregnated by an Afghan tribal prince she fell in love with on a deployment. Since the father was later killed by the Taliban, this makes her child potentially the heir to the tribe, which sends mercenaries to kidnap the mother.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine the Cardassians left a number of half-Cardassian children behind during the Occupation of Bajor (most of them not consensual, whether due to forced prostitution or ordinary rape), and even some full-blooded Cardassian children who became separated from their parents during the withdrawal. One of the half-Cardassians, Tora Ziyal, Gul Dukat's daughter by his Bajoran mistress, is a Recurring Character. The children face considerable Fantastic Racism from Bajorans in the wake of the Occupation's atrocities.

  • Implied in "Runs in the Family" by Amanda Palmer, which is about how your genes can affect your mental and physical health. A verse mentions that a friend has ancestry likely from soldiers during the American Civil War.
    My friend's depressed
    She's a wreck
    She's a mess
    They've run all sorts of tests
    And they guess it has something to do with her grandmother's grandfather's grandmother
    Civil war soldiers who probably infected her
  • The end of the song "Gentleman Soldier" by The Dubliners has the soldier refusing to marry the young woman he slept with, as he was already married with three children. She later has his child but doesn't even know the father's name.

  • In Man of La Mancha, Aldonza sings about how his absentee father was a soldier:
    And then there's my father. I'm told that young ladies
    Can point to their fathers with maidenly pride.
    Mine was a regiment, here for one hour,
    I can't even tell you which side.
  • In Miss Saigon, Kim and Chris fall in love when Chris is a Marine stationed in Saigon during the Vietnam War. Chris intends to take Kim back home with him but is forced to leave her behind when the US forces are evacuated, leaving Kim to raise her son as a single mother.

    Video Games 
  • Mega Man Battle Network: Long ago, Baryl's father was a soldier who fought in foreign wars, and thus he left Baryl in the care of his friend, Dr. Wily. When he eventually dies, Wily's thirst for revenge returned, and it influenced Baryl as well.
  • Kazuhira Miller from the Metal Gear series was fathered by an American occupation soldier who had sex with a Japanese prostitute following the end of World War II. After he was sent back to the States, she was forced to raise Kaz alone, though while they were together he treated her like a wife and left her enough money to create her own store before leaving.
  • My Child Lebensborn has the player care for a child who was born from the relationship between a Norwegian woman and a soldier from Nazi Germany's occupation forces. By the time the game starts, the father has returned to Germany and the local women who had relationships with German soldiers have become stigmatized to the point of no longer being able to make a living on their own, which has resulted in the mother putting the child up for adoption. The Player Character is the person who adopted the child.
  • In Pillars of Eternity, the previous Watcher, Maerwald, vacillates between his own personality and those of two of his past lives. The Soldier was fathered by a Glanfathan marauder who raped an Aedyr settler woman. The Raider was killed by militia afterwards, and the Soldier's mother told him his father was a soldier who had died before he was born, not knowing the Raider had reincarnated as the Soldier. For his part, Maerwald has long lost the ability to tell himself apart from the two past lives.

  • Unsounded: Alderode has a particularly nasty technique regarding children in conquered areas who they refer to as "War Orphans". Once they've spread the Damakhert ensuring any new babies born will be physically altered into one of the Aldish castes they rape the women and steal the resulting children to give them to ghers to be raised in orphanages or adopted.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • One of the Starlight Girls in Jem is Ba Nee. She was born in Vietnam but was sent to America after her mother's death, and lives at a foster home that Jem and the Holograms run. She is obsessed with finding her Disappeared Dad even though the others consider him dead. All that Ba Nee knows is that he's a redhead, so she has a tendency to latch onto random redheaded men and thinks they're her father. She finds her father in the finale. It turns out he married her mother in Vietnam but had to go back to war. He had amnesia due to an injury and didn't remember his wife. After being reunited with Ba Nee, they live together.
  • In King of the Hill, Cotton had a relationship with his Japanese nurse shortly after the end of World War II and was then forced to leave without saying goodbye. Decades later he returns to apologize and discovers her son Junichiro, who looks amazingly like a Japanese version of Hank. Junichiro, however, rejects Cotton's apology, which in turn sends Cotton into an anti-Japan rampage, and it takes a full episode (plus Hank's intervention) for them to accept one another.
  • The Simpsons: In "The Regina Monologues", the Simpsons visit England, with Grandpa Abe Simpson going to try and find a woman he had a one-night stand with the evening before D-Day. In the epilogue, they find each other, and Abe meets the woman's adult daughter...who basically looks like Homer in a dress. He panics and runs onto the plane.

    Real Life 
  • People from countries in the Middle East sometimes refer to green-eyed individuals as having "Crusader eyes," due to a belief that they're descended from children fathered by Europeans during the Crusades (the typical Middle-Easterner is statistically much more likely to have brown eyes).
    • As of the 2010s, countries such as Iraq and Syria are dealing with children who were often found unacommpanied in formerly ISIS-held cities like Mosul. Dubbed "Russian children" on account of their non-local appearance and the fact that they often spoke to their rescuers in Russian, they are believed to be the orphaned children of ISIS foreign militants who joined the war from Russia (particularly Chechenya) and other ex-Soviet republics.
  • World War I's Afro-German "Rhineland bastards" who were fathered by French Army personnel of African descent who were stationed in the Rhineland during its occupation by France after World War I.
  • This was a real problem in Britain during and immediately after World War II. In middle-late 1945, the USA recalled practically all its service personnel home. But with virtually all British males having been called up, human nature meant the Americans had left a lot of little memories behind them. Many British servicemen returning from overseas service were less than pleased to find children they had not fathered. Many were given up for adoption or ended up in orphanages. Children fathered by black Americans were especially unfortunate in this respect.
    • Similarly, after the Vietnam War, American soldiers left behind children. The children's lives were even more complicated by the fact that they are half white (or black) and obviously "foreign." Many of them were ostracized in their communities, although they are now using DNA testing to locate long-lost relatives in the US.
  • World War II again with Germany's "Wolf Children".