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Appeal to Familial Wisdom

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Nobody tell Forrest.

"My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
Forrest Gump in an example of his catchphrase
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Most societies place a certain moral value on respecting and listening to one's elders, especially one's parents. Mother knows best, after all! So, very often, when characters find themselves in difficult situations, they will think back to the advice their mother or father (or grandparent, or aunt/uncle) once gave them, and pass it along to their companions.

This can be accomplished with the Stock Phrase "Mama said ..." or "Like my daddy always told me ...", or through a Meaningful Echo of something we've heard the relative say, now adopted by the child. Another common variation is for a character to share a cure or food recipe or secret technique they say has been passed down from their family.

This is a milder sub-trope of Appeal to Authority, as there is something about saying a bit of advice came from your parent that lends it more weight than if it were just something you'd heard—regardless of whether it's actually good advice.

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Often the advice is a piece of Proverbial Wisdom. May devolve into Hurricane of Aphorisms or Quote-to-Quote Combat.

In fiction, this stock phrase has long been a Dead Horse Trope, lending itself more to parody than to straight examples, but it is still quite common as a lyric trope, especially in pop and blues.

Sister Trope to You Know Who Said That?. The original giver of the advice may have been a Good Parent who earned their child's respect or a Knight Templar Parent who drilled some maxim into the child's head. May overlap with Deceased Parents Are the Best, but the adviser is not necessarily dead, just off screen or status unknown. Sometimes part of Let Me Tell You a Story. Compare Quoting Myself.


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Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Mortal Kombat X: In issue #5, Cassie Cage is locked in a deathmatch against Frost, who dominates her. After Frost's Evil Gloating, Cassie begins her Heroic Second Wind saying, "Hate to disappoint you, Elsa, but like my 'rich daddy' says, 'You can't fake a comeback'!".

    Comic Strips 
  • Several characters in Peanuts quote their Aunt Marian from time to time.

    Films — Animation 
  • Lady and the Tramp has a Running Gag where Trusty will go, "As my grandpappy Ol' Reliable used to say . . . Don't recollect if I ever mentioned Ol' Reliable before ... " The answer is always yes, and Trusty drops the subject. By the end he finally gets a chance to say what Ol' Reliable used to say, only to forget what exactly he used to say.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Forrest Gump: This is something of his catchphrase, helping to establish his characterization as a Manchild.
    Forrest: Mama always said there's an awful lot you can tell about a person by their shoes. Where they're going, where they've been. I've worn lots of shoes. I bet if I think about it real hard, I could remember my first pair of shoes. Mama said they'd take me anywhere. She said they was my magic shoes.
  • The Great White Hype:
    • Mitchell Kane interviews Marvin Shaabazz and Hassan El Ruk'n, and this confused exchange of parental advice emerges:
      Shaabazz: Like my Daddy say, you out there, James, the poodle, pussy whatever your name is, Roper, if you a man be a man! Step up. Fight me. You ain't fought nobody.
      Mitchell: Your Daddy said . . . what?
      Hassan: Just like my father have told me, when the green grass starts growing, you know, on the other side, somebody gotta cut the lawn.
      Mitchell: You know, my father said once that when you laugh the whole world laughs with you, cry and I'll give you something to cry about, you little bastard! That's what he said.
    • After Sultan, with a little help from his phalanx of armed bodyguards with laser sights on their guns, defuses a hostile situation:
      Bambi: My Daddy always says don't whip your shit out if you ain't ready to use it.
      Sol: Shut up!
      Julio: Bitch!
  • Pitch Perfect: Aubry quotes her father a few times, implying he's a strict taskmaster. "Like my dad says, 'If you're not here to win, get the hell out of Kuwait.'"
  • Racing Stripes: An old farm dog lifts his head from napping to see the protagonist, a zebra, training to become a racehorse, and remarks:
    It's like my momma always said: "You can put yer boots in the oven, but that don't make 'em biscuits."
  • Rim of the World: Alex invokes some advice from his tragically dead father to excuse his actions to the group:
    Alex: Sometimes you do the right thing and it doesn't work out. Doesn't mean it wasn't worth doing.
    Dariush: Who the hell told you that?
    Alex: My dad. [beat] Never knew what it meant until right now.
  • Rudy:
    Pete: Well, you know what my dad always said, "Having dreams is what makes life tolerable."
  • Soldier:
    Church: My daddy always said, "When you want to insert a nail into a piece of wood, don't do anything fancy or glamorous. Just take the damn hammer and hit the son of a bitch until it's in."
    Colonel Mekum: And what the hell does that crap mean in English, Captain?

    Literature 
  • Subverted for laughs in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
    Arthur: You know, it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young.
    Ford: Why, what did she tell you?
    Arthur: I don't know, I didn't listen.
  • In The Three Musketeers, d'Artagnan tell an inn-keeper about a family balm healing any wound in 24 hours.
  • In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the group of heroes is questioning old sailors on what lies beyond the edges of their maps. One, who turns out to have been correct, insists that one must only sail far enough to reach Aslan's country, "but when questioned ... could only say that he had heard it from his father."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Gunn says his uncle Theo told him "Never buy a dull plow and never get in the middle of a religious war." Cordelia asked if he really has an uncle Theo, and Gunn admits he doesn't.
  • Barney Miller: Yemana will often quote his father, who gave a great philosophical quote. Unfortunately, they tend to get mangled in the translation form the original Japanese.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: Sally will come up with old sayings "like my Aunt Gladys always says..." which are seldom helpful. Usually Lampshaded.
    Sally: My Aunt Agnes used to have a saying that went, uh, "If your heart is where the sky is bluest, then the sound of winter's twilight will be your friend."
    Buddy: Your aunt said that?
    Sally: Yeah . . . and every time I think of it, I want to cry.
    Buddy: Why?
    Sally: Because I think my Aunt Agnes is a nut.
  • The Newsroom: When Will comes to apologize to Shelly Wexler:
    Shelly: Well, you know what my mother would say?
    Will: I absolutely do not.
    Shelly: She'd say, "Who're you really mad at?"
  • Kamen Rider Kabuto: Tendou frequently quotes sayings from his grandmother, after stating "Grandmother said this...". Many of them have to do with food or cooking. Eventually, it's subverted when Tendou says something wise and Kagami asks him if those were his grandmother's words. Tendou answers no- they're his words.

    Music 
  • All of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" is framed as the singer paraphrasing what "My mama told me when I was young".
    "There's nothing wrong with loving who you are,"
    She said, "'Cause He made you perfect, babe
    So hold your head up girl and you'll go far,
    Listen to me when I say" ...
  • In Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass", she remembers:
    Yeah, my mama she told me, "Don't worry about your size"
    She said, "Boys like a little more booty to hold at night"
  • Part of the refrain in Panic! at the Disco's "High Hopes" is him remembering how his "Mama said" to never give up on his dreams.
  • Most of "Mama Said" by The Shirelles, possibly the Trope Codifier.
    Mama said there'll be days like this
    There'll be days like this, mama said
  • Tom Waits's "Bottom of the World" begins with some of the singer's father's advice and his response to it:
    My daddy told me, lookin' back
    The best friend you'll have is a railroad track
    So when I was 13 I said, I'm rollin' my own
    And I'm leavin' Missouri and I'm never comin' home

    Video Games 
  • Starcraft II Legacy Of The Void: At one point during the Korhal missions, Hierarch Artanis and Commander Raynor are discussing the invasion of Amon's forces to Dominion territories. At one point, Raynor says, "My mother used to say 'when it rains, it floods.'"
  • One of Sturges' random lines in Fallout 4:
    Sturges:My old man taught me that duct tape could fix anything. Don't think he was talking about bullet holes.

    Webcomics 
  • xkcd: As seen in the page image, a character falls back on this only to discover that their mother's Proverbial Wisdom was not infallible.

    Web Original 
  • RWBY: When Jaune and Ruby are both brand-new to Beacon Academy, they're both nervous and team up together to trying and navigate their new surroundings. Regarding the fact they don't know anyone at this school yet, Jaune tries to cheer them both up by quoting his mother's advice about handling new situations.
    Jaune: My mom always says "strangers are just friends you haven't met yet".
  • A Scotsman in Egypt: Hew Mar is always remembering things his father told him. Unfortunately, his father was an abusive asshole, and so much of it consists of remembering the insults used on him.

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