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Hilariously Abusive Childhood

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"It all began on the day of my actual birth. Both of my parents failed to show up. By the age of 5, I had to throw myself my own surprise party."
Dr. Doofenshmirtz, Phineas and Ferb

When Abusive Parents are Played for Laughs.

In the real world, child abuse is a traumatic event that can warp a child's psyche, causing them extensive physical and psychological problems as they develop into adults. Sometimes, abused children will go on to abuse children themselves. It's a horror that takes years of intensive therapy and anger management to recover from, and, worst case scenario, it can stay with you for life. Another possible unfortunate outcome is the abused child putting an end to their own life. Therefore, No Real Life Examples, Please!

In the media, on the other hand, a fair amount of Black Comedy can come from a character's horrible childhood. Notably, such comedy seldom includes sexual abuse (unless you're a writer for South Park or It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), which tends to take things into Dude, Not Funny! territory if it's molestation or rape. It's usually Parental Neglect, physical abuse (though, due to changing values, that's falling a bit out of favor), exaggerated takes on Parental Favoritism and Sibling Rivalry, witnessing events and things that are Harmful to Minors, or abuse so over the top that it's exaggerated to the point of comedy.


This can be played for laughs and seriousness alternately, especially if the characters are comically screwed up already and their parents are shown to be equally or (often) more messed up.

In the case of anime and manga, there's VERY heavy Values Dissonance in this regard. A smack to the head does not get the same reaction in Japanese culture as it would in America.

Contrast Double Standard: Violence, Child on Adult, where children abusing adults is Played for Laughs.

Related to Dysfunction Junction, Badly Battered Babysitter, Babysitter from Hell and Poverty for Comedy. A Boarding School of Horrors can also cause this, although it’s more often Played for Drama.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei:
    • Kafuka Fuura. Though she doesn't seem like she notices it. To list some of the things that has happened to her: Her mother was possessed by the devil, and in order to cure her, she was forced to repeatedly strike her with a cross, her father became redundant, and repeatedly tried to kill himself, even if he was described as a caring and loving father, the teacher who she's in love with is also trying to kill himself all the time. And to top it off, She died at a young age, and is really just a mirage or some kind of body hopper, that the main characters are seeing. And yet she's the class's genki, optimist, lovable idiot, and local alien enthusiast.
    • Nozomu as well, albeit in a different way. The audience doesn't see his upbringing, but given (as part of family tradition), his family tries to force him to marry the first person he locks eyes with during a ceremony, it's unlikely to have been that normal. Whatever it involved, Nozomu turned out to be a hilariously neurotic guy. And then there's Nozumu's nephew Majiru, whose Parental Abandonment is somewhat Played for Laughs, as is Nozomu's Hands-Off Parenting of him after taking him in.
  • One Piece:
    • Monkey D. Luffy's childhood is clearly this, to the point that it dips into Refuge in Audacity.
      Luffy: Yeah! So don't attack him!!! He'll kill you...!!! Grandpa's nearly killed me, often enough!
      Garp: Hey! Have a little consideration. So what if I dropped you off a few cliffs, tossed you into the midnight jungle, and tied you to a balloon and set you to fly away...!! It was to make you a stronger man!!!
    • If Luffy's childhood was anything to go by, his older brother Portgas D. Ace likely had a similar (if not worse) childhood — which was confirmed during the flashback to Luffy and Ace's past together after Marineford. Note that Ace is every bit as scared of Garp as Luffy is; he only went against him when defending his younger brother.
    • Ditto for Sabo. He spent only a fraction of the amount of time Luffy and Ace did with Garp, but by the end of his first meeting with the old man, he was every bit as terrified of him as they were.
    • "Black Leg" Vinsmoke Sanji also had one under "Red Leg" Zeff. However, while Zeff ultimately cared about Sanji's wellbeing, his childhood under his birth family was a horrible aversion, as his brothers and his father only saw him as a weak waste of space.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler is a prime example of this. Even the fact that his parents sold him to the "very nice people" for organ harvesting is played for laughs. In-Universe, when he talks about his childhood, most of the listeners burst into tears.
  • Bakuon!!: Rin's father, who did wheelies and got involved often in accidents with his daughter, although she was always fine physically, and her father was in the hospital many times on intensive care, so poor Rin had to stay alone in the house many times as a kid. She even got a Suzuki mark from an accident on her left ass cheek.
  • Chaos Attack: After Doah Lee lost his parents at the age of ten, his overprotective, violent older sisters decided to take care of him, and he'd often wind up caught in the crossfire of his sisters' assaults on his bullies. To the point that he warns a pair of bullies taking his money and says to get away as soon as possible before she comes and beats the ever-loving daylights out of them. He was too late.
  • Ranma ½:
    • Most of Ranma Saotome's life spent training with his dad, most infamously when his dad "taught" him the Cat Fist technique by wrapping him in sausage and throwing him in a pit of hungry cats.
    • Kuno didn't have the world's greatest father either. Getting his head forcibly shaved was just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Penny's abusive father in the Gag Dub of Crayon Shin-chan. Her mom even hatched a plan to escape and become a BDSM prostitute. "At least they pay for ouchie-sex."
  • A scene cut from The '90s English dub of Sailor Moon had Usagi have an Imagine Spot where her mother strangled her for having bad grades. It retained when she locked her out of her house when she saw her bad test score, though it des change to her mother forcing her to study at the library.
  • Allen Walker's childhood from D.Gray-Man. His abuse and psychological trauma at the hands of his master General Cross is played entirely for laughs. Whenever he hears the word "debt," it's shown as a thousand-pound rock is crushing his chest, and he gets very depressed. This was caused by Cross being an alcoholic gambler that left young Allen with all his debt... along with hitting Allen, all done in a funny (or sometimes Dude, Not Funny!) light, of course. The other parts of his horribly traumatizing childhood are played straight.
  • Played with: Ed and Al's training with Izumi in Fullmetal Alchemist is shown like this, to the point that hearing her name is enough to turn them into pathetic wrecks. But then they asked her to train them. They even insisted, because they were desperate for power, and Izumi actually went easy on them and what they were put through was child's play compared to the training Izumi went through herself. Of course, her idea of going easy on them during their training was to strand them on a deserted island for a month, then get her store assistant to dress up as a monster, steal their food, and beat the crap out of them every day until they toughened up. At least he was around to make sure they didn't die, which was more than she got (she was supposed to train under a skilled alchemist, but instead under his martial arts twin brother. During the harsh lessons, she did form her alchemy philosophy from it.)
  • In Sgt. Frog, Dororo was not only quite sickly as a lad, but suffered all sorts of cartoony pain and abuse during the games he would play with Keroro and Giroro.
  • Kenshin's actual childhood in Rurouni Kenshin isn't funny at all, and is rather tragic. But the days he spent with Seijuro Hiko consisted of him learning sword techniques, which were always learned by Kenshin being hit with the move first and depicted in chibi form.
  • Kinjiro's childhood in Mayo Chiki! was being The Chew Toy for his wrestling mother and sister.
  • Sorcerer Hunters. Marron's Dad is shown being creepily affectionate to him because he looks just like his absent mother. The disturbing implications of this, and Marron's obvious discomfort are played for laughs.
  • Being a Deconstructive Parody of Fighting Series, Ramen Fighter Miki plays with this trope using Nishiyama Kankuro, who at age 24 has come back from a local university to his hometown to stand up for himself against Miki, his former bully (he was 14 and she was ten when she bullied him): Here he explains what happened while we see a Photo Montage of those scenes:
    She tied me up and forced me to eat crayfish, She threw a beehive into my back. She rolled me up in a carpet and tossed me into a river.
  • Cyber Team in Akihabara Tsugumi has some way off parents, her dad is martial arts teacher and her mother is a pro wrestler who routinely tackle each other and their daughter! But they do at least love and care about her.
  • Bleach: Ichigo has grown up being constantly attacked by his father, usually by being ambushed, especially when entering or leaving a house or being woken up in the morning by an ambush attack. It's always Played for Laughs and tends to degenerate into a silly cat fighting between the two. On one occasion, however, it's played for drama. Isshin is shocked when his ambush succeeds, flooring Ichigo who doesn't fight back. It's designed to emphasise how depressed and unhappy Ichigo is at the time. Isshin seems to have a more serious reason for having raised Ichigo this way, as implied when he and Ryuuken discuss what terrible fathers they both are.
  • WORKING!! have two exemples:
    • Inami's Overprotective Dad did'nt want any boy to ever come anywhere near his daughter, so he arranged since her younger age to make her scared of men via Behavioral Conditioning, and secretly put weights in her school bag to make her develop physical strengh. The result is that as a teenager, she is strong enough to put cracks in a stone wall, and can't help but punch any guy who come too close to her. Needless to say, Takanashi, who very often end up in the receiving end of thoses punchs, was not pleased to learn about this and gave Inami's Dad a "Reason You Suck" Speech.
    • Season 3 introduce Shizuka Takanashi, who traumatized her childrens so much they wear mourning clothes when they learn she is coming home to see them.
      • She constantly criticized, mocked and looked down on her elder daughter Kazue's choices and deemed everything she did not good enough. for exemple, she criticise her for getting married with Minegishi, for divorcing him, and she mock her again when she get back together with him.
      • She force her Ill Girl second daughter Izumi (who is weak enough to get exhausted from a kitten standing in her head) to push herself physically.
      • Her third daughter Kozue probably have it the worst, as her mother don't even remember her name and most of the time forget to include her when talking about her childrens no mather how hard Kozue try to attract her attention. It is shown to be the reason why Kozue Desperately Craves Affection.

    Comic Books 
  • Nextwave's Elsa Bloodstone was trained from birth to hunt monsters. "Trained" here equals "thrown into a monster's pit as an infant armed with her feeding spoon." Then told to do it again when she emerged victorious. And then there's the flash-card training robot that uses its built-in iron maiden when she gets an answer wrong. You have to laugh.
  • The Prehistory of The Far Side
    • The book features a hysterical extended sequence where the author, Gary Larson, "explains" the bizarre and often extremely dark nature of his humor with a series of supposed drawings from his childhood, where it's revealed, among other things, that his mother tried to murder him by hiding his cookies in the middle of the highway, his father liked to amuse other children by holding him over an alligator pit, his brother once tied him to a tree and set it on fire, and that he was forced to ride in the trunk of the car. A substantial part of the humor comes from the fact that while the reader realizes how grotesque this is, the author himself does not, and reminisces fondly of his family life as a kid.
    • And more mildly (and truthful) is Gary's dedication to his brother, where he explains that it was due to his brother that he learned to appreciate "the wonder and beauty of a jellyfish. And it was he who taught me the wonder and beauty of smacking your sibling upside the head with said jellyfish". Followed by a strip of what he imagines The Far Side would be like without his brother's influence.
      Cat: I'm sure glad we're friends!
      Dog: You can meow that again, Fluffy!
      Both: Ha ha ha ha!
      Larson: Saved by a jellyfish to the head.
  • In many Donald Duck comics (OK, Depending on the Writer), his nephews have this. Donald beats them with the carpet beater, forces them to do all the housework, robs their piggy banks, etc. The physical discipline is mostly present in comics from the time it was considered normal in Real Life. Huey, Dewey and Louie were also far bigger brats at the time, often fully deserving Donald's ire. Characterization Marches On.
  • From Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Squee. When it has Johnny himself being the closest thing to a big brother the kid has and Squee saying "I am full of guilt" when his parents are abducted by aliens, you know it is this trope.
  • Batgirl: Though Cassandra Cain's background is legitimately horrible, she has learned to joke about its more fanciful moments.
    Stephanie Brown: When my dad was mad at me, he'd lock me in the closet — what did yours do?
    Cassandra Cain: Shot me.
    Stephanie Brown: Oh, man. I can't beat you at anything.
  • In Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Kara Zor-El's parents are peculiar even if you disregard Kara's fib wherein Zor-El and Alura tied her to a rocket and banished her to Earth because she asked her mother to pass the salt (her "last display of insolence!").
    Kara: Fine! I guess I don't need a life. Right? I guess locking me away in a dungeon is next?
    Alura: I don't know. We really don't have room for a dungeon, sweetie.
  • The eighth issue of the Madballs comic book by Star Comics (a now defunct subsidiary of Marvel Comics) had Dr. Frankenbeans' assistant Snivelitch warmly reminisce on how his father used to give him the pet name of "Get lost".
  • Classic British comics like The Beano and The Dandy began in the very early part of the 20th Century, and, in the case of The Beano, is still here today in 2020. Much of the humour in the serial strips arose from the inevitable parental retribution meted out to misbehaving child characters, often involving the flat of the hand applied with percussive force to sensitive parts of the body. Belts, straps, slippers and canes also figured as corrective devices. This persisted in the pages of these comics even after corporal punishment fell out of favour in the latter part of the 20th century - the anachronistic nature of a punishment that fewer and fewer children had seen or experienced added to the laughs. The death knell for this approach to comic humour came about when in The '90s, Scotland made it illegal to slap or cane a child, redefining corporal punishment and physical chastisement as child abuse. As these comics were published out of Dundee, the Hilariously Abusive Childhood was retired as a source of humour.

    Fan Works 
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fandom seems to love inflicting this on Scootaloo. She is not-infrequently portrayed in fanon as an orphan (often a homeless orphan) who no one notices. Casual abuse of Scootaloo, particularly by Rainbow Dash (though occasionally by the other Cutie Mark Crusaders, or random townsfolk) is common enough that the term "Scootabuse" has been coined to describe it.
  • Christian Potter Chandler depicts the Chandler family as basically a 24/7 three-way melee:
    • Bob tries to get Chris (and Barb) kidnapped or taken away by CPS (some methods being honest but also trying crazy plans like calling male strippers and blaming it on Barb), calls Chris a dumbass on an hourly basis, swears at Barb in front of Chris, threatens to lock Chris in a cupboard for ten months, swears at Chris because Barb claimed he was talking to a snake and gets drunk and challenges Chris to a fight.
    • Barb routinely beats up Chris, usually to get Bob to buy her things (e.g. kicking Chris in the balls to get Bob to take her to the thrift store when she can't convince Bob that he's heartbroken that Bob won't take them and getting it past CPS by passing off Tic Tacs as Bob's dementia pills, throwing Chris through a plate of glass and getting free wine, trying to get Chris's penis bitten by a crocodile so they can sue the zoo) and screams at Chris for talking when it doesn't get her anything.
  • In the Harry Potter parody fic Harry Potter and the Something Something, Lily and James aren't actually dead, but rather straight-up abandoned Harry in favor of his twin brother Daniel. The Dursleys are even worse. Vernon's abuse extends to constant starvation, at least four beatings a day, killing Harry's owl and forcing him to cook her for dinner, and pouring toxic waste on him. At one point, Vernon approaches Harry for inspiration, having run out of ideas for ways to further torture him. Harry says that he doesn't know how his life could be anymore miserable, then Vernon gets stroke of inspiration and suggests that he could violate Harry sexually, to which Harry admits that that would do the trick.
  • The Unfantastic Adventures of Bizarro No. 1: In order to prove his son that he didn't mean to hit his wife (he actually didn't. Long story), Bizarro bops Junior on his head, effectively reassuring him. Needless to say, Bizarros are weird.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Book of Life: Gets one mention and is entirely played for laughs, but Luis apparently put his son Carlos in a ring with a bull when he was nine years old. This ended predictably.
  • Storks: Offscreen but heavily implied. Tulip is raised as a baby by a company of storks, who view her as an accident, and want to fire her the moment she turns 18. She's obviously not considered one of the storks, given that they call her "Orphan Tulip" and her friends are all non-stork employees. It's mostly played for Black Comedy.
    Tulip: Tulip is just fine, Orphan hurts my heart!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Deconstructed in Natural Born Killers with the flashbacks to Mallory's childhood. They consist of scenes of Mallory's father being deeply abusive, both physically and sexually, to his wife and daughter... on a sitcom set, complete with a highly uncomfortable Laugh Track that pushes it into the Black Comedy/Dude, Not Funny! zone. It really doesn't help that the father was played by Rodney Dangerfield. The dissonance between character and actor is staggering.
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. One of Dr. Evil's best moments is during a group therapy session, casually dismissing his deranged childhood as "typical."
    Dr. Evil: The details of my life are quite inconsequential. Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with a low-grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen-year-old French prostitute named Chloë with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds—pretty standard really. At the age of twelve I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen a Zoroastrian named Wilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum. It's breathtaking—I suggest you try it.
  • BananasWoody Allen recalls his parents to his psychiatrist:
    "I think they hit me once, actually, in my whole childhood. They, they, uh, started beating me on the 23rd of December in 1942, and stopped beating me in the late Spring of '44."
    • Allen used similar jokes in his stand-up acts: "When I was kidnapped, my parents snapped into action. They rented out my room."
    • And similarly in his film Zelig:
      "My brother beat me. My sister beat my brother. My father beat my sister and my brother and me. My mother beat my father and my sister and me and my brother. The neighbors beat our family. The people down the block beat the neighbors and our family."
  • John Cusack's character in Better Off Dead had a somewhat off home-life coupled with bizarre neighbors and general lucklessness, spurring him into several bungled suicide attempts played for laughs.
  • Cusack's film Grosse Pointe Blank seems to reference the earlier film in the backstory of protagonist Martin Blank, which appears to have been similarly hilariously abusive. By the time of the movie, Martin's mother has gone completely over the bend and is in an asylum and doesn't recognize him, and his father is implied to have been an abusive drunk (Martin does a Libation for the Dead at his grave and ultimately dumps the entire bottle out and leaves it there). In Martin's case, this unhinged him enough to become a professional assassin.
  • Hinted at with Charlie in Mystery Team. Two throwaway gags imply that his dad is abusive/pedophilic, and an alcoholic.
  • In Blades of Glory, Jimmy McElroy's "pretty normal childhood" consisted of constant training and various injections to make him a superb skater.
  • In Deadpool, Wade/Deadpool and his love interest Vanessa compare Hilariously Abusive Childhoods when they meet. The whole thing is played for comedy and Crosses the Line Twice, as can be expected.
  • Gremlins 2: The New Batch: In the first film, Phoebe Cates's character, who hates Christmas, tells the sad story of her dad dying on Christmas Day, having broken his neck whilst climbing down the chimney to surprise for her and her mom. In the sequel, she starts going on about some other awful thing that happened to her on Lincoln's Birthday, involving a guy dressed as Lincoln (the fact that a Gremlin wannabe flasher was her Berserk Button in the first movie may shed some light on that), at which point her husband says something like 'Not now, honey.'
  • Combined with Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick in MirrorMask.
    Valentine: I'll never forget what my mother told me. 'It's a dog-eat-dog world, son. Get them before they get you. Eat your greens. Stop doing that. Don't embarrass me in front of the neighbors. I THINK IT WOULD BE BETTER IF YOU LEFT HOME AND I NEVER HEARD FROM YOU AGAIN!'... She wasn't even my real mother. She bought me from a man...
  • Scrooged: The Ghost of Christmas Past reveals that TV executive Frank Cross had some very disappointing childhood Christmases. Apparently, the greatest gift he ever got was five pounds of veal from his father, who is implied to be a butcher. When little Frankie points out that all he wanted was a choo-choo, his old man rudely tells him to get a job. Frankie was four!

  • Borgel: Borgel's relationship with his father involves a humorous level of abuse and neglect. In The Old Country, people are too poor for things like food or affection, and have to scrape by on squashed skunks and blows to the head.
  • Banjo and Medium Dave from Hogfather. They fondly remember their mother as "tough but fair." By the end, the comedy is cut away and the real effect of Mama Lilywhite on Dave in particular is shown... and it's not funny any more.
    • Members of the Fools' Guild have this collectively; the Guild school is a Boarding School of Horrors, and most of the Fools' fathers were Fools, so they know that and still decide to send their sons there. When you spent your childhood wishing you could be next door learning to be an Assassin (even if there were slightly fewer of them at the end of the year), it's hilariously abusive in a uniquely Discworld fashion.
  • Used in spoof self-help book Oh the Humanity. The narrator's father started carving height notches at six feet to convince the kid he was shrinking, and coming second in a spelling bee led to several years of his mother working the word "psittacosis" into every sentence. Then came school, where his main encounter with "empathy" was when a bully smashed his science fair project and said "That must suck for you, dorkhole."
  • Great Expectations. Pip is treated horribly by the sister who "brought him up by hand" and her series of friends, all of whom treat him as a burden and give him a terrible time, especially on Christmas. The narration treats the whole scenario very comically, probably because Pip's the one narrating the story and hindsight has given him a sense of humor.
  • Sunny McCreary from My Godawful Life, a parody of Misery Lit. He was kept in a pigeon coop, bullied by the pigeons, had to spend his days moving his paraplegic mother's limbs for the benefit of her "clients" (she was a prostitute), all the family's money was spent on nails for his stepfather to hammer into Sunny's flesh, and he was then pimped out to truckers when it cost too much for his mother and stepfather to keep him.
  • Matilda. Her parents aren't physically abusive, but neglect her in favor of her brother and insult her. The school headmistress, however, is a Child Hater whose punishments take Refuge in Audacity. She once flung a girl across the schoolyard by her hair simply because that hair was in pigtails. Subverted in the movie, which treats her parents' and Miss Trunchbull's abuse as much more disturbing than how it's portrayed in the book.
  • The Time of the Ghost, which is based on the author's real childhood growing up with parents more focused on teaching than on parenting. Diana Wynne Jones actually toned down some of the more absurd moments, and people still didn't believe parents would be like that.
  • Gideon the Ninth: Gideon did not have a good time growing up in the Ninth House as a universally reviled indentured servant. She's mostly blase about it, treating instances like having the heat turned off in her cell until she's so cold she's left screaming in a hallway as comically mundane, but it gets Played for Drama later, especially when it comes to her twisted and entangled history with Harrow.

    Live Action TV 
  • Victorious: Cat's family life is frequently implied to be rather messed up. Examples include being left beside the road at night, her mother once holding her breath for several hours when she was pregnant with Cat and Cat covering her ears and saying, "I'm under my bed!" when Beck and Jade were arguing in front of her. This is all Played for Laughs of course.
  • Max Black from 2 Broke Girls often randomly brings up stories from her childhood being "raised" by her drug-addicted, alcoholic mother.
    Caroline Channing: I got this; I am a brilliant event planner. My sweet 16 was off the chain. Penthouse parties, finger black theme, Alanis Morissette singed songs from "Jagged Little Pill".
    Max Black: On my 16th birthday, my Mom took too many jagged little pills, and I had to drive her to the emergency room to get her stomach pumped.
    Caroline Channing: Was your childhood based on the novel Push by Sapphire?
    Max Black: I wish.
  • Game of Thrones: Joffrey saying something stupid and getting bitch slapped by Tyrion is a Running Gag for the first two seasons. The humor comes from the fact that he deserves it, and that he towers over the one slapping him (who is a dwarf). It drops off as he matures and his insanity grows more dangerous.
  • In Raising Hope, the main character fondly remembers being tied to a couch and left to stare at a picture of a deer while his parents went to work. He used to pretend the deer's parents had left it alone for hours to stare at a picture of a little boy.
  • Tracy Jordan from 30 Rock could be the page quote:
    "It's all coming back to me. Oh my God! I slept on an old dog bed stuffed with wigs! I watched a prostitute stab a clown! Our basketball hoop was a rib cage – a rib cage! Why did you bring me here? I blocked all this stuff out for a reason! Oh, Lord, some guy with dreads electrocuted my fish! [Later] All my life I've tried to forget the things I've seen — a crackhead breastfeeding a rat, a homeless man licking a Hot Pocket off the third rail of the G train! [Still later] I've seen a blind guy bite a police horse! A puppy committed suicide after he saw our bathroom! I once bit into a burrito and there was a child's shoe in it! I've seen a hooker eat a tire! A pack of wild dogs took over and successfully ran a Wendy's! The sewer people stole my skateboard! The projects I lived in were named after Zachary Taylor, generally considered to be one of the worst presidents of all time! I once saw a baby give another baby a tattoo! They were very drunk!"
  • Coupling:
    • Jeff frequently alludes to his upbringing, which was obviously pretty bizarre and had a big influence on his personality.
      You're shaking the caravan, Jeffrey!
    • His mother also apparently started making enormous sculptures of erections and filling the house with them. She would keep the ones that went wrong in a box under Jeff's bed. She also apparently told him that if he told lies, he would be punished by some magical being sneaking into his room at night and removing a 'segment' of his penis.
  • Monk has a fair number of references to his childhood, which was also highly dysfunctional. Although it's played a bit more seriously than usual for this trope, there is an explanation for his off-putting behavior. His mother is controlling which is a factor to his OCD, and his father left him because he took advice from a fortune cookie.
  • Most of the characters from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
    • Dennis and Dee's mother Barbara tricked Frank into raising her children from Bruce as his. Frank would routinely humiliate them as children even giving them Christmas present boxes with nothing inside. He canceled their insurance when they were 9. Barbara slept around behind Frank's back and routinely lavished attention on Dennis while going out of her way to humiliate and criticize Dee. Dee's childhood was all the more traumatic due to her back brace and the nickname the Aluminum Monster.
    • Charlie's mother Bonnie tried to abort him but he survived. His mother was also implied to be a prostitute. Bonnie had extreme OCD which resulted in her fear that Charlie would die if she didn't do everything in threes (like turning on a light three times).
    • It's also been implied that Charlie may have been molested by his uncle, which makes Charlie's musical Nightman more understandable - and more disturbing.
    • Mac's mother is extremely apathetic and just sits in front of her television all day drinking and smoking. His father was sent to jail for drugs.
    • Bill Ponderosa is a Hilariously Abusive Parent, who flat-out tells his young son that he doesn't love him; and when his daughter is bullied at school and called a slut, he reassures her that she's not a slut... she's far too fat for it. Both children are less than twelve and are well within healthy weight. When Bill becomes suicidal, the entire family isn't particularly sad to see him go and even encourage it.
  • Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf, his father vented his frustration at being rejected by the space corp for being an inch too short on him and his brothers by, among other things, using a medieval torture device to make them taller, and withholding food if they couldn't answer questions about astronomy.
    Rimmer:' Every morning he'd measure us to see if we had grown, if not it was back on the rack.
    • His mother, meantime, was just incredibly cold. Or, as Rimmer tried to defend her, "She just despised idiots, no time for fools. Tragic, really, otherwise we would have got on famously." When his father died, she wrote to her son as follows:
      I hope this epistle finds you adequately healthy to discharge your duties.
  • Titus:
    • Christopher Titus's father actually thinks emotionally damaging kids is better for them than physical violence (which Erin's dad, Merritt, does to her brother, Michael, which Ken thinks makes him a "drunken Irish loser.")
    • Christopher Titus really did have a messed-up childhood in Real Life, and mentions it often in his stand-up comedy routines and on the sitcom. Both of his parents were alcoholics (though his dad, Ken, was a Functional Addict); his mom, Juanita, was a violent, manic-depressive schizophrenic who murdered her second husband after he beat the shit out of her for not having dinner done and she eventually killed herself after realizing that her mental illness had ruined her life; his dad married and divorced five times (with his ex-wives cleaning him out to the point that the only things they had in their house were a rubber raft, a box, and a black-and-white TV); and Titus's extended family includes members who are either mentally ill, verbally abusive, addicted to drugs, or a Mormon uncle.
  • Friends:
    • Chandler Bing, whose neglectful parents told him they were getting divorced over Thanksgiving dinner when he was a child, leaving him with a lifelong hatred for the holiday.. When Monica finds out that he's Unable to Cry, she tries to make him cry by showing him an album of pictures of his childhood.
      Chandler: Oh, that's Parent's Day, first grade. That's me with the janitor Martin.
      Monica: Where were your parents?
      Chandler: Oh, they didn't want to come.
    • Phoebe Buffay often comes out with tales of a horrendous early life. First her father left her as a baby. Then her stepfather went to jail. Then her mother killed herself when she was thirteen. Then she spent her teenage years living on the streets. The humour comes from her blase or sunny demeanor when recounting them.
    • Not to mention Monica; her parents used the term "pulled a Monica" to mean "screwed up". Monica once points out that they promised her and her psychiatrist that they would stop.
  • In Seinfeld, George's parents are overbearing as it is, so naturally his childhood was less than salutary.
    George: As damaging as purely psychological and verbal abuse could be...
    Elaine: Ah, and another piece of the puzzle falls into place.
    • Some of George's worst childhood moments revolve around "Festivus", a holiday his dad Frank made up. Frank wants to revive it and plays a tape of a Festivus from George's childhood:
      Frank: (on tape) Read that passage.
      Young George: I can't, I need my glasses!
      Frank: You don't need glasses — you're just weak! You're weak!
      Estelle: Leave him alone!
      Frank: ...Okay. It's now time for the Festivus feats of strength!
      George: (in the present) NO! Not the feats of strength! I hate Festivus! (runs out screaming)
    • Jerry, George, and Elaine play an old home video of George on vacation to bore a woman to sleep, only for this to happen:
      Frank: (on tape) You step on it, and it flushes!
      Elaine: Why is your father giving a tour of a rest stop?
      George: ...Oh God, don't look. This is the part where they change me.
      Jerry: Change you? You were, like, eight years old!
      George: I was seven and a half!
  • Roseanne: Roseanne and Jackie often make quips about how zany their mom Bev was. In the later seasons it becomes apparent that she is a drunk.
  • Scrubs:
    • Dr. Cox falls in and out of this. Sometimes his abusive childhood is treated jokingly, and then in other episodes they'll focus on how messed up he is as a result.
      "I don't necessarily buy into all that New Age-y crap. I once saw my mom knock my dad unconscious with a frying pan. You know what I did? Kept right on going with my birthday party!"
    • So does the Janitor. Once hinted at when he brings a cage to a baby shower (for the baby). When he gets weird looks he then plays it off like he was just joking and really brought it just in case the child gets a puppy later on. He also claims his mother made him eat off of the floor, hinting that was the reason he became a janitor. Another time, there was a flashback showing that his mother threw away his favorite doll, then claimed it was an accident because his room was too messy, leading him to be the sort of neat freak who makes a career out of keeping things clean.
  • Daphne in Frasier has a habit of recounting traumatic or downright abusive stories from her past in a cheery, fond tone.
  • Two and a Half Men:
    • The show often displays the poisonous behavior of Charlie and Alan's mother, both in the show's timeframe and in Backstory presented by "who-did-Mom-scar-more" arguments. There was also an episode where she keeps pushing Charlie to find out why he doesn't like her and why he has issues with commitment. He finally opens up with a rant:
      Charlie: I'm not saying I hate you, but if I did, it might have something to do with the fact that you're a narcissistic bloodsucker who drove my father into an early grave, after which you married a succession of men who couldn't care less about Alan and me, which was just fine with you 'cause you... looked at us like a couple of dancing monkeys you could just haul out whenever it suited you! And when it didn't, you sent us off to boarding school or camp or that kibbutz in Israel, where we got beat up 'cause we weren't even Jewish! And now... now you show up here every chance you get to lay a guilt trip on me for not appreciating my cold, lonely, loveless childhood!
      Evelyn: Well... obviously you're not ready to talk about it.
    • ... although it was probably best summed up here:
      Therapist: How's your father?
      Charlie: Dead.
      Therapist: And your mother?
      Charlie: Killed him.
  • Apparently George Lopez's childhood in The George Lopez Show. (His mother let a rat live in his bedroom, telling him it was a South American gerbil.) In real life Lopez was raised by his grandmother, who was incredibly hard to live with. It still fit into this trope when he wound up putting his horror stories about her into his stand-up routine. One of his shows was even called "Why You Cryin'?" which was her typical response to him getting upset.
  • iCarly:
    • Sam is a hilariously abusive childhood in progress. It's probably more on the Jeff from Coupling side of things, but it isn't hard to imagine how bad it could be; her father has apparently abandoned them, and her mother is most likely an alcoholic who sleeps around and is often in and out of jail, just like most of the rest of her family. All played for laughs on the show, though.
    • Mrs. Benson takes My Beloved Smother Up to Eleven, and qualifies Freddie for this as well.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond:
    • Ray and his brother Robert. Their mother Marie overbearingly smothered Ray and utterly neglected Robert. One episode ended with Ray realizing his parents followed him to school when he was a child, hiding behind bushes and the like.
      Ray: You mean, Mom was the crazy tree lady from my dreams?
      Rob: Yup.
      Ray: Then... the insane canoe guy was...
      Rob: Dad.
      Ray: My God, that gave me nightmares.
      Rob: For how long?
      Ray: I had one just last week!
      Rob: Wow, that is messed up.
    • Robert can also be a case of this, though a lot of times it's not funny. They lied to him about his own birthday rather than admit pregnancy out of wedlock.
  • Bill McNeal from NewsRadio would often fondly recall childhood events that would charitably be described as child neglect. Good times, good times...
    • In one episode, Bill recalls one of his father's pieces of advice: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child and acted as a child. But when I grew up, I took that child out back and had him shot." Dave then asks if his father was in the Khmer Rouge.
    • Bill: Another time I was cut from the high school football team and my mother said, "Central's lost a fullback but the McNeals have gained a daughter" - and in front of the other players too... priceless! Good times... good times...
      Lisa: And this is a happy memory for you?
      Bill: Why shouldn't it be?
    • Bill: I remember one time my father came home from a night on the town which of course had turned into a week and my mother said, "John, is there anything you won't drink?" and my father shot back, "Poison... I'm saving it for you." (Laughing) And I and my brother, who is now an alcoholic himself, just about died laughing...
    • Another episode reveals that Bill loves eating stale sandwiches out of an antiquated vending machine in the office that no one else uses. The reason? They remind him of the sandwiches his mother would make for him; she'd leave a week's supply in a tin box outside the house.
  • Malcolm in the Middle:
    • The show borders on this for the younger boys, who simply gripe about their mom lightly, but with Francis it's almost always averted and he has deep-seated hatred for her, acknowledging that psychological abuse is serious and long-term. Possibly because for them, this is the norm, while Francis has already flown the nest and seen just how horrible the things Lois did really are, and how much it has messed him up (though there are also indications that Francis was disturbed in the first place, so it's not entirely certain how much of it was Lois's fault). The closest any of the younger boys has gotten to realizing how unhealthy Lois treats them is Malcolm, the genius.
    • In one episode, Dewey begins to stop taking part in his brothers' antics and begins acting more responsible and mature, being pleasant to his mother and no longer causing trouble, which causes Lois to stop harassing him. Malcolm and Reese corner him to find out why she isn't harassing him any more like she does them, but when he tries to explain - that the only reason she acts that way towards them is because they keep misbehaving - they either don't understand, or refuse to accept it, and vow to find out how he does it.
    • In the episode "Reese's Apartment", this trope is possibly lampshaded when Lois and Hal kick Reese out of the house, and he finds a way to get his own apartment. Francis attempts to convince the family that kicking out a teenager is abuse, but none of them believe him.
    • Lois herself had a genuinely abusive childhood, which may have affected how she treats her kids; her mother is a cruel, racist, domineering, Ax-Crazy lunatic from the "old country." Even Francis, who loves nothing more than tormenting his mother, fully acknowledges that his grandmother is completely insane, especially when Francis finds out that she has been buying Christmas presents for the family each year - exactly what they wanted - but refusing to send them because of inconsequential slights. Her episodes usually result in a truce within the family who will band together to get rid of her.
    • Hal can also be like this. He tends to ignore the well-being of the family for his own happiness and comfort, such as not working Fridays for years while his wife sacrificed a lot. He also forbids Malcolm from going to an exclusive, all expenses paid prep school because Hal relies on Malcolm to solve his problems (even though Malcolm said that him not being a major factor of the finances would benefit the family). Hal also had a bad childhood of his own, albeit of a totally different sort. His father is an eccentric millionaire, but was too wrapped up in his own fantasies and games to do any actual parenting. Not that he didn't care about Hal, of course; but he barely noticed how miserable he was.
    • This also ties in to the Series Finale, where Lois refuses Malcolm a high-paying job out of high school since their plan for him is to work his way up from the bottom of society to become President of the United States, and in fact had been planning his whole life.
  • It's possible that Hilariously Abusive Childhood is the backstory for every single character in (and the explanation for the title of) Arrested Development.
    • As an example, George Sr. would teach the kids lessons that involved them thinking their misbehaving led to a stranger being seriously injured. The injured man was a former Bluth Company employee who lost an arm, whom George paid to teach his kids these "lessons."
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • Episode 13 features a letter from Mrs. Ken Frankenstein, who writes "When I was at school, I was beaten regularly every 30 minutes and it never did me any harm - except for psychological maladjustment and blurred vision."
    • One sketch features a group of old Yorkshire men competing with each other over increasingly improbable descriptions of their rough childhoods. The last man claims, "I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah."
  • The Colbert Report:
    • Many jokes revolve around the character of Stephen Colbert's upbringing, which led him to be an outwardly confident, blustery man trying to ignore the frightened child inside by adhering unerringly to his own version of reality (in which, of course, there's nothing wrong with the way his parents raised him). It's summed up nicely in this line from his book I Am America (And So Can You!):
      I often think back fondly on the memories I haven't repressed.
    • This was/is often a device with his and other characters on The Daily Show, too. See, for example, this Even Stevphen.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Barney Stinson often alludes to his "hilarious" childhood, involving being left alone by his mother for weeks at a time and being told that his father is Bob Barker, former host of ''The Price Is Right''. They did, however, get a moment of legitimate pathos out of it in the episode where the Bob Barker thing was revealed. Barney goes on The Price Is Right with the intent of telling Bob Barker that he's his son, but can't bring himself to do it. The implication is that deep down he knows Barker isn't his father but won't admit it to himself, and a later episode revealed that many of his mother's lies were due to her actually being overprotective of Barney. She did not want him to feel humiliated or unloved so she would make up outrageous stories that seemed believable to a young child. However, this seems to have caused Barney to have a massive ego and an inability to deal with disappointment as an adult. And the icing on the cake is that his mother was apparently the female version of what he is today. Or worse.
    • She also sent his real father away and never told Barney he was his father.
    • Then there's Lily, who at first glance seems like a sweet, motherly type. But, as Marshall says, she has some serious Crazy Eyes. Then, we get the flashbacks to Lily's deadbeat dad, taking her to the racetrack with him so he could gamble. On her birthday. Which he had forgotten. And, later telling a sick young Lily the many ways she could die from tonsil surgery.
    • And last, but definitely not least, Robin, who grew up with a dad who remained in denial of the fact that she wasn't a boy until she was fourteen. And, when he found her kissing a boy, sent her packing to military camp where she was forced to burn her clothes. She has some daddy issues.
    • Inverted with Ted, whose parents are so overprotective, they didn't tell him or his sister that they'd been divorced for over a year and that their grandmother had died.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Xander Harris had some sort of abuse happening in his home (especially in the episode "Restless"). This trope is played with in the episode "Amends", where Xander appears to make a joke about his "holiday tradition" of sleeping outside to avoid his family's drunken holiday fights-but when he is actually shown sleeping outside and being woken up by the (very rare) Christmas snowfall, it's actually quite poignant. Even more so when you consider that he would rather risk being eaten by vampires than sleep indoors with his family.
  • The Four Yorkshiremen
    • Right! I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, eat a lump of cold poison, work 29 hours a day down t'mill and pay t'mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our dad would kill us and dance about on our graves, singin' Hallelujah!
    • And a small variant on that.
  • In Wizards of Waverly Place, Harper always says something about her horrible life at home almost every episode and a laugh track follows. Although that makes it fall into Dude, Not Funny! territory, though this explains why she has been adopted by the family. The parents even seem to favor her over their biological children, and when talking about their plans for the future say "Harper will be the one to take care of us when we are older."
  • The Daddy Drank sketch from The Kids in the Hall.
  • The Whitest Kids U' Know did a similar version involving a Christmas gift... The dad wanted the kid to bury the pony because they had to clean up after it.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Leonard recounts the cold and emotionless way his mother treated him, which led him to become a shy, self-hating neurotic. As a child, he was so starved for affection that he actually built a simple hugging machine... and his father used to borrow it.
    • Sheldon is revealed to have been so traumatized by his parents' constant fighting when he was a child that he is unable to be around people arguing. He goes so far as to run away from his apartment when roommate Leonard won't stop arguing with his girlfriend. His mother turned to religion to escape and his father to alcohol, giving Sheldon an aversion to both of those too. As well, despite being a global-level child prodigy, neither parent supported his interest in science. His father especially tried to get him in sports despite a complete lack of interest and physicality.
    • Of course, much of this is now conflicted by the Young Sheldon spin-off, which shows a much milder level of sitcom dysfunction with plenty of heartwarming moments where the family does their best to support the quirky young genius and his interests even if they don't really get him.
  • Sarah and Laura Silverman from The Sarah Silverman Program. Sarah's father screamed in her face for buying the wrong brand of cigarettes when she was 9 years old, beat her imaginary friend with a baseball bat and faked his death to avoid taking care of his children.
  • Happens very often in Still Standing.
    • One particular instance is where Judy commented that Brian was the only one of the children who'd be successful, not knowing that Lauren and Tina had just come into the room.
    • What makes it worse was that she didn't try to put any effort into making it up to them.
  • The Saturday Night Live skits about Simon, who sat in a bathtub and showed 'drawrings' of his neglected existence.
  • Curtis from Todd and the Book of Pure Evil seems to be in the teenage years of a Hilariously Abusive Childhood. He mentions in one episode that his parents are constantly trying to get rid of him. In another episode, when his friend Hannah questions how he learned to pick locks, he mentions that his parents lock him out of the house a lot.
  • Misfits:
    • Nathan borders on this. Although part of it to used to show why Nathan is the way he is, the fact that the stories are delivered in typical Nathan style makes them hard not to laugh at.
      Nathan: He's suppose to take me out for the day, so he takes me to IKEA. He buys so much flat-pack furniture there's no room for me in the car, so he leaves me there for three hours. Then some guy with a beard sees me hanging around and buys me lunch. I spent my eighth birthday eating Swedish meatballs with a known pedophile.
      Jamie: Did he...
      Nathan: No, no. Dad got back when we were finishing our ice cream, but that sick pervert cared more about me than Dad ever did. He would've taken me to the zoo.
    • And later, the story of Nathan's first sexual experience involves a family camping holiday... and his mother's friend badtouching him.
    • Even later, when confronting Jesus with the rest of the group:
      Nathan: When I was growing up in Ireland, if the priests weren't fiddling with ya, you were one of the ugly kids.
  • The entire show Married... with Children is pretty much built around this trope.
    • From the episode And Baby Makes Money:
      Peg: You know, I wouldn't have another baby if gold dust dripped out of its nose. I mean, sure, the money would be nice, but all that trouble. The screaming and the crying and changing those diapers three or four times a week.
      Marcy: Well, at least that left your weekends free.
      Peg: You'd think! I mean, you go away for the weekend, and when you come home they are never where you left them.
    • And later when she complains because she thinks she's pregnant:
      Peg: Ooh, diapers and doody. Feed me! Wash me! Unlock my door!
  • Stewart Stardust's relationship with his father was used as a Running Gag in the Danish Christmas show Christmas on Vesterbro. Once per Episode he would wax nostalgically about something his "papa" used to say, followed by a black-and-white flashback to the father sprouting some words of wisdom, before trashing him with various blunt instruments. Watch a collection of the clips with subtitles here.
    Junior, all humans have the right to privacy. And this is a metal ruler. Bend over. *WHACK*
    Junior, there are two kinds of women: Whores and your mother, who has retired. And there are many ways to knock out your teeth, but I think it will be most fun to use this pipe wrench. Bend over. *WHACK*
    Junior, I once saw a circus artist get stomped on by an elephant. (puts a glass in a sock) He got fewer bruises than you'll get now. Bend over. *WHACK*
    Junior, it is never beneficial to run from the bill. Except in this case when you could have avoided circumcision with this pair of shears. Bend over. *ZHACK*
  • Sammy from Yes, Dear. He's raised in a family where he is loved genuinely, but the many bad things befalling him are so over-the-top (the fact that they all occur by accident adds to the humor factor) make his childhood life appear like this (for instance, in one episode, he's shown in flashback to have accidentally bumped his head on some hard surface 5 times).
  • Homeland:
    • In the second episode Carrie visits her sister and remarks on how well-behaved and obedient her sister's children are; her sister nonchalantly replies "I beat them. Don't tell the neighbors."
    • That is almost certainly a joke. One might make a case, however, that we are witnessing Chris's Hilariously Abusive Childhood throughout the show, with lots and lots of parental neglect.
  • On Justified this is initially invoked when Raylan's father, Arlo Givens, is introduced. When Raylan's mother Frances died, Arlo got a good deal on some tombstones so he had some premade for himself and Raylan. He then had Frances buried in a plot in front of their house and had the extra tombstones placed there as well. So whenever Raylan would leave the house he would see his mother's grave and his own grave ready next to her. However, a few episodes later we are shown what Arlo is really like and the Black Comedy stops being funny. Arlo was and still is a horrible man and Raylan lives in constant fear that he might turn out just like his father.
  • Mr. Show features Bob and David both having one in "Operation: Hell on Earth." Bob's parents bet impossible sums of money against him over things they knew he couldn't win (not falling asleep before midnight) and David's parents accidentally(?) physically abused him as a baby. They're also putting their daughter Superstar through one as Stage Dads, despite claiming they wouldn't turn out like their parents. A fourth season episode also reveals that Bob's parents thought they could still abort Bob . . . when he was four years old.
  • Every now and then Potsie of Happy Days would say something implying he had this.
  • The DiMeo children in Speechless had this mainly due to the family cutting corners on things like furniture and tact in order to support eldest son J.J., who has cerebral palsy. For example, their youngest daughter used an old fish tank as a crib.
  • Mom: Is it any wonder that Christy became an alcoholic junkie while being raised by Bonnie? We get references to Bonnie's past illegal activities or neglect of Christy at least once an episode.
  • In Dans une galaxie près de chez vous, this is a running theme for most of the male cast except Bob and Serge.
    • Flavien was an orphan who was moved from foster home to foster home. One of his foster mothers once sent him to a girls' summer camp because the boys' was full and she didn't want him around during the summer. Flavien had a closer relationship with Bob's parents than his own.
    • The Captain's father was hilarious distant and neglectful, to the point where the captain considers his father telling him "it's raining" a very intimate moment. Hilariously the Captain seems completely unaware of how odd his relationship with his father was.
    • Brad's childhood in particular is a Running Gag. Brad's parents didn't like him because they wanted a daughter (and dressed him as a girl for the first few years of his life), yet at the same time they disapproved of his dream of becoming a ballet dancer and forced him to go into science. At some point you just have to wonder if they weren't screwing with him on purpose. He once insults someone by saying terrible things about their childhood, culminating with "Kids at school once had a contest of whom could throw the biggest rock at you, and your teacher won," only to stop and say "No wait, that's my childhood."
  • It is revealed in the episodes "Cassie Come Home" and "Believe" of the series My Hero that Piers' excessive vanity stems from a crippling inferiority complex, brought on by a multitude of different traumas, particularly an ultra-fascist father. If one had listened to the entirety of his life-story, it is likely one would be reduced to tears. Of course, the buried trauma does not resurface until George takes it upon himself to psychoanalyse the man, which reduces him to a blubbering wreck.
    George: We need to discover what it is that makes you cheat and scheme; some childhood trauma that you've buried, a cold unfeeling mother, were you bullied at school, a successful sibling that you can't quite compete with, a strict father who kept you locked in the cellar?
    Piers: [beat]...(in tears) IT'S AS THOUGH YOU WERE THERE!!!
    George: (shocked) WHAT, ALL OF THEM!?
  • On Schitt's Creek, millionaires Johnny and Moira Rose made sure their children David and Alexis had all the schooling and material possessions they could want, but were severely emotionally neglectful and distant. Some highlights include the kids' nursery being in a separate wing of the house, Moira devising a game in which her children throw prescription pain pills into her mouth, the time Moira took seven-year-old Alexis to the Playboy mansion, and both parents forgetting an adult David's birthday.
  • Cheers:
    • Cliff was raised by his controlling mother, who among many things forbade puberty in her house. This is the reason Cliff is the deeply troubled individual he is as an adult, and his mother still hasn't stopped mistreating him (he refuses to leave her, and she refuses to leave him). This is all played for laughs.
    • Woody once casually and airily recounts how his parents once tried abandoning him, in the same way he recalls all his stories from Hanover.

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic:
    • The song "When I Was Your Age" which features horrible incidents from the narrator's childhood. However, given how outrageously over the top (i.e. physically impossible) all of them are, it's not likely there's any truth in them: "Then he'd chop me into pieces and play Frisbee with my brain/ And let me tell you, Junior, you never heard me complain!"
    • "Albuquerque" fits, too, given the bizarre conditions of the narrator's childhood, though that's not the only subject of the song. His mother made him live in a box under the stairs in the basement, and force-fed him nothing but sauerkraut until he was 26. (And a half.) He didn't get out of there until he won a plane ticket to the eponymous city in a radio contest. It kind of explains why he's so messed up.
  • Speaking of Weird Al, he did guest accordion for a Barnes And Barnes track called "Gumbyjaws Lament". While the jokes are less obvious than many of their songs, hearing Art discuss his mentally ill mother in a croaky monotone while the accordion saws jauntily away in the background is morbidly humorous.
  • Evelyn Evelyn has such an over-the-top dark backstory that it Crosses the Line Twice into Black Comedy. They're Conjoined Twins whose mother died giving birth to them. Their heavily religious doctor tried to separate them in cold-blood with a chainsaw, but a sheriff saw him before he could do anything and shot him. Their father was killed when the chainsaw flew out of the doctor's arms and hit him in the neck. When the sheriff was driving the girls someplace, a truck full of chickens struck him. The owner of the truck stole the twins, while he leaves the sheriff and his chickens to die. Evelyn Evelyn (who weren't even named at the time) were kept in a cage and fed chicken-food for the first six years of their lives. The man ended up dying and the girls escaped after several days of living around dying, dehydrated chickens. They end up kidnapped by a man and are forced into a child sex ring. Evelyn Evelyn were finally named, "Eva" and "Lynn", though no one could remember which was which so they were renamed "Evelyn Evelyn". Once Evelyn Evelyn hit thirteen they're sent off to work at freak show, where they were regularly overworked and abused. Their Only Friends, a set of conjoined elephants named Bimba and Kimba, end up developing early-onset Alzheimer's and die of malnutrition. Two radical religious protest groups, one that believes all Siamese twins should be separated while the other thinks twins should stay conjoined because they'll play a role in the second coming of Christ, end up developing an interest in them and threaten to harm and kidnap them respectively. Fearing their safety, they run away at age seventeen. Their adult lives are not exactly perfect but they're far better than their childhood was.
  • The narrator of Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue".
  • Eminem likes to do this. A number of his darkly comical songs feature his mother as an emotionally abusive drug addict...and then there's Insane...
  • The whole "Steven" arc of Alice Cooper's ''Welcome To My Nightmare" is about child abuse culminating in murder.
  • Nomeansno's song "Dad" recounts an evening of absolutely horrific domestic abuse against the teenaged narrator, his mother and his sister; the lyrics don't feature any explicit jokes, but the mood of the song and the spoken line at the end, "I'm seriously considering leaving home", lighten the mood somewhat.


    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS Goblins casts its PCs as members of a race of hilariously sordid goblins, who are extremely malleable in childhood. It features a table of random abuses to be suffered by each character during their upbringing, each of which grants some mixture of advantages and disadvantages. (Being left out in a snowdrift grants white fur, being run through a mangle gives longer limbs, and so on.)

  • In A Very Potter Musical, Draco harbor an unhealthy need to get his father's approval, which is usually played for laughs. Lucius abuses the boy verbally and sometimes even physically. It turns out that the reason for this is Draco is not truly his son, but rather the product of an affair between his wife Narcissa and Dobby (seriously).
  • Spoofed in-universe in West Side Story in the song officer Gee Officer Krupke! as an "explanation" for why they're gang members and punks.
    Riff: Our mothers all are junkies, our fathers all are drunks. Gol-ly Mo-ses, naturally we're punks!
    Riff: Deeeeeear kindly judge your honor, my parents treat me rough. With all their marijuana, they won't give me a puff. They didn't want to have me, but somehow I was had. Lea-ping li-zards, that's why I'm so bad!
    Riff: Myyyyyyyy daddy beats my mommy, my mommy clobbers me. My grandpa is a commie, my grandma pushes tea. My sister wears a moustache, my brother wears a dress. Goooodness graaacious, that's why I'm a mess!

    Video Games 
  • Given the brutal nature of the game, the many potential ways to die, and the hilarious stupidity of its title characters, it should be no surprise that these pop up occasionally in Dwarf Fortress.
  • Dave, a guy you meet during Fallout 2, had a fun childhood.
    "When I was one, I was dropped on the porch. When I was two, I had pneumonia. When I was three, I got the chicken pox. When I was four, I fell down the stairs and broke six ribs. When I was five, my uncle was decapitated by a watermelon. When I was six, my parents hit me in the head with a shovel. When I was seven, I lost my index finger to me pet rat. When I was eight, my dog Spike got hit by a tractor. When I was nine, my mother lost her arm to a rabid Brahmin. When I was ten, my sister was torn to bits by a pack of dogs. When I was eleven, my grandfather killed himself because I was ugly. When I was twelve, my grandmother killed herself because I was ugly. When I was thirteen, my father poked out his eyes with a pitchfork in a drunken stupor. When I was fourteen, my brother lost his hand to a wallaby. When I was fifteen, my aunt choked to death on a chicken bone. When I was sixteen, I lost my cousin to a badger. When I was seventeen, I cut off my left big toe with a hoe. When I was eighteen, my father lost his right leg to the same tractor that killed my dog. When I was nineteen..."
  • Grim Fandango: In his attempt to borrow a metal detector from Carla, the security guard at the airship dock in Rubacava, Manny ends up getting pulled into her office for a "strip search" that leads to Carla rambling to Manny about her childhood. Needless to say, her ranting about her distant father, her alcoholic mother, and her awkwardness around boys goes on for so long it becomes hilarious, even when she starts sobbing uncontrollably.
  • Team Fortress 2
    • The Demoman was given up for adoption at birth, accidentally killed his adoptive parents, sent to an orphanage, and only contacted by his real parents when his bitterness and lack of depth perception had honed his demolition skills. If similar things aren't confirmed for at least half of the cast, I'll eat my shirt.
    • Apparently averted at first with the Sniper, who still speaks with his parents. The only hiccup seems to be his father's disapproval with his line of work. Later on, he discovers that his family has been killed by assailants unknown...and they turn out to not be his real family. The truth is that he was accidentally launched out of the sunken island of New Zealand as a child by his idiotic pseudoexpert father, who flooded all of New Zealand in the process. Whether that specifically is abuse is up for debate, but judging by what we see of him, Sniper's dad isn't exactly playing with a full deck, and his mother is shrewish and prone to drinking—he probably was better off being launched out of the ocean and onto Australia.
    • The Heavy's father was a counter-revolutionary who was executed and left the young Heavy, his mother, and his sisters all to be sent to a Siberian Gulag. Four months later The Heavy had broken his family out, destroyed the facility, and tortured every single guard and soldier inside to death. Unlike other examples, his actual family, barring from their dislike of bear meat, loves him dearly and aside from seeing his gun as a real life person, the Heavy isn't as mentally damaged as the others.
    • Also averted with The Engineer, whose father was the team Engineer in the original Team Fortress. Hints are dropped they were very close.
    • Gray Mann also had a comically abusive childhood, which started with his father literally trying to strangle him out of the womb. Being raised by Eagles didn't help either, since he apparently ate his "adoptive mother" and "brothers" the moment he came of age.
  • The Binding of Isaac is all about surviving bad childhoods, with Religious Horror tropes and some Dungeon Crawling thrown in.
  • Ernie Eaglebeak is still enduring his at the beginning of The Spellcasting Series, although he escapes soon after.
  • The Russian female voice in Saints Row: The Third reveals that when she was a child, her father would make her fight the dogs for food. It made her what she is today.
  • You can give one to a child you adopt in the second DLC of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. You cannot kill children in this game, but this makes beating them up with a daedric maul and shouting Fus Ro Dah at them even funnier.
  • The thing the dad does in Who's Your Daddy to prevent his baby from killing themselves tend to be pretty mild such as locking cabinets and keeping cleaning supplies and sharp objects out of reach. In Alpha V0.6.0 however, Dad can use a taser to prevent the baby from going anywhere. Of course, the fact that the baby can slash his ankles with a steak knife, this a bit more justified, if not needlessly extreme, in comparison.
  • Baku, the leader of the Tantalus gang in Final Fantasy IX gives beatings to any of his children who leave the band or disobey him. It's played for laughs. The band is mostly composed of 16 year old teenagers. It's also played for drama and a little bit of laughs in Zidane's flashback.
  • Lampshaded in Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs the first conversation in Grenn's personal bond story has him relate the horrific details of his upbringing. He immediately reveals that he was just making stuff up to troll Kay since he figured that was the sort of story he'd expect to hear.
  • Alistair had one of these in Dragon Age: Origins. He's the bastard son of King Maric, and he was given over to the guardianship of Arl Eamon, whose sister had been Alistair's father's wife years earlier. Eamon's idea of raising this child involved making him sleep in the stables with the hounds, where he accidentally locked himself in a cage at least once and nobody found him for hours. When Alistair was ten, Eamon got married, and his new wife was convinced that Alistair was Eamon's own bastard. Rather than treat him with any kindness, she talked her husband into sending the boy away; he was handed off to the church to be raised and forced into life as a Templar. He's about twenty years old by the time of the game, and only escaped his old life because he was recruited to the Grey Wardens, a military outfit which guarantees a relatively early death, but which at least enabled him to make friends and feel like he was part of a family for the first time in his life. He's a bit of a Sad Clown because of all this.
  • In Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido, Emperor Octavius became a psychotic wreck in his childhood due to his father, the previous emperor, constantly taking sushi meant for Octavius and eating it in front of Octavius's face under the school of thought the former emperor called "What's Yours Is Mine." As sushi is Serious Business in this game, by the time Octavius reached adulthood, this traumatic upbringing had somehow manifested into an actual power to warp sushi out of other people's hands and into his own.

  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • Onion Kid turns out to become a lot more than just funny, though - he grows up to become Sarda. His whole raison d'etre is to screw over the Light Warriors that made his life horrible, by cutting them down in their most awesome state to signify their insignificance to what he's become, instead of just killing them all before they could repeatedly destroy his parents, his foster parents and the orphanages that have adopted him. When you take a good look past his creativity, omnipotence and amazing capacity for spite, you see a godlike entity whose only purpose is to horribly abuse a handful of people and will screw over countless innocents to do so, one of whom being himself during his childhood.
    • Not to mention what he did to Ranger, oh, poor ranger and Ranger's Wife...
  • Tycho from Penny Arcade, shown here, here, here, here, and here. Yikes.
  • The Parking Lot Is Full: IT'S GOOFY TIME!
  • The central theme of the Metal Gear Solid alternate universe fancomic "Les Enfants Terribles" is Big Boss's absolutely dreadful parenting of his clone children, and of Liquid Snake in particular.
  • Something*Positive:
    • Monette discussing her Disappeared Dad: "He spent the first six months of my life battling my mother for custody of all of us, and when he got it, he took my sisters and dumped me on my grandma's doorstep. And she wasn't even there! She was on vacation. And she raised pitbulls at her house [...] He had tied raw, bloody steaks to my head." Her grandmother wasn't much better, as we see in her recounting of childhood Christmases. Meanwhile, Jason's father is a psychiatrist who "used his field of study to bully children" and abandoned the family when he got bored with them. Before that, he was emotionally abusive towards them in a number of ways, including "giving me invoices for how much love I owed him per week. That wasn't so bad, but man did the audits suck." Davan's father was usually fine, but had his interesting moments;
      "You're such a sweetie! When Davan talked about you he always made you sound like this big scary ogre. He even said that when he was six you sat him down and tried to mathematically prove to him that the Vietnam War was his fault! Isn't that nuts?"
      "Ahem. Yeah, that's just ... crazy talk. Yep. Hey, I've got an idea! Let's never bring that up around his mama."
    • Inverted with Ollie, whose implied history of sexually servicing his psychopathic uncle Avagadro was apparently an improvement over life with his own violent, two-faced father.
  • Achewood's Roast Beef, who "comes from circumstances."
  • Because I'm Depressed: Diego's father found Diego's attachment to an Imaginary Friend so annoying that he pretended to take it outside and shoot it while Diego watched.
  • Friendly Hostility's Padma Maharassa was inflicted with a Gender-Blender Name in memory of his deceased mother, and describes his father as too busy to pay much attention to him.
    "When my father finds out I'm using my trust fund to become a comedian instead of a doctor, he will fly out here to disown me forever. Which would bring the total number of times he has spoken to me up to... four. But I think he mistook me for a delivery boy once."
  • Beyond the Canopy. Greliz asks Glenn how he got to be such an agile, scrappy fighter. Glenn explains that his grandpa throws things at him a lot.
  • Homestuck: Confirmed by Word of God in this Paradox Space story. Dave Strider was raised by his rapping hipster ninja brother, known only as "Bro," who decorates their apartment with pornographic puppets and swords, kicks Dave's ass regularly with a puppet to "toughen him up", and once threw infant Dave off a roof to teach him how to Flash Step. If there was any question as to how badly this has messed with Dave's head, Bro's favorite puppet, Lil' Cal, is, due to Weird Time Shit and some meddling by Gamzee, a manifestation of Dave's nightmares from living with Lil' Cal. It gets even worse when Dirk (the Post-Scratch incarnation of Bro) is adamantly against ever having kids. Partly because he's not into girls, and partly because he thinks he'd be a terrible parent.
  • Yuki of Ménage à 3 wasn't deliberately abused, but her father was a manga artist working on tentacle porn who was prone to leaving his artwork lying around where the young Yuki could see it, later named one of his female characters after her, and took her on set during the shooting of a live-action version of one of his works. His wife divorced him to get Yuki away, but she still grew up with a severe phobia (she hallucinates tentacles whenever she sees a penis) and in denial about her attraction to men (she's a bisexual who thinks she's a lesbian) — all of which is used for comedy.
  • This series of Pokémon X and Y fanart involving a female Meowstic abusing her Espurr child (and Meowstic husband) in over-the-top-ways.

    Web Original 
  • Dragonball Z Abridged: Piccolo's training of Gohan summed up in one word: "DODGE!"
  • Sam & Mickey: This trope applies to Barbie's "little sisters", and Barbie herself.
    Margaret: Yes, you can! I used to throw you all the time, and you turned out fine-On Second Thought, perhaps you're right.
  • The Nostalgia Critic once showed a drawing he drew as a kid, featuring his parents as two dinosaurs ripping him apart, played for Black Comedy. What makes it more tangible, however, is that the character has become something of a Papa Wolf who can't stand it when non-bratty children get abused.
    • The Nostalgia Chick too, perhaps fittingly. Her mother made her feel inadequate, her dad never loved her, and her uncle was sexually abusive. In her case this is also a Freudian Excuse, as she herself abuses Nella, doesn't like to show weak emotion, and makes a lot of off-color sex jokes.
    • Ask That Guy with the Glasses also apparently had a pretty crappy childhood, what with being raped by a doctor and his parents saying he ought to "go back to the dumpster where they found him". Of course, this refers to the characters, not Doug Walker and Lindsay Ellis.
    • Another Doug character, Chester A. Bum, has a vaguer past than Critic or Ask That Guy due to his brain being scattered by drugs, but has also made references to family abuse. Even logically, something had to happen to make him homeless and keep him that way for so long.
  • A Very Potter Sequel has both Harry and Draco.
    "I was in the car with my parents when we crashed. Into a crocodile. My parents got eaten but then the crocodile took out a knife and gave me this scar."
  • My Little Pony: The Mentally Advanced Series has Twilight's hilarious abuse under the care of Celestia.
  • Friendship is Witchcraft is full of Black Comedy and this trope appears frequently:
    • Fluttershy's distant father did everything from not going to her softball games to creating extremely elaborate attempts to kill her. She's terrified of him but overcame those fears and killed him. It's also possible Fluttershy was an Unreliable Narrator due to her Adaptational Villainy.
    • Spike is the Butt-Monkey of the entire town who no one seems to like. He's treated like a servant and is constantly poked fun of. Twilight (who is essentially his adopted mom) outright made him hold up a lightning rod during a storm, which caused him to break his legs.
    • Pinkie Pie had one by her own admission. She lost her parents in a fire and was sent into an Orphanage of Fear that emotionally abused her and ostracized her for being Romani and being an Earth pony. Into adulthood this has caused her deep mental trauma and self-confidence issues that she hides behind deceptively happy sounding songs.
      Didn't you already have a childhood?
    • Scootaloo is Dash's daughter who she pays no attention to.
  • In Ultra Fast Pony, Rainbow Dash is the one with the abusive past. Her parents died when she was a few hours old, and she's never stayed with a single foster family for longer than a week. In the present, when her parasprite pets turn violent, Dash's only reaction is "My new family's trying to kill me again!"
  • From Yukari Is Free, Tardboy was apparently locked in a cage by his mother and led around on a leash.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series
    • Turns Seto Kaiba's childhood into an example of this.
    • And unlike the source material, Gozaburo apparently treated his biological son Noah even worse:
      Gozaburo: Ah, Good. You must be the new man servant I ordered.
      Noah: No, father, it's me! Your biological son!
      Gozaburo: I Have No Son!! Oh wait, yes I do! [shows a picture of Seto] Look! I just adopted him. Isn't he adorable?
      Noah: But I'm your real son. You've raised me for ten years!
      Gozaburo: I'm pretty sure I'd remember something like that. Now get back to swabbing the floors.
      Noah: But I—
      Gozaburo: SWABBING, I SAY!
    • And there's, of course, Marik's father, Hank Ishtar, who did thing like beat up Odion for killing the snake that attacked Marik (it was his pet cobra, Cornelious) or making Marik a tombkeeper with the peinful ritual of carving symbols in his back with a red-hot knife... and then forcing him to watch Beverly Hills Chihuahua. (Marik is more horrified by the second part). He also bought a Playstation and an Xbox for his kids, but he not only forbids them from going outside to buy games, he also keeps pouring beer on them.
  • Gaia Online
    • The Christmas 2007 event had users fostering adorable shabby orphans, who would hang out by the user's avatar. Their lives at the orphanage were a clear Dickens parody turned up to eleven— "imitation" gruel for food, whiskey to keep warm, scraps of carpet for toys... many users tried to keep their orphans, which led to a later Chance Item being adoption forms.
    • Brennevin's wizard father once turned him into a set of silverware for trying to celebrate Halloween.
    • Let's not forget Gino Gambino, whose father tried to toughen him up by doping him with prototype zombie serums. Nor Labtech X, who apparently got disowned when Gino came along.
  • Fred 's mother was an alcoholic prostitute who would often leave Fred alone, not feed him (sometimes as punishment, sometimes she would forget.) have him play in the parking lot of the bar while she was inside and even left him alone with the psychopath Claudio.
  • SF Debris' Alternative Character Interpretation of Star Trek: Voyager's Captain Janeway had one, probably giving her a Freudian Excuse for being, in SF Debris' characterization of her, an insane, Ax-Crazy, genocidal tyrant.
    Janeway: This is where you, armed with a gun, hunt defenseless lil' ol' me down throughout the ship. Y'know what we called this growing up? Father's Day.
  • Homestar Runner
    • Strong Sad suffered all sorts of over-the-top abuse from Big Brother Bullies Strong Bad and Strong Mad over the years, like being stuck to the ceiling with Bubble Tape or getting locked in the bath-tub every Decemberween. There's also the time in "The House That Gave Sucky Treats" where giving Strong Sad a pack of Necco Wafers remind him of his childhood... namely, the time where he was "sick for a year and nearly died" after eating colored chalk.
    • A remark Strong Bad makes in the Strong Bad Email "specially marked", while going on a rant about cereal box prizes that require sending in box tops or UPC barcodes, implies his mother was a compulsive gambler who was always taking trips to Las Vegas.
      Strong Bad: This means not only are they gonna make you buy several more boxes that you have to cut the bar codes off of, but you're also gonna have to involve your mom to write a check for the shipping and handling if she's back from Vegas! The nerve of those cereals! Leave my mom out of this!
    • The 2006 Halloween fan costume compilation had Strong Bad mistaking a woman for "The Cheat's hot mom", who was "always in and out of prison" for, at the very least, giving alcohol to minors ("Is she giving out frozen margara-Cheat-as again?").
  • Chonny, from yourchonny portrays his childhood/home life this way in his videos.
  • In Jake and Amir, Amir frequently relays horrifying stories of his childhood to Jake. For instance, in the episode "Driving Lesson", we learn that his parents forced him to take driving lessons when he was four, threw knives at him, and called him 'Queen Dweeb'. Furthermore, their abuse towards him continues to this day; when Amir came to visit them during vacation, his father greeted him by throwing a cast iron skillet at the back of his face.
  • Humza's mother from Diary of a Bad Man stabs him for throwing a snowball at her, beats him until he needs to hospitalized and ties him up and throws him in the road so she can run him over whenever he interrupts her favourite TV show.
  • A rare sibling-abuse variant in The Most Popular Girls in School; Rachel is often verbally and physically abused by her older sister Bridget, but the former always stupidly sets off the latter's wrath.
  • The pilot of :DRYVRS interprets Kevin MacCalister's life as this, complete with a Role Reprise from Macaulay Culkin.
  • The Go Animate "fandom" readily enjoy abusing Caillou and Dora. While the videos portray the two kids as nasty brats, their punishments are so over the top that it practically Crosses the Line Twice.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "The Vault", Finn has a flashback to one of his past lives, a girl named Shoko who briefly befriended Princess Bubblegum when the Candy Kingdom was just starting out. Shoko casually admitting that her parents traded away her arm for a new computer and abandoned her in a martial arts dojo is played for laughs.
  • Nicole Watterson's parents in The Amazing World of Gumball were such extreme perfectionists that her mother berated her because she had an "F" on her report card in the spot for her gender ("Being a girl is not an excuse!") and they endangered her life by giving her an A+ blood transfusion when her blood type is B-.
  • American Dad!:
    • To some degree, Stan (mostly over-the-top Booby Traps to shut up Hayley's protests). Stan's father Jack was neglectful to a similar extreme.
      Jeff: Were you close to your dad?
      Flashback Stan: Daddy, will you read me a story?
      Flashback Jack: Who the hell are you?
    • And in "Joint Custody", Jeff's dad frames him for a drug run and then tries to collect the bounty.
      Jeff: You're wrong about my dad. He cares more about me than anything.
      Jeff's Dad: (to the police) There's your criminal. Just give me the money. That's all I care about — money. Not Jeff, money.
      Jeff: See? Wait. Am I Jeff or money?
    • This happens to Barry too.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Carl's continued adult life as a Butt-Monkey to his neighbors is shown to have been bred in him quite early, as the few glimpses we are given into his childhood include his father making him eat carpet squares ("That's berber!") and putting him to work as a child in a dangerous chemical factory for days at a time. Of course, Aqua Teen plays everything for comedy, and this wouldn't even make the top 50 most disturbing things they've joked about on that show.
  • Archer:
    • The title character definitely received one of these from Malory. It's always played for laughs... but since this is a show that plays miscarriages and cancer for laughs, that's not really surprising.
      • Malory left Archer in the care of heroin addict Woodhouse for the first few years of his life, and then continued to neglect him, leaving him alone when he was in pain and at one point moving without telling Archer's boarding school, leading to him to take a train home alone and eventually ending up at a police station. She also kickstarted his alcoholism, giving him alcholol when he was child, and denied him (much needed) psychological care. Moreover, she verbally and psychologically abused him.
    • Archer himself has absolutely no idea how to take care of The Wee Baby Seamus.
      Trinette: (outraged) You can't tattoo a freaking baby!
      Archer: That's what the tattoo guy said; I had to slip him an extra hundred bucks.
    • Mallory, in one of the rare occasions she is willing to take the baby, starts gently telling him that she's the only person in the world he can trust - after deceiving him and using that as the reasoning. Lana walks in and claims this explains a lot.
    • Mallory once gave Sterling a brand new bike he'd always wanted, then when she saw he didn't chain it up properly after riding it, stole it to teach him how to take care of it. She not only neglected to give it back or reveal the deception, but when he was forced to explain why the bike was missing, spanked him for it. Decades later, an episode is kicked off when she begins to do the same thing with Sterling's dream car.
  • BoJack Horseman, being the kind of show that it is, zig-zags between playing this trope straight and playing Abusive Parents straight. Sometimes it'll be so over-the-top that it's funny, mainly in scenes with Bojack's father Butterscotch, such as when he asks Young!Bojack which is better, taking a boat through the panama canal "like a democrat" or going around the horn "like a gentleman," then backhands him for answering "the canal." Other times, it'll be depicted as viscerally terrifying, as with the scene of his mother Beatrice forcing him to smoke a cigarette, then yelling at him not to cry and saying that she hates him. Bojack in the present days goes back and forth between being humorously cynical and depressingly destructive as a result.
  • The Boondocks:
    • Uncle Ruckus was abused both physically and verbally for most of his childhood; according to him when his parents found him as a doorstep baby his father stepped on him, he beat him almost every single day for even the silliest reasons, and he threw him out of the house at a young age to fend for himself. Along the way he plowed his face through a fence, made him step in a bear trap, and smashed his face into a pole, deforming him.
      Huey: That's, like... Academy Award-nominated sad.
    • Grandad Freeman is an outspoken proponent of beating misbehaving children with a belt buckle, often threatening his two grandsons with this. In one particularly polarising scene, Grandad encourages a nigh-hippie-ish mother to whip her (tantrum-throwing, extremely loud) roughly 4-year-old old son in a grocery store. Though initially reluctant, she gives it a try with his belt while her fellow customers look on with approval.
  • The Crumpets: Ma crushes her infant son with a massive elephant plush and accidentally punishes him instead of one of his brothers with a ride in a clothing washing wheel in rapid cycles and hangs him outside for drying one night. She also forces the twin perpetrators of their dog's endless Tornado Move into stopping the rabid flea by dropping them to the tornado with a claw vehicle.
  • Dan Vs.: Dan is implied to have had one hell of a childhood. No surprise there, given what he's like, and it's all Played for Laughs. Whatever happened was bad enough to send a psychiatrist running and screaming.
    Psychiatrist: Stooooooooop! STOP IT!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!! What is wrong in your brain?!
    Dan: Hey pal, if you didn't want to know about my childhood you shouldn't have asked.
  • Daria:
    • Jake had one at the hands of his own father, "Mad Dog" Morgendorffer, a cruel military vet who wanted to stamp any sign of weakness from him. He was also something of a Manipulative Bastard, somehow twisting "I might want to go to tennis camp" into Jake "volunteering" for military school (which is the other thing Jake likes to rant about). Jake's mother, Ruth, was nicer but never could stand up to Mad Dog.
    • According to "The Daria Hunter," Mr. DeMartino had a single mother who sent him to live with his neighbors (who were "strange, twisted people") because she didn't want her dates to know she had a son. Mom wound up marrying his best friend at some point. Plus, Mr. D also had a stint in military school (he and Jake were able to bond over how awful it was).
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Ed's home life may be just as bad as Eddy's, the only difference is that, while Eddy being abused by his brother is Played for Drama in the movie, Ed's situation is always Played for Laughs. He is always abused by his sister physically and verbally on a scale only slightly lower than what Eddy suffers from his brother. His parents aren't much better and it's been hinted that he suffers from both emotional abuse and neglect. Best seen in Ed's nightmare about his mom in "Rock-a-Bye Ed", and in "3 Squares and an Ed" when Ed is infamously grounded:
    Ed: My parents took 'em down 'cause I am grounded.
    Edd: That's disturbing.
  • The Fairly OddParents: The entire childhood of Timmy Turner can to be considered this. Especially as that is why children get fairy godparents assigned to them in the first place.
  • Family Guy:
    • The generally destructive treatment of Meg Griffin by her parents - and siblings - in which she is Ground Zero for just about every form of mental or physical abuse. Chris and Stewie aren't immune from bad parenting either, although this is generally by neglect, a sin of omission.
    • Peter. His (step)father was a hard-nosed fundamentalist who constantly ragged on him and apparently told him he wasn't his father repeatedly. And there was one flashback where his mother threw a bottle of whiskey at him to shut him up. He has a sister name Karen who basically treated him the way he treats Meg, but worse, and his parents didn't do anything to stop it. They are basically the reason why Peter is the man he is today.
  • Futurama:
    • Whenever we get a flashback to Fry's parents, they are usually shown being ludicrously neglectful towards their son (although they didn't exceptionally favour his brother either). In "The Cryonic Woman", we even learn that when Fry went missing due to being frozen, his parents didn't even want the police investigating the case due to them believing it would be a waste of taxpayers' money. However, in "Bender's Big Score", Fry went back in time and reunited with his parents, in whose perspective he didn't stay absent long enough to justify calling the authorities.
    • They apparently kept him out of school for the same reason.
      Leela: Now, bees communicate by dancing.
      Fry: Just like my parents! No wait, that was hitting.
      • Semi-justified by his father later on. He knew his son would go on to do great things, and knew he had to be hard on him so he could be prepared for anything that happened. Given that he's still alive after all the things he's been through, it worked.
    • Similarly, Leela on her time at the Orphanage of Fear:
      Leela: Just like old times. Gosh. The bars on the windows seemed so much thicker back then. Mr. Vogel? Remember me?
      Warden: Leela! You're worthless and no one will ever love you!
      (they laugh and hug)
      Leela: You used to say that all the time!
      Warden: Oh, those were happier days.
    • Every single child from the Cookieville Minimum-Security Orphanarium gets one.
    • Extends into a Hilariously Abusive Adulthood for Mom's three sons. In one particular flashback to when the older two were infants, we see Mom try to use them to shield herself from an explosion.
      Mom: Shut up you milk-sucking leeches!
  • Gorillaz: The bassist Murdoc was, according to "Rise of the Ogre", forced by his father to participate in talent contests for money. The incident portrayed in the book involved him in costume as Pinocchio, complete with fake nose, singing "I've Got No Strings." "The prize? £2.50." Murdoc also claims to have hit puberty at age 8 and lost his virginity to a dinner lady at age 9. "And I've been in a bad mood ever since," though given that this is Murdoc it's not unlikely that he's making that up.
  • Gravity Falls: Wendy's family doesn't seem so bad, but she offhandedly mentions once that her dad makes them do apocalypse training instead of having Christmas. "Guess it's sort of cool the paranoia paid off."
  • Hey Arnold!: Helga's home life is alternately Played for Laughs (as in this trope) and Played for Drama (especially in "Helga on the Couch"). Her father is controlling and uncaring, and her mother is scatterbrained, lazy, seems to have had the will to live sucked out of her, and is most likely an alcoholic due to her love of "smoothies" that contain ingredients commonly found in alcoholic cocktails (such as tabasco sauce and celery sticks). Whenever her beautiful and successful sister Olga (who may have problems of her own, but is so much of a Stepford Smiler that she represses them) shows up, Helga's overlooked for her.
  • Kaeloo: Quack Quack the duck. When he was still in an egg, his parents were killed by a hunter. He was subsequently found by scientists and taken to a laboratory where they did weird experiments on him. Then, he moved to Smileyland, where the show takes place. His life there, which is the events of the show, is not much better as his friends just exploit the superpowers he got from the experiments, and Ax-Crazy psychopath Mr. Cat repeatedly kills him, taking advantage of his Nigh-Invulnerability.
  • Kevin Spencer: Kevin has been abused by his parents. Aside from neglect, they verbally abuse him, make fun of his mental disorders, let him assist them in crimes, and have no problems exposing him to (and supplying him with) beer and alcohol for most of his life. Much of the show's humor revolves around how messed up Kevin is because of them, and how badly he treats them in return.
  • Kim Possible: Ron Stoppable's childhood was molded by him going to a run-down summer camp, where he lived in an insect-infested cabin with the camp's chimp mascot, while the lake was clearly toxic and was later revealed to have mutagenic properties. There are numerous hints that his parents neglect him, but this come out the most in his relationship with his teacher and Kim's family, which is funny until you realize he feels closer to them than he does his folks.
  • Lil' Bush: Lil' Rummy constantly mentions being abused by his father. He sometimes tells his friends he'd like to talk about it, but they never will.
    Condi: Does anyone have plans for Saturday?
    Rummy: My dad said he's gonna chain me to the radiator and throw beer cans at me all weekend.
    George: That's what you do every weekend.
  • Looney Tunes: The "Three Bears" series basically consists of the short, perpetually furious father smacking his giant half-wit son - who, to be fair, unintentionally inflicts plenty of pain on his dad. At one point, Dad lies unconscious and Junior takes hold of his lifeless fist and punches himself with it.
  • Mao Mao in Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart had emotionally negligent, possibly abusive parents and a childhood so strict and devoid of emotional validation that his adult self is several screws loose. This is played for laughs, usually to explain his bizarre excentricities.
  • Metalocalypse:
    • Any time Toki's childhood is shown in flashback, it involves his getting struck, whipped, and otherwise abused by his frighteningly somber parents. Whenever they show up in the present, he's stuck in an Angst Coma until they leave, doing nothing more than staring straight ahead in utter silence.
    • Other band members don't fare much better. Pickles was always overlooked in favour of his loser brother, and his father even told him that he "belongs in a trash can". Skwisgaar was messed up by a promiscuous and neglectful mother and a lack of a father figure. Murderface's father killed his mother and himself with a chainsaw in front of baby Murderface.
    • In utter contrast to his bandmates, Nathan has a fantastic relationship with his dad, and is shown fishing, go-karting, and playing Scrabble with him.
      Nathan: I f***ing love my dad!
  • Moral Orel: This is a huge part of the humor for the first two seasons. During and after the events of "Nature", it quickly stops being funny.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Pinkie Pie grew up on a rock farm, where she and her family worked all day moving rocks around for no particular reason — some of which were about the same size as Pinkie herself at the time. Abuse didn't seem to be the intention, but the effect was about as soul-crushing as you'd expect. Pinkie Pie doesn't seem to have suffered too badly (her parents appreciated that first party she threw, so it's not like they were against any fun), but her older sister Maud doesn't appear capable of any strong emotions at all. Her other two sisters are a Shrinking Violet of concerning recluseness and a mare with severe anger issues. This was probably never meant to be so worrying.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Dr. Doofenshmirtz frequently uses his ludicrously traumatic childhood as a Freudian Excuse for his Evil Plan of the day. His mother liked his brother better, his father preferred the dog, he had to wear dresses for a year because his parents were expecting a girl when his younger brother was born, he wasn't allowed to go swimming in public pools, he had to pretend to be a lawn gnome after theirs was repossessed — "you remember that backstory" — at one point his family disowned him and he was being raised by ocelots. The page quote references an early episode when Doofenshmirtz says that neither of his parents even bothered to be there when he was born. His childhood was so abusive that it fills out a good chunk of a clip show based on his sad life. "This is Your Backstory." It's implied that the only bright spots in his life are his respective relationships with Perry and his teenage daughter Vanessa.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: The intro implies that the title character had one of these, establishing he was Born Unlucky.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Whenever Homer thinks back to his childhood, it's always a memory of his father mocking him, insulting him or otherwise putting him down.
      • In "Lisa's Sax", as Bart started his first day of school:
        Homer: Now son, on your first day of school, I'd like to pass on the words of advice my father gave me...
        Abe: (in flashback) Homer, you're as dumb as a mule and twice as ugly! If a strange man offers you a ride, I say take it!
        Homer: ... Lousy traumatic childhood!
      • When his mother encouraged seven-year-old Homer's impersonation of JFK after seeing him on the news.
        Flashback Abe: You, President? This is the greatest country in the world. We've got a whole system set up to prevent people like you from ever becoming president. Quit your daydreaming, melonhead!
        Current Abe: (to get Homer's attention) Quit your daydreaming, melonhead!
      • A flashback in "Bart Star" has Homer doing a spectacular gymnastic floor routine in high school. As Homer handsprings past Abe:
        Abe: You'regonnascrewup!
        (Homer promptly falls on his face)
        Abe: That's what I get for having faith in ya.
    • Homer repeatedly strangles Bart for humor. In one instance, while standing in front of a billboard saying "Report Child Abuse."
    • Lampshaded in the fake making-of episode "Behind the Laughter", where the "real" Homer tells how he strangled the "real" Bart for the first time and everyone in the room thought it was funny. "And that horrible act of child abuse became one of our most beloved running gags." Possibly a Shout-Out to The Three Stooges, who came up with the eye-poke gag when one of them did it to a cheater in a card game.
    • Matt Groening has stated that the inspiration for Homer's over-the-top abuse is The Katzenjammer Kids, and that he originally insisted that the strangling always be impulsive on Homer's part, and that Bart always retaliate in some way. These policies quickly fell by the wayside, however, and Rule of Funny took their place.
    • Subverted in "Holidays of Future Passed" in a conversation between Lisa and Marge, where it's revealed "Homer's Law" makes it illegal to strangle any child for any reason. What does it say about the Simpsons' world that that implies that it previously wasn't?
    • In "Children of a Lesser Clod", Homer starts a daycare business and treats the kids far better than his own. When he's given an award, Bart and Lisa take revenge by showing a video montage of his usual parenting, including the scene on the image at the top of this page (which Homer claims was "completely taken out of context").
    • In one episode, Rod and Todd are shown shivering with some disease because Ned doesn't believe in innoculations.
  • South Park:
    • Butters's parents ground, beat and berate him constantly; his mother went crazy and attempted to drown him in a lake; his parents attempt to sell him to Paris Hilton; Cartman convinces him the world is ending and he lives in a bunker and a junkyard for several weeks; he gets committed to a mental asylum and anally probed by a machine for eight straight hours... the creators ended up having to put a moratorium on torturing Butters because it was just becoming too much.
      "Butters... why there is Hamburger Helper in my glass of milk?"
      • Ironically, "Jared has Aides," an episode whose entire plot is about what is and isn't too offensive to joke about, is rarely shown in reruns because people found the ending (where Butters is physically beaten offscreen) to be horrifying. Yeah. They found it.
      • Butters has also been sexually abused by his Uncle Bud. When an investigator shows the things that pedophiles do to children, he licks the doll's crotch and Butters tells him that his Uncle Bud does that to him.
    • The abuse of other children is implied as well.
      • Cartman, for example, wakes from a dream shouting "No, Uncle Jesse, no!" (though that could have been a reference to Full House). However, Father Maxi is the only priest shown in the South Park universe who doesn't molest children, preferring carnal relations with temptresses his own age. Cartman has been sexually abused by others, specifically noted in the episode "Simpsons Already Did It".
      • Cartman's mother abuses him in a different way. Her constant pampering and coddling of him turned him into The Sociopath that he is today. This comes from her own fear of being alone. It's made obvious in "Tsst!" - when she treats him like other parents treat their children, his behavior quickly changes (and changes back when she relents).
      • Shelley's abuse of Stan is also played for laughs, as is the fact that his parents refuse to believe him, regardless of how many bruises he has or how much he asks for help. Only once did they attempt to defend him ("Over-Logging"), but Shelley went right back to abusing Stan halfway through the episode without Randy, Sharon, or their grandfather caring.
      • Kyle is also subjected to emotional abuse at the hands of his controlling mother.
    • "Noo... don't kick da baby..." "Kick the baby!" "Don't kick da goddamn baby" "Kick the baby!"
    • Tweek's parents encourage him to drink copious amounts of coffee, ignoring the resulting insomnia and nervousness. They even send him to collect coffee deliveries from the local meth lab.
    • Ironically, one of the few major characters who never suffers on-screen child abuse (except maybe neglect) at home is Kenny McCormick, whose parents are alcoholic rednecks. Not that his home life is exactly what you'd call "healthy" either (his mother beats his father, for one thing).
      • It's never shown onscreen, sure, but in the episode "The Poor Kid" where Kenny and his siblings are taken away by Child Protective Services, their (admittedly incompetent) social worker does list various types of abuse in their case files.
    • Mr. Garrison feels that he had a traumatic childhood because his father didn't sexually abuse him, and to Garrison, this means that his father didn't love him. Mr. Mackey, the guidance counselor, says that the only way to save his son's life is for the elder Garrison to have sex with him, and he finally hires Kenny G to pretend to be him and sleep with the younger Garrison.
  • While he is actually surrounded by loving and supportive parental figures, Steven Universe occasionally likes to play Steven's Gem-inflicted trauma for laughs, such as in "Last One Out of Beach City" when he cheerfully tells Pearl that fleeing from the police in a high-speed car chase was "The most fun I've had since that time you almost let me die!" Or, in a completely separate incident near the end of "Space Race":
    Pearl: I'm so sorry. I almost got us killed.
    Steven [unfazed]: I'm used to it!
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Splinter isn't really abusive per se, but he is training his sons to be warriors while raising them and many of his lessons can be rather painful.
  • The Teen Titans Go! version of Batman is strongly implied to have hit Robin for small misdeeds. After leaving Batman to be his own hero, Robin still cowers in fear when he thinks Batman is around and is terrified of making him angry.
  • Time Squad: Otto's upbringing is outrageously horrible to the point of it being morbidly funny. He was raised in an orphanage where he was worked relentlessly by the sadistic nun Sister Thornly, bullied mercilessly by the other kids and forbidden from doing the only thing he enjoyed: reading about history. Were it not for the freak encounter with the Time Squad, who knows how miserable his life could have ended up as.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • Rusty Venture's boyhood manages to teeter on the edge of being serious and morbidly funny. He was constantly being kidnapped and his father used him as little more than a prop to make himself look good, plus the issues this left him with are what made him the morally bankrupt mad scientist he is today. But given the laughs we get from the show already, seeing Jonas Venture drunkenly fall on top of Rusty while trying to score with this woman he just met is darkly hilarious. Likely this had something to do with his relationship with twin brother Jonas Jr., who did not go through any of this (having been swallowed as a fetus by Rusty and made his way out as an adult) and is every bit the Smug Super that Jonas Sr. was.
    • Rusty's traumatic childhood is just the Freudian Excuse he has for treating his own sons so poorly and placing them in many of the same life-threatening situations he himself experienced. Apart from the constant danger and kidnappings they experience, the boys also have a very impoverished home life and no friends thanks mostly to being homeschooled in a box their pop made (and it sometimes gets very hot in the box that pop made). The most telling piece of evidence comes from the episode "Powerless in the Face of Death" when Rusty and Brock jovially recount all of the ways the boys have died. The hilarity of child abuse gets a wonderful 'metaphoric' representation midway through this montage, when we see Dr. Venture as a werewolf kill his own kids and we all laugh.


Video Example(s):


16th Birthday Party

Dr. Venture is a lousy parent, and most of it is the fault of his father Jonas Venture and the other members of Team Venture. He opens up to his son Hank about what his life was like growing up with Jonas Venture for a father.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / HilariouslyAbusiveChildhood

Media sources:

Main / HilariouslyAbusiveChildhood