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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
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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, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 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.

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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 & Manga 
  • 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.
  • 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 catfighting 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.
  • 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.
  • In Cowboy Bebop, Edward's father was apparently loving but incredibly neglectful and abandoned her at age six after forgetting that he left her at a daycare. When they reunite when Ed is thirteen, he can't even remember whether she's a boy or a girl. He offers to take her with him on his travels, but abandons her again before she can even respond. Later that episode, Ed leaves the Bebop with Ein, but it's unclear whether she intends to join her father or continue wandering the Earth.
  • 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."
  • Cyber Team in Akihabara Tsugumi has some way off parents, her dad is a 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.
  • Zigzagged with Allen Walker's childhood in D.Gray-Man. On one hand, 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 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. However, the other parts of his horribly traumatizing childhood are played completely 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.)
  • 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.
  • Kinjiro's childhood in Mayo Chiki! was being The Chew Toy for his wrestling mother and sister.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Wagnaria!! have two examples:
    • Inami's Overprotective Dad didn't 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 strength. 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 comes too close to her. Needless to say, Takanashi, who very often ends up on the receiving end of those punches, was not pleased to learn about this and gave Inami's Dad a "Reason You Suck" Speech.
    • Season 3 introduces Shizuka Takanashi, who traumatized her children 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 example, she criticize her for getting married to Minegishi, for divorcing him, and she mocks her again when she get back together with him.
      • She forces 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 has it the worst, as her mother doesn't even remember her name and most of the time forgets to include her when talking about her children no matter how hard Kozue tries to attract her attention. It is shown to be the reason why Kozue Desperately Craves Affection.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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, peeked out from beyond bars in his bedroom window, that his parents 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, during family dinner time he sat under the table with a rabid dog, 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 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.

    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 any more miserable, then Vernon gets a 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 to 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 
  • 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 15-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.
  • 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.'
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • Movie 43: In one of the film's sketches, two parents (played by real-life husband and wife Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts) are concerned their home-schooled son is missing out on things experienced in regular schools. They decide to put their son through experiences a teenage boy may undergo. They verbally bully the son, calling him "faggot" and "fuck face". In one scene, the boy shares an awkward first kiss with his own mother. The father tries to give the son an experience in gay relations, and also kisses him. Of course, the entire sketch is Played for Laughs.
  • Hinted at with Charlie in Mystery Team. Two throwaway gags imply that his dad is abusive/pedophilic and an alcoholic.
  • 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.
  • 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!

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • The Locked Tomb: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Ma Lilywhite on Dave in particular is shown... and it's not funny anymore.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.

    Music 
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic:
    • The song "When I Was Your Age" 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 a 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.

    Newspapers 

    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.)

    Theatre 
  • 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 
  • The Binding of Isaac is all about surviving bad childhoods, with Religious Horror tropes and some Dungeon Crawling thrown in.
  • 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 that 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy: Lance had an abusive father, which is often just left to throwaway lines when he's hit by an attack. (Along the lines of "My dad hit me harder when I was a baby!") Epic Battle Fantasy 5 takes his abuse slightly more seriously, but it still has Black Comedy sprinkled in, such as when he tries to use it to excuse his actions prior to his defeat before Natalie brushes it off, or when the party reaches a noose in Redpine and Lance says his father hung him from it "to try to make him taller."
  • 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..."
  • In Fallout: New Vegas one of the ways to deal with Phillipe (a cannibal chef) is to psychoanalyze him with a sufficient Medicine skill, at which point he angrily rambles on about how his father left him, his mother constantly brought back strange men and his sisters locked him inside crates for laughs. This eventually gets him depressed and leaves the kitchen (as well as his recipes) to you so he can run off and cry.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ernie Eaglebeak is still enduring his at the beginning of The Spellcasting Series, although he escapes soon after.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 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.

    Webcomics 
  • 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...
  • Achewood's Roast Beef, who "comes from circumstances."
  • In Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, Tim, Damian and Cass are very casual about being trained as assassins as children, which Duke comments is a bit concerning.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Homestuck: Confirmed by Word of God and this Loose Canon 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.
  • 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.
  • The Parking Lot Is Full: IT'S GOOFY TIME!
  • Tycho from Penny Arcade, shown here, here, here, here, and here. Yikes.
  • This series of Pokémon X and Y fanart involving a female Meowstic abusing her Espurr child (and Meowstic husband) in over-the-top-ways.
  • 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 the 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.

    Web Original 
  • Humza's mother from Diary of a Bad Man stabs him for throwing a snowball at her, beats him until he needs to be hospitalized, and ties him up and throws him in the road so she can run him over whenever he interrupts her favourite TV show.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: Piccolo's training of Gohan summed up in one word: "DODGE!" nd yet everyone, including Piccolo, Gohan and Goku, considers Piccolo a better dad than Goku.
  • Ron Stampler from Dungeons & Daddies is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander with No Social Skills to say the least. But much of his oddness becomes at least a little more understandable the more you hear about his father, Willy, who was incredibly cruel and neglectful to him. Not that Ron realises that any of that wasn't normal, and his total obliviousness to how awful his childhood was is often played for Dark Humour. For example, in the Christmas episode he reveals that Christmas presents from his dad were always tubes of wrapping paper, so he could use them to wrap up presents for Willy. While the other dads are appropriately disgusted by that, Ron himself is perfectly happy about it all - which is why he cheerfully gifts the other dads wrapping paper for their presents, too.
  • The pilot of :DRYVRS interprets Kevin MacCalister's life as this, complete with a Role Reprise from Macaulay Culkin.
  • 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.
  • 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?
      ...No.
    • Scootaloo is Dash's daughter who she pays no attention to.
  • 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.
  • The GoAnimate "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.
  • 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?").
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • My Little Pony: The Mentally Advanced Series has Twilight's hilarious abuse under the care of Celestia.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!"
  • 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."
  • Chonny, from yourchonny portrays his childhood/home life this way in his videos.
  • 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 things 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.
  • From Yukari Is Free, Tardboy was apparently locked in a cage by his mother and led around on a leash.


 
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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.

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Main / HilariouslyAbusiveChildhood

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