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Anachronistic Orphanage

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During the twentieth century, the majority of orphanages in most first world countries were shut down, and while a few private orphanages and similar institutions still exist here and there, nowadays most orphaned children in Western society simply end up in foster care or with other relatives.

But in fiction, traditional orphanages are often abundant in settings where they logically shouldn't be. Most developed countries no longer have orphanages, but a few (like Japan) still do. Either way, orphanages still appear in fiction for the same reason asylums do: they invoke a certain image to people. Orphanages full of sad kids just have more of an appeal, apparently, than "this kid got put in foster care". This trope also often results in the foster care system being depicted more negatively than an Orphanage of Love.

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Some possible aspects that might play into this trope include (1) portraying a binary choice of orphanage or adoption (no foster care or any other possibility besides full adoption, even if options like foster care are emphasized in the real-world setting the story supposedly takes place in), (2) portray adoption as if it's just a matter of adoptive parents walking in and picking out a kid with minimal (if any) vetting or systems to protect the children's interest (i.e., as if it's as simple as adopting a pet from a shelternote ), and/or (3) have the resident kids used for child labor.

A subtrope to Anachronism Stew. Related to Orphanage of Fear, Orphanage of Love, and Foster Kid.


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Examples:

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     Comic Books 
  • Batman: Gotham City is still home to at least one Catholic orphanage where Damian's first proper friend, Colin Wilkes, lives.

    Fan Works 

     Film - Animated 
  • In Despicable Me, the three girls, Margo, Edith, and Agnes, grew up in an orphanage that appears to be staffed entirely by one person. When Gru adopts them, it doesn't seem to take more than an afternoon, including the background check.
  • Mostly Played For Laughs in The LEGO Batman Movie, Robin originally lived at an orphanage before being adopted by Batman. In the original comics, Batman took Robin in shortly after the death of his parents.
  • Lewis in Meet the Robinsons grows up in an orphanage after being abandoned on the doorstep as a newborn by his birth mother.
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    Literature 
  • Orphanages are mentioned several times in Harry Potter and it's implied they're still around in the 1990s.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., part of Daisy's initial motivation for joining the team was to uncover information about why a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent left her at an orphanage as an infant. The foster system also plays a role in her backstory—she went through multiple foster homes, but she was never allowed to stay in any of them for long. Eventually she discovers that this was intentional—she was never placed long-term with any one family so she wouldn't be tracked down by whatever entity had killed her entire home town and most of the team that had rescued her.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Video Games 
  • Milla from Psychonauts worked as an orphanage in the past and keeps the memories of their tragic death locked deeply in her mind. It's never mentioned in what country they're from (though, in Milla's memories, they speak American English), which leaves room to suggest they're from an area that still has orphanages. It also fits the Retro Universe feel of Psychonauts nevertheless.
  • The 2019 remake of Resident Evil 2 adds in a subplot involving one, even though the story takes place in 1998, well after orphanages were supplanted in the United States by the foster care system. The story both plays it straight in that Umbrella built the orphanage in Raccoon City as a deliberate P.R. move, and also subverts it because they eventually started using the children there as guinea pigs for their bioweapons research.

    Western Animation 

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