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Extremely Protective Child

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ADA Abbie Carmichael: Lost her father twice. Lousy deal all around.
EADA Jack McCoy: The law went as far as it could. Lisa Hallenbeck wanted all or nothing.
DA Adam Schiff: One day we might all wish we had a kid like that.

There's Mama Bear and there's Papa Wolf, and then there's this: the inverse of those tropes, when it is the child who is very protective of their parents' emotional or physical state, and will take a level in badass to protect them. They are likely to say If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her.... It may be because the child is a Living Emotional Crutch to their mother or father, or because the parent themselves is in some way emotionally or physically impaired that has required the child to take a Promotion to Parent. In these cases, it will usually be an Adults Are Useless situation. However, it can also be simply because they are Good Parents and the child is motivated by The Power of Love.


They also don't need to be actual minors; the trope is still in effect with adult children. It may overlap with Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas, though it does not require the child to be villainous; it's seen across the morality spectrum. This trope is also not Always Female, but it is usually directed at the mother, probably due to Women Are Delicate. The mother variation also tends to be a Struggling Single Mother. Never say Your Mom to these guys.

Closely related to Parents in Distress, except it doesn't require the parents to be in distress, and it has broader cross-genre application. Compare Oedipus Complex.

May develop into a You Killed My Father situation.

Please note that this is only a parent-child (or adoptive parents, or Parental Substitute), as the sibling variation is Big Brother Instinct or Big Sister Instinct.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Future Trunks in Dragon Ball was like this in the Android Saga where his father Vegeta was injured in his fight with Android 18, a female cyborg designed to specifically fight The Hero Son Goku, who was ill in this arc. The reason for this is because Trunks' father was killed in battle in the future, so his reaction upon seeing his father's arm being broken in the fight is understandable.
  • Kurama/Shuichi Minamori in Yu Yu Hakusho is this to his mother. Yoko Kurama, a demon fox nearly dies, he flees in his spirit form to the Human World and merges with the body of unborn child, Shuichi Minamori. Despite Kurama's original dislike of his inferior "human" mother, Shiori showers her son with love and kindness. After she gets injured protecting him, Kurama changes his ways and eventually learns to love his mother and becomes very, very protective of her. He willingly kills anyone that threatens her and tries to sacrifice his life using the Forlon Hope in order to save her when she nearly dies due to sickness.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman. The Big Blue Boy Scout. Possibly the nicest guy to cross the DCU. And may every God on Earth and Krypton protect you if you try to start anything with Ma and Pa Kent. Kal is going to strongly object. With his fists. And his eyebeams.
  • This is a Grey-Summers family trait in XMen:
    • Alex Summers a.k.a. Havok responds to Vulcan murdering their father with an enraged attempt to murder him - one of several, one of which nearly succeeds. While Vulcan is an Omega Class mutant, he isn't very bright, as shown by how he decided to kill Alex Summers - who's powered by cosmic radiation - into a star. A No-Holds-Barred Beatdown ensued.
    • While Jean Grey rarely needs rescuing, her younger children, Rachel Summers and Nate Grey are both more than happy to get violent in her name if needs be.
      • Rachel flew off from a Excalibur mission when she felt an alternate Jean in danger (and avenged her death, with prejudice).
      • Nate responded to the threat that Madelyne Pryor (who he was close to and had accidentally resurrected) presented to Jean by doing his level best to kill her. As usual with Maddie, it didn't take, but it wasn't for lack of trying.

    Fan Works 
  • In Child of the Storm, Harry spends most of the first book being the one protected, even after he starts developing some formidable Psychic Powers to go with his increasingly powerful magic. This is because he's still pretty squishy, even by the standards of small teenagers, inexperienced, and up against enemies who are neither. However, when HYDRA manage to actually hurt his father via an enchanted bullet, Thor (who'd been incarnated as James Potter), he responds by protecting his comatose body and nearly forces the entire HYDRA squad to eat their guns.
  • In "Alan gets sent to the Grid" TRON fanfic, threatening Alan is a very bad idea if Tron is in disc range. Alan is The Smart Guy and not much of a fighter, but his virtual "son" is the most terrifying warrior to cross cyberspace.

    Films — Animation 
  • Belle in Beauty and the Beast is this to her father Maurice. Maurice isn't a bad father by any means, but his absent-mindedness and slight Mad Scientist tendencies open him up to ridicule and persecution from the rest of the town anyway. She defends him from Gaston and Lefou's mockery, willingly takes his place as the Beast's prisoner, rides through a snowstorm to save him from freezing to death (which he was only in because he was trying to rescue her), and stands up to the mob led by Gaston who've come to take him to the insane asylum.
  • In The Little Mermaid Ariel may not always get along with her father, King Triton, but when Ursula turns him into a Baleful Polymorph, Ariel calls her a monster and straight up attacks Ursula despite Ursula being a powerful sea witch and has her father's ultimate weapon in her hands.
  • The entire plot of Mulan happens because Mulan is determined to protect her father and stop him from going to war, where he will surely be killed thanks to his advanced age and previous injuries.

    Films — Live Action 
  • In About a Boy, Marcus needs to be very protective of his mentally ill mother, as she is barely capable of looking after him and as a result he is often teased at school.
  • Played for Drama in The Babadook. Sam is terrified of anything coming to get him and his mother Amelia and repeatedly insists he'll protect her from (imagined) threats. This seems to be a method of coping with the trauma of his father's death until the Babadook shows up, possesses Amelia, and he has to tie her down and get her out of the possession. Unless Amelia "simply" had a psychotic break from the stress of her loss, and Sam is protecting her from herself.
  • Knives Out: Marta is dragged into messy and illegal business because her mother is an illegal immigrant and threatened with deportation.
  • Norman in Psycho is arguably one of the most disturbing villainous examples ever to his mother, My Beloved Smother Norma, to whom he's The Caretaker. One interpretation of his murder of Marian is that he does it because she criticizes and mildly insults his dead, abusive mother. Although he didn't know that.
  • Star Wars: Anakin Skywalker is very protective of his mother, Shmi. As a nine year old boy, he promises Shmi he will come back and free her from slavery someday. Ten years later, he defies the Jedi Council and drops everything to go back to Tatooine when he has recurring dreams of her being in danger. Upon learning she was kidnapped by Tusken Raiders, he refuses to give up on her and doesn't rest until he finds her. Unfortunately, this trope is taken to the extreme when Shmi ends up dying, with Anakin massacring the entire camp of Tusken Raiders out of grief and rage.
  • Shadow of a Doubt: Young Charlie is the eldest daughter of the family and she is determined to save her family, especially her ditzy mother, from her Uncle Charlie's crimes and protect them from the truth about his activities, she even risks death twice to turn him in to the law. She even tells Uncle Charlie that she would kill him just to protect her family from him.
  • Ree in Winter's Bone needs to be this to her mom as a result of her mental illness that leads to her being exploited by Ree's violent father.
  • Much like his comic book counterpart mentioned above, Superman in Man of Steel becomes enraged when General Zod tries to threaten Martha Kent, and proceeds to knock him several blocks while shouting "YOU THINK YOU CAN THREATEN MY MOTHER?!"

  • In a poem by A. A. Milne a boy named James Dupree is said to have "taken great care of his mother (or 'great C of his M***' in the Censored for Comedy version) although he was only three", and he insists that she never go to the end of town without consulting (yes, he used that word) him. Later, she does go to the end of town without his say-so and she does disappear.
  • In the Agatha Christie novel, The Man in the Brown Suit, Anne's father is an absent-minded scientist, so it's her job not only to take care of the practical side of their lives, but also to make sure her father is properly dressed for bad weather.
  • In Artemis Fowl, Artemis goes to great lengths to avoid either of his parents finding out about his crimes and, due to his mother's poor mental health, he's very protective of her.
  • In Big Little Lies, Ziggy is extremely protective of his Struggling Single Mother, Jane.
  • A Jacqueline Wilson mainstay:
    • In The Story of Tracy Beaker, Tracy is extremely defensive about her mother, pretending she is a film star.
    • In The Illustrated Mum, Dolphin refuses to even hear that Marigold is neglectful.
    • In Lola Rose, Lola Rose takes care of her mother and worries about her due to her mother's history and present of extremely poor choices of boyfriend, and is as a result, very defensive about anyone new coming into their lives.
    • In The Diamond Girls, the protagonist becomes this after becoming her mother's Secret Keeper that the new son is actually a girl.
    • In Cookie, Beauty fears her mother even talking to men after Beauty's father is abusive to her.
  • A realistic example occurs in Room. Jack hates being separated from Ma for any time and is quick to comfort her when she needs him. When she's Gone, he often tries taking care of her, such as making her food.
  • The Magician's Nephew: Digory undertakes to return Jadis to the Wood Between the Worlds, rather than leaving her to be dealt with by the authorities, because he is terrified that his deathly-ill mother will see her.
  • In The Millennium Trilogy reveals that one of the reasons why Lisbeth Salander despises her father with the intensity of thousand suns is because she protects her mother from her father's abuse. That lead her to throw a gasoline and a lighter to burn him alive as a desperate attempt to stop him for harming her mother further. That attack also lead her to be labeled as mentally incompetent thanks to her father's connections to the Swedish government while getting away from his domestic abuse and other criminal activities. That doesn't stop Lisbeth to get even against him and one of the ways to piss her off is to badmouth her (currently deceased) mother, which her father did during their confrontation at the second book.
  • Jax from The Grim Reaper's Apprentice decides to fight the gods because of the punishment they gave his parents.
  • In Touch, James isn't quite sure how to feel when his new friend, Caleb, confesses that he was planning to kill him—he feels like he should be angry, but given Caleb's motive he's pretty sympathetic. Then Caleb mentions that his plan also involved manipulating James' family into a fight with his masters, and that's when James starts blasting him with wind.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow. When a criminal shoots her father in "Birds of Prey", Sara Lance responds by throwing the criminal out the window. Her father is a cop so he isn't happy about this, especially as he wasn't harmed thanks to his bulletproof vest. When he asks her to show restraint, Sara points out that this is her showing restraint (she was trained by the League of Assassins, so she's not lying).
  • American Horror Story: Murder House: Played with. While Violet does abandon her mom at a crucial moment, letting her be committed to an asylum, the first thing she does while being held hostage by home invaders is to ask about Vivien, and the minute she finds out that Tate raped Vivien, she banishes him.
  • Big Little Lies: Josh and Max promise to protect their widowed mother, Celeste, when their grandmother, Mary-Louise, wants custody of them, and in the Season 2 finale, they demonstrate how, by showing a video of Perry abusing her.
  • Reconstructed in Breaking Bad. Walt Jr. (Flynn) is very protective of his father Walt and appears to despise his mother, Skyler, who he considers to be to blame, and becomes The Scapegoat for just about everything wrong in their family. This gets switched around when Jnr/Flynn finally learns the Awful Truth that his father is a drug lord, and he then becomes very protective of Skyler.
  • Series 3 of Bron|Broen:
    • Christoffer's mother, Sofie, is a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of his abusive father. Despite their difficult relationship, he threatens his father with a knife when he physically attacks Sofie, and later, shoots and kills his father, albeit accidentally.
    • Saga has this with her Parental Substitute, Hans, after Hans is attacked and abducted by the killer. She doesn't manage to save his life, but she is completely unfettered in trying to find him in time.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
    • Jake Peralta is very protective of his mother, Karen, knowing the struggles she went through to provide for them. Ever since childhood, he has tried (unsuccessfully) to shield her from the full extent of his father Roger's infidelity and sleaziness, to the point that Karen suggests it was protecting her that made Jake want to be a police officer (Jake disagrees, claiming it was his love of Die Hard). After finding out his mother and father have gotten back together, and accepting he can't interfere with Karen's decisions, Jake flat out tells Roger that if Roger ever hurts her again, Jake will ensure he spends the rest of his life in a cell.
    • Jake's Evil Counterpart, Doug Judy, is the epitome of Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas, and a habitual car thief who goes to great lengths to ensure his Too Good for This Sinful Earth mom doesn't find out that he's back in crime, and the only way anyone can manipulate him is by threatening her life.
  • In Castle Rock, Henry Deaver is generally very concerned about his mother, Ruth's health when he finally returns home. But the straightest example occurs with The Reveal that he killed his father Matthew because Matthew found out about Ruth's affair with Alan and was going to kill her.
  • Gotham: Oswald Cobblepot (yes, that Oswald Cobblepot) is extremely protective of his mother and keeps her sheltered from his criminal life. And if any harm should come to her, just ask the guy who got beaten to death and then had an umbrella shoved down his throat. When he reconnects with his father, Cobblepot becomes protective of him enough that the woman who poisoned him got fed her own children and then stabbed in the neck.
  • Line of Duty: Lindsey Denton's mother is a care home due to her Alzheimer's and she is very concerned about her mother discovering anything about the investigation into her, and she even took the blood money so she could pay for her mother's care.
  • The Mandalorian: The Child has become incredibly protective of his adoptive father, the titular Mandalorian. In one episode the Mando is having a friendly arm-wrestle with his friend Cara Dune and the Child, apparently not understanding what's happening, tries to Force choke Cara in an attempt to protect the Mando.
  • Major Crimes: Rusty Beck is very protective of his biological mother, Sharon Beck, constantly making excuses for her terrible behavior and even getting her an electric toothbrush when she's struggling with the consequences of her drug use. Later, when he is adopted by Sharon Raydor, he becomes quite protective of her as well, and she of him.
  • Psych: Despite their sometimes strained relationship, the usually-lazy Shaun goes absolutely crazy when he finds out that his father, Henry, has been shot, and doesn't stop until he finds out who did it. Less specifically, he's also very defensive of his mother, blaming his father for all their marital problems and, ultimately, for her abandonment.
  • Riverdale: Having always been close to his father, Fred, and understanding he's given up a lot for him, Archie Andrews always tries to help and protect Fred when he can.
    • Upon learning the scale of Fred's financial difficulties in season one he recruits all his friends to work on Fred's construction site, when someone scares off his workers and even wanting to carry on after Moose gets assaulted. Afterwards he flat out sneaks into the base of the local gang, the Southside Serpents, to try and identify the man who attacked Moose, simply so they can carry on helping.
    • After Fred nearly dies at the hands of the Black Hood in season two, Archie takes this to extremes. Developing a massive guilt complex at his perceived failing, he vows to protect Fred even sitting up all night on guard with his baseball bat in case the killer comes back. In his attemps to protect his father (and home town), Archie illegally purchases a gun and forms his own vigilante militia. Even after realising he's made a horrible mistake, Archie carries on trying to protect Fred, leading to him doing deals and jobs for Hiram Lodge to get Fred out of his debts to Hiram. Until his growing PTSD and being caught up in Hiram's promises of restoring safety and prosperity to Riverdale caused him to lose sight of his goals, and indirectly end up hurting Fred. Still even after committing numerous illegal acts for him when Hiram's attempt to rub his victory in Fred's face it causes Archie to undergo a massive Heel Realization.
  • In Schitt's Creek, David is an adult version to his Small Name, Big Ego mother, Moira, even sleeping with an ex to get photographs back that would have humiliated her.
  • S.W.A.T. (2017): Due to the fact his father was horrifically abusive to the both of them, and believing his mother saved him, Jim Street is highly protective of his mother. He'll always drop everything to help her and follow through on her requests. Unfortunately, his feelings towards her blind Street to the fact that his mother is really a greedy, selfish manipulative woman who used her (at the time) nine year old son to murder her husband and has been exploiting his good nature for decades.
  • True Detective: Henry Hays takes care of his father, Wayne, who seems to be struggling with severe dementia. Although he's sleeping with female documentarian Elisa, he still won't let her push one step further than he intends.

  • One possible interpretation of Hamlet's investment in his mother, Gertrude's, relationship with his uncle and now stepfather, Claudius, and still seems close to his mother despite his hatred for Claudius. Especially noticeable when he gives her a "Reason You Suck" Speech to stop sleeping with him.
  • In Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus is taken care of by his very concerned daughter, Antigone. Partly necessary because he's blind.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has Toby, who (in the film version, at least) has the solo song "Not While I'm Around", in which he pledges to protect Mrs. Lovett, his Parental Substitute.

    Video Games 
  • Kratos might not always need it but in God of War (PS4), his son Atreus is more than willing to protect his father. In Alfheim, when Kratos enters the light, Atreus single-handedly defends the platform from would-be attackers. A later instance has Atreus standing in front of a bound Krateus to stop the Stranger from hurting his father, refusing to budge when the Stranger threatens to kill him.
  • Krile in Final Fantasy V will jump into any danger to protect her grandfather Galuf. She first meets the party when she hops a meteorite and goes to their world just in time to save him from someone possessed by Exdeath and later flies halfway across their own world to fetch him after the party is stranded. She even takes on Exdeath to try and rescue him. However, Galuf himself is a Papa Wolf, so when she is hurt, he'll push himself far past the breaking point to save her.

    Western Animation 
  • The Legend of Korra: It's worth noting that every time Korra has outright threatened to kill someone, it's because they harmed her parents in some manner.
  • Steven Universe:
    • During the "Out of this World" event, Greg is kidnapped by Blue Diamond and Steven is determined to save him at whatever cost. Whether it's traveling at the speed of light, entering into a (presumably dangerous) human zoo, or ready to fight those he perceives as trying to keep his father against his will.
    • In Steven Universe: Future, when Eyeball Ruby and Aquamarine threaten Greg's life, Steven demands they leave him alone. Greg manages to think quickly and cuts his hair free from the two and escape, however Steven doesn't let them go as he becomes enraged over the fact they hurt his dad.
  • Adventure Time: Marceline is quite protective of her Parental Substitute Simon Petrikov/Ice King, and he's one of the few characters that can bring out her softer side. In the "Stakes" miniseries, a rival vampire slams Marcy's Berserk Button by insulting Simon, and she angrily exclaims "That's the last time you toy with his heart!" before staking the vamp through the heart.
  • The Powerpuff Girls love their father, The Professor, and god help you if you mess with him or you'll have three very angry Flying Bricks ready to kick your ass to save him. Mojo Jojo learned this one the hard way more than once.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has the KND Operatives (specifically in Sectors V) be this for the most part. Yes, they are dedicated to fighting adult tyranny. Yes, they are often exasperated, embarrassed, and or annoyed by their parents. However, they are still kids who love their parents and putting them in harms' way is a surefire way for them to use every ounce of their well-trained skills and ingenuity to get them back with pure rage.
  • The Owl House: "Young Blood, Old Souls" shows that Luz becomes violent towards anyone keeping her from rescuing Eda. This includes the Warden, Lilith, and even the Emperor. She also destroys the portal door to keep her mother safe from Belos' "Day of Unity".


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