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Denying the Dead Parent's Sins

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Bob has always looked up to his father and believes him to be the best man who ever lived but what's this? His father has long been dead and he is suddenly told that everything he knew about the man was a lie. Naturally, Bob denies this at first, but eventually is forced to accept reality.

Compare Delusions of Parental Love, Mama Didn't Raise No Criminal, Never Speak Ill of the Dead. Accepting the truth may lead to a Broken Pedestal. Compare Sins of Our Fathers.


Anime & Manga

Comic Books

  • America vs. the Justice Society: Following Batman's death, a secret diary that he arranged to be published postmortem is made public, wherein he accuses his former allies in the Justice League of collaborating with the Nazis. Robin's loyalty to his late mentor prevents him from questioning the legitimacy or reliability of these accusations; he's convinced that he wouldn't make such claims without good reason.
  • Subverted in Shutter. While Kate is certainly surprised as evidence of her father's checkered past comes out, she tends to accept the facts rather than outright denying them.
  • In Spider-Man Annual #5 (1968), Peter Parker discovers that his parents were traitors working for the second Red Skull, and died in his service. He refuses to believe this and sets out to find evidence to the contrary. He's right; they were S.H.I.E.L.D. agents posing as traitors to infiltrate the Skull's organisation.

Film - Live-Action

  • Jan and Todd Wolfhouse from Beerfest get rather defensive when the German drinking team tells them their grandfather stole a recipe for the greatest beer in the world. It turns out he did steal it, but he was the rightful heir, and so are they by extension.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: William Turner nearly shoots Jack for telling him that his father, "Bootstrap Bill" Turner was a pirate but in a variation not even in condemnation as he insists that he was also a good man. It takes a talk with other cursed pirates who knew him, for William to learn the whole story and reconcile both of these facts. But in a further subversion it turns out his father wasn't dead to begin with, as we learn in the next movie.


  • Harry Potter refuses to believe that Snape's hatred of his father (and him by proxy) was justified. Given how unfairly Snape has judged him ever since they met, it is pretty reasonable for him to assume that he has always been this biased towards everyone he didn't like. In the fifth book, he discovers James was a Jerk Jock who publicly tormented Snape while they were at school and while he gets disturbed by this little fact, he never gets any proper closure in the matter, including any objective account from those others who knew about whether Snape was usually more provocative or whether it was always his father and the other Marauders who sadistically pursued Snape.
  • In It Had to Be You, Ethan tells Laurie his brother is lying about an incident where their father beat him, insisting that while Richard had high expectations and could be like a "drill sergeant" when it came to parenting, he wasn't abusive and had his sons' best interests at heart. When Laurie points out the way Richard controlled Ethan, to the point of threatening to cut him off if he didn't break up with future wife, Ethan appears uncomfortable and says he tries to focus more on the good memories he has of his father, implying he's in denial to an extent. He changes his tune when he discovers video footage of his father assaulting his mother.
  • Subverted in Jedi Quest. The Big Bad Granta Omega knows full well that his father Xanatos was a dark Jedi and inherited his hatred of the Jedi order, but he blames them for his father's death, refusing to accept that Xanatos killed himself.
  • Played With in The Rise of Kyoshi. Kyoshi's parents abandoned her at a young age—a sin which she very much doesn't deny. However, when she tracks down their old bandit crew, she meeks Lek, an orphan whom they took in sometime afterwards. Lek immediately denies that his beloved guardians would have abandoned her, and even when forced to accept it, is bitter about Kyoshi's vocal disrespect for them.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Daenerys is reluctant to hear anything bad about her father, who was popularly known as "The Mad King", and prefers to believe the negative stories about him were just lies spread by the enemies who usurped the throne from him.
    • Arya Stark is furious when she is told her father (now dead) is rumored to have loved another woman besides her mother despite having grown up with a bastard half-brother.

Live-Action TV

  • In Moesha, the title character is already having a hard time with the reveal that her cousin Dorian is actually her half-brother, conceived while her parents were separated and her father, Frank, had a relationship with another woman. She's further shaken when she learns that it was her now-deceased mother who insisted on the deception.

Video Games

  • Assassin's Creed:
    • The first game in the series has Abbas Sofian, convinced that his father was a hero and a martyr. His inability to accept the truth (that he was a coward who committed suicide) leads to the death of Altaïr's son.
    • Ezio from Assassin's Creed II tries to deny his uncle Mario's claims that his father was an assassin. He gets over it pretty quickly though. In his case, however, it's less of "my father wasn't a criminal," and more "what do you mean, there's two Ancient Conspiracy factions and my supposedly-a-banker father was a part of it," as he never seems to hold a grudge of any sort against his father for not telling him.
  • Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening has this in the form of Nathaniel Howe. Justified in that he's been out of the kingdom for a while and he didn't hear of what his father did, but when he returns to Ferelden only to find that his father was killed, his family was stripped of their lands (which were given to the Grey Wardens) and titles, and the name Howe essentially being mud these days. He actually breaks into Vigil's Keep to kill your character (as you were the one that killed Howe) and denounces everything you say about his father (including murdering an old friend and almost his entire family and taking his lands out of petty jealousy, assisting one of the villains of the vanilla game with attempting to take power in the country, and all sorts of other unpleasant things) until you meet his sister, who tells him what a rotten person their father was. Nathaniel is surprised that it's the truth, but he eventually comes to the opinion that he deserved his death and that his father wasn't the person he thought he was.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the Champion of Cyrodiil deals with a series of sidequests involving reuniting two long-lost brothers and taking back their home. Afterwords, a thief approaches the Champion and reveals that the father of the two brothers was his partner-in-crime, but their last job together (stealing a sword from the Duchess of Chorrol) was never finished. If the Champion tells the brothers, they refuse to listen without proof. They acknowledge the truth and apologize for their behavior if the Champion retrieves the sword and gives it back to the Duchess.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, late in the Azure Moon route, Dimitri learns that his stepmother, Patricia, was actually responsible for the Tragedy of Duscur, which resulted in the death of Dimitri's father and Glenn (Felix's older brother and Ingrid's fiancé), and unsurprisingly, finds this hard to accept. That being said, it's unclear whether Patricia was actually responsible or whether an Agarthan impersonated her, just like with her brother, Lord Arundel.

Web Comics

  • In Kevin & Kell, Rudy loudly and vehemently refuses to believe that his deceased father had an affair until Kell calmly reveals that she had had her own suspicions about the act.
  • In This Isekai Maid is Forming a Union! Lord Demeter is in deep denial about what a monster his father was, he hates commoners because his mother was a maid that he believes seduced his father then killed him. Deep down he knows that his father actually raped his mother and the murder was actually revenge, it takes a heart to heart with a manifestation of himself from an alternative timeline to admit this even to himself.

Western Animation

  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series had a plot arc about Peter's parents that revealed them as potential traitorous spies for the Soviet Union. Subverted in the fact that they really weren't, and that they were actually spies for America who took the fall to hide a bigger secret.

Real Life

  • Sadly, Truth in Television. There have been many cases where criminals settle down and start a family, only to have their past catch up with them. The children's denial is believed to be a mental block to help them cope with the new knowledge.