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Family of Choice

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We're not related, but here's good news
Friends are the family you can choose
— "Friends Are Family", The LEGO Batman Movie

Often in fiction, a character who starts out Conveniently an Orphan will pick up extremely loyal companions along the way. Sometimes, these relationships are forged through the fire of conflict, but with Families of Choice (also called "Found Families"), it's a bit different. Members of a Chosen Family mourn the lack of family in their lives and decide to build one of their own out of people they care for and who care for them in turn.

As in Real Life, this is most common when something has happened to these characters to isolate them from blood relatives—perhaps they have no family to return to. Maybe they have a supernatural secret they can't share with their closest friends. They might just have a bad home life in general and decide to leave. Maybe they were, for whatever reason(s), disowned or rejected by their family members. To fill the vacant roles in their lives, some characters build their own families with people they choose to care about.

Some common examples of Family of Choice include an adult meeting the future heroes as children and deciding to be the Parental Substitute that they need, children who grow up together without a family of their own and claim each other as brother and sister, or an adult friend of a single parent that takes it upon himself to always be there for the main characters and thus becomes an Honorary Uncle.

Adopted and blended families are not generally examples of this trope because the relationship exists regardless of whether the members' feelings about each other. Step- or adoptive siblings coming to think of each other as family would not qualify, for instance, because they were officially family even if they refused to accept that. A group of characters that chooses to formalize an existing Family of Choice, however, is not disqualified for the opposite reason: the family was chosen first, seeking social and/or legal recognition is simply a way to further confirm that choice.

Examples of this trope must describe not just the nature of the relationship but how, when, or why the characters came to feel this way about each other. Remember, if they came to think of each other as True Companions because the plot has brought them closer together, it's more likely to be Fire-Forged Friends, Band of Brothers, or just True Companions than this trope.

Characters burdened by an Unpleasant Parent Reveal or a Disappointing Heritage Reveal often turn to a Family of Choice in an effort to distance themselves from their birth parents or ancestral group.

Criminal Found Family and Found Family via Work are subtropes.

Subtrope of True Companions. Compare/contrast with No Blood Ties and Thicker Than Water. Hint: If an example includes the words "in the end" then it's more likely Fire-Forged Friends than this trope (which is about characters forming a family in the beginning, before all that plot stuff happens).

See also Friends Are Chosen, Family Aren't, which involves stressful family relationships which arise because a character can't choose who they are actually related to by blood. In complex cases, however, the two tropes can overlap; if things get difficult with a Family of Choice, the character can't just dump them, because they're now "family" — so that relationship becomes stressful.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • +Anima's four main characters, Cooro, Husky, Senri and Nana are a group of the titular "+Anima", people (usually children) who acquire animal-like abilities after a traumatic brush with death. Because +Anima are often the targets of discrimination, prejudice, bigotry and even sold into slavery, part of the premise of the series is that our heroes are Walking the Earth to find a place where they can be accepted for who they are. Through it all, they stick by each other no matter what, to the point that many times individual members of the group will reject offers to live comfortably in permanent homes all because they can't bear to part with the others.
  • In Baccano!, Firo, Ennis and Czeslaw — three immortals who've faced a pretty rough life — eventually settle into this arrangement, right down to sharing the same apartment.
  • In Bleach people rarely are able to reunite with their loved ones after death, since souls are usually sent to different parts of Soul Society, even if they died together. Because of this people with no blood ties tend to form family-like units to support each other.
  • Chainsaw Man's main trio of Denji, Power, and Aki start out as a bunch of dysfunctional coworkers who are forced to live together, but as the series goes on, they come off more as bickering siblings who nonetheless have each other's backs. Tragically, the second half of Part 1 kills off Power and Aki in cruel ways, and reveals their boss set them up to bond together simply so Denji could be hurt worse by their loss. But Denji survives to become a big brother to a potential Person of Mass Destruction, who he's determined to give a good upbringing.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba there are many examples of orphaned warriors who bond with one another, growing to consider each other as real family. The Cowardly Lion Zenitsu loves his master Jigoro Kawashima so much, that he considers the old master his real grandfather; the kindly leader of the Demon Slayer Corps, Ubuyashiki Kagaya, is so well liked by his subordinates that many see him as their father, with at least two of the highest ranking slayers, Gyomei Himejima and Muichiro Tokito, outright calling him their father.
  • The guild members of Fairy Tail easily qualify, especially as Makarov refers to all members as his children, and he all-but namedrops this Trope in the denouement of a rather heavy story arc.
    Makarov: Lucy. Though we may not be able to share our feelings of happiness or sadness entirely, we do share them to some extent. That's what happens in a Guild. One person's happiness becomes everyone's happiness. One person's anger becomes everyone's anger. And one person's tears become everyone's tears. There's no reason for you to feel guilty, so don't cry — you should already know how much everyone here cares about you. Hold your head high, my dear, because you are a proud member of the Fairy Tail family.
    • Also pertinent to this trope is that many of the younger members of Fairy Tail grew up in the guild with Makarov as a Parental Substitute and the older members as role members. The Straus siblings, Natsu, Grey, Erza and to a lesser extent Cana all have a sibling like dynamic as they spent their formative years in Fairy Tail together.
  • Despite technically all being distantly related, the Members of the Zodiac (plus Tohru) in Fruits Basket fit this. Most of them come from broken homes (at best), and due to their condition, it's a lot easier to forge bonds with each other, anyway. Tohru leaves her remaining family to stay with the Sohmas, and consequently becomes the glue that holds them together.
  • Higehiro: Moreso than a typical "romantic" Dramedy, the series is about Sayu finally experiencing what it is like to have a family, with Yoshida as the stern but protective "father", Gotou as the gentle and loving "mother", Mishima and Asami as sisters she can share laughter and tears with, and occasionally Hashimoto as a supportive uncle. Through their 6 months of collectively "raising" Sayu to finally be a happy little girl, the office-quartet and Asami themselves become as close as a family by the story's end.
  • In Inuyasha the Movie: Fire on the Mystic Island, this trope counts for six half-demons who are on an island and must be rescued. This island was once a safe home for humans and demons, but it was destroyed by evil demons. And the six half-demons have a connection to each other as though they were all brothers and sisters, even though they are not related (although two of the boys are twin brothers). The youngest girl even addresses each half-demon as a brother or sister, simply because he or she is a half-demon.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Kaguya has long ago written off the self-centered Jerkasses that make up her biological family as a lost cause and instead looks towards the family of her crush Shirogane as a potential source of familial love. This becomes especially apparent when she talks with Kashiwagi shortly after she and Shirogane start dating, and she says that she wants to be accepted as a member of their family as soon as possible.
  • The Yagami family in the Lyrical Nanoha franchise are a borderline example, since the Knights are dependent on Hayate Yagami's mana output.
  • This pretty much defines the Kobayashi household in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid (especially the anime adaptation), with Kobayashi serving as the parent figure, Kanna (and later Ilulu) being the kids, and Tohru (who is the wife/mother of the family, but is also seen by Kanna as more of an older sister) having elements of both.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The White Base crew operates as a family made of the group of inexperienced soldiers and little kids who have developed strong friendship and relationship from battles. Amuro Ray himself abandons his mother as she cannot understand his reason to fight in a war. He then abandons his workaholic father who has gone nuts because of an accident.
  • Naruto: Naruto, whose entire family is dead, has formed close bonds with his "grandfather" the Third Hokage, his "father" Iruka, his "older brother" Sasuke, his "other father" Kakashi, and, once he gets over his one-sided shallow crush on her, his "older sister" Sakura. That said, the entire Leaf Village seems to regard itself as one giant extended family anyway, and their "Will of Fire" philosophy strongly emphasizes this.
  • In One Piece: The brothers of series protagonist Monkey D. Luffy are not related to him by blood. Luffy, Portgas D. Ace, and Sabo are all brothers by choice, having grown up together as a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits that looked out for each other. They made their brotherhood official by all sharing a cup of sake together.
    • The Whitebeard Pirates. The captain looks upon each of the members as his sons, and all of them in turn looks to him as his father. It's explicitly stated that many of the members are vagabonds and strays who were brought together by Whitebeard's kindness, and all consider each other family. As his life flashes right before his eyes, a dying Whitebeard expresses that this is all he ever really wanted.
    • Several members of the Straw Hats were not raised by blood relatives and had surrogate families. They have also chosen each other as their family and will move Heaven and Earth, and journey to the depths of Hell to help them. This is probably best exemplified when without a moment's hesitation Usopp, the most cowardly of the crew, follows Luffy's command to burn the flag of the World Government. This is an act of war and marks them as enemies forevermore to the World Government, something their companion Robin had been burdened for over twenty years and would always be betrayed by others because of this stigma. They will make the world their enemy if it is to save one friend's life.
  • Roll Over and Die: During the first two Volumes, Flum forms a makeshift family with Milkit, Eterna, and Ink. At the end of Volume 02, Ink chooses to stay with Flum rather than going back to the life she knew with the Spiral Children because she would rather have a normal life than be a weapon for Origin. In Volume 03, Eterna is offered a chance to have a new life with her loving adopted parents. While she is tempted, she declines because she believes what she has with Flum, Milkit, and Ink is more important.
  • In Sailor Moon, lesbian couple Haruka and Michiru, hermit Setsuna, and orphan Hotaru formed a family. Haruka serves as a father of sorts, while Setsuna and Michiru were the mothers of young Hotaru.
  • Despite Yuu's protests, the orphans at the Hyakuya Orphanage in Seraph of the End feel this way about the group, due to poor relationships with their blood family. Eventually, Yuu comes to accept this as well. And then they're all slaughtered.
  • In Toradora!, Ryuuji and his mother Yasuko become Taiga's family, and she eats dinner with them every day. When Taiga's father, who abandoned her, comes back into her life, Yasuko doesn't trust him and doesn't want Taiga to leave as she is a part of their family.

    Comic Books 
  • The Batfamily, hence the name. Bruce is a Parental Substitute for Dick, Jason, Tim, and Cass. The fact that Jason Came Back Wrong complicates his relationships with everyone. There's also Barbara, who acts as a mother/big sister figure for Cass, and a big sister figure for Tim and Steph. Steph's relationship with Bruce is a deconstruction of the Parental Substitute role he takes with the others, as he accepted and rejected her at his convenience. She picks up the Batgirl mantle whilst he's "dead" and their relationship improves upon his return. In fact the Batfamily is such a family of choice that when Damian, Bruce's biological son, shows up, he feels insecure because he's surrounded by people who were chosen to be Batman's family whilst he was forced on him by Talia. Of course, Damian eventually becomes a little brother to Dick and Steph. Jason and Tim too since, regardless of who's writing them, all of the Robins refer to each other as brothers as of the New 52.
  • In Death Vigil, when Allistor turns on the Vigil because he can relate to and understand the reasoning behind Wulf's Face–Heel Turn, he demands Mia leave with him. Mia, in outrage, refuses and tells him she's staying with her family, and chooses to stand with the Vigil over her father.
  • This is explicitly the relationship between Cutter and Skywise in the ElfQuest stories. They become "brothers in all but blood" when young,even going as far as to share "soul names", something normally reserved for immediate family or reproductive mates. Their relationship is somewhat strained during The Palace War and when Skywise wants to stay in the Palace after, but is never broken while they both live.
  • The Flash family is this, depending on which incarnation, but particularly so with the Wally West era. Jay Garrick, was a big-brother of sorts to Barry Allen and the two at different times acted as surrogate fathers to Wally West, while Jay and Max Mercury both acted as surrogate dads to Barry's future grandson Bart Allen. Bart, Wally, and fellow speedster Jesse Quick had something of a Annoying Younger Sibling/Big Brother Mentor/Cool Big Sis dynamic going between them. This extends to their significant others, as Jay's wife Joan became something of a grandmother figure to the younger generation, Barry's wife Iris pretty much adopted Wally (him being her nephew already, which is how he met Barry), and Wally's wife Linda was a Cool Big Sis to Bart and at times seemed to be the only member of the family who didn't find him annoying. Between them, the only ones actually biologically related were Barry and Bart, both of whom rarely interacted due to Barry being dead for most of Bart's existence (Wally and Iris were related, but Iris was adopted into the Wests so they're not related by blood).
    • Somewhat darkly, it seems that the second Reverse-Flash, Hunter Zolomon, AKA Zoom, tried to start a villainous version of this with the other Reverse-Flashes. He'd at one point took Bart's Reverse, Thaddeus Thawne/Inertia under his wing as his own 'Kid-Zoom', but he betrayed him and left him powerless. He later tried this again with Eobard Thawne, also known as Professor Zoom, the first Reverse-Flash, but when this plot resurfaced in the post Rebirth universe, Thawne was killed by, in self-defence, by Iris West. Hunter had an even more screwed up birth family than Wally did, so it made some degree of sense he'd want to emulate this.
    • The Rogues are a considerably more successful villainous version of this, albeit only so much in the 'family' aspect than the 'villain' aspect. With Leonard Snart/Captain Cold being something of the big brother who keeps them all under control, the Rogues have gone back and fourth between being serious criminals to retiring and enjoying a friendly relationship with the Flash (particularly Wally West), but no matter what, they're almost always presented as a band of brothers (plus Golden Glider) who will stick together no matter what. They even extend this to Pied Piper, Hartley Rathaway, despite him having been the only one to stick to the 'retiring from villainy' thing and being best friends with Wally West, but is still gladly accepted back by them any time he needs them.
  • In the Pre-Flashpoint universe, Lana Lang took care of the young Supergirl as she was going through a very tough time in her own book. Later Kara would tell Lana became family to her. In the DC Rebirth continuity, Lana states Superman is her family in spirit although they aren't blood relatives.
  • In Gotham City Garage, Kara Gordon misses her sister left back in the city tyrannically ruled by Lex Luthor's. Natasha Irons tells she understands but the biker gang is now her family.
    Natasha Irons: I know that feeling. The loved one you can't shake. It's hard. But you gotta remember... You got new family now. Them you left behind are just cogs in Luthor's machine. Rule number one at the Garage: We ride for our sisters.
  • The Holo Brothers are three humanoid aliens of three different species. They were all orphaned too young to remember their real family, and grew up together in an orphanage. They refer to each other as brothers and act in every way as if they actually were.
  • Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero: Stacker somberly says that family is sometimes built, not chosen, as he recalls his copilot's rapid deterioration from radiation sickness.
    Stacker: Tamsin was family to me. We fought monsters together. We experienced each other's emotions. And suddenly, she was gone.
  • The squad of Rat Queens are bound by choice, not blood. Violet left her family to escape cultural norms, Dee to escape their cultish religion, Betty to escape blame for a job gone wrong, and Hannah to shield her father from association with her suspicious parentage. Later Braga joins, having fled her clan to express her true gender and life goals. The Queens often invoke the trope by name.
  • The Runaways act very much like a family, which should not be surprising given that most of them have known each other since they were little kids.
  • Teen Titans: This is how the Titans are described as seeing each other in the comic books. They support each other in all the good ways of a family, but they're also a family in all the worst ways with all the conflicts, you'd usually suspect from living together like one. They do have some disagreements, but it always leads into more character depth. This is adapted very well in the Teen Titans original animated series where their family-like relationships are used to look deeper into each of the character's backstories and character flaws.
  • The longest serving X-Men usually refer to the team as their family. While he's on a lot of teams, this is how Wolverine views the X-Men, the team he will always prioritise.
    Beast: We are Avengers, Logan. There is more to consider here.
    Wolverine: I'm asking you to be an X-Man right now. This ain't work, McCoy... this is family.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust: When Shinji feels that he has "tainted blood" due to the revelation that he comes from a family of apocalypse cultists, Asuka and Misato are quick to remind him who his real family is.
    Misato: Your family is right here, Shinji.
    • Shinji had brought it up earlier with Asuka during their first real date after they were fired, but Asuka said that using the term family probably wouldn't be appropriate for the two of them when you consider what they get up to every night.
  • A Frozen Flower: While Odd Squad as an organization is this in canon, the first chapter has Olive, as a voice in Otto's head, taking the concept and horrifically twisting it when taunting Otto.
    Otto: [mentally] I don't know what's deluded you. You were never first to me, Olive. I have a family, you know!
    Olive: A family that doesn't know the real you, the Otto who pretends to go to school each day but really comes to Headquarters to work with — guess who? Me! By the time you decide to leave, I'll mean more to you than your little family ever did. Just wait and see. When agents leave the Squad, they leave changed. They're never truly part of their family again, because this is their home. We are their family. They'll be filled with an intense, dreadful longing for Odd Squad. But they can't come back, because they took an oath. The longing infests their minds and poisons their hearts. It eventually drives them insane-
    Otto: STOP IT! STOP IT!
  • The entire ohana in Aloha. Only Lilo and Nani are technically related (unless you count Stitch and his fellow experiment "cousins"), but they are family. And they will do anything for each other.
  • Avantasia Protag AU: In this AU series, the four protagonists from each album story end up in the "real world" somehow and run into each other. The main body of fics focuses on them being a family together since they've all lost what they had in their original dimensions (mostly) and they didn't have much family before anyway. They have fun together, sometimes fight, annoy each other, but ultimately would do anything for each other. There are also a few chapters focusing on how they met each other - Gabriel and Scarecrow first, then finding Aaron, and then running into Entity.
  • Babysitter from Heaven: Lincoln decides after getting to know Carol to make her his honorary big sister... which does not make Lori happy when she finds out.
  • In Beyond Heroes: Of Sunshine and Red Lyrium, Varric explicitly considers the Hawke siblings (and to a lesser extent, their late mother) to have become this to him over the previous decade.
    When, he forced himself to consider, had there ever been anyone who had treated him more like family?
  • The younger Jinchuriki (Naruto, Gaara, Fu and Yugito) and Kurama form one in Blackkat's Reverse. They have all been abused and neglected by their villages and blood relations, if they have them, and they feel that getting found (kidnapped) by Kurama for their own safety has been the best for them. Kurama is a loving father figure who loves them for who they are, and their fellow jinchuuriki are the siblings and friends they always wanted.
  • In Blood! Rusty AU BloodClan's name is not because they're super violent, but because they form ties regardless of blood. Many members were abandoned, rejected, or orphaned by their owners or family. The Clan views each other as a family, regardless of whether they're biologically related or not.
  • The Bridge gives an example of one character already having done this teaching another. Sunset Shimmer, having long since fled Equestria for the human realm, regards her human friends as her new family. Upon finding a disoriented young albino woman in a fairgrounds, Sunset learns from her that she has no name and deduces she ran away from a abusive home. Christening her new friend "Irys", Sunset details her this trope, about how if she wanted a family, all she need do is start building from what is friendly to her, blood relation be damned. What Sunset didn't know was Irys was a kaiju in human form, an unnamed hyper gyaos who had just lost her entire flock. The rest of the gyaos flock wasn't sentient, being cannibalistic monstrosities, but it was all she had so they had a love-hate relationship. Taking Sunset Shimmer's words into practice, Irys formed a new flock with her teammates after being included into the Villainous Friendship trio of Monster X, Gigan, and Megalon. In later chapters, we see Irys openly refer to her new three friends as her "flock/family".
  • A Brighter Dark: In stark contrast to her original counterpart, Corrin has absolutely no confusion over who she considers her 'real' family to be. As far as she's concerned, she's Nohrian and always has been. Her Hoshidan siblings may have had someone who looked like her as a little sister, but that little sister wasn't her anymore.
    • Put best here, while debating the issue with Azura.
    Corrin: Look little girl, I've seen enough blood to know that it all looks the same. It's all red, and you only ever see it when things have gone horribly wrong for the person holding it. It keeps the body pumping and makes a big mess when it gets spilled, and beyond that I don't see any reason to attach any sentimental value to it. True family is the people who have been there with you through thick and thin. They're the ones who make you feel warm when the world seems cold; the people you grow with, train with, eat with, you fight with and laugh with over the stupidest little things. That's family to me.
  • In Chaos Theory Z, Goku shrugs off Raditz being his long-lost brother by stating that his friends whom he's fought alongside for years are more of a family to him than a blood relative he's never met before.
  • In the Charmed fic "Charmed Alternate", Prue, Piper, Phoebe and Paige all believe that this applies to Paige when she and Piper become friends after Grams' death, as they assume that Paige manifesting witch powers when Phoebe cast the spell is just a coincidence and the Halliwells each agree that Paige is basically their sister even when they don't know she really is related to them.
  • In Child of the Storm, the Avengers are most definitely this, being a close-knit, if dysfunctional, bunch of outsiders, oddities, and orphans who would all die for each other, with Pepper serving as de facto Team Mom, and Thor and Steve alternating the roles of Team Dad. Even after years together, however, they aren't without their issues: Clint's still a tiny bit twitchy around Loki, at times, and they do have arguments, sometimes quite serious ones. Those arguments, however, are usually resolved fairly quickly and help bind them tighter. It also helps that all of them have adopted Harry as their Protectorate: no matter their other disagreements, no one messes with him.
    • The Marauders, and the Order of the Phoenix as a whole, were this, with Fury describing Lily Potter as closest thing he ever had to a sister, and Wanda being described as like Lily's sister, while Sirius notes that James and Remus were far better family than his own blood kin were.
    • Sif and the Warriors Three also qualify, with Sif being the faintly exasperated Team Mom to the often ridiculous Warriors Three, who often bicker and squabble over inconsequential things. However, one of the very, very few times they are completely serious is when Sif is upset, and they are all clearly devoted to each other.
    • Harry seems to gathering one around him, in the form of his True Companions.
  • Children of Remnant: Yang tells Jaune not to worry too much about the precise definition of his relationship with his "sisters;" what's important is that he sees them as his family, not the fact that they don't actually share any blood. Then she realizes that she gave Pyrrha the exact opposite advice, that since they're Not Blood Siblings it's totally fine for Pyrrha to jump Jaune's bones. The boys gave Jaune similar advice, maybe worded a bit better: Jaune's situation with his sisters is so weird (they were all kidnapped as toddlers and raised together by a monster) that pseudo-incest should be pretty low on his list of worries.
  • A Clash Of NEETS: Theon makes it very clear to his sister that the Stark's have been more family to him than Balon Greyjoy ever was, and if his father wants to start another rebellion, he knows exactly whose side he'll be on.
    Theon: "I am Ironborn as much as you! I've been left to rot for nine years, with no kith nor kin save the Starks! If I value them and their company, well, it's because they value me!"
  • In The Confectionary Chronicles, despite Hermione being only human, Loki's children all come to refer to her as a sister after she becomes a devotee of Loki, to the extent that each of them donate hair and blood to Hermione's wand to give it a boost in power, despite the risk of what someone could do even to pagan gods with a sample of their blood.
  • Code Geass: Paladins of Voltron: It's made very clear that Lelouch views the Paladins as this, especially since his true family abandoned him and his crippled sister to die seven years prior. He fully hits the realization after a conversation with Alfor aboard the Castle of Lions. The rest of the Paladins reciprocate this fully, and even tell him just before the Black Rebellion commences that they will never abandon him.
  • In Custody Battle, a My Hero Academia fanfiction, sometimes family is a young boy who wants to become a hero, his supervillain father, his time-traveling uncle, and his mentor who hates his dad.
  • The Angel/The Hunger Games crossover "Demon's Games" opens with Katniss and Peeta being rescued from demons by Angel and Illyria, who takes them to District Thirteen to join the rebellion against the Capitol, which is controlled by the Senior Partners of Wolfram & Hart since his last major battle against them. Initially Katniss is mainly brought in to be the public face of Angel's rebellion, but as time goes on she forms a strong bond with Angel and his closest allies, even as she is also close to Peeta and other Panem residents. When the Capitol finally falls, with Prim dead and her mother trying to avoid thinking of Prim to escape her grief, Katniss concludes that she will stay in the Capitol with Angel, Illyria, Cinna, Peeta, and the "returned" Buffy, Willow and Wesley (Buffy was brought back to life, Willow's magic extended her lifespan and Wesley was a ghost forced to act for the Partners), Katniss explicitly describing this group as her family.
  • In Doctor Ghemor, I Presume?, Julian Bashir wishes for the Cardassian Tekeny Ghemor to be his dad instead of being saddled with the Vicariously Ambitious Richard Bashir. It later culminates in him rejecting his human Abusive Parents in favour of his adoptive father and (also Cardassian) husband.
  • In The Dragon and the Butterfly, Hiccup and Toothless become honorary Madrigals after crashing into the Encanto, with Julieta and Agustin serving as parental figures after they learn that Stoick disowned Hiccup.
  • The old Mustang unit from Fullmetal Alchemist, along with the Elrics and the rest of the "allies," are well and truly forged into one of these during the Elemental Chess Trilogy.
  • In this series of Emergency! fics, John Gage lost his parents as a young boy. The relatives who raised him badly abused him. His aunt is the only blood family he's close to. But his work partner, Roy, and Roy's wife Joanne become the people he thinks of as his family, even if he has a hard time just understanding and accepting love. The relationship often easily shifts between brothers or brother/sister and parents/child. Joanne often mothers him like her third child, and even Roy's son recognizes that when someone tries to hurt John, Roy gets like a Papa Bear. John's aunt also comes to see how the Desotos have become her nephew's surrogate family and helped him in ways she never managed.
  • En Tempus Veritas;
    • Lois makes it clear to Lionel at one point that the difference in their efforts to become part of the Kent family is that Lionel is essentially trying to force his way in where Lois was invited in.
    • Chloe is quickly established as Jonathan's aunt, and Jimmy Olsen is noted as taking his role as 'honorary uncle' very seriously even though he and Chloe are only dating at this point rather than in a more official relationship.
    • When Oliver's team drop in to visit Clark, he, Bart, AC and Victor swiftly start referring to themselves as Jonathan's uncles, with Lois and Clark agreeing with the sentiment.
  • In Everqueen, that's how Horus views his street gang from Chtonia, Ezekyle included.
  • Fate/Black Dawn: When Mordred mistakenly assumes that Shirou is her father, her mother Morgan very specifically asks her if she would like Shirou to continue being her "Papa." Mordred is too young to really understand what's going on, so she just says yes. Later, Morgan introduces Arturia to Mordred as her father. Morgan sees no contradiction with Arturia being Mordred's father and Shirou her Papa. Mordred, confused, just ignores the whole mess.
  • The Forever Captain series: In The Favor, it's shown that Tony has come to see both the Jarvises and the Carters as this in this version of the timeline.
  • In Forgiveness is the Attribute of the Strong, a My Hero Academia fanfiction, the younger version All for One and his little brother travel forward in time. To All for One's horror, they're both adopted by All Might. Later, Inko and Izuku move into Might Tower and join the family.
  • Harry Tano: The story starts with Ahsoka rescuing a four-year-old Harry from the Dursley house, and taking him in as her son/Padawan (even getting the blessing to do so from Lily's ghost. Later, Sirius, Remus, the Weaselys, the Grangers, the Tonkses, and others are included into their found family. The adults all do everything they can to help raise each other's kids along with their own; Ahsoka even takes Hermione on as a second Padawan. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Tonks, and all of the Weasely children have already become as close as siblings before they're even accepted into Hogwarts. Much like in canon, all of the adults listed above make it very clear that you don't want to mess with their kids. The Dursleys, for example, know this.
  • Harry Potter: Pokémon Master: The Pack and The Pride are this. The Pride (Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Luna) are fiercely protective of each other and Harry openly states that Luna and Ginny are his little sisters. As for The Pack, Jack openly calls Lance his brother by choice, with Cynthia and Diantha echoing the same thing concerning the boys, and all of them are aunts and uncles to the others' children.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, the Legion of Super-Heroes aren't only Supergirl's friends and teammates but also her extended family since she was fifteen, even though she is related to only two of them.
  • The circus in Insanity Circus by TheNight130 have a familial bond.
  • In Legacy (DocSuess), The Defenders end up becoming this for Peter.
  • In The Silmarillion fanfic Lessons from the Mountain, Maedhros considers his brother's foster sons family. In contrast, his father Feanor only cares about blood relations. He considers Celebrimbor his grandson, even though he repudiated his family, but he refuses to recognize Maglor's adoptive sons as heirs.
  • A Marriage Of Convenience: By the end of this Frozen fanfic, Hans considers Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff as a surrogate family to compensate for his unhappy childhood, as his biological father and brothers (sans Lars, the only brother to whom Hans could feel close) were abusive and neglectful towards him.
  • In My Name Is Yasha Romanov, Clint sees right through Natasha's protest that Yasha isn't her son.
    "Yeah I know; he's just someone's kid you were paid to look after. But he's still your boy."
  • Sans and Integrity, Sans and Gaster, and Sans and the lab staff are all this in Not As Simple As A Happy Ending.
  • In The Other Side (memoriaeterna), after basically the other half of the universe was dusted by Thanos (Avengers: Infinity War), Peter Parker uses the resources left to him as Tony Stark's primary appointed heir to work on finding a way to undo the Snap, earning the respect and loyalty of basically every remaining hero. After a year of work on this project, the others become so close to Peter that (at the least), Wanda Maximoff and Yelena Belova proclaim themselves his sisters, Star-Lord affectionately terms Peter his "little brother", and Doctor Strange, Hope Pym and Jane Foster are his uncle and aunts respectively. Once the Snap is undone, Wanda accepts the 'need' to add Tony to the chat, and May is swiftly added once Strange points out that it's somewhat odd for this chat not to include Peter's only living relative now that she's available.
  • In Passing Days, as Vy goes through the Fate/Grand Order storyline, her contracts with her Servants start transforming into a very mismatched but well-forged family, both out of Because You Were Nice to Me and I Want My Beloved to Be Happy. Many of the Servants are implied to not have the greatest lives in the original canon, so a girl choosing to do the right thing by treating them with respect naturally leads to Undying Loyalty.
  • In The Power of Seven, as Harry forms a 'harem' with Ginny, Hermione, Luna, Demelza Robins, Susan Bones, Katie Bell and Fleur Delacour, the eight come to consider themselves a family; in Chapter 35, when Harry has to reassure Demelza of her value to him when she feels like the Tagalong Kid to the other five (Fleur hasn't become part of the group yet), he tells her that if she's just a normal girl, than he's just a lonely orphan who never had a family, and thanks her for becoming part of his, with Demelza looking around and realising that she's comfortable as part of this strange family Harry has created. This trait is reinforced in Chapter 54, when Demelza loses her parents to Voldemort but finds comfort with the others in the harem.
  • During an argument with Carol Danvers in A Prize for Three Empires, Wolverine admits he doesn't want to leave the X-Men because they have become his family.
    Wolverine: First: there's no way I'm leaving the group. I had me a solo stint a short while back, an' I'll probably have more of 'em. Sometimes it's easier not havin' Cyke or Storm lookin' over your shoulder. Don't tell 'em I said that. But the main reason, crazy as it seems, is... they're family. Does that make sense?
  • In the Zootopia fanfic The Punk of Podunk, Nick and Jack Savage regards each other as their brother, and even Nick's mother sees Jack as one of her sons. It's alluded that Jack has a poor relationship with his biological father (although the exact cause is not yet revealed), which is why he prefers to stick with Nick's family.
  • In Request and Receive Saga story "And there was mead", Basilio thinks of Lon'qu and Olivia as his children.
  • This is a constant theme of The RWBY Loops, to the point where the celebratory hundred-chapter badge has the words "Te Potest Elige Cognatione Tua" on it—latin for "You Can Choose Your Family." Granted, it's rare that the loopers of Remnant abandon their baseline family—it's just that they incredibly commonly adopt new family members.
  • In Safe Anchorage, Jeyne Poole is basically adopted as a surrogate younger sister by Theon and Asha Greyjoy, since she has no family left and nowhere else to go.
  • This is how Lydia regards the Maitlands and Betelgeuse in Say It Thrice. By the end of the story, she has expanded this to include the Fenton family, with whom she is living; she's actually an emancipated minor at this point, but they treat her like a member of the family.
  • In Shadow and Rose, Elissa 's entire family is dead, and she forges a new one out of the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits she recruits to help stop the Blight. Leliana invokes it when giving a Rousing Speech, pointing out that they are the only family their leader has anymore and they can't let her down.
  • This is a central part of the situation in Skyhold Academy Yearbook. Most of the teachers at the eponymous school no longer have families of their own, for one reason or another, and they forge one through their relationships with each other. Cullen and Cassandra are Like Brother and Sister, Varric and Dorian refer to each other as "the brother I never wanted," and Evvy works to legally adopt Cole in the first story. There are also a number of romances/marriages which bind the group even more tightly.
  • In the Merlin (2008) fic "The Sorcerer's Bride", even after Morgana learns that Morgause is her half-sister, she explicitly rejects Morgause as twisted and insane in favour of her established bond with Gwen, to the extent that she declares that she would abandon Morgause as a sister in favour of Gwen if it was possible (although Morgana does concede that anyone would be a better sister than Morgause).
  • In the Naruto fanfiction Sugar Plums, the protagonist and most of her group are orphans. After the grueling trials of their graduation, they band together and form their own family. They notably never use honorifics when referring to each other, tease and prod them, have a variety of in jokes and casual dialog.
  • In the Star Wars fancomic This Place Was Home, Zam isn't related to Boba, but as they spend more time together and bond, she becomes part of his family along with his dad.
  • In the Arrowverse fanfic To Hell & Back, this dynamic is formed between Oliver Queen, Barry Allen, Kara Zor-El, Kal-El, Slade Wilson and Shado during their time spent on Lian Yu; even after Shado died when he was barely a year old, Kal-El still thinks of Shado as 'Mama', Slade is still referred to as 'Papa' even after he hasn't seen Slade for over nine years, and Oliver and Barry each make it clear that they've known Kara for so long that just the idea of dating her makes them each want to gag as they otherwise see her as their sister.
  • In the Friends fic "TO On the Streets", even after Monica learns during her wedding to Chandler that her father and brother didn't know about her mother's plan to kick her out, she makes it clear to Joey that she will still see him and Phoebe as family as they were there for her and Chandler while they rebuilt their lives.
  • In Told That Devil to Take You Back, Sam Winchester basically forms one with the Earps when he assumes that Dean and Castiel are dead after the confrontation with Amara, eventually becoming involved with Wynonna while Waverly is like a younger sister.
  • Wolf in the Streets, Sardine in the Sheets: Street Tyrant Valvatorez grew up without any memories of life before fending for himself. He founded a rehabilitation home in order to offer others a chance at a stabler childhood, building a family for himself along the way.
  • What It Takes: Laurel considers the various vigilantes who came to support her (many of whom were already her close friends) to be her real family, her parents have lost that privilege. In the end, she spells it out for them. By the time of the epilogue happens, it's clear she considers Sara to be the only blood family she has left.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Boss Baby, neither Tim nor the Boss Baby really like each other at first, and are only "family" because the Boss Baby was adopted by Tim's parents, apparently a direct manipulation so that the Boss Baby could investigate Puppy Co., for which Tim's parents both work. In the end, Tim is miserable at the Boss Baby, whom he'd grown to appreciate, being gone, and the Boss Baby is moved by Tim's letter and decides to give up his cushy corporate boss life and become a real baby and part of Tim's family.
  • Coco: According to Word of God, blessings don't need blood relation to work, but can work between anyone who considers each other family.
  • In Ice Age this is what happened to the misfit stragglers — Manny/Diego/Sid — in the first movie. Over the course of the original film, they gradually form tight-knit bonds and begin to think of each other as a "herd".
  • The Hawaiian term for this is 'ohana. Just ask anyone who has seen Lilo & Stitch, with its "family" composed of two sisters, a reformed all-destroying monster (plus, in the franchise's later TV series, his 620+ "cousins"), the (mostly) reformed creator of said monster(s), and an incompetent bureaucrat.
    "'Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten."
  • Oliver & Company: Fagin's canine posse survive aboard a derelict boat in New York Harbor as a band of scroungers and thieves. They even extend their circle to include the kitten Oliver. When Oliver becomes stranded in the limousine, Tito insists upon a rescue: "He's family. He's blood." Since the dogs are completely different breeds, and Oliver, the he in question, is a cat, Tito is clearly speaking about the strength of their bonds rather than any literal blood relationship.
  • Over the Hedge: The forest animals, or "hedgies", are a group of mismatched woodland critters (among them, a single opossum dad and his teenage daughter and a porcupine family with triplets) who act like and are constantly referred to as a family. In fact, the value of family is the movie's main theme.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: A brief flashback even shows a page from Private's journal, with a crayon drawing of the four of them labeled "FAMILY".
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: This is Goldilocks’ main character arc in the movie. She wants the wish because she wants to have a family, not realizing that the three bears who adopted her are her family. Goldilocks eventually realizes that despite being adopted, she is still part of the Bears’ family, and her wish of finding a family has come true all along.
  • Storks: Tulip and Junior bond acting as parents for Diamond Destiny. Tulip even chooses to first make sure Diamond Destiny was correctly delivered before seeing her own biological family for the first time.
  • The Sea Beast: For better or worse, Jacob has only had found family as far as we know. Nice subversion, when he turns on his father figure for Maisie.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ali & Ratu Ratu Queens: A running theme. The titular four women are best friends who live together and consider each other family. Ali is hung up on the idea of his biological mother, but when that falls through, he remembers that the Queens have basically been his family the whole time.
  • American Honey: The mag crew acts like a surrogate family to its members, as it consists of young people who wanted to escape their home lives or didn't have supportive families.
  • The Blues Brothers met each other while they were both children in an orphanage, and used a string from Elmore James's guitar to become Blood Brothers. As adults, they legally changed their names so that they have the same last name in order to make the brotherhood more official.
  • With both of her parents dead and her Wicked Stepmother and elder stepsister treating her poorly, Danielle of Ever After has this with the household servants, who raised her, and her younger stepsister, who has always been kind to her.
  • The heroic Toretto Gang from The Fast and the Furious are a multi-ethnic, multinational bunch, but they are quite explicit about being family, not just friends or a gang of car thieves. Sure, they can bicker and annoy one another, but when the proverbial rubber hits road, there is nothing that will stop them from banding together to kick the ass of whatever threat they're facing.
  • Implied at the end of Ghostbusters (2016) when Jillian, previously established as a cocky, devil-may-care gadfly, unexpectedly delivers a heartfelt tribute to her newfound friends in which, on the verge of tears, she admits that she'd never truly felt part of a family before she knew them.
  • The Hunger Games: Peeta never seems particularly close with his biological family, but forms a very close bond with Katniss and Haymitch.
  • A subtle, but important theme in Knives Out. Elderly millionaire Harlan Thrombey shocks everyone by cutting all his children and grandchildren out of the will, and instead choosing to leave it all to his personal nurse, Marta Cabrera. Despite the family's protests that, as his biological relations, everything Marta's inheriting is their birthright, and she should "do the right thing" and give it up, it gradually becomes clear that Harlan was fonder of her than he was of any of his relatives because she not only took care of him for a long time, but was a good and compassionate friend to him, who genuinely enjoyed his company and liked him as a person, not his wealth or fame. He returned her affection so much, he was willing to concoct a very elaborate scheme to protect her and keep her out of jail.
  • In the film Leave It on the Floor, a group of gay young men form a replacement family around the head Drag Queen (whom they call Mama and who refers to them as her children) of their drag competition team.
  • This is played up in the later installments of the Lethal Weapon series. In the third film, Riggs talks Murtaugh off his Heroic BSoD from killing one of Darryl's friends by reminding Murtaugh he was the only friend he had, and he considered the Murtaughs his family. The fourth film ends with a photo op featuring Riggs, Lorna Cole (whom he just married) and their newborn baby; the Murtaughs, with Butters, and Butters' and Rianne's newborn baby; and Leo Getz. In unison, they tell the photographer that they're all family.
  • Made in America: Zora decides to continue having Hal as her dad even after learning he's not really her biological father, and he happily agrees.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Over the course of the The Avengers (2012) films, Natasha came to view the other Avengers as a family. In Avengers: Endgame Steve explicitly responds to the question of whether she had family to contact after her death by saying she had "us", the Avengers.
    • In Black Widow (2021) Natasha spent three years as a child as part of a fake family in Ohio. While she initially insists none of it was real, over the course of the film she and the other members of the fake family admit they had developed real familial bonds.
    • One of the major themes of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, with Peter Quill finding strength in his "family," the Guardians especially his adoptive father Yondu, to defeat his biological father, Ego. Explicitly stated by Drax:
      Nebula: All any of you do is yell at each other. You are not friends.
      Drax: You're right. We're family. We leave no one behind.
      • Ravagers in general view one another as family, though some such as Taserface reject that. Yondu was disowned by the Ravagers due to his dealings with Ego and was clearly devastated to lose his family.
  • Pride (2014) has this working several ways: the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners group serve as a surrogate family for each other, as most of them, being gay in 1984 Thatcherite Britain have bad relationships (Steph) no relationship (Gethin) or are closeted (Joe) from their blood relatives. In particular, Joe and Steph develop a close brother/sisterly relationship over the course of the film. Additionally, the members of the Miner's Union in the Welsh town of Onllwyn who the LGSM sponsor during the mine strike find themselves (after some initial culture shock) to be taking on a parental role towards the LGSM. This leads in part to the Welsh Gethin being able to work up the courage to reconnect with his own actual mother. There's also Cliff and Hefina, who are not related by blood or marriage at all, but who have been obviously close for twenty years at least. Hefina, for example, apparently has known that Cliff was gay since 1968.
  • In SHAZAM! (2019), Billy has been rejecting foster care in order to look for his long-lost mother for the past ten years. Once he realizes that his mother intentionally cast him aside at the fair due to having a difficult time raising him as a young single mother, however, he considers his recent foster family his true family.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022) ends with Knuckles and Tails coming to live with Tom and Maddie, much like Sonic did in the first movie. The implication is that Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles, all three of whom are orphans, have found another family in each other and the Wachowskis.
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ends with Rey taking the name Skywalker, with Luke and Leia's spirits smiling in approval, as all her own blood relatives are dead and as an escape from the legacy of her "grandfather", Sheev Palpatine.
  • In Table 19, the guests sitting at the table start off as a group of strangers who were just stuck together because it was felt that they were the guests who shouldn't have bothered to come, but in the film's epilogue a few months later, at least one of the Table 19 guests refers to the others as his family.
  • In We're the Millers, a quatret of people who were previously just (sometimes very vitrolic) acquaintances pose as a Nuclear Family for a smuggling operation, but become a family for real by the end regardless of the absense of blood relation.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • James McAvoy repeatedly brings up in interviews that Professor X creates a surrogate family for himself to compensate for his unhappy childhood (he was a Lonely Rich Kid who believed that he was afflicted by a severe psychiatric disorder after his psychic abilities first manifested, his mother was emotionally cold, and his biological father must have died when he was young because he once had a stepfather). His students are either runaways, orphans, or even if they do have a family, their human relatives have tremendous difficulty coping with the knowledge that one of their own is a mutant, so those in the latter category still feel isolated and anxious because of their powers. Charles ingratiates himself into these youngsters' lives by treating them kindly like they are his own children, and his school becomes a second (or only) home to them. Because his parenting style is a mix of Team Dad and Team Mom, he's an ideal father figure with the best of both worlds in terms of what's stereotyped as paternal and maternal attributes. Most of his students like him because these qualities make him a Cool Teacher, and some grow to love him and join the X-Men. Xavier is especially close to his protégés on the team and dotes on them, and they offer Undying Loyalty to him in return.
    • The Wolverine: At the end of the movie, Mariko adopts Yukio as her sister, "her only family," as the rest of the Yashida family have been killed off.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Ironically, Quicksilver chooses to be mentored by Charles instead of beginning a relationship with his estranged father Erik. Although Peter doesn't know either man well at this point, his decision strongly suggests that he feels a greater affinity towards Xavier (they are Foils for each other, and they share several personality traits in common), who did briefly display his paternal side towards Maximoff before they had parted ways in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League paints the titular superhero team as such, with even Word of God describing "family" as the film's Central Theme. Each member is hurt, broken, or otherwise feels lost in the world, either because their powers make them feel like like outcasts among the rest of humanity or simply went through innumerable tragedies and hardships that left them feeling like they had to close themselves off from others to not get hurt again. By forming the Justice League and overcoming struggles together, everyone finds a kindred spirit in one another and they know now that they're not alone.

  • Comes up in Atlas Shrugged when Cherryl apologizes for misjudging her sister-in-law Dagny and now hates the fact that they're linked by her abusive husband (Dagny's brother). Dagny assures her it's the fact that they value the same things, not Cherryl's marriage to Jim, that makes them sisters.
    Dagny: We're sisters, aren't we?
    Cherryl: No! Not through Jim!
    Dagny: No, through our own choice.
  • Dashti and Saren in Book of a Thousand Days are this by the end, despite Saren's status as Gentry and Dashti's place as her maid. After leaving the Tower, they claim to be clan sisters and commoners for Saren's protection, and are the only family either has. In the end of the book, Saren legally declares Dashti her sister, as is her right as the last Lady of Titor's Garden. This is partly so Dashti won't be executed for claiming nobility
  • In Books of Bayern, Ani/Isi has this with the other workers. She was never close to her birth family, as her mother kept her apart from her siblings. When Ani/Isi tells stories about the love of mothers, she says that she imagines the mothers of the workers instead of her own.
  • The titular character of The Burke Crime Novels of Andrew Vachss has no family by blood or law but has such close bonds with the people he’s chosen for his family that he would kill anyone who hurt them.
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): Sarah is thoroughly adopted by the Colony, at Anthony's insistence as a fellow reincarnator. She struggles to relax and accept the unconditional love and support that they offer, but it does go a long way to helping her face her fears and heal from her traumatic time in the Dungeon.
  • The four protagonists of Circle of Magic are rescued from similarly isolated backgrounds and brought to a school of magic where they immediately form a strong bond. Especially Sandry and Daja, since Sandry, responding to an act of cruel injustice by a third girl, takes an "us against the world" approach before she even knows Daja's name. The family can also be seen to include the children's teachers, especially Lark and Rosethorn who live with the children as well as teach them. By the end of their stories, the children even refer to each other as siblings. Other people often react with incredulity when they're introduced as siblings, since the four clearly come from utterly different racial and social backgrounds, but they often don't give the incredibly powerful mages too much of a fuss about it.
  • City of Bones by Martha Wells: Sagai's family to Khat. He not only lives with them and helps support them, they're the only people he trusts to get close to him either physically or emotionally.
  • In the Cormoran Strike Novels, Cormoran Strike had an entirely absent father and an emotionally absent, drug-addicted mother growing up. He considers his Aunt Joan and Uncle Ted to be his true parents, something he acknowledges out loud in Troubled Blood when Aunt Joan is dying of cancer. When Joan comments that a fortune-teller told her she would never have children, Strike replies "Well, she was dead wrong about that, wasn't she?"
  • In Garry Ryan's Detective Lane Mysteries, protagonist Lane and his life partner Arthur form one by taking in an outcast nephew and niece, while Lane's partner-on-the-force Harper does the same for his own nephew.
  • In Dragon Bones there is one a bit bizarre example; Ward adopts the house ghost Oreg, whom he inherits as a slave (A Wizard Did It, Ward can't change it), as a kind of new brother. Ward's real brother Tosten is a bit jealous, but comes to terms with it. Oreg, on the other hand, has long acted like a big brother towards Ward's Cute Mute younger sister, Ciarra. While only Oreg is actually an orphan, the other three are half-orphans with only their mentally absent mother left.
  • In Harry Potter,:
    • The Weasley family seems to choose Harry pretty much from the moment they meet him; aside from him being Ron's best friend, it probably has to do with his Orphan's Ordeal being well-known among wizards. Mrs. Weasley sends him a homemade sweater (like she does to all her children) after only meeting him once, and from the second book on, he spends a large chunk of each summer with them, which provides him an escape from the Dursleys. In Goblet of Fire, the school is smart enough to invite them as Harry's family for the Third Task, and Mrs. Weasley outright calls Harry her son early in the fifth. He officially joins the family sometime after the series when he marries Ginny.
    • Harry's parents, Lily and James, considered his friends, particularly Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, to be their family as well. James's parents (who died right after James got married) quasi-adopted Sirius after he got disowned. James was an only child and Sirius basically became his brother, and James decided for him to be Harry's godfather. Lily's parents don't have much info given on them and her sister Petunia wouldn't talk to her. James and Lily also financially supported Lupin because being a werewolf made it difficult for him to find any solid employment.
  • Haymitch, Peeta and Katniss in The Hunger Games. Katniss still has her mother and sister until the third book where her sister dies and her mother moves away and Peeta's family is still around until the end of book two but all of Haymitch's loved ones were killed by the Capitol after the second Quarter Quell. The three of them become very close and at one point in the second book Katniss flat-out calls Haymitch a family member. For Haymitch, Katniss and Peeta seem to be the children he never had. By the end of the series Katniss and Peeta are married with two small children and Haymitch presumably fills the role of grandfather, since both Katniss and Peeta's fathers are dead.
  • InCryptid: In That Ain't Witchcraft, Antimony and her friends gradually come to know James better as they work together to stop the Crossroads, and she comes to think of him like a brother, explicitly inviting him to come back to Oregon with her as a new member of the Price family. He already has a strained relationship with his biological father, and takes Antimony up on her offer of a family who understands magic and will offer unconditional love.
  • Tana French's The Likeness has this set up. After lonely 20-something Daniel March inherits a large estate, he moves in with his four intimate friends, Rafe Hyland, Abby Stone, Justin Mannering and Lexie Madison. The five, each lost in various ways, consider themselves a family and plan to grow old together, even deciding to share legal ownership of the estate, ensuring the permanence of their situation and rendering marriage, relationships and children out of the question. Unfortunately, Lexie betrays the other four when she plans to sell her share, which would cause them to lose their home to the developers planning to buy it, leading to her Accidental Murder at the hands of one of her friends.
  • In Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Magnus, Blitzen, Hearthstone, and Samirah al-Abbas decided to call themselves 'the family of empty cups,' symbolizing how they started with nothing but filled their lives with each other. Magnus never knew his father and lost his mother years ago, ending up homeless, Hearthstone was estranged from his family and shunned by his people because he was born deaf... eventually the family grew to include Alex Fierro as well, who was estranged and homeless due to being genderfluid.
  • Four out of the five main characters in The Mysterious Benedict Society are orphans, and the one who has parents is a runaway with a rocky familial relationship due to them abusing his photographic memory for financial gain. When they form into a group they quickly become like family to each other. Also, Mr. Benedict asks Constance if she would be willing to adopt him as her father. She tells him that she'll have to consider it, but is inclined to accept. She eventually does and gains two sisters in the process - it turns out that Mr. Benedict also adopted Rhonda Kazembie and Number Two, who by the time of the series are adults, though they too feel as if they adopted him.
  • Never Wipe Tears Without Gloves has he main characters as a group of gay men, most of them shunned by their families because of their sexuality, and they refer to their close-knit group as "the family".
  • In Pact, Blake Thorburn ran away from his family at the age of seventeen, as they tore one another to metaphorical pieces over an inheritance worth millions, ending up homeless and along until he met his friends Alexis and Joel, who he considers to be better family than his blood family ever were, since they lifted him out of the hole he was in and helped him to an extent that he credits them with saving his life. That said, his inability to detach from his real family leads to him inheriting his grandmother's house, and her various supernatural enemies, as he felt the need to go to her will-reading as closure.
  • The trans and gender-nonconforming district of Remould in Redfern Jon Barrett's Proud Pink Sky is mostly made up of chosen families.
  • Spinning Silver: Wanda starts working for the Mandelstams to clear her father's debt, but they soon start to treat her like a second daughter, then take in her brothers as well after her father dies. By the end, they're living together as a family on a freehold awarded to Wanda by the tsar.
  • At the end of the first book in the Star Ka'at series, two unrelated orphan human children are adopted and referred to as "kin" by intelligent, sapient space-cats.
  • The central family in Weetzie Bat is mostly this. Weetzie spends little time with her mother, and while she loves her father, he lives across the country. Dirk's parents and grandmother are dead; Duck and My Secret Agent Lover Man don't even mention their families in the first book, and the only biological or legally bound family members are Cherokee and Witch Baby. It's not known who Cherokee's biological father is, and Witch Baby is only related to My Secret Agent Lover Man. Yet they all live together in one two-bedroom house.
  • In Kaye Gibbons' novel Ellen Foster, eleven-year-old Ellen is bounced around from one cruel relative to another after her loving mother dies and her abusive father is incarcerated. She eventually chooses a "new mama," a neighborhood woman who runs a foster home.
  • Gilly Hopkins of Katherine Patterson's The Great Gilly Hopkins somewhat reluctantly forms one of these with the members of her foster home—Mom Mamie Trotter, little brother William Ernest, and neighbor Mr. Randolph. This is unfortunately subverted when Gilly, afraid of her emotions and determined to reunite with her biological mom, loses this family because she lied and said they were dysfunctional.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In All Creatures Great & Small (2020), Skeldale House has formed its own tight-knit little family, with Siegfried Farnon and Audrey Hall as the parents, James Herriot as the responsible older brother, and Tristan Farnon as the rapscallion little brother. Helen Alderson joins later on, after James proposes to her.
  • Subverted in Altered Carbon. After going on the run Takeshi and his sister Reileen are taken under the protection of Quellcrist Falconer and her Envoy insurgents. However when the Envoys are going to launch a Suicide Mission including her brother, Reileen betrays them all to their deaths to protect him.
    Takeshi: Quell and the Envoys were our family. How could you kill our family?
    Reileen: They were just soldiers. You and I, we're family.
  • Ashita, Mama ga Inai: The inhabitants of the Kogamo no Ie orphanage eventually grow to see each other as family, and some of the children decide to stay rather than be taken into foster care.
  • In Battlestar Galactica, Bill Adama mentioned a couple times that he regards Kara Thrace (Starbuck) as "family" (implied above and beyond any Band of Brothers comraderie within the Fleet), and seemed to have a soft spot for her under his tough leadership exterior. It's never really mentioned why, other than that they go back a way (but so does he with a few others in the fleet), and her being responsible for his son Zak's death (by not washing him out of flight training when he was failing, due to having relations with him) makes it even more perplexing.
    • One possible explanation is that he regards her as effectively being his daughter-in-law due to her relationship with Zak, and a belief that they would have married had Zak not died.
    • This attitude is more prevalent in the original series. Apollo and Starbuck treat each other like brothers so much that it's often easy to forget they aren't related by blood. And while it's not mentioned out loud, it's obvious that Adama thinks of Starbuck as another son.
  • Boardwalk Empire gives us Team New York—specifically Italian Charlie, and Jewish Meyer and Benny. Nucky's final downfall is largely a result of him viewing them only as business partners because of his own poor grasp of familial loyalty. When he kidnaps Benny, the youngest of the three, for the purpose of negotiating an end to the current gang war, he thinks it's a simple business action. Meyer and Charlie respond by kidnapping his nephew, Willie, and riding to Benny's rescue with a whole team of gunmen. When Willie believes that his kidnapping is business-related, Charlie clarifies that "This is more of a... family matter."
  • Bones: This shows up a lot, particularly in the dynamic between Dr. Brennan, Agent Booth, and Dr. Sweets. Brennan and Sweets were both in the foster system, and Sweets lost his parents shortly before his first appearance. Booth is a little bit different, but he still came from a broken family. This trope is especially evident in the episode "Mayhem on a Cross".
  • The Boys (2019). After being rejected by his son, Homelander tries to invoke this with The Seven, saying they are his real family. It doesn't work because they're not Fire-Forged Friends but have been assembled by Vought's marketing division.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Explicitly stated when Tara's Abusive Father tries to take her home, but Buffy and her friends insist that they are Tara's family instead, as they actually care for her.
    • Giles was the closest thing any of the three main Scoobies had to a father as teenagers; this doesn't really become clear until later seasons, when we see just how distant all of their fathers are.
    • Also, although the Scoobies themselves were something more like Fire-Forged Friends for the first five seasons, the deaths of Joyce and then Buffy and Giles' absence knitted them together domestically as they banded up to take care of Dawn; Willow and Tara moved in to the Summers' house and made her morning pancakes, Spike became the friendly villainous babysitter, Buffy after she came back became the hard-working mother, and Xander was always there fixing the windows. Seasons 6-7 definitely portrayed them as a well-oiled family unit with a home base and designated roles.
    • This trope was used earlier and more explicitly in the spin-off series Angel, with Angel referring to Cordelia Chase as 'family' half-way through the first season; Cordelia was left behind by her own family after they were accused of tax evasion, Wesley was estranged from his parents for his failure as a Watcher, Gunn was an orphan living on the streets who had to kill his sister when she was turned into a vampire, Lorne was never close to his family in his original dimension, and Connor's problems are too numerous to list.
      • Fred had a fairly normal home life before spending five years in another dimension, but she still bonded with the team.
  • Chicago P.D.: Due to her mom's drug addiction, Lindsay was taken in by the Voights at age 15. Even as an adult, Lindsay considers Voight her surrogate dad, turning to him constantly. For this reason, Lindsay is understandably upset when her mother, to whom she hasn't spoken in years, insists to her that Voight is not family and tries to reinsert herself back into her daughter's life. Lindsay responds by going to Voight later and telling him that she definitely thinks of him as her family.
  • Cobra Kai:
    • It's established that for Johnny Lawrence, his friends at Cobra Kai as well as John Kreese were effectively his family of choice as Cobra Kai was his means of escaping the verbal abuse of his stepdad.
    • Johnny's son Robby Keene goes to work for Daniel LaRusso solely to get back at his father. But Daniel takes a liking to Robby, and decides to teach him karate. Eventually, Robby comes to see the LaRussos as the family unit he never got to have with his biological parents, getting close to Daniel and his daughter Sam. Which lasts until he injures Johnny's student Miguel Diaz in the school brawl at the end of season 2. Subsequently, Daniel seemingly sells Robby out to the cops. When he gets out of jail, Robby finds that Sam has gotten back together with Miguel. This prompts him to go join Cobra Kai and begin training under Kreese.
  • On Community, the Study Group eventually becomes this to each other. Like the Friends entry above, several in the group come from dysfunctional families themselves or are children of divorced parents, and as such, throughout the series the entire group forms deep, family bonds to the point that the thought of losing the group completely freaks some of them (notably Jeff or Annie) out and they attempt subterfuge in a desperate ploy to keep the group together or remain a part of it. Interestingly, the Team Mom (Shirley) and closest thing they have to a father figure (Jeff) are one of the opposite-sex pairings with the least Ship Tease.
  • CSI: NY: During Season 8, when Det. Taylor (who has no living blood-relatives) *finally* finds a new soul-mate in Christine, he tells her, regarding his team:
    Mac: For the longest time, this place, those guys, were my whole world. And now I have you.
  • Dark Matter (2015): One of the biggest draws of the series is that the crew of the Raza have become this over time, despite being a misfit bunch of total amnesiacs with numbers for names, half of whom used to be hardened mercenaries. "We're a family" is most often said outright by Five, the Teen Genius Mysterious Waif girl who is Everyone's Baby Sister (or surrogate daughter figure, in Six's case), and her presence is one of the things binding them together beyond their shared experience of waking up from stasis on the ship with no memories. Two, the captain, frequently emphasizes to her crew that they need to trust and rely on each other, and by Season 3 even Three, the initial Jerkass, is saying things like, "We're the crew of the Raza, we carry each other." Some of their cutest scenes are at mealtimes.
  • Dawson's Creek: Jack is taken in by Jen's grandmother when he needs a place to live, even though she barely knows him. She and Jen treat him like family for the rest of the series.
  • Doctor Who. The Thirteenth Doctor gathers a group of companions that she refers to as "The Fam", and family is an ongoing theme while they are together.
  • Firefly: The crew is this way. In a couple cases, like Mal, there is no blood family. Mal and Zoe are Platonic Life-Partners, and everyone looks out for Kaylee. They always have each other's back and won't leave anyone behind. Jayne being the possible exception…
  • Friends was described by one critic as a show about a bunch of young adults finding a replacement family for their own, dysfunctional ones. Lampshaded by a Guy of the Week of Phoebe's, whose minor flaw was his incessant psychoanalysis of the group. There are times where actions usually performed by a family member are taken over by the gang: Chandler walks Phoebe down the aisle, Joey officiates at both Phoebe's wedding and Monica and Chandler's wedding, they all attend Rachel and Phoebe giving birth, everyone comes to Ross and Monica's grandmother's funeral, and they spend Thanksgiving together.
    • Makes complete sense when you look at their backgrounds: Phoebe's parents abandoned her while the woman she grew up believing to be her mother committed suicide, Rachel's father cut her off when she wouldn't marry the fiancé of his choosing, Joey's family disapproves of his acting career, Chandler's parents either ignore or humiliate him, and Monica is hurt by her parents' favouritism of Ross. To a lesser extent, Ross is also a little distant to his parents because of their favoritism, feeling like they have such high hopes for him, he can never live up to them. No wonder they find support in each other.
    • This even upgrades to legal family when Monica and Chandler get married, making Ross and Chandler Best Friends-in-Law, and Monica and Chandler later become aunt and uncle to Ross and Rachel's daughter. Chandler and Monica even have a room for Joey in their home.
      • The cast of Friends could be considered as a Real Life version, too.
        Courteney Cox: "They're like my family."
  • On Full House, three girls are raised by their father, their maternal uncle Jesse, and their father's best friend Joey. The three men (and later, Jesse's wife and kids) all live in the house together. At first, it's practical, to help raise the girls; but the arrangement continues long after the girls grow beyond needing that level of care because the bonds of family are so strong.
  • Game of Thrones: Gendry is trying to find one, at any rate, as he joins the Brotherhood Without Banners in the hopes that they'll become one. Arya also tells him she can be his family, although he believes it's impossible due to her higher social status.
  • This is a central theme of The Golden Girls, with Sophia acting as a surrogate mother to Blanche and Rose (despite Estelle Getty being the youngest of the four cast members). It's explored in a number of episodes, including a Season 7 episode when Rose is taken ill (after the ladies crash a class reunion and take the place of several no-shows):
    Sophia: Kirsten, you're just upset, we all are. But you have to know these two women love her like a sister. And I love your mother like she was my own.
    Kirsten: Yeah, well, you're forgetting one thing, though. I'm her daughter. You're not her family.
    Dorothy: Why does everybody keep saying that? We share our lives together.
    {Later, after Blanche says she would mortgage her house if necessary to pay for Rose's physical therapy:}
    Kirsten: I'm gonna go talk to the doctor about you. I think my mother needs to be with her family now. All of her family.
  • The task force in Hawaii Five-0 clearly regard themselves as such (with Kono and Chin Ho being actual cousins), and if you so much as think about harming one of them or a member of their actual families, the others will come for you and will not stop.
  • In Julie and the Phantoms (Series) Alex, Julie, Luke, and Reggie consider each other family. Julie says her bandmates Alex, Luke and Reggie are like her "Family."
  • Some of the newer Kamen Rider series have the main protagonists form something akin to this.
    • Kamen Rider Fourze: Members of the high school group, Kamen Rider Club, are very close to each other. Actually, if you ask Kengo or Ryusei, being part of the club is like having half dozen of Annoying Younger Sibling's.
    • Kamen Rider Build: Nascita gang, Ragtag Bunch of Misfits made up from Mad Scientist, Dumb Muscle, former spy, and Mysterious Waif. Sento is responsible father, who tries to be the family's role model and works hard for its well being. Ryuga is older brother, rambunctious and brash, but coming to responsibility thanks to Sento's influence. Sawa is older sister, who is always there to help out, she is just more subtle about it than everyone else. Misora is Everyone's Baby Sister, but takes no crap from anyone and often acts as mediator between them.
  • In Monk, Adrian Monk has one of these with his two assistants Natalie and Sharona, their kids, Capt. Stottlemeyer, and Lt. Randy Disher. More than once, when Monk is feeling down about his dysfunctional family of origin, someone from his Family of Choice will remind him that he is loved and considered their family.
  • The main team from NCIS form a family bond to which even the stoic Gibbs admits. Gibbs and Ducky fill the role of either father or grandfather, with everyone else from the team acting as bickering siblings.
    • It's not entirely surprising, given the families the majority of the younger team members come from; with only three exceptions, they all have neglectful, manipulative, or downright abusive fathers.
  • Never Wipe Tears Without Gloves has a prime example of this trope. The main characters are a group of gay men, most of them shunned by their families because of their sexuality, and they refer to their close-knit group as "the family".
    Rasmus: Isn't Christmas supposed to be spent with family?
    Paul: Absolutely. But first you have to define family, don't you?
  • Odd Squad as an organization, and its agents, are consistently referred to as being one big family, as (almost) everyone has each other's backs, and some partner pairs have a dynamic that closely resembles that of siblings. The dynamic between Olive and Otto in particular is a strong example, as they're so close to each other that they're seen by many as Like Brother and Sister. And the feeling is mutual with some agents — "O is Not For Over" has Otto telling Oprah and Oscar that they were like a family to him, while "Odd Off The Press" has Orpita reassuring Osmerelda that she'll find her place in the Odd Squad Mobile Unit and that she doesn't have to figure it out on her own because Odd Squad is like a family, despite the fact that none of the four agents in the Mobile Unit are "technically" related. In addition, there is a distinct absence of parents in the world of the show regarding main characters (with the only main character known to have parents in some capacity being Otis), so in a sense, Odd Squad is a surrogate family, at least to the main characters.
  • The main crew of Pushing Daisies: Olive and Chuck are like sisters, and when Chuck comments on Ned needing to reconnect with his family, he says that Chuck and Olive are his family. Emerson is a lot more reluctant to express affection for the others, but it's there.
  • On RuPaul's Drag Race, RuPaul cites this trope as something LGBT people often do in response to their blood families rejecting them after Roxxxy Andrews breaks down on the stage after recounting how her mother abandoned her.
  • On Schitt's Creek, little is said about Stevie Budd's immediate family, but they are absent from her life, and she gradually becomes part of the Rose family over the course of the series. After her breakup with David, she becomes his Best Friend and constant companion. When she starts to run the motel with Johnny, he becomes her Parental Substitute, and when Johnny and Alexis rename the motel The Rosebud Motel, it feels like a kind of adoption.
  • In Sense8, Wolfgang's father is an abusive asshole, which his uncle conveniently ignored, and his cousin is an obnoxious dick. He only considers his best friend Felix to be family.
    Wolfgang: He's my brother. And not by something as accidental as blood. By something much stronger. By choice.
    • Aminata's Nomi's main support, seeing as how she doesn't get along well with her transphobic parents, her sister being the only one to accept her initially as a woman, though her dad eventually comes around too. They cement this by getting married.
  • Spaced: "They say the family of the 21st century is made up of friends, not relatives." Said to try to convince Marsha that she's the favorite auntie to brothers Tim and Mike, sister Daisy, and... weird cousin Brian. Although the general sentiment is ultimately proven true, the scene in which this line is delivered is actually a subversion; Tim is saying this after a series of revelations which have genuinely hurt Marsha's feelings, and she's not having it.
  • The Space Cases episode "It's My Birthday, Too (Yeah!)" has this as the theme. The cadets have to make family trees, but Radu is stymied by the fact that Andromedans were born in group hatcheries with no family ties while enslaved by the Spung. He first tries making up a pretend family, but when that gets exposed, he eventually decides that the cadets and teachers have become as good as family, with a little help from Thelma.
    Thelma: Why were you upset at your party?
    Radu: Because I lied and they all knew I lied. That's why. I just wanted to have a family. Even a pretend one was too much to ask for. You couldn't understand.
    Thelma: I couldn't? My understanding has always been that a family is not only those from whom you are born, but those to whom you belong. [Beat] Did I screw up, too?
    Radu: No... no, not at all.
  • In one episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Paris mentions to the Doctor that while they all left loved ones behind in the Alpha Quadrant, the Voyager crew has become a family in and of itself.
  • Supernatural:
    • Brothers Dean and Sam had a rough start to life, with their father raising them on the road after their mother was killed by a demon. Their father's obsession with the demon led him to make often unrealistic demands of the boys, but family friend Bobby did his best to let them be kids whenever Sam and Dean stayed with him. The brothers consider Bobby family and he tells Dean (in the Season 3 finale): "Family don't end with blood, boy." In the season seven episode "Death's Door", he says:
      Bobby: I adopted two boys, and they grew up great. They grew up heroes.
    • Since Castiel rebelled against Heaven to help the Winchesters, he's been more or less added to the group. He still considers the angels family, but has clearly chosen to stick with Dean and Sam and consistently prioritizes them over anyone else. Dean has referred to him as their brother.
  • The Walking Dead (2010): Most of the main characters in Rick's group either have lost most/all of their family to the Zombie Apocalypse when they are introduced, or do so later on. As a result, they become increadibly tight-knit as the story goes on, with Rick explicitly referring to Daryl as his brother (in contrast to the volatile relationship Daryl had with his actual brother Merle), and the older characters becoming adoptive aunts and uncles to each others' children.
    • Even when some characters are new to others, the rest of the group has been shown to adopt a "your family is our family" mindset; for example, when Glenn gets separated from the group in Season 4 and returns with Abraham, Eugene, Rosita, and Tara in tow, Rick is extremely quick to accept the four as members.
  • The characters of Warehouse 13 are explicitly stated to have become a family over the course of the show. Artie is the grumpy 'father-like figure,' Pete and Myka are Like Brother and Sister ( at least, until the Relationship Upgrade in season 5), and Claudia is the little sister. When Steve joins the team in season 3, he slots easily into the family dynamic, and is especially close to Claudia.
  • By the end of season 2 of The Witcher (2019), Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri have formed one of these, with the two adults being the young princess's surrogate parents. During one particularly charged scene, when Geralt is trying to get through to a possessed Ciri, he states outright that they're her family.
  • Word of Honor: Zhou Zishu, Chengling, Wen Kexing and Gu Xiang become a family over the course of the series.

  • Some religions, like Christianity for example, encourage all humans to see the human race as this, in many cases because sacred scriptures say that everyone IS related through some common ancestor, which happens to be factually correct.

  • "Chosen Family" by Rina Sawayama and Elton John:
    We don't need to be related to relate,
    We don't need to share genes or a surname,
    You are, you are,
    My chosen, chosen family.
    So what if we don't look the same?
    We been going through the same thing, yeah.
    You are, you are,
    My chosen, chosen family.
  • In the video for "Starlight Brigade" by Tupper Ware Remix Party, when Strive meets the Brigade, they immediately welcome him to the team and treat him like family.

  • Making your own family is a recurring theme on Mahou MUSH, particularly in the Sailor Moon and Puella Magi Madoka Magica casts, which are both full of characters who are either orphaned or otherwise have difficult family situations. By the time the Dark Kingdom arc has ended, the two casts are firmly interconnected via several characters having unofficially adopted one another; Kyouko openly calls Kunzite her brother, and Makoto does the same for Mamoru.

  • The Mrs. Hawking play series: Mrs. Hawking and her assistants, her maid Mary and her nephew by marriage Nathaniel.
  • In RENT the main characters, most of whom are isolated from their families and other friends, band together in the wake of Benny's Face–Heel Turn, just to try to get by in life. All but Joanne are desperately poor, half of them are HIV-positive, and the relationships between the couples are rocky at the best of times; but they support each other and won't let any of the group go through it alone. Even Joanne, an Ivy League lawyer who was only there because she was dating Maureen, gradually joined the gang and stuck around after the couple's breakup.

    Video Games 
  • In Bug Fables, a variant of this occurs in the kingdoms of the social insects. Technically, almost all the citizens of the Ant, Bee, Wasp and Termite Kingdoms are siblings, but they only consider those they're especially close to their siblings, which often means their good or childhood friends.
  • The Call of Duty: Black Ops series presents Frank Woods and Alex Mason, who — after having saved each others' lives multiple times — refer to and treat one another as brothers. This is evidenced in the sequel when Mason's son, David refers to Woods as "Uncle Woods/Uncle Frank", even when he's all grown up.
  • In Coffee Talk: Baileys considers the other patrons as found family, to the point that he invites them to his and Lua's wedding in Episode 2.
  • The six surviving students from Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (Makoto Naegi, Kyoko Kirigiri, Byakuya Togami, Aoi Asahina, Toko Fukawa/Genocide Jack and Yasuhiro Hagakure) are a mix of this and Fire-Forged Friends; all of them fought together through the trials of a Deadly Game and came out alive, which resulted in them becoming close enough to basically be a family. Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls adds Makoto's sister Komaru to the mix.
  • The three player characters of Detectives United evolve into this over the course of the series, with it being pretty well cemented by the fourth game. It's particularly present in the way Agent Brown regards his partners as his personal Protectorate, and Anna demonstrates a sort of Big Sister Instinct toward 'the boys.' James, meanwhile, is the youngest member and doesn't hesitate to admit how much of a kinship he feels for the other two.
  • It partly depends on player choices, but the Warden, Hawke, and the Inquisitor can grow to view some if not all of their companions this way in the Dragon Age series. It's particularly pronounced for Hawke, who proceeds to lose their real family in one way or another through the course of the game.
    • Also, in Origins, this is how Alistair views the Grey Wardens. When he first meets the player character, he is the junior-most member of the order, having only been inducted about six months prior; and his unhappy and lonely childhood means that being a Grey Warden has given him a family for the first time in his life. This is why he takes their deaths so hard.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • The Dovahkiin can literally form one of these if the DLC Hearthfire is installed. Once they're set up in a house and established as thane of any of the nine holds, they can create their own family with a loving spouse, affectionate adopted children, a loyal housecarl and steward, a faithful dog, and a household bard.
    • This is how the members of the Companions view one another. They call each other "Shield-Brother" and "Shield-Sister," consider the Harbinger to be their mutual father figure, and at least a few of them care more for their guildmates than for their biological relatives. (Two of them actually are brothers, but that in no way diminishes their affection for the rest.)
    • The Skyrim branch of the Dark Brotherhood view themselves in this way, due in no small part to their leader Astrid's hammering-in of the idea. It has... less-than-pleasant results.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy V is all about familial bonds, blood kin and otherwise. Faris refers to Syldra the dragon as a sister. The Light Warriors, as they rediscover bonds and then lose people to Heroic Sacrifice, come to regard each other as family. By the end of the game, Krile's lament that she is alone (having lost her grandfather) is answered by the other three surprising her with a You Are Not Alone speech.
    • Final Fantasy IX has Tantalus, a theatre troupe and band of thieves which the main character Zidane is a part of. Midway through the game, he talks about his backstory as an orphan boy finding a place to call home, ending with him realizing that though he's still looking for his birthplace, Tantalus was his home.
    • In Final Fantasy X, Yuna was orphaned first by the death of her mother in a Sin attack and later by her father's death defeating Sin. She was taken to Besaid by Kimahri (who is a Papa Wolf — or Papa Lion) and was quickly taken in by Lulu and Wakka, who had also lost their families to Sin and later describe Yuna as a younger sister.
    • In Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia, Snow declares that everyone in the group is part of his family, and that everyone they care about are also part of his family, and he'll protect every single one of them. Various others also echo this sentiment.
  • In Fire Emblem: Awakening, this is a major theme as the protagonist wakes up without any memories but goes on to join a band of True Companions, with the possibility of even marrying and having kids. This is contrasted with their actual blood father who turned to be the leader of a cult to a Religion of Evil who wants to use them as a way of reincarnating their God of Evil.
  • Fire Emblem Fates: Side character Mozu notes in many of her support conversations that her entire village was this for her. After their deaths in her paralogue, the protagonist encourages her to see them and their army as her new Family of Choice, which she happily does.
  • Asher Forrester of Game of Thrones (Telltale) was exiled to Essos years ago, losing his entire family in the process. He found family in his close friend and sellsword partner Beskha, who even refers to him as "little brother". It's made even more explicit if you choose to sacrifice Asher at the end of episode five.
    Asher: Sister... You're my family. As much as Rodrick. As much as any of them.
  • In God Eater 3, this is one of the central themes of the game. Having grown up with each other, the members of the Hounds treat each other as family and are unwilling to part with one another if they could help it. This viewpoint eventually extends towards Claire, Lulu, Phym, and the rest of the Chrysanthemum crew. It's especially prevalent with Phym as she ends up as the Protagonist's adopted daughter, referring to them as either "Mommy" or "Daddy", and overall the heroes are all quite protective of her.
  • Though his own family life, if he even has one, is never commented on, by the end of the first game in The Great Ace Attorney Duology, Ryonosuke comes to call Sholmes, Iris, and Susato his family. Later, Kazuma and even Professor Mikatoba are added to the family (though to be fair, he was Susato's birth father in the first place so he was really part of the family from the get go).
  • GreedFall: Nauts are either born on the sea, or given to them by families of those they service. However, Nauts often choose to stay with the Nauts rather than their biological families. They even have a ritual to prove their loyalty.
  • The Spartan-II and III Super Soldiers of Halo are all this, having been raised together since childhood. In Halo 5: Guardians, Spartan-II Blue Team is explicitly called family by Buck when Locke mentions that taking on the Master Chief means taking on all of them.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda:
    • The crew of the Tempest become one of these over the course of the game, inbetween bickering and sniping. It helps that in nearly all their cases, save for Liam and Jaal, their actual families were either crappy or just dead.
    • Drack will mention in conversation he wasn't born into Clan Nakmor. He was one of warlord Shiagur's kids, but somewhere after that he met the clan, fell in love with their home, and chose to join them. The current ruler of Nakmor, Morda, did much the same thing.
  • Moonrise: In this romantic interactive novel, the player can form a found family with the fifteen-year-old Alice. It's particularly apparent if the player romances Rosario, who is more than happy to co-parent.
  • In Octopath Traveler II, Oboro and Ori are this. Oboro's journal notes that he found his sister as an orphan on the streets, and he took her in and raised her like a sibling.
  • Phantom Thief Silver Cat: Ginka's parents are both deceased, but she considers her staff as her family.
  • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet has Arven, who makes it extremely clear that he is on bad terms with his mother/father (depending on version) and doesn't have any real care for his bad family life as a child. For his Mabosstiff, on the other hand, he would travel the world searching for a cure to his injuries or die trying. Mabosstiff means everything to him, and he happily reminisces several times about how much their relationship means to him; you'd almost think he was talking about Mabosstiff like a close sibling.
  • The Van der Linde Gang is this for Arthur Morgan and rest of the members in Red Dead Redemption II, under the charismatic Dutch and Cool Old Guy Hosea. The gang has varied members from all areas, Native American, African-American, Irish, Ambiguously Gay, even Ax-Crazy members, you name it, as Dutch didn't tolerate any form of discrimination or racism against his 'family'.
    • That said, the Van der Linde gang also is a massive Deconstruction. As civilization begins to spread through America, Dutch undergoes a slow Despair Event Horizon as well as his upcoming Face–Heel Turn realizing all the good they did won't matter in the long run. This led him to control all aspects of the gang, and as the gang had Undying Loyalty, they foolishly obeyed his every words, including Arthur. But, as he begins to notice Dutch slip, he tries to warn his friends and allies, but to no avail, as Dutch's schemes get some of them killed. It ends in a massive betrayal as the gang leaves John for dead on Dutch's orders.
  • Super Robot Wars X: In a strange way, both Bibide Baba Debu and Todd Guiness have a strange good mother and a delinquent son relationship that ends really well, going so far with Todd giving back the Senko Bracelet to her to make the fight fair and square.
  • By the end of the game in Episode 5 (and potentially during previous episodes, should you choose certain dialogue options) the main cast of Tales from the Borderlands refer to themselves as a family.
    Fiona, racing Rhys to the vault: We are going in together, damn it! Like a family! Or no one goes in!
    Rhys: Wouldn't have it any other way!
  • Tales Series
    • While also fitting into the Fire-Forged Friends category, the main party from Tales of Vesperia fit this trope to a T. None of the main cast has any living relatives (barring Estelle's distant cousin, Prince Ioder) and as each member joins the group they all fall into various positions of a family, such as Yuri's Big Brother Mentor nature towards Karol or Raven's Team Dad tendencies. There's also this gem from the team's resident Tsundere mage:
      Rita: I don't have any family, so I don't... but... I kinda like, you know, how we are.
    • Edna from Tales of Zestiria and Eizen from Tales of Berseria are brother and sister, despite the fact that they can't be blood related as seraphim/malakhim. Instead, they are born from the earthpulse or reincarnated from humans. In Berseria, Eizen explains that he was born from an earthpulse on a mountain (most likely what is Rayfalke Spiritcrest in Zestiria), as were many other malakhim. But he only felt any sort of connection with Edna. One day, without even bringing up the idea to each other, they both created lucky charm pendants for one another. From that moment forward, they were brother and sister. This is why Edna has to be talked into giving Eizen a Mercy Kill in Zestiria, as he's transformed into a dragon in that game, with no hope of recovery.
  • This trope is the reason that Geralt agrees to accept a commission from the Emperor of Nilfgaard in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The Emperor's daughter, Ciri, is missing and being pursued by various factions throughout the continent; Geralt helped to raise Ciri, and she is the only person in the entire world whom he regards as family.

    Web Animation 
  • In Helluva Boss, Blitzo tries to desperately invoke this with the others in his company of hired killers. Loona is actually his adopted daughter, and he stalks the Happily Married Moxxie and Millie as if trying to share what they have.

  • The titular characters of Cinder and Smoke form this with their adoptive guardian Bukowski and his friend Indigo. Cinder and Smoke are a pair of Ambiguously Human twin brothers with fire powers and who are implied to be orphans; Bukowski lost his mother as a child and was raised by an abusive father; and Indigo's wife died in a tragic accident. Together, the group ends up forming a supportive, loving familial unit.
  • In the Christmas 2018 strip of Dork Tower, Estelle — who's gay and whose parents have a problem with it — has a speech where she says Christmas is a time to be with family... and she's chosen to be with Gilly's.
  • I Fell in Love, so I Tried Livestreaming: Deconstructed. Hakua wants the dorm members to consider each other family, but given that they've known each other for less than a year and that they have a hidden Love Dodecahedron instilling tension among them, the rest of the dorm members don't consider themselves that close. Additionally, it's implied that Hakua wants them as a replacement for her parents, who were too busy to tend to her before they died in a car accident.
  • The Order of the Stick:
  • Schlock Mercenary: When "Marshall" Gungronote  fully realizes that the success of the current mission depends on her being in charge for what happens, instead of just acting like it, states "These people are my family now."
    "Our next conversation with Mom is going to be weird."
    • This also sets the stage to help start a social revolution; their (spiritual) leader was hoping for someone that wasn't as tradition-bound.
    "One of your mates recently obtained provisional clan status for your family. [...]The application was for a clan of six, and after reviewing the speech you gave, I believe you're on your way to six thousand."

    Web Original 
  • Vox Machina, the main party of Critical Role. Aside from Tiberius and Pike, everyone in the party has lost someone in their immediate family. Keyleth, Vex, Vax, and Scanlan all have Missing Moms, Grog was exiled from his goliath tribe, and Percy's entire family with the exception of his sister is dead. But they do have a family, because they have Vox Machina — and Vax says as much, many times.
  • Red vs. Blue: This was once one of the central focus of the original Project Freelancer's good old days, and while there was usually someone causing trouble, it never bordered on anything too dangerous. Until the Director decided to delve further into territories best left alone and moved onto the phase of fragmenting the Alpha AI, thus beginning the slow-but-eventual tragic fall of both Project Freelancer and their once close-knit family.
  • RWBY:
    • This is the main point of contention between Qrow and his sister Raven. Raven views the Bandit Clan that adopted them as their real family, and left civilization to join them again. Qrow views the friends they met at Beacon Academy as their real family, not to mention Raven's own daughter, Yang.
    • Weiss comes from a broken family (Father is an abusive Gold Digger, mother took to the bottle to cope, younger brother openly hates her, Cool Big Sis off with the military) and comes to view the rest of Team RWBY as the loving family that she never had.
      • By the end of Volume 8 she has been able to reconnect with her family with the exception of her father. She never will be able to as he is killed by Ironwood.

    Western Animation 
  • One of the most vital aspects of Amphibia is the relationship between Anne Boonchuy and the Plantar family, whom she first sees as temporary hosts while trapped in their world, then as her "favorite frog family", and finally as her family period. Lampshaded by Marcy in the season 2 episode "Marcy at the Gates".
    Marcy: OH MY GOSH! Who are these cuties? OOOHHH! Are they your surrogate frog family? Did they find you and take you in? OH! I love the found family trope!
  • Arcane: The first season begins with Vander effectively adopting freshly orphaned sisters Vi and Powder, and he later does the same with Mylo and Claggor offscreen. By the start of the episode plot proper, they all consider each other a family. Sadly it gets destroyed by the end of the third episode, with Vander, Mylo and Claggor dead, and Vi and Powder seperated from each other for years.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Team Avatar. Sokka and Katara adopt Aang as part of their family in Season 1, Toph joins in Season 2, and Zuko and Suki in Season 3. Fairly unsurprising, given they all had to fend for themselves from a young age: Aang is the Last of His Kind; Sokka and Katara's mother, Kya, was killed when they were children, and their father, Hakoda, has been away at war for years; Toph ran away from her controlling parents; Suki's parents are never even mentioned, and she's separated from her fellow warriors; and Zuko suffered a childhood of abuse and indoctrination from his father and sister. They do get some support from biological guardians - notably Zuko's Uncle Iroh, and, on occasion, Hakoda - but much of the time, they only have each other to depend on.
    • The Legend of Korra: A major theme in the series is that true family are those who are with you all the way. Brothers Mako and Bolin and disgraced heiress Asami Sato have had tragic family histories that have led them to find strength in a new family with the Avatar. Mako and Bolin witnessed their parents' murder at a very young age, and Asami cut ties with her father because he was affiliated with a terrorist. Later, Mako and Bolin find the rest of their extended family, who welcome them, and Asami reconciles with her dad before he is killed; but Team Avatar will always remain their true family. Even Korra, who has a good relationship with her biological family, has nonetheless settled on her teammates being her primary family. Korra also considers much of Aang's family to be her family; she's particularly close to Katara and Tenzin. Korra's biological grandparents aren't around, so Katara is pretty much her grandmother and Tenzin is like a second father to her. She also, being an only child, considers Tenzin's kids to be her little siblings.
  • Back to the Future: The Browns seem to treat Marty as an adoptive member of the family, even though it's not official. He's continually dropping in on them, one episode shows him in a photo with the official family, and all the members have a friendly relationship with him. It couldn't have hurt that he and Doc have been best friends for years by the time Doc met Clara and had Jules and Verne.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: The Planeteers' bonds with one another strongly resemble those between siblings (with the sole exception of Wheeler and Linka's); Gaia acts as their Team Mom; and Captain Planet is a mix of Team Dad, Cool Uncle and Big Brother Mentor. The Captain lampshades it in "No Place Like Home", while the kids are group-hugging Gaia, who had gone missing after leaving Hope Island to help a family of animals.
    Captain Planet: Uh... family reunion. [soft chuckle] Sort of.
  • Code Lyoko: While also fitting into the Fire-Forged Friends category, the Lyoko Warriors also fit this trope, given that only one of them (Yumi) has any regular contact with their actual family, one of them (Aelita) has Parental Abandonment issues and two of them (Ulrich and Odd) don't get along with their actual families. The Warriors may bicker and have their moments of division but when the chips are down, they'll be there for each other. Prime examples include Jeremie's devastation when he drives Ulrich away in "Zero Gravity Zone" by mistakenly assuming he wanted to go to his soccer game instead of the mission for glory instead of getting his dad's approval, Ulrich's guilt when Odd's in a coma and the last thing Ulrich said to him was insults and the entire team's loyalty to Aelita. Ulrich even told off his father for insulting his friends.
  • DuckTales (2017): Clan McDuck started fractured and broken. Then as the series went on, not only did the family reconnect, but they added on new families to be a part of their lives with a Living Shadow, super scientists, old servants, new moon friends, robot buddies, superheroes, and so many others.
  • Gravity Falls: This is how Soos views the Pines’ and why he’s always seen at the Mystery Shack even when he’s not working and always going on adventures with them. The only other family he has is his grandmother. His dad left him at a young age and never came back, never being there for Soos when he needed him the most. That is why, when he got a job at the Mystery Shack when he was just 12, he started to view his boss Stan as the father he never had. When Dipper and Mabel moved the the Mystery Shack, he started to view them as being like siblings to him.
  • Harley Quinn (2019): After she finds out her parents are scumbags who would gladly kill her for her bounty, Harley declares they aren't her family. Instead, she decides the only family she has in the world is her crew, and tries everything she can to make amends with them.
  • Kaeloo: Kaeloo, Stumpy, Quack Quack, and Mr. Cat are a group of best friends who see each other as a family, to the extent that even Olaf (who doesn't know them that well) sometimes calls them "the little family". As for their real families, while Stumpy still has his, Quack Quack's family is dead, Mr. Cat's family was abusive so he ran away from home at a young age and nothing is known about Kaeloo's.
  • Spike the dragon in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was hatched and raised by ponies, and doesn't know who his birth parents are. After travelling to the Dragon Lands in search of answers and finding nothing and later being taken advantage of by a dragon falsely claiming to be his father, Spike comes to see the Mane 6 as his real family. Especially Twilight, who is something of an adoptive sibling and Parental Substitute to him.
  • The Owl House:
    • Luz forms a strong familial bond with Eda Clawthorne, an anti-authoritarian rogue witch, King, an Ambiguously Evil wannabe demon lord, and after the season 1 finale, Lilith, Eda's formerly evil sister. When the end of season 2 rolls around, some of them are using obviously familial titles for each other (King calls Luz his big sister, and Luz calls Lilith her aunt), and Eda, who used to see King as just a roommate and Luz as a mentee, refers to both of them as her kids.
    • In season two, Luz's human mother, Camila Noceda, gets in on it after she takes in Vee, a shapeshifting basilisk who started impersonating Luz after escaping from the Boiling Isles. While Camila is initially put off by the sight of Vee's true form, she gets over it very quickly, and warmly tells her she can stay with her as long as she likes.
    • After going through the events of "Hollow Mind" together, Luz and Hunter, who were already Like Brother and Sister, become each other's closest confidants, and the only ones who know the other's dark secrets. In "Thanks to Them", Luz outright calls Hunter her family, which overwhelms Hunter so much he starts sobbing uncontrollably.
  • Rick and Morty: An interesting variation in that the five main characters are biological family members (except for Rick and Jerry); Beth is Rick's daughter, and Summer and Morty are her and Jerry's kids and and Rick's grandkids. However, thanks to regular use of interdimensional travel, the title duo we follow (and their fellow family members) were mostly born in different universes from each other—with only Summer and Beth originating from the same one—meaning that they're living with alternate versions of their "original" family. In the case of the titular Rick and Morty, it's made even more complicated with The Reveal that Rick's original Beth died when she was a child, so his native dimension doesn't even have a Morty or Summer, while the Rick native to Morty's original dimension is the very same guy who killed Main Rick's Beth and wife Diane.) Nevertheless, the iterations of the characters the audience follows for most of the series—the original Rick and Morty, second versions of Beth and Summer, and third version of Jerry—consider themselves a family and choose to stick together.
    Morty: You know, I guess it doesn't matter where we're from if we're together, huh? Good...good final moral thing.
    Summer: This is everyone's original dimension now.
    Rick: Great wrap-ups, kids.
  • The plot of the Sonic Boom episode "Knuck Knuck! Who's Here?" revolves around Knuckles coming to terms with being the last echidna and his attempts to find a family of his own. At the end, he comes to realize that Team Sonic is his family.
  • The Freedom Fighters of the Sonic The Hedgehog cartoon are clearly a tightly-knit group of friends, all of whom have lost their actual families and so turn to each other for that kind of support; Tails even considers Princess Sally his "Aunt", and she treats him very much like her own son at times. Likewise, Sonic and Tails have a very brotherly relationship.
    • While not as explicitly stated, Sonic and Tails have the exact same relationship in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. This is the main point of the episode "Tails' New Home", where Tails does not hesitate to consider Sonic his family.
  • Sabine Wren and Hera Syndulla of Star Wars Rebels both have complicated family relationships that lead them to choose the crew of the Ghost as their true family. While both eventually reconcile with their birth families, the crew remains their primary family.
  • The Young Justice episode "Home Front" finally reveals Artemis's Mysterious Past: that her parents are criminals, her mother got sent to jail and her older sister abandoned her to be raised by her abusive father as an assassin. The realization that she's found a true family in her mentor and team is what gives her the courage to risk her life saving theirs.

    Real Life 
  • The Noah's Ark BLT: three animal cubs — a lion, a tiger, and a bear (oh my) — who were taken from a drug dealer's basement in Atlanta, GA. They were still young but had been kept together for so long that they had bonded, despite the fact that bears and tigers are often solitary. They were taken to the Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary, where they've been kept together ever since. Their names are Leo, Shere Khan, and Baloo. Sadly, Leo died in 2016 at the age of 15, but Shere Khan and Baloo remained close friends until the former's death two years later.
  • In addition to RuPaul's Drag Race above, "Momma Ru" RuPaul is a vocal advocate for what he calls "finding your tribe". This often becomes a topic of conversation in the interviews RuPaul conducts.
  • Originating in the ballroom culture in New York during the 80s, LGBT people organized themselves into families called "Houses," as in "House of Aviance".
    • More broadly, having to discover a Found Family is something a lot of LGBT people are forced to go through out of sheer need for survival. This is changing as cultural attitudes shift in some parts of the world, but is still very much a reality. It's not as formal as the Houses of ballroom culture; just a group of people finding a place to live and paying for food and rent together.
  • Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears view themselves more "like brothers than best friends" and they can "read each other like books." Their brotherly bond was forged through their similarities: they were born less than two months apart, they both lived on a Council Estate, they were each the middle child of three sons within their families, their fathers were mostly absent from their lives, they were the same below-average height with a slender build, they shared the same sense of humour along with a passion for music and a fascination with primal therapy, and they were Sensitive Guys who felt stifled by their Stiff Upper Lip environment which promoted a rigid form of manliness that was wholly incompatible with their personalities. Orzabal and Smith have been very honest about the mental health issues they developed during the turmoil of their childhoods, and they became each other's primary source of emotional support. Their sibling-like connection still endures when they're both 60 years old.
    Smith: When you've known each other as long as we have, and have worked together as long as we have, there's a bond there that becomes familial. So it's different from a friendship, and it's different from a marriage. It's literally like that's your brother. It's the kind of bond that you can't really break. It can fall apart at times. You separate for periods, which I also think is healthy, really. But in the end, we always seem to find each other again.
  • Due to having Abusive Parents, particularly his Stage Mom, Wil Wheaton severed his ties with them as an adult and regards his Star Trek: The Next Generation costars as his real family, especially Gates McFadden, who was his onscreen mother, whom he lovingly refers to as "Space Mom".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Found Family


"You're family now"

Luz tells Hunter - who grew up with a very abusive guardian - that he's part of her family now. This overwhelms Hunter so much that he immediately bursts into tears.

How well does it match the trope?

4.64 (22 votes)

Example of:

Main / TearsOfJoy

Media sources: