Follow TV Tropes


Heroic Bastard

Go To

"I don't care that he's a bastard; Ned Stark's blood runs through his veins. He's my king, from this day, until his last day!"
Lyanna Mormont about Jon Snow, Game of Thrones

While the badass hero or the Anti-Hero may get called a bastard, it's not usually meant literally. This trope is for the heroic protagonist for whom "bastard" is just a factual description, not a comment on their personality. They could easily be very pleasant and well-mannered, but their parents never married.

For a long time in fiction, a child born out of wedlock was often expected to have a treacherous or villainous nature due solely to the fact of his illegitimate birth, which of course is how the term "bastard" came to mean someone who was...well, a bastard. In modern times, however, with the rise of more liberal and humane attitudes — as well as the rapid increase in unwed motherhood as a societal phenomenon — it has become less acceptable to assume that a person will have a tendency toward evil behavior just because Dad never gave Mom a ring or because Mom or Dad had the kid when one of the two already gave a ring to another person.

Back in the day, this could be a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. Since a child born out of wedlock would be the target of all kinds of discrimination and would not be allowed to participate in some central parts of society (like church services), they often had to become ruthless, cunning rogues just to have a chance of surviving. Especially since the fathers didn't have to care for them (and often wouldn't) and the mothers may have used the kid to let out their frustration about "those goddamn men". Fatherless children have a documented tendency to violence, suicide, lack of self-control, and poverty — so, statistically speaking, there's something to the stereotype, though how much of this is due to the social stigma is left as an exercise to the reader. But most bastards manage to rise above these expectations.

In fact, modern authors have found that making their hero a bastard can have some valuable dramatic benefits. Perhaps the parents never married because one of them vanished mysteriously; this can lead to a juicy revelation later in the story when it is discovered that Mom or Dad is someone very important to the plot. If the writer is feeling generous, the vanished parent could be a local power figure or at least wealthy. If not, the vanished parent could end up being someone the hero has to fight. At a minimum, being born a bastard and getting socially snubbed for it can give your character a reason to feel mistreated yet prove his heroic character by rising above it and saving the world anyway.

Interestingly, if we look back far enough, we find that most of the greatest heroes of ancient Greek myth were born out of wedlock, making this Older Than Feudalism. However, this generally only applied if the hero's parents didn't marry because one of them was a god — most often baby-daddy Zeus, who had serious fidelity issues with his goddess wife and was forever running around impregnating mortal women with heroes. It should be also be noted that in ancient Greece, "heroic" did not necessarily mean nice, so many Greek heroes were bastards who were also bastards.

If a heroic character is a Child by Rape or a Son of a Whore, he usually fits this trope as well. In some cases, it may be secondary to the other one.

If the hero is a bastard both literally and metaphorically, he's an Anti-Hero or Sociopathic Hero. And while the heroic bastard may be magnificent, he is not automatically a Magnificent Bastard. For the villainous version, see Bastard Bastard.

There are several Real Life examples, especially in the Middle Ages, as being illegitimate offspring and excluded from inheritance, "heroism" (sometimes by the aforementioned Ancient Greek definition of it) was sometimes the only way to eke out a decent life. The most notable examples are: William the Conqueror (previously known as "William the Bastard", King of England), Bertrand du Guesclin (Constable of France) and the half-siblings John of Austria (military commander who won Battle of Lepanto for the Christendom) and Margaret of Parma (Governor of the Netherlands, plus Duchess of Parma and Piacenza and mother to Alexander Farnese). Since this is a very controversial topic, no further Real Life examples, please. It is sufficient to say they do exist.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You: While it's not mentioned outside of Hahari's introduction, Hakari's parents never married. Justified since A) they were only thirteen at the time (the Japanese marriageable age is 18 for men and 16 for women), and B) Hakari's father was dying of a terminal illness, so getting pregnant out of wedlock was the only way Hahari could have a child with him.
  • Hideki "Hashizo" Kato from Aishite Night. His mother was The Mistress of a married man. When they died in an accident, Mr. Kato's eldest son Go took Hashizo in despite his mother Yoko's objections.
  • The protagonist of Akatsuki no Aria, Aria Kanbara, is the illegitimate daughter of a very rich tycoon and an ex-geisha. Her father supports the two economically but can only visit them once a month, and when he actually presents Aria as his child in the Japanese society of The Roaring '20s, there's quite the scandal. It's subverted later, when few after her mother's tragic death in the Great Kanto Earthquake, Aria learns that the man she's known as her dad is not her father — but she's still an Heroic Bastard since her actual dad is a foreigner man who left Japan before she was born. She then goes to Europe to both make it as an opera singer and to find clues about his identity.
  • Attack on Titan has several of these, each played for a different flavor.
    • Historia Reiss is the daughter of a nobleman and his mistress, raised by her grandparents and having little contact with either parent. After being discarded by her father, she takes up the identity of Krista Lenz and joins the military. Her heritage ends up being significant, since her family are the true royal family and all her legitimate siblings are dead. She eventually helps bring down her father's corrupt government, and is crowned Queen of the Walls.
    • Levi is the Son of a Whore that decided to keep him and grew up in abject poverty. Though extremely rough around the edges, he becomes famous as "Humanity's strongest" soldier.
    • Deconstructed in the case of Reiner Braun. His heritage fueled his insecurities and he became convinced by his overbearing mother that becoming a "hero" would allow them to reunite with his father. This desperation to have a "real family" and prove himself to the world makes him easy to manipulate, leaving him traumatized when the Heel Realization hits.
  • Dark Schneider, the eponymous Bastard!! (1988). Pretty late in the series it is revealed by the Elves that he never had a proper father. Just to clear up facts, he is a (almost) complete asshat, so the title was fitting way before that reveal.
  • Being Able to Edit Skills in Another World, I Gained OP Waifus: Kathrus, one of Nagi's fellow party members, was the result of a fling between her mother and King Nadla. Despite her mother's delusion, Nadla had no interest in her other than sex, certainly not enough to marry her.
  • Serpico from Berserk is the illegitimate son of a powerful merchant born from an affair with a maid. He's also one of the few genuinely good characters in the series, as he cares for his legitimate sister Farnese and protects the weak.
  • Blue Exorcist has the Okumura brothers Rin and Yukio as well as their friend Izumo Kamiki. Despite being born out of wedlock, all three are very much heroic. This slowly shatters on Yukio's end.
  • Glen Schreiber of Bokura no Kiseki. He's the illegitimate son of a powerful nobleman and his commoner mistress.
  • Alec, the hero of The Bride of Adarshan, is an illegitimate prince. It causes him problems, as his step-mother (that is, the king's legitimate wife) hates his guts and fears that he'll usurp her son, and despite him being there to be the Spare to the Throne, his suitability is called into question due to him not being a 'true' member of the royal family. Alec, for his part, is incredibly devoted to his half-brother and can't even fathom betraying him.
  • Candy♡Candy gives us Terry Grandchester, the love child of a British duke and an American actress. Apparently, his father left his mother because he felt he needed to start behaving "properly" but still acknowledged and supported Terry, sending him to St. Paul's College.
  • Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto takes Cesare Borgia, the Magnificent Bastard of history and shows him not as a Villain Protagonist, but as a hero in his own right. Most of his and his family's Historical Villain Upgrade comes from the fact that he and his siblings were the illegitimate children of a pope (the first to recognize them so openly, though not 50 years later Paul III went even further with his), and that they were foreign. Other than that, they were no different from anyone else in Italian Renaissance politics.
  • In Count Cain, Cain himself learns that he is one fairly early in the series, though he was raised as though he were not and he manages to keep it mostly under wraps. His father's wife was sworn to secrecy about where he came from, and his real mother was his father's elder sister Augusta. In fact, he has two equally illegitimate half-siblings, all related via their father: Mad Doctor Jizabel Disraeli, who is more of a Bastard Bastard, and young Meriweather Duke; the latter of whom he officially adopts into the family. Even though it turns out she's not actually related to them. And then he had an additional half-sibling/cousin from his real mother's arranged marriage.
  • Dear Brother:
    • Rei Asaka aka Hana no Saint Juste is the daughter of the Ichinomiya leader and one of the maids. The reason why she doesn't live with the Ichinomiyas is that her half-sister Fukiko — horrified after finding out that her father had a mistress and an illegitimate daughter — refused to openly see Rei, an illegitimate child, as her sibling. To make matters worse, it happened right after Rei's mother killed herself. In the anime, Rei was going to be adopted properly into the family and Fukiko was fine with it; the reason she wasn't is that she and Fukiko made a Suicide Pact but Fukiko chickened out in the middle of it, so it appeared Rei had tried to kill herself out of the pressures of joining the family and so the adoption was cancelled.
    • It's later revealed Fukiko herself is an illegitimate daughter; she and Rei are actually twins but their father adopted her at birth and passed her off as Mrs. Ichinomiya's child. Fukiko actually knew this as Mrs. Ichinomiya told her on her deathbed and Rei knew this as well, as Ms. Asaka had revealed it to Rei before committing suicide, asking Rei to protect her twin; this is why Fukiko was so against Rei moving in in the manga, as it made her self-conscious.
  • Touma H. Norstein of Digimon Data Squad. It's never stated outright because this is a kid's show, but the implication is that he's the son of an Austrian aristocrat and a Japanese exchange student who never married. He's a nice guy if a little cold at first, but he suffered due to his illegitimacy, as his grandmother told him to his face (right after his mother died!) that he was a member of the great Norstein family, yet he wasn't.
  • Future Trunks from Dragon Ball Z. He states clearly to Goku upon their first meeting that Bulma and Vegeta never got married because the former did not want to. Main-timeline Trunks was as well, though his parents do eventually marry.
  • Fena: Pirate Princess has the titutlar character, Fena Houtman, who's eventually revealed to be the illegitimate daughter of the king of England, rather than the daughter of Franz Houtman as she had thought.
  • Flip Flappers: The protagonist Cocona is the daughter of a head scientist's son, Salt and the test subject, Mimi. Due to their circumstances, they were never married, and Salt was unaware of Mimi's pregnancy until after Cocona was born.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Edward and Alphonse Elric have their mother's surname because she never officially married their father, Van Hohenheim, despite living with him for years and sharing a house with him. Hohenheim's failure to make an "honest woman" out of Trisha Elric is in the manga and the second anime because he's a living, immortal Philosopher's stone, and probably doesn't actually exist in any official records, and he was trying to keep his sons from being associated with him to keep them away from Father, who would want to use them in his plot.
    Similarly, in the first anime version Hohenheim is a near-immortal Body Surfer with a jealous and centuries-old ex-lover/ex-wife looking for him, who probably wouldn't have the best intentions in mind for his new family. His latest body may or may not have had its own name and proper records, but Van Hohenheim for whatever reason didn't want to use them if it did, likely to not take any kinds of risks. (And considering that Dante later wanted Ed to be her "consort" once her plan to hijack Rose's body was complete, with or without his consent, he had quite the point.)
  • Gundam:
    • Artesia som Deikun, aka Sayla Mass from the original Mobile Suit Gundam, was revealed to be this in Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, since her mother Astraia and father Zeon never actually married, due to Zeon already having a wife and Astraia being The Mistress. This is contrasted with her brother Casval aka Char Aznable who instead went the Bastard Bastard path despite having the same background.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing:
      • Heero Yuy. The leads we have say that his parents, Odin Lowe and Aoi Clark, never married, that his mother raised him for a while with the help of the guy she did marry, and that after his mother and her hubby's deaths, his real father took him back in and trained him as a Hitman with a Heart.
      • All the Gundam pilots with the definite exception of Quatre and maybe Trowa ( leaning towards no, if his and Catherine's parents were actually married) may be this, as most of them are orphans without birth names and their parentage isn't really explored.
    • Banagher Links from Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, confirmed when one member of the Vist Family distinctly refers to him as the illegitimate son of Cardeas Vist.
  • Hare in Haré+Guu. The reason he and his mother Weda live in the forest is that Weda was disowned by her father for her unwed teen pregnancy and fled to the forest.
  • Henkyou no Roukishi Bard Loen: Prince Windellan is the bastard son of the king, but he is a war hero favored by the public and the nobility due to his strength and deeds, which eventually make him take over the throne. The primary reason he was chosen is for him inheriting the whirlpool fingerprints, despite having a commoner mother.
  • The Heroic Legend of Arslan: Prince Arslan was roundly denounced by his detractors as not being of royal blood, which turns out to be true in the novels and the manga, as Queen Tahmine confessed that he was the son of one of their royal cavalry and a serving girl, but quickly proves to his devoted companions and several nobles that he is charismatic, kind, and intelligent enough to make a great ruler regardless. His knack for attracting high-class and devoted followers definitely doesn't hurt either.
  • From Infinite Stratos, we have Charlotte Dunois. She is the illegitimate daughter of the owner of France's leading IS manufacturer.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Josuke Higashikata, hero of the fourth part (Diamond is Unbreakable) is the illegitimate son of the now-elderly hero of Part 2 Joseph Joestar, from an affair he had with a Japanese woman named Tomoko Higashikata. This is even more awkward because, at age 17, Josuke is younger than his own nephew and hero of the third part, Jotaro Kujo.
    • Giorno Giovanna, hero of the fifth part (Golden Wind), is one of Dio Brando's sons. It's unlikely that Dio married any of the women he had kids with. One of his allies, Trish Una, is also an example as the daughter of Diavolo and his girlfriend, which puts her at a lot of risk since Diavolo wants to kill anyone who has seen his face, Trish included.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War has Kaguya Shinomiya, who is easily the nicest and most well-adjusted member of their family (though that is admittedly not a very high bar). It's later revealed she's the illegitimate daughter of a conglomerate CEO and a prostitute.
  • Kenta Usui, the male protagonist from Karin. His parents were high school students when he was born. Notably, they were planning on getting married after the mother got pregnant at 16 years old, but a Parental Marriage Veto kept them apart (and by the time they were able to get back together, they had both moved on with their lives).
  • A theorized but otherwise, Entertainingly Wrong example in My Hero Academia. Todoroki, after analyzing Izuku's Quirk similarities with All-Might, deduces that he's this (since it's common knowledge that Quirks are hereditary). It's actually because All-Might just has the power to grant others the gift of also having his Quirk.
  • One Piece has Portgas D. Ace. It's justified in that Ace's father was the Pirate King Gold Roger, so any woman he was romantically associated would've been most likely killed. It also helped in hiding Ace's heritage as Ace took the surname of his dead mother, Portgas D. Rouge, to honor his debt to her for bringing him into the world safely at the cost of her own life.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club, Tamaki Suoh was born from the affair between a French girl and a Japanese student.
  • George from Paradise Kiss. His mother Yukino is a former model who got knocked up by an extremely wealthy man and quit her career to have him. This results in heavy resentment from her towards him, and strong and complicated love/hate feelings from him towards her, also affecting his relationship with Yukari.
  • Two of these show up in Private Actress:
    • Shiho Kobayakawa, the main character, is the secret child of Japan's Number 1 actress Sayuri Nakagawa, and her existence has been hidden from the public so Sayuri's career won't be ruined. Even more so, Shiho's biological father is another famous actor, Masakazu Ogata, known as a huge Casanova and completely Locked Out of the Loop in regards to Shiho's existence until almost the end of the series. Understandably, while she loves her busy but kind mother and doesn't hate her biological father, Shiho has quite the issues regarding her origins and her own identity.
    • Shiho befriends a fellow aspirant actress at some point, and she fits in too. Mariko Soriarno is a beautiful half-Japanese, half-Filipina girl whose father is a high-ranked Japanese CO. He sends Mariko and her mother money regularly but doesn't answer to Mariko's calls and letters, so she comes to Tokyo not just to fill her dream to be an actress, but to try reaching for him personally. When a jealous rival attacks her right before the audition she wants to attend, Shiho fills in and relays Mariko's message to her father, and he drops his cold facade to stand by his daughter's side.
  • Tybalt from Romeo × Juliet. His mom was a Capulet lady who fell victim to Death by Childbirth and his dad is the Montague leader and the Big Bad. This is one of the reasons why he fights the Montagues.
  • Rio from Sound of the Sky. After years of neglect, save for her older half-sister, her family finally acknowledges she's around when they need a royal princess to marry for a peace treaty. She's not exactly willing, but she does it anyway because that's what her sister would have done.
  • Star Driver:
    • Takuto Tsunashi. He was the product of an affair between his mother, Sora and Tokio Tsunashi, AKA Reiji Miyabi, AKA Head, AKA the Big Bad of the whole series.
    • Also, though an antagonist, Simone/Pamela and her sister are the illegitimate daughters of Mr. Watanabe and his mistress from before he married Kanako.
  • In Tales of Wedding Rings, Prince Marse is the son of the Emperor and a mistress, and the only reason he has his title is because the Emperor decided to give it to him.
  • Time Stop Hero: It is briefly mentioned that Prince Will Belltree was born illegitimate, but he is a heroic knight and very friendly.
  • In Toradora!, Ryuuji Takasu is the illegitimate son of a bar hostess and a Yakuza. Despite inheriting some intimidating looks from his father, he's a genuine Nice Guy who takes cleaning very seriously.
  • One of the protagonists of ...Virgin Love was the son of his father's mistress, and was never officially recognized as his son. His dad stayed completely out of his and his mother's life until he hit university age, when he sent him to school and put him on the fast-track in his company.
  • The titular Wolf Children, Ame and Yuki were born from an unmarried human woman and a wolfman. Despite this, they’re genuinely friendly.
  • Half of the main heroic quartet in YuYu Hakusho qualify as this. Yusuke's mother Atsuko was 14 when she had him and his father was a no-show until near the end of the series. But in the manga his father is shown to come and go because the parents know they can't get along and create a worse environment when they start fighting, though he offers child support and is still in love with Yusuke's mother. Hiei is by no means heroic during his first appearance in the series, but he slips into this category once Spirit World places him under probation and you find out his backstory.

    Comic Books 
  • Chlorophylle: In the one-shot "Embrouilles à Coquefredouille", King Mithron XIII has one illegitimate daughter who is real nice and good-natured. When the King secretly ask his aide to find the mother, he reported finding several more illegitimate daughters.
  • Jackie Estacado in The Darkness is the son of the most notorious hitman in New York and a random street whore.
  • The DCU: is crawling (so to speak) with them:
    • Connor Hawke, son of Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow. Oliver also has several other illegitimate children, including Robert, the boy Shado has with him after raping him. Cissie King-Jones (Arrowette) is heavily implied to also be one.
    • Damian Wayne, son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, wasn't born to a legally recognized marriage, despite what his grandfather Ra's al Ghul and Talia claim, because his father was unconscious during the wedding ceremony and, depending on the continuity, possibly drugged during the consummation.
    • Rose Wilson, the illegitimate daughter of Deathstroke. She is the result of an affair Slade had with her mother, Sweet Lily. While she had her villainous moments and could be very anti-heroic, Rose wants to do good and not follow her father's path.
    • Raven is the daughter of the archdemon Trigon and a human woman. Exactly how willing Arella was during Raven's conception has gone back and forth, with some accounts state that Trigon seduced Arella before revealing his demonic nature, and others stating that he raped her, but the two definitely weren't married.
    • The backstory of on-and-off hero Catwoman aka Selina Kyle is prone to inconsistencies, but some incarnations are the illegitimate daughter of Carmine Falcone, patriarch of Gotham's most notorious crime family.
    • Damage is originally thought to be a bastard, but it's later revealed that his true parents, the original Atom and his wife Mary, were married.
    • Tom, illegitimate son of Wildcat of the Justice Society of America.
    • Huntress -the Helena Bertinelli version- is actually the daughter of Santo Cassamento, not Franco Bertinelli; she's also something of a bastard in the more colloquial sense, sometimes of the magnificent variety, as when she manipulates her uncle into murdering her biological father while setting him up to take the fall for this and tricks the Question into helping her. And all under the noses of Batman, Robin, Nightwing, and Oracle.
    • Vic Sage makes the assumption that he is a bastard since he was raised in an orphanage, but he never learned his actual parentage so it was never confirmed. He has made peace with this fact and does not let it wear him down.
      Renee Montoya: "You really are a bastard."
      The Question (Vic Sage): "Well, I was raised in an orphanage, so you're probably right."
    • Cassie Sandsmark aka Wonder Girl, who's the illegitimate daughter of Zeus or, in the New 52, Zeus's demigod son Lennox. Wonder Woman becomes this in Post-Flashpoint continuity, as the secret lovechild of Hippolyta and Zeus.
    • Batgirl Cassandra Cain's parents were not only never married, but the only reason they were together at all was also to conceive her. After all, Lady Shiva isn't exactly one for romance.
    • As in mythology Hercules is the result of Zeus' extramarital affair with a mortal woman.
  • Dynamo5: Dynamo 5 is a group of five young people who learn that the superhero Captain Dynamo is their father. Three of them: Scrap (Bridget Flynn), Slingshot (Olivia "Livvie" Lewis), and Scatterbrain (Gage Reinhart), are unknowingly born out of wedlock and raised by stepfathers who do not know they are not their biological children because Captain Dynamo used his shapeshifting power to impersonate them in order to sleep with their wives. The fourth one is Visionary (Hector Chang). His mother was unknowingly impregnated by Captain Dynamo, who slept with and abandoned his mother, not knowing he fathered a child. The fifth one is Myriad (Spencer Bridges). His mother is an alien woman that Captain Dynamo had met in outer space after coming to the aid of her malfunctioning starship. When the mother gives him the child because she can't raise him herself, he leaves the infant at a F.L.A.G. research facility, where the child grows up without parents and escapes. Despite their flaws and mistakes as superheroes, they show themselves to be good young people who want to protect Tower City.
  • Lou!: The titular character never met her father, who left his girlfriend soon after finding out she's pregnant.
  • Marvel Universe also has a few:
    • All three of Captain Marvel's children: Genis and Phyla (by Elysius) and Teddy (by Anelle).
    • Magneto's daughter Lorna/Polaris appears to have been born out of wedlock. Though the exact details are confusing, to say the least.
    • Even Marvel Comics 2 has a few. Wolverine's son, Sabreclaw, was a double bastard before his Heel-Face Turn. His mother's still unknown. And then there's Darkdevil, son of Spider-Clone Ben Reilly and his imprisoned girlfriend.
    • Wolverine himself is the product of his mother's adultery with the family groundskeeper.
    • The Mighty Thor himself is one. Asgard's greatest hero, and also the product of Odin's union with Gaea, as part of Odin's rather circuitous plan to beat Ragnarok. He was raised believing he was legitimate, though.
  • The title character of Nikolai Dante is the illegitimate son of Dmitri Romanov.
  • Wesley in Wanted is known to have been a bastard. In the comic book, he's a Sociopathic Bastard, whilst in the film, he runs the gamut from Poor Bastard to Anti-Hero Bastard to Magnificent Bastard.
  • Watchmen:
    • Laurie Juspeczyk (Silk Spectre II), who realizes late in the book that she was the result of a consensual affair with the Comedian, who had previously tried to rape her mother.
    • It's rather obviously implicit that Rorschach's parents were unmarried, too. (And even if he's not a hero, he's a brave, very well-meaning main character, so... close enough.)

    Fan Works 
  • In The Arrangement, Link is the king's son outside of marriage. The king won't claim him as legit, but Zelda still knows about Link. Link has the Triforce of Courage, though he's friends with his expected enemy Ganondorf.
  • The Bridge (MLP):
    • Godzilla Junior is technically one. He was hatched from an abandoned egg and raised by first the human Azusa Gojo and then the kaiju Godzilla Senior, and he grew up to be a great hero. Moonbeam Glimmer specifically brings up the fact his parents were not married and mocks him for being a bastard.
    • Godzilla Junior's brother Xenilla is also technically one. He is a clone spawned when some of Mothra Lea's mother's magic mixed with Godzilla Senior's blood. He's inherited traits from both of them. While Xenilla seemed to be a villain at first, it's revealed he's been Good All Along.
    • Flash Sentry's ancestor Ardent Sentry was born from a one-night stand Commander Hurricane had with a barmaid named Speedy Service. Hurricane did not know he had a daughter, and Ardent did not tell him until after she had distinguished herself as a member of the Royal Guard so that she could prove she was a great warrior through merit instead of nepotism.
  • A Brief History of Equestria has Lady Cripps the Pink of the Hyracotherium Republic. The result of an affair her mother had with a Unicorn noble (who then left her), Cripps grew up hating the Kingdom of Unicorns as a whole. Because of this, she enlisted in the Hyracotherium military, eventually becoming a national hero when she led her forces to victory in the Lake Trot Crisis.
  • Code Geass: Paladins of Voltron: Kallen the illegitimate daughter of a noble and one of the Paladins of Voltron, in addition to being a member of the Black Knights.
  • A Crown of Stars: Members of the secondary branches of the Avaloni Royal Family are known as Bastard Princes and Princesses. All of them are perfectly heroic and love to go about helping the helpless and punishing the wicked. In the Avalon Empire being a royal bastard is, in fact, an honor because it means that you have at the very least a smidgen of divine blood.
  • Inspired by the story-book protagonist that he was named after, Gideon in The Dark Lady (who was born before his parents married) has a dream of becoming a hero, becoming especially protective of his little sister Rose.
  • Dear Old Dad has this apply to the majority of the Phantom Thieves, with only Ren/Joker, Morgana, and Ryuji/Skull not being this. Ryuji, however, happens to share the same father with said other members: Big Bad Masayoshi Shido. As pretty much all of their conceptions were not.....ideal, to say the least, they all despise Shido more than canon.
  • Eden, by Obsessmuch: Hermione has made it a vow to not let the son Lucius fathered with her prior to his death to be anything like his father, which also meant never telling him his father's true identity. He honestly thinks he's the son of Ron Weasley despite the lack of resemblance, partially because he doesn't want to believe the truth. As a result, Lucius' second son grows up to not have the bigotry or elitism that the Malfoy bloodline is known for.
  • Empath: The Luckiest Smurf:
    • Brainy, who is Empath's half-brother. Empath's mother had him after she left Papa Smurf following Empath's "death". Brainy's actual father also wore glasses, but he never married his mother. Brainy simply assumed that he was Papa Smurf's only biological son until around Empath's 150th birthday when it was revealed that Empath, not Brainy, was Papa Smurf's only biological son.
    • In "The Prisoner Of Stone", Chlorhydris' daughter Priscilla turns out to be one, as she was fathered by the evil witch's true love Manfred the Magnificent sometime before the wedding, but unfortunately he was turned to stone by Drusilla before the two could even marry. (Priscilla doesn't appear in that story, but rather is referenced from the cartoon show episode "The Tear Of A Smurf".)
  • In Eye Of The Fox, Kira is a rather blatant example as while the methods of his conception are still unknown to the reader, his parents were obviously never together in a word, and he just barely stops short of being a Bastard Bastard.
  • Fallout: Equestria: Littlepip never knew who her father was, mainly because her mother was too drunk to remember who impregnated her.
  • Honoka's Bizarre Adventure: Hanayo Koizumi and Kotori Minami of µ's are both Nice Girls Stand Users born out of wedlock. Hanayo was born from a Teen Pregnancy by her parents, while Kotori was the result of a single night of passion between her parents.
  • Seraph from Like Father, Like Daughter was born when Star vs. the Forces of Evil characters Marco Diaz and Hekapoo slept together at the tail end of his scissors trial while he was thirty. She is every bit as brave and heroic as both of her parents and has the power and skill to back it up. Not bad for someone who is technically only a month old.
  • The Lost Hero: Conner Kent was born from a one-night stand Clark Kent had with Maxima. Conner became a superhero. His parents eventually married when Conner was a teen.
    Clark Kent: And you know what? Who cares if Conner was born illegitimate!? My son is a hero, whom I am most proud!
  • Katrina of Ma Fille was born via a One-Night-Stand Pregnancy, and is a strong-willed, justice-minded young lady.
  • The Masks We Wear: Rachel Grayson is the illegitimate daughter of John Grayson and Samantha Vanaver. She supports her half-brother Robin and the Teen Titans, despite her parents being supervillains, but since John Grayson has taken the villain identity of Slade, she is more heroic than either of her parents.
  • The Palaververse: Princess Celestia herself, having been born as the result of an extramarital relationship between a pegasus noble and an earth pony farmer mare. Luna, technically Celestia’s half-sister, was born later after said pegasus noble returned home and married.
  • In Peace Forged in Fire Morgan t'Thavrau mentions that her mother never told her who her father was, although given that Iliana t'Thavrau was an admin aide at the Romulan Imperial Senate, "I suspect she was sparing a deihu's* mnhei'sahe*." (The Romulans as written by Diane Duane hold saving and maintaining face as an important cultural aspect.) It's confirmed later, in "Heis'he Ri'nanovai", that her father was Merken tr'Vreenak, who was married at the time she was conceived.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, it's all but stated that Ash was born out of wedlock, which is confirmed in a later sidestory. And the story strongly implies that he's just one of many, perhaps in the hundreds, who share the same father and same status as Heroic Bastards, along with a few Bastard Bastards and others who are in-between. Ash, for his part, rarely has any issue with this, except when details about his father come up that paint him as a horrible human being in a way that paints his conception in an uneasy light.
  • In Pony POV Series, Fluttercruel is the daughter of Fluttershy and Discord...but Fluttershy doesn't even have the friendship her canon self does with Discord and in fact, Fluttercruel is a Child By Mind Rape after Discord's forced brainwashing of Fluttershy accidentally created her. Fluttercruel is still a hero, though a bit harsher than the average Equestrian. Note, this only applies to her prime, as her Dark World self is evil due to being raised by Discord.
  • Kit Sakura, the red ranger in Power Rangers: Shuriken Force. She explicitly asks her father why they don't have the same last name, and he's rather blunt in telling Kit that he and her mother had a Long-Distance Relationship and neither was up for it. Kit has...issues with this.
  • In SilfofinaDragon's Sengoku Basara fanfics, Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura have two kids Yuki and Masa, who have the surname Date-Sanada, since their folks aren't married but live together.
    • Their grandson Tsukitora (mothered by Masa and fathered by the late Oyamada Nobushige) would attribute to this.
  • King Friedrich from What About Witch Queen? is said by Word of God to be the effect of his mother's affair with another man. He honestly tries to be a good king despite his shortcomings, and, next to Ferdinand, he's probably the most likable of Hans' brothers.

    Film — Animated 
  • While Ratatouille itself never uses the word (it is a kid's movie, after all), it's fairly obvious that Linguini was born out of wedlock and his father didn't know he existed.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Aquaman (2018): Orn at several points calls Arthur a bastard (he is the hero, and was born due to his mother Atlanna's relationship with Thomas-she'd already married King Orvax).
  • Played straight in the 1999 Science Fiction adaptation of Beowulf: he's the bastard child of his human mother and a demon father. Grendel is the son of the King and another demon. He kills the latter two monsters.
  • Creed: Adonis is the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, born shortly after the latter was killed by Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, and was later adopted by Apollo's widow Mary Anne, who is kind enough to treat him as her own son and later on Rocky takes him under his wing as a champion boxer.
  • In Ever After Leonardo da Vinci is said to be the greatest painter in the world and he says of himself:
    Signor da Vinci: "I am the bastard son of a peasant. What does that matter?"
  • Kingdom of Heaven: Balian, in contrast with the real man being somewhat less heroic, plus legitimate and a nobleman.
  • Mythica: Dagen, though a bit of a knave at first as he's a thief and lech, turns out to be quite heroic, while born to a sex slave. It's possible Marek is too, as her father remains unknown.
  • The Promised Land: Our hero Ludwig Kahlen comes from common stock. When he meets with Frederich Schinkel, a local magistrate, the man mockingly notes that Kahlen's mother worked for Schinkel's father, who infamously slept with all his female servants, and Kahlen is his spitting image. Late in the film, Kahlen admits that his father was not the man who sired him. The film's original Danish title is Bastarden, meaning "The Bastard."
  • In Suffragette the protagonist Maud admits to never having known her father. Since her boss, for whom her mother also worked, is a serial rapist, it is likely she is a Child by Rape.
  • Sunshine Cleaning: Oscar is Rose's child with Mac, while the latter is married to someone else. At one point he asks Norah what a bastard is, having been called this by a classmate. She reassures him it's nothing which he should feel ashamed about. Oscar's a bit mischievous, but still a good kid.
  • Tales of an Ancient Empire: Tanis, Aedan, Malia, and Rajan are all the result of their father's many trysts. They're also the heroes of the film. Alana also seems to count, as Rajan doesn't mention that she's married.
  • Big Good John Connor of the Terminator franchise, whose time-traveling father was killed shortly after conceiving him. Which motivates him to send said father back in time to save/create him in the first place.
  • In The Vikings, Eric (Tony Curtis) is the illegitimate son of the Norseman Ragnar and the Northumbrian Queen Enid via rape, and he's the cloest thing the film has to a heroic figure.
  • Where Hands Touch: Leyna, who's a good person at heart (even if she advocates Nazism for some time) was born out of wedlock and is called "bastard" as an insult at several points (mixed race Germans like her were all disparaged as "Rhineland bastards").

    Folklore, Mythology, and Religion 
  • Hercules, Perseus, Ramma, Sigurd, Apollo, Artemis. In fact, the whole of the Heroic Age in Classical Mythology was basically about a bunch of heroes ("hero" coming from an ancient Greek word that was basically a synonym for "demigod") who were mostly badass extramarital children of Olympian gods (first of all, Zeus), making them the Ur-Example of Heroic Bastard (both in academic sense and often personality-wise).
  • A startlingly large number of the protagonists in Arthurian Legend are illegitimate, to wit:
    • King Arthur himself was born of a deception when Merlin disguised Uther Pendragon as Gorlois so Uther could sleep with Gorlois' wife, Igraine. Uther and Igraine did get married before Arthur was born, so he is not of illegitimate birth, just illegitimate conception, so technically qualifies.
    • Merlin was said to be the child of a human woman and an incubus. It doesn't seem likely that they were married (some versions also have this being due to rape).
    • The "perfect gentle knight" Galahad, one of the Grail-finders, was the bastard son of Lancelot and Elaine.
    • Mordred is usually the son of Arthur and his half-sister Morgause (or Morgaine). While many of the older versions of Arthurian myth paint Mordred as a typical double-bastard (evil as well as illegitimate), more recent works (and even some of the older ones) have tried to reform this character, at least so that he's more of a Fallen Hero and Tragic Villain who is utterly broken at the revelation.
    • Perceval, in the versions where he's Pellinore's son. And that's just the major characters. To this add Sir Tor (one of the knights of the white hart), Guinglain (Gawaine's long-lost son), Yvain the Bastard (so called to distinguish him from his half-brother also named Yvain), and Sagramore in many of his Hungarian incarnations, plus at least two other bastard sons of Arthur (Logors and Arthur the less) and even more minor characters. As the majority of the fathers in these cases were major knights themselves, the original ballad writers were apparently more concerned with the genealogy than they were the marriage vows.
  • Jephthah in the Biblical Book of Judges was the son of Gilead and a prostitute and was exiled by his half-brothers for being a bastard. Later in life, they have to beg him to lead them to victory over the Ammonites; some would say he's the other kind of bastard due to the very... confusing situation with his daughter, which is still a HUGE subject of contention among scholars.

  • Alex Mackay in 1632 is the illegitimate son of a Scots nobleman. As he is out of the succession, he takes up arms as a mercenary in the Thirty Years' War. Since he's serving Gustavus Adolphus, one of the few "good" monarchs of that time period, and is visibly disgusted at atrocities committed by German soldiers, he's probably Heroic even before the arrival of Grantville.
  • Aeneas in The Aeneid. He's the illegitimate son of the goddess Aphrodite/Venus and the mortal Anchises. For that matter, any child of a god(dess) and a mortal, except for Achilles. His immortal mother actually married his mortal father, and then left him after Achilles was born.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: It's perfectly normal for noblemen to have mistresses and those relationships produce children. Myne's Stern Teacher mentor in the temple, High Priest Ferdinand, entered the temple in the first place because his father died and he was (unwarrantedly) seen as a threat to his true-born half-brother by the latter's mother.
  • Aubrey-Maturin: Stephen Maturin of O'Brian's Master and Commander fame was the son of an Irish officer and a Spanish woman. At several points throughout the series, Maturin empathizes with other (literal) bastards, including Aubrey's illegitimate biracial son Sam.
  • The Belgariad:
    • Mandorallen is insulted as "the bastard of Vo Mandor"... due to "some temporary irregularity about my birth which still raises questions about my legitimacy." Since he is a fearsome fighter, however, the only people who mention this are relatives (local traditions disapprove of shedding the blood of kinsfolk), idiots, and people a safe distance away.
    • In the sequel, king Urgit of Cthol Murgos is revealed to be one, as Silk's late father found the Murgo nobility's custom of sequestering their women nothing but an inviting challenge. The result is actually a benefit to Urgit (and by extension, his kingdom) as he's spared from the hereditary insanity plaguing the royal bloodline (as well as giving him enough cunning to win the deadly succession war). It also saves him from Mallorean Emperor Zakath having him horribly killed as part of his (Zakath's) methodical revenge extermination of the Urga bloodline. After some king-coaching from Garion, Urgit goes on to be a fairly decent king.
  • The vampire protagonist of Tanya Huff's Blood Books series is one Henry Fitzroy, the bastard son of King Henry VIII. He's also heroic.
  • In Fred Saberhagen's Book of Swords, Mark of Tasavalta is the natural son of Mala and the Emperor. In that setting, the Emperor is regarded as a legend or myth, and the phrase "child of the Emperor" is a euphemism for "bastard". It just happens to be literally true in Mark's case.
  • Ellis Peters seems fond of bastards; many of them crop up in her Brother Cadfael books and most of them are heroic. The one that stands out most is Olivier, Cadfael's son. And then there is the historically factual Robert of Gloucester, illegitimate brother and devoted supporter of Empress Matilda. One of Robert's sons does a Heel–Face Turn in Brother Cadfael's Penance precisely because he's sick of watching his father take garbage from the Empress.
  • In the world of A Brother's Price, anyone coming from a family that could not buy and protect a husband is fathered by a "crib captive". Records are kept of when such a liaison produces a child - a birth certificate includes maternal ancestry and may have notes such as "Great-grandchild of Kei Whistler and Order of the Sword crib captive Gerard, #458". The current generation of Whistlers had married parents and grandparents, but it's well established that those grandmothers whose children ended up so respectable were roguish.
  • Besma bint Abdul in Caliphate is the daughter of a rich merchant and his concubine, and she is probably the kindest, decent, most generous character in the book. Unlike many examples of this trope, she was raised by her father and is considered his favorite child unlike Besma's half-brother Fundail, who is actually legitimate and a real little monster.
  • All of the Demigods (also known as half-bloods) from Rick Riordan's The Camp Half-Blood Series books, since the Greco-Roman gods have not changed their habits from ancient times and leave plenty of illegitimate children around. The titular character of the first series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, is the son of Poseidon and a mortal woman named Sally Jackson.
  • The title character of Candide is one of the nicest guys in the story. He also happens to be illegitimate (his mother refused to marry his father because "he could produce no more than seventy-one quarterings in his arms"). Despite how little legitimacy matters to the events of the book, Cunegonde's brother refuses to allow her to marry so far below her. He never lets up on this tiring belief, even after Candide bought him out of slavery.
  • Lloyd Williams, in Follett's The Century Trilogy. He is the bastard son of Earl Fitzherbert, known as "Fitz", and his housekeeper (who in short order becomes his former housekeeper) Ethel Williams (who raises Lloyd). In the second book of the trilogy, "Winter of the World", he becomes a tireless crusader against fascism, fighting first the British Union of Fascists in the East End of London, then going to Spain to fight in the Civil War, and finally fighting Nazi Germany in World War II.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion world, one of the five gods is the Bastard, god of the unseason, who give shelter to those who have none and provides friends to the friendless and justice to those who cannot find it.
  • Codex Alera:
    • Max, while not the main character, is the bastard son of High Lord Antillus. This nets him both incredible power and a Wicked Stepmother who's been trying to get rid of him for years.
    • While the hero, Tavi, technically isn't a bastard, for the first three and a half books he thought he was and might as well have been, and he was plenty heroic in that time. His father was a soldier, and while it was technically illegal for legionaires to be married, it wasn't uncommon for them to do so in secret, or at least discreetly enough that nobody would bring it up. Since everyone who knew about it other than Isana and Araris was killed right along with Septimus at First Calderon, the fact that the Princeps was married for 10 months managed to go unnoticed by the rest of the world.
  • In Contact, Ellie, the protagonist, finds out in the very last chapter that her deceased father, whom she idolized, is not her father. Her (not actually "step-") stepfather, who she despises, is.. This subplot is completely absent from The Movie.
  • Cormoran Strike is the son of two well-known names In-Universe: 70s rock legend Jonny Rokeby and notorious supergroupie Leda Strike. He never knew his father and his childhood was extremely turbulent due to his mother's drug addiction and terrible taste in men. Despite this, he developed a strong moral core and had more stable parental figures in his life in the form of Leda's brother Ted and Ted's wife Joan.
  • Tzigone, one of the central protagonists of Counselors and Kings is the bastard daughter of the renegade wizardess Keturah and King Zalathorm of Halruaa. She's very determined to keep this from coming out, however, since Halruaa's laws regarding marriage and procreation are draconian and a wizard's bastard is executed out of hand if both parents can't be named. In the end, Zalathorm acknowledges Tzigone as his daughter and marries Keturah, giving Tzigone a proper family for the first time in her life- and also making her Princess of Halruaa, much to her consternation.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses: Lucien is secretly the son of Helion, High Lord of the Day Court, although he believes he is the son of Beron, High Lord of the Autumn Court.
  • Rachel Chu in Crazy Rich Asians was raised by her single mother, Kerry, until it's revealed that she is born out of wedlock. Kerry fled from China to escape from her abusive husband's family with the help of her neighbor, Kao Wei, whom she had an affair with making him Rachel's biological father. In the sequel, China Rich Girlfriend, Kao Wei is now Bao Gaoliang, a Chinese politician and a billionaire who owns a pharmaceutical company. Eventually, Rachel and Gaoliang meet and accept each other though Gaoliang's wife is not thrilled that her husband has a secret child which is quite scandalous, and attempts to prevent her from meeting her husband's family out of fear that she might claim her inheritance. Rachel is not interested in the inheritance since she lives a content and simple life as a Chinese-American immigrant and wants to meet her half-siblings.
  • Crown of Stars:
    • Alain is (supposedly) the son of a servant and an unknown father. This is a major plot point in the series - until he stops caring about it.
    • Liath is the daughter of a priest and a fire elemental.
    • Sanglant is the bastard son of the current king and an elven woman.
  • Alan Campbell's Deepgate Codex books have Carnival, born from the rape of her mortal mother by Ulcis. (God Is Evil much?) From Bad to Worse from there.
  • Discworld:
    • King Verence, although he's not really the hero as much as a secondary protagonist. Verence becomes king after his half-brother TomJon, the child of the last ruler, decides to be an actor. He was made king thanks to the fact that Verence and TomJon have a strong resemblance to each other and the previous king had a habit of exercising his droit du seigneur. Granny Weatherwax decided this was close enough and made him king. Subverted however in the previous king's wife had a thing for the previous court jester, Verence's father.
    • Terry Pratchett seems quite fond of enthroning bastards. Aside from Verence's case, Pyramids ends with Teppic's half-sister Ptraci on the throne of Djelibeybi, and Witches Abroad's Ella, eventual ruler of Genua, is the illegitimate daughter of Baron Saturday and Mrs. Gogol. Princess Keli's late father (from Mort) was known as "King Olerve the Bastard" — even on his hourglass! — and he doesn't seem nasty enough to merit such a title unless he, too, was illegitimate.
  • Desmond MaqqRee, known to the press of the Fair World as Doc Sidhe. Officially the records state "father unknown". Unofficially, it's well known that Doc is the son of the (now-deceased) prince-consort of Cretanis.
  • Dragonlance:
    • Tanis Half-Elven, the leader of a band of heroes in the novels, is the product of a Human warrior raping his Elven mother.
    • Steel Brightblade, the product of a one-night stand between Sturm Brightblade and Kitiara Uth Matar, may have been a servant of an evil deity, but he did help save the world on one occasion.
  • The Dresden Files: Thomas Raith is a Child by Rape and a man who tries to rise above the fact that he's essentially an incubus by controlling his need to feed on others' lust. He was fathered by Lord Raith on the witch Margaret LeFay, whom he had mentally enslaved. LeFay later escaped and married Malcolm Dresden, Harry's father.
  • David Eddings' The Elenium and The Tamuli series:
    • Stragen, a thief, is the bastard son of a noble. He is initially a bit sensitive about it but gets over it. He then uses it to insult a vast number of obstinate Styrics.
      Is "Elene bastard" the best you could come up with? It's not even much of an insult, because in my case it happens to be true.
    • Talen is illegitimate but formally acknowledged by Kurik.
  • The Elminster Series:
    • Farl, Elminster's fellow thief and friend in the first book, was born to the evil mage Hawklyn by a lady of the court. He's a good, loyal person (stealing mostly from the rich and driven into this by poverty).
    • Elminister's daughter Narnra Shalace (born to one of his lovers), though a thief, is otherwise a nice young woman who's heroic. It also applies to his other children who she later meets.
  • In Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte, Fiene is the illegitimate daughter of both the Marschner and Riefenstahl houses via her mother Elizabeth Marschner and August Riefenstahl. This makes her Lieselotte's cousin and, once everyone involved conspires to do away with the 'illegitimate' partnote , the strongest claimant to the Riefenstahl title.
  • Jiaan in the Farsala Trilogy is the bastard child of a Farsalan war leader and later takes his place, though with no one's consent.
  • FitzChivalry Farseer, hero of Robin Hobb's Farseer and Fool trilogies, is the bastard son of Prince Chivalry Farseer. "Fitz" is Norman-French for "son", so Fitz's name is simply "son of Chivalry", but since Fitzroy ("son of the king") was the surname given to illegitimate sons of the English kings, it also means, colloquially, "bastard of Chivalry".
  • In Christopher Moore's novel Fool, an Affectionate Parody of King Lear, the protagonist Pocket, the titular character, discovers he's the illegitimate son of Lear's brother. The news is not very well received as he learns this in a vision that also reveals that his conception was the result of Lear forcing his brother to rape Pocket's mother after the brother idly mentions he finds her attractive, all just to prove the point that, as king, he had the right to. The other noble bastard in the story, Edmund of Gloucester, is decidedly not heroic.
  • Nikolai from The Grisha Trilogy and The Nikolai Duology is officially the son of the king and queen of Ravka. However, it is widely rumored that he is actually illegitimate since the queen wasn't very faithful to her husband. The fact that, unlike his brother, Nikolai doesn't look anything like the king certainly doesn't help either. His mother eventually tells him that he was indeed born from an affair she had with Magnus Opjer. However, that doesn't stop Nikolai from becoming king after the abdication of 'his father', since his enemies cannot prove it.
  • In Winston Graham's The Grove Of Eagles the protagonist Maugan Killigrew is a bastard son of John Killigrew, an important Cornwal landowner. He is luckier than many bastards in being raised with his father's legitimate children and in his warm-hearted foster mother loving him as much as she does her own children. Still, he is always conscious of being a bastard, which means he will get no inheritance and must make his own way in life. He can at any moment hear nasty insults because of his being a bastard (in one case he fights with one of the insulted and knocks out to of his teeth). Above all, he is tormented by not knowing who his mother was - his father refuses to tell him, and others don't know. Only at the very end of the book does he find out that his mother had always been there, she was a woman he knew since childhood, and with whom he always had very ambiguous relations. Unfortunately, just before he found that she was his mother he had a very nasty quarrel and drove her away, and he would never find her again.
  • Hurog: In Dragon Bones there is no shortage of bastards. Ward, the protagonist, is a legitimate child, but Oreg, his inherited slave (Ward can't free him, A Wizard Did It) and later sidekick is a bastard of one of Ward's long-dead ancestors. (At one point Ward introduces him as "cousin", in the correct assumption that everyone will assume he's one of the many bastards Ward's father fathered.) There's also Stala, Ward's half-aunt. She's a bastard from his mother's side of the family. The king has a bastard half-brother, who is much more heroic than he.
  • I Am Mordred: Mordred, who's born due to an extramarital tryst between Arthur and Morgause, was a very good person to start with in spite of the prophecy about him that he'll kill his father. He tries everything possible to stop it from coming true.
  • The main character of Inheritance Cycle, Eragon, is one, the son of Selena and Brom. One could argue that this applies to all Elves, as they don't marry. However, as a result, they don't even really have the concept of "legitimacy" and view it as a pretty silly human notion. Eragon angsts a bit over this after he first hears it, but he's told that his parents considered themselves married, assuaging this a bit.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle: Technically, the protagonist Kvothe actually is a bastard; his parents were never formally married, though they lived as a couple.
  • Legends of Panthera provides us with Caterina, Jinx, Nix, Doe, and Fay are all born outside of mating. All of them are heroic.
  • Les Misérables: Cosette, who is born to Fantine and Félix Tholomyès, her lover. She's also one of the most heroic characters to be found in the novel.
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, set in the same universe as The Camp Half-Blood Series, has heroes of this nature as well, but with Norse Gods. In fact, due to the widespread nature of this trope, the only heroes in the universe that aren't this trope are the main protagonists of The Kane Chronicles, and a few non-demigod main characters like Rachael and Hearthstone (of course having married parents doesn't mean the latter two had happier home lives, and the Kane Chronicles protagonists had parent absences due to death and legal custody fights).
  • Vin, heroine of Mistborn: The Original Trilogy is the illegitimate daughter of a prostitute and a priest of the Corrupt Church The High Priest, in fact, as it turns out- which, since aforementioned church teaches that a member of the nobility having a child with a commoner is a sin and such children should be killed, is noted as being a rather ironic breach of duty. It also turns out that this is why the Steel Inquisitor that's been hunting Vin throughout her life is after her- if he can catch her alive and prove she's her father's daughter, the Inquisitor can have grounds to have her father killed and take over his position.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!:
    • Catarina's adopted brother Keith was the son of a minor noble related to the Claes family and a common prostitute. His birth father's family greatly scorned him, especially when it turned out he had magic that he couldn't control very well. While he could have grown up into a shameless playboy to cope with loneliness, Catarina made sure to make friends with him when they were little and he ends up growing into a very calm, responsible, and elegant young man worthy of his position as the heir of the Claes duchy. And since he was adopted to become the new Claes heir, his bastardy is largely irrelevant. Note that in the original timeline, one of the reasons he was so lonely was because Catarina's mother thought he was her husband's bastard, and treated him horribly. In the new timeline, she ends up confronting her husband about it almost immediately, discovers the truth, and has a good long talk about their relationship. She and Keith have an extremely loving mother-and-adoptive-son relationship after that, and the Claes family grows up happily, giving Keith a stable home after spending his formative years in an abusive household.
    • Catarina's personal maid Anne Shelley was born from the short-lived relationship between a baron and one of his servants. While she may not be a member of Catarina's harem, she cares for her mistress deeply and would do anything for her.
    • Once the dark mage has been expelled from his body that led him to do questionable things such as framing Catarina for being a bully and kidnapping Maria, Raphael Walt (the real identity of Sirius Dieke) is clearly this. He was born to Marquis Dieke and his mother, but unlike Keith and Anne, his mother loved him unconditionally. His motivation for his Revenge stemmed at the fact that Marchioness Dieke murdered his mother and used him to resurrect her sickly son Sirius, but he knows enough that revenge wasn't even worth it, and just wants to continue honoring his mother's wish to live well. And although he isn't to be fully blamed by the things that he made back at school, he still turned himself to the authorities due to guilt, but not after he will get justice from his mother's death by telling them about his mother's killer and her shady experiments related to dark magic.
  • Discussed in Neogicia. The female protagonist Saly develops unusual powers after her Bio-Augmentation into a neomancer and Emperor Keynn Lucans sponsors her into a prestigious neomancer school. Keynn's involvement is kept as discrete as possible, but a teacher that does not like Saly very much eventually mentions Keynn keeping an eye on her out loud in a crowded classroom. Thanks to Keynn notoriously not having a family and privately being in no hurry to start one thanks to being in a quasi Immortal Procreation Clause situation (he's physically in his mid-thirties at ten centuries old), rumors of Saly being either his bastard daughter or pregnant with his illegitimate child quickly emerge.
  • Zig-zagged by the main character of Kate Thompson's fantasy novel The New Policeman, who is a teenager who is teased by his fellow students because his parents were never married and he has his mother's name. However, his parents are actually a stable and loving couple who have lived together since before he was born, run a farm together, and have two children, and they decided not to get married explicitly so her children would be guaranteed to keep her last name. So from his point of view, he's not a bastard—but from the point of view of several people in his community, he is, since, despite his parents having a rock-solid long-term relationship, they were never formally married and thus that technically makes him a bastard.
  • Both Cat and Bones from the Night Huntress series. Cat is the product of rape, and she and her mother are both shunned by their small town for her out-of-wedlock birth. Bones is both a bastard and the Son of a Whore. They team up to kill evil vampires and rescue the human victims.
  • Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series:
    • Touchstone was the bastard son of the Queen and a nobleman, though he ends up taking the throne after a Human Popsicle situation leaves him as the only royal left alive anywhere.
    • Lirael of the Clayr, although not technically illegitimate since the Clayr don't typically marry, has to deal with very similar social disapproval because her mother ran off mysteriously (against tradition) and returned pregnant with Lirael, and completely refused to speak of the identity of Lirael's father. The odd circumstances of Lirael's birth, combined with her non-Clayr looks and lack of Clayr gifts, all because her to be treated by some as an awkward "love child" rather than a "true daughter of the Clayr". Using her Remembrancer powers she at one point looks into the past and sees her mother and father meet, confirming her worst fears that she was conceived as a one-night stand, and stops the vision before she can see her own conception. It's only much later that she finds out her father is Terciel, the former Abhorsen, which not only makes her the heir to the title but also Sabriel's half-sister, and it's the Abhorsen looks that she inherited.
  • Orkneyinga Saga: Einar, later to become Jarl of Orkney, is the son of Jarl Rognvald of Møre with a slave-born woman. Though Rognvald does not deny Einar, he makes clear that he does not care for him and considers him an unworthy offspring on account of his mother's low status. Nevertheless, Einar frees Orkney from the Vikings that have occupied it, proves to be a capable ruler, and when Rognvald is treacherously killed, ironically Einar is the son who avenges him.
  • Paladin of Souls features a literal heroic bastard in the person of Illvin, the half-brother of Lord Arhys dy Lutez.note  Once he gets out from the enchanted sleep spell he was under he proves quite heroic, performing dazzling feats of horsemanship, swordsmanship, and hair-raising rescues.
  • Jack Jackson/Fitzjack, of Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth, being the bastard of a hanged traveling musician. He turns out fine and even builds one of England's first Gothic Cathedrals, among other things.
  • Bell Woodrow, the protagonist of Pondovadia, reveals that she's the mayor's illegitimate daughter.
  • The titular prince of Prince Roger, Ramius Sergei Alexander Chiang MacClintock, after he took multiple levels of badass. He also develops into the other type of bastard, the literal meaning already applicable since the Empress had never married his father:
    Sgt. Catrone: Order received and understood, and I will comply. You bastard.
    Prince Roger: That I am. Literally and figuratively. The last bastard standing. The flag of the Basik's Own wears a bar sinister proudly.
  • In The Reynard Cycle, Reynard is a Heroic Bastard who is also a heroic bastard, as well as a Magnificent Bastard.
  • The Riftwar Cycle has a couple:
    • Martin Longbow is a bastard child of Duke Borric of Crydee and a serving girl. This poses a problem after his father, on his deathbed, legitimizes him as his son. Since he's the oldest of Borric's children, this puts him first in line for the throne of the kingdom itself. Thankfully for the kingdom, he surrenders his claim to that throne in favor of his younger half-brother Liam and ends up as the next Duke of Crydee.
    • Eric von Darkmoor is the bastard (although his mother tried to claim that he was legitimate and that his father's relatives annulled the marriage in order to get the Baron-to-be to marry another noble for an alliance) son of the Baron von Darkmoor. He is a much better person than the eldest legitimate child of his father.
  • The Saintess and the Villainess: Although she was the villainess of the "original novel," Corvina is one of the main viewpoint characters of the story, and is slowly becoming more heroic thanks to Anne's influence.
  • Andre-Louis in Scaramouche was born from an affair. This gives him an interesting place in society (that society being France on the eve of the Revolution), with one foot in the world of his noble foster father and one foot in the common world of his presumed mother. It also allows for a dramatic revelation about his real parentage at the climax.
  • Pearl Prynne, the illegitimate child of Hester Prynne, from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a slightly revised version of the "illegitimacy means evil child" notion. Because the entire book is about the rebounding effects of denying and admitting sin, Pearl is seen as a living embodiment of the scarlet letter A worn on Hester's chest. Pearl is irreverent, impish, and obsessed with the scarlet letter, and a source of much anguish to her mother, until her father admits to being Hester's lover and fellow-sinner. After this, Pearl's character changes completely — one might say she becomes a "normal" little girl.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, Daylen poses as this: the bastard son of Dayless the Conqueror, trying to do good and get out from under his father's shadow. He later finds out that many of his children are this trope for real, some even becoming Archknights.
  • The titular hero in Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series is the son of a prostitute and an unknown man. Ironically, "bastard" is one of his favorite insults to rile up many an opponent to their deaths.
  • Apropos in the Sir Apropos of Nothing series was the son of a prostitute who was gang-raped by a bunch of knights and the King's jester.
  • George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire has bastard children of all sorts with a wide variety of temperaments. The most notable and heroic is Jon Snow, the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark, and is one of the characters in this series' world most befitting a classic hero — also described as a "classic hero" by the author, George R. R. Martin. While Jon Snow is raised by his father alongside his trueborn siblings as part of the family in his father's home castle, loves and is loved by his father and siblings, Jon still feels like somewhat of an outsider in his own family. He chooses to join the Night's Watch to earn his own honour. It is possible that his half-brother, Robb, with whom he was very close, officially legitimized Jon as a Stark in his will and named Jon as heir, as he talked to his mother of doing, but Jon does not know this yet. It is a popular fandom theory that Jon is not Eddard's biological son, but his nephew, as Jon may be the son of Eddard's sister Lyanna Stark and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, both deceased. Eddard passed Jon off as his own bastard child to keep him safe from the then-reigning dynasty - a wise move, given what happened to Rhaegar's other children.
    • King Robert Baratheon's bastard children come across as quite heroic if sharing the Baratheon stubbornness. Gendry is quite decent and selfless, joining the Brotherhood without Banners as he likes their ideals. Gendry becomes a Knight Templar Big Brother toward some of the children orphaned in the war.
    • Ser Rolland Storm, the Bastard of Nightsong, is a relatively minor character but comes across as quite decent. When King Stannis Baratheon is losing the war and surrounded by various scheming and ambitious nobles, he mentions Rolland is one of the few good men left to him. Rolland helps Davos Seaworth send Edric to safety and is left by Stannis to hold Dragonstone when he sails to the Wall, refusing to surrender even to vastly superior odds.
    • The World of Ice & Fire writes of Benedict Rivers, a bastard of Feuding Families Blackwood and Bracken. He is despised for his parentage, however, he's such a great warrior that he is able to become the first man to unite the Riverlands, and takes the name Justman, creating a Royal House that rules the Riverlands for almost three centuries.
    • The bastards Addam of Hull and Alyn, apparently bastards of the deceased Laenor Velaryon (or, more likely, Laenor's father Lord Corlys Velaryon, who didn't want his wife to be offended), who are legitimized at the request of their "grandfather", becoming heirs to Driftmark. Despite Rhaenyra taking the actions of two other dragonseed, the Two Betrayers, as proof bastards are treacherous, forcing Addam to flee, Addam heroically gathers an army to fight Rhaenyra's enemies, dying in the process. His brother succeeds Corlys as Lord of Driftmark and becomes known as Oakenfist for his naval victories.
    • Played with on Brynden Rivers aka "Bloodraven", one of Aegon IV's "The Unworthy" many bastards. He assists his legitimate brother Daeron II against their half-brothers (Daemon Blackfyre and Aegor Rivers "Bittersteel") but seems to have resorted to rather extreme methods against these relatives, making him quite an Anti-Hero (By the time of the Dunk and Egg stories, he has what amounts to a medieval kingdom-wide Secret Police force, it doesn't help that he isn't helping the west of Westeros which is being raided by Dagon Greyjoy). However, his methods may have been necessary, considering the very real threat the Blackfyres posed. Eventually, Brynden's extreme actions, murdering one of Daemon's sons despite an offer of safe conduct, forced Daeron's grandson Aegon V to send him into exile. Currently it's unclear whether Bloodraven is working with the Others or against them.
    • In Tales of Dunk and Egg, Egg Prince Aegon, while talking about the Blackfyres and Bloodraven, claims bastards are treacherous by nature. Dunk (Ser Duncan the Tall) points out that he is probably a bastard, as he doesn't know who his parents are. Dunk is one of the few figures in the series who lives up to the Knight In Shining Armour ideal.
    • Ser Glendon "Flowers" (who insists he is Glendon Ball) plays with this. He claims to be the son of Quentyn Ball "Fireball" (considering his mother was a camp follower who slept with a lot of men around that time this is dubious) and at first comes across as a jerk to Dunk for his support of the Blackfyres. However, he turns out to be a very good jouster and closer to the knightly ideal than many of the knights at a Tourney, who were being bribed to lose to Daemon II Blackfyre.
    • One of the first Kingsguard was Ser Addison Hill "the Bastard of Cornfield", who eventually rose to become Lord Commander.
  • Tristran Thorn, hero of Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess' Stardust, is the bastard son of Dunstan Thorn and the long-lost daughter of the Lord of Stormhold.
  • Sword of Truth: Though not explicit, Richard is the result of his mother having been raped by Darken Rahl. However, he was raised by the man she married, George Cypher, who he considers his real father. Kahlan too, as her father was married to another woman when her mother chose him as her mate. He is The Hero, she is the deuteragonist. No one brings up that they were born out of wedlock though, making it downplayed.
  • Lanen in Tales of Kolmar finds out early that the man her mother married before running away wasn't her father after all. Her initial reaction is relief since it explains the rather cool relationship that had existed between them, and largely it doesn't seem to matter, but in a low moment later she does bring up her bastard heritage.
  • Emily Roland from Temeraire is and it's more common than not for women in the Air Corp to have children out of wedlock. The point that keeps coming up in the story is that no, she's not Laurence's bastardnote .
  • Mercedes Lackey's This Scepter'd Isle has Henry Fitzroy, bastard son of King Henry VIII, as a major character.
  • Mariam from A Thousand Splendid Suns is a tragic example, since she had the bad luck to be one in a society that considers this utterly scandalous.
  • Tortall Universe: Daine in The Immortals series is illegitimate, hence her patronymic matronymic is "Sarrasri" from her mother. Turns out that her father is really Weiryn, a minor god of the hunt, though she doesn't find this out until the last book.
  • The Red Knight from The Traitor Son Cycle is a bastard child of the King of Alba and his sister, by the way of rape. While he has a lot of issues that stem from this (the least of which is refusing to go by his given name), he's nothing if not heroic.
  • Vampire Academy:
    • Rose. The illegitimate daughter of Janine Hathaway and Ibrahim "Abe" Mazur. Her parents never married, making her an actual bastard. She is genuinely heroic.
    • Dimitri is the illegitimate son of Olena Belikova and a royal Moroi (who is later revealed to be Rand Ivashkov, Adrian's uncle). His parents never married, making him a technical bastard. He is genuinely heroic.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Ghostmaker, Dorden had, as a new-fledged doctor, saved a woman in labor and her baby. This is revealed by Corbec, who was the baby; being illegitimate, his mother did not have the same name, which is why he hadn't realized.
    • In Sandy Mitchell's Dark Heresy novel Scourge the Heretic, Drake is the (presumably illegitimate) son of a man of high standing and a chambermaid. Though somewhat bitter about his inability to advance on his stratified world, he copes by joining the Imperial Guard to escape, and when he is recruited to help an Inquisitor, his uncertain status may be reflected in his ability to handle shifting social situations: intimidating a man of the very highest birth by treating him with no deference, and drawing information from servants by pleasantries.
  • While not generally considered very heroic, at least at first, Pierre Bezukhov is one of the primary protagonists of War and Peace making him a hero in the literary sense, and he is the illegitimate son of Count Kirill Bezukhov, so he's a bastard in the technical sense. In terms of personality, however, he is typically good-natured.
  • Warrior Cats has so many of these that they're in every series. Examples include: Mistyfoot and Stonefur, who are half Thunderclan half Riverclan, with their mother faked as a Riverclan queen. Lionblaze, Jayfeather, and Hollyleaf also count, with them also being half-clan, and their mother a medicine cat. They believe that another relation of theirs is their mother, and the truth does not come out until much later.
  • The titular character of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is, in his words, a "bastard on the wrong side" of Japan's largest samurai clan, although his modernist outlook is much more of a social impediment than his parentage.
  • Axis in Sara Douglass' The Wayfarer Redemption is of illegitimate birth, and is reminded of this fact constantly, particularly in the first book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • ALF was a weird inversion. He was not born out of wedlock, but on Melmak, they seem to regard this as the same as Earthlings regard those who are. He nearly crosses a Despair Event Horizon once he discovers it.
  • Thea Queen from Arrow is the secret love child between her mother Moira Queen and Malcolm Merlyn, Team Arrow's greatest enemy. However, she's also the show's version of Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of the TV series The Associates in which a man notes that there is a TV show called The Bastard about a man who is, well, the title character, and he says, "What will they do next, create a sequel to Lassie called Son-of-a-Bitch?"
  • Dylan Masset from Bates Motel may be morally ambiguous, but he's also the rational Token Good Teammate in the Bates family. It was revealed that he is the illegitimate Child by Rape between Norma Bates and her brother Caleb.
  • In a DVD extra to accompany the series, Hal, in Being Human tells Leo that he was raised in a brothel by six prostitutes, but that he never knew which of them was his mother. Ironically, he's often called Lord Hal by the other vampires, because he's one of the 'old ones'.
  • Birds of Prey (2002): Helena never knew who her father is until her mother's death. In turn, he never knew about her before her mother had died. They were never married. Helena became a superheroine after this.
  • Kind, no-nonsense nurse Phyllis Crane is one in Call the Midwife. It first comes up when she's counseling a young man who's worried about his child being a "you know what."
  • Carnival Row: Philo is the love child of a Faerie and a human, but also one of the series' heroes.
  • Castle's title character Rick Castle never knew who his father was because his mother never knew either—he was the product of a One-Night-Stand Pregnancy. He turns out in a season five two-parter to be a CIA black ops guy who never made contact to keep Castle's family safe, though he did once pull strings for his son when Castle wanted to get one of the Derrick Storm novels Backed by the Pentagon.
  • Charmed: After oldest sister Prue is Killed Off for Real, it was revealed that the trio's mother Patty's previously established affair with her Whitelighter had resulted in Heroic Bastard youngest daughter and secret fourth Charmed One, Paige.
  • Catherine Willows from CSI was established early on to have been raised by a single mother. She eventually finds out her father was Sam Braun (who was present in her life, just not formally as a father).
  • Cursed (2020): Nimue actually was conceived as a result of her parents' extramarital relationship. She's also a noble (if flawed) young woman who's The Chosen One and the protagonist.
  • The Devil Judge: Yo-han is an illegitimate child, though it's downplayed since he's more of an Anti-Hero.
  • Game of Thrones: Jon Snow, one of the heroic protagonists in this series. Tyrion lampshades this trope in regards to him in The Night's Watch:
    Tyrion: A bastard boy with nothing to inherit, off to join the ancient order of the Night's Watch, alongside his valiant brothers-in-arms.
    Jon: The Night's Watch protects the realm from—
    Tyrion: Ah yes, yes! Against grumpkins and snarks and all the other monsters your wet nurse warned you about. You're a smart boy. You don't believe that nonsense.
    • It turns out that Jon Snow is a subversion. He's not a bastard son, but the legitimate child of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, thus having a claim to both the North and the South.
    • Gendry is a more common example, growing up as "low as you can get" in the grimy underbelly of King's Landing with no idea of who his father was until Melisandre tells him (although other characters figure out he's actually the King's bastard son). He manages to come out as one of the unambiguously heroic characters - a Bully Hunter who dislikes people who pick on those weaker than themselves and later tries to join the Brotherhood Without Banners who defend the small folk. Ironically although he and Jon don't meet until Season 7, an early sign of both their heroism was their affection for Arya Stark (Jon's favorite sibling and later Gendry's best friend) who clearly seems to have an affinity for the heroic bastard type.
  • General and I: Chu Bei Jie is one of the protagonists and the illegitimate son of the former king.
  • Rory Gilmore of Gilmore Girls was born the child of two unwed sixteen-year-olds. Double subverted when it turns out that her father Christopher, pressured by his parents, asked Lorelai to marry him to avoid a scandal, but Lorelai refused.
  • Grimm: Captain Renard has some rather unheroic ways of doing basically good things, but otherwise qualifies for this trope, being the product of an extramarital affair by his father. In contrast to the standard examples of this trope, he was initially treated rather well by his family since being a Royal trumped his out-of-wedlock status. Then the family found out that his mother was secretly a Hexenbiest and they had to flee for their lives.
  • Heroes: Claire Bennett knew she was adopted, but it was only after she found out the man who raised her was working for a Pseudo-Government Conspiracy did she learn that she was the youthful indiscretion of a certain up and coming New York politician.
  • In Kamen Rider Kiva, It's the titular rider whose the bastard child, although it's inverted, as his father was an all-around nice guy, while his mother fell in love with him more than her actual spouse.
  • Bobby Goren of Law & Order: Criminal Intent is the Child by Rape of a serial killer, although his mother was never sure if her husband or he was Bobby's father. Fortunately, he was raised by her and only recently found out.
  • Like the Sword of Truth books, in Legend of the Seeker series, Richard finds out that he was adopted. However, the series changes who his real father is (Panis Rahl instead of his son Darken Rahl) and the means of conception (Bed Trick instead of a forcible rape). In fact, it was actually a Xanatos Gambit by Panis Rahl to merge two powerful magical bloodlines (Rahl and Zorander) and sire an heir to fight Darken Rahl.
  • Locke, Aaron, and Walt from Lost, all of whom have been said to be special and important, were all born out of wedlock. Further, all were given up (or scheduled to be given up) for adoption.
  • The term "hero" is debatable, but Francis Wilkerson from Malcolm in the Middle was born during the wedding ceremony between Hal and Lois.
  • The title character of Merlin. Ironically, he might not have been been a bastard at all had it not been for Uther's interference, and his father is unaware he exists until the Series 2 finale. All the better to contrast with Morgana, who is a Bastard Bastard, and Mordred, who isn't one at all in this version.
  • My Two Dads: Nicole Bradford is one, having been conceived while her mother was dating the titular dads. Nicole prefers not to know which one is her real father.
  • Reign gives us Sebastian "Bash" de Poitiers, son of King Henry II of France and his mistress Diane. Bash never wanted the throne and knew he wouldn't get it, as his legitimate half-brother Francis was the Dauphin. While there is a Story Arc about Henry trying to legitimize Bash by annulling his marriage to Catherine and marrying Diane, things eventually go back to normal. Bash spends much of his time between the court and the common people, giving him a unique perspective on France. He's generally a good person, even though he does have a ruthless streak, such as when he executes a serial killer after promising to let him live (to be fair, the guy did just kill his girlfriend).
  • Smallville: While "heroic" isn't exactly the best description of her before her Heel–Face Turn, our Tess Mercer can be seen as this in stark contrast with her Earth-2 version who, actually raised by Lionel, is a whiny, issue-ridden Bastard Bastard.
  • In Supergirl (2015), Lena Luthor eventually finds out that she's a product of Lionel Luthor's infidelity, although that fact was hidden from everyone after her mother died and Lionel forced his wife Lillian to adopt Lena. Lena knew she was adopted, but not that Lionel was her biological father as well as her adoptive one. Lena does her best to distance herself from her family, especially her jailed brother Lex, by rebranding the company to L-Corp and working to better the world for everyone, human and alien alike.
  • The Terror: James Fitzjames admits toward the end of his life that despite having passed himself off for years as an Officer and a Gentleman, he was the product of the union between an English Impoverished Patrician and an exiled Portuguese noblewoman, given away to be raised by the Englishman's friends. Despite this romantic, fairly exotic backstory, he's ashamed enough of it to have fought his whole life struggling to be dashing and brave enough that nobody would question his origins.
  • In Timeless, Lucy finds out that she's a product of an extramarital affair of her mother and a married man. Throughout the show, Lucy shows herself to be a brave woman, who tries to fight Flynn and Rittenhouse. It gets worse when she finds out that her father is a high-ranking member of Rittenhouse and worse still, when it's revealed that her mother is Rittenhouse as well. In fact, it's implied that her birth was planned by Rittenhouse, making her "royalty" of sorts.
  • Subverted in Veronica Mars, when the eponymous heroine looks to be then is revealed not to be the bastard daughter of Jake Kane.
  • Vigil (BBC): Well-meaning anti-nuclear protestor Jade is the illegitimate daughter of a politician.

  • In keeping with The Zeroth Law of Trope Examples: "The Bastard", Philip Faulconbridge, in King John is a sort of avatar of his father, Richard The Lion Heart. Richard's old enemy Leopold of Austria is conflated by Shakespeare with the Viscount of Limoges and appears wearing Richard's own personal lion-skin (!), which Faulconbrige takes back after slaying him.
  • Alexander Hamilton of Hamilton is repeatedly described as "a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman." It is remarked upon that, despite this, he becomes "a hero and a scholar". This is true of the real-life founding-father as well; Alexander's mother Rachel Lavien was unable to get a divorce from her first husband, so her second marriage, to James Hamilton could never be legitimized. James eventually left the family when Alexander was 10 years old.
  • Jack Dunois, the Bastard of Orléans, in George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, is the commander of the soldiers who Joan leads into battle, and subsequently her closest friend in the French court. He was a real person, and "Bastard of Orléans" was his real nickname; it wasn't an insult but a factual statement — he was the illegitimate son of the Duke of Orleans — and even something of a sign of respect since as an acknowledged son of the Duke he was a member of the royal family.
  • Elphaba in Wicked, thanks to her mother's indiscretion with the Wizard. Possibly yet another reason why her father doesn't like her—he's probably sure she isn't his.

    Video Games 
  • The Bastard of Kosigan, bastard son of a precursor and Count Borogar of Kosigan. Though he might be a Villainous Bastard if you play him the other way. And given the number of women he can end up taking advantage of, he may be leaving a few behind.
  • Implied with Emilia in Blaze Union; even though Gulcasa was raised by his abusive father—the parent they share—he never even knew that Emilia existed until she found him.
  • Eirik from Dead In Vinland is the son of the deceased former jarl of his hometown and a kitchen thrall whom the jarl later freed. It's the whole reason for his predicament in the first place; when the jarl died, his heir attempted to have Eirik and his whole family murdered to avoid potential rival claims to his title.
  • While it's only ever hinted at in the first game, Dishonored 2 does away with pretenses and confirms that Emily is the daughter of the Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, and her bodyguard Corvo Attano. Curiously enough, this never seemed to be an obstacle or even an issue regarding Emily's ascension to the throne, a point which is lampshaded by Jessamine's jilted half-sister Delilah Copperspoon. This only applies, of course, on a low chaos run - otherwise, Emily ends up having far in common with her aunt than her mother.
  • Dragon Age:
    • One of the important reveals of Dragon Age: Origins is that King Cailan had an illegitimate half-brother, namely Alistair, one of the few unambiguously heroic characters in the game.
      Warden: "So you're not just a bastard, but a royal bastard?"
      Alistair: "Ha! Yes, I guess it does at that. I should use that line more often."
    • Leliana was also born out of wedlock, something that apparently made life very difficult for her mother in Orlais. While Leliana did lead the very morally ambiguous life of a spy for many years of her life, she has completely reformed by the time the player reaches her. Not only one of the more heroic characters but also one of the only idealists.
    • Mage NPC Feynriel from Dragon Age II, provided you help him realize his potential.
  • Ayane of Dead or Alive is the product of Kasumi's mother being raped.
  • Devil May Cry 4 has Nero. It's hinted that he's the Son of a Whore, but his father is canonically known. It's Vergil.
  • Dungeon Siege III has Katarina, one of the four playable characters who is the daughter of the late Hugh Montbarron and a Lescanzi witch, making her the half-sister of fellow playable character Lucas Montbarron.
  • Martin Septim in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Not only he is the bastard son of the Emperor and the real hero of the story, he was a bastard on purpose.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Ramza Beoulve, the main character of Final Fantasy Tactics, is heavily implied to be this. Although it only comes up in passing in the game, one imagines it was more of an issue when he was living among nobles, before everyone got caught up in the Lion War. Ironically one of the only unequivocally good characters in the game. For further irony, both his older (presumably legitimate) brothers are bastards in the more contemporary sense of the word. For instance, Dycedarg murdered their father, and is host to one of the demons intent on bringing about The End Of Ivalice As We Know It. Zalbag is much more sympathetic, even noble, but he was still the one giving the order for Algus/Argath to shoot Delita's sister Teta in order to take out Golagros/Gragoroth. The game implies that he may be, like Algus/Argath, a classist, and was willing to sacrifice Teta because she was a "mere" commoner, and insults Ramza for having his mother's "commoner blood". His bastardy is more or less confirmed in the instruction manual for War of the Lions, where he is referred to as the issue of his father's paramour, which is just a fancy and archaic way of saying the result of an adulterous affair.
    • Terra in Final Fantasy VI. Spoilers: Even if Maduin and Madonna actually got married (which is never mentioned) Terra was definitely born first. Also, given the taboo with humans being in the Esper world in the first place, it's further unlikely that any Esper would be willing to marry an Esper to a human.
    • Lord Haurchefant Greystone of Final Fantasy XIV, complete with the Game of Thrones-style bastard surname. Though he grew up ostracized and hated by his stepmother and half-brothers for being the bastard son of a noble house, he still becomes a respected and patriotic knight of Ishgard. There's also the Reasonable Authority Figure Aymeric who is revealed late in the Heavensward story to be the bastard son of Archbishop Thordan VII and Hilda, leader of the lower-class La Résistance, who's a Half-Human Hybrid born between a nobleman Elezen and a servant Hyuran woman.
  • Fire Emblem has a few examples as well:
    • Princess Guinevere in Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, the illegitimate daughter of King Desmond and his mistress, turns out to be more heroic than her legitimate half-brother, King Zephiel.
    • Ashnard's illegitimate son Soren in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn may not be particularly heroic, but his loyalty to Ike and his brilliant tactics make him crucial to the Big Bad Ashnard's defeat. And in the sequel, Radiant Dawn, Soren is also among the people that defeats Greater-Scope Villain Ashera, and prevents the destruction of all life at her hands.
    • Azelle in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, son of the former Duke of Velthomer and his wife Cigyun's favorite lady-in-waiting/maid... or, at least, he assists Sigurd in what seem to be heroics before everything goes to hell and they all die anyway.
    • Sigurd's wife Deirdre was the illegitimate daughter of said Duke of Velthomer's runaway wife and the Prince of Grannvale. Her mom fell victim to Death by Childbirth and her dad never knew about her before being messily murdered (unless it's the Oosawa manga, in which he was planning to personally search for his heir. The game itself implies it was her grandfather who did so).
    • The sort-of sequel to Genealogy, Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, reveals that Azelle's older brother Arvis also had his own Heroic Bastard, Saias, with his close aide the Black Magician Girl named Aida, whom you meet in the first part of Genealogy. Even moreso, out of Arvis's three children, Saias, who aids protagonist Leif in his goal of killing and overthrowing Travant, king of Thracia, is the one who inherited his dad's major Fala blood. And additionally, the Jerk with a Heart of Gold Fergus who joins Leif's army as well, is the bastard son of Beowulf, a character from Genealogy, and a noblewoman from Conote.
    • There's a subversion with Lissa in Fire Emblem: Awakening. She's definitely on the heroes' side, and she feared that she was illegitimate for a long time due to lacking the brand of the Exalt that her older siblings, Chrom and Emmeryn, have. She's proven to be legitimate by her son Owain having the mark, though.
    • In Fire Emblem Fates, three of the four Nohrian siblings are this. With the exception of Xander, the other 3 siblings (Camilla, Leo, and Elise) were the illegitimate children of Garon as a result of his many sexual affairs with his many mistresses. On the third path of the game, Revelation, all of the Nohrian siblings assist in bringing down Greater-Scope Villain Anankos, and stopping conflict between Hoshido and Nohr for good.
      • While it's not really touched on, it's quite safe to assume that the main character (son/daughter of Queen Mikoto and the Good Side of the aforementioned Anankos) fits in as well.
  • Game of Thrones (Telltale): It turns out in episode 6, that Lord Forrester had two secret children who he employed as protectors of the North Grove. However, they save Garred Tuttle's life and form a heroic army with him to save their biological father's house.
  • Prince Amiti of Ayuthay in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn was raised believing his late mother was a powerful Mercury Adept who restored the lost Magitek beneath the palace and conceived him by a miracle. Once the player characters show up, the truth comes out — Amiti's mother, a non-Adept, conceived him the natural way, with a foreign Adept who had started the machine and whose face no one else saw. It's implied the lie was to protect the royal family's reputation, but Amiti is still upset that he was the last to know. It's rather unsubtly indicated that Amiti's father is Alex.
  • Like his mythological inspiration, King Arthur in Guenevere was illegitimately conceived, and generally is honorable and well-intentioned.
  • Guilty Gear has Sin Kiske, though he's only a bastard by technicality. His parents consider themselves to be a married couple for all intents and purposes, but his mother's lack of legal identity as a Gear meant that they could never legally tie the knot.
  • Supplemental Halo material reveals that Lieutenant Commander Miranda Keyes is the product of an affair between the then Lieutenant Jacob Keyes and Dr. Catherine Halsey.
  • Hollow Knight: Hornet turns out to be this. A while ago, the Pale King made a deal with Herrah the Beast: If he agreed to let her bear his child, she would become a Dreamer and help seal away the Radiance. The White Lady, who was the Pale King's wife, holds no ill will towards Hornet for this and admits she feels some affection towards her.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: Played with; due to the matriarchal nature of the Nora tribe, it is Aloy's lack of a mother that shames her. Her father is also unknown, but no one, including Aloy, ever expresses any interest in that. Near the end of the game Lansra, the most hostile of the High Matriarchs, claims that her father is the Metal Devil, but this gets brushed aside without anyone bothering to comment on it. As she is actually a clone of Elisabet Sobeck created by the Artificial Intelligence GAIA, she has no father but two mothers (genetically, her father would be Elisabet's father, who is never mentioned and died a thousand years ago).
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky:
    • The Hedonist Oliver is the spoiled son of a wealthy Erebonian Empire noble's mistress. Said noble being The Emperor himself.
    • Kevin Graham was born of a single mother who was visited occasionally by his wealthy father, with the two being a Secret Other Family. After Kevin's father abandoned them, his mother eventually tried to strangle Kevin to death in a murder suicide before he slipped away, only to come back and find her corpse. After being taken into an orphanage by Rias and Rufina, he eventually joined them in the Gralsritter before the story begins.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker:
    • Kazuhira/McDonnel Benedict Miller, one of the main protagonists, was heavily implied to have been conceived due to his mom having to work as a prostitute in post-war Japan to survive.
    • Meryl Silverburgh, as she was conceived from an affair between her mother and her uncle Roy Campbell.
  • Persona:
    • Reiji Kido from Persona is this, contrasting with his legitimate half-brother Takahisa Kandori, the Big Bad of the game.
    • Two of the party members in Persona 5 are this, which the player learn later in the game: Futaba Sakura, the eventual Mission Control, and Goro Akechi, a detective who initially pursues the protagonist before joining the party. Their situations Foil one another greatly, however: Futaba's mother got pregnant virtually on a whim but took it upon herself to raise her, and she had loved her until her untimely death - Futaba's profound social anxiety, as it turns out, is the result of a power-hungry congressman falsifying her mother's testament. Goro, on the other hand, is the result of an affair between the aforementioned congressman and a mistress; said mistress was kicked to the curb when she got pregnant, and she would eventually commit suicide out of shame for conceiving Goro. Sadly, while Futaba would eventually be Happily Adopted by a family friend (the protagonist's guardian, Soujiro Sakura), Goro spent years being abused by the system, eventually molding him into a jaded, vain, deeply wounded Bastard Bastard.
  • In Ravenmark: Scourge Of Estellion, the entire Council of Shadows is made up of these, originally known as House Cordance, although that name has been lost to time. All members of the Council, also known as Crowseers, are bastard offspring of the royal House Corvius, charged from a very young age to be the eyes and ears (and, sometimes, knives) of The Emperor and protect their legitimate relations from threats to the Empire. The Crowseers are the only ones in the Empire who are allowed to use Blood Magic. Livia Cassianus is a prime example of a Heroic Bastard. During the campaign, she finds out that the late Emperor Sergius Corvius, her grandfather, has secretly planned for Livia to succeed him over his legitimate children. Yet she still fights on the front lines like any regular Earthbound (common soldier). Then again, the Empire was founded on the principles of meritocracy, where even the lowliest commoner has a right to earn Ravenhood (temporary two-generation nobility) after a lengthy service in the Imperial Mark or an even lengthier service as an administrator. Unfortunately, the events of the campaign serve as her Start of Darkness. By Ravenmark Mercenaries, she has become the dreaded Scarlet Empress known for her brutal suppression of any foe, eroding the very foundation of the Empire.
  • Jake Muller is the illegitimate son of Resident Evil series Big Bad Albert Wesker, and while he's an abrasive, initially financially-motivated Anti-Hero, he's a shining paragon compared to dear old dad.
  • Thomas from Suikoden III is one of the nicest characters in the game and also is a bastard.
  • Tekken:
    • Jin Kazama, who is the son of an affair Kazuya Mishima had with Jun Kazama. His heroism, however, turned to villainy as of Tekken 6... Jin's Face–Heel Turn is later revealed to be part of a desperate gambit to erase himself and the Devil Gene from the world. Which would probably qualify him as a Tragic Heroic Bastard.
    • Jin's half-uncle Lars Alexandersson is another one, being the illegitimate son of Heihachi Mishima. He rebels against Jin's tyrannical rule over the world in 6, though upon learning the true reason why he did so, the two become allies.
    • Zigzagged with Reina, Heihachi Mishima's illegitimate daughter, who assists Jin's crusade to defeat Kazuya in 8. However, it is later revealed that she secretly wants to awaken her own Devil Gene, something she succeeds by the end.
  • Timespinner protagonist, Lunais, was conceived when her mother had a short-term romance with a Lachiemi soldier. Said soldier is later revealed to have been the heir to Lachiem's throne, and as the Emperor he becomes an Archnemesis Dad after his attack on Lunais's clan (and the resulting death of her mother) sends Lunais on a quest for revenge.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon has Ichiban Kasuga, whose mother was a soapland employee who likely got pregnant on the job before disappearing shortly following his birth. The staff of the soapland took him in and raised him to adolescence until the passing of his loving foster father — whose surname he took for himself — drove him to delinquency. After being brought into the Arakawa yakuza family, he would eventually grow into a Friendly Neighborhood Gangster, whose experience being born and raised by the dregs of society gave him sympathy towards Kamurocho's working-class folk. This goes double for the fact that his patriarch, Masumi Arakawa, is his biological father, who conceived him out of wedlock. Kasuga would not know this until after Arakawa's death, however.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country:
    • Addam's status as a bastard son of the king is fairly well-known throughout Torna. In spite of this he is beloved by the general populace, many openly supporting the idea of him becoming king despite being only 4th in line to the throne, and the king treats him the same as his legitimate children, although his existence apparently drove a wedge between the king and his wife. Malos clocks him as this due to his eyes: the vast majority of Tornans have blue eyes but Addam has golden eyes.
    • Implied to be the case with Lora. No mention of her father is ever given and her mother seemed to do live-in work. Like Addam, she lacks the typical Tornan blue eyes. Additionally, Gort, one of the few characters privy to her backstory, calls her a bastard in a tone and context that makes it seem like more than a generic insult.

    Visual Novels 
  • One of the love interests in Shall We Date?: Ninja Shadow is the illegitimate son of a rich man and his mistress. It's Yuzuki Hirano, the local Princely Young Man; his He-Man Woman Hater tendencies come from his resentment at his prostitute mother for leaving him. For worse, while his father and half-brothers love him deeply, Yuzuki is loathed by the rest of the Hirano clan and the rich people of Nagasaki for his "filthy" origins.
  • Sola vi Ryuvia of Sunrider was the product of an affair between a Ryuvian prince and a humble peasant girl. When the Holy Ryuvian Emperor and his eldest son were assassinated and a civil war broke out over the succession, Sola was pressed into service as the Sharr of Ryuvia—a warrior princess expected to fight and die in the Empire's defense—because her father's legitimate daughter refused to risk her own life. Though she knew she was just a pawn in her father's struggle for the throne, Sola enjoyed being the Sharr because protecting others and receiving their gratitude made her the happiest she’d ever been.
  • Umineko: When They Cry:
    • Battler was born out of wedlock from the affair between Rudolf and Kyrie, but does not know this thanks to the fact that his father pulled a baby switch after his legal wife Asumu miscarried, and swapped the baby with his mistress'. However, his parents did get married, just several years later. He still doesn't know Kyrie is his biological mother and neither does she until Rudolf admits having switched the babies in EP8.
    • Lion Ushiromiya is really a Child by Rape who resulted from Kinzo forcing himself onto his illegitimate daughter Beatrice Ushiromiya under the delusion that she was a reincarnation of her mother Beatrice Castiglioni. In almost every world, Lion is thrown off a cliff by Natsuhi and grows up to become Sayo Yasuda, the instigator of the Rokkenjima Massacre, but in the only world where Krauss and Natsuhi adopt and raise Lion as their own child, Lion grows up into a virtuous and upright individual.

  • Beatrice: The titular Beatrice is the illegitimate daughter of the King of Elpasa, and was raised as a slave for the first 23 years of her life until the King needed her to take part in a political marriage.
  • In Crimson Knights, Itham was born out of wedlock to a gnome father, which along with the fact that her mother was a fairy made him an outcast among his family and the gnomes.
  • Abel Rewanz from Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures was the product of a very long-term Bed Trick (twenty-five years), and one very bad day finding out about it. He's a snarky Jerk with a Heart of Gold and one of Dan's True Companions.
  • Dragon Sanctuary has Nima Neigentall, who is the bastard daughter of the elven King Neyano and an unnamed human baroness from Caara. Though she's shamed for this parentage, she's very kind and friendly and quickly bonds with protagonist Dean over how their mixed heritage causes them problems.
  • Namah from Dreamkeepers is the result of a secret affair that her father had. He locked her away and shunned her growing up to cover it up, but instead of becoming bitter, she grew into one of the most heroic characters in the comic.
  • Though the jury is still out, Junuka of Far to the North looks like he might be one. He's much more skilled and professional than the brutish slavers he works with and sprouts a Luminescent Blush when Kelu grabs him to point out how he's almost as tall as she is.
  • Gilgamesh Wulfenbach from Girl Genius, while canonically not a bastard (though his father Klaus complains "I haven't seen my wife in years") was raised as if he was, hidden among his father's students-cum-hostages with no knowledge of his true parentage. His mother's identity has yet to be revealed, though hints throughout the comic imply that she might be the queen of a Hidden Kingdom.
  • Oscar from Sister Claire is strongly implied to be the child of a prostitute, and though her biological mother is dead she was raised by "Maman" who runs a brothel that shelters the city's downtrodden. What's more, her father is the King of Thronum Mare.
  • Sonichu: "Heroic" may a bit of a stretch, but Sandy Rosechu was hatched and rapidly aged in issue #10 with no mention of her parents Wild and Simonla ever marrying.

    Web Originals 
  • Foul-mouthed and snarky though they may be, half-elven twins Vax'ildan and Vex'ahlia from Critical Role definitely fit the bill, having been born from an encounter between a human peasant and an elven noble. And while sometimes brutal (and definitely greedy, in the case of Vex'ahlia), they are genuinely good people who will go out of their way to protect their friends and help others in need.
  • This might be the case with the Porcelain Doctor in Dead West. We don't know for sure. This is definitely the case with Cherryworth, the Queen's Hound; he is the bastard of the duke of Kensington, and one of the most trusted operatives of the Queen.
  • Whateley Universe:

    Western Animation 
  • Implied in The Legend of Korra for Toph's two daughters, Lin and Suyin. The two have different fathers about whom we know very little, but neither seems to have been involved in the girls' lives, and Toph specifically says that things "didn't work out" between her and Lin's dad, Kanto.
  • Maya and the Three: The main lead Princess Maya is revealed in the first episode to be the result of King Tece having had an affair with a goddess, Lady Micte, who's also the wife of the Big Bad Mictlan. She herself was unaware her father's wife wasn't her biological mother for most of her life, and she ends up becoming a hero fighting against Mictlan and his fellow the evil gods.
  • Zoé Lee from Miraculous Ladybug is Audrey Bourgeois' illegitimate daughter from a previous relationship, and a kind-hearted, heroic person who ends up wielding the Bee Miraculous, becoming the superhero Vesperia. Her (legitimate) half-sister Chloé behaves far worse than she does.
  • Hailey's On It! has an accidental example with Hailey and her brothers; in "2001: A Spouse Odyssey", it turns out that while Patricia and Kai had a wedding, they never actually sent in the paperwork due to not having decided which one of them would do it and eventually forgetting about it, meaning they weren't legally married. Hailey takes it as an opportunity to give them a better wedding day (one of her list items), while saying she'll have to process this information another time.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: It's all but stated the title character was born out of wedlock. Flashbacks to shortly before he was born show his mother Carol romantically involved with her teammate Laserblast, who is eventually confirmed to be K.O.'s father; Laserblast disappeared before he and Carol could have possibly married.
  • In The Simpsons, Bart finds out that Homer has a brother (voiced by Danny DeVito) who was born out of wedlock from Grandpa's tryst with a prostitute, and says, "So any idea where this bastard lives?" Marge realizes that because it is literally true, they can't punish Bart for his use of this profanity. Homer, understandably, is still annoyed by it, however. (And when Homer sees Herb's house, he says "Holy cow, the bastard's rich!" Homer's brother Herb even asks him if all of their kids were born in wedlock. Homer notes that Bart was a close call.
  • Steven Universe:
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: Keith was presumably one of these, considering that his parents were a human guy and an alien without Undead Tax Exemption. It's made clear that Krolia wanted to spend her life on Earth with Keith's father, but they still had no way of getting married.
  • Caleb from W.I.T.C.H. when it's revealed that Nerissa is his mother. Since Nerissa used a different identity to trick his father Julian so she would conceive a child, Caleb is also a Child by Rape, though it's never outright said.