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Gene Hunting

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"He does not know exactly what he seeks. He only knows that something always has felt off to him, that he does not belong. Who is he, really? Lord Hades would never indulge such questions. So, Prince Zagreus would find out for himself."

The protagonist has been happily living with his or her family until one day, out of the blue, they learn that the people who raised them are not in fact their biological parents, either by adoption or by infidelity. There begins the gene hunt, to find their genetic parents. Expect lots of Freudian Excuses, You're Not My Father and "are my adoptive parents my real parents" Wangst. Often the result of Parental Abandonment or Raised by Wolves.

There are a few different ways this can play out: firstly, they find their genetic parents and discover happiness (this only works if the old parents are distant or abusive). Secondly, they can find their genetic parents, only to find they are more distant or jerky than their adoptive ones, or are utterly indifferent to their existence, or outright don't want anything to do with them (expect lots of Prodigal Son-style making up at the end). Thirdly, they can locate their biological parents, only to realize that they'd rather not confront them and risk disrupting everyone's lives. Or, they may simply search for their biological parents out of nothing but curiosity, firmly believing that the people who raised them have always been (and will be) their true parents. Finally, they can fail altogether to find their parents (a real Downer Ending will have the character give up just before they would have found their parents).

Can lead to Luke, I Am Your Father, Luke, You Are My Father, Family Relationship Switcheroo, Tell Me About My Father, or Mysterious Parent situations. If this happens in a Sitcom, be wary when Status Quo Is God. If the seeker is horrified or disappointed by their discovered ancestors, see also Disappointing Heritage Reveal. Sub-trope of Searching for the Lost Relative. Named for, but unrelated to, the character of Gene Hunt on Life On Mars.

Should not be confused with Stalker with a Test Tube, an entirely different form of gene hunting. Or with using someone's DNA to find them, as is done in the CSI franchise. Has nothing to do with the Gene Hunt Interrogation Technique (or so we hope), nor hunting guys named Gene (which is generally frowned upon).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A variation occurs in Inu Baka, where Suguri wants to trace her dog's ancestry/pedigree so that she would have a better chance to find good homes for his puppies, should he have any in the future, as people are less willing to take care of a mutt.
  • This is Alice's character arc in season 3 of Kiratto Pri☆Chan. She was raised in a circus and has chosen to go to Japan to find her parents. She later joins PriChan in hopes that they might see her shows.

  • Defied by comedian Joe DeRosa, who is Happily Adopted and responds to prying questions about whether he wants to find his real parents thusly:
    "Uh, no. I pretty much took the hint, actually."

    Comic Books 
  • Batman villain Bane is conceived during a failed revolution in a BanannaRepublic. He and his pregnant mother are sentenced to life in prison in place of his father, who escapes from the SecretPolice. Decades later, Bane spends several years worth of sporadic appearances trying to find his father to seek closure (and to kill him if it turns out that he abandoned his lover and unborn child deliberately). There are no remaining records about who his father is, but only four men who knew his mother and escaped after the failed revolution were important enough that their child would have received their sentence: a guerrilla leader, a mercenary soldier, a mysterious financier, and a doctor who treated rebel soldiers. The doctor is Batman's father, causing Bane to think they may be half-brothers before a DNA test proves otherwise. Ultimately, it turns out that his father is the mercenary, who has since become known as the super villain King Snake.
  • DC Comics: Damage. Thanks to genetic engineering, he was genetically the child of the entire JSA. His birth father was the Atom (Al Pratt).
  • This is the backstory of Izzy Sinclair, from the Doctor Who Magazine comic. In the end, she doesn't find her birth parents, but she does reconcile with her adoptive parents (making this a Type 3 with a happy ending).
  • A Death in the Family is kickstarted when Jason Todd learns that his now-deceased mother was actually his stepmother. He manages to find his birth mother, who sells him out to The Joker and is killed along with Jason.
  • Defied in W.I.T.C.H.: when she finds out she was adopted, Taranee also finds out her mother kept track of her birth parents in case she wanted to find them, but in the end Taranee decides not to search for them.

    Fan Works 
  • A common premise for Pan's Labyrinth fanfic.
  • "Paternally Yours" revolves around Sweetie Belle trying to find her biological father. Word of God is that it was to a degree wish fulfillment for the author, who came from similar circumstances.
  • Half Past Adventure has the orphan version of this as a subplot in the first chapter, where the main character thinks the Duke of Nuts could be her father.
  • The Bridge invokes but averts it. Godzilla III a.k.a Junior as well as Princess Luna and Celestia don't have the faintest idea who or where their respective biological families are, or even if they are still alive. Neither express a desire to find them, and consider their respective adoptive families to be their real parents and siblings, with Luna and Celestia not even entirely sure if they are biological sisters but not caring. When pressed about finding his biological family, Junior is mostly apathetic about them entirely.
  • Pokmon Reset Bloodlines: Belladonna had always known she was conceived in a one-night stand and never met her father, but wasn't interested in knowing about him until she found out she had many siblings (one of them being Ash, of all people). She ends up interrogating a woman named Anna (whose son looks like her and Ash) in Hop-Hop-Hop Town to learn more about him.

    Film — Animated 
  • Arlo the Alligator Boy: The main plot is Arlo heading to New York City to find his biological father Ansel and reunite with him.
  • Po's arc in Kung Fu Panda 2 is driven in part by this, especially since he has faint memories of his original parents abandoning him. But he eventually comes to terms with both the fact that they loved him so much they died for him, and that his adoptive father loves him no less.
  • Moses in the movie The Prince of Egypt is shocked to find out he's not really a prince, but a Jew.
    • He knew full well where he came from in The Bible. He killed an Egyptian out of ethnic/nationalistic pride due to not wanting to see his own attacked by an Egyptian wrongly. The Prince of Egypt merely tidies the story up for young viewers, by making that whole murder thing an accident. The idea that he didn't know who he was actually comes from the film The Ten Commandments (1956).
  • Storks: Tulip felt that knowing her intended family was nearly impossible thanks to her beacon being destroyed, but she still hoped she might be able to find them. She gives that up to deliver the baby. Little did she know that Jasper had been taking pains to repair the beacon, and is only missing one piece of it the one currently in her possession.
  • The Tigger Movie: The whole plot of the movie revolves around Tigger looking for his biological family and any vestiges of it... only for him to discover that he doesn't actually have a biological family, and that his real family are his friends who have vowed to always be there for him.
  • Played With in Meet the Robinsons: Protagonist Lewis was raised in an orphanage and wants to find his biological mother, but then, using Time Travel, meets the family that he will have if he lets himself get adopted.
  • Disney's Hercules learns that his mom and pop found him as a baby and sets off to find out where he truly came from. He thus learns that he's the son of the god Zeus, was Brought Down to Badass during a botched kidnapping/infanticide, and has to prove himself a true hero to regain his godhood and return to Olympus.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The premise of the Ben Stiller film Flirting with Disaster. The main character always knew he was adopted and is fine with it, but having a child of his own prompts him to seek out his birth parents to learn more about his family history.
  • Dragon Swamp: This wuxia film has the heroine who seeks her birth mother, having being told she was an orphan as a child, until she realized her mother was exiled to the titular swamp 17 years ago.
  • The entire premise of Joe Dirt, minus the part where he was adopted. Result: his blood relatives are jackasses, but the friends he's collected along his search become a loving family for him.
  • Secrets & Lies is all about Hortense looking for her birth mother, though she knew she was adopted all along. The death of her adoptive mother triggers the search.
  • The driving plot of the movie Twins (1988) has the main character leaving his island to search for his family, finding a brother, maybe a father, and finally a mother in the process.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: Quicksilver seeks out his estranged father Magneto, but Peter Maximoff chooses not to disclose to Erik Lehnsherr that they're related.
  • SHAZAM! (2019): Billy refuses to adapt to foster care since he still holds hope he will find his mother who lost him at a fair. She actually willingly dumped her child with the police, since she couldn't bring herself to care for him anymore. A heartbroken Billy respects her decision and returns to his foster siblings, proclaiming them his true family.
  • In Father Figures, twin brothers find out that their mother lied about their father's identity, so they set out on "Operation Who's Your Daddy" to find him. Not an easy task, since their mother really got around back in the day.
  • Tales of an Ancient Empire: Tanis was raised a princess, believing her father was the king. She learned that her father was really a mercenary whom her mother had an affair with however, and set out to find him.
  • Bixler High Private Eye: Xander Dewitt was raised by his mother and upon moving in with his grandfather, begins a journey to find out what happened to his father.
  • By Hook or By Crook: Val, who was adopted by parents who put him in a mental institution for being Transgender, is trying to find his birth mother. His main strategy, at the start, is going to pay phones and dialing everyone with his birth mother's last name in the phone book.
  • In God Told Me To, Pete goes to the Catholic orphanage where he lived as an infant so he can find his birth mother's name.
  • Made in America: The plot is sparked by Zora discovering that her mother's late husband wasn't actually her father, and then looking for him. She finds out that he's a sperm donor who her mother used, then goes to meet the guy.
  • Solarbabies: Darstar tries to track down the village he was taken away from when he was two months old to reunite with his people.
  • In Down in the Delta, Earl tells Loretta the story of Sinclair ancestor Jesse, who was born into slavery, and whose father was auctioned off when he was six years old. After the Civil War, he tried to track down his father, but failed to find so much as a clue. Eventually he gave up, started a new family, and dedicated himself to keeping that one together.

  • Taran's search for his father in Taran Wanderer, the penultimate book of The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. He never finds out, and realizes that it's not that important anyway.
  • Inverted in Fingersmith: Mrs. Sucksby tries to exchange her adoptive daughter for her biological daughter who's been raised by a rich family (she thinks the girl will love her just by virtue of being her biological daughter — she's wrong).
  • The young adult novel The Girl on the Milk Carton is about a teen girl that sees a picture of a missing girl on her milk carton and realizes it's her. She spends the rest of the book wrestling with the knowledge that her parents aren't her true parents, that she might have even been kidnapped by them, and that she has another set of parents that are looking for her desperately.
  • Lyra Belacqua in His Dark Materials was always told that her parents were the Count and Countess Belacqua, who had died in an airship accident; she later discovers that they were actually her aunt and uncle, and her real parents are (this is despoilered halfway through the first book) Lord Asriel and Marisa Coulter. Lyra reacts both ways to the news: while her mother's identity comes as a nasty shock, she couldn't be happier to learn of her father and delights in hearing how he murdered her mother's legal spouse when Lyra was a newborn in order to protect her when the husband decided to try and off the baby.
  • Flinx and his search for his genetic father in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth book series. It's played for quite a bit of Wangst and at least two Are You My Father moments, before being concluded in a fairly brutal fashion in the penultimate book, when he discovers that he doesn't technically have one thanks to the wonders of genetic engineering.
  • In Warrior Cats, Jayfeather, Lionblaze, and Hollyleaf are listening when - after Ashfur tries to kill them out of jealousy that Squirrelflight chose Brambleclaw over him - Squirrelflight tells Ashfur that the three aren't her kits. Hollyleaf thinks Leafpool might know who their real parents are, since she was there at the time of their birth. Leafpool reveals that she is their real mother, which is against the warrior code since she is a medicine cat and medicine cats aren't allowed to have mates.
  • The Voyage of Mel Din: Máel Dúin, who is the son of a nun and the nobleman Ailill who raped her, is raised by a local king and queen as their son. When Máel Dúin is a young adult, he learns that he is adopted, and insists on learning the truth about his birth parents. When his birth mother, the nun, tells him who his father was, and also that he has been killed in a pirate raid many years ago, Máel Dúin travels to meet Ailill's family (who live in another kingdom), and is welcomed with open arms. Máel Dúin lives with them happily for a while, until it occurs to him that it is his duty to avenge his father, and he gathers a warband to track down the pirates who killed Ailill.
  • Keeper of the Lost Cities: Sophie Foster is raised by humans, but it turns out she is a genetically engineered elf hidden to protect her.
  • In The Fallout, Lexie has an interest in finding her biological parents.
  • The main characters of the first arc of Wings of Fire were kidnapped as eggs and spend a lot of time trying to find their biological families, with varying success (Clay finds that parents in his tribe don't even care for their children but has a bunch of siblings who do care, Tsunami's mother cares for her and has admirable qualities but also turns out to be a Knight Templar Parent with a cruel streak, Glory's tribe turns out to not really have families but she is able to identify a brother and an older relative who she becomes close to, Starflight's family turns out to be all villainous or dead, and Sunny ends up meeting actually caring parents).
    • In the third arc, Cricket discovers that the dragons she thought were her parents actually aren't. She thinks she was adopted and tries to find her biological parents, but instead finds out that her father is imprisoned, while her mother is the dragon she thought was her older sister. Her 'parents' are thus also revealed to be her biological grandparents.
  • Earth and...: In Earth and Air, Jarra is accosted twice by a "baby hunter," a woman searching for the Handicapped child she gave up. This is illegal, as the woman gave up all right to initiate contact when she gave up her baby and clearly her daughter hasn't chosen to contact her, but she's apparently badgered enough girls not to recognise Jarra the second time around. Jarra notes sourly that Hospital Earth (staffed by Norms) are unlikely to take a Handicapped person's side against a fellow Norm. Jarra's teacher points out to the woman that her method of hanging around a portal centre and badgering any girl she sees with a passing resemblance to herself is unlikely to work, but the woman is undeterred.
  • Meg Langslow Mysteries: In a variant focusing on earlier generations than parents, a Posthumous Character in Lord of the Wings mysteriously died while tracking down her distant cousins. She got interested in this after a historian contacted her about her great-grandparents (a pair of bootleggers who survived a Bonnie and Clyde-style ambush). Her search caused her to discover that her great-grandfather was the Black Sheep of a rich family who faked his death to avoid fighting in World War I, causing the family fortune to go to his younger brothers. Unfortunately, the first descendant of said brothers she tracks down had already committed two Inheritance Murders, and killed her out of paranoia that she and her family would ask for a share of his fortune.
  • The Rise Of Tenegade X: When Damien learns his dad is a superhero, he runs around collecting the hairs of the three most likely candidates for a DNA test. This becomes unnecessary when he ends up calling his mother with a phone belonging to one of his suspects and his mother thinks he has already found out the truth and goes into a rant about how that guy is indeed his dad.
  • Wicked Good is about an adopted teen with Asperger's and bipolar disorder running away to the town where he was born in the hopes that he'll get along better with his biological parents than his adopted ones.
  • In Born Behind Bars, Rani and Kabir travel from Chennai to Bengaluru, where Kabir's Disappeared Dad was born, in the hopes of finding him. He turns out to be dead, but Kabir does find his grandparents.
  • Polissena Del Porcello: The story is about Polissena, who wants to find her biological parents after she discovers that the Gentileschi family adopted her when she was just one year old.
  • Leo from You Have a Match was adopted from the Philippines with his sister Carla when he was one and she was a baby. Leo takes a DNA test in the hopes of learning something about his biological family, but the test doesn't turn up anything. His friend Abby also takes the test, and learns to her shock that she has a sister she never knew about.
  • Unidentified Suburban Object: Chloe Cho's parents never want to talk about their lives in South Korea before they came to America and Change the Uncomfortable Subject whenever Chloe asks them about it, so she submits a sample of her DNA to GeneGenie in the hopes of finding relatives in Korea she can talk to. When her parents tell her that they're actually aliens who were the only known survivors of a solar event that destroyed their home planet, Chloe thinks she doesn't have any relatives in the world besides her parents. But then she gets a letter from GeneGenie saying she has a match in South Korea, meaning someone besides her parents escaped the planet and made it to Earth.
  • Bud, Not Buddy is about an orphan looking for his Disappeared Dad, who he thinks is a famous jazz musician named Herman E. Calloway. Calloway turns out to be his grandfather, not his father.
  • Inverted in Nighttime Is My Time; for most of the novel Jean - with the help of investigator Sam Deegan - is trying to track down the daughter she gave up for adoption nineteen-and-a-half years ago. This is mostly because Jean has reason to believe someone who knows about her daughter is a danger to her, though Jean also admits that she wishes she could see her daughter again, even if only from a distance, to know she's alright. In the ending, Jean and Meredith do get to meet again, with it turning out Meredith has also wanted to meet her birth mother, and they stay in touch.
  • In the Mermaids trilogy, Rani was found as a baby in a clam-shell on the edge of Tingle Reef and adopted by a family that lives in the reef. In Rani's Sea Spell, she finds a message stone, which can show images of someone's absent family. The stone shows a boy her age, proving that her parents are dead but she has a living brother. In The Shell Princess, Morva agrees to take Rani to her old home, where mermaids look like her and Rani and have the same magic powers they do, so they can look for Rani's brother.
  • Leia, Princess of Alderaan is not concerned about the identities of her biological parents. If her birth parents were alive she would want to know and have some kind of relationship with them, but she was told that both of them died in the Clone Wars and is completely uninterested in learning more. She's very Happily Adopted and feels her family is complete as it is. When an Imperial Moff who, unbenownst to her, worked closely with her mother, sees the resemblance and starts probing her and asking questions about where she comes from, Leia becomes really uncomfortable with his insistence.
  • Mermaid Moon is about the half-mermaid Sanna searching for her human mother, with nothing to go on but the name Lisabet.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Accused (2023): In "Jessie's Story" Jessie is determined find out about her birth father, in spite of her mom opposing this. Her effort sparks the plot, since she burglarizes the clinic which provided the sperm donation for conceiving her. It turns out the sperm donation was a lie, while she'd really been fathered by the next door neighbor.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • Skye got involved with Rising Tide (and agreed to join SHIELD) partly so she could search various databases for clues about her parents. She knows only that she was dropped off at an orphanage by a SHIELD agent. The episode "Seeds" answers some questions about her origin, but raises a lot of new ones.
    • In the second season, she finds out about her father, and quickly wishes she hadn't.
    • She then finds out later in the second season about her mother, and then it turns out she's worse then her father.
  • Anne with an E: In a diversion from the source material, Anne Shirley-Cuthbert searches for information about her birth family after she turns 16, since, even though she was told by the orphanage that they died when she was a baby, she starts having doubts that this was the truth. This makes her adoptive mother Marilla fear that Anne could find her family still alive and want to go off with them. While Anne's search reveals that what she was told was true, but she also learns her family hails from Scotland and receives a book of her mother's, which shows she was a teacher with red hair like Anne's.
  • Almost Family: Dozens of young adults come to look for Leon Beckley after learning he's their real birth father. Conversely, after learning he's not hers Julia looks for her real one.
  • On Boy Meets World, Shawn gets a letter from his Missing Mom in which she reveals that she is not his real mother. He proceeds to try to track his real mother, and is unsuccessful in doing so. His dead father later appears to him in a vision and says that his biological mom was a stripper who took off after giving birth to him, though it's unclear if this vision was real or all in Shawn's head.
  • Chico and the Man has a Japanese young man come and claim Ed Brown as his father, stemming from a tryst after WW2, and how he elaborates on how he and his mother plan to move to LA to spend their lives with him. Turns out Ed's not the bio-father, it had been an Army buddy of his. Chico saves the day by falsely claiming that Ed's also his father and had been caring for him as well, letting the Japanese decide it's wiser for them to go back to Japan.
  • On CSI: NY, the son Mac's late wife gave up for adoption when she was a teenager comes searching for her, only to learn that she'd died on 9/11. Although his Gene Hunting was a failure, Mac sympathizes with his could-have-been-stepson, and strikes up a friendship to tell him about his late mother.
  • Rather amusingly done in Curb Your Enthusiasm, where Larry finds his apparent birth parents who are Christian (he is Jewish). After getting over the initial shock, he decides that he likes them, and consequentially loses all of his stereotypically "Jewish" tendencies (as well as becoming a nice person). After he finds out that they weren't his parents, and the people who raised him were, he reverts back to his old personality.
  • One episode of Dharma & Greg has an old friend of Dharma visit and spend a lot of time with Larry. It turns out that the friend has determined Larry may be her biological father, and though she doesn't want to bring this up and disrupt his life she wants to bond with him just in case. Dharma eventually discovers proof that Larry couldn't be the father, but chooses not to reveal it when the friend says Larry was her favorite out of all the potential candidates.
  • Doctor Who: From "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances": Are you my mummy? Are you my mummy?" Of course. It's not quite clear why this little boy is looking for his mummy, but the gene hunting does save humanity from zombification.
    • Given the onscreen explanation of why the little boy was zombified by the nanogenes, it seems pretty clear that he was looking for his Mummy because that is what the little boy was doing when he was hit by the bomb.
  • Family Ties: In one episode Alex's friend Skippy goes through this, and is hurt when he goes to meet his birth mother and discovers she doesn't want to have a relationship. Alex finally says, essentially, "Look, the people who changed your diapers and have raised you all this time? Those are your real parents," and Skippy decides he's right.
  • Fantasy Island (2021): Season 2 introduces Helene, a young woman whose wish is to find her birth father, whom she never met because her mother conceived her with him in a one-time thing (Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex when they survived a hurricane in the rainforest). He turns out to be Javier; Helene decides to stay on the island for a while, wanting to get to know him.
  • Played With in Forever. Abe starts researching his family tree after he discovers his biological parents' names. He's quick to point out to Henry, however, that it doesn't change the fact that he sees Henry as his real father. He has known Henry and Abigail adopted him for at least 50 years by this point; it's not a wangsty "Who am I?" search but rather simple curiosity. Further played with when Abe's search reveals that he and Henry actually are related: Henry's uncle from 200 years ago is one of Abe's ancestors.
  • Gilmore Girls has a girl come into Luke's diner saying that she's doing a DNA test for her science fair to find out who her father is.
  • Rachel Berry from Glee tries to find her birth mother near the end of the first season. It turns out, said mom is Shelby, coach of rival show choir Vocal Adrenaline, who sent her star performer Jesse to seduce Rachel in order to orchestrate a chance meeting and allow her to meet Rachel before she turned eighteen.
  • Claire Bennet from Heroes. Toyed with, in that she does this not out of any sense of insecurity or Wangst, but because she wants an explanation for her immortality. Eventually she finds her biological parents: her mom is Meredith Gordon, a petty crook and powerful pyrokinetic, and her dad turns out to a be congressman and Aloof Big Brother to the man who saved her life: Nathan Petrelli, destined to become President. Nice.
  • In an early episode of Highlander: The Series, orphaned Richie Ryan does this, to no success — the man claiming to be his father is a con man, and the woman he'd always believed to be his birth mother turned out to have been fostering him. This turns out to be foreshadowing, as Richie is later revealed to be an Immortal, all of whom are foundlings.
  • In one episode of NCIS, Abby learns that she's adopted - and that her biological family lives within easy travel distance of the Navy Yard. She meets the brother she never knew she had, but doesn't tell him they're related for a while, almost half a season.
  • The plot of Once Upon a Time kicks off when Henry seeks and finds his biological mother, Emma.
  • Chuck does this in season 2 of Pushing Daisies. Inverted with Emerson Codd, who tries to publish a book to lead his lost daughter to him.
  • The Partridge Family: In "A Partridge by Any Other Name," Danny becomes convinced he's adopted because he can't find his birth certificate or any childhood photos. He goes to the hospital, finds that a boy was born on his birthday to Mrs. M. Young, and proceeds to track down every M. Young in the phone book.
  • In Single Father, Lucy always knew Dave wasn't her real father but it wasn't until her mother died that she felt compelled to find him. The "hunt" is cut short, however, when Dave discovers that Rita always knew who the father was, having asked him specifically to help her have a baby (she told her family it was a one-night stand) and had kept in contact with him.
  • On True Blood Sam was adopted and then abandoned when his adoptive family found out that he was a shapeshifter. When he finds his biological parents and his younger brother Tommy, they turn out to be trailer trash who support themselves by having Tommy shapeshift into a dog and fight in illegal dogfights. When his parents abuse his hospitality he throws them out and wants nothing to do with them. He tries to build a relationship with Tommy but the kid is so messed up things quickly take a dark turn.
  • Ugly Betty: After finding out Fey Sommers was her mother, Amanda starts searching for her father. Thanks to a Phony Psychic, she becomes convinced it's Gene Simmons (so she's literally hunting for Gene).
  • Somewhat subverted on Veronica Mars: after it's hinted that Veronica may not be Keith's child, she gets DNA results and then discards them without reading. Her father also got DNA results, but read his. Congratulations, V, your dad's still your dad!
    Keith: You think that charm of yours is learned behaviour? That's genetics, baby!
    • Also done with Trina Echolls. The degree to how well that ended is up for debate.
  • The Korean Drama Winter Sonata: Joon Sang is a high schooler checking school records for who his father might be.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The title character from British anthology comic strip Fishboy (yes, I kid you not, he was raised by fish) spends most of his time swimming the Earth searching for his parents and helping people along the way. He didn't find them before the strip was canceled.

  • Mamma Mia!: Sophie, who has lived fatherless her whole life, finds an old journal of her mother's detailing three lovers she had around the time of Sophie's conception. So she invites the three men over, and instantly develops a rapport with one of them. Which one is her father? No one ever knows.

    Video Games 
  • Inverted, somewhat, in Final Fantasy IV: Orphan hero Cecil knows he's adopted, after a fashion, but his concern about his real parents is quite low-key. However, though he's not hunting genes, the genes are hunting him.
  • In Super Mario RPG, Mallow's primary motivation for joining the party is to find his real parents after finding out that he (a living cloud creature) is not a tadpole.
  • The heroine of Star Ocean: The Second Story has this as her main motivation to journey with the hero. She's known for some time that she was adopted, and retains a close relationship with her adopted mother, but she still wants to know where she came from and why she was abandoned.
  • The first Parascientific Escape game begins when the first protagonist, Hitomi, receives a mysterious letter promising her information on her biological family. Notably, Hitomi is very Happily Adopted and is in fact still reeling from the sudden death of her adoptive father. While she is curious about her biological parents, what she's really hoping to find is information on her biological sister, whom she was separated from at a very young age.
  • Zagreus of Hades is prompted into his endless struggle to escape the Underworld by the discovery that Nyx is actually his stepmother rather than birth mother and that his actual birth mother has evidently been Unpersoned. Ironically, this discovery doesn't damage his relationship with Nyx at all (who's an active ally in his endeavor to find out what happened to his Missing Mom, and he is still happy to call Nyx his mother), but is instead the final straw for Zagreus's already bitter relationship with his father, Hades.
  • In Love & Pies, Amelia has always wondered who her father is since she was a kid, and inspired by The Mysteries of Miguel, one of her first investigations involved finding him. She's overjoyed when Sebastian finally drops by her café to tell her that he's her father, despite her family and friends' suspicions that he's behind all the attacks on the café.
  • My Child Lebensborn: Since the Player Character adopted the titular child, the child is an Abandoned War Child and the child is seven years old, this trope happens by proxy via the Player Character. The fact that the game also happens in a time and place where Lebensborn children have undergone a major Persecution Flip is a good indicator of the reaction of the child's biological relatives to being tracked down by the child's current guardian.

    Western Animation 
  • The plot of the Alvin and the Chipmunks special A Chipmunk Reunion revolves around the triplets looking for their mother. The brothers want to know what their birthday is so they run away to look for their mother. When they meet their mom Alvin is upset, not believing that he loved her since he abandoned her, until she explains that it was a terrible winter when they were born. They couldn't survive the journey so she left them with David. She was gonna take them back in the spring but they were happy with Dave so she left them.
  • The Angry Beavers: In "Stump Looks for His Roots", Norb points out in a "family photo" of the grove of trees where he met Stump that Stump is an elm and his "family" are spruce trees, which means Stump is a transplant (i.e. adopted). When Stump hastily leaves to look for his biological parents, Norbert and Dagget have to track him down.
  • Fran was adopted by a Chinese couple in American Dad!. After Stan gets annoyed by their lack of assimilation, insistence on tradition, and refusal to treat him as "the man of the house" in his own home (they were pretty obnoxious and rude to him), he goes on a search for her real parents who it turns out gave up their baby rather than downgrade to Coach seats on a flight.
  • CatDog went looking for their parents, and believed they found their relatives in a little town in the mountains where cats and dogs get along. They're wrong, and also discover that the peace between cats and dogs is apparently really, really fragile. They eventually find out their real parents were a female yeti and a frog with a very long nose. Considering this probably isn't the strangest thing they've ever seen, they're very accepting. They weren't even their biological parents either. They were found outside their cave as babies and they took them in. Cat and Dog are annoyed that they still don't know where they came from, but they knew who cared for them when they were young and that was good enough for them.
  • Family Guy: Peter goes to Ireland to find his real father, and then Stewie hunts down someone he believes to be his real father who turns out to be himself from the future.
  • Leela's personal plot in early Futurama episodes is this, though played with. As she believes she's an alien, she's looking for her entire race, not just her parents, and she doesn't have adoptive parents, she was raised in the orphanarium from childhood. She believes she finds the only other cyclops, but he turns out to be a shape shifting alien who only wants her to take care of one of his castles. She eventually discovers that she's not an alien, but a sewer mutant who looks mostly normal. Her parents left her on the orphanarium's doorstep because they wanted her to have a normal life and watched over her from the shadows her entire life. She visits them often in later episodes and tries to go back and have a life with them after being returned to a teen, but returns to normal.
  • My Little Pony: Make Your Mark: In "Family Trees", Misty searches for her birth parents after getting nightmares of her fillyhood, where she gets stranded from them after wandering into the forest. When she gets her memories back, she remembers that Alphabittle is her father after seeing him in one of Zipp and Pipp's photos, and she tearfully reunites with him after her visit to the Breezie Night Market.
  • Rocko's Modern Life once parodied this in the episode where Heffer found out he was adopted. Heffer is a steer who was raised by wolves. Ultimately, Heffer has a dream where his father informs him that he was abandoned at birth for being too much of a sissy. And that his mother's a car seat somewhere.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: During the finale of season 1, Fred Jones learns that he's really the child of Brad and Judy from the original Mystery Incorporated and was kidnapped as a child. During the brief time skip between seasons he blindly searches for them. Unfortunately, when they do appear, they're not that great and as time goes by they're increasingly influenced by the curse of the treasure.
  • The Simpsons episode "Homer's Paternity Coot", where Homer tries to track down a man who he suspects of being his real father.
  • Winx Club: Bloom was sent to Earth as a baby by her birth parents Oritel and Marion, and upon learning she was adopted by Mike and Vanessa, this begins her series goal to find Oritel and Marion and learn what happened to them.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Gene Hunt, Find Biological Parents


Arlo finds Ansel

Arlo first sees his father, Ansel, on the bigscreen in Times Square during a report of his next big project.

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Main / GeneHunting

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