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Kids Play Matchmaker

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"Straighten up their mess with togetherness!"

"Your single parent is really just waiting for you to set him or her up!"

The children decide they want a new mother/father and they have the perfect person in mind. Now if only they can get their parent to listen to them.

Common variants include:

  • Escape the Wicked Stepmother: The children are hoping to head off another romantic option at the pass. ("So Dad wants to get remarried, but he picked a horrible person, so let's find him someone better.")
  • 'Parent Trap' Plot: The children scheme to get their divorced or separated parents back together. The trope namer and trope codifier is The Parent Trap, and Lampshades or references to this are common.

Usually, the kids come up with a crazy plan to set up their parent(s) and Hilarity Ensues. Strictly speaking, this trope can apply to finding a partner for a Cool Teacher, mentor or grandparent; any adult who plays a parental role can participate in this plot. Some such examples may involve a Teacher/Parent Romance or Marrying the Nanny. If the people being set up are similar age or social status to the protagonist, that's Shipper on Deck, the supertrope to this.

Usually a subtrope of Parent with New Paramour, unless the First Father Wins. Contrast Remarrying for Your Kids. Compare Students Playing Matchmaker.

Contrast Kids Play Match Breaker, when the kids are trying to sabotage any new relationships for their single parent rather than hook them up. However, if the set-up is the first variant, the two can overlap if the kids are trying to break up their parent with the potential evil stepparent to make way for their approved choice.

When writing examples, please provide context about characters' relationships and motivations. Do not just list character's names!


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Escape the Wicked Stepmother

    Film - Live Action 
  • In Au Pair, two rich kids plot to bring their au pair together with their widowed father in hopes that their dad will dump his child-hating fiancee.
  • In It Takes Two, a rich girl and an orphan, who happen to look alike, conspire to set up the rich girl's dad, currently engaged to a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, with the orphan's case worker.
  • Nanny McPhee:
    • After finding out that their sabotage of their father's proposal to Selma Quickly would lead to their total ruin, and the break-up of the family, the children make amends by apologising to them, to try to bring the two back together.
    • At the climax of the film, after Selma Quickly leaves the wedding in a huff, the children keep their Great-Aunt Adelaide's allowance by setting up their father with Evangeline, the scullery maid, both of whom have feelings for one another. Why Waste a Wedding??

  • In The Penderwicks On Gardam Street, the girls invert this when they try to set their father up on terrible dates for fear of him falling in love with someone and saddling them with an Evil Stepmother. Eventually, they realize that their father and their single mother neighbor, Iantha like each other, and they try to set them up.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Amen. Fearing that her father Ernie is going to marry an environmentalist young enough to be his daughter, (though she's actually a very nice person) Thelma Frye tried to set him up with a friend of a friend, but it fails miserably.

"Parent Trap" Plot

    Fan Works 
  • Divorced: Princess Mina doesn't know who her father is but she knows that few Hylians have dark-skin like her, so she figures he's either Sheikah or Gerudo. She wants to find her father and bring him back so that he can be alongside her and her mother, Zelda.

    Film - Live Action 
  • The Parent Trap (1961) and The Parent Trap (1998): Two identical twin girls were Separated at Birth when their parents divorced and each parent took custody of one of the girls. When they eventually meet, they decide to try to get their parents to remarry. Also doubles as Team-Up Matchmaker.
  • A significant subplot in Submarine involves Oliver trying to keep his parents marriage together and reignite his parents' interest in each other (including their sex life).

  • Alice, the heroine of the Alice Series, attempts this on her father and her class teacher in Reluctantly Alice. Her father confronts her after the 'date', clearly very displeased.
  • Call Me Sunflower: When Sunny's adopted parents split up and her mom moves her and her sister to another state, she desperately wants them to get back together so she can go home. Her methods include blasting a playlist of Scott's favorite love songs, leaving pictures of Scott all over the house, and trying to find romantic photos for a photo album. Her effort fails, because Mom and Scott were actually Platonic Life-Partners who entered a sham relationship in order to Give the Baby a Father after Scott's brother Mark, Mom's true love and Sunny's legal adopted father, died.
  • Lottie and Lisa, the source material for The Parent Trap. Two twins Separated at Birth meet for the first time, and switch places. Then, they find out their father is going to marry, and decide to intervene.
  • Sweet Valley High: When the Wakefield parents became estranged, daughter Elizabeth made several attempts at setting them up in the hopes of them reconciling.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with on an episode of Frasier. Frederic appears to try this with Frasier and Lilith, but Lilith points out that he's never shown any desire for them to get back together before, and he had to know that they'd figure it out. She concludes that his real plan is to make them feel guilty so they'll buy him the minibike he wants as a present. She's right on the money.
  • How I Met Your Mother: In the aptly titled "Mom and Dad", Barney, upon observing his parents amicably greet each other at his wedding after not seeing each other for thirty years, becomes convinced that they are getting back together. Turns out, they're not... because his mom is getting back together with his half-brother James' father. Barney is upset, but begins supporting them after Robin points out that James, who is getting divorced, needs his parents back together more than Barney does.
    James: I WIN!
  • Lucifer (2016): Lucifer attempts to do this with his parents in season two's "God Johnson". They even reference the movie of the same name.
  • New Girl: Jess throughout her life tries to trick her parents back together.
  • Supernatural: After Dean and Lisa break up, Ben tricks them into meeting one another again for a date in an attempt to bring them together again. It doesn't work, and Dean even lampshades the situation by irritably telling Lisa that they were 'Parent Trapped'.
  • Tucker: Tucker attempts this in the Thanksgiving Episode. It doesn't work and he realises that his dad is actually happy in his new relationship with Debbie.

    Web Original 
  • Baby Mentalist sets her parents up on a picnic date at the end of episode 3.



    Anime and Manga 
  • This is the reason why Loid and Yor end up getting married at the start of Spy X Family. As Anya is a telepath who already knows that her adoptive father Loid is secretly a spy, she reads Yor's mind and finds out she is an assassin. Thinking that having a spy and assassin as her parents would be cool, Anya immediately makes a display about how much she wants a mother in front of both of them, which leads to Loid and Yor deciding to get together in order to throw off suspicions and fulfill their respective goals (Loid needs to have a wife in order to get Anya through the second phase of the Eden College admissions for his mission, while Yor wants to stop being an Old Maid).

    Comic Books 
  • In Titans, Lian Harper is a Shipper on Deck for her single father, Roy Harper, and Donna Troy. She often asks leading questions of both of them, inciting them to compliment each other or admit their feelings.
  • In X-Men, Carter Ghazikhanian used his psychic powers on a comatose Alex Summers, in order to make Alex fall in love with his single mother.

    Fan Works 
  • In Once Upon a Time fanfic Enchanted Tales with Belle, Bae says that he wants Belle to live with him and his father right in the first chapters, and eventually he is so enthusiastic about Mr. Gold marrying her that he insists on taking part in the proposal. His open eagerness about accepting Belle as a mother-figure does play a crucial part in the development of the romance, but it also leads to a bit of trouble when Belle gets worried that Mr. Gold only wants to marry her for his son’s sake.
  • Frostbitten Flower: As an adult, Cassandra tries to hook up her mother Celia with her Parental Substitute Marlin.
  • The Miraculous World of Caline Bustier:
    • A variant on the "escape the wicked stepmother" plot. Chloe's biological mother is a horrible woman who is neglectful on a good day. After she finally divorces her husband (who probably isn't Chloe's father; she's not sure and doesn't care) Chloe immediately sets her father up with her favorite teacher.
    • Marinette and Adrien's second daughter arrives from the future and realizes she has to push her parents together. Worst of all, she has to make sure that they have Their First Time so that her older sister can be conceived, because her father is too damn oblivious to even realize Marinette likes him. She hates every second of it.
      Plagg: So are you going to check on them or—
      Gina: No. I am not going to hide in the bushes while they do... that. At this point, if they need more help, then the timeline is just screwed.
  • In Second Chances (TheNovelArtist), it is mentioned Adrien spent a lot of effort convincing Gabriel a relationship with Nathalie will be good for him.

    Film - Live Action 
  • In About a Boy, Marcus attempts to set up Will with his mother, but they're not at all attracted to each other or a good match. Will ends up becoming a sort of Cool Uncle/Parental Substitute to Marcus and remains on platonic terms with his mom.
  • In The Beasts Are on the Streets, the veterinarian Claire's young daughter Sandy constantly tries to persuade her to marry the ranger Kev.
  • Billboard Dad has Tess and Emily put a personal ad of their widower dad on a billboard, prompting single women of Venice to seek him out.
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Mr. Potts' kids try to match him up with Lady Truly, doing so pretty unsubtly by ending his story to them with "then Daddie and Truly got married! Yeah!"
  • In The Courtship Of Eddies Father, the eponymous Eddie wants to set up his dad with their kindly neighbour, a nurse who already is a mother figure for the kid. The father is dating instead a sophisticated fashion editor, whom Eddie quite obviously doesn't like. In the end the kid always wins.
  • The Mighty Ducks: Charlie tries to hook up his (presumably divorced) mom and his hockey coach. They start to date, but it apparently falls apart between the first two movies as the coach starts to travel around in his new career.
  • In Miracle on 34th Street, Susan wants a father for Christmas and encourages Kris Kringle to help her get one. In the modern version, she is much more personally active in trying to set up her mother and the nice neighbor.
  • In Mom's Got a Date with a Vampire, the elder Hansen kids set up their mom on a date so they can sneak out of the house despite being grounded. Unfortunately, this comes back to bite them when their mom's date turns out to be...well, look at the title.
  • In Pay It Forward, a boy arranges a dinner between his Single Mom Stripper and his Cool Teacher by writing letters to each party claiming to be from the other side. It works out eventually.
  • Sleepless in Seattle: Jonah sees how sad his widowed father is, and calls a talk radio show to find him a wife. Many many women mail letters, but only one really connects with him. He (and his friend) spend the second half of the movie trying to get them together.
    Sam: (sighs) Jonah...the fact is, you aren't going to like any woman because it isn't your mother.
  • In Where the Heart Is Lexie's child has been molested by one of her boyfriends. The therapist suggests that she should go out with someone her son actually likes and trust and said guy is his frumpy baseball coach. It turns out to be the right choice and she ends up married with a good guy after a long string of deadbeats.

  • In The Orphan Train Adventures book "A Place to Belong": After his foster mother dies, Danny tries to match his foster father and biological mother.

    Live-Action TV  
  • On Bones there’s a season 6 episode where Booth’s son Parker keeps trying to get him to get together with Brennan. He’s still dating Hannah at the time after Brennan refused him, so Booth is focused on getting Parker to accept Hannah. Booth and Brennan finally get together at the end of the season.
  • In Degrassi: The Next Generation, K.C. tries to set up his mother with his academic quiz team coach both because she won't be constantly around him and because he feels she deserves to have some personal happiness outside of her parental duties. They do hit it off, but it ends up going nowhere as K.C.'s father reenters their lives and forces K.C. and his mom to move across the country for their safety.
  • During the first season of ER, a young boy fakes being sick in an effort to fix his mother up with Doug Ross. His half-annoyed, half-amused mother notes that this is not the first time he's done this.
  • Full House:
    • DJ and Stephanie (whose mother died) set their father Danny up with Stephanie's dance teacher. It goes well until Danny, who is a Neat Freak finds out that she's a slob. They sort things out by the episodes end, but she is never spoken of or seen ever again.
    • Michelle tried to set up Danny with her kindergarten teacher believing she'd make a good mommy because she and Danny both enjoy cleaning.
  • On Glee, high school sophomore Kurt Hummel gets his father and the mother of his Unrequited Crush to hook up. This Zany Scheme is an Epic Fail on that side due to Incompatible Orientation, but the parents do end up falling in love and getting married.
  • Never Have I Ever: In stark contrast to how badly she reacted the first time her mother Nalini tried to date after her father's death, Devi is incredibly supportive of Nalini's obvious crush on Andres. Even if Andres is the father of her current school nemesis Margot. Devi even makes up with Margot to help push their single parents together.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Teenagers Walter Denton and Harriet Conklin are constantly trying to help Miss Brooks get Mr. Boynton to marry her Miss Brooks' landlady Mrs. Davis helps Miss Brooks achieve her Series Goal in The Movie Grand Finale. In "Blind Date", they're successful in patching up a serious quarrel between Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The main character, Captain Sisko, is a single father of a teenage boy named Jake ever since his wife Jennifer died. In a few episodes, Jake introduced Sisko to this woman named Kasidy Yates in hopes they'll end up dating. They do.

  • In The BBC Radio 4 dramedy pilot Disordered, Hector's ten-year-old son William is clearly trying to set his divorced dad up with their neighbour Susan, inviting her to their Star Trek nights, and openly wondering why his mother couldn't be more like her.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Arthur episode "Bitzi's Break-up", Buster tries to play match-remaker with his mother, Bitzi, and her boyfriend, Harry. After learning that they broke up, Buster — who really enjoyed hanging out with Harry and is worried that his mom's next boyfriend next won't be nearly as fun — cooks up a scheme to get him to take her back. It fails because he fundamentally misunderstands the situation, that she broke up with him as she doesn't have any more time to pursue a relationship. Fortunately, the two still remain friends, and Harry reassures to Buster that they can still hang out.
  • The Casagrandes: Rosa convinces Ronnie Anne and Bobby to set their divorced parents up to meet at a favorite restaurant after Rosa’s favorite psychic predicts a lifetime of happiness for Maria’s sign if she is "back with her ex" by that evening. Turns out, the "back" isn’t "getting back together", but getting back as a family with her kids and their father, arranging a regular family night for the four of them.
  • DC Super Hero Girls 2019: Under the impression that her father is lonely, Zatanna sets him up on a date with her art teacher, June Moone. She finds out too late that June is the host of the Enchantress, and has to save both of them from her machinations.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S2 E17 "Hearts and Hooves Day"" the Cutie Mark Crusaders try to find a boyfriend for their teacher Cheerliee.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): In "Keen on Keane", the PPGs secretly set up a date between the Professor and their teacher Ms. Keane at a kids' pizza restaurant.
  • In The Simpsons episode "You Kent Always Say What You Want", Rod and Todd, concerned about their father's rage over a trivial matter, suggest he needs a new mommy.
  • Sofia the First: In "The Silent Knight", Sofia helps set Sir Bartleby up with her Aunt Tilly after seeing that he has a crush on her. She helps him try to impress her without using his high-pitched voice, which he's embarrassed about, but after messing up his poem, song, and dance for Tilly, he almost gives up. Sofia then encourages him to be himself and tell Tilly the truth about his voice and confess his feelings to her, and true enough, she likes him back because she likes his voice.