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Extremely Protective Child

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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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     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.
  • Honey Badger/Scout is very protective of her big sister, X-23. If you so much as threaten to give Laura a bad day, Gabby will come for you.

  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • 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.

     Film - 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.

    Film - 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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 Jnr (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 also 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.

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