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Immigrant Parents

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Sometimes, a typical (Insert Main Nationality Here) character turns out to have parents who aren't originally from here; they immigrated from some other country, very often The Old Country, and usually still have enough Tropistanian mannerisms to stick out like sore thumbs. They may talk funny (assuming they speak English), dress funny, and perhaps even reveal that their "hip everydude" offspring has a hilariously foreign name. Expect them to be a source of embarrassment when they show up, and there may even be some drama about the conflict between one's cultural heritage and the norms of the society in which he lives.

Likely to involve some or all of Cultural Cringe, Internalized Categorism and Stop Being Stereotypical, and may spur their kids' "Rediscovering Roots" Trip. May ultimately lead to An Aesop about accepting one's roots and respecting how difficult it must have been for them uproot their lives... or may just be milked for some cheap Funny Foreigner gags.

This has some basis in reality.


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    Comic Books 
  • Captain America is a first-generation American whose parents immigrated from Ireland. This is a parallel to his creators, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who were both children of immigrants. Simon's parents were from Northern England and Kirby's were Ashkenazi Jewish from modern-day Austria.
  • The premise of The Best We Could Do is that Thi fled Vietnam as a child and grew up in the United States, in contrast to her parents, who were "fully-formed elsewhere" and had more difficulty assimilating. Both were distant with their children, and Thi laments her Child of Two Worlds situation. Now, Thi tries to put their family history together in order to better understand her parents.
    Thi: And that if I could see Vietnam as a real place and not a symbol of something lost, I would see my parents as real people and learn to love them better.
  • Maus is a retelling of the author's immigrant father's experiences. Cultural Cringe is in full force here, as his father is a Holocaust survivor... and as big a racist, kvetching, cheapstake, Grumpy Old Man of an Alter Kocker as anyone will ever meet.
  • Ms. Marvel (2014): Kamala Khan's parents, Yusuf and Aisha, are from Pakistan.
  • Robin (1993): Ariana's father, aunt and uncle are from Ukraine. Her mother is dead but also implied to be from the country, and Ari goes to live with her aunt and uncle after her father's murder.
  • In Jew Gangster, Ruby's parents are Jewish immigrants from Poland who arrive in the United States via Ellis Island.

    Fan Works 
  • 25m Distance Between Us, a Super Mario Bros. fic:
    • Pauline's parents are Italian immigrants who moved to Metro Kingdom. The local, poor Italian immigrants tended to band together, so she ended up meeting Mario due to her parents. In this verse, Italy is in Another Dimension, but it's never mentioned how they travel between the dimensions.
    • Mario and Luigi's parents are Italian but the twins were born in the Mushroom Kingdom. Their family fled the kingdom when they were infants.
  • A.A. Pessimal's Discworld saga Strandpiel deals with a sort of immigrant family in Ankh-Morpork. The title is a Discworld-themed play on the "soutpiel" concept, used to describe South Africans with a foot in two places - one in South Africa, the other elsewhere. note  A girl whose father is Ankh-Morporkian and whose mother is from Rimwards Howondaland muses on what it is to be brought up speaking one language in the home and with family, but Morporkian in the wider world. Her mother is very uncompromisingly Howondalandian, and this shows. Bekki and her sisters grow up as a part of two communities and two nationalities; the wider story introduces "strandpiels" of other nationalities and backgrounds who also have to come to terms with multiple nationality. One set of children have four nationalities and three languages to get to grips with...
  • In the Scooby-Doo fanfic now that i can see your face (i can stand up to anything.), prior to his birth, Shaggy's parents moved from Lebanon to chase The American Dream.
  • While Julieta had lived in the Encanto since she was a baby, in Distance Wakes The Heart Up Agustin had found it by accident, having taught survival skills to his daughters in family camping trips.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Kung Fu Panda, Po's father is a goose with a thick accent and Po is a panda without an accent. It's obvious to the viewer that Po must be adopted but the film doesn't make much of it and it's pretty much forgotten. Turns out this little tidbit is very important to the plot of the sequel.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Father of the Bride (2022): Billy and Ingrid are both Cuban immigrants who met in Miami and started a family. Billy likes to talk about how he came to America with nothing and slowly became one of Miami's most renowned architects. One of the film's thematic conflicts is Billy wanting to hold on to his cultural traditions, and his daughter Sofia wanting to start her own.
  • In the Godfather saga, Don Vito Corleone (born Andolini), The Patriarch of the Corleone family and father of Sonny, Michael and Fredo, was born in Sicily. He moved to the USA as a child in 1901 when his life was threatened by Don Ciccio after the massacre of his parents (which he would avenge eventually).
  • In Knives Out, the mother of Marta Cabrera is an undocumented immigrant from an unspecified Latin American country. The Thrombeys don't ever seem to get said country right, thereby further exposing their xenophobic tendencies.
  • Umma: Amanda was raised in the U.S. by a Korean mother who was isolated from everything she knew and who could not speak English.

  • Children Of The River combines this trope with Parental Marriage Veto and Star-Crossed Lovers for maximum drama.
  • In Christina Dodd's Darkness Chosen series, Konstantine and Zorona Wilder—the patriarch and matriarch of the Wilder family—are originally from Russia; he the head of a powerful family of shape-shifting warriors, she a Gypsy. They immigrated to Washington state and grew grapes. All of their sons have traditional Russian names (Jasha, Rurik, and Adrik), they eat traditional food, and are very connected to their heritage.
  • On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: Little Dog's mother Rose and grandmother Lan emigrated to the US from Vietnam, and are fittingly outsiders in society. Little Dog is at odds with them because he was raised in America.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Adventures of Shirley Holmes, Bo's parents are Ukrainian immigrants. They speak with a heavy accent and own a fish shop in Redington. They named their son "Francis Boris" after St. Francis—a name he doesn't like all that much, he prefers going by "Bo". His father was also part of a typical Ukrainian dance troupe, and he has a cousin that is part of one as well.
  • Beef: Both Danny and Amy experienced some difficulties growing up as second-generation Asian-Americans:
    • Danny's need to always keep Paul underfoot stems from his parents having difficulty for both of them. He also feels like he has to successfully provide them with a home as the eldest son.
    • Amy's emotional repression and tendency to ignore her problems until they spill over comes from being estranged from her parents and their somewhat tumultuous marriage.
  • Referenced in episode 1.01 of Boardwalk Empire
    Nucky: "Is that a bit of the Old Country I hear?"
    [woman comments about her husband saying her accent makes her sound like an immigrant]
    Nucky: "Well, aren't we all immigrants?"
  • Forever: Henry and Abigail are both British, but move to New York while Abraham is still a baby. He grows up in America and has a typical New York Jewish accent. It's implied that they sometimes had to move away from New York, or even North America, for varying periods of time, but were in one place until Abe was ten or twelve, prime age for an accent to become fixed, and came back to New York frequently. Henry at least kept many British habits and his British accent. (Fanon is that Henry and Abigail made an effort to be sure their adopted son, a concentration camp survivor, grew up in the Jewish culture as much as possible.)
  • One of the driving forces for comedy in Goodness Gracious Me is the disparity between first-generation Asian immigrants to Britain who preserve the old ways, speak their own language for preference, and preserve the cultural norms of Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. Then you get their British-born children, who dress western (where they can get away with it), speak with British accents, have different norms and expectations, and love their parents but find them exasperating and frequently embarrassing. The British-born children of Pakistani immigrant Citizen Khan have the same dilemmas.
  • In ''Laverne & Shirley, Laverne DeFazio's father Fabrizio "Frank" was born in Italy and moved to the USA.
  • Master of None has Dev's parents, who immigrated to the US from India. A whole episode, "Parents", is dedicated to showing both his and his friend Brian's parents' immigration stories.
  • Paper Girls: Erin's mom is from China and doesn't speak much English, so she's concerned when it seems like an emergency happened that her mom won't know what to do.
  • In the Shake it Up episode "Vatalihosit It Up", Gunther and Tinka's parents are shown to be just as crazy as them.
  • In To the Manor Born DeVere's mother still retains her Czechoslovakian name and accent.
  • On Youngers, Yemi's Nigerian mother is shown to be overly strict and religious. She considers his rap career "nonsense" and also makes him participate in the music ministry of her Pentecostal church.
  • Gentefied:
    • A variation, with the cousins' grandfather Pops being a Mexican immigrant. He once waxes poetic about how he came to America to make a better life for his family.
    • Ana's mother Beatriz is a Mexican immigrant as well. Ana interprets this as a reason for her Fantasy-Forbidding Mother tendencies; Beatriz has been working hard since she was young and holds Ana to the same standard. At her art show, Ana thanks her mother for being a provider and an inspiration.
  • Ramy's parents Farouk and Maysa are Middle Eastern (Farouk is Egyptian, Maysa is Palestinian-born but moved around a lot and met Farouk in Egypt) and never really acclimated to a post-9/11 New Jersey.
  • Sex Education: Eric's parents are Nigerian immigrants to Britan. Eric is Camp Gay, to his parents' consternation; in addition to cultural attitudes they brought over, they also don't want him to draw too much attention to himself.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Ivan Bjelnič's parents grew up in Yugoslavia, but migrated to the US during the country's political upheaval. Their revenue isn't as strong as it was in their old country, but they still try their hardest to support their son, which in turn has made him incredibly loyal to them.
    • Benjy Pathik's grandparents were nomads who travelled from city to city for years until they were able to settle in New York. While they enjoyed the modern excess, their daughter came to be at odds with it and pursued a career in psychiatry, which in turn has greatly influenced how she treats Benjy.

  • The plot of Conversations with My Father is driven by this, as Charlie tells the story of his troubled relationship with his Russian immigrant father, Eddie Ross.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, Morgan’s parents are mentioned (and Uncle Tommy is shown) to be from England. This does doesn't have much bearing on the story, but Uncle Tommy is shown to view the drinking of tea as Serious Business.

    Web Video 
  • A lot of the humor in Abuela stems from Abuela being a Cuban immigrant while her grandkids are American born.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: Anne's parents are Thai immigrants. Her status as a first-generation Thai-American is part of what led to her getting bullied prior to the start of the series, but Anne's generally proud of her culture.
  • The Betty Boop short "Minnie the Moocher" had Betty arguing with her Poirot-speaking German parents.
  • Gunther's parents in Kick Buttowski seem to come from a Scandinavian country where the Viking lifestyle has apparently never fallen out of fashion.
  • Molly of Denali: Tooey's father Kenji used to live in Japan before moving to the United States.
  • Implied to be the case for the parents of Hector Cruz and his older sister in Ozzy & Drix—Mr. and Mrs. Cruz both speak with noticeable Latino-accents while neither of their kids do.
  • A Pup Named Scooby-Doo had Scooby's parents show up in one episode. Cue accents, hats and the fact that his full name is Scoobert.
  • Rugrats: Didi Pickles' parents are obviously not originally from the United States—although it's never confirmed where they're originally from, it's implied that Didi's parents are from somewhere in Russia or Ukraine (the Soviet Union in either case)), such mentioning borscht (a popular soup in Eastern European countries) and talking about The Old Country. During production, voice actress Melanie Chartoff asked which "old country" they were supposed to be from. Answer: "The Jewish one!"
  • The Weekenders has Pteratishkovna "Tish" Katsufrakis, whose parents have heavy accents, wear unusual clothes, and immigrated from some country with an unpronounceable name.