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Evil Parents Want Good Kids

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"Even the worst mobsters want their children to grow up respectable."
Arlyne Brickman

Raising children is one of the most daunting challenges a parent can face. You have to supply material needs like food and shelter, as well as providing a moral education by teaching through example. You can see where this would be problematic when a parent supplies the latter by breaking kneecaps or threatening global annihilation.

Some parents make ends meet through frowned-upon trades like prostitution, others turn to crime, some master crime and become The Don, and there's more than a few Super Villains who start families... unintentionally. The thing is, not every villain turned parent is a sociopath who chastises Overlord Jr. for not being evil enough. Quite a few realize the choices they have made, that the life they lead is a fundamentally destructive one, and don't want their child to mimic them as a family legacy. Sometimes the parents were forced into their way of life due to circumstances beyond their control, and want to ensure that their children never have to make the same choice.

What ends up happening is that the dad (and it's usually the dad who's the villain) hides his villainy one way or another. The easiest and hardest is to give the child up for adoption or abandon the mother. Non-deadbeats create a Secret Identity where they have a mundane, even boring job. If he doesn't bother hiding his nasty day job, he will either whitewash it to not seem villainous (replace "mob hit" with "rat infestation", for example) or say "do what daddy says, not what daddy does" without a trace of shame. If he's possessive and/or overprotective and has the means to, his children may become a Lonely Rich Kid Mafia Princess who is trapped in a Gilded Cage.

Of course, their kid is going to find out the truth and either be horrified at the Double Standard, or naively eager to become their dad's sidekick. Sometimes, to Dad's dismay, they will prove that villainy is part of their Villainous Lineage despite his best intentions. The realization (and some heroic coercion over revealing the truth to his kids) may lead to pulling a Heel–Face Turn.

Sub-trope of Parental Hypocrisy.

Compare White Sheep, Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter, Turn Out Like His Father, Give Him a Normal Life, and Little Brother Is Watching.

Contrast Daddy's Little Villain, Upbringing Makes the Hero, and The Family That Slays Together.

For related generational dynamics going the other way, see Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas and Don't Tell Mama.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: The Slug Count, a Demon of Human Origin, keeps his daughter Teresa imprisoned in a Gilded Cage specifically to avoid exposing her to the evils of the Crapsack World they live in, desperately wanting at least one part of his life not tainted by evil. In the end, when given a choice between offering her as a Human Sacrifice or dying and being Dragged Off to Hell, the Count refuses to kill his daughter to save himself.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Even though he's the head of a militaristic dictatorship, Degwin Zabi wants his kids to be good people. Garma and Dozle turned out alright, Gihren and Kycilia not so much.
  • Vinland Saga: Thors was once both a hardened Jomsviking captain and one of the strongest warriors of his time until the birth of his children led him to abandon that life and become a pacifist instead. Thus he tries to dissuade his son Thorfinn from joining him on his subsequent voyage, fearing that Thorfinn would become the same kind of man he once was. Unfortunately Thors was ambushed and killed by Askeladd and Thorfinn vows vengeance, eventually becoming the very opposite of what Thors wanted him to be.

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City:
    • The original Quarrel was a small-time crook with a gimmicky bolt-blaster. When his first child was born, he cheerfully hands out cigars to his villainous colleagues and declares that she won't be a criminal like himself. In his later years, he's thrilled that she's become a world-renown superhero.
    • Thatcher Jerome may be a racketeer in the Deacon's mob, but he frets over his adult children and almost loses his cool when his college son's grades start to dip.
    • The original Goldenglove was a criminal who'd always tell his kids to go to school and don't follow in his shoes.
  • Batman: The Long Halloween, Mafia don Carmine Falcone takes great pride in his son Alberto graduating from Harvard but doesn't want him to be a part of the family business. Unfortunately, Alberto takes this as an insult and decides to make a name for himself as a serial killer instead.
  • Daredevil's father "Battling Jack" Murdock was clearly not evil, but he was adamant that his son not be thought of as a muscle-bound moron like him. So he insisted that young Matt forego athletics entirely and spend all his time studying. (As a result, Matt became quite a bookworm, and other kids called him "daredevil" as a sarcastic insult, a name which would later inspire his nom de guerre.) Neither his father nor anyone else knew that Matt was actually trying to train himself in secret, although it wouldn't actually be until he met his mentor Stick that he become good enough to become the Man Without Fear.
  • Onomatopoeia from The DCU leads a double life as a loving family man with a wife and two kids while spending his time away from home as a masked Serial Killer who hunts Badass Normal vigilantes.
  • Similar to Wolverine, Deadpool is the same. He's no longer evil like in his earliest comics in 1991-1994 and has struggled in trying to be a hero for ages. But he's still violent and has no problem beating up people who annoy him. Nor does he have a problem with taking his anger out on hapless people who have the misfortune of being near him at the time. Not to mention falling in love with Shiklah, an evil Succubus, whose brutality he admits to finding dreamy. However, when it comes to Ellie, he wants her to be good. A recent chapter shows her staying with him in Washington, and going to a new school that he tried very hard to get her into. We hear from him that Ellie has beaten up many other kids. As he drops her off, he tells her not to fight, and to tell a teacher if other kids try to pick fights with her. He thinks to himself that he doesn't want her to do what he does.
  • Mark Waid's Empire. Golgoth has conquered the entire world, he rules with an iron fist, he's killed or captured every superhero, he slaughters people at the drop of a hat... and he works very hard to keep all of this from his beloved daughter, whom he tries to raise normally in every way. Turns out, she knew a little bit more about his lifestyle than he wanted, and she wants in. Then she decides to show him how good of a supervillain she'd be. Then the horror really starts.
  • Former villain Emma Frost expresses her wish in Warsong, that her clones/daughter the Stepford Cuckoos would not take after her cold nature towards others and life in general. She encouraged them to not follow down the same path as her.
  • During Dan Slott's run on the Fantastic Four, Alicia picks up a bad habit of using her father's mind-controlling clay to impose her will on unsuspecting people and avert potential conflict. It gets shut down when her father, the first person she was shown doing this on, controls a neighbor to warn her away from going down the path she's going while she's in the middle of doing it again in desperation.
  • In one issue of the Justice League Unlimited spinoff comic, Mirror Master has a young son whose room is full of superhero paraphernalia up to and including a Flash action figure. He is shocked to discover that a fellow villain wears his costume in front of the baby.
  • Subverted in Kick-Ass by Damon MacCready, a.k.a. Big Daddy, who despite looking like Ned Flanders, raises his little girl to be a ruthlessly efficient vigilante in order to exact revenge on John Genovese not really revenge, he was just bored with his life and wanted his daughter to have an interesting life.
  • In Paperinik New Adventures, the Raider, a time-traveling criminal, is doing his best to raise his son Trip as a honest man. His only objection is that he doesn't want him to become a superhero, and that's because, as a supervillain, he knows exactly the kind of trouble he'd get into.
  • Robin (1993): Mafia boss Henry Aquista wants his daughter Darla to be sheltered from the criminal elements of his life and untainted by them. Despite his attempts to keep her on the straight and narrow she shows an interest in his business and ends up a costumed super-villain.
  • Runaways:
    • The Pride, made up of six couples who led double lives to conceal their supervillainy from their children while trying to raise them to be normal kids (at least until they destroyed the world for their kids as they planned to). The very fact that their kids happen to be good (most of them, anyway) is what causes them to run away the moment they see the parents kill someone in a ritual blood sacrifice.
    • Subverted in the cases of Victor and Xavin; Victor's father intended him to become a mass-murdering supervillain, while Xavin's parents intended them to become a Super-Skrull and warlord.
  • In Spider-Girl, Electro asks for the title character's help to get his daughter, a supervillain called Aftershock, to reform. The issues between the two are clearly meant to parallel those going on between Mayday and her dad, who initially disapproves of her becoming a superhero.
  • Subverted in The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, where Beetle's father Tombstone objects to her dreams of becoming a supervillain since he thinks that as a Columbia Law School graduate, she's much too intelligent for such things and would be better off as a corrupt lawyer, which he considers crime that you can't get arrested for.
  • The toymaker in Wanted had his wife and daughters fooled he was a regular and even Sickeningly Sweet and fastidiously proper toymaker and not a supervillain. Interestingly, he enjoyed the services of hookers in other dimensions.
  • While not evil, Wolverine is fine with killing when necessary but he really doesn't want X-23 involved in that type of lifestyle and wants her to have a normal life. Her mother Sarah Kinney underwent a Heel–Face Turn to try and secure a normal life for her. It ended tragically.
    • In "Schism", Logan feels this way about all of the younger mutants and rebuilds the Institute in Westchester to give young mutants a chance to be kids.

    Fan Works 
  • In A Different Lesson, this turns out to be the reason for Po's parents.
  • In A Different Medius, Buwaro is adopted by Azurai and Iratu. Granted, only the former is still evil, but Azurai genuinely loves "his" son, despite being the same guy who murdered the kid's parents in the first place, and is surprisingly nice to him.
  • Eden, by Obsessmuch: Upon learning he's impregnated Hermione with his second child, Lucius vows to make learn from her how to be less bigoted and arrogant so that their son will not repeat the same mistakes he did. He dies before his son's birth, but Hermione manages to ensure he never ends up like his father, mostly due to never telling him who his birth father is.
  • In Harry Riddle, Voldemort wants his son to stay safe and out of trouble.
  • Similarly in The Indecipherable Riddle, an AU where Harry is revealed to be Voldemort and Bellatrix's son, Bellatrix may be psychotic but she's a pureblood witch and believes her son should be raised with proper manners and Voldemort scolds Harry about his less than stellar grades in school.
  • A Loud Among Demons: Mollie and Millie zigzag this. They became Lincoln's adopted parents, and while they would love him to join the assassin business, they don't want him to lose his kind and generous nature.
  • In The Lunar Guardsman, a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfiction, Raegdan, a human, has unofficially adopted Twilight Sparkle and is considered kind of a third parent by everyone involved, and is Spike's sole father figure. While he has committed atrocious acts in his past, he is astoundingly proud at how good and unlike him both of them have turned out and is not ashamed to admit it.
  • The Next Best Thing to Normal: Harley is a reformed supervillain raising her son alongside her not-quite-reformed girlfriend Poison Ivy. Both women want Jason to be a normal, civilian kid.
  • In the Blood+ fic Nobility, when Nathalie, who is to Naomi what Diva is to Saya, is revealed to be pregnant, she confesses to Anjou that, while she herself is a Fully-Embraced Fiend, she wants to leave her daughters in his care so they don't become monsters like her.
  • Red Butterfly: Not exactly evil, but the basic principle is the same. Akane initially tried to follow in Kyoko's footsteps as the Red Butterfly, taking martial arts classes and getting into fights with bullies. Eventually, Kyoko ran damage control by getting Akane into drawing and artwork.
  • RWBY: Scars: Roman doesn't like his daughter Neo following in his footsteps and becoming a criminal. They act together as a team, but it's mostly because Cinder blackmails the two into working for her.
  • There Is A Town: Ghiaccio is the youngest member of La Squadra with Sorbet, Gelato, and Risotto as his Parental Substitutes. Despite their line of work, they take care of him as best they can, but having to train him to become another mafia hitman weighs heavily on their consciences. They still hope that someday he can have a future outside of Passione.
  • The Touch of Green Fire: Shego likes being a criminal and chose the lifestyle for herself, but she refuses to let her younger twin brothers be corrupted into villainy.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): Subverted. Salem is portrayed as a genuinely loving mother to her son Jaune. However, when Jaune expresses his desire to travel to Beacon to become a huntsman, she very firmly overrules him. He's the exact kind of monster huntsmen are trained to fight, and she's planning to destroy Beacon in a few months anyway. Jaune running away despite her wishes is what causes the plot.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Paul Newman's character in Absence of Malice had a father who was a bootlegger. After being caught by his father in doing something illegal his father locked him up in a cabin for a period of time. However, the purpose wasn't to necessarily prevent the son from being bad just showing what he should get used to if he goes into a life of crime.
  • In American Gangster Frank Lucas sets his nephew Steve up for a baseball career with the New York Yankees... only to have Steve refuse the offer and stick with Frank's gang. Frank seems genuinely upset by Steve's decision.
  • In Analyze This, Paul Vitti's therapy results in the realization that his father had never wanted a criminal life for him, any more than he wants it for his own children.
  • In Face/Off, Castor Troy's girlfriend Sasha's last words as she dies in Sean Archer's arms are "don't let [our son] grow up to be like us." She gets her wish as Archer adopts Sasha's six-year-old son Adam after he gets his face back.
    • In the novelization, Castor reflects that the closest thing he has to a fond childhood memory is when his drug addict father gave him the worst beating of his life for poaching from the elder Troy's stash of cocaine - not for the poaching, but because he didn't want his son to turn out like him.
  • In The Godfather, Vito Corleone initially wants Michael, at least, to have a legitimate career and become a politician after he leaves the Marine Corps... however, it's reasonably ambiguous whether he really wants to save him from the family business, or just wants to manipulate Michael's youthful Defector from Decadence tendencies to give the family a front of respectability and a whole new level of power. Most tellingly though, Vito's expression when he learns that Michael killed Sollozzo and McCluskey is one of pure heartbreak.
    • Everyone always talks about Michael, but this already happened before, with Sonny. When Sonny comes to his dad and asks to be part of the family business, and Vito asks why, he reveals he followed his dad and watched him murder a man and dispose of the evidence. The Don realizes the indelible effect this had on his eldest son and reluctantly brings him into the business.
    • Vito at the meeting of the Dons: "None of us want our children to follow in our footsteps. It's too hard a life." He's probably right for at least some of them.
  • A martial arts movie titled The Invincible Fist have its main villain being a ruthless, powerful bandit leader and killing machine. The bandit leader has a blind daughter waiting for him at home who is oblivious to her father's true nature, and despite being a villain, he genuinely loves his daughter and doesn't want her to know who he truly is or follow his evil lifestyle; as he's killed by the hero at the end, his last words are telling the hero to take care of his daughter and inform her he died of natural causes.
  • Played with in Kick-Ass. Chris D'Amico, a.k.a. Red Mist, is entirely aware of what his father Frank does for a living, and wants to be a part of the family business, but his dad won't allow it. Oddly, it seems like it's more because he has no faith in his son's abilities (telling Hit-Girl that he wishes he had a kid like her) than because he wants a better life for him.
  • In Matchstick Men, lifelong Con Man Roy is appalled when he learns his newfound daughter Angela isn't an innocent little waif; he is repeatedly shocked at her poor study habits, juvenile delinquency, and eagerness for con jobs.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Will Turner's father Bootstrap Bill is rather upset to discover his son followed his footsteps into a life of piracy. Will didn't follow him into a life of piracy (he broke the law, but the law was Lord Cutler Beckett so that just makes him Chaotic Good); it's still an example because he doesn't want that life for him, but he's only upset that Will found out and that he wasn't there for him when he needed him.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has Nathan, who hides his job as the Repo Man from his daughter Shilo and protects her from the world and keeps her to himself by poisoning her.
  • Mr. Smith/Shale in The Substitute asks his class what they get out of being in a gang and gets the usual responses of drugs, money, and sex. So he asks them if they want their kids to be in a gang and it's a resounding no.
    Lisa: But it's different when you talk about your kids.
    Smith/Shale: Why?
    Lisa: You don't want to see your kids get in trouble, get hurt or busted.
  • The Suicide Squad: Bloodsport is upset to find that his daughter has started stealing things, as he's a terrible person by his own admission and wants her to be as different from him as she possibly can be.
  • In Thor: Ragnarok, we find out that Odin used to be a brutal world conqueror thousands of years ago, but gave up his more violent ways before Thor and Loki were born. When his daughter, Hela, refused to reform with him, he responded by imprisoning her. He also banished Thor and imprisoned Loki when they started acting too much like he did when he was younger, and he seems to want them to be good people, even though he sent them contradictory messages when they were children like telling them not to seek out war, but then not correcting Thor when he said he wanted to kill all the members of an enemy race just like his dad.

  • Artemis Fowl is a case of this. Artemis comes from a family of very successful criminals, but his father was moving their money into legitimate fields shortly before he went missing. Artemis spent the years they were apart maintaining the family fortune (through crime), funding the search for his father (ditto), and looking after his depressed, bedridden mother. After his father's rescue, there's some friction between what Artemis's parents want for him and the life he's used to.
  • A Japanese light novel Durarara!! has a case of this. The Awakusu-kai are rather known local yakuza family. Awakusu Akane is a really good kid who wasn't aware of her family's shady dealings and how much the parents of her classmates go out of their way to look out for her well-being, like teaching their kids to always obey her, in fear of the Awakusu name.
  • Part of the reason Diana Ladris attempts a Heel–Face Turn during the GONE series is that she wants to be a better example to her unborn child. Doesn't work out as planned...
  • Harry Potter:
    • Downplayed with Draco Malfoy. While his parents do raise him with their own racist and classist worldview, they do not want him to become a Death Eater like his father. Voldemort even uses this to punish them by making Draco a Death Eater and assigning him the impossible mission of murdering Dumbledore.
    • After the war, Draco himself decides to raise his own son, Scorpius, to be a better person than he was.
  • In Honor Harrington, Erewhon is the result of this on a planetary scale. The colony was founded by a successful organized crime consortium looking to launder their way into respectability. They succeeded quite well, with very few outsiders aware of their origins, though their past left some interesting marks on their culture and government, which despite looking like an ordinary democratic republic on the surface, is actually run more like a (usually) non-violent version of The Syndicate.
  • Judge Knott's father is a bootlegger (retired) who is very proud of his law-enforcing daughter.
  • In the Spanish novel The Last Caton, main character Ottavia Salina, a nun with a doctorate in Paleography and History of Art, eventually discovers from a girl she knew in her infancy that her father was a capo, that her mother is now the Don of the famiglia Salina, and that the reason her mother pushed her and two of her siblings to become part of the Church was because she wanted them to act as the white face of the family.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, Bull stays away from his daughter because he doesn't want her to grow up to be a supervillain like him.
  • In the Resident Evil novelizations by SD Perry, it's revealed that Jill's father Dick Valentine used to be a professional thief (which is how she learned how to use lockpicks). After he ended up behind bars, he recommended that she should find a different, more honest line of work, which is how she became a member of the S.T.A.R.S.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel Villain Episode sequel Sir Percy Hits Back reveals the extent Chauvelin went to in order to conceal his job from his daughter.
  • In Shewing How an Old Woman Rode Double, and Who Rode Before Her, the Old Woman of Berkeley is such a terrifying witch that she ends up being dragged off bodily to Hell, but she is very happy that her son and daughter have grown up kind and pious, both of them Taking the Veil (and she implies that raising them right was the only good deed she has to her credit).
  • Maglor from The Silmarillion. Despite all his misdeeds, and probably because of his father, Fëanor and his Woobie Anti-Villain status, raises Elrond and Elros to be wise and compassionate. And he did pretty well.
  • In the Robert Crais novel The Two Minute Rule, bank robber Max Holman mentions how he used to pray every night that his son Richie wouldn't end up like him. Might be seen as a subversion: Aside from being a bank robber, Max is more or less a good guy. He even stopped robbing a bank to save a man who was having a heart attack, which resulted in his arrest.
  • Sergeant Bothari in the Vorkosigan Saga is an insane monster, knows that he's an insane monster, and is determined to raise his daughter Elena "right and proper."
  • In Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell (who is more Morally Ambiguous than straight evil) repeatedly thinks to himself that he doesn't want his son Gregory involved in the unsavory aspects of his work for Henry. He's also very happy to see that Gregory is growing up as a kind, scholarly sort who will make a fine gentleman, even if the differences in their personalities sometimes make it hard to connect. He also tries to keep Gregory out of London while busily organizing the fatal downfall of Anne Boleyn, but Gregory comes back anyway to support his father.note 
  • In Andre Norton's The Zero Stone, downplayed. Jern's father was not ashamed of his Thieves' Guild past and has many illegal connections. He thinks Jern will go farther if he shakes off any illegality, and so apprenticed him to a world-hopping master gemnologist.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Breaking Bad: Mike Ehrmantraut is a Dirty Cop, but it's shown that he does love his granddaughter Kaylee and is trying to build a nest egg so she won't turn out like him, especially after prequel series Better Call S Aul showed he was proud her father and his son, Matty, turned out to be a By-the-Book Cop and Mike is troubled by the fact he drove Matty to turn his back on his morals — and the fact Matty died as a result.
  • In an early episode of City Homicide, a bank robber stayed out of his illegitimate son Brett's life to avoid "tainting" him. Then he disappeared and Brett got involved in his father's gang, quickly proving himself to be a violent sociopath anyway.
  • In the episode "Riding the Lightning" of Criminal Minds, a pair of serial killers on death row had a child. The official story is that the mother killed her baby, but Gideon doubts that. Turns out he's right, and the mother has been hiding her son all these years to keep him away from his father's influence. He doesn't know who his biological parents are, and eventually the team decides to leave him be and not tell him (which, consequently, means his perfectly innocent mother got executed by the state — her choice, but still a bit of a What the Hell, Hero? moment).
  • Dexter panicked when his girlfriend Rita got pregnant because of this trope. He's terrified that his kid will grow up to be a serial killer like him.
  • General Hospital shows this with not-so-evil mob boss Sonny Corinthos's Happily Adopted son Michael. Though Michael was raised in a mob environment and wants nothing more than to join his father's mob, both Sonny and his uncle Jason refuse to let him do so because they want him to choose a better path in life and not make the same mistakes they themselves did.
  • Carmine Falcone in Gotham tried to keep his children Mario and Sofia from mob life. Initially, it worked for Mario, who became a successful doctor, but not so much for Sofia, who is a worse mob boss than her father if anything. Unfortunately, romantic jealousy and exposure to a Hate Plague ultimately turn Mario evil too.
  • In Grimm, Adalind, a hexenbiest, does not want her daughter Diana to become an evil witch like she was and forbids her to use her powers for violence. Luckily it works as we see in the future she became a monster hunter.
  • Home and Away
    • An older brother/younger brother variant of this, with Darryl Braxton trying to keep teenage brother Casey Braxton in school and out of their family's criminal activities. In a subversion, their mother Cheryl has no such desires, kicking Casey out after he decides to stay in school. Middle brother Heath is somewhere in the middle - though he willingly takes part in Cheryl's activities and is similarly scornful of Casey's decision, he has shown some morals, not least of which was when he refused to sell April stimulants for her studies. (Ironically, in the end, Casey gets killed after taking Brax's place in a confrontation with a rival, while Heath is the one who finds his own bath and gets a Happily Ever After with his wife and children.)
    • Subverted by Johnny Cooper, who actively thwarted his brother Rocco's efforts to go straight after his release from juvenile detention, eventually having him murdered when Rocco betrayed him to the cops.
    • Zig-zagged with Andy Barrett, who drags his brother Josh into two murder attempts and initially pours scorn on his attempts to stay in school, to the point of drugging Josh's girlfriend Maddy in order to turn him against her civilising influence. However, Andy later becomes supportive of Josh's desire to better himself and tries to keep him out of his criminal activities. However, Andy's incompetent enough that Josh usually ends up getting dragged into his business anyway, culminating in Josh accidentally killing someone while trying to cover up a murder Andy committed. Andy's ultimate solution is to have Josh beat up a prison guard and run out on a life sentence, with them going on the run together and probably condemned to a life of crime.
  • A variant occurred in an episode of NUMB3RS. In the episode "One Hour", the Victim of the Week's father fit this trope to a tee, except that his Heel–Face Turn predated his son's birth. As far as the son knew, his dad was just the owner of a record company. So when the son was kidnapped by one of dad's old associates who wanted a piece of the dad's company, the dad was understandably distraught, because he made a vow to himself that he'd never let the unsavory part of his past affect his son, because he wanted his son to have a chance to be "something better".
  • The Wests from Outrageous Fortune try to turn away from their life of crime after the patriarch is arrested and sent to jail for four years. It doesn't go entirely as planned.
  • Lionel Luthor in Smallville raises his son as a bitter, resentful Bastard Understudy and grooms him to take over his corrupt corporate empire....until he undergoes a Heel–Face Turn, at which point he plays this trope straight (albeit, with a few bumps along the road). These mixed messages, along with the fact that he starts treating local do-gooder Clark Kent like he should have treated his own son, just makes Lex even more of a bitter, resentful Bastard Understudy and culminates in Lex murdering him.
  • An important plot point in Sons of Anarchy is that Jax (president of a violent outlaw biker club) does not want his children to have the same life of violence that he and his father had.
  • The Sopranos:
    • Tony Soprano is adamant that his son AJ doesn't go into the mob life like him, mainly because he's simply not cut out for it. AJ is spoiled, sheltered, not particularly bright, and starts suffering from the same panic attacks that his father was diagnosed with as an adult. Tony himself also grew up in a mob family, but he was exposed to the realities of this lifestyle early on and as The Many Saints of Newark shows, he was already profiled as a high-IQ individual with "leadership qualities" when he was in high school.
    • Even more than AJ, Tony has big dreams for his daughter Meadow. In talks with Dr. Melfi, he often expresses his wish that she'd be a doctor, maybe even a pediatrician, something far removed from his own life of violence and crime. It's ultimately all for naught as Meadow is implied at the end of the series to become a mob lawyer in the near future.
    • Jackie Aprile Sr. also felt this way towards his own son and arranged with Tony to make sure this wouldn't happen before Jackie Sr. dies of cancer in the fourth episode. Tony doesn't succeed and Jackie Jr. ends up dead later on, further strengthening Tony's decision to keep AJ out of the Mafia.
  • In the classic Star Trek: The Original Series, "Conscience of the King", the presumed dead mass murderer, Kodos the Executioner, has been hiding as the actor Anton Karidian for years, raising a daughter who he hopes will never learn about his sordid past. To his horror at the end of the episode, he learns that not only does she know, but she's become an Ax-Crazy fanatic Serial Killer determined to eliminate all the witnesses to her father's true identity. Just as she's about to shoot Kirk, Kodos sacrifices himself by taking the shot, which causes his daughter to break down and be sent to an insane asylum.
  • Subverted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Chain of Command". Picard's torturer clearly dotes on his young daughter, she even visits him in his torture chamber, with a badly wounded victim lying nearby. When Picard asks him if he's bothered that she sees what he does for a living, he's clearly confused: what's wrong with seeing an enemy of the state being punished?
    • This comes back to bite him in the ass in the Ship of the Line when she ends up betraying him to Picard because of this.
  • On Teen Wolf, Allison Argent's parents are werewolf hunters, and though they aren't evil, they do practice extreme ruthlessness; for example, 3 out of 4 of her immediate relatives see no problem with protracted torture. That said, they try to keep her out of the hunting lifestyle, first by keeping her in the dark, and later, after her mother dies, her father does this by retiring from the family business.
  • When Trinity of Trailer Park Boys starts acting out of control, the local Trailer Park Supervisor condemns her as a "shit apple that didn't fall far from the tree". While her criminal father Ricky brushes off the remark, he later reveals that he's actually deeply concerned that she'll grow up to be like him. Later seasons show that she grows up to be a fine, upstanding adult.
  • Wee-Bey Brice, the fearsome Brute of the Barksdale Organization in The Wire wants something better for his son Namond, to the point that when Wee-Bey is serving a life sentence without parole for multiple murders he is quickly convinced to allow retired policeman Bunny Colvin to become a guardian for his son. When his self-centered wife objects for her own selfish reasons, (she wants Namond to be a drug dealer so she can keep living in style) Wee-Bey angrily threatens to have her hunted down and killed if she even tries to interfere with Namond's chance at a better life.
    Look at me up in here. Who the fuck would want to be that if they could be anything else?
  • In one episode of The X-Files, the agents investigate a con artist/serial murderer who marries women in different states, conceives a child with them, then somehow induces a miscarriage before leaving. Eventually they learn the "man" is actually a demon who wants to have a good, human child. He causes miscarriages because the children keep manifesting their demonic heritage in the womb. It blows up in his face when his newest wife turns out to be another demon, one who also wants a child, but isn’t nearly so picky about their morality...

  • Robert Montauk from The Magnus Archives is protective of his daughter Julia, and doesn't want her to get stuck in and/or hurt by The People's Chruch of the Divine Host, which killed his wife and forced him to sacrifice dozens of people, so he hides all of his cult activities from her until he is eventually discovered and sentenced to life in prison. This is very different from Julia's relationship with her later father figure/friend/co-Blood Knight Trevor Herbert.


    Tabletop RPG 
  • Forgotten Realms has Lazouril, Zulkir of Enchantment in Thay and possibly the most charismatic of all villains in the setting. In Simbul's Gift it turns out that he realized that the position of a Zulkir marks him not only as being among the greatest masters of arcane magic on the planet but also as a monster. Accordingly, his daughter discovered this fact only by accident. He even kept her far away from any Thayan magic, starting from his own... not that it helped much, given that her father was a magical talent this bright and her mother was a daughter of his predecessor.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: The Telltale Series has an example in Thomas Wayne, who in this adaptation was a Corrupt Corporate Executive and best buds with Carmine Falcone. Despite this, he loved his son and did his best to keep Bruce separate from his illegal dealings, and Alfred believes that Thomas would be proud of Bruce's actions as Batman.
  • While not exactly "evil", Niles of Fire Emblem Fates is still a sadistic former thief who doesn't want his daughter Nina to follow in his footsteps, even if she's Just Like Robin Hood. When Nina protests that he was a thief as well, he is quick to point out that he didn't have a choice. In their A-Support, he admits that he objects to her being a thief because he doesn't want there to be even the slightest chance of her going through what he did.
  • God of War: Kratos was a brutal Ax-Crazy vengeful warrior who nearly destroyed the world in his quest to bring down the gods. By the time God of War (PS4) takes place, he has calmed down considerably and is now trying to make sure his son Atreus does not turn out like him. Even back in the days of Ancient Greece, he still qualified towards his daughter Calliope, whom he had no intention to raise her like him, despite her being weak by Spartan standards.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle: Dio does this for his own son. However, since this is Dio, the man's methods are questionable...
  • Mad Father: Dr. Drevis, a serial killer, wants his daughter Aya — his most precious treasure — to remain unsoiled forever. So he comes to the logical conclusion of killing her and turning her into a doll. A New Game Plus playthrough reveals that he had discovered Aya was hiding dead animals in her room, just like he had when he started out. Other notes found in a second playthrough also reveal that Aya's mother subverts this; she is actually thrilled at the prospect of Aya following in her father's footsteps.
  • Thane Krios from Mass Effect 2 may be a cold-blooded assassin who sees himself as nothing but a weapon doing the deeds of other people, but he definitely does not want his son Kolyat either finding out or following in his footsteps, something that becomes the entire basis of his Loyalty Mission.
  • Former outlaw John Marston wants his son Jack to grow up without following the same path that he did in Red Dead Redemption. Needless to say, after John's murder by a corrupt government official and Jack murdering him in revenge, this doesn't work out.
  • Rise of the Third Power: Deconstructed. Emperor Dimitri Noraskov is a brutal dictator who raises his sons to value justice and honesty, but this causes his sons to realize that he follows none of these values, causing them to turn against him. By the present, he has already executed one of his sons for dissent while the other one, Gage, has enough of a conscience to join the Resistance.
  • Heizo Iwami of Yakuza 6 wanted his son to follow an honest path in life, even making him owner of Iwami Shipbuilding so he could live a comfortable, non-criminal life. Unfortunately for him, Tsuneo is a complete sociopath who wants to live the Yakuza life. Going so far as to have his own father offed late in the game.

    Visual Novels 
  • Tsukihime: Not exactly evil, per se, but Kiri Nanaya was pretty dead set on his son Shiki following a different path than him. He actually panicked when Shiki expressed a wish to simply live isolated in the forest his entire life, as Kiri had wished to. Of course, it doesn't entirely work out.

  • The Order of the Stick
    • Evil Overlord Tarquin is genuinely proud of his heroic son Elan. He spelled his name out on a hillside using burning prisoners! However, the reason seems to be that he wants to become a legend, and what's more legendary than being overthrown by your own son?
    • Tarquin's teammate Laurin mentions that she has a daughter who has no part in her evil plans, and Laurin is perfectly happy with her being safe and normal as a plumber.
      Tarquin: Laurin, if it were your daughter—
      Laurin: Hannah is a plumber, thank you, and she thinks I'm just a well-connected interior designer. I do this thing we do so she can have a good life far away from all this.
  • The Erlkönig in Roommates is an interesting example, he is an amoral ruthless villainous fae lord and was married to a Card-Carrying Villain. He was booted out of the family for giving their son weird ideas about love, heroism, and such things when his wife wanted Overlord Jr.. And the kid turned out to be... an amoral ruthless fae lord with delusions of heroism. (For his mother's great dismay and his father's general amusement.)

    Web Original 
  • Brennus: When The Dark, the most fearsome supervillain on the planet, found out his daughter Gloom Glimmer was going to follow in her mother's footsteps as a superhero, he was mostly just disappointed because he was looking forward to spending more time with her. He still dotes on her at home, though. Might have something to do with her older sister becoming the Person of Mass Destruction Desolation-In-Light. Or his first son becoming estranged from him, after he tried to force him into villainy.
  • Dr. Havoc's Diary: Dr. Havoc is this towards his 16-year-old daughter Ally. The trouble is, she's a rebellious bitch. And yes, she is fully aware of her father's job, to the point where she expects him to eventually become a "big, international supervillain" so that she can get the things she wants.
    Ally: That's fucking bullshit, Dad.
    Havoc: I'm sorry, Ally, but the car's being taken away until you start showing up for class!
  • Lazy Bum YAKUZA:* Iwaki wants his son Tsuyoshi to live legit unlike him. While it's understandable since he's a Yakuza, Iwaki renders it moot himself with his bragging about his time at the gangs and even having Tsuyoshi assist him in selling drugs.
  • Devilmaster of the Whateley Universe is a fearsome supervillain who scares the spit out of most people. At home, he's a 'college professor' with a wife and kids. They didn't know he was a supervillain until the kids found some of his stuff and unleashed a devil in the house. His teenage daughter appears to be well-adjusted, sweet, and disgustingly cute. And she was eager to go home for Christmas, even knowing what her father really does for a living. Helps that in his case, he has a lot of Off Stage Villainy.
  • Played With in Worm. Most every “Cape” Group with kids raises them to follow in their footsteps, be they Hero or Villain. Played with by the supervillain Purity, who wanted her infant daughter Aster raised away from her former gang. However, Purity never quite gave up their neo-Nazi ideology and intended to raise her daughter with the same racist worldview, just not necessarily the supervillain aspect.

    Western Animation 
  • In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, two female members of the Jokerz are introduced, twin sisters Delia and Deidre Dennis (who called themselves Dee-Dee as a team). We never see their parents, but we do know that "Nana Harley" does not approve of their lifestyle.
  • In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, space criminal Pops Vreedle enrolls his sons Octagon and Rhomboid in the Plumbers Academy, so they can have a better life than he did.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, Mr. Boss is one the worst enemies of the KND; his daughter, Fanny, is Numbuh 86, one the highest-ranking members of the KND. Strangely, this situation does not seem to have hurt the relationship between father and daughter at all; they get along just fine.
  • The inversion of this trope was Played for Laughs in Harley Quinn (2019). Doctor Psycho wanted his son Herman to succeed in the supervillain business because he saw a lot of evil potential in him, and since supervillains never come from happy homes went out of his way to be an Abusive Parent to him. Psycho is incredibly proud to learn that Herman has become a big social media influencer in the supervillain community, even if it means he takes every opportunity to denigrate his father because he hates him.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, it is revealed late in the show that the Enforcers have nephews around Jade's age, and they know nothing of what their uncles do, and their uncles don't want them to.
  • The Legend of Korra: Hiroshi Sato didn't want his daughter to know he supported the Equalists. However, it didn't keep him from trying to get her to join once she learned. Sadly, this is eventually subverted at the end of the first season; when he realizes that she will never turn against benders and join his cause, he makes a genuine attempt to kill her.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive Fisher Biskit in Littlest Pet Shop (2012) wants his twin daughters to be better than the spoiled, lazy bullies that they are, even acknowledging that he was just like that at their age and was "insufferable", which fuels his desire for them to be better.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: While Gabriel Agreste is far from parent of the year material, it seems that he genuinely doesn't want his son to be caught up in his work as Hawk Moth. Too bad that Chat Noir -- one of Hawk Moth's archnemeses -- IS Adrien.
  • In Ninjago, this is a major part of the relationship between Lord Garmadon and his son, Lloyd Garmadon. Garmadon, despite knowing his son is destined to defeat him, often comments on how proud he is of Lloyd for not following his example.
  • While he is not taking an active role in preventing it, Rick from Rick and Morty, in his weaker moments, acknowledges he is a deeply flawed person and wants his grandson Morty to be better. In one episode when he believes he is facing certain doom, he says what he believes to be last words: "Be good Morty, be better than me."
  • In Sidekick, Trevor's father (who is either the Secret Identity or Split Personality of Master XOX, it's unclear which) tries to raise Trevor with love and prevent him from turning out evil, to the point of enrolling him in the Sidekick Academy. It's not working very well, given that Trevor thinks his dad is lame and idolizes XOX, not knowing they're the same person.
  • Felicia Hardy's father in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, as well as The Spectacular Spider-Man. However, in the animated series at least, he isn't so much evil as an unwitting dupe for evil people, and he does a Heel–Face Turn when he figures it out.
  • Young Justice, Cheshire leaves her daughter to be raised by her ex, Red Arrow, and her younger sister, Tigress, because she believes that they'll help her be a better person than she is.


Video Example(s):


Wee-Bey, De'Londa and Namond

Wee-Bey, a professionally killer working for the Barksdale Organization and getting life imprisonment for his crimes, is visited by his wife De'Londa. Wee-Bey previously let retired cop Colvin adopt his son Namond to make sure the latter lives a good life away from the "game", Baltimore's drug trade. When De'Londa refuses, wanting Namond too follow his father's footsteps instead, Wee-Bey threatens her into letting Colvin assume guardianship of Namond.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / EvilParentsWantGoodKids

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