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Accents Aren't Hereditary

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This trope arises when two or more members of the same family have noticeably different accents, despite living in the same household during the years that would have shaped their speech patterns. This trope only applies to cases where family members should logically speak with the same accent, such as a case of siblings who were raised by the same parents in the same environment inexplicably having different speech patterns or a child having a differing accent that doesn't logically derive from either of their parents. Situations involving Immigrant Parents are excluded, as children can and do pick up their parents' accents despite not speaking the language that created the accent or never having visited the country where the native language is spoken. Younger children also may pick up the accent prevalent in their new home rather than their parents' speech pattern, leaving them with a very different speech pattern than the family members who raised them.

If the trope goes entirely unexplained, it may have been an attempt to make a character more relatable to the target audience, but could be the result of an actor is Not Even Bothering with the Accent. It's also common for all accents from the same foreign country to be lumped together — if a pair of siblings in an American series are French, then it's likely that their actors will use (real or fake) French accents, but there's little guarantee that their accents will be from the same part of France.

A sub-trope of Unexplained Accent and Misplaced Accent. Compare The Kids Are American, where the adults have appropriate accents for their country of origin, but their children inexplicably have American accents.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: In the English dub, Zigfried has a noticeable accent, but his younger brother Leon, doesn't. This is not an issue in the original Japanese dub.

    Films — Animation 
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The parental generation of Vikings all have Scottish accents,note  but their children (including the protagonist) all have American accents. And then some of the other Vikings have English accents.
  • In The Lion King (1994), everyone in the royal lion family speaks with American accents except for Mufasa's treacherous brother Scar, who has an English accent provided by Jeremy Irons.
  • In The Prince of Egypt, the Egyptian royal family (except the high priests) have British accents while Moses, who was adopted as a baby, speaks in an American accent.
  • In Shrek 2: King Harold and Queen Lillian both have English accents (and are played by English actors) but their daughter Fiona has an American accent. She's also married to someone with a Scottish accent.
  • In The Rescuers Down Under, Cody has an American accent while his mother is heard speaking with an Australian accent. Some fans have theorized that Cody's absent father may been American, hence the disparity in his and his mother's accent.
  • Tarzan: The titular character speaks English with in an American accent despite learning the language from British people.
  • The Willoughbys: The Willoughby kids have American accents but their parents sound vaguely English by contrast.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Censor: Enid's mother is Welsh, while she speaks with a crisp English accent.
  • In Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Caracatus' father and children have English accents, but he has an American one. Of course this is because Dick Van Dyke's attempt at an English accent in Mary Poppins failed to go over well and they didn't want to repeat it, but it does raise questions.
  • Old:
    • Trent and Maddox have American accents. Their parents Guy and Prisca do not (they have their actors' respective accents, Mexican and German).
    • Kara's mother is American, and her father is English. When she (rapidly) ages, she has an American accent.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera: Pavi Largo speaks with a pronounced Italian accent that nobody else in his family speaks with.
  • Star Wars
    • The Phantom Menace: Anakin Skywalker has an American accent. His mother, Shmi, has a Swedish accent, or whatever the space equivalent is.
    • Attack of the Clones: An inversion appears among the clones. They all speak with Temuera Morrison's New Zealand accent even though most of them likely haven't seen Jango Fett in person much, if at all, and the Kaminoans don't speak in said accent.
  • Toys: Leland Zevo speaks with Michael Gambon's British accent even though the rest of the Zevo family are American and sound like it. The handwave is that his father was stationed in Britain when Leland was growing up and he got stuck with the accent.
    Leland: Yes, I went to see a dialect coach, and the best I could do was [indistinct drawl] "You men stand over there, on my notation, until further notice." [British] They didn't buy it!
  • In Wonka, Willy Wonka speaks with an American accent, and had it even as a young boy. His mother has an Irish accent.

  • In The Gatecrasher, Zara purposely speaks with an American drawl despite being British, because one of the only things her mother ever told her about her father was that he's American.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Connor speaks with an American accent, which is odd since he grew up in a demon dimension and his adoptive father Holtz is a Brit.
  • Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory affects an East-Atlantic accent despite being from Texas, while the rest of his family have Texan drawls (although he does slip from time to time). This extends to the spin-off Young Sheldon, where he's nine years old. Narration from the pilot episode of that series explains that he chose to change his accent to sound smarter. Ironically, his sister, Missy, does not have a Texas drawl in Young Sheldon even though she had one in Big Bang.
  • On Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Hilda speaks with an English accent while her sister Zelda speaks with an American accent, even though it's implied they grew up together in the United States.
  • Frasier: Both Frasier and Niles speak with Mid-Atlantic accents, befitting their status as upper-class snobs. Their blue-collar father Martin has a more Yankee-sounding accent.
  • Lucifer (2016): Lucifer is white with a British accent, while his brother Amenadiel is black with an American accent. They get a lot of Double Takes. Most of their family has American accents, but there are plenty of others in the group. When Amenadiel tries to convince Chloe that there's a mundane explanation for everything, he implies that one of them was adopted as a slightly older child (ie, after their accent had already developed). The truth, of course, is that they're angels and who knows how their accents are determined. Knowing Lucifer (who explicitly speaks every language), he probably just picked the accent he liked the best.
  • In Quantico, Alex Parrish has a noticeable Indian accent despite having been born in the US and having an American father. Supposedly, she picked up the accent from spending several years living in India.
  • Reba: The show is set in Texas, but only Reba, Brock and Barbara Jean have accents appropriate for that area. Their children do not.
  • Roseanne: The titular character and her husband Dan have a southern accent, but this doesn't apply to their three children.
  • Schitt's Creek: Johnny has a fairly normal Canadian/American accent, as does his (campier) son, David. However, Alexis and Moira both seem to affect very unusual accents that are completely different from one another's or any other member of their family. In Moira's case, it's almost certainly affected, as she mentions at one point that she grew up in a small country town similar to Schitt's Creek before escaping to Hollywood.
  • In Shadowhunters, character Izzy is played by actress Emeraude Toubia, who is the daughter of a Mexican mother and a Lebanese-American father. Because of this, the character speaks with a very noticeable accent not shared by any other members of her on-screen family.
  • Sons of Anarchy: Despite supposedly having lived in California his whole life, main character Jax Teller has a different accent than the rest of his family due to being portrayed by British actor Charlie Hunnam.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deanna Troi has a heavy Eastern-European accent. Her mother, and her late father in her memories, have more American accents. note 
  • Star Trek: Picard: Jack Crusher has an English accent despite his mother Beverly, who solely raised him, speaking with an American accent. When Picard asks about this, she says he went to school in England and the accent stuck.
  • In Supernatural, Dean often slips into a southern accent (as is natural for his Texas-born actor) despite moving around frequently as a child. His brother, Sam, doesn't speak with an accent.
  • In Turn: Washington's Spies, Abe Woodhull has a vaguely Irish accent, while his father has an American accent—they're both from Long Island, New York State. (Both actors are British.) Abe's actor Jamie Bell decided to do this to show Abe's emotional distance from his father. (Some other American characters have vaguely Irish accents, even those played by American actors, while other American characters have American accents, even when played by British or Australian actors.)

    Radio Drama 
  • Discussed in Cabin Pressure. Arthur claims his Australian father Gordon is the reason his Australian accent is so good. (It isn't.)
    Douglas: Two things, Arthur: Australian accents aren’t genetic; and you can’t do one.
    • Invoked in a later episode: Douglas is impersonating Gordon and speaks in an Australian accent. Arthur, ever helpful, tries to do an Australian accent as well, despite having spoken earlier in his normal British accent. Douglas quickly explains that Arthur "likes to tease his old dad."
  • Parodied in a Storyteller sketch on John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, in which Christopher Muscheer wonders why his son talks with an "American Disney" accent, when his wife is doing a 1940s British accent and he's talking in the actor's own voice.

    Video Games 
  • LEGO City Undercover: Professor Kowalski has Einstein Hair and a German accent, but his daughter Natalia has a normal American one.
  • Overwatch: The characters of Fareeha "Pharah" Amari and Brigitte Lindholm are the daughters of other playable characters Ana Amari and Torbjorn Lindholm respectively. However, Pharah and Torbjorn are voiced by Americans performing accents that may not be the most convincing. Ana and Brigitte, however, are voiced by people from the character's country of origin and thus sound much more authentic.
  • inFAMOUS: Dr. Sebastian Wolfe in inFAMOUS 2 speaks with an English accent, but his brother Raymond—who appears in inFAMOUS: Second Son—speaks with an American accent in addition to looking at least twenty years younger than Sebastian.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: In the early days, Strong Bad had a thick Mexican accent, but his brothers Strong Mad and Strong Sad had American accents even then.
  • The Oats Series: Older Pig speaks with an American accent while Younger Pig (and just about everyone else they know) speaks with a British accent.

    Web Original 
  • Dream SMP: The "Sootcraft" family is played by three content creators from different places — Philza's from Newcastle (in Northeastern England), Wilbur lives in Brighton (on the south coast of England; although his lore finale alleges his character was born and raised in the U.S, the content creator is of the Not Even Bothering with the Accent variety), and Fundy is Dutch. As a result of this, all three of them have distinct accents from each other. There is no in-universe explanation for this.
  • In the Let's Play riff of Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth by JelloApocalypse and friends, Franziska von Karma wonders why she has an accent but her father doesn't. Manfred claims he consumed his accent for its power.

    Western Animation 
  • In Animaniacs, Wakko Warner has a Liverpudlian accent while his siblings have New York accents.
  • Bluey is set in Australia, and Wendy is notable for being the only character who speaks with a British accent. Despite this, Wendy's daughter Judo has an Australian accent like most of the cast.
  • Numbuh One and his dad from Codename: Kids Next Door have British accents, but his grandfather and uncle have American accents. Out of universe, this can be explained by these characters being revealed as relatives in later seasons, being a big twist that probably wasn’t the original intention.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Fire Lord Ozai and his children speak with American accents, while Ozai's brother Iroh has a Japanese accent.
  • The title character of Dexter's Laboratory has a vaguely Eastern-European accent despite the rest of his family having American accents.
  • Max and Emmy from Dragon Tales, who are Mexican, speak with American accents unlike their parents.
  • Webby of DuckTales (2017) was raised by her British grandmother in a Scottish trillionaire's mansion and claims to have never heard an American accent until she was seven. Her natural accent is completely American.
  • Family Guy's Peter and Lois Griffin both speak with thick Rhode Island accents, but none of their children do: Meg and Chris sound like they're from Southern California while Stewie originally sounded like he's from the city of Westminster. Even after Stewie gradually abandons the British accent, the trope still applies, as his accent is no different from his siblings.
    • For some reason, Lois has a strong New England accent, but her father and sister do not.
  • Gary Goodspeed from Final Space has an American accent while his mother Sheryl has an Australian one. This actually makes sense though, as Gary's more present father is shown to have had an American accent too.
  • Futurama: Amy speaks with a Valley Girl-kind of American accent with some Future Slang, while her parents have noticeable Chinese accents. It clearly resembles a family where the parents are immigrants, but all three were born and raised on the same colony of Mars, and the (non-native) culture there isn't recognizably different than in New New York.
  • In King of the Hill, Hank and Dale both speak in a southern accent variant (though Dale's mostly disappeared as the show went on) but their sons Bobby and Joseph respectively do not. (Bobby's accent does have southern elements, but it's more of a general southern accent as opposed to the very distinct one his father has.) Kahn and Mihn also speak in thick Laotian accents but their daughter Connie has an American accent.
  • Neither Rarity nor Sweetie Belle of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic share their parents' heavy Upper Midwest accents. Sweetie Belle speaks with a fairly general Canadian-American accent, while Rarity has affected a Mid-Atlantic accent, though it occasionally slips into something closer to her sister's accent than her parents'. It's implied that Rarity's accent is an affectation that she puts on to make herself sound more posh and upper-class.
  • Star in Star vs. the Forces of Evil has a general American accent, even though her parents (along with the rest of Mewni) both speak with Victorian-Era English accents. Likewise, Buff Frog speaks with a Slavic accent, which his kids lack.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Turtles, growing up in New York City, all have American accents though they were raised by a Japanese immigrant. However they all have wildly different American accents suggesting they may have been raised as much by TV. Usually only Raph sounds stereotypically New York, Mikey is somewhere in southern California, and Leo and Donnie are more neutral/midwest.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: In a flashback, Keith's father is seen. He speaks with a heavy southern accent, but the son he raised mostly alone doesn't have one. This spawned the theory that Keith is Texan, and since his father has yet to receive an official name.
    • Lotor has a British accent, despite the fact that everyone else in the Galra Empire sounds American, including both of his parents and his nanny. This could be considered foreshadowing for the reveal that Lotor founded and ran a colony of refugee Alteans, for whom the British accent is standard...except that flashbacks show that he had the accent before he approached the Alteans.
  • 101 Dalmatian Street: Dylan and Triple-D are biologically four of Delilah's pups, but have American accents as opposed to their mother's British accent.

    Real Life 
  • Autistic children have sometimes been known to speak with foreign (or foreign-ish) accents. For example, two autistic YouTubers were born and raised in Australia, but the older sister has a British accent while the younger sister sounds slightly American. Their mother claims it's because they watched a lot of American and British television shows.
    • Autistic writer Kel Currie was born in Pennsylvania to Canadian parents, but moved to Nova Scotia at a young age. She now has an accent not typical to America nor Canada. Her non-autistic younger sister has a slight Cape Breton accent like her father.
  • The Seventies TV presenter Johnny Ball was brought up in Bolton, Lancashire. While his daughter, presenter Zoe Ball was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, she was brought up in Hounslow, Middlesex. Her accent is therefore more that of a middle-class South-Easterner.
  • Foreign Accent Syndrome occurs when an unconscious person wakes up with an accent not native to their region. It is usually caused by head trauma. A Minnesota woman with this condition woke up in a hospital sounding like she was from Transylvania.
  • People who move to locations with a different regional accent than their own tend to pick up on that accent, especially young children. For example, Gillian Anderson and her family are American, but they moved to London when she was a toddler, didn't move back to the United States until she was 11, and by then she had a British accent. She started talking with an American accent as a teenager, after her American peers began to pick on her for sounding British. As an adult, she's bidialectal and uses the appropriate accent when in the US or UK.
    • American parents whose children watched a great deal of Peppa Pig during lockdown have reported that their children have begun to pick up British accents and phrases from the program.
  • This can happen during times of relatively quick linguistic change. A prime example is Middle English in the 12th through 14th centuries, where many texts show evidence of phonological, grammatical, and lexical shifts happening within a single human lifetime. The relevant parents and children might not even have realised this was happening at the time, but the texts—and the massive differences between the English of 1100 (which is basically unintelligible to a modern speaker) and that of 1300 (which a modern speaker can usually make out with the help of a dictionary)—show this had to be going on.


Video Example(s):


StoneClan's Many Accents

None of the cats in StoneClan sound like they grew up around each other (which makes sense, as they're all voiced by Moonkitti's patrons having some fun together). Spidermoss claims it's because they're multicultural.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / AccentsArentHereditary

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