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Hollywood Genetics

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The chances of two dark-haired parents who both carry the gene for red hair having three redheaded kids in a row is 1/64.

"Glynnis, she has a birth certificate, she has my photograph, and she has my eyes."
Lord Henry Dashwood (brown-eyed Colin Firth) on his daughter Daphne (green-eyed Amanda Bynes), What a Girl Wants

We all know the basic Mendelian model of inheritance; traits are usually either dominant or recessive. Having one copy of a dominant allele means that the person will express the dominant trait, and the only way for someone to express a recessive trait requires having two copies of a recessive allele. Even outside of scientific terms, it's common reasoning that certain traits tend to run in families and we expect relatives to "match" in some way.

These facts are sometimes ignored in Hollywood casting, which can end up having (biological) families looking like just a random group of people. As a result, you'll see blondes having black-haired children, biracial people who look more black/Asian/etc. than their black/Asian/etc. parent, inexplicably large discrepancies in height between parents and children, and so on.

Sometimes families can look so unrelated that it can take focus from the story. "Where did Alice get black hair and brown eyes if Bob and Carol are green-eyed redheads?"

This can even interfere with the plot if a physical resemblance is a plot point (especially in an adaptation when characters get an Adaptation Dye-Job or otherwise don't match the physical description of the character in the original work).

There are certain justifications; the mechanics behind real life genetic inheritance are more complicated than the Mendelian model, which doesn't factor in mutations, malfunctions, and polygenetic traits. Also, casting around to get the most plausible genetics is not always practical—after all, you're not going to turn down Harrison Ford for a part because his eyes are the wrong color. Sometimes it's an Enforced Trope, as having a cast of characters who all look the same is rather boring.

On the other hand, you don't have that excuse in non-visual media or in animation where the powers that be have complete control over how characters look. And you could always give Harrison Ford contacts (or even digitally alter his eye color in post-production).

Compare Identical Grandson, Uncanny Family Resemblance, WTH, Casting Agency?, and Patchwork Kids, which can veer too far in the opposite direction. When done intentionally, the dissimilar child is a Chocolate Baby. Compare also Random Species Offspring when even the species of the offspring is different from the parents. Also see LEGO Genetics, for the Science Fiction take.

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Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
General note before adding examples:note 
  • Naruto averts this in general; if a character has an unusual hair color or facial feature, it's normally accounted for in their family— in the title character's case, his Implausible Hair Color and eye color were inherited from his father, while the shape of his face was inherited from his mother. Sasuke and Itachi Uchiha look exactly like their mother Mitoko except for the creases under their father Fugaku's eyes that Itachi inherited. Sakura's pink hair was inherited from her father (albeit his is a darker shade), while based on her mother's rather extreme bangs it's obvious who Sakura got her Forehead of Doom from.
  • Invoked for the merfolk in One Piece: due to their unusual biology, merfolk carry the genes of all their immediate ancestors, so family members are not even guaranteed to be of the same species. These three are full-brothers. Compare them in both appearance and size to their sister.
  • Chibi-Usa from Sailor Moon generated a ton of Wild Mass Guessing and Fan Wank back in the day because her coloration (pink hair, red eyes) was so different from that of her parents (blonde, blue-eyed Usagi and black haired, dark blue-eyed Mamoru). According to Word of God, her coloration was meant to make her resemble a baby rabbit to match her Punny Name. Also, hair colors in the manga weren't static—sometimes her mother Usagi was depicted with silver hair and even pink hair in her original design. Usagi herself is the daughter of a purple-haired mother and a black-haired, dark-eyed father, and has a brother with light brown hair and dark blue eyes.
  • Tenchi Muyo!:
    • The series is a strong aversion, even regarding facial features. In fact, the only character whose look isn't readily accounted for in their family is Tenchi's mother Kiyone (silver hair and gray eyes while her parents have black hair/brown eyes and green hair/yellow eyes, though a later entry showed she did have black hair as a young woman), and since she and her parents are two different kinds of Human Aliens, we have no idea how their genetics exactly work anyway.
    • Actually invoked in the main continuity with Aeka. She was born with curly aqua-green hair like her mother and sister, but later underwent gene manipulation to activate her father's genes for straight purple hair. She wanted her hair to be darker to look more like her black-haired stepmother Funaho so she could win the affections of her half-brother/fiancé, Yosho.
  • Takeshi and his sister from Your Lie in April have blond hair however their parents have dark hair. Similarly, Kaori's parents are brunettes but she has blonde hair. It's even more noticeable because they're the only characters in the series without black or brown hair.
  • Rin from Bunny Drop is a blonde but both her mother and father are black haired (though her father's hair was grey due to age). The manga revealed late into the series that Daikichi's grandfather isn't Rin's biological father. It's possible she got her hair color from her real father.
  • Nagisa Hazuki from Free! is a blond but has brunette older sisters.
  • Pokémon:
    • Cilan, Chili, and Cress are triplets who have green, red, and blue hair, respectively. Their eye colors match their hair colors.
    • According to Pocket Monsters: The Animation, Brock and his siblings are the result of his mother's multiple marriages, yet they all look exactly like Brock's father Flint. The Pokémon anime itself ignores the novel (for what it's worth, the book was written by Takeshi Shudō, the anime's original head writer, and is fairly revisionist in its depiction of events).
    • Misty and her three older sisters have different hair colors: red (orange toned rather than bright red), pink, blue, and blonde. The aforementioned books justify this by saying Misty's sisters wear wigs; however, the anime itself holds no such implications.
  • In the anime adaptation of Higurashi: When They Cry, Rena's parents have brown hair while she is a redhead. Averted in the manga adaptation, however, where Rena inherited her mom's hair colour.
  • Hair color in Beyblade Burst seems random at times.
    • Aiger Akabane has dark brown hair, his father has dark blue hair, his mother has orange/red hair, and his sister has a different shade of blue from their dad.
    • Valt Aoi and his father both have dark blue hair, his mother has black hair, while his twin siblings have bright pink and blue hair, respectively.
  • Towa/Cure Scarlet from Go! Princess Pretty Cure has significantly lighter skin than Kanata, in spite of being his younger sister. Made further complicated since her mother is shown to have dark skin like Kanata, but her father has fair skin, meaning she inherited her skin color from him, which wouldn't make much sense either, since mixed race siblings usually have the same skin tone as each other, meaning she would have dark skin like Kanata.
  • Attacker You!: You has red hair, her father has brown hair, her Missing Mom is revealed to be blonde...just like You's adopted brother who is not related to her anyway.
  • Stop!! Hibari-kun!: Hibari is blonde and has a black haired father. Two of her sisters are blue haired and the other is a brunette.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • Depending on the Artist, Spider-Man's Mary Jane Watson inherited her red hair from her father. Her mother is blonde... which means her mother either dyes her hair or there is a huge elephant in the room, as the older daughter Gayle is a dark brunette. You know, Gayle being the product of an extramarital affair could partially explain why their father was such an Abusive Parent...
  • Despite being a clone of Wolverine, Laura Kinney, a.k.a X-23 of X-Men is portrayed as having similar features to her mother Dr. Sarah Kinney, who, while not genetically related to her, carried her to term. Some stories claim that Dr. Kinney used some of her own DNA to stabilize the sample they had from Wolverine since it was damaged (which is the canon reason she's an Opposite-Sex Clone, since the original sample of Wolverine's DNA was apparently missing its Y chromosome), which would partially justify it. Eventually it was retconned that Laura was in act the biological daughter of Dr Kinney and Wolverine rather than being a clone.
  • Also from X-Men, supervillain Vulcan is the black-haired son of brown-haired Corsair and blonde Katherine Summers. The black hair could be part of his mutation, though.
  • Green Arrow:
    • In Injustice: Gods Among Us Black Canary's and Green Arrow's son is a blond, like them. The problem is, Black Canary dyes her hair blonde. She actually has black hair. It's possible the colorists forgot that and made her a natural blonde.
    • Connor Hawke is Green Arrow’s son with his college girlfriend Sandra Hawke, who is half Black and half Korean. Connor is shown to be a tanned natural blonde, meaning Sandra must be a carrier for the recessive blonde gene, suggesting some distant European ancestor. Which is actually fairly plausible, as due to the legacy of slavery many African-Americans have a certain degree of white ancestry and vice-versa.
    • When Lian Harper was first introduced she was drawn to look almost exactly like her father Roy Harper, with light skin and red hair, and basically looked completely white despite the fact that her mother, Cheshire, is Vietnamese. She was later redesigned to have darker skin, black hair and more Asian features.
  • Robin: Star, a girl Tim befriends while skateboarding, has light skin and blue eyes while her parents and brother are all Ambiguously Brown and seem to have latino or Filipino heritage.
  • In the Elseworlds series Superman & Batman: Generations, both Superman and Lois Lane are black-haired, but their daughter Kara is blond (though both Kara Jor-El and Lucy Lane are blonde, so it's possible that both parents carry the recessive gene). Whether the usual rules of Mendelian inheritance apply due to Clark being an alien isn't discussed.
  • Irey West, the daughter of the third Flash Wally West inherited his red hair, which is caused by a recessive gene. Therefore her mother Linda Park, who is Asian and has black hair, would have to be a carrier for the gene. The red hair gene does exist in some Asian populations but is extremely rare.
  • In various continuities, Aquaman and Mera's children have been either blonde-haired boys or, more recently, red-headed girls. Blonde and red hair are both recessive traits, meaning Arthur has two blonde alleles, and Mera has two red alleles, and any child of theirs would have one of each. Their children could realistically have any shade of auburn or strawberry blonde hair, but are always drawn as younger versions of their corresponding-gender parents with bright yellow or red hair. Then again who knows how Atlantean genes work.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, the eponymous character has spiky blond hair while his father's is black and his mother's is brown. Nothing is made of the issue in-story, apart from Calvin's dad occasionally theorizing that a nurse switched the basin, though this is in response to Calvin's nature. It's not impossible if both his parents were recessive carriers, but it's still fairly unlikely. Some kids at first also have light hair before it darkens.

    Fan Works 
  • In the The AFR Universe, Ryuji and Hifumi's daughter Natsumi has blonde hair (coincidentally, the exact same shade of blonde that Ryuji dyed his hair) despite both of them being natural brunettes. Their parents suggest that their ancestors might have had a kid with a Dutch missionary, leading both families to carry the recessive blonde gene until the two meet up.
  • Averted and lampshaded in The Second Try. In the notes for chapter 6, the author says that it's "almost blasphemy that he didn't make Aki a chibi-Asuka".
  • Parodied in this Fate/Grand Order fan comic, where the male Ritsuka marries Mash, though their daughter has the same orange hair as his sister. When Ritsuka wonders why the child looks like a love child between Mash and his sister, his sister points out the girl could have inherited the orange hair from their father.note  The male Ritsuka then says he was talking about his niece, who has the same purple hair as his wife.
  • Lampshaded in the epilogue of Son of the Sannin where it's noted in-universe to be bizarre that Naruto and Hinata somehow had a daughter with red hair even though it's a recessive trait that only one of her grandparents (Naruto's mother) carried.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, an interracial Official Couple emerged at the end featuring dark-skinned, ethnically Romani Esmeralda and blond, Caucasian adonis Phoebus. Come 2002, a direct-to-video sequel was released, in which Haley Joel Osment plays Esmeralda and Phoebus' son... who is a complete carbon copy of his father besides having his mother's green eyes, being equally blond and white. Dark melanin pigmentation genes are stronger than light ones, and though not entirely dominant, this should result in a skin tone slightly lighter than Esmeralda's. And blond hair is genetically completely implausible with Esmeralda's dark hair being a dominant gene over the recessive gene of Phoebus' blonde hair. In short, the only way to explain the child's completely white appearance is a retroactive Race Lift to Esmeralda, who, ironically, was already subject to a Race Lift in the original, going from a white girl adopted by Roma in the original book to a born one in the film.
  • The Incredibles has Violet, the daughter of blond Bob and redhead Helen, sporting black hair. Unless A) she dyes her hair or B) superhero genetics work differently than those of normal humans, this would be flat out impossible in reality, as black hair genes are dominant over red and blond hair genes, and thus her parents wouldn't have carried those genes at all, since their hair isn't black.
  • Inside Out: Mr. and Mrs. Andersen both have brown eyes and brown hair, but their daughter Riley has blue eyes and blonde hair. This is completely possible if both parents carry recessive genes, but still worth noting.
  • The Little Mermaid:
    • According to The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's Beginning both King Triton and his deceased wife Queen Athena are redheads. Despite this only one of their daughters is a redhead (Ariel). They have two blondes, one raven, and three brunettes. Their children should only have red hair. Either merpeople's dominant and recessive genes are different from humans, or...
    • Athena has a blue tail and Triton's is blue-green. Their daughters' tails are a literal rainbow (red, orange, yellow, sea green, blue, pink and purple).
    • The Broadway stage production is even weirder, since Triton is black, and his daughters are variously Asian, black, and white with a rainbow of different hair colors. And they all have the same tail color, more or less. Although Broadway is well known for favouring Ability over Appearance.
  • Elsa from Frozen has platinum blonde hair when her father had strawberry-blond hair and her mother had brown hair. It's implied though that her hair color is due to her powers, and if she didn't have them, she would have been either a brunette like her mother or a strawberry-blonde like her father and sister (her eyebrows imply the former).
  • Justified in Tangled with the very blonde Rapunzel being born from two brunette parents, since the hair is explicitly magical as a result of her mother eating the magic flower while pregnant that caused Gothel to later kidnap her, so her hair would be the same color had seen been born normally and once it's cut near the end it's shown to indeed be brown like her parents, which is hinted at by the color of her eyebrows.
  • In Trolls: World Tour, Prince D and Cooper have pink fur, a trait that neither of their parents have.
  • The snowball molly Duchess from The Aristocats has three kittens from the same litter: a similarly white-furred one, a black-furred one, and a red-furred one. Under normal circumstances this is impossible, however there are very complicated ways it can technically occur (such as if their father was a fertile male calico or Duchess was a calico with a white masking gene).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • All over the place in The Addams Family. Then again, they are Ambiguously Human after all. (That's not even going into Cousin Itt...)
    • Gomez and Morticia Addams have black hair, as does Wednesday. Pugsley, on the other hand, has light brown hair (Fester is shown to have brown hair when he doesn't shave his head, so it likely comes from Gomez's side of the family after all).
    • Gomez is an olive-skinned Dashing Hispanic. His brother, Fester, is pale and homely, with no such accent.
    • Amanda Buckman in Addams Family Values (who is, as far as we know, a regular human) is blond, but her parents have black (her father) and auburn (her mother) hair.
  • Lampshaded in F9, which has John Cena (white) as Jordana Brewster (Latina) and Vin Diesel (mixed race)'s long-lost brother. The siblings' father is played by J. D. Pardo, who is also Latino. Master hacker Cipher notes that the Torettos are a mixed family, but Jakob's "Nordic strain" is news to her. Ironically, John Cena isn't Nordic in the slightest (he's of English, French-Canadian, and Italian heritage; they're evidently conflating "nordic" with "white").
  • In Family Business Sean Connery plays Dustin Hoffman's father, while Hoffman in turn is Matthew Broderick's dad. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight...
  • Fireflies In The Garden casts Ryan Reynolds as the grown-up offspring of Julia Roberts and Willem Dafoe. While this is doubtful, it's not quite as doubtful as the idea of Roberts and Hayden Panettiere being sisters (and as for Panettiere growing up to look like Emily Watson...).
  • Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare: Red-haired Robert Englund and a red-haired mother equals...dark-haired and olive-skinned Lisa Zane?
  • Home Alone: Kevin McCallister has blond hair. His mother is a redhead, and his father and siblings have dark hair (his sister Linnie was also blonde in the first film, but was recast and portrayed by a brunette actress in the second film). Kevin's aunt and a few of his cousins are blond, but the aunt is not blood-related.
  • Imitation of Life (1934) has Delilah, played by the very dark Louise Beavers and her fair-skinned daughter, played by Fredi Washington. The latter was in fact a fair-skinned black actress, but it's still a bit surprising that Delilah could have a child as light as Peola. The 1959 remake cast a slightly lighter-skinned actress in the mother role, possibly to make it more believable.
  • Judge Dredd: Dredd is convicted of murder because bullets from a Lawgiver pistol are tagged with the DNA of the Judge who fired them, and forensic examination revealed the tag to match up with Dredd and were actually from his twin brother Rico. It doesn't seem like the DNA should match to begin with, as Rico is clearly not an identical twin of Dredd, which is the only case where they'd have the same DNA.
  • The DVD cover for Les Misérables (2012) calls attention to a minor example of this trope. Fantine has brown eyes, while her daughter has deep blue eyes as a child, but green eyes as an adult.
  • Love Jacked: Maya is played by Amber Stevens West, who's mixed race and thus much lighter-skinned than both her on-screen parents. Similarly Naomi, her cousin, is also played by a mixed race actress unlike the rest of their black family. It looks pretty jarring as a result.
  • Margarita with a Straw: Laila is played by an ethnic French actress born in India with a skin color much lighter than the actors playing her parents and brother, along with their features being very distinct. Therefore they don't look related at all to her.
  • Mrs. Doubtfire: Daniel and Frank are supposed to be brothers, yet are played by Robin Williams (blue-eyed and brown-haired) and Harvey Fierstien (brown-eyed and black-haired), who don't even have a passing resemblance to each other. Fierstein's casting was due to Ability over Appearance.
  • Similarly, Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing (1993) casts Denzel Washington as Don Pedro and Keanu Reeves as his brother, Don John (the bastard son of their father). Given both that and the relative quality of their acting, it takes quite the Willing Suspension of Disbelief to go along with it. It's possible, however, that they resemble their respective mothers.
  • A New York Christmas Wedding: David in the new timeline has two kids with his wife, who is White. Both are very dark-skinned, like him, which is genetically unlikely.
  • Poltergeist (1982) The Freelings are all very brunette with brown eyes. Except for Carol-Anne, who has platinum blonde hair and blue eyes.
  • San Andreas: Alexandra Daddario plays Dwayne Johnson (mixed race) and Carla Gugino's daughter. She and her onscreen sister Arabella Morton both are fully Caucasian. Due to this, neither character shows any sign of mixed racial heritage in their appearance, which is improbable for actual multiracial people.
  • Star Wars: Anakin Skywalker has blond hair (that turned light brown as he got older) and blue eyes. His mother Shmi had black hair and brown eyes. Since he's implied to have been fathered by the Force itself, it may be justified.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day has brown-haired, brown-eyed Edward Furlong play the offspring of blonde, gray-eyed Linda Hamilton and blond, blue-eyed Michael Biehn. It's also a retcon because Kyle mentions that John has Sarah's eyes.
  • The entire premise of Twins (1988) is essentially this. Long-lost fraternal twin brothers Julius and Vincent Benedict are portrayed by tall, muscular, handsome Arnold Schwarzenegger and short, chubby, homely Danny DeVito. Nobody believes they are twins (Vincent himself doesn't believe it until about halfway through the movie), but their differences in appearance are justified, as they are the product of a genetic experiment meant to make the "perfect" human by combining the reproductive material of six athlete and scholarly fathers. Unfortunately, the embryo didn't split equally and Vincent was saddled with all the "genetic garbage" while Julius got all the desirable traits.
  • In Warcraft (2016), Australian Travis Fimmel and Irish/Ethiopian Ruth Negga play siblings despite having notably different hair and eye colors and wildly different skin tones.

  • In many of the Chivalric Romances, Percival has a half-brother with a white father and black mother. The brother is piebald (that is to say, he has light and dark patches of skin like a checkerboard), as some horses and dogs are. Clearly, whoever wrote these stories didn't know how real people of this parentage look.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Similar to the examples in the film series, J. K. Rowling really didn't pay attention in high school bio. Though magical abilities seem to act recessively (e.g. two non-magical parents can have a magical child), Rowling ''says'' that it's actually dominant and can "become dormant" in certain lineages and resurface later (this would explain Squibs — muggles from magical families).
    • Magical abilities actually seem to act dominantly at times (when two magical people produce a Squib, for example), while acting recessively at other times (when two non-magical people produce a magical person because a distant ancestor had magical abilities). And that isn't even getting into the other abilities that can be passed down (Parseltongue, Metamorphagus, Harry's always crazy black hair).
    • Believe it or not, one fan explained a method, and wrote a six page biological paper on it. It utilizes the mechanism of single nucleotide repeats, the same mechanism for Huntington's disease.
  • In The Hunger Games Katniss has the same typical Seam traits as her father - dark hair, grey eyes, olive skin. Her sister Prim, however, managed to inherit their mother's merchant look with blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. One might wonder how that was possible when it's strongly implied that townfolks and people in the Seam haven't interbred for generations. It's possible that their father carried those genes too but it's highly unlikely. This has even spawned a fan-theory that Prim is Katniss' half-sister and that she might even be half-sister to blonde, blue-eyed Peeta (whose father had a romance with Katniss' mother when they were young).
  • A plot point in A Song of Ice and Fire. King Robert Baratheon had black hair and blue eyes and Queen Cersei Lannister is blond with green eyes and all three of their children are blond with green eyes as well. But all of Robert's known bastards are black-haired and every other time their houses have intermarried the children have had black hair so Ned Stark figures out that Cersei's kids were actually sired by her brother. It's plausible to put the Baratheon children's paternity in doubt, since having three children in a row with the same recessive trait only expressed by one parent is unlikely, but having a trait stick so tenaciously to one family after centuries of mixed breeding is extremely unlikely. A child has to inherit one allele or another from each parent, even if it isn't expressed.
  • Stray:
    • Pufftail is a brown tabby with white markings. He can't remember his mother, but he assumes his mother is also a tabby with white markings. Pufftail's brother Bootsie is a black-and-white tom. Pufftail's family isn't genetically possible for cats.
    • Pufftail is a brown tabby with white markings while Tammy is a grey tabby with white markings. Somehow, their two sons are ginger.
  • None of the Erin's care much for biological accuracy when it comes to Warrior Cats. There are numerous characters such as Graystripe, Lionblaze, Brambleclaw, Sandstorm, Ivypool, Mistyfoot, and Scourge who are either impossible for their parentage or are just plain impossible for cats, period.

  • In many stage shows, the producers will choose Ability over Appearance and cast vastly physically different actors as relatives. Not to mention if you're in the back row of the top balcony you probably won't notice if Hamlet has green eyes and Gertrude has brown.

    Video Games 
  • Dixie Kong and Tiny Kong from the Donkey Kong universe are sisters. They both have similar fur tones and blonde hair however Tiny is bipedal and fully clothed while Dixie is less anthropomorphic looking, walking on all fours and being a Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal. The difference in looks became even more noticeable when Tiny was aged up. Tiny is a tall, Humanoid Female Animal while Dixie more resembles Diddy.
  • Gaia Online, otherwise pretty good about NPC hair colors, retconned Ian into being a vampire in '07, around the time his father Vladimir was introduced (and killed). Ian's hair has since been recolored black, which he says is his natural color. The problem? Vlad has been confirmed as having dark brown, possibly even auburn, hair, and Ian's late mother Rosalie was a blonde. Despite this, it appears black in the manga, so it could be a retcon.
  • Harvest Moon 64: Karen is the only girl who has less than a passing resemblance to her implied grandmother, in her case Eve from Harvest Moon. The only resemblance is that Eve had blonde hair while Karen has blonde... bangs. Her cousin Cliff also inherited blond bangs from Eve.
  • The Last of Us: Joel has black hair, while his daughter Sarah is a blonde. Joel's brother Tommy also has blond hair, so it's not totally implausible (it's also possible that Sarah's unseen mother had blond hair.)
  • Metal Gear Solid: Snake and fellow Big Boss clone Liquid are not ordinary clones; the scientists who created them caused the dominant genes to be expressed in Snake, while Liquid expresses the recessive genes. Liquid, with a supposed IQ of 180, states that this means Liquid's genes are flawed. Snake, also with an IQ of 180, apparently does not see the problem with this. "Dominant" and "recessive" are value-neutral descriptions for genes. It simply means that if you have a dominant gene paired with a recessive, the former is the one whose trait will manifest in you. In the post-credits one-sided phone call, it's stated that Snake was actually the inferior one, so maybe the writers understood the genetics, or maybe they meant that Snake was the one with the recessive genes.
  • NBA 2K16's story mode, Livin' Da Dream, features the story of a player created character nicknamed Frequency Vibrations. Freq's race is customizable by the player, but his parents are both African-American, and Freq's mother mentions that she came up with the name while pregnant with him, discrediting the idea Freq was adopted. The implications of this are never brought up in story.
  • Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Ann Takamaki from Persona 5 is mentioned to only be one-quarter Caucasian American, with the remaining three quarters being ethnically Japanese. It's very unlikely for someone like Ann to look the way she does even if she were half-Caucasian, let alone a quarter. While she's mostly the way she is as a deliberate design choice in order to emphasize her status as an outcast, it's still pretty bad. This is especially considering that Persona 2: Innocent Sin actually featured a blonde-haired, blue-eyed playable character (Lisa Silverman) who not only actually was fully Caucasian, but also had a backstory that neatly deconstructed and examined life for an "exotic"-looking person raised in a monoethnic society; Ann's own history is barely mentioned again after the first arc of her game.
  • Pokémon Black and White: Cilan, Chili, and Cress are triplets with different hair and eye colors. Bonus points for each of them having their hair and eyes match each other AND their specialty Type all in one.
  • Played oh-so-straight in Solatorobo, where not only can vastly different races within the species breed freely (foxes with wolves and housecats with lions, for example), but Caninu and Felineko can have children with no problems as well. To top off the Hollywood Genetics, their offspring will be either Caninu or Felineko, not some sort of dog-cat hybrid.
  • Xenogears plays with this—because both of her parents are blond (as is everyone else on the Floating Continent Solaris) and she's a redhead, Elly feels like a literal Red-Headed Stepchild to her mother, thinking that her real mother was her red-haired nanny. However, this is both plausible (the way red hair works genetically allows for blonds to be recessive for it) and a moot point anyway, since the reason she looks like she does is because she is a Reincarnation of The Anti-Type.

  • In Alice and the Nightmare, a child of two different Suits (races/castes) will only inherit a Suit of one of their parents, and there's no dominant or recessive Suit. That's why, for example, it's impossible to guess that Dee, Dum and Edith are actually siblings, as they look completely different.
  • In Arthur, King of Time and Space Arthur and his son Mordred are both brunettes in every timeline, though the identity of Mordred's mother varies. In the baseline and space arcs his mothers are Arthur's black-haired half-sisters Morgause and Morgan, respectively, which would require either of them to have a recessive gene. While in the modern-day arc Mordred was born to Guinevere, a redhead, and his younger brother Galahad has black hair, like Lancelot.
  • Invoked via the musical example in Kevin & Kell, where in a production of West Habitat Story Fiona, a fox, is cast as Maria, while Rudy, a wolf, is cast as Maria's brother. Granted, Rudy does have some fox ancestry in him but he looks and identifies as a wolf. And it becomes moot when he's recast as Maria's would-be fiancé anyway.
  • In Savestate, Kade and Nicole are blue merle and red merle (respectively) Australian shepherds. Their mother is a blue merle, like Kade. The author has said that their father, who has yet to be introduced, is a standard red, thus averting this trope as far as they are concerned. If both parents were merles, the result in reality would likely be a very rare and problematic double-recessive genetic combination called a white Australian shepherd, which is susceptible to genetic defects involving their eyes and ears.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Cindy Vortex is a green-eyed blonde. Cindy's father has brown hair and brown eyes and while Cindy's mother has green eyes like her daughter, her hair is black. Many fans believe Cindy to be adopted due to this lack of resemblance and it's even brought up a time or two in the show itself.
  • Tony and Megan from The Amazing Spiez! are Ambiguously Brown, while neither their parents nor other siblings are.
  • American Dad!:
    • In the episode "The Kidney Stays In The Picture", it is revealed that Francine slept with a man named Joel Larson right before her and Stan's wedding, meaning Hayley may not be Stan's biological daughter. Francine is a brunette who dyes her hair blonde (though episodes are inconsistent with this. Francine's shown with blond hair as a child and her hair will often stay blond over long periods of time when she wouldn't have had access to hair dye. She was also shown in a future episode with graying blond hair, implying that it's undyed). Stan and Hayley both have black hair. Joel has brown hair and an Ambiguously Brown skin tone. The one thing Hayley and him have in common? A bandana.
    • The funny thing is that many viewers would have thought their son Steve would have a different father, due to him having brown hair (though it's stated in-universe to be red). But even if Francine was a natural blonde, such an outcome is far from unlikely. Steve's lack of resemblance to his parents is acknowledged in the episode "Stannie Get Your Gun". Roger plays a prank on Steve by convincing him that Stan and Francine had kidnapped him from another couple when he was three. All because Steve ate Roger's cookie.
      Steve: Why wasn't I in any of those old family videos?
      Roger: Well, that's 'cause all the footage was taken before you were adopted.
      Steve: What? What are you talkin' about? I'm not adopted.
      Roger: No, no. Of course not. That'd be silly. You look just like your dad.
    • "White Rice" reveals that Hayley had a twin brother named Bailey who died after Stan refused to vaccinate him. He had the same hair color as Steve.
  • Arthur: In "Arthur's Cousin Catastrophe", one of Arthur's cousins, Ricky, is significantly darker than his parents and siblings. He also has dark, curly hair, unlike his straight-haired family. His design was later changed in "Dancing Fools", making him lighter furred like the rest of his family.
  • In Batman Beyond, Terry's parents are both redheads (his dad being more of an auburn shade), Terry and his little brother had black hair. In the Distant Finale which was also a Fully Absorbed Finale (the Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue") it was revealed that Bruce Wayne is Terry's biological father by way of Cadmus mad science, fixing the whole mess. Apparently an Author's Saving Throw as a solution to people noting its impossibility (it also helps that Terry's parents already had marital issues that suspected infidelity could have contributed to). Note that it never occurred to anyone to simply suggest that one of them dyes their hair...
  • From Danny Phantom Sam Manson has black hair while her father and mother have blond hair and red hair respectively. Someone in the family probably dyes their hair. Given the fact that Sam's a Goth, it's most likely her.
  • The Lane family of Daria all have blue eyes except for Trent, whose eyes are black.
  • Family Guy has brown-haired Fat Idiot Bumbling Dad Peter and red-haired Lois. Their children are brown-haired Butt-Monkey Meg and Brainy Baby Stewie (Stewie Griffin: the Untold Story confirms this) and blond Chris. In and of itself, this is reasonable; Peter could have a recessive blond gene (which will dominate the red). However then we get Bertram, the kids' half-brother on their father's side. He has red hair, even as a sperm cell. Peter's biological father is red-headed, so he is definitely carrying the genes of red hair for Bertram to inherit, but it's very unlikely that he's masking blond hair, too. The fact that Lois is redheaded means that she most likely only has genes for red hair, so barring a mutation, it can't come from her, either.
    • Chris' hair is a leftover from the original pilot, where Lois was a blonde and Chris inherited her hair color. The actual show changed her hair red without changing Chris' hair.
      • A throwaway gag at the end of one episode would have us believe Chris was actually adopted from a Dutch family, all of whom look exactly like Chris, blond hair and all.
  • Hey Arnold! Gerald, his parents, and his older brother are all medium brown-skinned African-Americans. His younger sister, is light-skinned. Perhaps the crew caught on, since Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie shows her (as a background character) with a skin color closer to that of the rest of her family.
  • On The Jetsons, George and Jane Jetson are both redheads, yet their children Judy and Elroy are both blonde (Judy's being platinum, to be specific).
  • The Legend of Korra: Tenzin has blue eyes (that look gray in some scenes) and Pema has green eyes, yet their eldest daughter Jinora has brown eyes. It's even more egregious with her grandfather Aang having grey eyes and Katara's entire side of the family having blue eyes.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Baby Cakes", Mr. and Mrs. Cake (both earth ponies) have twins, who are a pegasus and a unicorn. Mr. Cake hastily explains that he has a unicorn ancestor, and Mrs. Cake has a pegasus ancestor, then sheepishly adds "That makes sense, right?" While the girl (the unicorn) has the same coloration as Mr. Cake at least, the boy has a completely different color pelt, mane, and eyes. What really drives the trope home: Mrs. Cake's pegasus ancestor was her great-aunt's second cousin twice-removed. Mrs. Cake does not actually share any DNA with this pegasus, yet she somehow passed it on to her son.
    • While it is Played for Laughs in the episode, there isn't ever any clear statement of how pony genetics work. Despite the variable number of limbs, they are all a single species. The existence of Cloudsdale indicates that you don't have surprise non-Pegasi births (as the city is made of clouds, any non-pegasus will fall through the floor), so it's likely a recessive gene.
  • South Park:
    • Kenny is blond, his parents have brown hair (his father) and red hair (his mother), and his older brother and younger sister also have brown hair. Although his father could have a recessive blond allele, which would be dominant over red hair.
    • Craig has black hair, but his father is a redhead and his mother is a blonde. Though if the blowup-doll replica of his mother and her bush is accurate, she's probably not a natural blonde.
    • A lampshaded case, which currently provides the page image, happens in the episode "Ginger Kids". Stan and Kyle visit the home of three ginger kids and discover that the kids' parents are brunettes. The couple explains that they both had recessive genes for red hair and that's why their kids look the way they do,note  though they seem quite disappointed about that.
    • Tweek has bright yellow hair while his mother and father have dark blonde and brown hair respectively.
  • Young Justice:
    • The tanned, blonde superheroine Artemis is the biracial daughter of blond, Caucasian supervillain Sportsmaster and the Vietnamese-American reformed supervillainess Huntress. While not outright impossible (such as if there was a blond, Caucasian ancestor on her mother's side, which could happen since Vietnam is a former French colony) Artemis' hair colour is, at best, unlikely. She's actually based on the daughter of one of the show's producers who is half-Korean on both sides (both parents are mixed race) and a natural blonde.
    • Cheshire herself has a child by the timeskip in season two. Lian is Roy's daughter and inherited his red hair color. She mixes her original comic design (which took completely after her father) with her more well-known redesigned look (which looks more like her mother). As with Artemis, it's justified in that Cheshire is multiracial, being Artemis' sister.
  • The Simpsons: Homer (had brown hair before he went bald) and Marge (blue hair) have three blonde kids. None of the Bouviers are blonde, and Abe Simpson also had brown hair... One episode claims that Bart's natural hair color is red, which makes it weirder.
  • Major characters in Jem have naturally technicolor hair but more minor characters don't. This extends even to parents, which causes this:
    • Kimber and Jerrica are two of the very few main characters who have both biological parents shown. Jerrica is near identical to their blonde mother but Kimber, with her pinkish-red hair, doesn't resemble either her father or mother. Her father has reddish hair, but not in the same tone as Kimber.
    • Raya's entire family has black hair except for her. She has pink hair and, according to a childhood flashback, it is likely natural.
    • The dark-skinned, blonde Riot has parents who are lighter skinned and have brown hair. According to "Riot's Hope", his skin and hair color are natural.
    • Purple-haired Clash has a reddish haired father.
  • Caillou: Caillou's dad has medium brown hair, and his mom has dark brown hair. His little sister Rosie has red hair.
  • Big City Greens: Tilly has black hair, despite her dad, brother, and grandmother having brown hair (though the grandmother's hair is grey now), and her mother being a redhead. However, an episode covering the Greens' family history shows some of the Green ancestors have a strong resemblance to Tilly.
    • Tilly's maternal grandfather has black hair, but since Nancy is a redhead, she couldn't have inherited the gene or passed it on to Tilly.
  • King of the Hill:
    • The brown-haired Hank and Peggy have a blond-haired son Bobby. Their parents also had brown hair in their youth, but it's implied it comes from Hank's side of the family, as Hank's half-brother who Cotton fathered from his second wife Didi, looks identical to Bobby blond hair and all.
    • It turns out that Hank has another half-brother named Junichiro, who was the result of Cotton's relationship with his Japanese nurse following World War II. Junichiro looks exactly like an Asian version of Hank, even though Hank gets his looks from his mother Tilly, who is of no relation to Junichiro.
  • In Infinity Train, the redheaded Tulip has a blonde mother and a brunet father.
  • Dave the Barbarian: Dave has brown hair. His father and sisters are redheads and his Ambiguously Brown mother has pink hair (Dave, Fang, and Candy all have tanned skin to reflect their mother's ancestry, however).
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Main character Marinette has blue eyes, while her parents have grey and hazel eyes.
  • Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil: The titular character's father, Harold, has dark brown hair while his mother, Honey, is a redhead. His siblings, Brad and Brianna, have black and blonde hair respectively. Harold could be hiding a gene for either of those shades, but not both and Honey would only have red hair genes.
  • Inspector Gadget: Gadget has black hair, while his niece Penny has blond hair. While Gadget's precise relationship to Penny is spotty (for all we know, he could be an uncle by marriage, or even an Honorary Uncle), it is suggested that the two are indeed blood related. According to Gadget and the Gadgetinis, both Gadget's parents had black hair, meaning that his sibling who's Penny's parent also likely has black hair, making it nearly impossible for Penny to be a blond (even if her other parent was blond) unless she dyes her hair. The 1999 live-action film made Penny a brunette like her uncle, but due to fan outcry and almost all of the original cast not returning for Inspector Gadget 2, Penny was once again a blond in that film.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • SpongeBob is square-shaped and yellow, looking more like a kitchen sponge than a sea sponge. His parents and other relatives (save for his cousin Stanley) are round and either brown or tan in color, much like actual sea sponges.
    • The fact that Mr. Krabs' daughter Pearl is a whale raises a lot of eyebrows. Whether she's adopted or her mother was a whale (and even then, the fact that a whale and a crab were able to reproduce raises even more eyebrows) is unclear.
  • Baby JJ of Cocomelon is blonde, even though his parents are, respectively, a brunette and a redhead. While JJ's mom could be hiding a recessive blonde hair gene, the fact that JJ's sister is a redhead like their dad suggests she must have a recessive red hair gene instead.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Satine Kryze has blond hair, her sister Bo-Katan is a redhead. While not totally implausible since we never see their parents (though it's widely speculated that they may be half-sisters.) it still sticks out. Satine's nephew Korkie is also a redhead, but Word of God has confirmed that Korkie is not Bo-Katan's son.
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Omega, in addition to being an Opposite-Sex Clone, has blond hair, while all the other Jango Fett clones have black hair (save for some such as Rex who likely dye their hair). It should be noted that Temuera Morrison's late sister Tiani was a natural blond.
  • Rick and Morty: Jerry Smith has light brown hair and Beth Smith has blond hair. Summer Smith is a redhead. None of the other Smiths or Sanchezes introduced to viewers have red hair. Morty Smith has medium brown hair, which isn't impossible, but very unlikely since his hair is darker than both his parents.