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Conveniently an Orphan

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Dead mentor figure optional (for now).

Refia: I am thankful to Father for taking care of an orphan like me for all these years, but... this is something I have to do.
Luneth: Wait... you're an orphan, too?
Refia: "Too"? You mean—
Arc: I'm one, too!
Ingus: Wait a minute... I, too, have no parents...
Final Fantasy III (DS translation)

All people come with a past, a family, friends, a heritage, and more. Every person has roots!

This past can become a large burden on the character: They need an excuse to leave their family behind, or need to constantly visit their parents and other family members in between adventures. Otherwise the hero can't believably be a social, likable good guy.

Orphaned heroes, on the other hand, never have to deal with all that. They do not need an excuse to go on wild adventures or stay away for days on end, they don't have anyone waiting around for them to come home! Conveniently, these heroes can answer the Call to Adventure because they don't have other responsibilities.

Often used as character backgrounds in tabletop adventures: Such a character's background often consists of "My parents were killed by (insert Always Chaotic Evil race here), so I'm out for revenge." Aside from conveniently leaving no 'annoying' ties to the past to keep the character away from the Call to Adventure, it can also result in a You Killed My Father moment should the villain race (or the Big Bad if he's responsible) appear.

Handily prevents the sadistic Game Master from exploiting 'weak links' that can get kidnapped or killed off. If the fates of the missing parents are left nebulous, it also opens the door for that infamous twist where one of them turns out to be a villain. You know the one.

Oddly enough, family outside of parents is never mentioned. Apparently no one ever has grandparents or cousins, although having an uncle (and sometimes aunt) as surrogate parents is common. Siblings (if they exist at all) seem to only show up for plot-based reasons — and not Promotion to Parent, which would give them responsibilities. One wonders how the world manages to get populated when every couple only has one child. Surrogate parents show up more regularly in the form of Raised by Natives, they tend to die a lot too.

The hero's orphaning is also a nice triggering point for the hero's journey. This part of the Hero's backstory is often covered in a Flash Back. If the orphaning happens at the very beginning of the story, instead of in the background, it's usually covered by Doomed Hometown.

If the character does have parents, but they have so little influence on their life that they behave as if they have no family responsibilities anyway, or it just isn't talked about period, it's Parental Abandonment.

May lead to Tell Me About My Father.

Contrast with Orphan's Ordeal, where the loss of parents is the plot (or at least a subplot), rather than simply enabling the plot.

If the parents happened to be Good Parents before their death, so much so that they continue to affect the main character even after they're dead, then you've got Deceased Parents Are the Best.

Not to be confused with Self-Made Orphan.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Berserk, all of the main cast have Parental Abandonment issues, but Griffith is the only one who has absolutely no mention of any sort of guardianship in his early life. This makes it quite convenient for him to up and decide that he's going to become a king someday and that to get there, he needs to start a ragtag bunch of misfit mercenaries.
  • Black Butler: The loss of his parents trigger Ciel Phantomhive's motives and lead to the plot.
  • Applies to most of the main characters in Chrono Crusade:
    • Rosette and Joshua's parents died in a ship wreck when they were young children, and after that they spent most of their life in an orphanage — until Joshua is taken by Aion (and the orphanage is destroyed in the process), which causes Rosette to join the Order to try to find her brother again.
    • Azmaria's parents either abandoned her because of her powers, or were killed during the war, depending on which version you're following.
    • Satella's parents were killed by a demon when she was a child. Her sister was also kidnapped by the demon — leading her on a journey similar to Rosette's. However, since her parents' deaths are such a turning point for Satella in her backstory, she leans closer to Orphan's Ordeal instead.
  • Combattler V: Hyoma Aoi, the captain of Combattler team, lived in an orphanage after his parents' deaths. Seeing someone killing the parents of a child — or even an animal cub — is one of his Berserk Buttons. His Love Interest, Chizuru Nanbara not only was an orphan girl but also her only grandfather died shortly after the beginning of the series.
  • Cutey Honey: Honey Kisaragi lost her father early on the series. His death triggered her war against the terrorist group named Panther Claw.
  • Daimos: Kazuya lost her parents before the start of the series. Erika's father died shortly before Kazuya's father, and THAT is what starts off the history.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, none of the main characters have living parents or relatives: Tanjiro and Nezuko's family was slaughtered early on, and Inosuke's mother was slain when he was an infant, and not much was known about Zenitsu's parents as he spent his entire life alone mooching off other people before he met his master. This does grant them the freedom to go out and slay demons.
  • Son Goku of Dragon Ball. Some time before the series began, he accidentally killed his adoptive grandfather after transforming into a giant were-ape. As for blood relatives, Dragon Ball Z reveals that his race was wiped out along with their home planet.
    • For that matter, Raditz himself is an orphan, but unlike Son Goku, their father Bardock was alive by the time their planet was obliterated, yet he took little interest in the well being of his sons. Raditz himself failed to earn respect from any of his fellow Saiyan survivors. However, a recent Retcon has their parents send Goku to Earth in order to ensure his survival.
    • Vegeta himself is also an orphan who was in turn was adopted by the tyrant that killed his father and ended his race.
      • Most, if not all Z warriors have no parents whatsoever; Yamcha is introduced as a teenage desert thief with no parents or guardians mentioned; Krillin was raised by a monastic order on where he was bullied; Tien Shin-Han and Chaotzu seem to have been raised by Crane Hermit; Yajirobe was introduced as a teenage wanderer without mentioned family.
    • The unnamed Namekian (the original Namekian survivor that later divided himself into Piccolo and Kami) is himself an orphan who is mentioned to be the son of an individual named Kattas. He spent a great deal of his youth waiting for his parents (or parent, for that matter) to no avail. After he becomes whole once again, he becomes disinterested in his past and even keeps a distance from the remaining survivors of his race.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Ed and Al's mother is dead, and their father left them at an early age, leaving the two free to pursue their ambitions. Their mother's death is the Plot-Triggering Death that leads to Alphonse's soul in armor.
    • Chapter 15 of the manga reveals that this is also Roy and Riza's mutual backstory.
      • Riza's mother died when she was a little girl, leaving her to be raised by her Mad Scientist father, who died of a lingering illness not long after his alchemy apprentice — Roy — left to join the military. With both parents gone and no other relatives of whom she's aware, there was nothing to stop her from following Roy, which she's done ever since.
      • Roy himself is implied to have been orphaned, as the woman who raised him is eventually revealed to be Chris Mustang, his paternal aunt. Exactly what happened to his parents is never made clear, but it's indicated that Riza's father, as his alchemy tutor, is the closest thing he's ever had to a father figure. As an adult he does his best to hide his relationship to Chris (for her safety), making it look as though he has absolutely no one in the world besides his underlings, which helps with his carefully constructed reputation as a womanizer and gadfly.
  • All over the freaking place in Gundam.
    • Kamille Bidan starts off his story with both parents alive and well, but quickly loses them within a few episodes. His mother is loaded into a transparent capsule by the Titans and chucked out into space in front of Kamille as bait so that Jerid will have a clear shot at him — except Jerid, having been falsely briefed that the capsule contains a bomb instead of a person, shoots the capsule instead of Kamille in an attempt to catch Kamille in the nonexistent bomb's explosion and wonders what the heck is going on when there's no explosion but there is one royally pissed Kamille screaming bloody murder at him. Kamille's father is also taken into custody by the Titans and told that he'll be let free if he infiltrates the Argama; unfortunately for him, his attempt to hijack a mobile suit and escape back to the Titans is cut short by Kamille. Aside from allowing him to work full-time for AEUG without having any relative the Titans can go after, his mother's death in particular sets up the Cycle of Revenge between Kamille and Jerid that kills several other people down the line on both sides of the conflict, ending with Jerid himself.
    • Banagher Links has been living on his own even since his mother took him and ran away from his father and died a few years later. He runs into his father after all those years, only for the man to die right in front of him after biometrically locking the Unicorn to Banagher, making him an orphan for real.
      • For that matter, Mineva is an orphan too, being the daughter of Dozle Zabi whom Amuro killed all the way back in the original series. While her mother survived the war and made it to Axis, she fell ill and died a few years later; Mineva then got under the care of Haman, only for her to send the girl down to Earth and subsequently get killed by Judau at the end of ZZ.
    • Kira Yamato seemingly has both parents alive and well, only to find out later that the woman who raised him and whom he believed was his mother is actually his aunt; both of his parents died when he was a baby, with at least his father being murdered by Blue Cosmos. By virtue of being Kira's twin sister, this applies to Cagalli as well.
      • And in the Astray mangas, Canard Pars joins them as third, being one of Kira's failed prototype clones.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny begins with Shinn and his family fleeing from a mobile suit battle and Shinn going back to get his sister Mayu's phone when she drops it, conveniently putting him outside the blast radius when the others get blown to pieces by a stray shot and providing him with a Tragic Keepsake. This event ends up defining his personality for the rest of the series.
    • Every single Gundam Meister in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is an orphan: Setsuna gunned his parents down to go play Child Soldier, Lockon got his blown up along with his sister in a terrorist bombing, Allelujah was picked up from somewhere by the HRL Super-Soldier research program and Tieria never had any in the first place. Nor did the Trinities for that matter. Lichty is an orphan too, his parents having died in an accident that required him to get extensive cybernetic reconstruction.
      • Feldt's parents are revealed by supplemental materials to have been Gundam Meisters who died from GN particle poisoning caused by a drive malfunction in the Virtue's predecessor unit Plutone. She never found out about this but it may have contributed to her Emotionless Girl phase in the first season.
    • 80% of all characters in Mobile Fighter G Gundam are orphans, major and minor characters, and a few of them have only one parent. The rest are undetermined. For many of them, this plays a role in why they became Gundam Fighters.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, most of the Tekkadan and Brewers members are orphaned children, they were considered expendable to a degree people called them "human debris" or "space rats". There is no in-universe explanation of how they were orphaned.
  • Gunslinger Girl: Done plausibly, as the Social Welfare Agency only selects girls for its secret killer cyborg program who don't have extended families who would be concerned about them. As a victim of child sex trafficking, Triela's background is unknown even to the Agency. Henrietta's entire family was murdered, and Angelica's parents are in prison. Petra's family is too poor to travel from Russia to see their daughter, which is just as well as her appearance has been altered completely. It's eventually revealed that they were told she had died. As Rico is one of the few cyborgs who retains memories of her previous life, the occasional visit from her estranged parents is no doubt enough to reassure them that their Delicate and Sickly daughter is receiving the best of care; the Agency would have no trouble getting Rico to play along.
  • Happy Lesson: Chitose's orphan-ness serves as the paper-thin justification of the Excuse Plot, namely, that five of his teachers think he needs a mother in his life and all move in with him; Hilarity Ensues.
  • At one point in Hellsing, during the Quiet Drama Scene, while discussing Seras's, progress Alucard asks Walter how they covered up her death and how her family is taking it. When Walter replies that she has none and is an orphan, Alucard sardonically replies, "Of course she is". However, since Seras was already an adult by the time she died, the circumstances and consequences of her parents' deaths are shown to be a major part of her character; given that the series veers into Crapsack World territory and runs on Black-and-Gray Morality, it's a justified trope.
  • In Is Kichijoji the Only Place to Live? Miyako and Tomiko's parents died in a car crash a few years earlier, which lead to them taking over their real estate business and sparking the story.
  • Kimba the White Lion: Played straight with Lyra who is able to play and go on adventures with Kimba, but the trope is deconstructed with Kimba due to his "Well Done, Son" Guy relationship he has with his father who was killed off before Kimba was born.
  • Kotetsu Jeeg: Hiroshi's father dies in the first episode.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Hayate's parents died an unspecified amount of time before the series began, which allowed her to raise a family of sentient alien programs on her own since the age of nine and, as mentioned in the supplementary comics, move to Mid-childa before she even graduated from high school. Like most orphans, she does have an "uncle" who was a friend of her father's taking care of her, although it's only financially. It turns out that he never even knew her father, and believes that because she is an orphan, few will have to mourn her once she's sealed away with the Book of Darkness.
    • Fuuka and Rinne grew up together in an orphanage, and no mention is made of what happened to their biological families (biological being the operative word, as Rinne's adoption into the Berlinetta family plays a major role in the backstory).
  • Mazinger Z: Kouji and Shiro's parents died in a lab experiment gone wrong or so they were told. In reality, only their mother died. Their father would die for real at the end of Great Mazinger, though. Sayaka also lost her mother before the beginning of the series.
    • Great Mazinger: Both Tetsuya and Jun are orphan kids, taken in by Prof. Kabuto. And the end of the series his adoptive father would also die.
    • UFO Robo Grendizer: All relatives from Duke and Maria got brutally murdered before the start of the series.
  • In Mission: Yozakura Family, Taiyo lost his parents and younger brother in a car accident that left him the Sole Survivor. Not only does this bring him closer to Mutsumi as the only person he can confide in without having a nervous breakdown, it also lets him marry into her family without worrying about pesky things like parental consent.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Having a dead mother is practically a prerequisite to pilot the titular Evangelions (and for good reason: the souls of each pilot's mother has been incorporated into the machine as to weaponize their maternal instincts)
    • Of the rest of the NERV staff, Misato lost her father, Ritsuko her mother, and Kaji (at least in the manga) grew up in an orphanage/refugee camp.
    • Given that the Second Impact killed two thirds of the world's population, non-orphaned people are probably the exception rather than the rule.
  • One Piece:
    • Most of the Straw Hat crew are victims of this trope, often more than once. Both Nami and Franky, for example, were orphaned at a young age, but taken in and raised by a kind foster parent... only for them to die as well. But they've still got it better than Robin, who didn't just lose her parents, but HER ENTIRE HOME ISLAND, of which she is the only survivor. Most of the others seem to have absentee parents of one form or another; the only member whose mother and father are both seen is Usopp, a victim of both this trope AND Parental Abandonment (his dad left to become a pirate, and his mom died shortly after).
    • For a while, it seemed that Luffy was a victim of this trope as well, his lack of parentage explained with a throwaway remark that "that kid has no parents" in the first chapter. Years later, we learned that Luffy was actually raised by his grandfather, and that his dad, at least, is alive (he's just the most wanted man in the world, which can make it tough to raise a kid).
    • Momonosuke is also an orphan, his parents having been murdered by the Beast Pirates on Kaido's orders when they took over Wano Kingdom.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, Red is the only Dex Holder to have no family even alluded to, leaving him free to travel the world where ever and whenever he wants.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin Kenshin, Kaoru, and Yahiko are all orphans. Kenshin being an orphan leads him to be trained in the Hiten Mitsarugi style of swordsmanship by his master. Kaoru being an orphan leads her to letting her open her dojo for Kenshin to stay in. Yahiko being an orphan lead to him meeting both Kaoru and Kenshin. Not to mention other side characters they meet that are orphaned as well such as Yutaro, Eiji, Misao, and others.
  • In Sailor Moon, both Mamoru and Makoto's parents are dead, long before the start of the series. In the manga it's used to handwave why they live alone, but in the anime any mention is quickly swept under the rug.
  • Almost everyone in Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, justified since it's set in the 18th century Europe.
  • Nearly all of the members of the Gatchaman team are orphans, except for Ryu and Ken prior to his father's Heroic Sacrifice. This is the main reason Ryu is usually left tending the Phoenix while the others get all of the action; he still has a family that would miss him if anything happened to him.
  • Simon of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann lost his parents in an earthquake before the start of the series, so when his blood brother Kamina decides they're going to the surface, he doesn't have anything holding him back. In a twist, Gimmy and Darry are chosen to be exiled to the surface explicitly because they don't have family who will mourn their departure.
  • In The Titan's Bride, both of Koichi's parents are subject to Death by Origin Story. This was likely to mitigate the obvious Fridge Horror that would come from the story ending with all evidence and memory of Koichi's existence being permanently erased from the timeline of his old home world so he can live happily ever after with his Isekai husband.
  • This trope played so straight in Toriko that almost no named character has living parents. Even Teppei (who at least is very close to his grandfather) never said who his father is, despite the presence of only 3 people in the story who have his family trademark hair. And at least Jirou (Teppei's grandpa) and Midora are adopted by animals before Acacia found them.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman is quite famously an orphan, as are the first two Robins. For years Tim Drake was unusual among the Batclan in having a living parent, but eventually the temptations of orphanhood overcame the writers.
  • In Brat Pack, the kid sidekicks all lose their parents just before becoming superheroes. This is because the adult superheroes killed their parents to make the kids more dependent on them.
  • In Divinity, one of the reasons Abram was selected for Russia's secret deep-space exploration program was that he had neither biological nor adopted parents, and thus the government reasoned that nobody would miss him if he went off into space for a few decades.
  • Golden Age and Silver Age Superman is orphaned by both his biological and adoptive parents. Other versions have Martha and sometimes Jonathan alive as well. Superman's Teen Sidekick Jimmy Olsen is also sometimes written as parentless.
  • Hal Jordan and John Stewart's parents are all dead.
  • The debut issue of The Incredible Hulk makes it clear up front that Rick Jones (Bruce Banner's newly-acquired teenage sidekick) is an orphan. Much later, we learn that Bruce is also an orphan; Bruce's mother was killed by his father when he was a child, and Bruce (accidentally?) killed his father shortly before the explosion that made him the Hulk.
  • Iron Fist loses both of his parents at the age of nine, while on his way to K'un-Lun.
  • The Plutonian of Irredeemable is yet another convenient superhero orphan. The series actually deconstructs this Trope, examining the effect it can really have on a little boy with superpowers. The Plutonian was also abandoned by his subsequent foster parents, after he accidentally crippled their biological son. They even devoted themselves to never speaking again just so he wouldn't pick up their voices by superhearing.
  • Orphans were extremely common in Golden and Silver Age Marvel Comics, in addition to those already mentioned for example Sub-Mariner, Captain America, Bucky, the Fantastic Four (Reed Richards' father reappeared in the 1980s, though), Alicia Masters, Daredevil (although Frank Miller would eventually change that, revealing that his mother had actually become a nun), Iron Man, Ant-Man and The Wasp, Black Widow, Professor X, and Cyclops. Angel became one before long.
  • Pyrénée: The titular character's mother dies in the same earthquake that enables the bear to escape from the circus, meaning that nobody is looking for Pyrénée when the bear takes her up into the mountains.
  • Somewhat deconstructed in Relative Heroes. The kids would never have taken up superheroics or been able to travel across the US and have adventures on their own if their parents weren't dead. However, their entire driving motivation is reviving their parents and the reason they have to do so much traveling is that they're being chased by Social Services and Government Agencies that deal with meta-humans due to their runaway orphan status.
  • Shazam!: In every continuity, Billy, Mary, and Freddy are orphans. Sometimes, they have foster parents; other times, they'll live on their own, and Billy will use his Captain Marvel form to pose as their guardian.
  • Spider-Man has his beloved aunt, and his uncle lived long enough to say the thing that has shaped most of Spidey's career. Also, more than a few members of the supporting cast have lost one (Mary Jane Watson, Harry Osborn, John Jameson) or both (Betty Brant, Gwen Stacy) parents.
  • Tintin: Most members of his recurring supporting cast come without familial attachments.
    • One reason Hergé abandoned Jo Zette Et Jocko — suggested by his editor, who wanted a series about a regular family — was that it became difficult to come up with stories where the two main character always had to be separated from their parents in time for their adventures.
  • Tom Strong was orphaned at around age 8, after being raised in a gravity chamber by his parents.
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: Jason would never have been able to make his plans, travel, and experiment with his abilities if his parents hadn't died, which, once the full extent of Jason's plans come to light, makes their "accident" rather suspect.
  • Several mutant characters from Marvel's X-Books are orphans; sometimes by abandonment, sometimes by death, by murder, or by parents becoming a demon bear... Wait, what was that last one?! Danielle Moonstar, known as the illusion-casting Mirage before House of M, lost her parents to the 'demon bear' and knew it would come for her. After her big confrontation with it, it turns out that they were the bear and she was able to free them. No, they haven't been properly killed off since... yet. This makes her one of the exceedingly few X-characters to have both parents, despite having a standard-issue dead parent origin when we met her!
  • Subverted twice in X-Force (Milligan & Allred) and its sequel, X-Statix:
    • Mr. Sensitive, who once called himself The Orphan, spent years thinking that his parents had died in a fire when he was a baby. He later discovered that not only were they alive, they were also bigots who'd deliberately staged the fire to kill him.
    • For many years, Venus Dee Milo believed that she'd accidentally killed her entire family when her powers first manifested. It later turned out that she'd merely teleported them to a surprisingly hospitable pocket dimension, where they were all still alive.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In The Jezinkas, Johnny is an orphan and so looking for work.

    Fan Works 
  • Firefly, one of the main heroines of Ace Combat: Equestria Chronicles, lost her parents as a filly ( they were killed by Black Star).
  • A Crown of Stars: As Shinji nicely and concisely put during a conversation with Asuka, their mothers died and both of their parents practically dumped them by the side of the road before they were four. Later they found out they were chosen to become pilots for that reason, but that knowledge came too late to help them to survive the war and save the humanity.
  • Advice and Trust: Shinji and Asuka are both orphans. And Rei. And Hikari who also becomes a pilot. And all of their classmates. Eventually Shinji and Asuka start to suspect it is indeed very convenient all pilots are orphans whose surviving parental figure works for NERV. When they compare notes on their mothers' deaths and after Hikari tells them she felt her mother inside her robot they realize what has happened to their mothers and that NERV is behind their deaths.
  • Subverted by Cream in Always Having Juice, Cream was an orphan before being adopted by Vector.
  • The Child of Love: When he was four, Shinji lost his mother, and his father abandoned him shortly after. During a conversation with Misato he learns Asuka went through the same thing than him (but her ordeal was harsher). At the end of the story he also learns they are mecha pilots because they are orphans since their mothers are inside their robots.
  • Children of an Elder God: Shinji, Asuka, Rei, Touji, and Hikari are motherless. They are also giant robot pilots and fight cosmic horrors.
  • Doing It Right This Time: In the original timeline Shinji and Asuka spent a long time mourning their deceased mothers as they fought space aliens. Ironically they — and Rei — now know that their mothers were always with them.
  • Evangelion 303: Shinji’s mother died when he was a little kid.
  • Subverted in the Mass Effect fic series Uplifted. Joachim Hoch's mother is alive, but he was adopted by Gerald Langer after he ran away and hasn't seen her in years. Even after she is killed in an Allied bombing raid, Hoch's roots are still an important plot point.
  • HERZ: All pilots are orphaned children. As they discovered after the battle against SEELE in 2015, it was NOT a coincidence.
  • Higher Learning: All Eva pilots (Shinji, Asuka, Rei and Touji) lost their mothers a while before becoming pilots. Kaoru's parents also died a while before the beginning of the story.
  • Last Child of Krypton: Shinji's genetic donor Jor-El or Kal-El depending on what version of the story you are reading sent a sample of Kryptonian DNA to Earth before dying. Yui Ikari used it to modify her unborn baby and several years later she died. Gendo abandoned Shinji after her death, entrusting him to the care of an uncle of his. When Shinji discovered his powers and started to use them to help other people, nobody found out, and he kept his secret for years.
  • Once More with Feeling: Has Shinji telling Asuka about his mother's death, Asuka finds the similarities with own background suspicious (and with good reason).
  • The One I Love Is...: As per canon, all Evangelion pilots but Kaoru are orphans.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Asuka was conceived by donor sperm. Her mother's husband hated her for it, and when Kyoko died, he remarried and abandoned Asuka, who then devoted her life to piloting mechas to try to overcome her abandonment issues. She never knew who her biological father was, but she always assumed he was someone extraordinary. Ten years later when she starts to manifest strange, formidable powers, she realizes she was very, very right, and her father was an alien of planet Krypton. So she became Supergirl to try to become the hero her deceased biological father was destined to be.
  • In A Far Green Country, both main characters are orphans!
    • Elden's mother died by giving birth to Elden, and Elden's father died in one of King Éomer's wars.
    • Nellas was still a child when orcs killed her parents.
  • In Gensokyo 20XX series, we have Maribel and Renko; apparently, the fates of both of their parents are unknown but it can be assumed they died and they don't seem to remember them, as noted in 20XXIV and 20XXV. However, the fact that both were well fed and healthy when Yukari finds them means someone had to have taken care of them and we don't even know what happens to that person, though the two did state they weren't far from a food source, having survived on scraps.
  • In Thousand Shinji, Shinji, Asuka and Rei status as orphans results in no one noticing them being corrupted by dark gods.
  • The Second Try: Shinji, Asuka and Touji's mothers died several years before the beginning of the story. Rei has no mother because she's a clone. All of them are Humongous Mecha pilots.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide, Keiko, in keeping with all pilot candidates, is also an orphan.
  • It's mentioned at one point in Son of the Sannin that both of Fu's parents were killed in a skirmish with Iwa. Her lack of an immediate family was part of the reason why she was chosen to be Chomei's jinchuriki.
  • Many a protagonist on Website/Wattpad lacks parents, for purposes of angst, and to justify why a teenager is allowed to go on such adventures
  • Vow of Nudity: Spectra's parents were executed by the magistrate for a failed bank robbery on the same day she was born.

    Films — Animation 
  • Anastasia: It's very convenient for Vlad and Dmitri — in Dmitri's own words, it's "perfect" — that Anya grew up in an orphanage and has no memory of who she was before she was taken there. It means they can pass her off to the Dowager Empress as the Grand Duchess Anastasia, in order to collect the six million rubles she promised as a reward for her grandchild's safe return, and there will be no one who can contest the identity. Of course, what the audience knows (but none of the characters do) is that Anya really is the Grand Duchess Anastasia.
  • Red from The Angry Birds Movie; as the beginning of the movie shows, his egg was left unattended in a lost and found room when he hatched.
  • A frequent trope in the Disney Animated Canon:
    • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Snow White's mother died when she was a baby, and at some point her father remarried the Wicked Stepmother. The film doesn't make it explicitly clear that her father has since also died, but the Queen is always seen ruling by herself (and it's hard to imagine that the King would allow his only child and heir to be turned into a scullery maid), so it's heavily implied.
    • Cinderella: The title character's mother died when she was very small, and she was indulged by her doting father, who eventually remarried in order to provide her with a mother's care. He, however, died some time afterward, at which point her stepmother's true colors were revealed.
    • Sleeping Beauty: Aurora is raised by three fairies and, as far as she knows for the first 16 years of her life, has no living parents. Subverted on her 16th birthday when the fairies reveal her true heritage to her, and that her parents are alive. It was necessary for her to be separated from her parents for so long, because an evil sorceress was out to kill her.
    • Aladdin: The original folklore version had a dead father but a living mother. The Disney Aladdin has neither parent, which makes it even easier for the audience to empathize with him for his harsh life as a "street rat". Subverted in the third movie when it's revealed that his father only disappeared. According to Word of God, Aladdin was originally supposed to have a mom, who functioned as his conscience of sorts; however, it was decided that the Aesop would be more meaningful if he learned it on his own.
    • Tangled: Flynn Rider has this trope as part of his backstory. His motivation behind being a thief is because of growing up poor in an orphanage. Subverted in the series, when he finds out his father's still alive, but had to give him up when he was a baby.
    • Frozen: The sister protagonists become orphans within the first ten minutes, thus allowing them to have a strained relationship with only each other. This serves as a major plot point, exacerbating the loneliness of the leads.
    • Big Hero 6: Hiro and Tadashi are orphaned at a young age and raised by their Aunt Cass, but then Tadashi is also killed.
  • The two aliens of Megamind are both orphans in the extreme, given that their entire home planets have been destroyed. This allows them to experience two very different childhoods upon arriving on Earth.
  • The Sea Beast: Maisie's parents were both monster hunters who died in the line of duty, giving her an excuse and a drive to run away from her orphanage and join Holland's crew to become a hunter herself. She apparently has no other family.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Dark Crystal:
    • Since Jen's parents were killed by the Skeksis, he was raised as an orphan.
    • Kira was also orphaned in the same Gelfling purge that killed Jen's parents, although she was then Happily Adopted by the Podlings.
  • Dredd. Like all orphans in Megacity One, Cassandra Anderson is given a Judge Aptitude Test at age nine, though in her case she was rated unsuitable and only let in because of her abilities as a telepath. It's not stated why the Hall of Justice prefers orphans as Judges, but the job has an extremely High Turnover Rate and requires a ruthless detachment that Cassandra lacks, at least at first. Cassandra's family is shown to be a motivating factor for her decision to be a Judge — her introductory scene shows her holding a well-worn picture of her parents and smiling at the associated memories.
  • In Ex Machina, Caleb's parents died in a car accident when he was fifteen. Which is one of the reasons why Nathan chose him for the experiment as he wouldn't have anyone looking for him. Caleb even brings it up during his final confrontation with Nathan.
  • It's mentioned very briefly in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that the Goldstein sisters' parents died of Dragon Pox when they were kids, leaving them to raise each other.
  • In Idiocracy, Joe is chosen for the freezing experiment partially because he is orphaned, so nobody would come ask questions if something went wrong with the experiment. It does.
  • James Bond is an orphan. Used as a (possible) plot point; he was chosen because he's an orphan, so family is not a factor upon training/traveling, nor will it be leverage should he be captured. The Daniel Craig films suggest that MI6 recruits orphans because they can exploit the particular brand of psychological scarring that results. It makes recruits more malleable to training and conditioning, since the bosses can frame themselves as a Parental Substitute — the Judi Dench version of M very explicitly does this with Bond.
  • Discussed in Moonrise Kingdom. Suzy, who's an avid reader of children's fantasy stories, says that all her favourite protagonists are orphans, and sometimes she wishes she were one too. Sam, who is himself an orphan and has lived a miserable life because of it, simply responds: "I love you, but you have no idea what you're talking about."
  • Operation: Dumbo Drop: Deconstructed with Linh. At first, being an orphan seems like the simple reason he gets to go on all sorts of exciting adventures with the team. Then it's revealed he had to watch his father get shot in front of his eyes.
  • The protagonist of Predestination is a Doorstop Baby devoid of history, and this is why they are recruited for the Time Police. Exaggerated with The Reveal that the protagonist has—thanks to a sex change and Time-Travel Romanceconceived themself. Their entire life is a Stable Time Loop making them the perfect Temporal Agent.
  • A great many of the main characters in Star Wars are orphans. Anakin Skywalker is technically not an orphan because his mother survives until Attack of the Clones, but he is taken from her at age nine to become a Jedi and doesn't see her again until she dies in his arms ten years later. Han Solo is an orphan, and Luke and Leia think they're orphans until the truth is revealed (and both get orphaned a second time when the Empire kills their respective guardians). Jedi younglings are taken from their parents to become Jedi as very young children, and First Order Stormtroopers such as Finn are similarly taken from their families, though more forcefully. Finally, Rey is left by her parents on Jakku to fend for herself, believing they will one day return for her before learning the Awful Truth, and later, an even worse truth: that her parents were filthy junk traders who sold her for drinking money, and that she is actually the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine.

  • In Beautiful Losers, every major character in the book (F., the narrator, Edith, and Katherine Tekakwitha) is an orphan, conveniently limiting the cast of characters.
  • In The Belgariad, Garion's parents are killed by a servant of the enemy before the story starts.
  • Number Ten Ox in Bridge of Birds is an orphan, raised by an aunt and uncle.
  • The two assassin protagonists in Brotherhood of the Rose, by David Morrell, initially meet in an orphanage from which they're recruited by CIA chief Elliot, who presents himself as a surrogate father figure. They later discover that Elliot (and other members of his worldwide conspiracy) have done the same thing with other orphans, in order to create a team of Elite Mooks who will have Undying Loyalty and obey their orders without question. He's not the only one to use the orphanage as a recruiting ground, as all the children are raised on war movies and Patriotic Fervor so they'll become unquestioning Cannon Fodder for the US military.
  • In the CHERUB Series books, every character as part of CHERUB is an orphan. This means they can be trained up as spies without parents wondering what's going on, although in the later books the rules are changed slightly so the children of staff members can become CHERUBs as well, partly because it's hard to find conveniently orphaned/abandoned children that fit CHERUB's other recruitment criteria.
  • In The Chronicles of Prydain, it's a plot point that Taran does not have parents, nor a name or title of his own, and his master Dallben will tell him nothing of his history. He is eventually known as "Taran Wanderer," when he spends the fourth book on a quest to find his heritage. It's not until the very end of the last book, however, that the truth is revealed. Or rather, unrevealed. Taran really is an orphan, but even Dallben doesn't know who his parents were — he found a baby alone near a battlefield where there were no survivors. Having no family meant that he fit the parameters of the Book of Three's prophecy that Prydain would be ruled by a great king who had no origins, so Dallben took the baby home and raised him in the hopes that this was the great king. It was.
  • Circleverse: Of the four main characters in Circle of Magic, three are orphans. Briar grows up in a street gang, Sandry is sent to live with her uncle after her parents die, and Daja becomes an orphan at the start of the series and goes straight to the Temples. It's in a medieval-ish society, so they could have been taken on as apprentices around that age anyway, but instead form something of a magical Super Family Team. Tris Chandler, the only one who actually does have biological relatives, is an emotional orphan, if not a physical one. Her parents didn't want her because of the destructive power of her untrained magic, and by the time she comes to the Temples, she's spent years being dumped on various relatives who either didn't want to take care of her or who treated her as an unpaid servant. And the one relative whom she likes ends up trying to kill her.
  • A Cry in the Night: Played for Drama in the case of protagonist Jenny. She was adopted from a children's home and so never knew her biological family, her adoptive parents died decades ago and her grandmother recently died too. Her only family now are her two young daughters and her loser ex-husband. As a result, she's very susceptible to Erich's charms, especially as he offers her a chance for a loving family again; it also makes it much easier for Erich to isolate her after she marries him.
  • Rincewind from the Discworld novels has no idea who his parents are/were.
    • His mother left before he was born.
      • Lampshaded/mentioned in Unseen Academicals when only people with a note from their mother are excused from playing football. Rincewind asks the Arch-Chancellor for permission to go ask his mother for such a note. "I thought you said you didn't have a mother." [beat] "Permission to go find her, Arch-Chancellor?"
    • In Going Postal, Moist von Lipwig lost his parents at an early age and was raised by his grandfather, who died some time before the actual start of the story. Having no family connections is, indeed, convenient for Moist, who makes his way in the world as a Con Man.
  • Doc Savage lost his father in his very first adventure, The Man of Bronze, and his mother had died at some point prior to that. Which begs the question, if you're full grown when your parents die, are you still an orphan?
  • Per Word of God, virtually everyone in the web-novel Domina. "If a character's parents aren't mentioned, it's safe to assume it's because they're dead." That's what happens when you live in a Wretched Hive.
  • Stephen R. Donaldson has stated that family is such a complex and messy issue that it's hard to keep it from taking over the story if it's brought in, which is why his characters rarely seem to have parents unless the story is in some way about their family. Thus, for example, Brew in the The Man Who... series is haunted by the fact that he accidentally killed his brother, but nothing is said about their parents' reaction to the incident; likewise, Thomas Covenant apparently had no parents to appeal to for help as his leprosy made him increasingly isolated. Equally often, characters have dead parents, in which case the memory of them haunts the character either as an impossible example to live up to or as a spectre of abuse and emotional scars — Linden Avery had her father commit suicide before her eyes and years later had to Mercy Kill her mother, Morn Hyland had her mother killed by pirates and her father raise her to devote her life to hunting pirates as revenge (and then he got killed by a pirate at the start of the series). And the less said about Angus Thermopylae's family tree the better.
  • Harry Dresden, from The Dresden Files. His mother died shortly after he was born, and his father died when he was around 7. Later, while living with Justin DuMorne, he's orphaned again when he kills Justin. Later still, he discovers that he does still have surviving family, in the form of his half-brother Thomas Raith and his grandfather Ebenezer McCoy.
  • Subverted in Feliks, Net & Nika with Nika. Her mum died at childbirth, her dad died when she was eleven and she's afraid of going to orphanage because she would lose everything and because Polish orphanages are terrible. While nothing holds her back, she must constantly pretend her father exists, she must work illegally (in Poland you can't work under the age of sixteen) to pay for her house and school and she has to hide all that from her classmates. The only situation when this is played straight is when characters need a safe hiding spot in alternative reality in which Nika is still an orphan.
  • Sousuke Sagara of Full Metal Panic! being rendered an orphan helps justify why he can keep risking his life with no regard for consequences. Although his mother dying for his sake and her dramatic Last Words telling him he must "live," "never give up," and "fight!" does have the other purpose of making him the Crazy Survivalist he is today, it mainly seems to serve as a plot device to allow the readers to realize he simply has no one waiting for him.
  • This trope is zigzagged in Harry Potter. Harry of course is an orphan, raised by his aunt and uncle, but his parents' lives and deaths, particularly his mother's self-sacrifice, do serve the plot in important ways throughout the series. However, J. K. Rowling has admitted in interviews that she originally killed off Lily and James mainly so their presence wouldn't hamper Harry's adventures, and that the original drafts of the first book killed them off rather anticlimactically; it wasn't until she lost her own mother that Harry's parents' sacrifices became an important plot point.
  • The Heroes of Olympus: None of the major demigods have any sort of family to go back to, unless it's a sibling. The only exceptions are Percy, Piper, and Annabeth, and even the latter two don't have the best relationship with their muggle parent — Annabeth ran away from her father and stepmom while Piper's father is neglectful, although he tries his best. Percy's the only one with Good Parents waiting at home.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy: Ford Prefect is not only an orphan but the Last of His Kind, which provides a convenient explanation for why his original alien name is forgotten.
  • Thomas Theisman from Honor Harrington was raised in an orphanage in the People's Republic of Haven, which quite conveniently means the government doesn't have any loved ones to hold over his head. Not so coincidentally, once he gets the chance, he puts a brutal and awesome end to the Committee of Public Safety and resurrects the old Republic, elected President and all, that had lain in ashes for two centuries. He does not, however, become President, being quite content to stick to the military side as Secretary of War and Chief of Naval Operations; that lovely duty goes to Eloise Pritchart, Theisman's fellow conspirator and firm believer in the old Republic and the Constitution.
  • The title character in James and the Giant Peach was orphaned at a young age, and is being raised by his two evil aunts until they get squashed by the peach.
  • In Bryan Miranda's The Journey to Atlantis, one of the characters is this. It is Mickello, whose dad died in the plane crash that landed Mickello on the island, and whose mother apparently has no idea what the hell happened to him.
  • Kinsey Millhone loves being an orphan (was raised by her aunt).
  • Subverted in Land of Oz; Dorothy is stated to be an orphan, but lives with her maternal aunt and uncle in Kansas. She loves them enough that, despite all the beauty of Oz and the friends she made, she is determined to go back anyway. Eventually, her aunt and uncle move to Oz with her and they permanently stay there together.
  • In The Legendsong Saga, Glynn and Ember's parents died in a car crash a about a year ago. Despite being only 17, they live alone. They also have almost no other friends or connections, making it less complicated when they are stuck in Keltor (Ember was the only reason Glynn wanted to return to Earth; Ember doesn't care about anything except her death and her music.)
  • With his parents having died a few years ago, Daniel from The Leonard Regime is able to go off and fight. It later turns out his parents died after founding the same rebellion he is fighting for.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Frodo Baggins was orphaned at twelve, but was raised in his family's home by said extended family; when he turned 21 (adult-ish but not yet legally adult for hobbits) he was adopted by and went to live with his 'uncle' Bilbo (who conveniently leaves once Frodo is legally an adult). Bilbo himself is technically an orphan (his parents died of natural causes after he was fully grown) and manages to avoid marriage, and thus has no family ties holding him back when he goes on his adventure.
  • Simon from Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is an orphan. Adopted and raised by the mistress of chambermaids, he has no family to pine for when evil comes and he is forced to flee his home. His orphaning becomes a plot point later.
  • Molly Moon, as well as most of her friends. It's later subverted in Molly's case when she finds both of her parents, who were hypnotized into giving her up and forgetting about her, and are both still alive.
  • Mr. Benedict from The Mysterious Benedict Society requires children who are all alone in order to help his cause. Kate considers herself an orphan, though technically her father is a deadbeat (or so she thought, since it's later revealed his absence is explained by amnesia) and both Constance and Reynie are orphans. Sticky is a runaway though.
    Mr. Benedict: For one thing, children without guardians happen to be in a peculiar kind of danger that other children are not — this I shall explain later, to those of you who join the team. For another, it would be simply impossible for me to put at risk any child who wasn't alone. No matter how important the cause, parents are disinclined to send their children into danger, as well they should be. As it so happens, however, I now find myself in the presence of the best team of children I could ever hope for — indeed, have long hoped for — and with not a minute to lose. In other words, you are our last possible hope. You are our only hope.
  • Newsflesh: In How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea, Mahir is told that only those with no living close relatives who are not in committed relationships are eligible to work in a particular research center. This was why Rey and Olivia broke up, so that he could pursue that career opportunity.
  • Subverted in Ordinary People (the novel more than the film, though it's mentioned in both). Calvin, the father, grew up in an orphanage in Detroit. While he lives a very stable life as a successful tax lawyer with a wife and children, he's haunted by his past and admits to feelings of rootlessness when he talks to his son's psychiatrist.
  • Catherine, Villain Protagonist in A Practical Guide to Evil is an orphan. She never knew her parents and grew up in an orphanage. When adventure and the chance to change things come a-knocking in the person of the Black Knight, she doesn't look back. Her unclear parentage leaves other characters wondering about her heritage (a popular myth is her being the daughter of the aforementioned Black Knight who was raised and trained in secret). In an universe running on stories, being an orphan can also help with other things: While in Arcadia Resplendant, the land of the fey, Catherine finnagles her way into a story of her being the lost daughter of a duke, prophesized to kill him — all to gain an advantage in a duel against him and eventually inherit his title and powers.
  • In the Replica series, Nancy Candler is an orphan with no living relatives, making it easy for her to pass off an adopted genetically altered clone as her biological daughter without anyone raising eyebrows.
  • In The Riftwar Cycle, Pug may or may not be an orphan by the start of the first book, though he definitely is by the last (From old age if nothing else). Later books state that his mother was a servant who left him at the nearby temple for adoption shortly after birthing him and his father was a traveler who never knew that he'd fathered a son. Since Pug never knowingly meets either of them, he is effectively an orphan even if his parents are technically alive.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events has many orphans, including the three main characters and Count Olaf, whose parents may have been killed by the Baudelaire parents.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Okay, Nikki Quinn's parents are dead. Kathryn Lucas's parents are dead. Isabelle Flanders's parents are dead (maybe). Yoko Akia's mother is dead and her father is evil. Abner Tookus's parents are dead (maybe). There's certainly a lot of orphan characters to go around!
  • In Slayers, Zelgadis and Gourry both have no parents (Zelgadis's great-grandfather Rezo killed his, and Gourry's were killed during a family feud), and Sylphiel, Filia, Pokota, Amelia, and Naga only have one parent each (a father, actually); in Sylphiel's case, she falls under this trope when her father is Killed Off for Real in the third Light Novel/late first season of the anime in a town-wide explosion. Ironically, the main protagonist's (Lina) parents are both alive and well. And the status of the parents of Lina's later allies in the novels (Luke and Milina) is unknown.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Yoren deliberately invokes this, telling Arya to claim to be an orphan, since no one will give an orphan taking the Black a second glance.
  • Star Wars Legends: You would not believe how many characters are orphaned. Wedge Antilles lost both his parents when he was around twelve, Tycho Celchu was a pilot for the Empire whose entire family was on Alderaan, Corran Horn lost his mother to a speeder accident and his father to a criminal. Most of these characters are adults, and the loss of their parents spurred them to join the Rebellion. While her parents aren't dead, Mara Jade was taken from them at an early age and never looked back. The Essential Guide to Characters (first edition) says that Palpatine had her parents killed. There you go; Ben's never going to meet his grandparents now...
  • The Power Trio in Tailchaser's Song are all orphans, including Tagalong Kid Pouncequick. Tailchaser and Roofshadow's parents disappeared in relation to the main villain, which gives them both a reason to go out and find out what is causing the disappearances.
  • Warhammer 40,000 features many of them.
    • Commissars are required to be orphans. As a consequence:
    • Ragnor Blackmane, of William King's Space Wolf novels, is orphaned in the opening of the first. A major motivation for him is desire for Revenge on a fellow Space Marine who had been part of the opposing force.
  • Where I'd Like To Be subverts this trope. Most of the characters foster kids living in the East Tennessee Children's Home. Upon arriving at the Home, new girl Murphy calls them "a bunch of orphans" and Maddie tells her no, that's not really the case.
    Murphy: I can't believe I ended up here, stuck in with a bunch of orphans.
    Maddie: I don't think very many people here are orphans. Most people have at least one parent somewhere.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow. After the Queen's Gambit sinks, Robert Queen shoots himself and another man on the life raft so his son Oliver will have enough food and water to survive. This has a profound affect on Oliver as he spends the rest of his life trying to make his father's death meaningful via his own actions as the Arrow. When Oliver remakes the entire universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019), his father's death is the one thing he can't change as it was crucial to making him the Green Arrow.
  • The Barrier:
    • A character who catches noravirus and then goes missing conveniently doesn't have any living relatives, which limits both the places where she can take refuge and the number of people who need to be put in the loop about the event.
    • The fact that this is not the case for many of the children detained for the purpose of Alma's research eventually becomes a plot point. When she first tells her husband about the children, she claims most of them are orphans she's providing for. Her husbands reply is to bring up their adoptive son who's being passed off as Alma's nephew, whose biological parents were told he died in the hospital and were killed soon after they found him again by chance.
  • Bones: Dr. Brennan's emotional interface may be glitchy, but anyone she deals with who comments on her inability to sympathize gets slammed when they find out she lost her parents at a young age, conveniently explaining why she might come off disturbed but assuring everyone that she understands.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Companions in the classic series are often orphans — sometimes with Death by Origin Story, or else have Parental Abandonment. Companions in the new series have parents. Oh man, do they have parents.
    • The Doctor themself was basically orphaned by the Time War, providing buckets of angst. We still don't know what happened to the Doctor's parents following Gallifrey's restoration.
    • Amy Pond has an aunt, but is essentially a orphan. At least up until "The Big Bang", when it turns out her parents got erased from time, and the Doctor uses the Reset Button to bring them back.
  • The Outpost: Talon's family and everyone else who lived in their village were killed, so she's left free to go on adventures. Gwynn's foster father is killed as well, right as she takes up her role as a hero too.
  • In The Passage, Amy becomes an orphan at the same time that Project Noah happens to be looking for a young test subject with no parents to get in the way of their experiments.
  • Revenge (2011) is centered around this trope. Amanda/Emily's whole purpose is to avenge her father, who was framed for aiding terrorists and later died; her mother passed away when she was a small child.
  • The three protagonists of Rimini Riddle live with their Aunt Vera after the deaths of their parents.
  • Star Trek: Picard: No normal Romulan would ever want to be part of Jean-Luc Picard's motley crew, but Elnor has undergone unique circumstances which would eventually lead him to accept Picard's offer to join him on a rescue mission. He's an orphaned refugee who is being cared for by the Qowat Milat sisterhood, whose members are friends and allies of Picard, so this creates the opportunity for the young Elnor to bond with his idol as a surrogate son since the Admiral (who happens to be childless) is the only positive male role model in his life. Although Picard would abandon Elnor for fourteen years, and the young man is very resentful over this long neglect, he nonetheless changes his mind after his initial refusal of Picard's request when his father figure's life is threatened by the townspeople. Whatever negative feelings Elnor harbours, his love for Picard is stronger, so Elnor saves him and vows to be his qalankhkai. This decision cements Elnor's place on Picard's team.
  • In Supernatural, Dean and Sam become hunters after their mother dies, and the series starts with their father missing, forcing them to take up the mantle. They become bona fide orphans at the start of Season 2.

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, quite a few characters have ended up as orphans after their parents' demise.

    Tabletop Games 


    Video Games 
  • The protagonist of Baldur's Gate is raised by Gorion the sage, and at the start of the game does not know who his/her real parents were. It turns out that both are dead, and that the PC's father was the deity of murder, Bhaal. The trope is subverted, since the latter part of the game, and the sequel, are about the consequences of Bhaal's attempts to avoid his coming death — which among other things resulted in the PC's birth and special heritage.
  • In Baten Kaitos, Kalas has no parents, although he makes mention to being raised by his grandfather, and to having a brother. He's an Artificial Human, and his grandfather actually created him. The prequel, surprisingly, averts this: Sagi's implied to be the only biological child of the woman who runs his town's orphanage, and Milly's dad is one of the villains. Also played with: One of the boss fights culminates in YOU orphaning one of the original game's party members.
  • The Cute Knight series' player characters:
    • Cute Knight: She's grown up in an orphanage and is now, having come of age, trying to make her way in the world. This leaves her free to pursue any of the possible story paths without having to worry about a family. One story path results in her being Happily Adopted, although only the Golden Ending reveals that she's not an orphan at all — she's the kingdom's long-lost princess.
    • Cute Knight Kingdom: She was Happily Adopted as a baby by the local candlemaker and her husband. They're quite content to let her pursue whichever story path makes her happy, however. The 'true' ending reveals that she's not an orphan either. Instead, she's a princess from outer space — with multiple mothers and fathers!
  • Maki Harukawa from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony was raised in an orphanage. It was scouted for potential assassins by a cult called the Holy Salvation Society. When they threatened to defund the orphanage if they didn't comply, she agreed, granting her true talent.
  • No matter which class you elect to play in Darkstone, you are an orphan. When speaking to the guards at the gate of your hometown, one will always comment that they haven't seen you since your parents were killed.
  • Disgaea: Hour of Darkness: Laharl and Etna are orphans. At least, Laharl thinks he's one.
  • In the Dragon Age series:
    • Averted to a certain degree for most of the Origins in Dragon Age: Origins; played completely straight for the Human Noble, however, whose parents are murdered during the course of the origin story. Regardless of background, the player character always has relatives or unrelated persons who fill the parental role in their lives, and most of them do survive the origin stories. For practical purposes, though, it still amounts to the same thing, as the player is taken away to join the Grey Wardens and is effectively cut loose by the plot.
      • Played straight with some of your companions (Leliana, Zevran, etc.), and in Alistair's case, it's even a plot point.
      • Parodied in the elven Alienage, where the number of "orphans" is directly proportional to the amount of money you're giving the beggars.
        Orphan Ollie: My mother is especially dead!
    • In Dragon Age II, Hawke's father Malcolm passed away a few years before the events of the game, but his/her mother Leandra is alive and well and accompanies the family to Kirkwall, living with Hawke. And then this trope kicks in full-force.
      • The others tend to mention their parents in passing. Anders had a good mother who gave him a pillow, before he was taken to the Circle; supplemental material confirms that his parents loved him dearly right up until his magic manifested, after which his father at least wanted nothing to do with him. Isabela had a terrible mother, who sold her to a slaver in a very bad marriage, and never mentions her father at all. Fenris remembers having a mother (eventually), but her fate is unclear. Merrill's parents are never mentioned, but she was 'traded' by her birth clan to the one in which she grew up when her magic manifested. Varric spent his childhood caring for his alcoholic mother, whom he really only mentions once when he's talking about Bartrand; his father died when he was a baby. When Hawke is mourning his/her mother, Aveline tells him/her about her own father's death to comfort him/her, and notes that her mother died when Aveline was too young to remember her. Sebastian (who is DLC exclusive) loses his parents shortly before he's met in the game, as much of his character arc centers around finding those responsible for their murders.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition leaves it up to the player exactly what their character's family is like; regardless of background, no family members are ever encountered in the course of the game. The human Inquisitor averts this trope, however, as Josephine explicitly mentions reaching out to their parents for support.
      • The trend continues for some of the Inquisitor's companions. It's particularly a plot point for the elf Sera, who was orphaned young (she doesn't seem to remember her birth parents) and was adopted by a human noblewoman, who has also since died. Cassandra's backstory is an especially tragic example, as she lost both of her parents when she was a child; they were executed for attempting to overthrow the king, and then when she was twelve her adored older brother was also murdered. It's not mentioned explicitly in the game, but this is also Cullen's backstory, as his home village of Honnleath was besieged by darkspawn during the Fifth Blight and both of his parents were killed — meaning that he left home for Templar training at the age of thirteen and never saw them again.
  • The player character of Dragon's Dogma is implied to be an orphan with no family, as no relations are ever encountered in the course of the game.
  • In Dragon's Wake the player takes on the role of a baby dragon who hatches from his egg only to find that his parents have already been killed.
  • Deconstructed in Drakengard, as the brutal deaths of Caim's parents have left him an intensely vengeful and violent Nominal Hero.
  • Good thing that Taiga and Mia don't have any parents in Duel Savior Destiny or else their family might be a little concerned when they get whisked off to another world and put into the special forces. In fact, nobody else seems to have any family either, apart from Lily's adoptive mother.
  • An optional backstory for the Dragonborn in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. If the Dawnguard DLC is installed, there comes a point in its main quest when Serana, who has some justified parent issues (her father is an evil vampire lord who wants to blot out the sun), will inquire about her companion's parents. The game provides a few choices for what happened to the player character's parents, one being to say that they died a long time ago.
  • A really common occurrence in Final Fantasy:
    • The heroes of Final Fantasy II are orphaned when their hometown is invaded by The Empire just prior to the story beginning. Josef's daughter Nelly sadly ends up joining them in that camp.
    • In Final Fantasy III, all the main characters are orphans, although three had been adopted and one was working for the king by the time the game begins.
    • Most of the main characters are orphans in Final Fantasy VIII as well, with the exception of Rinoa who was a Rebellious Princess. Most side characters were as well as SeeD specifically recruit from orphanages, because that is what Gardens started off as. Tyke Bomb gone into a full blown army.
    • Final Fantasy IV: Cecil and Kain were orphaned and taken in by King Baron, and Rydia becomes an orphan in-game. Edge orphans himself, killing his parents after they become chimaera. Polom and Porom are raised by Mysidia's elder and may or may not be orphans.
    • Final Fantasy V has the Idiot Hero being an orphan at the game's beginning, the rebellious princesses losing their father halfway through the game and the Sixth Ranger being a replacement for her dead grandpa, who was also her last relative. It's more done as a party of the game's theme of legacy than a plot ticket, though.
    • Final Fantasy VI has Terra, Edgar, and Sabin explicitly stated to be orphans as part of the plot. Gau is essentially an orphan. Relm may or may not be an orphan depending on whether you save Shadow, but it's at least Disappeared Dad. The rest of the cast never mention their families, including Cyan who does have a dead wife and child that feature in the plot but never mentions his parentage.
    • Cloud from Final Fantasy VII, due to Sephiroth killing his mother during his raid on Nibelheim. His father is never mentioned.
      • And Aerith (though she was raised by Elmyra for fifteen years), Tifa, Marlene (raised by Barret), Red XIII...
    • Zidane in Final Fantasy IX. Truth be told, he's revealed never to have had parents at all.
      • Eiko as well, though she actually gains parents by the end of the game.
    • In Final Fantasy X, Tidus, Yuna, Seymour, Wakka, and Lulu are all missing both parents. (Well, a case could be made for Tidus, but that's different.) Kimahri's family disowned him, Rikku's mother is dead, and we never hear anything about Auron's parents. Only two of the main characters have siblings, and one of them is dead. Probably justified to demonstrate that Sin has touched everyone's lives.
    • Final Fantasy XI has Lion, Prishe, Aphmau, and Lilith. (Although the last one is trying to avert the trope through Time Travel.) Can we get Square into a 12-step program to deal with their addiction to this trope?
    • Both Vaan and Penelo from Final Fantasy XII.
      • Ditto with Ascended Extras Kytes and Filo from the sequel Revenant Wings.
      • Ashe's father (her mother is never seen/mentioned) is killed in the opening movie. Vayne orphans himself and Larsa when he orders their father to be murdered. Basch and his sibling are orphaned during the attack on their homeland. Your party fights and kills Balthier's father during the course of the game, orphaning him as his mother was already long dead.
    • Lightning, Serah, and Snow in Final Fantasy XIII. Presumably Fang and Vanille as well, since they were in crystal stasis for several hundred years. Only Hope is the exception, and both his parents are seen during the course of the game, though his mother dies less than an hour in. Though this is averted with the Big Bad. It's unclear if, as a Mechanical Lifeform, it really has parents, but the game is fond of related symbolism in regards to it, and at the very least it was abandoned by the gods who created it. Unlike the heroes, it took the trauma of this situation rather badly. very badly actually. Unfortunately the heroes never discuss this.
    • Rafa and Malak in Final Fantasy Tactics.
    • The Player Character in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time. S/he was found as a baby in the woods one day and raised by Sherlotta and the village. How and why s/he came to be there in the first place is neither explained nor relevant.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • The series as a rule enjoys making their main characters an orphan at some point in the game. Their mothers are rarely mentioned but when they are, they're dead. Their fathers will die at some point in the story for some reason. The sole exception to this so-far is Eliwood, Roy's father in The Sword of Seals who lives throughout the game but is severely bed ridden. On the other hand, both Roy's and Lilina's mothers passed away before the game starts, and Lilina loses her father Hector early on, playing this trope straight in her case. The prequel, Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword, viciously delights in killing off family. It's gotten to the point that if a character has a parent/sibling/uncle that loves them, nine out of ten times they're dead before the game is up, if not killed before it. Lyn's parents were both killed by bandits, Hector's parents and brother die of disease, Eliwood's dad is killed by Nergal, Raven's parents committed suicide when their house was attacked, Lucius's father was killed and his mother died of sickness, Serra's parents abandoned her, Erk's are absent, both Jaffar and Nino have dead parents, Lowen probably takes the cake though, having lost first his parents, then his grandparents in fairly quick succession.
    • The worst part of Nino's family situation: Her adopted family are all bosses late in the game. The worst part of it is, they're not bad guys at all, and some of the conversations if you force Nino to attack them are pretty heart wrenching. Worse still, their dead bodies are reanimated in the last level, which means she has to kill them TWICE.
      • What about the other part? When she faces off against Sonia, the woman she thought of as her mother her entire life and who she only wanted to please, the bitch is quite happy to tell Nino how she slaughtered the girl's real parents for their knowledge on dragons and Nino's real mother died shielding her. Oh, and the only reason Sonia didn't kill Nino as well is because she figured Nino might be useful later.
    • Pretty much every character in Genealogy of Holy War due to the entire playable cast save Fin, Adeen and Brigrd being wiped out half way through the game leaving their orphaned children to continue the fight seventeen years later. Many other enemies are also orphaned by the player and are out for revenge.
  • Genshin Impact: several characters have been orphaned as a plot point for their origin.
    • Bennett was orphaned shortly after he was born; he calls the older adventurers in the Adventurer's Guild his "dads".
    • Dehya was orphaned before her adoptive father found her, and he later died too.
    • Diluc's father Crepus being killed is the major factor why he is the one Pyro-vision bearer to be moody, and why he and his foster brother Kaeya have a strained relationship at best.
    • Having been stuck in a trap for a hundred years, Faruzan's family have long been dead by the time we are introduced to her.
    • Hu Tao is the 77th Director of the Wangsheng Funeral Parlor due to the death of her father, althro the death of her grandfather is more important to her story.
    • Kazuha is the last member of the Kaedahara clan.
    • Kaveh's father is dead, but his mother is living with a new husband in a foreign land.
    • Being a zombie for a few hundred years, Qiqi is naturally orphaned.
    • Razor was raised by wolves, and it is assumed that both of his adventuring parents are dead.
    • Shenhe was to be sacrificed to save her mother's life, but at the end she survived but both of her parents died and she was raised by Cloud Retainer.
  • In Golden Sun, the trope is very much zig-zagged for the main cast.
    • Isaac's father and Jenna's parents and brother are killed off right in the intro. Then it quickly turns out that the brother survived and seems to be an enemy. Then in the second game, it turns out the trope is completely subverted: the parents and Isaac's dad also survived and were made hostages, and saving them is a big motivator to the quest. So the kids are not actually orphans... then they accidentally almost kill their own parents themselves near the end of the game. Poor Isaac's mother has to almost force her son to keep going on his quest and is a source of worry, as she falls gravely ill in his absence.
    • Ivan is an orphan and his adoptive father is kidnapped as you meet him, but the trope is toyed with: you're told that you can't do anything about it and you should just leave the father behind, but Ivan worries a lot, and you get an optional sidequest to free his father and ease his mind; and in the second game Ivan's mysterious parentage is a plot point.
    • Sheba is also an adopted orphan and joins the group because she was kidnapped, but she's an inversion of the trope: in the second game, she refuses to drop by her hometown because her worried adoptive family would force her to stay.
    • Piers is a straight and extreme example: he spends the first half of the game trying to go home, then when he finally does, he learns that his mother just died and he quickly gets exiled.
    • Mia would be a straight example, having simply no mentioned family at all... but she is the one character who is sad to leave (she says farewell to her two young apprentices) and it's more a case of "conveniently rid of her town-healer duties".
    • And Garet is a complete aversion: he's the only cast member who has a large, living and functional family, but they all encourage him to save the world and fatherless Isaac gets more angst; then, in the epilogue cutscene of the second game, Garet comes home, finds the town destroyed, and thinks for a moment that they all died.
    • The first four heroes of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn all have at least one parent still alive and caring for them — the previous games' heroes (whom the kids strongly resemble). However, the second set of heroes include two straight examples (Sveta, whose parents died in Morgal's revolutionary war, and Eoleo when his father dies onscreen), a subversion (Amiti, who doesn't have parents but lives with his affectionate and overprotective uncle, who tries to forbid him from heroics), and an aversion (Himi's parents aren't happy to see her going into danger, but they have to let her because she's the only one who knows what needs to be done anymore).
  • Implied to be the case with the eponymous characters of the Jak and Daxter series. They get flung forward in time in the sequel, and don't have any problem staying there. The orphan thing is explored/confirmed for Jak, but is still only an implication for Daxter, though no one is saying otherwise.
  • According to Mai Shiranui’s conversation with Takuma Sakazaki inThe King of Fighters XIII, Hanzou Shiranui’s death leaves the legacy of the Shiranui school of ninjitsu in the hands of Mai and Andy. This implies Mai is the only member of the Shiranui family left.
  • La Pucelle: Prier, Aloutte and Coulette are orphans.
  • Dart from The Legend of Dragoon, in addition to the Doomed Hometown at the beginning of the game.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Link is often an orphan, leaving him with no prior engagements to his adventure. The number of games that even mention his family can be counted on one hand, sometimes still playing the trope straight:
      • A Link to the Past: Link's uncle is struck down in the beginning of the game, forcing Link to take up his sword.
      • Ocarina of Time: The Great Deku Tree, having raised Link and the other Kokiri forest children, dies early in the game. As a secret Hylian, this actually happened to Link twice; his proper Hylian parents died in a civil war, the fatally-wounded mother wandering into the forest and entrusting the then-infant Link to the Deku Tree in her last moments.
      • The Wind Waker: The sole aversion in the series. Link rescuing his sister is the impetus of the main quest, and visiting and helping his grandmother is a sidequest.
    • Zelda might also count in some of the games. She definitely counts in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, where her figurine clearly spells it out and an NPC early in the game mentions that her mother died, and in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, in which her father is killed shortly before the start of the game and her mother has been dead for years.
  • Two of the three options in Mass Effect for Shepard. With the spacer background, Shepard's mother is not only alive and well, but also helps him/her out during one of the optional sidequests in Mass Effect. They have another conversation in the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3.
  • In Metal Gear, the circumstances which led to Otacon being an orphan are a significant aspect of his woobie status.
  • Metroid: Samus Aran was orphaned and raised by the Chozo, who have since withdrawn from the universe, leaving Samus with no familial ties.
  • The player character in The Mystery of Grimstone Manor, a Halloween Episode spinoff of The Cabinets Of Doctor Arcana, is indicated to be this because the game states that they are their Uncle Victor's last living relative. This means that although their parents kept them away from Uncle Victor all throughout their youth, they can no longer stop the player from going to the ancestral family mansion and following in their Black Sheep uncle's footsteps.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, your mother died when you were a baby, during Ammon Jerro's duel with the King of Shadows. Your father is a complete question mark, a point that might have made an excellent sidequest.
  • Octopath Traveler has this all over. Ophilia's parents die when she's five and she's sent to live with the Archbishop. By the end of her story, he'd dead as well. Primrose's father is killed ten years earlier, long after her mother had died, prompting her whole story. Alfyn's parents were killed by the plague years before the story begins. Therion is implied to be an orphan. H'aanit also lost her parents at some point, being effectively raised by Z'aanta.
  • All over the place in Persona 3; the protagonist, Akihiko, and Shinjiro are orphans. Ken is probably an orphan (dead mother, no mention of father but is being supported by a distant cousin). All three members of Strega are likely orphans (Jin mentions that they, and other artificial Persona-users were all found on the streets as children). Yukari's father is dead, and her mother a hot mess incapable of being any kind of real parent. Mitsuru's mother only appears in a CD drama, and her father is killed late in the game. Junpei only has a father. Only Fuuka has two living parents, and she's estranged from them. Even Koromaru, a dog, has lost his own master. If nothing else, it makes fighting Shadows easier for them.
    • The parental situation of Persona 4 is far better, with the only real orphan being Naoto, and even then, she had been raised by her grandfather the entire time. Kanji's father is explicitly stated to be dead, but he still has his mother, Teddie is a Shadow, and Yu's parents travel abroad frequently. Everyone else in the party is from a completely intact family.
    • The tone of the game may help. Persona 3 is darker than Persona 4 and most of the time, the abandonment is ether a direct or indirect result of the Kirijo group's experimentation on the Shadows, with the other two members having parents that made it personally preferable to live in the dorm.
    • This trope is mostly absent from the two earlier games, with the only cases of parental loss coming from Persona 2: Maya's father, a war journalist, died on the field, and Jun's parents, who are both dead by the end of Innocent Sin, but are resurrected when Philemon resets time. This trope also looks like it's in effect for Tatsuya and Katsuya Suou, but turns out to be entirely averted for them — their father (and indeed, their mother) is mysteriously absent from Innocent Sin, a game in which every other major character's father makes an appearance, but he later shows up in the Updated Re Release of Eternal Punishment, and their mother has been confirmed to be alive via the guide books (albeit a passive figure in her sons' lives).
    • Persona 5 goes back to this in spades, though it is addressed more than in the previous titles. Joker's parents abandoned him to a distant friend in Tokyo when he was arrested for assault though he supposedly returns to them in the ending; Ryuji's abusive dad abandoned him and his mom; Ann's parents travel a lot; Yusuke's mom died and his father is never mentioned; Makoto's father died and she is being raised by her sister; Futaba's mother is dead and her father's whereabouts are unknown as she was born out of wedlock; Haru's father is killed during the plot and her mother is never mentioned; and Goro's mother killed herself and his father is only vaguely aware that Goro is his son. However, Yusuke, Futaba, Haru, and Goro's statuses are all plot relevant.
  • Phantom Brave: Marona and Ash become orphans in the introduction.
  • Ratchet of Ratchet & Clank believes he is the only Lombax left in the universe. Although this is proven wrong when Alister Azimuth, another Lombax, appears in Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, Ratchet is forced to kill Azimuth at the end, leaving him alone once again.
  • Resident Evil has a cast that either consists of this or of characters with one parent. Barry Burton himself subverts this; he's a married parent with two daughters, and canonically, he survives the events of the first game. How Chris, Claire, and Leon lost their folks is put out there in guidebooks and novels, and it's implied that Jill is also this (something is amiss with her father). Sherry loses both of her parents during the events of Resident Evil 2 (her mother is shot and her father transforms into a tooth-covered, virus-riddled abomination and is eventually put down), and Steve Burnside loses his father to the T-Virus during Code Veronica. There's also Jake Muller — his mother died of an illness, and his father turns out to be the recently-killed-during-Resident Evil 5-Albert Wesker.
  • Cornet, the main character of Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure, lives with her grandfather. If you've played Disgaea, you'll probably see the twist coming.
  • Many of the girls in Senran Kagura have no real family to speak of for various reasons. Katsuragi's parents vanished to avoid punishment for failing a mission, Homura was kicked out of her family due to her being unable to become a Good Shinobi anymore, Yomi's parents worked themselves to dead to make sure their daughter could have a brighter future, Hikage's furthest memories go to her being raised in an orphanage for some reason, both Haruka and Mirai more or less abandoned their parents for various reasons, everyone at the Gessen team have dead parents and were then adopted by Kurokage who had already died during the events of the game, Ryoubi's and Ryouna's parents died when they were young and their older sister Ryouki, who took the parental role after that happened, is also dead and finally Fubuki's yoma mother was banished out of this realm by her father, who did it at the cost of his own life.
  • Skies of Arcadia: surprisingly, not the hero, but both other core members of your party. Aika is established early on to be an orphan, and Fina... well, there's no other Silvites left but some Elders, and Ramirez.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: This was Sonic's American backstory throughout most of the 1990s. The Sonic the Hedgehog Bible has his parents dying and a later bio says he was an orphan raised amongst Woodland Creatures. Since Adventure, however, it's unknown if Sonic is still an orphan. His parents aren't mentioned at all. No one's parents are (except for Cream's mother). Knuckles, being Last of His Kind, also qualifies.
  • Soul Nomad & the World Eaters: Revya and Danette are orphans.
  • Taki from the Soul Series had her immediate family die of sickness, leaving her to be raised by the Fu-Ma Ninja Clan.
  • Ryu from Street Fighter is an orphan who was raised by Gouken, his master.
  • A recurring element in the Tales Series:
    • In Tales of Phantasia, several party members including the leads Cress and Mint are orphaned very early in the game, several because their parents were a previous generation of heroes who sealed away Dhaos, and who are being targeted for the keys they hold.
    • In Tales of Vesperia, everyone in your entire party is an orphan. With most of them, all we get is either the parent left or the parent died, or both, no further explanation. We only find out how one parent died, although it's implied (very very subtly) that several of the mothers died in childbirth. In all honesty, it feels a little ridiculous at times.
    • Sorey in Tales of Zestiria, as he was a human raised by seraphs, which was what gave him a strong enough resonance to be the Shepherd. The seraph party members never had family, as spirits born from sites of natural power except Mikleo, who as a baby died in the same event that orphaned Sorey but immediately reincarnated as a seraph and raised alongside Sorey. His mother's technically still alive but in no position to have raised him.
    • Exactly what orphaned Velvet, Laphicet, and Celica Crowe before Tales of Berseria is not fully explained, but can probably be blamed on the daemons that plague the world. The rest of Velvet's family is eventually stripped away as well. Other human party members Magilou and Eleanor are orphaned as well, also to be blamed on the daemons. Rokurou isn't orphaned, his family just comes from extremely far away but he's hinted to have to become a Self-Made Orphan to succeed the head of his family someday. As with the seraphs in Zestiria, the malakhs are spirits born spontaneously from the world or reincarnated from those who die in specific circumstances.
  • All three leads in Wild ARMs are this by the end of the first act. Rudy is already an orphan, with his adopted grandfather dead by the time the story begins, Jack's family most likely died in the attack on Arctica and Cecilia's mother is already dead at the start of the game with her father dying after the demons attack Adlehyde.
  • Of the seven party members in Xenoblade Chronicles 1, only one of them has a living parent, five are stated to be orphans, and the last's parents are never mentioned. The orphan total becomes six later thanks to the parent performing a Heroic Sacrifice.

    Web Comics 
  • "Onion Kid" alias "Rex" alias "Sarda" from 8-Bit Theater was orphaned so often, that he's stopped looking for foster parents or even an orphanage who'd still take him in. This trauma is actually the cause for everything that happened in the comic to begin with, thanks to a Stable Time Loop.
  • The Dreamland Chronicles: Felicity lightly mentions that she was orphaned.
  • Grunn's orphanage is one of the settings in Dreamkeepers. The "convenient" aspect of the trope is played with in that the orphans are one big dysfunctional family, and several of them are important contributors to the plot.
  • Most of the cast in Dubious Company. Sal is the only character firmly established as having living relatives.
    • The Sues were adopted by Izor after their family was killed by a series of random fires.
    • Gary Stu appears to have taken the parental role for his brother.
    • Walter, Tiren, and Elly have fond childhood memories, but appear to no longer have ties to their families. They were visibly distraught when Sal asked if they had a home.
  • The main character in Find Chaos, Arthur, and his sister Tristan are both orphans by Arthur's doing (possible accident?).
  • The protagonist in Holiday Wars is one, which can be seen in this episode.
  • Hanna of Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name never mentions his family, but it's implied that he has no immediate relatives in the city.
  • Jade Harley from Homestuck, who was raised by her pet dog after her grandfather died. Technically speaking, John is an orphan too: both his and Jade's biological parents are long dead. He is raised by his 'father', who is technically his half-brother. Oh, and his and Jade's biological parents are John's grandmother and Jade's grandfather. Confused yet?
    • And as of 2/19, all of the kids are orphans in both the traditional and technical sense..
    • Troll society is entirely like this, as the adults go off to conquer the universe while they leave the planet in the hands of the youth for the most part, leaving them to be Raised by Wolves. At least until events cause all of said Wolves to die, but they remained as their sprites. Until Jack Noir killed them all over again.
    • In the Alpha universe, Roxy and Dirk. Even more so once it's revealed that the two of them exist on Earth 400 years in the future, and their parents have been dead for centuries and left caches of food and supplies for them.
  • This was why Rita was allowed to be Dana's Wonderita in The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: she had no next of kin to even tell her that being a sidekick was a dumb idea. One strip, however, hints that Dana herself might be Rita's biological mother.
  • The Order of the Stick's protagonists have various shades of this.
    • Roy Greenhilt is confirmed to be an orphan, as both his mother and father are dead.
    • Haley Starshine's mother is confirmed to be dead, and for a long time, her father was locked in jail.
    • Durkon Thundershield's father is confirmed to be dead, but his mother is still alive.
    • Averted with Elan, whose parents are still alive, albeit estranged.
    • The status of Vaarsuvius's and Belkar Bitterleaf's parents are unknown.
  • Discussed in Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, where an artificial intelligence concludes that the continuing appeal of Anne of Green Gables is because Anne has no family ties, no psychological damage from her loss, and is an intelligent and amusing person who requires minimal effort to raise.
  • Jordan from Skins. Apparently there's been no mention of her family at all — the supernatural agency called the Coven took her in as a child.
  • True Villains: Played for Laughs with The Pollyanna Mia when she joins the Villain Protagonists. Her orphaning and subsequent Hilariously Abusive Childhood makes them feel a lot better about having just incinerated her hometown and everyone in it, so they adopt her.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Sinedd of Galactik Football is able to run off and join The Shadows despite a large song and dance being made in the very same episode about the need for parental permission. His departure isn't justified with this trope for another 18 episodes. Orphan or not, Sinedd was already of age, making the parental permission unnecessary for him.
  • Patch from My Little Pony Tales turns out to be an adopted orphan in the episode "Princess Problems" so that she could be suspected of being a long-lost royal daughter.
  • Ronaldo from the Brazil episode of The Simpsons. Conveniently as an orphan, he doesn't have parents hogging his money he gets from performing on Teleboobies, and he assists the Simpsons in paying Homer's ransom.
  • Likely a requirement to be part of the Teen Titans, because what sort of parents would let their children put their lives on the line in weekly superheroics? And sure enough, the only living parent to any of the Titans ever seen in the series is not a very nice guy:
    • Cyborg's father is (presumably) alive. In the comics he was the one who made him a... well, Cyborg. His mother is explicitly deceased.
    • We also get to meet Beast Boy's (adoptive) parents from the Doom Patrol. Elasti-Girl is pretty nice, but Mento is bit of a jerk.
    • In Teen Titans Go!, Raven's mother is alive after Trigon's defeat.
    • Robin's parents are dead as always, but this incarnation heavily implies that he even ditched his "father" Batman so he could move on. (And ended up gathering a bunch of friends around him instead, but no adults. The closest thing to a parent he has is Slade purring about what a great apprentice he could be...)
    • We don't see Starfire's parents, either. The closest thing she has to a family adult figure is her uncle, which is good since her only other family is her sister, Blackfire...
  • Buck Tuddrussel and Larry 3000 of the futuristic Time Squad needed Otto from the 20th century since he knows more history than they do. Since he's an orphan that was in a rather troubling situation when they found him, they adopted him despite the fact that it's forbidden by the Time Squad.

    Real Life 
  • Advertisements for the Pony Express purportedly mentioned that they preferred their hires to be orphans, though original copies of these advertisements have not been discovered. Presumably a lot of dangerous occupations would prefer to have as few grieving parents as possible.

Alternative Title(s): Conveniently Orphaned, Orphaned Hero