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Heimdall: Like my moms used to say—
Amir: Moms? Plural?
Heimdall: Yeah, I was born of nine mothers.
Amir: How.....?
Heimdall: Don’t ask. It’s a pain on Mother’s Day. Nine different phone calls. Nine flower bouquets. When I was a kid, trying to cook nine breakfasts-in-beds... oh, man!
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor

A child is conceived, but instead of simply mixing one male sperm and one female ovum, a third set of genes becomes involved (or more). Most often used in a Free-Love Future or as a result of Bizarre Alien Biology, a child turns out to be the genetic offspring of multiple people — except, it was natural conception. Perhaps we're dealing with aliens or supernatural beings and it's normal for them to conceive children this way. Or maybe, this was just some freak occurrence which took everybody by surprise. However it went down, there was a mass-coitus and a baby happened. May be related to Polyamory or occur during A Party, Also Known as an Orgy. The situation may conceive An Aesop about such activities.

Compare Bizarre Alien Sexes and Two-Donor Clone. Compare and contrast Homosexual Reproduction. Inverse Trope to Truly Single Parent.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Given a very dark twist in Berserk. After the rather complicated relations between Griffith, Guts and Casca end with the latter two getting together and unknowingly conceiving a child by completely regular means, a long string of unfortunate events results in Griffith, who had been a bit of a ruthless, possessive psychopath to begin with, being reincarnated as a powerful demon and brutally raping Casca just to spite Guts. Griffith's "contribution" ends up corrupting what would have otherwise been a normal baby into a mutated fetus monster of considerable demonic power.
  • A metaphorical example occurs in the Distant Finale of the Garden of sinners, Mirai Fukuin: Mana Ryougi, Shiki and Mikiya's only daughter, refers to her three parents: Shiki as "Mother", Mikiya as "Papa", and SHIKI — Shiki's deceased male split personality — as "Father".
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: To some extent, Giorno Giovanna is the son of Jonathan Joestar, Dio Brando and his unnamed mother, as a result of Dio fathering him while possessing Jonathan's body. Though biologically a Joestar, he seems to inherit more traits from Dio, though thankfully not his evilness. He was actually born with the dark hair typical of the Joestar family, but it turned blonde like Dio's once he gained his Stand.

    Comic Books 
  • Flash-forwards in Adventure Time have briefly featured a young female barbarian warrior called Penelope who has characteristics of all three of Finn, Bubblegum, and Marceline. The "Mnemenoid" arc of the comic featured a potential future in which they are implied (as blatantly as is possible in an all-ages comic) to be in a three-way relationship.
  • Judge Dredd Spin-Off Armitage establishes that Steel's son is the result of Armitage's donated sperm being genetically wiped and reformatted with Steel's DNA in order for her to have a child with her wife. There's apparently a "Right to natural life" campaign against such a practice.
  • In Marvel Comics, Odin and Friga conceive another child. Unfortunately, because they conceived her in a dimension where Surtr's essence was scattered, she inherits his traits as well and threatens Ragnarok as an infant.
  • Sillage has an alien species that apparently requires two "females" and a "male" for procreation, though no details are given as to how it works.
  • Double Subverted by Tefe Holland from Swamp Thing. Swampy and his wife wanted a child, but since he doesn't have the necessary equipment, John Constantine did it instead, although he was being possessed by Swamp Thing at the time. This resulted in Tefe being born human but with powers over The Green.
  • Wonder Woman has at times been implied to be the daughter of her mother Hippolyta and all the goddesses who were involved in her fatherless creation — Athena, Artemis, Aphrodite, Hestia, and Demeter — though at other times Hippolyta is her only true parent, and originally Hippolyta and Aphrodite were the two that created and gave life to her.

    Fan Works 
  • Black Sky gives us Dorea Black-Potter, genetically the daughter of Sirius Black by magical IVF but blood-adopted by James Potter while she was still in her mother's womb.
  • Daughter of the Titan: The reason that Luz is half-Titan in this universe is that the Titan, taking some time to observe the human realm, saw Manny and Camila being told that they would never be able to have a child, and decided to help them out. This resulted in Luz being born with dormant Titan powers, which the Titan helped her activate when Eda and King were in danger.
  • A Destroyer's Remorse: Before Aionios, a new way to create Blades was invented: Two Blades put their data into a blank core crystal, and then a human awakens it. The Blade manifests as a baby who grows up like a normal human. Sena was the very first of these new Blades, with Brighid as her mother, Aegeon as her father, and Morag as her Driver. The fact that society hadn't quite figured out what that actually meant left her very confused, and she entered Aionios unsure of her own identity.
  • In the Steven Universe fanfic Family, Lapis, Amethyst, and Peridot's triplets have three biological mothers (with Lapis having been the one to give birth to them). They were conceived when Lapis became intimate with both Amethyst and Peridot during her heat cycle.
  • In the Naruto, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Monster Hunter and (later) Chrono Cross crossover Hunter With a Divine Third, Naruto is born with the divine help of Artemis, who blessed his mother's womb. That somehow makes him be a third divine (thus the name of the story).
  • Last Child of Krypton: In the redux, when Yui Ikari tinkered with the alien rocket, the ship's devices grafted a sampling of Kryptonian genetic onto her fetus' while Shinji was in her womb, giving him an extra set of chromosomes and a huge array of powers when he grew up.
  • In this Miraculous Ladybug Series Fic, Marinette's son Thomas was conceived as a Child Of Rape by her Domestic Abuser Ethan, though he has a Strong Family Resemblance to his mother. Who do you love reveals that unbeknownst to Marinette or the others, Tikki had removed any trace of Ethan during Thomas's pregnancy, with the missing genes replaced with those from Marinette's lovers Adrien and Kagami. She and Plagg consider themselves very lucky that Thomas doesn't show any traits from his other parents.

  • In the Wings of Fire Series Fic, Listen And The Stars Shall Speak, the father of Moon's son Stardust is unknown (although it is implied that Moon knows), as both Qibli and Winter could be possibilities. It's revealed by the end that they're both Stardust's father. This is handwaved with a 'trust me, it's possible.'

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005): As in other versions, Ford and Zaphod share three of their mothers.
  • Exaggerated and Deconstructed in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Freddy Krueger is implied to have been conceived this way. His mother was a nun who worked at a mental institution where she became trapped alone with one hundred of the inmates over a period of several nights. Freddy was the result, and became taunted all his life as the "Son of a Hundred Maniacs". Subverted in the fifth movie, however: one of the maniacs is shown to look exactly like pre-death Freddy, hinting that this is in fact his biological father.
  • Also exaggerated in Twins (1988). Julius and Vincent are fraternal twins conceived in a laboratory where sperm samples from six men were combined. Julius, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, got all their "desirable traits" (looks, strength, intelligence, etc.), while all the "genetic garbage" went to Vincent, played by Danny Devito. He's short, balding and has criminal tendencies.
  • A down-to-earth example happens in The Broken Hearts Club. Dennis' lesbian sister asks him to be a sperm donor for her wife, thus ensuring that the baby is biologically related to both its mothers even if one is technically its aunt.

  • A joke using this: two new parents stare at their newborn in disbelief, wondering how one child can have so many different attributes (sometimes they're listed: blond hair, black skin, small nose, huge ears...). Then they recall having participated in an orgy some nine months back. The baby starts crying, at which point the mother expresses relief that at least he isn't barking.

  • Justified in Aeon 14. Creating new Artificial Intelligences is performed by a blending of minds rather than bodies, so AI can easily have more than two parents, and sometimes one or more parents is human. In one case, Tanis, her flesh-and-blood husband Joe, and her AI partner Angela blend minds to produce an AI daughter named Faleena to help keep their flesh-and-blood daughters out of trouble.
  • In Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi, the alien race who visits Earth can conceive children from arbitrary numbers of parents. The most prominent alien character, Joshua, is the child of the entire ship's crew and the first human to visit the ship.
  • In William Barton and Michael Capobianco's Alpha Centauri, the "leospiders" apparently had several different sexes: males suck some sort of seed from quondam females, take more from quasimales, inseminate macrofemmes with the collection... It's confusing since the expedition learns about the process from multi-billion year old pornography.
  • The Yeerks of Animorphs are sluglike aliens whose reproduction apparently involves three of them fusing into a single mass, which then breaks up into hundreds of "grubs" (killing the parents) that grow into more Yeerks.
    • Children conceived from morphs, such as Tobias or Seerow Hamee, could be considered this: one of the parents isn't using their own DNA, but that of someone they morphed into. They may still get some kind of DNA from the parent's original form, though, since Tobias had visions from his father that are implied to be Genetic Memory. (Though memory of events that happened after he was conceived...somehow. The Ellimist probably did it.)
    • Visser One, a Puppeteer Parasite controlling a human woman, once fell in love with the Puppeteer Parasite controlling a man whom her host was in love with. This resulted in a pair of twins. The Yeerks know that they're not genetically related, but still regard them as their children.
  • The Lo'ona Aeo in Mikhail Akhmanov's Arrivals from the Dark series have 4 sexes. Roughly translated into English, they are "full male", "half-male", "half-female", and "full female". Only the full female sex is capable of conceiving and bearing a child. A full male and half-male are required for the "mental contamination" process that kick-starts the pregnancy (no physical action required). The half-female sex is sterile and does not participate. The Lo'ona Aeo are capable of chemically altering the future sex of a child, as necessary to maintain the genetic diversity. A Lo'ona Aeo named Zantu defied her parents by allowing herself to become a full female, as originally intended by her genes, instead of the half-female her parents wanted her to be. She was exiled until such time as she reaches the Lo'ona Aeo equivalent of menopause and is no longer a threat to the genetic makeup of the species. Zantu's child is unique among the Lo'ona Aeo for having only two parents, her father being Sergey Valdez, whose Psychic Powers unintentionally triggered the process. The child is still a full Lo'ona Aeo, but he has inherited some of Sergey's adventurous traits.
  • Chanur Novels: The stsho have three sexes, called "gtst", "gtste", and "gtsto", and form mating trios instead of mating pairs. None of the sexes can exactly be called male or female, since a stsho which fills the young-bearing role in one trio can simultaneously fill a non-young-bearing role in a different trio. Nothing beyond that is known, since the stsho are an extremely private and xenophobic race which refuses to share details of their biology with any other species. For further strangeness, sufficient psychological/emotional stress can cause a stsho to undergo "phasing" and spontaneously change sex as well as personality.
  • In Piers Anthony's Cluster series, the Spicans have three sexes — impact, undulant, and sibilant — of which all three are required for reproduction. Whenever all three are present in the same area, mating will occur — not might, will. There are three roles that can each be assumed by any of the three sexes, and the gender of the offspring is determined by which sex takes which role.
  • Mordred in The Dark Tower has four parents: Roland (who made the mistake of getting down 'n dirty with a demon), the Crimson King (who got Roland's sperm and did... something with it before giving it to a second demon), Susannah (who did the deed with the second demon who got her all knocked up with Roland's baby juice), and Mia (a former spirit who was rendered mortal and had the baby "faxed" from Susannah's womb to hers). Yeah, it's complicated.
  • In The Discovery Of Heaven by Harry Mulisch (also made into a film), the child who brings the Laws of God back to heaven has one mother and two fathers. Ada, the mother, has sex with both men on the same night.
  • Parodied in Making Money. Mr. Fusspot, the canine bank Chairman, is metaphorically described as "the son of many fathers". His spoonhound mother got loose while in heat, and her owners never learned what male dogs she'd encountered before coming home pregnant.
  • The Soft Ones in Isaac Asimov's The Gods Themselves are from a universe with different laws of physics. They have soft bodies of three sexes (rational/left, emotional/mid and parental/right), all of which are required for reproduction by "melting" (fusing their bodies together at the intermolecular level). This temporarily form a Hard One, but don't remember that after they separate (the Hard One does, however, remember its previous periods of consciousness when it is formed again) and is the means by which new Soft ones are formed. The one that actually gets pregnant is referred to throughout using male pronouns. The Hard Ones are genderless and act in a parental/mentor advisory role to the Soft Ones (though the Parental Soft Ones act as parents to the babies when the latter are very young).
  • Subverted in the Gor series: the alien Kurii have three (or four) sexes, or genders. They basically work out to be male, female, a "blood nurser" which the females lay their offspring in and then the babies eat their way out of, and a fourth sex which is essentially a male with low testosterone, which is shunned by the community, but in certain circumstances becomes a breeding male; hence they're not sure whether to consider it a separate sex or not.
  • The short story "Grownups" by Ian R. MacLeod: as they near puberty, young teens are societally expected to drink "bitter milk"—bought at the supermarket, in brand name and generic versions. Apparently this makes them incapable of reproduction and unassisted sex: sex involves a third participant, known as an "uncle", described as a fat man, in between the male and female [squick factor]. "Uncles" go along on honeymoons with newlywed couples; in the story, people comment on how nice it is that a young couple have the same "uncle" that the groom's parents did [more squick factor]. The "uncles" bear the children, requiring a caesarean section. The younger brother of the groom and his girlfriend surreptitiously pour out the actual "bitter milk" and replace it with regular milk thickened with flour, develop normally, have a sexual relationship, and the girl becomes pregnant. The story ends without a neat resolution: the girl thinks she will have to end up becoming an "uncle" (the story mentioned children speculating that a particular boy will become an "uncle", but leaves open the possibility that girls may also) and the boy has no idea what his future is.
  • Horton Hatches the Egg: The bird Lazy Mayzie talks Horton the elephant into sitting her egg for her, so she can go on vacation to the tropics. When the egg finally hatches after many misadventures, it's an elephant-bird, and explains that it grew elephant features from Horton's care and Mayzie's neglect. The birth father is never even mentioned.
  • Subverted in Known Space: The Puppeteers, who are already fairly strange looking, claim to have three "sexes", one of which is non-sentient. In actuality, they're merely prudish about admitting that they're a parasitoid species — the "third sex" is a different species, and serves as a host for an embryo created by the two actual Puppeteers. Also, they have quite mixed feelings about the sacrifice of their non-sentient 'bride' for the purpose of reproduction. They positively dote upon the creatures, attracting them to their nest, dressing them up, caring for them. There is love there, ending in the heartbreak of a lethal birth, and joy for the new life.
  • In Octavia Butler's Lilith's Brood books, there are male and female Oankali, but the third gender ooloi does the genetic mixing. Note that the ooloi don't put their own DNA into their children — rather, they mix their children from their four mates (two male, two female, two human, two Oankali).
  • In the Marsbound series, the "Martians" (who aren't actually native to Mars) don't appear to have fixed sexes. Their reproduction is described as a wrestling match with several participants — and the winner gets to be the mother.
  • In Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall, the alien Morror have five sexes: Suth-laaa, Quth-laaa,note  Ruul, Thuul and Ma-lashnath. It's rare to actually have five parents, which improves the fitness of offspring, but none have less than three. Only snippets of detail are given about the mechanics of procreation and childbirth, but suffice to say they reproduce in idiosyncratic fashion.
  • Merry Gentry: Merry eventually gets pregnant with twins, and the twins have three fathers each.
  • Bruce Coville mentions Bizarre Alien Sexes in mentions both his My Teacher Is an Alien and Rod Allbright Alien Adventures series. For example, in the former, he mentions one species that requires "seven genders to produce an egg, and three more to hatch it." These are kid's books, though, so the exact mechanics are never explained.
  • The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks: The Empire of Azad is ruled by humanoids with three sexes, all of which contribute genes: "males" with testes and penis, an intermediate "apex" with ovaries and a "reversible vagina" that is used as an ovipositor after a male has fertilized them, and "females" with uterus and an endogenous retrovirus that modifies the implanted egg. The only non-sexual difference between the sexes is the eugenically bred-in lowered intelligence for non-apices. The apices are very much on top and exercise crushing sexual discrimination against both other sexes: sexism here sees females as passive incubators and domestics, males as workhorses and disposable soldiers. Notably, more females than males appear to compete in the Azad tournament.
  • Zig-zagged in Salman Rushdie's Shame. The main character was born to three sisters. Presumably only one of them actually gave birth to him, but since the other two went through sympathetic pregnancies, all three of them nursed him, and none of them ever divulges which the "real" mother was; they are all considered equally his mothers.
  • In the novel Silent Runners, aliens nicknamed "pupfish" evolved with three sexes: males, females, and pouchers. All three are necessary to reproduce: males fertilize females, who produce underdeveloped larvae that are deposited in a poucher (like marsupials), where the larvae receive the poucher's chromosomes and continue their development. The species is also superfecund, with a female able to birth the larvae of multiple males at once, and multiple females can deposit in the same poucher. The author worked out a pretty detailed analysis of the biology behind this.
  • Kurt Vonnegut zig-zags this trope in Slaughterhouse-Five. The Tralfamadorians claim to have five sexes. Because they can see through time as well as space, they claim humans actually have seven sexes. Five of these (including gay men, women over 65, and babies who live less than an hour after birth) are "only active in the fourth dimension" and humans can't perceive their contribution to the reproductive process. Each human would thus have 7 individuals who contributed to the act of procreation even though we can only detect 2.
  • Star Trek Expanded Universe:
    • Andorians — in the Star Trek Novel Verse (Star Trek Online borrowed this) — have four sexes and need to form a telepathically bound quartet comprised of one of each sex before they can hope to conceive. "Chan" and "thaan" approximate male, while "zhen" and "shen" approximate female (the "shen" conceives the embryo while the "zhen" carries it to term in a pouch). There isn't any evidence of this within the Live-Action TV Canon though: It's based on a throwaway line from Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Data's Day" that Andorian marriages consist of four people, but that could just as easily imply polygamy. Since they have a low birth rate, it's a Hand Wave for why that race isn't seen much in space, despite being one of the Federation's founding species. The novels have fleshed out the four-sex biology and four-gender culture interpretation considerably. This is apparently an Enforced Trope: the authors felt that it offered more storytelling opportunities than the polygamy explanation.
    • Damiani, Vissians, Bactricians: all have three sexes necessary for reproduction. In Bactricians, the third sex is a small breeding caste traded between couples of males and females. In Damiani, all three sexes are equally prominent.
  • It's more cultural in this case than literal, but in the Vows and Honor trilogy, Tarma is the last of her clan; the clan can be reborn but it needs a "living core" of blood relatives of the old clan, and Tarma is sterile. However, her Heterosexual Life-Partner Kethry is her oath-sister and therefore considered to be of the blood as well, so she's able to help. When she has children they're essentially considered to have three parents and most go on to be part of the renewed clan.
  • Bob Shaw's Warren Peace has the Squelchers, an alien race with no less than six different sexes, each one with its own unique appearance, and with a reproductive cycle where each sex fertilizes the others in turn. The forms look so different that, to the vast majority of the universe, the species only consists of the fourth sex, which resembles an orange haired saggy sasquatch (kind of like a blown up balloon that's developed a slow leak) with multiple eyes in a ring around its head (usually covered by its fur), oversized feet that let it wade on water, and two giant red nipple-like gamete sacs positioned one above the other on its torso. The fifth sex, the only other one mentioned, is described as being indistinguishable from a tree, except for the presence of a pair of two dual-pronged ovipositors (they look almost identical to staples) sprouting from its trunk.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Newcomers in Alien Nation. Tenctonese have three sexes — male, female, and "binnaum" — all three of which are necessary to have a child. The binnaum also appears masculine and catalyzes the conception but does not contribute genetically to the child. Because binnaums are relatively rare, they traditionally live monastic lives, only having sex when they are asked to help fertilize an egg for a male/female couple. Once mating has happened, the egg spends sometime in the mother's egg pouch and sometime in the father's egg pouch. One episode dealt with changing social roles as the Newcomers adapted to life on Earth. A binnaum has married a female and seeks the help of "his" male friend in reproducing (IIRC the binnaum was the one to help the male and his wife produce their own children years ago). The male is at first uncomfortable with this non-traditional situation (the male being an absent parent while the binnaum will raise the child), but eventually agrees.
  • Exaggerated on Andromeda. The Than-Thre-Kull (an insectoid One-Gender Race) reproduce by laying eggs in communal burrows. The eggs mix genetic material, meaning that all the resulting grubs are biological siblings and all the adults that participated are their biological parents. Unsurprisingly, their society involves a complex web of family relationships.
  • Zigzagged by River Song in Doctor Who. She is Amy and Rory's daughter, but because she was conceived on the TARDIS while in flight in the Time Vortex, she somehow has Time Lord DNA incorporated into her genetic makeup as well — enhanced by a little manipulation from the Silence. The TARDIS considers herself River's mother.
  • Double Subverted in Earth: Final Conflict. Liam Kincaid is the result of three biological parents: two human parents and one alien. Agent Sandoval, Agent Beckett and Ha'Gel, who was possessing Sandoval.
  • In The Expanse Jim Holden has eight biological parents, five fathers and three mothers, all of whom contributed some chromosomes. However, the woman who carried him to term, Elise Holden, considers herself his "real" mother. This genetic tinkering was done in the first place to get around Earth inheritance laws for their communally-owned farm so it wouldn't revolve back to the government, which is seeking to acquire all remaining privately owned real estate.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: Abigail has three fathers, and not just in the emotional sense. Somehow, each one's best genes were used for conceiving her (probably with magic). Three is stated to be the average number of fathers for High Atlantic witches.
  • Star Trek:
    • Zigzagged in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Drone". Due to a transporter accident, the Doctor's mobile transmitter and some of Seven's nanoprobes are merged. Later DNA from Ensign Mulchaey is extracted by the growing mechanism and a 29th century drone is born.
    • Subverted in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Cogenitor". The Vissians have male, female and an intermediate "cogenitor" sex, which contributes no genetic material to the child but provides an enzyme which is required for conception. Trip develops a friendship with the third person in a trio of aliens and has a difficult time when he finds out that the cogenitor sex is treated as an inferior and falsely believed to be mentally deficient.
  • You Me Her: Subverted. They don't actually go through with it, but Emma, Jack, and Izzy discuss having a kid with Emma and Jack as the genetic parents and Izzy as a surrogate, making them all physiologically involved with the pregnancy.

  • The Mercedes Lackey song "Mis Conceptions" features a character who was apparently the result of a party with several mythological beasts as guests.
    My mother never talks about that orgy
    And I can't really blame her much, although
    I would love to read the guest list for that party
    And if there's another like it let me know

    Mythology & Religion 
  • This used to be an actual superstition named telegony. Several ancient cultures believed that if a woman slept with different men during or shortly before her pregnancy, that each of these men counted as a father.
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh: Gilgamesh claimed to be "two thirds god, one third human", implying his mortal mother slept with two gods.
    • According to other sources, his mother was Ninsun, the goddess of cattle, and his father was a mortal king. The demonic god Lilu may have provided the other divine third.
  • In Norse Mythology, Heimdall has nine mothers (who were all sisters), while his father is Odin. We do not get any explanation as to how this works. Said mothers may or may not have been Anthropomorphic Personifications of the ocean waves, meaning that Heimdall would have been born of the sea.
  • Happens a few times in Greek Mythology:
    • Theseus was the son of both Aegeus and the sea god Poseidon, due to his mother taking an early morning wade in the ocean. This gave Theseus both the right to rule Athens (as Aegeus was the King of Athens) and power over the sea ("explaining" Athens' naval superiority and dominance of maritime commerce). It also fits the Athenian idea of Theseus being a more democratic, "human" hero—his paternal lineage (i.e., the part that counts) combines human and divine aspects.
  • Succubi and Incubi are said to conceive children, but historically Christian doctrine denied devils the power of creation. According to one explanation, succubi take the seed from human men, pass it along to incubi through sex, and then they pass it on to human women, thus adding two non-genetic parents. Another version says that an incubus/succubus is one sex-shifting being, meaning that it can get human seed as a succubus and then use it while an incubus.
  • Some Christian sects believe in a "serpent seed" or "dual-seedline" doctrine, which posits that Cain and Abel did not have the same father. According to this doctrine, Abel was born of Adam as normal, but Cain was conceived when the serpent mated with Eve in the Garden of Eden, making Cain the son of Satan instead of Adam. To say that this doctrine is controversial is only mildly putting it; not only is it rejected by the majority of mainstream Christians, but the doctrine's most vocal adherents are antisemites and white supremacists who believe that Jews and other races are The Descendants of Cain who somehow survived the Flood.

  • Parodied in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978). Zaphod Beeblebrox shares three mothers with Ford Prefect (with the implication that there are also mothers they don't share), making them semi-half-cousins.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Scarred Lands, the god Vangal is the child of three titans. His mother is Lethene and his fathers are Chern and Thulkas.
  • In Star Fleet Battles, the methane-breathing Hydrans (an Expy of the Masters from John Christopher's The Tripods trilogy) have three arms, three legs, and three sexes: male, female, and "enabler." Males take command and technical positions while females take worker, pilot and soldier professions, though rarely females will take command positions. Enablers are barely sentient and exist only for breeding and caring for young, though some sterilized enablers are used as servants on their starships. It requires all three sexes to produce more Hydrans: the male and female deposit their genetic contribution into a special pouch on the enabler, which also has a genetic contribution of its own. After a few months' gestation, it always gives birth to triplets... one male, one female, and one enabler, of course.
  • The playable Shirren race in Starfinder have three sexes: male, female, and host, all of which are required to conceive children. The male and female provide sperm and eggs, respectively, while hosts incubate the children while providing their own genetic material. Shirren societies vary by how familial relations are handled; some have three-party marriages, while others have a single host queen that incubates for many partners and is considered the one true parent of all the children.
  • The Droyne in Traveller have three sexes: male, female, and enabler, the enablers being required to give off scent during a mating session. Droyne also are casted in the manner of social insects and each caste has only one sex. Droyne language focuses more on caste then on sex as that is more important in their psychological framework.

    Video Games 
  • In Conway's Game of Life, a grid-based model of emergent complexity, a square will light up, becoming "alive", if it is surrounded by exactly three other "live" squares, i.e. "parents".
  • In Star Trek: Starfleet Command, the Hydrans are featured again after their original appearance in Star Fleet Battles (see Tabletop Games above). For some reason, the enabler is referred to as the "matriarchal."
  • Invoked with two different species in the X-Universe.
    • The Boron have three sexes: male, female, and Lar. The presence of a Lar during reproduction is highly valued, though not strictly necessary.
    • The Paranids have eleven genders, and while not all of them are required for any individual act of reproduction, the combination of parents will affect the development of the young.

  • In Chainmail Bikini, Josh suggests this as an explanation for his Too Many Halves character. The only explanation of how such a thing would be possible is that dark elves and ogres are okay with polygamy (cut to a scene of one very happy human male in bed with a dark elf female and ogre female). No alternate explanation is given. This would in fact be possible (though very rare) if the sexes were reversed, since sperm from two men can fertilize one egg. Here of course they can just say that it's magic.
  • Parodied in Drowtales. The twist ending of one non-canon sidestory has Asira'malika Val'Jaal'darya cheerfully announce after spending most of the story teasing the (all female) clan leaders at a gathering about the identity of the "second mother" of the baby she's carrying that they are all the child's mothers. The other leaders all either think this is a bad joke or get angry at her, but a montage showing the child growing up shows that she displays traits from their various bloodlines.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Exaggerated — Uryuoms reproduce this way: the egg can merge DNA from multiple sources, not necessarily including Uryuom at all. As they say (in the strip titled "Uryuom Sitcoms Are Insane", part of which is pictured above),
      William: The current known record for number of parents to a single child is twelve, and only nine of those were Uryuoms.
      Gillian: That kid needed some serious counseling.
    • This explanation turns out to be a Chekhov's Gun regarding the creation of Grace and her brothers: they were all created using Uryuom eggs generated by Guyur, a rare mutant Uryuom capable of generating eggs unassisted. Each was given a dose of human DNA, mixed with animal DNA: Guineas from a guinea pig, Hedge from a hedgehog, Vlad from a combination of owl and vampire bat, and Grace from a squirrel and an alien creature called a lespuko. Both Vlad and Grace also received some Uryuom DNA to improve their shapeshifting abilities. Grace was supposed to get human DNA from an extremely strong male soldier, but Dr. Scuiridae swapped a sample of his late daughter's blood for the intended sample.
  • Grrl Power: Dabbler explains how she has one doppleganger parent, one unknown alien parent that the doppleganger slept with, creating the original embryo, and one succubus parent, who received the embryo from the doppleganger and then added her own TNA to the DNA. Or maybe the other way around.
  • Exaggerated in Homestuck. The trolls reproduce by mixing the genetic material of thousands of different trolls together within the womb of a Mother Grub, who then gives birth to hundreds of thousands of grubs. As such, they have no taboos against homosexuality or incest, and why they even have separate genders is unlikely to ever be explained canonically.
  • Magick Chicks: Melissa finally learns about the circumstances of her birth in chapter 17. Dakota and Anastasia explain how they found out out they were pregnant during the time they were merged into one. Neither knows who her father could be, since Dakota had slept with her old partner and Anastasia's former position got her a lot of nookie. Which lead them to speculate that either, or both of them, may have been pregnant without realizing it. It's even possible that Melissa may have been created by whatever fused them, considering Anastasia and Dakota returned to normal once the umbilical cord was cut.
  • The Perry Bible Fellowship, in the comic "Technorgy", a group of various humanoid technologies, such as a rotary phone, a TV, and a radio are shown having an orgy. Nine months later, they have created a baby smart phone.
  • In Quantum Vibe Nicole is an "osmotic clone" generated from the chromosomes of her geneticist mother and eleven "fathers".
  • Schlock Mercenary has the inhabitants of Qlaviql who have three genders... male, female and muftale. Their reproduction apparently involves male and female producing the embryo and then transferring it to the mufter to carry it to term. Given that all genders appear to be present in their Ruling Council, they may have managed some level of equality though another Tricameral assembly in the real world most certainly was not.
  • Shortpacked! combines this with Homosexual Reproduction: when Robin and Leslie want to have a kid, Joe creates a device that can take a man's sperm and replace its DNA with one of theirs, which the other can then use to get pregnant. (He specifically mentions being inspired by the Justice League Unlimited example below.) They get their (also gay) friend Ethan to provide it, with Leslie serving as the "father."
  • Parodied in Sluggy Freelance. The tri'ballians have 82 sexes, elaborate mating rituals and major interpersonal issues as a result. Their continued existence is a cross of A Wizard Did It and Rule of Funny.
  • Wapsi Square has Katherine who is a chimera formed from the fusion of six unborn children. Assuming each had a different father that brings her number of parents to a dozen.

    Web Original 
  • Azulians have male and female sexes, but engineered the rodent-like "adaptator" solely to facilitate procreation with humans of the opposite sex. The adaptator merges with the father before the act and adjusts his DNA for compatibility with the mother. Thus resulting offspring are of the mother's species, not hybrids.
  • In Nextgenronpa, a Recursive Fanfiction for the Another fan series, the protagonist is Eijiro Maeda, the son of Sora, Yuki Maeda, and Yoruko Kabuya.
  • One clade in Orion's Arm has four genders, three passing on a different type of tissue (plant/animal/technological), and one acting as a womb.
  • Spudz from the Team Four Star Xenoverse Playthroughs is the result of Goku, Piccolo & Mr. Popo having a three-way on the dragon balls.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama:
    • Amphibiosans, Kif's species, have the male impregnated through skin contact with potentially any species (or sex) once they're in love. The genetic parent and the person the Amphibiosan fell in love with need not be the same (Kif was in love with Amy, but impregnated by contact with Leela), though the latter (called the "smizmar") is considered the parent culturally. "Children of a Lesser Bog" reveals that they're this biologically, as well, since Scruffy's DNA somehow got in there.
    • Implied by Decapodians, as Zoidberg describes himself as "Norm and Sam and Sadie's boy." Then again, a previous episode seems to indicate two parents who die when they mate, so the third parent may have been adoptive.
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue", it is revealed that Terry McGinnis from Batman Beyond is more than just the son of Warren and Mary McGinnis, but the biological son of Bruce Wayne thanks to Amanda Waller of CADMUS's secret acquisition of Wayne's DNA in an attempt to create a new Batman. Waller had Warren injected with Wayne DNA while claiming it was a flu shot. That injection overwrote Warren's reproductive genes. This last-minute Retcon actually helps explain why Terry, and by extension his younger brother, Matt, have black hair while Warren and Mary have red hair, when genetically their children should have been red haired too.
  • In The Simpsons, Moe Szyslak is implied to have multiple fathers. In the episode "Moe Goes From Rags To Riches", it is shown that his father is a Yeti. However, in "Walking Big & Tall", a flashback shows a young Moe with a man resembling him. Finally, in "Springfield Up", he claims "My dad was a circus freak, but my mom don't remember which one. I like to think it was a little bit of all of them."

    Real Life 
  • Partible paternity is the concept of children having multiple biological fathers, usually the result of a belief that conception involves multiple acts of sexual intercourse and that everyone involved contributes to the child.
  • Polyspermy, in which two sperm penetrate a single egg simultaneously, can happen, even in humans. It's just incredibly rare, due to the egg's sperm-excluding cortical reaction, and the resulting triploid zygote cannot develop any further.
  • There is an in-vitro fertilization (IVF) technique in which the nucleus of one egg is inserted into a different donor's egg, then fertilized and implanted. The mitochondrial DNA of the donor egg would be from a third person.
  • Bacteria will exchange genetic material with one another through a variety of methods. It is a form of sexual reproduction because genome crossing over happens. Later generations will have genes from many different parent strains. Viruses do the same thing but use a host cell as an intermediary.
  • Superfecundation is the fertilization of multiple ova from the same cycle by different acts of intercourse. "Heteropaternal" superfecundation is when the offspring have different fathers. This is common in domestic cats and dogs but has also happened in humans (though rarely), both artificially and naturally (with the latter requiring that a woman have sex with different men in very close succession). This usually results in twins (or triplets, or a litter, or whatever) who are material half-siblings, but each baby only has two parents, which isn't this trope. However, the two fertilized eggs may instead merge to form a chimera, an individual made up of a mixture of two different cell lines. Some tissues and organs would thus contain DNA from one father, while others would contain DNA from the second father. All tissues and organs would contain the mother's DNA, although almost always not the same subset of her DNA. Thus, this individual would have three biological parents. Chimeras made in the lab may have multiple "mothers" as well as "fathers".
  • Mitochondrial donation is a form of in-vitro fertilization where the baby receives mitochondrial DNA, or mDNA, from a third party to combat certain disorders. While it may not be much,note  through this process, a baby is technically born with genetic information from three parents.
  • Dolly the sheep, the first animal cloned from an adult cell, had three mothers. Two different ewes provided the egg and the DNA, then the embryo was implanted in a third ewe who carried her to term and gave birth to her.
  • It's not unheard of for same-sex couples wanting biological children to seek help from an opposite-sex relative, preferably a sibling, to ensure that the baby is related to both parents. The simplest example, mentioned in the film section above, is for a lesbian to ask her brother to be a sperm-donor for her wife, but there's at least one story of a mother with a gay son who agreed to be a surrogate for his husband (though headlines scandalized the story for clickbait by implying that she was carrying her son's baby).

Alternative Title(s): Telegony, Polyspermy, Multiple Parent Conception, Multiple Father Conception, Multiple Mother Conception