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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!"
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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.

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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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Examples

    open/close all folders 

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.
  • Nanny McPhee: The sub-plot involves the kids' father (Cedric Brown) being single and his snobby aunt Adelaide saying that he needs a new wife and trying to force him to marry an evil woman named Mrs Quickly. At the end, the kids get him out of it by having him marry Evangeline the maid.
  • 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.

    Literature 
  • 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).

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • When the Wakefield parents became estranged, daughter Elizabeth made several attempts at setting them up in the hopes of them reconciling.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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.

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

    Webcomics 

Unclassified

    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.

    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.
  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • 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 The Courtship of Eddie's 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.
  • 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 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 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 The Beasts Are on the Streets, the veterinarian Claire's young daughter Sandy constantly tries to persuade her to marry the ranger Kev.

    Live-Action TV  
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

     Radio 
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Powerpuff Girls secretly set up a date between the Professor and their teacher Ms. Keane at (what else?) a kids' pizza restaurant (episode "Keen On Keane").
  • In the Arthur episode "Bitzi's Break-up", Buster tries to play match-remaker with his mother, Bitzi, and her boyfriend, Harry, that have suddenly just broken up, with Buster wanting the two to stay together since Harry was a really nice, friendly guy, along with a worry that whoever his mom dates next won't be nearly as fun. He cooks up a scheme to get him to take her back, but it fails because it turns out 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.


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