How do you make an animal instantly cute and endearing? Have it being followed by babies. Usually these babies are miniature versions of the parent. Sometimes there's a runt at the end.
One can make any kind of predator into a monster by targeting either the parent or one of the children. Strangely, however, even said predator can become cute once again if followed by babies of its own. That is, unless it's trying to eat you, at which a hungry monster followed by a bunch of little, hungrier mouths becomes downright terrifying.
Don't you dare get in between the mother and her children.
- Gaston Lagaffe had a strip where Gaston gets a bunch of unidentified eggs and decides to hatch them. They turn out to be sea turtle eggs, and on hatching they immediately head for the sea, with Gaston holding up traffic so his charges can cross the street safely.
- In the "Pastoral" segment of the 1940 version of Fantasia, the pegasus foals fit this trope.
- Used for the ending of Footrot Flats: A Dog's Tail. Major mockingly greets the Dog with "Meow" (a reference how the Dog was raised by a Crazy Cat Lady) only for the Dog to smugly reply, "No, bow wow!" whereupon the bitch Jess appears with several puppies.
- Make Way For Ducklings
- The Madeline books have a variation of this, in that the "twelve little girls in two straight lines" are following a teacher rather than a parent.
- Subverted in Ciaphas Cain, when Cain says a Techmarine followed by a techpriest of the Adeptus Mechanicus puts him in mind of an ork followed by a gretchin (which are separate subspecies, so more like a chicken following an ostrich). Amberley is quick to note the comparison is not one either would have appreciated.
- Parodied in The Far Side with a couple's car trip being interrupted by a husband and wife pair of nerds wandering across the road, followed by a string of nerdlings.
- Every creature in Spore.
- The Blooper Nanny in Super Mario Bros. 3.
- The Huffin' Puffins, a species of duck-like critters in Yoshi's Island, are generally followed by a line of smaller ones. You can bump off the parent and use the children as egg substitutes.
- World of Warcraft has a Plainstrider (a large flightless bird) named Mazzranache, who's followed around in Mulgore by three little ones that look like him.
- In Pikmin 2, Spotty Bulbears may be followed by Dwarf Spotty Bulbears. This isn't cute at all and only serves to make a Demonic Spider even more demonic. Bulbmin may also have smaller Bulbmin, but fortunately, you can get them to your side if you defeat the parent.
- In the "Blue Danube" segment of A Corny Concerto, a mother swan and her cygnets meet a little black duck.
- An episode of The Simpsons, had the fire truck rushing to a fire only to be delayed by a mother duck crossing the road with a lot of ducklings.
Apu: You ducks are really trying my patience!... but you're so cute!
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has scenes in both "Griffon the Brush-Off" and "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" where Fluttershy is seen helping a mother duck lead its ducklings. Unfortunately in the former episode, Gilda doesn't give a damn and scares them all away.
- In Sluggy Freelance, the psychological effect of ducklings following their mother is so strong that they are used as an emergency barrier during a car chase. Even the bad guys treat them like they are a completely impenetrable wall and make no attempt to continue the chase once they are cut off.
- One XKCD strip has this in "Operation Duckling Loop".