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Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You

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Phoebe: Question one: You were married to Frances's daughter Lily, is that correct?
Frank: Yes, yes I was.
Phoebe: Question two: did that marriage end a) happily, b) medium, or c) in the total abandonment of her and her two children?
Frank: [...] I would have to say C.
Phoebe: [...] Reasons for abandonment: a) top-secret government work, b) amnesia, or c) you're just a selfish, irresponsible, bad, bad man?

Parental Abandonment, by its nature, usually excludes the parent from having much of a role in a character's story. If the backstory involves a child wallowing in angst because of having no parents, to bring them back and treat everything as being hunky-dory sort of dilutes the origin story's dramatic impact.

Sometimes, though, a parent can be brought back through use of a proper excuse. A parent who we have seen or heard nothing of in some time may suddenly re-appear and explain that there was, in fact, a very good reason for the abandonment — but for various reasons, the details could not be revealed until just this moment. This is particularly important if child is going to follow in their parent's footsteps, since we would normally expect them to be bitter if this is the career that caused them to get abandoned in the first place.


Frequently the reason turns out to be Mom never informed Dad of their baby's existence for reasons that can range from not being sure which partner was the father (a My Two Dads scenario), or a desire to raise an infant all by herself, a 'kindness' of the 'a baby will ruin his life' scenario.

This trope straddles a thin line — it can come off as extremely contrived unless said excuse is very, very convincing. In order for it to work there must be an explanation as to why no one bothered to bring it up until just the last minute. See also Glorified Sperm Donor for a form this can take when it's handled badly.

Sounds like but has nothing to do with taunting someone about having some real or imagined flaw which leads to the parents not loving them enough. If you're looking for examples of that, try Break Them by Talking.


See also Tell Me About My Father!, Turn Out Like His Father and Daddy Didn't Show. Sometimes related to Give Him a Normal Life, and may overlap with Because You Can Cope in certain instances. If the info is specifically withheld to increase tension even though there's no good reason to withhold it, see the Rule of Drama.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the soft-core Hentai manga Aki Sora, siblings Sora, Nami, and Aki Aoi (who had been having an incestuous affair) were long ago abandoned by their father, and had not seen him since, even when their mother died. When their father was on his deathbed, Sora still refused to forgive him after such a long time. Which is why Aki talks him down by explaining that he left because of the scandal of having sired all three of the siblings with one of his younger twin sisters.
  • In the anime version of Angelic Layer, Misaki's Missing Mom Shuko is revealed to have been confined to a wheelchair due to a neurological disease, and she'd gone to Tokyo to do research on it to help look for a cure and hence hasn't seen her daughter for years. This is notably exclusive only to the anime, while in the manga Shuko's excuse is that she's pathologically shy. The manga explanation is cuter, but the anime explanation makes more sense considering Japan's treatment of the disabled: Shuuko mentions that she doesn't want people to look down on Misaki for having "a useless mother".
  • In Arachnid, an assassin named Jin Togawa is forced to be promoted as the "Suzumebachi" frontman of The Organization with the threat of several other hitmen hidden around him and his pregnant wife's life on the line. Jin complies, but the supernatural process brainwashes him to the Boss' will and makes him a deadbeat dad who can only look after his now miserable family from afar. Him still being able to do that results in the Boss spitefully ordering their deaths anyway. Suzumebachi kills his wife but is too disgusted to wait for his daughter and finish the job. That daughter is the protagonist Alice, who is manipulated into becoming a formidable assassin herself. For further injury, Jin is killed as he confesses all of this to Alice, not for spilling the beans but just because the Boss needs him dead for Alice to replace him.
  • Attack on Titan:
    • After 5 years of wondering where his father ran off to, Eren finally learns the reason Grisha abandoned him: he was Dead All Along. Knowing that he had run out of time, Grisha turned Eren into a mindless Titan and allowed himself to be Eaten Alive in order to pass the Attacker Titan and the Founding Titan on to his son. And it's later revealed that Eren himself used the Paths to put the idea in Grisha's head in the first place.
    • Rod Reiss tries to claim that he had no choice but to abandon Heroic Bastard Historia. She initially believes him, but later recognizes his attempts to manipulate her and calls him on his bullshit.
    • Reiner Braun's father was absent from his life due to Marley's anti-miscegenation laws. His mother claims this is the only thing preventing the family from being together, but this proven to be a complete lie. Just before beginning his mission, Reiner went to meet his father and was promptly rejected by the terrified man. He claimed Karina was a Woman Scorned, so bent on revenge that she'd use her own son to expose their crime.
  • Bokurano. Jun Ushiro and his mother, Misumi Tanaka. That's all. Each medium gives a different reason, but they're all pretty good.
  • Black Jack: The main character's father, Kagemitsu, left his family in order to protect them from assassins. This is only in Black Jack 21 however; in the original manga this is most definitely averted with Kagemitsu being an incredibly selfish jerk.
  • Played mostly straight in Code Geass with Kallen Stadtfeld and her birth mother, who is actually the incompetent family maid Miss Kouzuki. Kallen assumes her mother stayed on to continue to be her father's mistress, and treats her poorly and puts a sticker over her face on a family photo. Cue the dramatic moment when she discovers her mother actually remained out of love for Kallen, but didn't want to give away the fact Kallen is a half-"breed", and as her mother is jailed, she swears to make Miss Kouzuki her Morality Pet, later taking the sticker out of the photo. Thank God, in the Grand Finale we see Miss Kouzuki free and in her path to recovery, living modestly but happily with a Kallen who's now back to Ashford Academy.
    • Played with in R2, where Lelouch discovers his father's reason for abandoning him and his sister in a foreign country was to protect them from his brother, who had murdered Lelouch's mother out of jealousy. On the other hands, Lelouch immediately points out that Parental Abandonment is Not Cool, and that if his parents had really been as concerned about the well-being of their kids as they claimed, they would have figured out a way to protect them without heavily traumatizing one and crippling another, and then invading the nation whose leader had him and his sister as a political hostage... thus nullifying any need for living hostages.
  • Yuuki Anzai of Devils' Line was raised believing himself to be an orphan, only to discover in his early twenties that not only are both his parents alive and well, but that they were respectively a scientist and patient in the research branch of the orphanage he was raised in. As for why they never contacted him, they legally couldn't. Yuuki was conceived as part of a scientific experiment on the hybridization of devils and ordinary humans; and while Midori and Tamaki were voluntary egg and sperm donors, taking part required them to sign away their custody rights and ability to contact him. That, and Tamaki is a convicted mass murderer.
  • Goku from Dragon Ball Z spent most of Gohan's and pretty much all of Goten's childhood's dead or off training. Ultimately both cases stemmed from the fact he was trying to keep them safe.
    • Though when he is around/alive, he really does try to be the best father he can to them. Points for effort, though his Spirited Competitor causes issues in what he thinks are good parenting decisions — he learns his lesson when he goes too far during the Cell saga, just in time to realize his folly and sacrifice himself for Gohan. Until then, though, his former archenemy comes off as a better parent to his eldest son than he is.
  • Renton Thurston in Eureka Seven AO wasn't there for Ao and Eureka due to being stuck fighting Scubs and Secrets in the original Eureka Seven universe. And had Eureka stayed, the trapar would have killed Ao like it did his stillborn older sister.
  • In Fairy Tail, the three Dragonslayers of the eponymous guild (Natsu, Gajeel, and Wendy) all have Dragons that taught them their Magic and raised them as children, but they all mysteriously vanished 7 years before the start of the series. Come the Tartaros arc after the Timeskip, we finally learn why they vanished: They were actually sealed inside them (as was all the Slayers who had Dragon teachers) with a special seal, all to prevent them from becoming Dragons like Acnologia. And considering how Acnologia usually acts around others, this was probably a good reason.
  • Done with Hohenheim in Fullmetal Alchemist, where he figured out the Big Bad's evil plan and set out to stop him, knowing that his own plan would take many years. He was also trying to become mortal again, however, since he wanted to die with Trisha, though ironically he didn't want to die at the end because Edward finally called him dad and Alphonse got his body back. He still dies next to her tomb, a bittersweet smile on his lips.
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Suit Victory Gundam: Hangelg Ewin, the father of series protagonist, Uso Ewin, was actually Jinn Gehennam, the leader of the League Militaire. Likewise, Uso's mother, Mueller Miguel, was also involved in League Militaire, in her case as a mobile suit engineer and spy. This rather neatly explains why Uso was practically left alone with his best friend Shakti Kareen, whose own mother, Zanscare's Queen Maria Amonia, had abandoned her to Earth to protect her from Zanscare's rabid factionalism, to practically raise themselves during their early teenage years.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam F91: Monica Arno is the mobile suit engineer who creates the Gundam in the title. Her youngest daughter Reese seems to understand it, but her eldest son Seabook is understandably pissed off at her. The fact that the patriarch of the family, Leslie, has just kicked the bucket doesn't help.
  • In Happy World!, the main character's father left him alone at a very young age and for most of his life he thought it was simply because his father didn't love him and saw him as an annoyance. It is revealed his father left him to protect him from his curse, which caused him to only experience misfortune, leading to constant accidents and near death experiences, which could easily have hurt or killed his son. This barely excuses the huge amount of emotional scarring and trauma the main character received from his abandonment, which had a huge affect on him well into his early adulthood.
  • Although we don't know the exact circumstances involved with Hinagiku and Yukiji's being abandoned by their birth parents in Hayate the Combat Butler, Hinagiku firmly believes that they had a good reason for leaving them behind. Yukiji doesn't seem to agree.
  • A rare female example occurs in Heat Guy J, where we learn that hero Daisuke's mother, Nona, abandoned him and his brother Shun when they were both very young, because she was a Celestial and because she was pressured into it by her evil brother. It's a plot point that Daisuke understands that this trope was in play and has forgiven her, but Shun hasn't.
  • Subverted in Hunter × Hunter. Ging left Gon with his Aunt Mito while he was still a baby to further pursue his goals, but only because Mito took full custody and wouldn't let Gon see him. Even before knowing this though, Gon is actually encouraged to become a hunter because he's impressed that it was a job great enough for his father to leave him behind.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Battle Tendency: Caesar Zeppelli hated his father Mario for abandoning him. On finally discovering him in Rome several years later, he stalked him to the Coliseum... whereupon he learned his father had spent those years trying to find a way to destroy the Pillar Men. Since Mario Zeppelli's own father, William Zeppelli (from Phantom Blood), had died trying to fight monsters, Mario didn't want his own son getting dragged into what seemed to be the family's curse. Also, Lisa Lisa was forced to abandon her infant son; Joseph, after murdering the vampiric commanding officer that killed her husband and being marked as an international criminal.
    • Golden Wind: Apart from being the The Don of Passione, Diavolo wasn't even aware that his daughter Trish existed during the years after she was born. Upon discovering this, he orders her retrieval to personally kill her and ensure there's no trace that would lead anyone to him.
    • Stone Ocean: Jolyne resents her father, Jotaro Kujo, for being absent for most of her childhood. Although he left partly due to work reasons, Jotaro also didn't want her getting mixed up in the supernatural troubles that he's frequently a part of. Subverted in the video game JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven, where Jotaro takes advantage of a brand-new timeline to attempt to be a better father to her. He claims he had to take her to Morioh with him, because she was crying too much otherwise, but the fact that he's hugging her and gently stroking her hair tells a different story.
  • Kagerou Daze: Azami is feared by humans as a 'monster' (despite really not looking like one) — created the eternal world and eventually retreated inside for good, effectively disappearing, after seeing some villagers attack her home, believing her husband to be her hostage. She left Tsukihiko and Shion behind to give them a shot at living normally. Shion's extremely slow aging and powers inherited from Azami ensured that didn't happen.
  • In Kemono Jihen, Kabane learns that his parents must have cared for him and had a good reason to leave him with his Evil Aunt, as they left him an extremely valuable Life Calculus that can suppress his ghoulish bloodlust.
  • Averted in Maid-Sama!: it turns out that Misaki's father, Sayuka, did not abandon his family with his own gambling debt, but that of a friend of his whom he tried to find and help out of his predicament, with every intention of one day returning. This doesn't, however, excuse the fact that he'd abandoned his responsibilities as a father and a husband to help someone else only to return after several years. Nobody lets him forget this, including Sayuka himself.
  • In Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger it is both played straight and subverted:
    • It is played straight with Kenzo. His sons, Kouji and Shiro grew up believing their parents had died cause a laboratory experiment that went wrong. However, Kenzo's father saved his son's life by turning him into a cyborg. However, neither of them told Kouji and Shiro he was alive because Kenzo was going to build a Humongous Mecha to repel the Mykene invasion they predicted, and train its pilot. And both his father and he wanted to shield Kouji and Shiro from danger and psychological shock. It was not a bad reason, even if it was somewhat weak because Juzo was also building another Humongous Mecha and he raised them, even if he hired a maid because he was nearly always absent. When Kenzo revealed the truth to his little son, it took a long while for Shiro to forgive him. Though Kouji forgave him right away.
    • Subverted with Kouji and Shiro's mother. In episode 90 from Mazinger Z, their mother appeared in the Institute, revealing she was alive and asking to meet her sons before telling them why she let them believe she was dead during the intervening years. Shiro was happy to get his mother back, but Kouji was distrustful. It turned out that Kouji was right. Their mother was truly dead and that woman was a cyborg had fabricated by Dr. Hell to infiltrate the Institute and destroy Mazinger from within. So her "good reason for abandoning them" was false.
  • Musuko ga Kawaikute Shikataganai Mazoku no Hahaoya: When Lorem reveals who baby Gospel's father is to Chiharu, Chiharu begins crying wanting to know he hasn't been there and helping raising his son. Lorem reveals he has been helping, they just can't see it. Indeed, the flashback following this chapter shows the history of Gospel's father. Gospel's father Zeke worked for C.A.T.T., a group that fought renegade demons and, in the present day, acts as a police force for demons living among humans. He abandoned the job after meeting Lorem, but returned to C.A.T.T. to help keep the by then-pregnant Lorem off the radar as much as possible, as there was increasing scrutiny regarding independent demons once the war finally died down. He went so far as to play up the infamous Lorem as his arch-enemy to keep their own connection secret. He also got Merii released from human custody and anonymously informed her of Lorem's location and Gospel's birth. He has every intention of returning to his family once he's confident Lorem and Gospel will be safe, and is optimistic that day is approaching as the peaceful times weaken C.A.T.T.'s more hawkish mandate.
  • My Hero Academia: Fearing for the life of her child after her husband was murdered by All For One, Nana Shimura, All Might's predecessor and mentor, gave up her son Kotaro for adoption and cut off all ties with him so that he could never be traced back to her, before she too was killed by All For One. Unfortunately, her decision had vastly negative consequences for all parties involved. The formative age at which he was given up left him completely unable to come to terms with the gravity of her sacrifice, and for years he developed a bitter resentment of heroes, believing them to care more about protecting the lives of strangers than protecting their own families. This bled into how he interacted with his family as he forbade any and all discussions of heroes in his household, and often vented his frustrations on his son Tenko due to the latter's admiration of heroes. When Tenko's Quirk awakened for the first time it accidentally kills his dog, sister, mom, and grandparents before Tenko intentionally used it to kill Kotaro for all of his abuse. The traumatized Tenko was then eventually found by All For One, who slowly began to groom the young boy as his protégé, renamed him Tomura Shigaraki and the rest is history.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto's father Namikaze Minato, had what he believed was a good reason... Sealing the Kyuubi inside of Naruto to protect Konoha with a Gambit Roulette against Uchiha Madara. As well as preventing war from breaking out when the other major villages realize that the Leaf no longer possesses a Bijuu. Turns out that his mom is not only dead, but was the previous Jinchuuriki of the Nine-Tails..
    • In the Star Village filler arc, Sumaru's parents attempt to steal the star in order to stop the star training that kills most of those who use it, but get discovered by the Hoshikage, who has them leave the village in order to watch over the star from afar and intervene if someone plans on using it again. Sumaru grows up thinking that his parents died defending the star; his father does die from the lingering effects of star training, and his mother indicates that she can't stay with him if she could die at any time. His mother returns to steal the star when the star training resumes after Akahoshi kills the Hoshikage, and dies trying to recover the star.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: like every other trope in the Mecha genre, NGE deconstructs the scientist father who abandons the protagonist to build a robot, then calls the protagonist back to pilot it with Gendo Ikari. It seems like they're setting Gendo up for this one when, right before he gets sucked into Instrumentality aka The End of the World as We Know It, he explains his reasons for ignoring his son for like a decade, mainly that he believed he would have been a horrible father and that Shinji would do better without him. Considering how badly Gendo screwed up his son when they did meet, he might have had a point. This does nothing to redeem Gendo because: 1) It's way too late by then, 2) his Freudian Excuse and subsequent apology to his son don't really fly very well with anybody, and he seems well aware of the fact as he dies, and 3) he dumped a 5-year-old boy with a couple of either distant relatives or complete strangers - depending on the adaptation - without any kind of explanation, only to call Shinji back when Gendo needs to guilt him into putting his life on the line to pilot the weapon he made, complete with the psychological toll that comes with being a child soldier. Hideaki Anno pulls no punches in showing that Gendo Ikari is, indeed, a terrible father.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Negi's parents are missing because the political climate of the magical world meant that Negi would be a target of their opponents. And later on Nagi's body is possessed by the Big Bad, which understandably means that hanging out with Negi is a very bad idea.
  • In One Piece:
    • Luffy's Disappeared Dad turns out to be Dragon the Revolutionary who is known as the Most Wanted Man in the world and actively schemes to bring down the World Government. It's been hinted that the man does care very deeply for his family and only stays away for their protection. Considering what the World Government did on the island where they only suspected Gold Roger had a lover and child, we'd say he made a damn good choice.
    • Usopp's father Yasopp left him and his mother to become a pirate and never returned. However, Ussop never resented his father for this, since he was chasing his dreams, which was something Usopp admired. There's also strong implications that as a known crew member of one of the Four Emperors, he stays away as much for their own protection as anything, since the Navy and World Government have shown zero qualms about targeting the families of pirates regardless of their own innocence. Although, Yasopp himself doesn't sugercoat the fact that he essentially abandoned his wife and son, and wasn't there when they needed him.
    • Ace's parents, while not exactly abandoning him, had good reasons for not being there for him besides being dead. His mother, Portgas D. Rouge, held him in her womb for over twenty months in order to keep him safe from the enemies of his father. The act ultimately killed her, but would allow Ace to have a relatively safe childhood (at least compared the childhood he would have had). His father, however, is none other than the Pirate King Gold Roger himself, who was dying due to a disease, and only kept away in his dying days in order to protect them, because his enemies basically amounted to the entire world. While Ace is grateful to his mother for her sacrifice (to the point that he took her surname), he has nothing but disdain for his biological father due to all the grief his heritage caused him in life, and made it emphatic that in his eyes, Whitebeard is his true father.
  • Oyaji used the only way his harsh life taught him in order to defend himself and his family, pure violence, to get back at the yakuza that tried to burn his home down with him and his family inside. Killing the entire syndicate’s office managed to keep the thugs away, but it also got Oyaji a steep prison sentence, separating him from his dear family, and even when Oyaji got out many years later he tried to keep himself away, reasoning that his existence alone was a violence magnet, so to him being around his family was just putting them in danger. Oayji only goes back to his wife and kids when he realizes he is going to die soon, so he will try to be the best father and husband he can before the time is up.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, Ruby has a deep resentment for his father, Norman, for leaving the family for five years. In reality, a frenzied Salamence assaulted Ruby and Sapphire, and the injuries inflicted by Ruby caused it to careen into the Weather Institute. Norman covered it up and was disqualified from his gym leader certification trial as a result. The change in Ruby's behavior left bad blood between both of them. Norman gave Ruby the go-ahead with his Contest campaign after a prolonged battle at the ruined Weather Institute five years later (would have been a birthday gift if Ruby stuck around). Then Ruby found out the motives for Norman's actions. Oops.
  • In Psycho-Pass Nobuchika Ginoza's father Tomomi Masaoka left his family because, according to the system that governs their society, Masaoka was a latent criminal who could have snapped at any moment. His options within the laws of their society were thus either permanent incarceration or accepting a position as an Enforcer for the Public Safety Bureau, working as a police "hunting dog" with very limited personal freedom. Masaoka chose the latter.
  • Ranma's mother in Ranma ½. Nodoka claims that she agreed to not be around Ranma to make him a stronger man, and that she received constant letters from Genma all throughout Ranma's childhood, which stopped just about the time he and Ranma headed for China — and their absence is why she went personally to the Tendo home. This makes readers realize that this makes Genma an even bigger bastard because he deliberately kept Ranma unaware of his own mother despite writing to her regularly.
  • Gale from Rave Master left his family when Haru was one in order to find the Rave stones, which is revealed fairly early on in the manga (or 15 years after he left. Why did no one tell Haru sooner?) This explanation alone is still unacceptable to Haru. When he actually meets Gale and learns that he left to find Rave in order to stop his Big Bad Friend, the leader of Demon Card, Haru accepts him as a father.
    • It kinda helped that Gale thought that the Dark Bring implanted in him by King could have created a second Overdrive at any moment, and thus wanted to be as far away from anyone as possible, especially his beloved children.
  • In Samurai Champloo, Fuu's father, the Sunflower Samurai, has a very good excuse — as a Christian in isolationist Japan, if he had stayed home, his entire family would be executed.
  • In Snow White with the Red Hair, Shirayuki's father, Mikaze, left her in the care of her grandparents and told them to say that he was dead after his wife's death, because her hair colour stood-out too much for her own safety, which is more problematic for a group like the Lion's of the Mountains.
  • Superior: Angelica's demon grandfather had abandoned her grandmother when she was pregnant and no one ever knew why. Years later, Angelica runs into him by sheer luck and finds out that he had made a deal with the townspeople that he would leave on the condition that his unborn child wouldn't be subjected to Half-Breed Discrimination. He had actually spent the past several decades viewing himself as a coward and is incredibly relieved when Angelica tells him that his wife understood his choice and never blamed him.
  • Yoshimura from Tokyo Ghoul abandoned his child to the Ghoul-infested 24th Ward for a very good reason. The mysterious organization he once served forced him to murder his human lover, and have never stopped pursuing his Half-Human Hybrid child. He sternly refuses to even admit to having one when confronted by them, but at the same time refers to his child as his "only hope" and is willing to impersonate his child in order to throw off pursuers.
  • Tiger & Bunny: Kotetsu is a corporate-sponsored superhero, who is unable to take days off to visit his hometown to see his 9-year-old daughter. He does, however, speak to her on the phone regularly, though he never sees through on his promises to see her. The one time he does have a day off, a new Big Bad appears and screws it up. It is revealed that he left after his wife died and hasn't come back to visit his family for over 5 years; when he finally does go back, his daughter is 10 years old and hates him for abandoning her.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne:
    • Failure Knight Allen Schezar was badly traumatized by his sister's kidnapping and his mother's Death by Despair, and hates his Disappeared Dad for leaving the family. When he does have a chance to call him out, Allen finds out that Leon Schezar was Dead All Along, having been murdered by The Empire because he didn't give them the information he had about the Dragonkin; Mrs. Schezar was depressed to death because she knew her husband was dead since the beginning. Allen then manages to posthumously forgive his dad, and later in the series he gets his still-alive but badly fucked up younger sister back. How badly messed up is she? It turns out that she was captured by Emperor Donkirk and turned over to his wizards, transforming her into the Axe-Crazy (and male) Captain of the Dragonslayers; Dilandau.
    • Later on, it turns out Allan is deeper in this trope than expected. HE'S the Disappeared Dad, though he didn't know it at first. It's revealed that Duke Freid's son is actually Allan's due to an affair that took place the night before the Duke's wedding. His wife Marlene didn't even meet her husband until the ceremony, and she and Allan were in love. She didn't tell Allan to prevent any international tension that might result. When Allan found out by reading Marlene's diary and adding up against Prince Chid's age, he tried to own up to the Duke as a show of loyalty. The Duke, though, insisted that Chid was his son because he was the one to raise the boy, which to him was more important. He knew the whole time but didn't mind since he and Marlene didn't fall in love until they were already deep into their marriage.
  • Doctor Kentarou Go aka Prince Lagour in Voltes V. That's what happens when your dad is a a fallen nobleman from an alien planet with a massive Break the Cutie-like past, who leaves you and your siblings to work on putting an end to the tyrannical rule of Emperor Zambajil, his evil cousin and the one to blame for his banishment.
  • Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl: Kojiro abandoned his daughter and his wife since he discovered his daughter's natural talent in judo. Matsuda then convinces Yawara that her father still cares for her and continues to watch her in tournaments.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Yusei's father sacrificed his life during the Zero Reverse disaster to ensure that his son would survive.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman: As reasons go, Jor-El and Lara and Supergirl's parents Zor-El and Alura had a pretty damn good one: the planet was about to blow up, and the only rocket they had was just large enough to safely carry their infant child to Earth.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: The Persuader's father left her mother because she was abusive towards both him and the young Persuader herself. However, her threats to rough herself up and say he did it if he even thought about taking their daughter convinced him that leaving her with that monster was a better alternative to living on the run with him. They eventually get reunited before the Persuader's boss kills her father just for kicks.
  • X-Men:
    • Cyclops's father Corsair has a real interesting story. While the Summers family was riding in their private plane, they accidentally came across an alien spaceship belonging to the Shi'ar Empire that was exploring Earth. The aliens fired upon the plane because they didn't want any witnesses. When their plane was set ablaze from the attacks, the parents strapped their only remaining parachute to their kids and pushed them out of the plane to hopefully get to safety, only to see the parachute catch on fire. Corsair and his wife were beamed up by the aliens and taken to the imperial throneworld, the former was imprisoned while the latter was forced into the Emperor's Royal Harem. Corsair's wife would soon be murdered by the Emperor to spite Corsair, and having no idea that his sons were alive, Corsair became a space pirate to fight against the Shi'ar Empire. Of course, once Corsair ran into Cyclops some fifteen-odd years later, it would have been better for him to admit his identity instead of getting Cyclops' psychic girlfriend to cover for him only for Cyclops to find out mere months later.
    • Cyclops himself is eventually forced to abandon his baby son Nathan in a dystopian future in order to save his life, where he grows up to be Cable. This is a slightly more complicated example than most, since Scott and Jean did manage to raise Cable at least to adolescence as 'Slym' and 'Redd', in clones of their bodies via Mother Askani, a.k.a. a future Rachel Summers pulling her classic mental time travel trick.
  • Green Lantern: Sinestro left his family to spare them from being associated with an intergalactic criminal. His daughter Soranik Natu eventually learns about their relationship and his reasoning, but it does nothing to lessen her hatred for him.
  • Batman:
  • In Spider-Girl, Electro had a daughter who inherited his powers, but through some quirk, the two couldn't touch each other without causing excruciating pain; because of that and his life of crime, the mom asked him not to be involved in her life. Years later she becomes a supervillain herself, and Electro gets Spider-Girl's help to both fix the problem with their powers and stop her from making his mistakes.
  • In Violine, Violine's father left her with Marushka to go search for her real mother in Zongo, so she could be safe.
  • In W.I.T.C.H., Taranee's birth parents were financially ruined when a magical meteor destroyed their house in the process of saving her from evil magical plants, so they gave her up for adoption as a toddler.
  • In PS238, Atlas winds up leaving behind his son so that he can try to fix the dystopian empire that he's suddenly the heir to.
  • The Wild Storm: Alexandra Fairchild gave up her daughter Caitlin shortly after she was born, explaining to her former C.O. John Lynch that she figured super-strength and a vicious temper were not a good mix with a baby. Then she (probably) dies picking a fight with some mobsters.
  • Il était une fois en France: Joseph knows that the Nazis could use his family as leverage, thus for most of the war, he keeps away from them. The rest of the time, he doesn't visit his family because he's managing his business.
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four: Sue and Johnny's mom disappeared to research Lemuria, insisting this was a perfectly good reason for walking out on her husband and children. Sue doesn't agree.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: It looks like there's a case of this going on when Richard Parker reappears, claiming he survived the plane crash that rendered Pete an orphan, but was approached by government agents and forced to play dead for the next decade... except he's not really Richard at all, he's a clone with fake memories. Richard Parker is definitely dead, and the clone follows suit soon afterward.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars: During a conversation with Shinji, Daniel explains to Shinji that his father Gendo had a good reason for leaving him alone. Not a good enough reason, mind you, but Gendo had a reason: he was afraid of Shinji and thought he would screw his son if he tried to raise him because he considered that he was an awful human being; in addition, he did not want to get Shinji involved in the War (although it happened anyway), and he was actually sorry for everything. Shinji is surprised when he hears about it, but he feels his father's reasons were not good enough.
  • Ashes of the Past: Ash's father wound up not coming home from his Pokemon journey due to a Heroic Sacrifice to save the town of Pacifidlog from a tidal wave.
  • Evangelion 303: According Dr. Akagi, Gendo sent his son away from him to protect him, but she will not say why, and Shinji seems dubious about Akagi's explanation.
  • Played with in Ghosts of Evangelion. Shinji and Asuka were terrified when she got pregnant because they didn't think they could be good parents, but they didn't want to abandon their child either. So they came to an agreement with Misato and Kaji, setting things up to where the latter would raise their daughter until she was a few years older and from that point on, Shinji and Asuka would take care of her.
  • In Breath of the Wild, a downplayed and a straight version occurs between Link and the daughter he had with Mipha, Lochlia. It's downplayed because Link wasn't there for her as much as she would have liked. This was because Link and Mipha ended their relationship because Link would never live as long as they would, and because Zora aren't fond of Hylians. The straight version occurs because of Link being put in the Shrine of Resurrection for a century to save his life.
  • The One I Love Is...: In the side-story "Let the World Burn/One Dream at a Time" Gendo explains to Yui he cared about Shinji but abandoned his son because Shinji scared him: his son loved him and he could not understand why and didn't believe he deserved it. Moreover, Gendo was convinced he would only hurt Shinji if he stayed around.
    Gendo: If all I did was hurt him, it was better that I wasn't there.
    Yui: Shinji didn't think so. Or at least up till a certain point.
  • In Whispers in the Dark, a Percy Jackson and the Olympians fanfiction, Taylor is told that her father is dead only to find out that all this time, he's been alive and on Kronos' side. Somewhat justified in the fact that Luke didn't even know that he had a daughter until he saw Taylor and noticed that she had his blue eyes.
  • In Nobody Dies, Mommy had a good reason for abandoning Shinji... a basement full of Eldritch Abominations out to kill him.
  • All too often handwaved in the "Adopted Hermione" subgenre of Harry Potter fanfic: Hermione learns that she's not only adopted, but "really" a Pureblood. In roughly nine such stories out of ten, no reason is ever given for her birth parents' relinquishing her — except possibly a vague assertion that it was "for her own protection".
  • My Enemy My Friend shows Gendo's canon motivations for abandoning Shinji to the reader, and doesn't let them forget it.
    • ADAM as well for the Angels. You know, considering he's been kidnapped and is held hostage by SEELE and all.
  • In Child of the Storm:
    • Daddy had an excellent reason for abandoning Harry — he was Thor, incarnated as a mortal, whose violent death and grief had driven him stark raving mad, and Odin had to block off his memories to ensure that he stayed sane and Britain (and possibly the world) remained in one piece. As soon as he remembers, however, he comes in like the cavalry. It's also later implied that Odin chose to keep him with the Dursleys, since Harry, being in line to the throne of Asgard, would be prime target material for any number of malevolent beings — something that later events prove to be entirely correct.
    • Wanda had an excellent reason for abandoning Harry (her godson) and her daughter, Hermione. She was Doctor Strange's apprentice and her Rogues Gallery was the stuff of nightmares, simultaneously having made some very dangerous enemies as part of the Order. As for her daughter, the situation was even worse. It was about two years before, the good guys were losing and Voldemort was at the height of his power. Plus, Hermione's father happens to be John Constantine, who is a) not exactly prime father material, b) totally untrustworthy (and had recently proved it), c) public enemy number one for just about every hell dimension in existence. And in both cases, one has to take into account her father's enemies... Also, Doctor Strange said so and people tend to do as Strange says, if only because not doing it tends to make you wish that you had (not because of anything he does, but because the consequences of not doing it tend to be pretty horrible). None of the above stops her being wracked with guilt, or Harry for being - initially - extremely displeased but mellows out fairly quickly. Hermione, by contrast, does not take it at all well.
    • Jean Grey's family, Harry's maternal cousins, tried to adopt Harry when he was about seven or eight, and were stymied by a certain person who was very interested in keeping Harry at Privet Drive. This person, as it turns out, was Mister Sinister.
  • In the Ah! My Goddess story "Ah! Archfall!", Lind's farther is actually the Almighty One. She was never told who her father was though and thinks that she was disowned by her mother for having just one wing. The actual reason for the abandonment was that she was his BASTARD daughter via one of his bodyguards but being a little older than Belldandy and a pure goddess unlike Urd, Lind was set to become the next Almighty One. To have the bastard daughter as the Almighty would have been a major embarrassment for Heaven and so the Almighty was sworn to secrecy or he would have been stripped of his title and powers, while Lind and Valmeyar would both have been killed.
  • Natural enough subject matter for Pirates of the Caribbean fanfic, where two generations of Turner fathers accidentally abandon their sons. Bill Turner was (at least supposedly) working away and never came back, whereas Will eventually finds himself in a Her Heart Will Go On situation, though with a twist that he may be able to come back eventually. It's a good source of Issues.
    • The fic "The Mists of Time", based on the premise that Carina is the daughter of Jack Sparrow rather than Barbossa, has Carina reflecting that, from what she has gathered about Jack's history, he had every legitimate reason to believe that her mother was dead after he was nearly killed by Cutler Beckett and began his career as a pirate, so she doesn't blame Jack for having other lovers after he began his career.
  • In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, Papa Smurf was forced to abandon his only begotten son Empath in Psychelia when the Psyche Master decided to take Empath by force as his adopted child, then made it sound like Empath was killed by the Psyche Master when in reality he merely subjected the child to a Mind Rape that erased his memories. As Empath would later find out from the Psyche Master himself, the Psyche Master wanted Empath to be his successor, and so planned to do this right from the start so that Papa Smurf would believe that Empath had died. Nevertheless, it did cost Papa Smurf his marriage.
  • In Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls, Firefly claims she had good reason for abandoning Rainbow Dash and her father, though it's still unclear what said reason is or even if it was a good one. Regardless, Rainbow is too angry at her to care. Firefly later reveals that the reason she left was to protect Rainbow and her father from the Zero Division.
  • In Mirror's Image, Queen Chrysalis left her daughter Twilight Sparkle in the care of a foster family due to the large amounts of love it takes to feed a Changeling Princess. She learned how much love it takes the hard way, at the cost of her first daughter's life.
  • In Little Sun, Princess Celestia had to abandon her newborn foal Sunset Shimmer so she wouldn't be negatively influenced by Canterlot nobles (like her nephew Prince Blueblood) and to keep her safe from the Nightmare Cult, an underground group dedicated to destroying Celestia in the name of Nightmare Moon.
  • Subverted in Children of an Elder God. When Shinji suggests that maybe his father had a good reason for ditching him, Asuka replies that that's dumb:
    "I guess he just lost interest after your Mom died. The bastard."
    "Don't call him that," Shinji said. "He's doing his best to save the world. I guess that has to take priority."
    "That is NO excuse for how he treats you. I'd beat him down if he was my father and treated me like that. He wouldn't even let you live with him!"
    "Maybe he knew I'd be better off here," Shinji said faintly.
    Asuka started to reply, then wondered for a moment if Shinji was right. "You are better off here," she said. "With people who actually care if you live or die."
  • "Heis'he Ri'nanovai" has Morgan t'Thavrau discover that her father was Senator Merken tr'Vreenak. Of course, tr'Vreenak was married at the time and Morgan surmises that her mother kept her paternity secret to protect their clans from the blood feud that could've resulted from the affair.
  • In Change, Queen Chrysalis had to leave her newborn daughter, Twilight, at the door of a loving pony family because the Badlands Hive had a shortage of love energy and all changelings (especially royalty) need love to survive as they grow up.
  • The Differentverse: Scootaloo's mother entrusted her only child to her younger sister Derpy because she couldn’t give up her work and felt that Scootaloo deserved to have an actual mother figure rather than an absentee one. Scootaloo is aware of this pre-series, though it doesn’t come up until later.
  • In the Pony POV Series, Scootaloo is an orphan as in many stories. In this case it's because one of her parents is a Changeling. As under Chrysalis breeding with ponies was punishable by death (so as not to reveal the fact Changelings are actually a lost tribe of ponies), they had to abandon her because she'd have been killed if the family had been discoverred. After Cadence overthrows Chrysalis, they've began looking for her now that it's safe to do so.
  • One More Time, One More Chance plays this with Soichiro, as, from what we can hear, Ryuuko wouldn't have survived otherwise.
  • Deconstructed in Conversations with a Cryptid. Hisashi Midoriya really did have a good reason for being so absent his son Izuku can't even remember his face. His disappearance still devastated his family and Izuku still holds a grudge against him for it. He stayed away because he was a supervillain and didn't want his family associated with that part of his life. He was trying to have his cake and eat it too by having a civilian life and family. It didn't work, partially because of All Might and partially because of his terrible luck.
  • In The Chronicles Of Ohu, Akame reunites with his oldest son, who wants nothing more to do with Akame, believing that his father abandoned him and his littermates. Akame reveals that during the war of the Iga ninja clan vs. the Koga ninja clan, he takes his puppies to another part of the country, hoping to keep them safe and well away from the bloody war. When the chapter ends, his oldest son makes up with Akame once he understands what's happened and looks forward to seeing him again after his travels.
  • Linked in Life and Love: Raven was forced to abandon her daughter Yang because assassins were after Raven. They had been after her for years, but she finally drew the line when a child gave her a toy on a mission, Raven brought it home, and it blew up in Yang's face. Yang was four at the time. Yang had fantasized about something like this for years, so she's happy to know that she really was wanted. She's significantly less happy to discover that her "father" was actually just the donor for Raven and Summer, and that her half-sister Ruby is also Raven's daughter, and also abandoned. Raven asked Tai to lie to make sure the girls never slipped up and accidentally alerted the assassins. This all contrasts canon, where Raven's reasons for abandoning Yang are blatantly hypocritical and amount to little more than cowardice dressed up in social Darwinism.
  • Subverted in Golden Threads Tie Us. Morgan and Severa's father has been missing for years. Morgan wants to believe he's alive and there's a good reason for him never returning. Severa counters she cannot think of one: if he's alive, he chose to abandon his children.
    Morgan: I told you, I'm going to look for Father!
    Severa: Father's gone. Father's been gone for years.
    Morgan: That doesn't mean anything! Believe me, if we can just find Father, then we'll be able to— If it's him, everything will be fine. I promise you!
    Severa: Are you— Are you insane!? He's definitely gone!
    Morgan: There was no body! They only found Chrom's— you can't take these things for granted with Father! If they couldn't find it, then he surely must be—
    Severa: Don't finish that! If Father's really alive, then he abandoned his best friend and left him for dead. If he's alive, then he chose not to come back for us, even though we've been waiting here for years!
    Morgan: Not abandoned. Surely there was something— extenuating circumstances, or -
    Severa: Believe me, if Plegia got their hands on Father, they would make no short time in letting everyone know that Ylisse's genius tactician was at their mercy! He either escaped or died, and to be honest, I wouldn't— If it's between the two, I'd rather he be dead.
  • born of hell('s kitchen): Both of Peter's birth parents had an excellent reason for being utterly absent from his first seven years of life—Matt was totally unaware that the hot girl he had a one night stand with in a school closet fell pregnant, and Jessica was submitted to a Traumatic C-Section and forced to waive her parental rights off because Kilgrave mind-controlled her into doing it.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Yusho Sakaki explains that he left on that fateful day he had to duel Strong Ishijima so that he could go stop Professor Akaba from conducting his plan to attack the other dimensions. In Between My Brother and Me: Mors Omnibus, this gets deconstructed because Yusho did not think he'd take so long to get to the Fusion Dimension (he accidentally landed in Carroll City before he was thrown into Heartland, where he stayed for three years) and didn't consider the psychological damage this would to do Yuya, how his wife would be affected by all of this and his Duel School is now close to being shut down. Everyone — from Yvonne, to Ruri to Zarc — states that he made an utterly stupid move and this is the reason why Yuya was easy pickings to be corrupted by Zarc himself.
  • Gendo Ikari in yet another Evangelion fanfic, Going Another Way. After Yui was absorbed into Unit-01, Gendo left Shinji behind to the care of Yui's relatives (instead of an apathetic guardian as he did in canon). He tries to justify himself on the grounds that his work needed his full focus and that he couldn't raise his son by himself while mourning Yui's "death", but no one buys it, least of all Shinji (who's less of an Extreme Doormat this time around thanks to being raised in a more loving and supportive environment) and Yui herself, who is absolutely livid to learn of how her husband Took a Level in Jerkass and betrayed her own memory the way he did. It takes a great deal of hard work on his part, as well as pulling a Big Damn Heroes by saving Shinji and his friends' lives when SEELE tries to initiate the Third Impact, to redeem himself of this.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: Princess Luna gave Cadence to a kindly farming couple, after first hiding her alicorn powers, because she felt she'd be unable to raise an alicorn foal and knit Equestria back together all on her own. She took it pretty badly, spending the next eleven years getting utterly wasted, and holds it as one of the three greatest failures of her life.
  • In For as Long as We Have, Ash's father returns to reveal that the reason he left him and Delia was because he learned he had a terminal illness, and feared he'd passed it down to Ash. While thankfully that's not the case, he has returned to clean up his loose ends with his son, because he's unsure how long he has left to live.
  • Discussed and averted in Chapter 48 of BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant. When Weiss and Pyrrha confront Yang on how she's been far more bitter as of late, she goes off and lashes out in self-loathing on how she tried to look for reasons to justify her mother's absence, only to learn that she was actually a cruel bandit leader, making her entire search for her, and the time Ruby almost died during one of her hunts for answers, mean nothing.
    Yang: I spent years looking for her. Whenever I got free time from everything, I spent it looking for her. I tried to convince myself she ran away for some good reason. That she ditched our family to go do some deep cover shit or something. Just...just something to justify it all! And you know what happened?
    Pyrrha: Yang. You need to calm down no-
    Yang: Years later I learn she's just some fucking bandit who kills and robs people! Not someone with a good reason, no, but a fucking monster!

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin and the King of Thieves: Aladdin's Disappeared Dad Cassim shows up and explains that he left to find an ancient treasure and secure a fortune for his wife and son. His refusal to come back emptyhanded meant he kept searching and stealing for years, and by the time he did come back, he could not find his loved ones and was too deep in the criminal underworld to easily back out.
  • In Coco, Miguel's family forbids him from playing music and tries to squash his dreams of becoming a musician because his great-grandmother, Mamá Coco, was supposedly abandoned by her father, Héctor, a musician/songwriter who found fame while on tour and never came back. It turns out that on the night Héctor decided to quit show business and go back to raise his family, his best friend and stage partner, Ernesto de la Cruz, poisoned his tequila shot, stole Héctor's music book, and became famous by singing the songs Héctor composed.
  • The Land Before Time: The Great Longneck Migration: Littlefoot's father Bron. He tried to look for a new home for his mate and unborn son, but when he returned, the earth shake had come, his mate had died, and Littlefoot was nowhere to be found. After several days of searching without success, Bron came across other abandoned young longnecks. So he raised them as his own. Soon, more longnecks joined Bron, making him the leader of the longneck herd.
  • Discussed in Meet the Robinsons — when former Doorstop Baby Lewis is rejected by 100+ adoptive parents, he bitterly complains that even his birth mother didn't want him. Mildred is quick to point out that that might not be true; she probably did want him but couldn't raise him for some reason. Unfortunately, this just makes Lewis obsessed with tracking his birth mother down, since he's now convinced that she's the only one who ever wanted him. Ultimately, while Louis eventually time-travels back to see his mother, his experiences have helped him move past his abandonment issues, and he decides he doesn't need to meet her or find out why she left.
  • The Prince of Egypt: Gender-swapped. As in the original story, Yocheved puts her infant son in a basket to float down the Nile to safety, as a mass murder of all male Hebrew babies is happening. She's clearly heartbroken to do so.
  • Son Of Bigfoot: Dr. Harrison had gone into hiding due to Eastman wanting to experiment on his DNA. That's why he was forced to leave his son.
  • We Are the Strange: Rain had his Robot servant take his son to be raised in the Forest because the Big Bad had discovered his giant robot plans and had sent minions to kill him and his family. Unfortunately, the robot died on the way so the son had to grow up in total isolation.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, Delgado the German shepherd gets to see his sons, who act very distant and aloof towards him, remarking that "he's never watched out for us". But Delgado tells the Chihuahuas this, who later tell this to his sons: When he and the local officers arrested some criminals, the criminals promised to hurt Delgado's puppies. So he takes them over to Los Angeles to make sure they're safe since he couldn't do that anymore. After hearing this, his sons make up with their father, letting him tag along with their police force for a while.
  • In The Cobbler, the father left his family in order to protect from from his enemies.
  • Inverted in The Journey of Natty Gann: everyone else assumes Natty is an abandoned child. She knows otherwise, and when her father fails to send for her as promised, she strikes out on her own in search of him.
  • Carina Smyth in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was left outside of an orphanage when she was a baby with only Galileo Galilei's journal. This convinced her that her father was a brilliant astronomer and made her determined to follow in his footsteps. The Reveal is that her father is Captain Barbossa. After Carina's mother died, he abandoned her hoping she could someday lead a life better than one as a pirate's daughter, and gave her the book figuring she could sell the ruby embedded in it for emergency cash. Barbossa doesn't have the heart to shatter Carina's image of a perfect father, so she figures it out on her own.
  • The Schoolgirl's Diary is a North Korean film that has a pretty weird take on this trope. Su-ryeon's father disappears for years at a time, paying brief and very infrequent visits, but it's okay because he's working so hard for the glorious benefit of the State and the Dear General Kim Jong Il. (He's a research scientist at a computer factory.) Su-ryeon eventually learns that she shouldn't be so selfish as to want her father to actually be around and stuff when he's doing important work for the state.
  • Deconstructed in SHAZAM! (2019) in the case of Billy's biological mother. Marilyn claimed she loved Billy and only abandoned him because she wanted what was best for him. But she showed her true colors when reunited with Billy for the first time in eleven years, and she coldly refuses to embrace her child and even half-heartedly dodged the question that Billy might've had a tough upbringing because of said abandonment. The fact that she didn't properly hand custody off to the state and ensure that Billy was in a stable environment (and where she could visit him) spoke volumes about how she cared more about unburdening herself from being a parent than his well-being.
  • Star Wars:
    • Obi-Wan's infamous Jedi Truth, leading to the big reveal. But Anakin had no choice but to "abandon" Luke and Leia, because he didn't even know that they were still alive! As soon as he learned otherwise, he planned a nice family bonding experience so that they could get to know each other. And of course, Anakin didn't even know Padme had twins, so he was surprised to learn that Luke had a twin sister — a sister who was rather acquainted with Vader, and whom Vader even had interrogated with enhanced tactics in A New Hope.
    • Subverted in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi: Rey, in a state of denial, convinced herself that her parents were special people who had good reasons for abandoning her and planned to come back. Nothing could be further from the truth; her parents were a pair of selfish junkies who sold her for drinking money and ended up dead in a ditch somewhere on Jakku. They had no justification for their actions and didn’t care in the slightest about finding her again. However, The Rise of Skywalker reveals that they absolutely had a good reason to abandon her. Rey is Palpatine's granddaughter through her father, and her parents sold her off to protect her shortly before being killed by Palpatine's assassins.
  • In TRON: Legacy Sam is told that his long-lost dad, Encom CEO Kevin Flynn, never would have abandoned him on purpose. It turns out that his evil counterpart CLU has sealed the portal between the Grid and the real world, trapping him.
  • Trouble with the Curve: Gus left Mickey to stay with a distant uncle when she was six and boarding school when she was thirteen. The former was because he lost track of her and found her being molested and realized he couldn't take care of her.
  • The Wolfman (2010): He didn't want you to out him about being a werewolf and on inadvertently killing your mommy.

  • This is a major theme in literary treatments of the King Arthur myth, where the young Arthur is given away by his father Uther Pendragon to be raised either by Merlin or Sir Ector. The reason for this varies depending on the version of the Arthur myth — often it is because prophetic Merlin tells Uther he has to do this. Part of it depends on when Arthur was conceived, which is under discussion. In Geoffrey of Monmouth's version, his conception occurs before his parents married, with Uther magically assuming the shape of Igraine's first husband Gorlois. In this case, Arthur would have appeared to the world to be Gorlois' son, calling his legitimacy as Uther's heir into question. On the other hand, Thomas Malory was obsessed with legitimacy and therefore stresses that Arthur was only conceived after the death of Gorlois and the wedding of Uther Pendragon and Igraine, necessitating a different rationale to explain why Arthur's claim to the throne had to be established by pulling the Sword from the Stone (and anvil).
    • In Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy, Uther knows that Arthur is his son but sends him away on Merlin's advice for Arthur's own safety and the security of future legitimate heirs (who are never born).
  • Played with in the second book, The Wizard Heir, of Cinda William Chima's The Heir Chronicles. Because Seph's mother, Linda Downey, was fighting the system of the Wizard Guilds at the time he was born, she knew he would be in danger if anyone ever found out his parentage, and thus leaves him to a foster mother to keep him safe. Seph's father, Leander Hastings, didn't even know Linda had Seph because she disappeared on him after finding out she was pregnant.
  • Susan Cooper's The Grey King. Bran Davies is in truth the son of King Arthur — he was brought forward in time and left in the 20th century by his mother Guinevere after she betrayed his father. She had to leave him because she was going to find sanctuary in a convent.
  • In the Warchild Series, Captain Azarcon isn't around to raise his son Ryan (boy do people in fiction have tough parental issues with that name) because he's busy fighting a war against pirates and aliens.
  • In Harry Potter, this was going to be a subplot for Dean—he would have discovered that his biological father was a wizard who got killed for refusing to join the Death Eaters, but that his mom just thought he walked out on her. Word of God said she aborted that arc because it didn't tie in to Harry's story very well, but upgraded Neville's back story because it did. It does get a slight nod in the last book, when Dean admits that he isn't sure if he's a Muggle-born or not because he never knew his biological father.
    • Also, Remus Lupin attempts to invoke this trope, believing that it would better for him to die heroically or abandon his pregnant wife rather than have her and his unborn child suffer because of his lycanthropy. His fears are justified, but his response is not, and Harry, having grown up without a father, is quick to call him out on this.
  • In Dinoverse, the rebellious graffiti artist Janine resents how her mother is often not at home, forcing her to miss school in order to prepare the hotel for guests herself. As it turns out, her mother is keeping Janine from getting in trouble over the graffiti — she never confronted her daughter because she feared Janine would run away.
  • The father of Demon Princess's protagonist was first in line for the throne, which also carried the responsibility of making sure nothing bad gets through portals to the human world. The way, when the current demon king/queen dies, the heir is immediately transported to the castle and can never leave. While he was with the protagonist's mother, his father died and he was called back, giving him no time to explain or say good-bye. He decided that she wouldn't even believe the explanation, so he never made contact with his family until he learns about his daughter and her latent powers.
  • In Animorphs Tobias's father left before finding out that his wife was pregnant, because said dad was Elfangor, who decided to rejoin the war against the Yeerks to hopefully save the Earth from their imminent invasion.
    • His mother, too: she was in a car accident that left her blind and gave her amnesia of the non-laser-guided variety (i.e., it took her years to learn to take care of herself, let alone a child). She put off tracking him down because she thought, wrongly, that by this point he was Happily Adopted and that she would just disrupt his life.
  • In The Historian the primary narrator, a young woman in the 1970s, was raised by her diplomat father because her mother died when she was an infant. You find out that her mother only faked her death to escape getting bitten — and therefore turned into a vampire — by Vlad "The Impaler" Tepes a.k.a. Dracula himself. The mother then spent the entirety of the narrator's childhood researching when and where Vlad would next appear so that she could kill him without endangering her family.
  • In Michael Flynn's Up Jim River, the harper, having heard the story in The January Dancer, knows that her father had an excellent reason — but points out that her mother didn't know it.
  • Tales of Kolmar has Lanen's mother leaving her with her uncaring father when Lanen was tiny. Turns out this happened after a demon attack. Maren thought her Farseer was attracting them. By the time it turned out this wasn't true, years had passed, and she was afraid to go back.
  • There's a variation in A Brother's Price. Halley was the natural leader of the surviving princesses, but she wasn't the eldest — and by the traditions of this world, the eldest has to rule the family; especially this family, which will come to the thrones and has a recent tradition of turning into a Civil War over this point. Halley disappeared Because You Can Cope and to try and force her eldest to step up and take more responsibility.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, specifically in the "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife" tale, the titular character, prince Aldarion, leaves his native island for several years, many times. The last of these times, his wife (who thought he would have just settled down, by now) spent the years of his absence teaching their 4-to-7-year-old daughter Ancalimë to hate her father, and men in general. Turns out Aldarion was helping the elves and men of Middle Earth prepare against a new, vague, rising threat, which (despite not telling Aldarion) the elf king had correctly identified as Morgoth's former servant: Sauron. Whoops.
  • Olga Dies Dreaming: Not Daddy, Mami; Blanca, Olga and Prieto's mom, was affiliated to the Young Lords and later she joined Los Macheteros, a Puerto Rican nationalist group. As far as she is concerned, working towards achieving independence for Puerto Rico justified not just leaving her family but sending them sporadic letters with no return address.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, Bull is a supervillain who is separated from his wife because he doesn't want his daughter to have to deal with having a villain for a father. Penny tries to convince him it's better than having no father, and he admits he'll consider it.
  • In Dragon Queen, the old man claims Trava's mother had a good reason for abandoning her, but seems reluctant to give the reason.
  • Odysseus had to abandon his infant son Telemachus because he was compelled by oath to help Menelaus regain his wife Helen (a cousin of Telemachus' mother Penelope). This kept him busy for ten years in the Trojan War, while on his return journey to Ithaca Odysseus was held up for another ten years by a number of often supernatural factors.
  • In A Wrinkle in Time, the Man with the Red Eyes comments that Meg's father hasn't been behaving in a very fatherly way. Meg defends him with this trope, saying that he was working for the government. He was on a top-secret mission — learning about applied tessering. Of course, the real reason he wasn't with Meg's family was that he was trapped on Camazotz, and trying to avoid being swallowed up mentally by IT.
  • Heretical Edge: Flick Chambers is thrown out of whack upon learning that her Missing Mom used to be a heretic and realizes there's a very real chance she had a good reason for abandoning their family. At this point, the readers know that Flick's mother (Joselyn) probably did have a good reason, considering that her younger child Ammon has mind control powers. As it turns out, Joselyn traded her own freedom to Ammon's father in exchange for a promise to leave Flick alone (as long as she's a child).
  • In Warrior Cats, Bluestar gave her kits up to RiverClan because the Clan deputy position was about to open up, and she'd be ineligible for the post while nursing kits; she knew that if she wasn't chosen, Thistleclaw would be, and that due to Sunstar's age Thistleclaw was likely to go on to become Clan leader and lead the Clan into unnecessary wars.
  • In Everworld, Senna's mother characterizes things this way—she says that there were forces (presumably Loki) trying to find them, but that their magical powers would be harder to sense if they were separated. This isn't wrong, really, but given how flighty her mothering already was and how unforgiving Senna generally is, she takes this as more of an excuse than a justification. (Senna's father could also count for the first seven years of her life—he didn't know about her at all until Senna's mom dropped her off and literally vanished.)
  • Several of the dogs in Survivor Dogs think that their owners selfishly abandoned them during the "Big Growl". This causes them no small amount of angst and only makes Lucky (who's a stray) dislike being a pet all the more. According to Word of God, their owners didn't want to leave them but they were forced to due to short notice of upcoming natural disasters. The dogs eventually realize this in the fourth book after they come across the corpses of several humans who couldn't escape the earthquakes.
  • At the start of They Cage The Animals At Night, Jennings' mother abandons him an orphanage without explaining why. He didn't understand it at the time, but it turns out she was temporarily unable to take care of him due to an injury.
  • Waggit Trilogy: Waggit's Tale ends with Waggit being adopted by a singer and living happily with her, but Waggit Again starts with Waggit being abandoned at a farm, causing him to hate the woman. When his human friend Felicia talks to the woman (named Ruth), she mentions that she was called to sing at a cruise since the previous singer couldn't make it, but she couldn't take Waggit with her. Since she was sure that he hated being in the kennels, she decided to leave him at her brother's farm until the cruise is over, but she was shocked when she heard that Waggit had run away. Waggit feels horrible for thinking negatively of her because of this, and he silently makes it up to her by letting her adopt two orphaned puppies.
  • In the Earth's Children series, Ayla has this is regards to her son, Durc. At the end of The Clan of the Cave Bear, she is forced to leave the clan by Broud, who curses her with death, meaning she is literally seen as dead by the clan. Ayla cannot take Durc with her because travelling to locations unknown in the wilderness is difficult enough without a young child to look after and he would likely be considered dead as well, cutting him off from the Clan permanently. Ayla knows he'll be alright because Uba and Brun will care for him, though they're both still devastated. A few years later, in The Mammoth Hunters, Ayla seriously considers trying to find Durc and bringing him to live with her at the Lion Camp. However, in the end she decides against this, partly out of practicality (she has no idea where his clan is living now or how to find them) and partly because she realizes it would be unfair to Durc - he has spent his whole life with the Clan and has a place amongst them, whilst he would be discriminated against amongst Cro-Magnon and have a much more difficult life.
  • In the Inheritance Cycle, it turns out Selena left her son Eragon with his aunt and uncle because she needed to return home to be with her other son Murtagh and to prevent her abusive husband Morzan from growing suspicious of her whereabouts, especially as Eragon wasn't his child. She presumably intended to come back for Eragon, but she fell deathly ill on the road home and died a few weeks later.
  • King Robert Baratheon from A Song of Ice and Fire has played almost no role in the upbringing of his illegitimate children. The reason why is that when he once broached the subject of bringing his natural (bastard) daughter Mya to court, his wife Queen Cersei implied she would have her killed. Indeed once Robert dies, Cersei orders the massacre of Robert's bastards.
  • Retired Witches Mysteries: Olivia Dunst gave up her daughter for adoption when she was born to hide her from her father Drago Rasmun, who was an evil witch and whom she feared would try to take and raise the girl to be like him if he knew about her.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: Both Daddy and Mommy, in a highly Justified example. In Beyond, Kordas and Ilsa Valdemar have three sons, but less than a handful of people know that; not even the boys themselves, who are told they are the children of Kordas' illegitimate cousin/right hand man Hakkon. By Imperial decree, all heirs to a title must be sent to court at age 13 to be 'properly educated' - in reality held hostage to keep their parents in line. The Court is horrifically abusive and neglectful of it's young hostages; Ilsa's twin brother died of illness, along with his personal attendant, and no one even noticed until Kordas managed a visit to come check on him. Kordas and Ilsa both vowed their children would never be put through that, which means never announcing their existence. Once everyone's safely out of the Empire's reach at the end of the book, Ilsa and Kordas tell their sons who they really are. Turns out their eldest (who will later become one of the first three Heralds) has already figured it out and told his next-youngest brother.
  • I Do Not Want To Do This has a heartbreaking example with Joanna, a girl cursed with a "succubus aura" that causes every man nearby to intensely desire her. It began to manifest at puberty, and her father, who she had loved deeply up until then, walked out because the temptation it caused was too strong and he didn't want to end up molesting his daughter.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Soaps are rife with this. Knowing that viewers aren't interested in seeing their characters parenting children, writers either keep them off-screen, rapidly age them, or invent reasons to send them out of town to live with relatives — a classic scenario is the kid being shipped off to boarding school or to living with a character's ex-spouse. Occasionally, Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs — the teenaged or grown-up child returns to town with complex and often conflicted feelings about the absentee parent.
    • Victor with Adam on The Young and the Restless. Here, Adam's mother specifically asks that Victor have no part in Adam's life, but charged Victor to take care of Adam on her deathbed. Not really sure why — it's a Soap Opera so her reasons for this were probably explained like, ten or twenty years ago.
    • Same with Paul and Heather. He is asked to stay out of Heather's life completely at her mother's request. Paul also sent his and Isabella's son Ricky to live with her parents after she was arrested.
    • On All My Children, Erica gave her daughter Kendall up for adoption in an effort to give Kendall a better life as she was too young to raise her properly at 14 and felt adult parents would provide a better home. Kendall is devastated to learn she was given up and the circumstances surrounding her conception, which Erica tried to shield her fromnote . Kendall feels unwanted and abandoned, yearning for Erica's love while lashing out against her mother, paralleling aspects of Erica yearning for her absentee father's love and having lashed out at her mother over it. However, Erica and Kendall ultimately reconcile and rebuild their relationship.
      • Erica also loses custody of daughter Bianca due to her infidelity.
    • On General Hospital, Bobbie must give up her daughter Carly for adoption as Bobbie is unable to give her daughter a good life as an 18-year old prostitute. Carly is deeply hurt to learn she was given up and acts out against her mother due to her feeling abandoned. As the series goes on, Bobbie and Carly reconcile.
  • In Alias, Sydney has a rocky relationship with her father, Jack. It's implied he wasn't around much while she was growing up. Turns out he's a CIA agent fighting to save the country. And he was also in prison for part of time. Her mother, Irina, wasn't around because she faked her death and defected back to Russia.
  • Angel: Holtz is perfectly plain about Connor's origins — almost sinisterly so. Although Connor has been drilled to think of his parents as monsters, he is, at heart, angry at them for abandoning him. Angel is obviously torn up about it, and makes a final attempt to reason with him, but Connor is too far gone to hear it.
  • Averted in The Movie of Black Hole High when Avenir tries to pull this on Josie. It doesn't work.
  • Variant in Bones. Cam, it turns out, was an honorary stepmom to the daughter of her very serious boyfriend, but left the relationship (and, by proxy, the girl) when it turned out he had cheated on her. When the man was murdered and the team put on the case, the daughter is now a teenager and very annoyed at Cam who ends up adopting her.
    • Also in Bones, both of Brennan's parents were being hunted by the gang of criminals they used to work with.
  • Played with on Brothers & Sisters. Adulterer-patriarch William sired a bastard son with a married woman. The boy, Ryan, doesn't know this until both of his bio parents are dead. William couldn't be part of his life because both he and Ryan's mother were married to other people and weren't willing to destroy their marriages for the sake of their son. Here it's not really even a justification, but rather an explanation. Everyone still thinks William is a dick after this is revealed.
  • The Cape: Vince did, as he was framed and forced to fake his death. Unusually, this trope is portrayed from the perspective of the father. He tries to keep a relationship with his son as The Cape.
  • It happened twice in Charmed (1998):
    • In Victor's first appearance, he just abandoned his three daughters because he was a deadbeat bad. This was Ret Conned in later episodes, where he came back into their lives and explained that he and Grams disagreed about how to raise them, and since she could protect them from demons better than he could he opted to stay away.
    • Paige was given away because relationships between witches and Whitelighters is forbidden, and her parents feared the wrath of the Elders (including potentially not letting the girls become the Charmed Ones).
    • One episode had the girls discover a Doorstop Baby. It turns out that the child's family was being tormented by a vengeful ghost and the dad hoped that this would be enough to protect him.
  • In Chuck the reason Chuck's and Ellie's father left was to protect them from the spy agencies that wanted to use him for research on the Intersect.
    • And the reason their mom left them? She was a CIA agent working undercover and an insane international weapons dealer fell in love with her. She had to leave because she was afraid of what would happen if the guy found out about her family.
      • Further along the plotline, the initial reason she left them was to bring the guy back to the CIA, since he was the initial Intersect, that had failed.
  • The episode "Family" on Cold Case the girl's father was killed the night she was born and her mother, who was distraught over what she thought was dad's abandonment, also abandoned the girl.
    • And the episodes "The Thin Blue Line" and "Into The Blue" reveal that Lily's dad abandoned her because he was a recovering alcoholic and felt that his staying married to Lily's mom (also an alcoholic and refused to get sober) would jeopardize his sobriety. Lily's mom threw him out and refused to allow him to have contact with her or her sister.
    • Another episode had a woman abandoning her daughter in a church after her abusive husband murdered her other daughter, feeling it was the only way she could keep her safe.
  • Happened on Criminal Minds with Reid's Disappeared Dad, whom everyone assumed left due to his mom's mental problems. When a case involving abducted childrens awakens long-buried memories and leads Reid to suspect that his dad sexually assaulted and murdered a neighbor's child, we get the real story. It turns out that a local man named George Michaels was the real murderer. When Reid's mother realized that, she told the murdered boy's father, who killed Michaels; in the process, Reid's mother fell over the body and got blood on her. Reid's father burned her clothes and helped to cover up the murder, but he was so guilty about it that he lost all confidence and had to abandon Reid to take care of his schizophrenic mother. Six years later. Or something like that. You're on your own to decide whether that's a good reason or not; Reid accepts it as a reason, but it's not clear that he thinks it's a very good one.
    • In the Season 10 episode Fate, Rossi is completely taken aback when he discovers the Intrepid Reporter who's been trailing him for most of the episode is in fact his daughter from a whirlwind romance he had in his youth. According to Joy, the daughter in question, Rossi and her mother got divorced shortly before the latter learned she was pregnant; Joy only found out her true parentage when her stepfather admitted the truth on his deathbed. In a later episode, when Rossi asks Joy's mother why she didn't tell him she was pregnant, she says that the nature of Rossi's work would have kept him from being a father to Joy, a charge Rossi can't say is wrong.
  • In season 4 of Desperate Housewives, Lynette's stepfather shows up and tells her that the reason he left her family when she was a kid was because he's gay. Lynette's mother never told her because she felt embarrassed by this. After Edie Britt's death in Season 5, all four lead women and Karen McCluskey visit her Son Travers to inform him of her death and to give him her ashes. When Travers appears unfazed by this, he says his mother didn't try to raise him, just handed him to his father and walked away. Angry, Karen tells Travers about how some years back, Edie comforted Karen on the anniversary of her son's death and told her that she wanted Travers to be brought up properly and she knew she wouldn't have been a good mother to him. Either way she still loved him.
  • Diagnosis: Murder: It's revealed that Dane Travis, father of secondary protagonist Jessie, did not leave his family, and start a new one, nor did he continuously cancel get togeathers because he's a Jerkass; he's actually a spy who left his family for their own safety. Naturally Jessie doesn't believe him at first.
    • It's eventually revealed that Mark's own Disappeared Dad did not walk out on his family, he was murdered by his police partner due to a conspiracy; which was discovered when aforementioned partner dies and Mark's father's body is discovered in the mausoleum the partner was to be buried in.
  • A downplayed, villainous version in Elementary. Moriarty reveals she had a daughter she gave up for adoption after birth, mostly because it would interfere with running her criminal empire and she considers her motherly instincts a burden, but she also acknowledges that it wouldn’t have been a suitable environment to raise a child in.
  • Deconstructed on Everwood, kind of. Before the series began, Andy was a famous surgeon who hardly ever spent any time with his kids (the show kicks off when his wife's death forces him to change). At one point, his son Ephram comments bitterly on the fact that, since his dad was always off saving lives, he can't even be angry at him without feeling like a bad person.
    • Andy's Friendly Rival, Harold, had a similar situation growing up: his mom Edna, a nurse, volunteered during the Vietnam War, and while she says she wanted to help people, he feels like she just wanted adventure and neglected the rest of the family to get it.
  • A rare female example in the Frontier Circus episode "The Smallest Target". When the T & T Circus stops in a small town, sharpshooter Bonnie Stevens encounters the husband and son she abandoned years before, and she is forced to explain why she did so. She was feeling stifled and slowly going insane on the isolated ranch, so she left the child with the ranch foreman's wife (who had no children and who she knew would dote on the boy) because she new life on the road was no life for a small child.
  • In Game of Thrones, Jon Snow grows up believing his mother gave him up to his father Lord Eddard Stark, he having had an affair with Jon's mother. He doesn't know anything about her as Ned never speaks of her; he doesn't know if she cares about him or if she's even still alive. Ned promises that the next time they see each other, he'll tell him about his mother...but this doesn't pan out due to Ned's untimely death. It's revealed much later in the series why Jon's mother’s gave him up and it's a very good reason: his mother is Ned's late sister Lyanna and his real biological father is Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, who eloped with Lyanna rather than kidnapping her as most people believed. After the Targaryens were overthrown during Robert's Rebellion, Lyanna begged Ned to protect Jon as she feared Robert Baratheon and his supporters would kill him, shortly before she died of childbirth complications.
  • Ghost Whisperer:
    • Subverted with Melinda’s father, Tom... or the man she thought was her father. At first, it looks like Tom walked out to protect her from a killer. Turns out, Tom wasn’t really her biological father, and was actually actively keeping her real father away by framing and trying to kill him so he could keep Melinda and her mom to himself. When Paul came over to confront Tom over his deception, they had a scuffle, and Tom murdered Paul. Tom left his family to hide his own crime, and even tries to kill Melinda when she finds out the truth.
    • Played straight with Melinda’s real father, Paul. He was convicted for a murder he didn’t commit over a misunderstanding. Melinda’s mother, Beth, who was pregnant with Melinda when he was arrested, went to the prosecutor, Tom, to plead on his case. As they went over Paul’s case, the distance took it’s toll on his relationship, and she started developing feelings for Tom, who knew Paul was innocent but secretly pulled strings to kill him and keep him in jail. Eventually, she gave up on Paul and married Tom, telling Melinda that he, not Paul, was her real father.
  • Used in season three of Gossip Girl when Chuck Bass' supposedly dead mother shows up. Serena desperately wants to believe that her reason for leaving would play into this trope, since that would make Serena feel less horrid about having been abandoned by her own father. Chuck's maybe-mama crushes Serena's hopes and fantasies however by simply explaining "I didn't want to have a kid and I never regretted giving my child up."
  • In The Fosters, the twins eventually meet their biological father and learn that he was already 18 when they were conceived, whereas their mother was only 15 and her parents pressed the issue, landing him on the sex offender registry.
  • Deconstructed on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys with Herc and Zeus. Herc grew up wanting to meet his father, but also resenting him for effectively abandoning him before he was even born. Of course, Zeus is the king of all gods; even Herc acknowledged what a big, consuming job that is. It's demonstrated that Zeus has always protected Hercules from his various enemies on Olympus and was secretly in contact with Alcmene for much of Herc's childhood. Still, the overall experience left Hercules with a lot of emotional baggage that he still struggles with as an adult, alternating between wanting to embrace his father and resenting him at a moment's notice. Zeus choosing to engage in an affair rather than prevent Hera from killing Herc's wife and kids only made it worse. Every encounter between them afterwards is a tense affair.
    • The spin-off, Young Hercules, stayed true to this, but also added a few new wrinkles. Since he hasn't even met Zeus at this point in his life, Hercules is downright obsessive in trying to get the attention of a father literally at the top of the world. On multiple occasions, he risks his life and/or endangers his friends simply because the word "Zeus" came up. In the final episode, Zeus appears in disguise and talks to Hercules about having a son he loves dearly but is not close to; he acknowledges his failings as a parent and feels staying away is better.
  • Subverted in Season 2 of Heroes with Maury Parkman. After Matt tracks his father down, Maury hugs him and pretends to be sorry he left. However, Maury then uses his telepathic powers to trick Matt and Nathan into fighting each other.
    • Played straight during Season 3 when Maury performs a Heel–Face Turn and works for Arthur Petrelli in exchange to ensure his son's safety.
  • In the Heat of the Night: Gillespie had an affair with a woman who married another man and left Sparta. She was pregnant and never told him. He meets his daughter when her mother is murdered.
  • While a number of Kamen Rider shows have characters with daddy issues, this particular trope is a bit less common:
    • Kamen Rider Double portrays Sokichi Narumi as the epitome of a badass detective and all-around great man, which makes it strange that he's so detached from his only child that she doesn't know he's a Posthumous Character. It's not until after the show that one of the follow-up movies provides an explanation: a bomb in his hand that would go off if he ever came near the person he loved most.
    • Kamen Rider Ghost rather abruptly brings up secondary Rider Makoto Fukami's daddy issues in the show's second half as part of the tie-in to the summer movie featuring said father, who turns out to have abandoned his son and daughter in a failed effort to keep them from being dragged into the show's central conflict.
  • The Knight Rider remake has the character from the original show giving his son an It's Not You, It's My Enemies excuse for not being around.
  • In Law & Order: SVU, Amaro learns that while undercover, he fathered a son he never knew about, who is now ten years old. Once he learns the truth, he makes it a point to be in his son's life.
    • Played with in Rollins' backstory. She feels that her father was justified in leaving because her mother "rode his ass, nagging him until he had to leave", but Murphy suggests that maybe her father (who was The Gambling Addict) was the problematic one and her mother was just trying to get him to clean up his act. Based on what we see of them later in the series, it would seem that neither parent was exactly great at parenting.
  • Done very sympathetically on an episode of Lie to Me where the team investigates a congressman who has spent 80 grand on a prostitute. However, they find out that he never had sex with her, and was giving her money to get her out of that business. She doesn't know that he is her father, and he is portrayed as someone who gave up his child for adoption but regretted it. The fact that he has no hesitation to sacrifice his reputation and political career in order to protect her from the scandal counts a lot toward making him so sympathetic.
  • Dr. Mondo Tatsumi, the father of the titular Kyukyu Sentai GoGoV, left his family ten years before the start of the series because he predicted the coming of a horde of demons during the Grand Cross of 1999. When nobody believed him, he went underground to develop the means to fight them. The series explores the various degrees of acceptance of this from the five siblings, and how each of them coped with their father's disappearance.
  • Then there are cases where the other parent forces your hand, as with Michael on Lost.
    • Or Miles, whose father makes his mother take him off the island to save their lives.
  • An episode of MacGyver (1985) gave us a variation: Jack Dalton's mother gave him up for adoption to protect him from a mobster that was targeting her.
  • Married... with Children: Seven's folks stick the Bundys with the kid, but for a good reason: They felt Al/Peggy would be better parents. Of course, he ended up on the side of a milk carton, so...
  • NCIS: The Season 18 episode Sangre explores Agent Nick Torres's estranged relationship with his father, Miguel over being abandoned during his childhood in Panama. The actual reason for Miguel's disappearance: He rebelled against Manuel Noriega and abandoned his entire family to ensure their safety. Additionally, Miguel became an undercover CIA agent.
  • On Once Upon a Time, the Evil Queen casts a curse on Fairy Tale Land, forcing Snow White and Prince Charming to place their baby daughter Emma in the portal which carries her to the real world in order to save her from the curse. Emma herself has very mixed feelings on the matter. The original plan was for Snow White and Prince Charming to go with Emma, but circumstances and another character's motivations prevented that from happening.
    • Peter Pan tries to use this as an excuse, but his son doesn't buy it for a second.
  • Prison Break: Aldo Burrows to Lincoln and Michael.
  • In The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith", Sarah Jane's parents abandoned her to kill themselves by car crash, fixing the Timey-Wimey Ball and saving the world from being devastated by aliens.
  • In Sleepy Hollow we have a case of Mommy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning you. Katrina gave birth to her son Jeremy after her husband Ichabod's 'death'- which was actually Katrina sealing him underground for centuries to save his life. However, this act earned Katrina the ire of her coven, and she left Jeremy in the care of trusted friends to protect him. She ended up captured and sold out to Moloch by her coven, and Jeremy was left alone. Unfortunately, Jeremy's life ends up going south soon after that, and when he reunites with parents 200 years later he is not happy, and has no time for Katrina's excuses.
  • In the first episode of Stargate SG-1, Teal'c turns against Apophis and escapes to Earth with SG-1. We later learn that he left behind a wife and son, both of whom are understandably bitter with him for his abandonment. They eventually come to understand that he left for the greater good because he realized that the Tau'ri would be valuable allies in overthrowing the Goa'uld.
  • One episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation had Jean-Luc Picard learn that he had a son by a woman he'd had a brief fling with decades ago, who had subsequently upped sticks and left for a frontier planet without bothering to tell him she was pregnant. It then turns out that the woman had died not long afterwards and her son had ended up a street-rat and a petty crook, and was understandably not very pleased that his father hadn't bothered showing up until he was an adult. That the only reason Picard knew he existed was because a Ferengi with a grudge against him was threatening his son's life really didn't help. And then it turns out he's not actually Jean-Luc's son...
  • In Supernatural, the protagonists' father John lived his entire life believing that his father had walked out on him. Sam and Dean learn that their grandfather had actually travelled to the future in order to keep a valuable artifact out of demonic hands and died before he could return home.
  • In a Season 3 episode of S.W.A.T, when a teenage boy is abducted at gunpoint, it turns out he's the biological son of a former political activist and explosives expert who turned state's evidence against the rest of his group when their motives switched to domestic terrorism. His pregnant girlfriend broke off the relationship rather than cut all ties with her family and go into Witnes Protection with her boyfriend, eventually marrying someone else who adopted and raised their son like his own. It turns out the boy was abducted because some of the men his biological father helped put in jail had broken out and wanted to use the boy as leverage to get his father to help them blow up a few targets.
  • Lucifer (2016) has a weird one in its final season, when Lucifer and Chloe's daughter from the future travels back in time partly to get revenge on her father for walking out on her and mom before she was born, partly to try to find out why he did itnote . One of her arguments for why it can't have been a good reason is that her mother would have said what had happened if it was a good reason. As it ultimately turns out, it's a Stable Time Loop: the daughter made them swear to have him leave and her mother keep silent about what really happened so that she would travel back in time and everything that happened after that would still happen.

  • In the Johnny Cash song "A Boy Named Sue", the dad doesn't explicitly mention just why he left at all. He does, however, justify naming his son Sue:
    And he said, "Son, this world is rough/and if a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough/and I knew I wouldn't be there to help you along..."
  • Manowar's song Defender opens with the reading of a letter explaining this.
    "Father... Father! Father, I look up to youuuuuu!!"

  • Inverted in Annie: optimist heroine Annie assumes that her parents abandoned her for a very good reason and they will one day be reunited. Unfortunately, it turns out she is really an orphan but the woman who runs the orphanage, Miss Hannigan, never told her, which enables the baddies to pull a con job.
    • In the movie version of the musical, her parents did intend to return for her, but they were killed in a fire before they could, and, again, Miss Hannigan keeps the information from her — as well as all of her parents' possessions, which should have gone to her.

    Video Games 
  • In Another Code, Ashley's father left her with her aunt to pursue research on memory to find out about his wife's death.
  • In Arc the Lad, Arc's father had a good reason to leave his wife and son for more than ten years He tried to Set Right What Once Went Wrong after the elemental spirits granted him the ability to time travel. But, because Arc the Lad is... well, Arc The Lad, he failed to save the world and only came back to die in front of his son and let him angsting.
  • In Baldur's Gate II, Cernd left his wife and unborn son to pursue his calling as a druid. He thinks his commitment to maintaining the balance of nature is a good reason for abandoning his family. Nobody else does. Even the evil wizard who is about to sacrifice the baby to a lich calls him out on it, asking if Cernd even knows the kid's name. To be fair, he didn't know his wife was pregnant at the time.
    • Really bites Cernd in the ass: in Cernd's epilogue, his constant favoring of his druidic calling over his son leads to his son becoming an evil wizard, leading an army, and eventually forcing a showdown that results in a Mutual Kill.
  • Airi's father in Devil Survivor 2 had a very good reason — his investigations had ferreted out a highly dangerous Ancient Conspiracy (JP's), and it's implied that had he not faked his death and disappeared, JP's would have killed him. Airi never learns this, though, and her father dies for real during a failed demon summoning. He asks the protagonist not tell his daughter about his 'second death'.
  • In the case of Kyle and Julian Brennan in the X-Universe series, it's because Mom took Julian halfway across the galaxy after the divorce and never told Kyle where they went.
  • Subverted in Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories with Adell's parents. They left to defeat fake Overlord Zenon and failed. The subversion is in how they intended to return (assuming they won).
  • Fatal Frame V: Maiden of Black Water has Miku Hinasaki tell her daughter why she left her to be raised by a friend at the age of three. Miu is a Shadowborn — a child of a human mother and ghost father. Since giving birth to a Shadowborn puts huge strains on the mother and reduce her lifespan drastically, Miku realized that her time was going to run out soon. She wanted to spare her daughter the sight of watching her mother die, since Miku had to see her mother's corpse herself years ago, and ran off to perform the Yuukon, a ghost marriage, with her spirited away brother and was put into a Black Box. Said Black Box sustained Miku over the years, allowing her and her grown daughter to reunite and explain things.
  • James in Fallout 3 had what he thought was a pretty good reason for abandoning the main character. However, it turns out he made a grave miscalculation: his disappearance sends the Vault into anarchy and gets his son/daughter marked for death by the Overseer. Of course, James makes a fairly impressive series of well-meaning miscalculations as the game goes on...
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy X has Jecht, who spends most of the game a distant and apparently horribly abusive father to Tidus, who's reasonably pissed off that his father abandoned him and his mother. Turns out that Jecht was swept to another world and sacrificed himself for the hope of peace. Since Tidus is, at the time, in a similar situation... They reconciled (sort of) and Tidus Mercy Killed him because he was in a Fate Worse than Death.
    • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time has an unusual case, in that they actually DIDN'T have a good reason, as far as we know. However it's pointed out multiple times that, had you not been abandoned, it would certainly mean The End of the World as We Know It.
    • Final Fantasy Legend II opens with a scene where your father is last seen leaving through your bedroom window. Throughout the game, you wind up bumping into him repeatedly, finding out he's trying to save the universe just like you are. (And you try to convince him to come home more often.)
    • This is discussed during one cutscene in Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia. Laguna and Galuf argue that they had to do it to keep their loved ones safe, and Laguna used the thought of his waiting family to get himself through many deadly situations. Krile and Yuri take the opposite view because it's denying them to chance to help and making them sick with worry.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening brings this up a few times with the children from the future. Cynthia laments that her mom Sumia broke her promise to finish the spear that they were making together due to future Sumia getting killed in battle, and Yarne fears that his father will break his marriage vows to Panne similar to when Yarne's father in the future broke his promise to return when Yarne's father was killed in battle. Similarly, all the other children's parents were killed in some way.
  • In Hades, Zagreus's motivation for leaving the Underworld is to find his mother Persephone and learn why she abandoned him. The first time he reaches the surface and finally meets her, he learns she had a very good reason: Zagreus was stillborn, and Persephone left Hades and the Underworld in her grief. It wasn't until much later that Nyx was able to revive Zagreus, but by then Persephone was long gone.
  • In Growlanser III, one of your party members had a father who disappeared one day; being half human and half Featherian, this lead to some Fantastic Racism among her relatives. (You eventually learn that the Big Bad killed him.)
  • In Jade Cocoon, Ricketz leaves his family and abandons his position as Cocoon Master of his village, because staying on would cause his wife to eventually die of a magically-induced cancerous disease, as the wives of all Cocoon Masters are women of the Nagi tribe who have a sacred duty to purify the demon-capturing cocoons their husbands inevitably accumulate in their role as magical protectors of their villages. He also tries to discover a cure, in the process becoming the catalyst for the entire plot of the story.
  • The Legend of Dragoon: one would think that being possessed by the spirit of a near-12,000 year old megalomaniacal Wingly dictator and forced to set off a series of events that would lead to The End of the World as We Know It is a good reason for Parental Abandonment.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II, though the reason why he was abandoned at the snowy field was never brought up, Rean manages to finally confront his dad. Said dad turns out to be the Evil Chancellor, Giliath Osborne although in the flashback, he was very reluctant to abandon Rean, even asking for the goddess Aidios to take care of him.
  • Mass Effect 2 gives us Thane Krios who left his son Kolyat, Thane didn't want Kolyat to be influenced by his fathers job as an assassin, either by becoming one himself or being connected to him for his enemies to find. Also, he found everyone involved in his wife's murder and killed them. Slowly.
  • In Mortal Kombat X, Takeda’s father, Kenshi, left him to be trained by Hanzo Hasashi and the Shirai Ryu after his mother’s death when he was eight years old. Kenshi asked Hanzo to tell Takeda that his mother died in an accident, while in reality she was the victim of an assassination attempt by the Red Dragon clan, and Kenshi left to hunt down her killers.
  • Mother 1 and Earthbound, where your father is only seen at the other end of the phone providing you with money and gifts the entire adventure. Mother 3, on the other hand, has a father who is present throughout the story and is even the main protagonist of the first part of the game. Unfortunately, what he goes through completely breaks him, forcing his son to mature and strengthen himself on his own.
  • In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire/Emerald, the player's dad seems to live in his gym (he never comes out, does he?)
    • And don't forget Palmer, the Tower Tycoon from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl/Platinum. He is the rival's father and while he claims to remember you as his son's friend, he is never once seen outside of Battle Tower.
    • In the Celebi event in Pokemon Heart Gold/Soul Silver we're informed that Giovanni supposedly had a good reason for abandoning Silver after disbanding Team Rocket, but we never find out what it is.
  • In Quest for Glory IV, the Burgomeister's grandfather disappeared shortly before he was to marry the Burgomeister's grandmother, leaving her alone and pregnant. This resulted in the child and grandchild becoming rather bitter individuals. When playing as a paladin, you end up finding the grandfather's sword in a wraith's barrow, proving that his abandonment was not intentional — Piotyr had been killed before the wedding.
  • Tales Series:
    • Tales of Destiny: Hugo Gilchrist knew he was hearing voices and going mad, and after killing his wife he sends Rutee away to Cresta, where she's raised in an orphanage. Before he could send Leon away as well, he went completely insane and instead tried to raise him as a Tyke Bomb.
    • In Tales of Graces, Aston Lhant sends his son Hubert off to another country to be raised by the military-based Oswell family. Aston does so in order to avoid a messy Succession Crisis between Hubert and his older brother, Asbel. It's ultimately deconstructed when Hubert returns to Lhant years down the road. Not only did Aston's attempts to avoid a succession crisis only delay the inevitable, they actually made it far worse than if he'd done nothing. Hubert now has taken multiple levels in badass and in jerkass, promptly curb-stomping Asbel and exiling him from Lhant, then telling off their mother when she tries to intervene.
    • Tales of Symphonia has a couple.
      • The reason Kratos abandoned Lloyd was because he saw him, Noishe, and the monster version of his wife fall over a cliff, and after fending off the nearby Desians, found nothing but half-eaten corpses at the bottom. He thought they had died.
      • Genis and Raine got abandoned because Raine was so intelligent, the Imperial Research Academy wanted to kidnap her and keep her imprisoned with other half-elves to work on science projects for them. Their parents sent them through a magical portal to the "mythical land" of Sylvarant, where they hoped the children would be safe from Fantastic Racism. They had no way of knowing that Sylvarant was poor and mana-starved, and suffered from just as much racism as Tethe'alla...
    • Tales of the Tempest: Due to Leimenorean persecution, Caius was sent off to the Leimen capital with his mother, the Leimen Queen, while Lukius lived with his father, the Pope. Unfortunately the capital was attacked and razed a year later. Both the Pope and Lukius thought Caius was dead, and so didn't try to reclaim him from his adoptive father.
  • In Xenogears, Jessie claims to have a justifiable reason for abandoning his wife and children. In the game itself, the trope is subverted, as the explanation is not very thorough and the player is left with the impression that he's making excuses. After reading the explanation given in Perfect Works, though, it becomes clear that he had to leave in order to protect them and the trope is played straight.

    Visual Novels  
  • In Ever17, Tsugumi had a good reason for abandoning her son and daughter: if she didn't, they'd be captured and researched upon in the hopes of finding a way to immortality, or at the very least would never be able to attend school or have friends due to constantly being on the run. It didn't really work out, but they did get more normal lives out of it. Oddly enough, she's the only one who really has a problem over it. The kids don't care in the slightest.
  • In the backstory of Fate/stay night, Kiritsugu had very good reasons for abandoning his Illya. It's also not completely his choice: his father-in-law got really pissed off that he destroyed the Holy Grail in the Fourth War, and forcibly cut off all contact between him and his daughter. All of his efforts to retrieve her failed, and he eventually dies a broken man, his only comfort being his adopted son Shirou. It's not completely clear how much Illya knows about his motivations — the Illya path which would have focused on her was cut out of the final game, but she's still a lot less naive than she appears — but she angrily spent the ten years after he left plotting revenge. Irritatingly, Kiritsugu was dead by the time of the Fifth War, so she focuses her attentions on the adopted Shirou, whom she hates for getting Kiritsugu in her stead. Shirou, though, being the involuntary Chick Magnet that he is, turns out to actually be pretty likable once they actually meet properly, which deflects her motivations from "torture him for the remainder of his natural/extended life" to "be rather friendly and spend time with him in the park". This is not good news for Shirou though, as Illya tends to make people she likes into her "Servants"; which generally involves sticking their souls into inanimate dolls so they can never ever leave her. Ever. Fortunately, in the "Heaven's Feel" route, she learns from Taiga about her father's attempts at trying to come back for her, which causes her to let go of her grudge against him and Shirou, thus solidifying her Heel–Face Turn. In the endings, she ends up performing a Heroic Sacrifice to protect Shirou from Sakura and is forced to turn him into one of her dolls to save his life.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice: Apollo lost both biological parents when he was merely an infant, but in their stead he was raised by Dhurke Sahdmadhi in the Kingdom of Khurain. When Apollo was still a kid, however, Dhurke took Apollo to America and left him there, since Dhurke is a Rebel Leader and he doesn't want Apollo to get in danger because of his revolution (and Dhurke said that being a wanted criminal prevented him from going back overseas). According to Apollo himself, Dhurke only showed up to his foster son after over ten years, but then by this point Dhurke was Dead All Along.

  • Gunnerkrigg Court has an unusual variation, where someone else makes this excuse on the Disappeared Dad's behalf: No one besides Anthony Carver knows why he disappeared, but his daughter Antimony says that he "must have his reasons".
    • Except in the last panel of the same comic, she says, "Perhaps I did something to displease him... or he wants nothing more to do with me." Both of which are definitely not valid excuses for basically orphaning your only daughter soon after her mother died in a hospital.
    • Chapter 31 reveals that Antimony's mother literally gave her "fire" (A.K.A. life force) to her, and wasted away after the birth, ever so slowly, while Annie grew up. Reynardine implies even her soul "vanished". Not only that, but EVERY adult near Annie knew it would happen, if Surma ever had a child, and the same thing would happen to Annie. While not confirmed, it's speculated that he left to find a cure for this.
    • Chapter 53 reveals his apparent (possibly faked) reasons: Anthony never found out exactly why Surma died, so he travelled the world trying to find some closure. The main reason why he abandoned his daughter is because he felt that she didn't deserve to live with the man who murdered her mother. He had enough resolve to literally carve out his right hand to create a spiritual antenna... then almost starved himself under a blazing sun when he realized that he was killing Antimony.
  • El Goonish Shive has long had Noriko Verres as Tedd's Missing Mom - in 2021, a possible reason for this was shown, coupling with It's Not You, It's My Enemies.
  • In the webcomic Bizarre Uprising, Mitsu's father (secretly a vampire) abandons him and his mother when he was young. He did this beause He's the vampire Messiah and if the other vamps found out he was still alive, they'd try and drag him back, almost certainly killing Mistu and Biana in the process. He stayed in Mitsu's life as "The Pig", the school mascot, turned Mitsu's mentor in the ways of vampireness.
  • In Drowtales, Ariel comes to see her mother Quain'tana as this. She is quite aloof towards her children, leaving them for months or even years at a time at boarding schools or under the care of a slave or older sibling. Quil'yate explains to Ariel that this is not because the drow are evil, but because the clan believes that it is best for young nobles to learn to prove themselves, so that they can be strong leaders. This however should be taken with a grain of salt, since it also turns out that Quain isn't really Ariel's mother, but rather her grandmother; Ariel is the daughter of her 'crazy sister' Mel'arnach, and Zhor, an elf magically turned into a spider; Quain forced the unlikely couple to give up Ariel (including an apparent attempt to kill Zhor while they were at it), thinking the two could not provide a proper environment for a future clan matriarch and wanting to take the credit for herself. Quain is also unable to have children, and it's strongly implied that the desire to have a suitable heir is part of her motivation as well.
  • Averted in The Order of the Stick, where Eugene chooses not to follow a credible lead on Xykon, whom he's sworn to destroy, because doing so would most likely mean abandoning his family and dying at best, and having Xykon hunt them down for revenge at worst. He did, however, continue to be a neglectful Jerkass to his oldest son, and specifically claimed that he would have abandoned the family for his quest if given a chance.
    • Lampshaded in the case of Elan and his father General Tarquin, Tarquin and Elan and Nale's mother divorced when they babies due to irreconcilable personality differences due to thier mother being a chaotic good tavern waitress while their father is a lawful evil warlord. When they meet, both Elan and Tarquin agree that the drama of meeting like this was completely worth the trauma Elan suffered as a child without a father figure in his life.
  • Gender inverted in Jackie Rose, it's the mother who did the abandoning due to a dangerous criminal nearly killing her when was taking a taxi ride and not wanting to put her family in danger. Turns out said mother, Elizabeth, is the one to the heroine, Jackie.
  • Chapter 23 in Head Over Heels reveals that Woohyun's father was cheating on his mother with his secretary, and after divorcing her he married her and moved to the USA for work purposes. He comes back later on, only interested in him as a potential successor for his business. His abandonment could explain why Woohyun became The Sociopath he is today.
  • In Girl Genius, Gilgamesh Wulfenbach was raised as though he were just another of Baron Klaus Wulfenbach's royal hostages from the conquest of Europe. The most obvious reason for this is that if word had gotten out that Baron Wulfenbach had a son, Gil would have been up to his ears in assassins. A possible secondary reason is that he would be in an ideal position to befriend his peers among the conquered royalty, hopefully smoothing relations when he succeeded Klaus.
  • In Selkie, Amanda's biological parents, Todd and Andi had different reasons. The former was told that she was stillborn, and the latter was convinced by her mother to give Amanda up for adoption, as the couple were just teenagers at the time and thus not ready for the responsibility of raising a child. Suffice to say, Andi learning that Amanda had been abused by her foster family went... poorly.
  • Ennui GO!: Ally's mother was forced to abandon her when she hatched because her status as a chimera made raising her herself pretty much impossible (normal fishgirls can only survive out of water for a few hours at a time, while chimeras aren't able to breath underwater due to a genetic defect). Even then, her mother did everything in her power to make sure she would be safe and was openly weeping the entire time.

    Web Original  
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, when Omaroch is reunited with his son Refan, he explains to him why he has been absent for so many years and wasn't around to save Refan's mother from death. He had in fact been kidnapped and imprisoned by demons and was thus unable to help his family when they needed him the most. Although he claims that he managed to flee from demons, the truth ends up being much more horrific: he was actually tortured and brainwashed to become a servant of the dark god Mardük and was ordered to return to the world of mortals to make sure his sons would fulfill an ancient prophecy which would result in Mardük's resurrection and a full-scale demon invasion. He eventually breaks free from the god's taint but at that point it's too late because his actions end up causing the Cataclysm as well as turning his son into a bitter person. He does his best trying to set things straight and regain his sons' trust.
  • One of the major driving questions in Chasing Seconds is why Junior's dad left his family to jump through the Einstein-Rosen bridge. Turns out he was saving the human race from a deadly plague.
  • In the Paradise setting, in which people get turned into anthropomorphic animals, this is addressed. In the early days, a man gets turned into a polar bear, but doesn't realize it's happened to others (Since he lives out in the frozen boonies of Canada) and tries to live a normal life... until while on a Seal Hunting trip he ends up mauling a seal with his bear hands, at which point he becomes terrified of what he's become and runs out into the frozen tundra to live as the beast he has become, leaving his wife and two sons behind. Years later, one of his sons changes into a wolf, realizes what happened, and goes looking for him.
  • In Worm, it's revealed by Marquis that he is the superhero Panacea's father, and gave her up to be raised by his enemies in New Wave in order to protect her from Allfather after his murder of Iron Rain.
  • When Tommy's mother comes to pick him up from the Nanny's daycare in The New Narnia, Charlie realizes that he might be Tommy and Katylnn's father, having had sex with their mother right before the Nanny turned him into a baby afterwards. Even if he knew that he had gotten her pregnant, he wouldn't have been able to do anything about it since his life was warped beyond recognition so that he couldn't.

    Web Video 
  • RWBY Qrow Branwen plays with this trope. He’s still present in his niece’s lives, who adore him, but it’s rare for him to show up in person. When it’s revealed he’s been protecting one of them from afar on a continental journey, the very reasonable question of why he didn’t just join them is raised. Qrow is forced to reveal that his Semblance makes him a Walking Disaster Area, and so he has a policy of keeping his distance from loved ones unless they’re in a very protected area.
  • Vision of Escaflowne Abridged: Allen Schezar's deceased father's ghost tries to invoke this, along with a literal case of Death Equals Redemption. Subverted when it doesn't.
    Allen's father: Can you forgive me, son?
    Allen: Hell no! You're a horrible person who abandoned his family to hook up with an underage girl. Just because you went and got your idiot self killed right after doesn't change that.

    Western Animation  
  • Subverted in Adventure Time with Finn's dad, Martin. Initially, Finn thinks this before searching for him in the Citadel, but when his father is confronted on the issue, he tells Finn he can't remember why he did it in the first place. To rub salt in the wound, later in the episode, he even tries (and succeeds in) abandoning Finn again.
    • Played with in the Islands mini-series when is revealed through a flashback that Martin didn't abandon Finn and his wife intentionally. A combination of his shady past catching up with him and forces beyond his control ended up separating him from both his wife and his son.
  • Arcane: While Vi did storm off to cool down after hitting Powder, she didn't mean to abandon her. Marcus arrested her to save her from being killed by Silco, who had already reached Powder by the time Vi tried to go back. Powder doesn't know this, however, and it's a major factor behind her becoming Jinx. Vi is only able to explain this years later after she gets out of jail, indirectly because of Jinx's violent ways, and Jinx isn't entirely convinced because Caitlyn is with her.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has a mild version of this; Hakoda has only been gone for a few years to fight in the Hundred Year War. Sokka harbors no resentment and is happy to reunite with his father, but Katara at least still felt abandoned. She even says that she knew and understood Hakoda did what he had to do, but she couldn't help feeling angry for not having him there when she needed him the most. They make up at the end of the episode, though.
    • Also, the reason why Princess Ursa is Zuko and Azula's Missing Mom? She killed her father-in-law, Fire Lord Azulon, to protect young Zuko. Or so we think. It is probably what happened, but the ones who reveal this information are Azula and Ozai, who are... not the most trustworthy of people.
      • Supposedly, Ursa was meant to come back sometime during the series finale, but the Avatar team didn't want to have to waste a perfectly good plot by squeezing her in. This duly became the biggest unresolved plot thread.
      • The Search revealed that she elected to erase her memory of them instead of dedicating her life to watching them grow up from afar. That's one screwed-up family.
  • Played for Laughs in Dave the Barbarian, where the King and Queen are away fighting all the evil in the world. It's taking a while. Youngest child Fang in particular seems upset about their absence, while Candy is mostly annoyed about having to run the kingdom herself.
  • On Futurama, Leela grew up thinking she was a one-eyed alien, when in reality she was an unusually normal-looking human mutant. Realizing she could pass for "normal," her parents left her at an Orphanarium when she was a baby with a note in an alien language, allowing her to live on the surface rather than as a second-class citizen in the sewers. When they reunite years later and this is revealed it's quite the Tear Jerker, as well as the fact that they never truly abandoned her, since the ending montage showed that they cared for and watched over her from the shadows.
    • In a bit of foreshadowing, you can see them among the crowd of mutants in the first episode taking place in the sewers, hinting this had been the plan all along.
  • On Hey Arnold!, Mr. Hyunh was trying to escape to America with his toddler daughter during The Vietnam War; upon hearing that the last helicopter out could only hold one more person, he handed her over and stayed behind. He followed her to America years later but was never able to track her down. Arnold (and Helga) reunite them in the Christmas Episode.
  • In Green Eggs and Ham it is eventually revealed that Sam Iam’s mother Pam gave him up for adoption because of her being a spy constantly put his life in danger from enemies, so she left him behind at an orphanage when he was a toddler.
  • In The Long Long Holiday, Ernest and Colette's father leaves the children with their maternal grandparents because their mother has to go to Switzerland to attempt to cure her tuberculosis, and he feels compelled to enlist to help defend France from the Nazis. Then, when France falls to Germany he becomes a prisoner of war. At some point he is freed, but he decides to join La Résistance in Free France across the sea in England. It means the parents can't really see their children until the end of the war, but the reasons are for the greater good so it's understandable.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated we learn that Fred's father, Mayor Fred Jones Sr., actually stole him from his birth parents, Brad Chiles and Judy Reeves of the original Mystery Incorporated as part of a way to get hold of the rest of the Planespheric Disc pieces. In the second season, when Brad and Judy finally show up, they say that Jones had also threatened bodily harm onto Fred if they ever came back. Though they came back for a different reason...
  • Subverted in DuckTales (2017), where we have Della Duck, who decided to take a joyride in an experimental spacecraft shortly before her eggs were due to hatch. The end result was her getting stuck on the moon for a decade and presumed dead by her entire family, with the incident causing Donald and Uncle Scrooge to become estranged for most of that time. When she finally returns in Season 2, everyone is overjoyed, but some of them still call her out on her reckless and immature actions. Scrooge is frustrated that she hadn't seemed to learn much from the harrowing experience when they go on a new adventure, Louie refuses to acknowledge Della as his mother until the end of the season, and the first thing Donald does when he finally sees her in the season finale is scream at her for being a moron.
  • Homer's mother Mona on The Simpsons. As it turns out, she was quite surprised when she found out that Homer believed her to be dead. The misunderstanding came up because (1) Grandpa Simpson was unwilling to reveal to young Homer that his mother was a criminal (she was rather ticked off by this), and (2) Homer's mistreatment of his mail carrier prevented any of her care packages from reaching him until he specifically asked about them. It's what happens when you don't tip them on Christmas.
    • Also, we're led to believe Nelson's father abandoned him. Turns out his peanut allergy caused circus dwellers to kidnap him and use him as an attraction. Thanks to Simpsons' negative continuity, he is never referred to again.
  • Keith’s mom has a pretty good reason in Voltron: Legendary Defender; being an alien warrior who was fighting in the war between the Galra Empire and the Blade Of Marmora. This saddled with Give Him a Normal Life ended with him being raised by his father. They’re only reunited when they run into each other while she’s on an undercover mission.
    • Haggar/Honerva tries to invoke this with Lotor. It doesn't end well.
  • Ninjago:
    • Lloyd's father, Lord Garmadon, left his family out of a combined desire to conquer the world and to shield Lloyd from his own dark destiny and assure that Lloyd was free to choose his own path. Lloyd's mother, Misako, abandoned Lloyd at a boarding school shortly afterward in order to dedicate her time to seeking a loophole in the prophecy that said Lloyd and Garmadon would have to fight each other to determine the fate of the world. Lloyd holds particular resentment against Misako and outright tells her that she doesn't deserve to call herself his mother when they meet again, but after hearing her out and taking some time to cool down, he forgives her.
    • Zane witnessed his father's death, then found him alive on a distant island years later. Turns out he had been revived and abducted in order to make weapons and vehicles for the skeleton army and had been trapped on the island and unable to communicate with the outside world for years. He's afraid Zane will hold this all against him, but Zane is just happy to see him again.
    • Kai and Nya's parents, Ray and Maya, were presumed to have died when Nya was three and Kai was slightly older, until Kai discovered hints that his father was still alive and assisting one of their enemies. Turns out the enemy, Krux, had abducted Ray and Maya and forced them to work for him by threatening Kai and Nya's lives.
    • Jay hopes this is the case in regards to his biological parents, who abandoned him on his adopted parents' doorstep when he was a baby, but he hasn't received any explanation for it (yet).


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Beneficial Abandonment, Good Reason For Parental Abandonment


Jagged Stone and Luka

Jagged Stone somberly tells Truth that he left him and Anarka because he felt he couldn't properly raise a kid while also pursuing a career as a rock star. Truth doesn't consider it a good enough reason, tossing Jagged off the roof. They reconcile after Luka is de-akumatized.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / DaddyHadAGoodReasonForAbandoningYou

Media sources: