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Like a Son to Me
aka: Like A Daughter To Me

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Iroh: I'm sorry. I just nag you because, well, ever since I lost my son...
Zuko: Uncle, you don't have to say it.
Iroh: ...I think of you as my own.

A character tells another that they're like a son or daughter to them, possibly even "the son/daughter I never had."

This is common with mentors who have a similar role to raise and educate their students as parents. A sufficently tight-knit Master-Apprentice Chain can look like a multi-generational family.

A character would absolutely kill to hear this from their "Well Done, Son!" Guy/"Well Done, Daughter!" Girl, if they've got one.

Compare Parental Substitute and Happily Adopted for situations where this could occur and A Father to His Men for military examples. See also Like Brother and Sister. Also Why Are You Not My Son?, where a character has actual offspring or relatives they dislike, and compare them with someone that's Like a Son/Daughter to Them.

Frequently a form of So Proud of You and may result in a Platonic Declaration of Love. If the mentor decides to make the relationship official, this may result in an Adult Adoptee (if the student is already of age).


Contrast I Have No Son!/Daughter!.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Madame Red, Ciel's maternal aunt, in Black Butler thinks of him like one. This would save his life and cost Madame Red her life.
  • Bleach: In the Soul Society arc, Yamamoto tells Ukitake and Kyouraku they are like sons to him just to emphasise exactly why he's he's not simply going to whip their hides for betraying him but will instead obliterate them off the face of the earth.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball: The Muten Roshi at his best non-perverted moments is like a grandfather to the Turtle Hermit's School, especially to Goku.
    • In the Dragon Ball Z anime, during the Beam-O-War between Gohan and Cell, Piccolo says that Gohan is a like a son to him.
    • Future Trunks saw future Gohan in this light due to Vegeta getting killed off in the Bad Future, Trunks loved Gohan enough that his death at hands of No. 17 and No. 18 is what pushes him into becoming Super Saiyan in one of the biggest Tear Jerker moments in the series. Trunks is amazed to see Gohan alive in the present time, though he says nothing to about his bond with Gohan. Present Gohan is a big brother figure to kid Trunks too.
    • Uub sees Goku in this light in Dragon Ball GT; Goku even gives him the Flying Nimbus at the end of manga.
  • Master Makarov of the Fairy Tail guild considers all of the guild members to be his children (and one of them is his actual grandson). In one chapter, when Erza Scarlet is having a near-death experience and seeing the world as if she has died, he specifically mentions loving her like a daughter.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has this between the Elric Brothers and their alchemy teacher in Izumi. Beyond learning alchemy on her, she served as a stern disciplinary figure to them and martial arts teacher. This becomes more poignant when we learn that in the same way the Elric Brothers' hubris in trying to bring back their mother cost them, Izumi made the same mistake trying to resurrect her stillborn child. In a roundabout way, they did get what they wanted in finding each other.
  • Kalinin views Sousuke in this light in Full Metal Panic!. He even had plans to formally adopt him before he was driven to defect from the USSR. Even his betrayal of Mithril and Sousuke turn out to be rooted in parental love—Leonard's plan would have allowed Kalinin to Give Him a Normal Life.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, Tamahome's mentor Tokaki urges him to leave with Miaka and the Suzaku Seishi as the building they're in begins to collapse, all the while telling him to take care and that he cares for his protegee like a son. As in most other cases, Tamahome's father was already dead when Tokaki said this, but what's touching is when Tamahome then calls Tokaki "father".
  • In Great Pretender, Yakuza boss Suzaku starts seeing Makoto as a replacement for her missing son, who ran off several years back. She even gifts him a tie her son used to wear. He, for his part, starts seeing her as a mother figure in kind... even though she's his mark.
  • Played for Laughs in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Since Fujiwara helps Shirogane with a variety of subjects such as sports, music, cooking and even folding balloons, she's called him her son when emotional; her stupid, hopelessly annoying son who can't do anything right, destroying her image of him. But despite even gaining a trauma when it comes to helping him, she just can't help but teach him when he's failing, even once getting jealous when Kaguya started teaching him.
    Fujiwara: I raised that boy.
  • Lone Wolf and Cub: The very last panel of the series is of a fatally wounded Retsudo Yagyu declaring the recently orphaned Daigoro his "grandson of the heart".
  • In Magi: Labyrinth of Magic the Magi Scheherazade feels this way towards her subordinate, a young magician named Titus Alexius, who also feels the same way, saying that he considers her his mother. Given that Titus is her clone, one could say that they are indeed parent and child.
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Kobayashi develops this kind of relationship with Kanna in spite of being centuries younger than the diminutive girl dragon. In formal terms, she's Kanna's legal guardian, and to simplify things, she's Kanna's mom to their friends and acquaintances.
  • In My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, Midoriya asks if it's alright for him to use All Might's guest invitation to I-Island, as it's supposed to be reserved for someone extremely close like family. All Might assures him that through One For All, their bond is thicker than blood.
  • In Naruto, the titular character has two specific relationships invoking this trope.
    • The first is with his Academy instructor, Iruka Umino, who openly states that Naruto is like a little brother to him and becomes a Parental Substitute to Naruto in the first episode of the series. It's this influence in Naruto's life that has kept him from becoming a psychotic killer — like, for example, Gaara. By the end of the anime series, Iruka is fully acknowledged as Naruto's father figure.
    • The second is Jiraiya, who often treated Naruto like a grandson. This relationship is later confirmed after Jiraiya's death by Iruka, who tells Naruto that Jiraiya was always bragging about him and had mentioned multiple times that he thought of Naruto as a grandson.
      • Furthermore, it's revealed that Jiraiya was Naruto's godfather and a father figure to Naruto's father, Minato Namikaze. However, a combination of factors (Jiraiya's espionage missions and probably being unprepared for parenthood given he is an eccentric "super-pervert) meant he was largely absent for Naruto's early years, but they quickly bond when they train together.
    • Tsunade is third and only mother figure to Naruto, though she didn't care much for him at first, Naruto reminded her of her little brother Nawaki and lover Dan Kato due to his Wide-Eyed Idealist nature and dream of becoming Hokage. After assisting her and Jiraiya in fighting Orochimaru (where she saved his life) Tsunade gives him the first Hoakage's necklace and a kiss on the forehead for good measure. Though she finds his reckless behavior troublesome, saying he has inherited Jiraiya's antics. But when the fourth Raikage doubts Naruto, Tsuande gives him her undying support and how proud she is of him. She also motherly to Sakura and has passed down all her teachings to her
    • Kakashi is of course one as well, but was separated from his sensei's son due to the instance of the Third Hokage (and Kakashi's own truama along with being in the ANBU Black Ops). Upon meeting Naruto when forming Team 7 he grew to like him, but found it easier to train Sasuke. After two arcs Kakashi, no longer held back in acting fatherly towards Naruto, often checking up on him in his apartment and making sure he was eating well. When Naruto learned his wind jutsu, Kakashi tried to give him a hug but Naruto only freaked out over his sensei being so weird. Towards the end of the series Kakashi tells how proud he is of Naruto especially in comparison to Sasuke.
      • Kakashi is also a father figure for Sakura, especially considering her actual parents never appear outside filler.
    • Might Guy acts fatherly to everyone on his team but clearly favorites Lee and has a close bond with him.
  • One Piece there are plenty of examples:
    • Shanks is the big one for Luffy, not only inspiring Luffy to become a pirate but sacrificed his arm to save Luffy from a sea king and gave him his strawhat and told Luffy to give it back to him once he had made as pirate. When asked by Whitebeard how he lost his arm, Shanks said simply he made a bet on the future, this connection caused Luffy's marine grandfather to bear a grudge against Shanks for "filling Luffy's head with poison". During the aftermath of Marineford, Shanks asks his old rival Buggy to give Luffy's hat back to him saying it isn't time to return it yet.
    • Dr. Kureha never tells him directly, but bids Chopper farewell by saying, "Have a safe trip, my stupid son."
      • In the same vein is Dr. Hililuk, the first human to befriend the misfit reindeer.
    Hililuk: In a few moments, a monster will arrive here. He's my son. Please, don't hurt him.
    • Whitebeard calls his crewmembers and allies working under him as his sons. They in return also call him "Dad".
    • Former pirate turned chef Zeff was one to Sanji, who taught everything regarding cooking, fighting style and manners. This becomes especially prominent when we meet Sanji's biological family, a cruel Mad Scientist who turned most of his children into sociopathic living weapons with the exception of Reiju, the only girl, and Sanji was spared due to the rushed actions of their mother. Sanji makes it clear that he does not see Judge Vinsmoke as his father, but "Red-Leg" Zeff.
  • In Overlord, Ainz eventually admits to thinking of Pandora's Actor as his own son, even giving him permission to call him "father" (albeit in private, so as not publicly give him special treatment).
  • A rather strange example in Skip Beat! occurs when the main character, Kyouko, is given an "assignment" to improve her characterization technique by a famous actor that she's been tasked to help during his stay in Japan. She has to act the part of his son for a day or two, and by the end of the exercise they have bonded and he tells Kyoko that she can keep calling him "father."
  • Sword Art Online: In the Alicization arc, Bercoulli muses to himself that he viewed Alice not only as a disciple, but as his daughter right when he dies after defeating Vector.
  • Tokyo Ghoul gives us a particularly heartbreaking example in the final chapter. After Shinohara is left comatose with little hope of recovery, his wife finds Juuzou sitting at his bedside. While talking, she reassures him that her husband loved him like his own child. After she leaves the room, Juuzou promises to work hard for Shinohara's sake and tenderly kisses his forehead, showing that the former Psychopathic Manchild has finally learned how to care about others.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs:
  • Hiroko, Saki's best friend to Kousei, Saki's son, in Your Lie in April. Even though she doesn't make an appearance until The Stinger in episode 10, she's been established as something like Kousei's second mother and even refers to him as her son.
  • In the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh!, during the anime-only Virtual Nightmare Arc, the Virtual Ghost of Seto Kaiba's abusive adoptive father Gozaburo angrily tells Kaiba he treated him better than his own son.
    Kaiba: "Thanks. For nothing."

  • Alfred may officially be Bruce Wayne's butler, but he was always more of a surrogate father to him after Thomas and Martha's untimely deaths (at least in Post-Crisis.) When Superman asked him if he was all right after Bruce's apparent death in Final Crisis, he answered "No, I am not all right. My son has died."
    • It's similarly inverted: in the same series, Alfred finds a video will that Bruce made for him. In it, Bruce remarks that Alfred isn't like a father to him—he is his father.
    • Bruce himself treats the Robins as his sons, most notably in Dick Grayson though it also extends to Jason Todd and Tim Drake. He adopts Cassandra Cain as his daughter and he does come around to view Stephanie as sorta one. Meanwhile, Damien is his actual blood son, but things are a bit complicated due to him being raised by his mother Talia for the first decade or so of his life without his awareness.
  • Barry Allen considers Kid Flash and later the third Flash Wally West as his own son. The two are quite open about this, with Barry referring to Wally as his son frequently, to the point that his own kids were somewhat jealous of Wally. Barry even gave Wally his father's family watch as a high school graduation present to signify this. It became a key point in DC Rebirth, where thanks to their strong bond bypassing even reality-altering powers, Barry was able to bring Wally back into the world from the Speed Force. Unfortunately, their bond becomes increasingly muddled due to the fact that everything that's gone wrong in Wally's life, including being trapped in the Speed Force, was all thanks to Barry's selfishness and his ignorantly causing Flashpoint. And Barry only proceeds to make things worse for Wally since his return. Even though the two eventually patch things up, and Barry's actions were Handwaved as being influenced by Professor Zoom, it's disturbing to note Wally's forgiveness doesn't match up to the sheer depth of Barry's betrayal of his trust.
    • The Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, had something like this for the rest of the Flash Family, particularly during Wally's era. He at one point formally adopted Bart Allen, has told Jesse Quick multiple times she's like a daughter to him (and she's remarked on how much of a second father he is to her), and he regularly treated Wally like his son. He was more like a much older brother figure to Barry however, as the two weren't nearly as close so he had less time to spend with him.
  • Big Nate: Played for Laughs. Mrs. Czerwiki the detention monitor writes in Nate's yearbook that he's just like her son. The kicker: her son's in prison.
  • The Ancient One refers to his disciple Doctor Strange as "the one I am pleased to call son" or simply "my son."
  • In the newspaper-comic Drabble, Norm makes his father a sundae, prompted this exchange:
    Ralph: Wow, thanks, Norm! You're like a son to me!
    Norm: Dad, I am your son!
    Ralph: *clearly not paying attention, focused on eating* Oh, yeah huh.
  • Inspector Bloch really cares about Dylan Dog. Even more than about his own family, as it was shown in "200".
  • Garfield once encountered this in a week-long strip series, when a newborn chick imprints on him and calls him "Daddy." After daily jokes (such as the chick refusing to eat Italian food, and Garfield saying "NO SON OF MINE WOULD REFUSE LASAGNA!"), the fat cat sends the little bird away. The chick sadly says "Goodbye, Daddy"...and Garfield sheds a tear.
    • It's heavily implied that Jon loves Garfield and Odie as if they were his children (especially considering he doesn't have any of his own). In a lengthy arc, he's so distraught at the thought of losing them that he travels to a pet shop to try to adopt new animals.
    • Similarly, Garfield tends to treat Pooky, his teddy bear, as his baby. In early strips, he would panic whenever Pooky was "hurt" (an arm falling off, being unstuffed, etc.) and demand that Jon fix him right away.
  • In a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe comic, when Orko is taken over by the Hate Stones, Man-at-Arms tells him that he thinks of Orko as a son.
  • In MAD, there are a few cases of this, but given the tone of the magazine, it's often parodied or deconstructed by way of the magazine often showing the darker side of parenting.
    • In the "NYPD Blue" parody, one character says that his boss was like a father to him, but it's pointed out that the speaker was abused as a child.
    • Nicky and Rockhead in the "Rocky" parody.
      "Nicky": I've always treated you like a Father would!
      "Rockhead": What? You t'row my stuff in the street... you yell at me in front of everyone... you make me feel like a stupid useless little kid!
      "Nicky": See! I told you I treat you like a Father would!
  • Persepolis: During Marjane's last visit to Uncle Anoosh a few days before his execution, he says that he would like to have had a daughter like her.
  • Apparently Norman Osborn thinks Peter Parker makes a better son than Harry.
    • In the Ultimate Six comic mini-series, the group (only five at the moment) break out of a SHIELD prison and Osborn says they need to look for 'his boy.' When Otto Octavius asks where Harry is being kept, Osborn's response is: "What are you talking about? My boy's name is Peter."
  • Superman
    • The title character and Supergirl (at least the pre- and post-crisis Kara Zor El, and Linda's confusing...) have this kind of relationship, which is fairly reasonable, since he's her much-older cousin.
    • When Superboy died in Infinite Crisis, an in-universe newspaper quoted Superman as saying he "felt like [he] lost a son".
    • Perry White on a few occasions has stated Lois Lane was like a daughter to him. He even sat alongside her parents at Lois and Clark's wedding.
    • In The Death of Clark Kent, Martha Kent says Lois was "like a daughter to [her]" when lamenting her apparent death.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): The late Dr. Serizawa was a Parental Substitute to Vivienne Graham like in MonsterVerse canon, and it's strongly hinted in this fic that those feelings were probably reciprocated by him — in fact, Serizawa's son Ren himself observes that his father was as close to Vivienne as to a daughter. The fic also hints that the relationship between Alan Jonah and his dead right-hand man Asher was similar.
  • A Frozen Flower: Grimes views of Till, Oz's former partner when they were working in Odd Squad, as a daughter to him. As such, he's distraught when Orchid ends up accidentally killing her via mental torture after arguing with her about Oz's death.
  • In Avengers of the Ring, Gandalf is shown musing that his bond with Thor reminds him of what he has seen of the bond between a father and a son even though he has never thought about having children himself due to his nature, to the extent that he actually calls Thor ‘son’ during the final battle in front of the Black Gate, with Thor’s thoughts making it clear that he reciprocates the sentiment.
  • Back to the Future fanfic may portray Doc as thinking this way about Marty.
  • Bakery "Enemies": Marinette's parents describe Adrien this way as part of a blatant guilt trip.
    Sabine: It's just so nice to have someone to help around after you left...
    Tom: Really, he's been like a son to us...
    Marinette: [headdesk]
  • While not directly said, The Bridge more or less has it implied Godzilla Junior sees his student Mariner Moon as a daughter he never got to have. She returns the sentiment given her parents are far away and unable to visit.
  • In Catch Your Breath, Miyako Gekko feels like this towards Obito, and Obito reciprocates. Yamaguchi-sensei also feels like this towards Rin, and later adopts her.
  • Played for Laughs in Choose: Haru vs Ann, where after Mishima faints when Ann kisses him, Ren tries to get into his hospital room by saying that his classmate is like a son to me. Makoto reassures the nurse that no one ever understands what he says anyway.
  • Code Geass Megiddo: During the eight years in which Lelouch had his memories suppressed, he developed this relationship with his mentor, the Knight of One, Bismarck Waldstein. After regaining his memories, he confides to Kallen that he will deeply regret the day they have to face off in battle, considering him to be the father he never had.
  • In Code Prime Optimus grows to care for Lelouch, who has come to see him as a father figure.This is best exemplified near the end of R1, where Optimus is visibly aching at the sight of Lelouch being slowly killed by Megatron’s Dark Geass.
  • In Forgiveness is the Attribute of the Strong, a My Hero Academia fanfiction, All Might considers Izuku like a son, and vice versa. Izuku spiting his blood father All for One is a happy bonus.
  • In For the Glory of Irk, Zim treats CB very much like his child, to the point that CB occasionally refers to him as "father".
  • In The Heart Trilogy, Elrond has this kind of a relationship with Kathryn.
  • In The Land of What Might-Have-Been, although Elphaba won't say it explicitly, she eventually finds herself acting almost maternally to Dorothy after they spent a few days alone together and talked through their past issues with each other.
  • Xander in Love You to the Moon and Back calls his Slayer Safira the "daughter of [his] heart and soul, even if not [his] flesh", despite only maybe a decade older than her.
  • The Night Unfurls: Chapter 30 of the original has Olga confide to Kyril and Celestine that Chloe is the daughter she never asked for, yet she always wished to have. Given how the remastered version adds that Olga had raised her as her own when she is just a child, it's understandable.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In many stories, Princess Celestia and Twilight Sparkle are often portrayed as having a mother/daughter relationship. An alternate example would be when Twilight and Spike (whom she did technically hatch) have a mother/son relationship. Notable Examples: (All of which can be found on
    • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: Fittingly considering who has their roles in canon, this is Trixie and Princess Luna's relationship. Albeit in the dysfunctional rebellious teenager wanting space sort of way.
  • SAPR: Sienna Khan thinks this of Blake, and is reluctant to kill her as a result.
  • As in the game Dragon Age: Origins, Alistair and Wynne develop this relationship in "Shadow and Rose," and Elissa develops a gender-flipped one with Oghren.
  • Son of the Sannin:
    • This is Tsunade (and Jiraiya's) view of Shizune, in contrast to the aunt/niece relationship they had in canon, though it takes until the Sound invasion for Tsunade to realize it. Post-Time Skip chapters also have Tsunade refer to Shizune's kids as her grandchildren.
    • Zabuza thinks of Haku as a son, not that he'd ever say it out loud. He tries to put up a tough front, but it doesn't fool anyone, least of all Haku.
  • The Stargate SG-1 fanfic series What You Already Know features a few of there;
    • Bra'tac explicitly states "a man can owe no greater debt than to the one who saves his son's life" when thanking Daniel for saving Teal'c from an almost-certainly fatal head wound using his new healing abilities.
    • In her capacity as the closest thing Daniel has to a living parental figure on Earth, Catherine Langford expresses mock anger that Daniel didn’t tell her about his new relationship with Sam when she’s invited to the ceremony for him to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
    • Selmak admits as he’s dying that he has come to consider Sam to be like a daughter to him as well as her being the daughter of his host; Selmak explicitly tells Sam that, if he had been human and had children, he can’t think of anyone he’d rather have had as a daughter than her, and notes to Daniel that one of the regrets he has about dying now is that he won’t have the chance to see the grandchildren Daniel and Sam will give Jacob.
  • Three Can Keep a Secret: Stanford's extremely warm and supportive attitude towards Dipper, great pride in the boy's personal growth and desire for Dipper to inherit everything of his always heavily implied this attitude, but it was finally confirmed in the sequel fic: While on a magic induced Mushroom Samba that is spawning frightening omens of the future, Stanford vows to protect Dipper, calls out his real name and uses the phrase "my son" in reference to him. By all indications, Dipper seems to reciprocate.
  • Webwork: While on her deathbed, the Jorogumo Queen admits that she sees in Jade everything she could have ever wanted in a daughter.
  • In XCOM:RWBY Within, Zhang tells an Ethereal that he views Ruby this way, right before shooting it several times for causing her pain and mocking her.
    • Fittingly, in the sequel, Ruby turns out to be a distant descendent of Remnant's version of Zhang.

  • In Any Given Sunday, Tony says to Rooney, "You're like a son to me, Cap, I'd fight for you till the day I die."
  • Carbon Copy
    Nelson Longhurst: Walter, you were like a son to me. But as you well know, having a son can turn out to be a bitter disappointment.
  • In Epic (2013): it's implied Ronin might be growing to see Nod this way, but their mutual stubbornness gets in the way. It's reinforced by the fact that Nod's father was good friends with Ronin.
  • Joshua Tree
    Lt. Franklin L. Severence: I never said Santee was a friend. I said he was like a son to me.
  • In Jurassic World and its sequel, it's pretty clear that Owen views the highly intelligent and pack-oriented Velociraptors as being like surrogate daughters to him. This especially applies to Blue, who goes through absolute hell to protect him from the Indominus rex and then later the Indoraptor.
  • The Karate Kid has this as the relationship between Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi, with Mr. Miyagi obviously seeing Daniel as the son he never had (his wife having died during childbirth in an internment camp while he was fighting for America in WW II), and Daniel seeing Miyagi as his father figure (Cobra Kai has Daniel revealing to Johnny that his biological father died when the former was 8).
  • Kill Bill Vol 2
    Esteban Vihaio: Bill is like a son to me.
  • King Arthur (2004): Saxon war chief Cerdic makes a comment like this to one of his soldiers after he cut and demoted the former Dragon, who was his actual son.
    Cerdic: Raewald. You're second-in-charge now. Yeah, you're like a son to me.
  • In Kings Row, kindly Dr. Tower tells Parris, his medical student, that "If I had a son, I'd want him to be as nearly like you as possible."
  • Subverted in The Maltese Falcon. When Sam Spade suggests using Wilmer as a fall guy, the Fat Man refuses, using this trope word-for-word. Then, when Spade explains why they need a fall guy...
    Fat Man: Well, Wilmer, I'm sorry indeed to lose you. I want you to know I couldn't be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, it's possible to get another. There's only one Maltese Falcon.
  • Near the end of Mystic Pizza, Leona uses this as a rationale for why she gives Kat the money to go to Yale.
    Leona: I always meant to give this to my kids. You, Daisy, Jojo; you're my kids.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: It becomes apparent that Yondu really considered Peter Quill to be his son and apologizes for not being a better parent to him. He even tells Peter that he was more his father than his biological one was.
      Yondu: He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn't your daddy.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War: Tony Stark views Peter Parker as this and whenever he berates him, it is because he is worried sick about losing him one day, while Peter looks up to Tony as a father figure who mentors him in the way of a superhero. While the words are never outright spoken, we finally get it in non-verbal form with not one, but two Final First Hugs, as Tony is a very emotionally-withdrawn person who only shows physical affection to his family — one in Avengers: Infinity War, when Peter is one of the victims of Thanos' universe-wide culling and dies crying and afraid in Tony's arms, and then another one, this time for good, in Avengers: Endgame. After Peter and the other victims are brought back to life, Tony finally gives him a real, fatherly embrace before dying in a Heroic Sacrifice to save him and the rest of the universe. As if to drive the point home, Tony almost refuses to go on the mission to resurrect the victims in the first place, fearful that messing with space and time in order to do so will somehow affect the existence of his biological daughter, but after some reconsideration, the straw that breaks the camel's back is remembering and looking at a photograph of Peter and how he felt that Peter's death was on him.
  • Secretly, Greatly: The ending reveals that the village granny Soon-im had grown to consider Dong-gu as her son, changing his wage marks in her bank book first to "our Dong-gu" then "My Second Son". Then it's revealed she had been setting money aside for his future wedding.
  • In Secrets & Lies, Maurice and Monica treat their niece Roxanne as a surrogate daughter partly as compensation for not having any children of their own, despite their independently rather difficult relationships with her mother, Cynthia.
  • In Sgt. Bilko:
    Bilko:(lovingly spoken) Ah, Doberman. The son I never wanted.
    *Doberman seems delighted to hear this*
  • In Star Wars, the Jedi are forbidden to have families, but often the members of a Master-Apprentice Chain become close enough to be regarded as the children they can never have, or the parents they never knew. It's never outright stated in the films, but the Expanded Universe often expands on this dynamic. The closest instance of this trope in the films is an inverted example in Attack of the Clones, although Obi-Wan and Anakin's relationship slowly evolves into that of two brothers.
    Anakin: "Don't say that, Master; you're the closest thing I have to a father."
  • Storks: Hunter says that Junior becoming boss will make him like a son to him, even describing him as a "sonployee". This doesn't stop him from dropping Junior like a hot rock when he finds out that Junior accidentally made a baby.
  • Combined with Why Are You Not My Son? in The Thin Red Line, when Lt Colonel Tall is speaking to his Sergeant Rock.
    Tall: You feel like a son to me, John. [beat] You know what my son does? He's a bait salesman.
  • In the Tower of Terror movie, this was the relationship between Sally Shine and Emmeline Partriage, her nanny. Partriage is shocked when Anna accuses her otherwise.
  • What Happens in Vegas
    Jack Fuller Sr.: You're like a son to me.
    Jack Fuller: Dad, I am your son.

  • General Sarov to Alex in the third book of Alex Rider. Alex is captured during a mission in Cuba, and is almost crushed to death by Sarov's assistant before being rescued by the general. Despite being a prisoner, Alex is treated very well by Sarov, and is not killed despite his escape attempt. Sarov reveals to Alex that he sees his dead son, Vladimir, in Alex; now, he wants Alex to join him in taking over Russia. Despite Alex's protests, Sarov is insistent that Alex will learn to see the world his way. General Sarov plans to adopt Alex, teach him Russian, and give Alex immense power in his new world order. Unfortunately, Alex continuously refuses to join Sarov and foils his plot to detonate a nuclear bomb in Murmansk. Sarov kills himself when Alex says he'd rather die than have a father like Sarov.
    General Sarov: I have never met a boy like you. Except one. You are like my Vladimir, Alex, and that is what I hope you will become.
    Alex: What are you getting at?
    General Sarov: Isn't it obvious? I've read your file. You have grown up on your own. You had an uncle, but you didn't even know he was a spy until he died. You have no parents. I have no son. We are both alone.
  • Played With in Animorphs. Rachel recalls an incident when her then-pregnant mother expresses hope the baby would be a boy, since the family already had two daughters and she knows Rachel's dad wanted a son to do stuff like going to baseball games with. Rachel's father says he doesn't mind either way, since Rachel is as tough as a boy and he has plenty of fun doing that stuff with her. She's touched by that.
  • Artemis Fowl: Artemis creates an AI and sells it to crooked businessman Jon Spiro. Later, Spiro notes it's like the brother he never had. A henchman confusedly says he thought Spiro did have a brother, so Spiro amends it to "a brother I actually like".
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: Between various business hardships and a Promotion to Parent, Benno ended up losing the love of his life to disease before he could marry her. Fast forward to the present, he's still unmarried and becomes a mentor to both Lutz and Myne while being old enough to be their father. At some point, Mark reveals to Myne that while he wouldn't go as far as saying Benno sees her as his own daughter, he cares about her at least as much as he would care about a niece. There are few hints that Benno warms up to Lutz later in the story as well, the biggest being that Benno goes through a phase of seriously considering adopting Lutz.
  • Tunstall tells this to Beka in the third Beka Cooper book. In the first book, he did say that he'd wanted a Puppy for years and it was only Goodwin's reluctance that prevented it, but the moment is ruined by the fact that he's just betrayed Beka and is trying to kill her.
  • In Dan Abnett's Bequin novel Pariah, when Sister Bismillah tracks down Beta, she tells her she loved her like a daughter. After years of watching over her, she lost her in a night.
  • Brotherband: Thorn serves as a mentor to the entire Brotherband, so on some level he has eight sons and a daughter. However, his relationship to Hal leans closest to a father/son bond. This fits given that Thorn's best friend, who was also Hal's father, asked him on his deathbed to look after his son. After his recovery from a years-long Heroic BSoD, Thorn takes up the role in earnest, helping shape Hal into a capable leader and warrior and ferociously protecting him on the occasions he gets in over his head. He even refers to Hal as "my boy" when attacking a pirate captain who had almost killed him out of spite.
  • The Cat Who... Series:
    • In book #7 (The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare), although he doesn't ever voice the notion, Qwilleran thinks in this book that if he'd ever had a son, he would have liked him to be like Junior Goodwinter.
    • Qwill also mentally describes his feelings for Elizabeth Hart as such as he would have for a goddaughter or niece, having once saved her life.
  • In The Dark Tower, Roland feels this way about Jake.
  • In The Death Gate Cycle, Lord Xar often refers to his Dragon and protégé Haplo as "my son", and makes it plain that he feels a stronger bond with him than he did with his (presumed long-dead) biological children. Even as the series passes and Haplo becomes increasingly heroic while Xar becomes increasingly villainous, neither character is quite able to shake their connection and, fittingly, in the end Haplo is the only one who can convince Xar that he's become a tool of evil forces snap him out of it.
  • In the Demonata series, all of the main trio views Dervish Grady as parental figure. His nephew Grubbs even thinks he felt closer to Dervish then his actual parents, since he took them for granted. The two constantly bicker and other people in the series even remark they see one another as a father and a son, respectfully.
  • Virgil of The Divine Comedy begins to address the Author Avatar, Dante, as "my son" by the time they reach Inferno's fire-blood lake. The address fits, since Virgil has to hold Dante's hand like a possessive father while guiding him through lust-tornadoes, suicide-forests, and less mundane challenges. By Purgatorio, Dante returns the sentiment as he begins to address Virgil as "father," right up until Virgil has to return to Hell while Dante goes to meet God.
  • Played for Drama in "A Good Man is Hard to Find," a short story by Flannery O’Connor. The plot is about an American Southern family—husband, wife, three children, and the husband's mother, who is the story's protagonist—on a disastrous road trip. Towards the end of the story, they encounter a notorious Serial Killer known only as "The Misfit," who promptly orders his henchmen to take the younger family members into the nearby woods and shoot them. He's left alone with Grandmother, who spends some time talking with him. At first it's just an attempt to save her own skin, but as the young man opens up to her about his nihilistic, atheist views, she comes to view him with genuine affection. Grandmother eventually realizes that the Misfit is a kind of Anthropomorphic Personification of her generation's poor parenting and the disillusionment that resulted from it, with herself representing that parenting and the "old South," and reaches out to him in a moment of kindness: "Why, you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children!" This rattles the Misfit so much that he immediately shoots her dead, but the story's ending implies that her words have stuck with him.
  • Harry Potter
    • Molly refers to Harry (her youngest son's best friend) this way. And he actually becomes her son-in-law.
      Molly: ...and speaking as someone who has got Harry's best interests at heart—
      Sirius: (quietly) He's not your son.
      Molly: (fiercely) He's as good as! Who else has he got?
    • It's all but explicitly stated that Dumbledore sees Harry as a son / grandson. This causes a lot of angst on Dumbledore's part, given he knows Harry is prophesied to fight Voldemort to the death. And that's without getting into Dumbledore's own family history. He spends most of book five keeping Harry at arm's length as a result, with disastrous results.
  • In The Infernal Devices, it's almost as if Will, Jem, and Jessamine were Charlotte's own children, except, according to her, for the part where they were required to love her.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, in the Back Story, John said, "You were my son" to Lucian before Lucian was dragged off for his crimes.
  • In Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, Though these exact words are never spoken, Vin and Kelsier build up this type of relationship. In the end of the first book Kelsier's note implies that he thought of her as a daughter. It is stated more explicitly in Mistborn: Secret History in which Kelsier not only wishes he'd been there for her when she had needed parents, but a few lines later refers to her as 'the daughter he never had'. He never says it in direct speech, but the story is narrated from his point of view.
  • Alk and Ilke are treated like they're his children by Sha-ra who'll protect no matter what in Phenomena.
  • Although it never actually gets said, Halt from Ranger's Apprentice thinks of Will this way.
  • In The Saga of Darren Shan, Darren develops this with his mentor Larten Crepsley, in book 7 even thinking to himself that the two share a father-son type bond. It it very clear that Larten feels the same way. Once he learns that he has a nephew, Darren starts to act like a father figure to the boy.
    • In the prequel series, Seba Nile thinks of his two assistants as his sons, and they view him as a father. Gavner Purl also views Larten as his father, but keeps it to himself.
  • In The Three Musketeers and its sequels, Athos sometimes calls D'Artagnan "my son" in moments of great affection, even after he has a real son.
  • Twilight: Carlisle feels this way about the members of his coven (with the obvious exception of his wife Esme), and especially towards Edward.
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: An untrustworthy slaver boasts that he will treat his latest set of captives — including Lucy, Edmund, Eustace Scrubb, and the young King Caspian — as though they were his own children. Lord Bern sarcastically replies, "That's likely enough to be true."
  • In the Warrior Cats series, Yellowfang tells Fireheart that he was like this to her — that he's more like her son than the cat she gave birth to, Brokentail.
    • According to the graphic novel version of Tallstar's Revenge, Tallstar also feels this way towards Firestar, though in his case it remains unspoken.
  • Ditzy Lavinia Penniman in Washington Square once thinks to herself that if she'd been able to have children, she would have had a son very similar to Morris Townsend, the man she's trying to match her niece Catherine with. Despite this and his being orphaned at a young age, the feeling is not mutual—Morris can't stand to be around her and only humors her flightiness at best in order to get in good with Catherine's money.
  • Wayside School: In the Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger chapter "Flowers for a Very Special Person", Louis hands Mr. Kidswatter flowers while intending to give them to his crush Wendy Nogard. Mr. Kidswatter thanks him and says he always thought of Louis like a son. However, Louis doesn't like him very much, calling him a "maggot-infested string bean" under his breath.
  • In Jasper Fforde's Well of Lost Plots, Bradshaw is surprised by the news about Vern because he was — this trope.
  • In Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell is a serial father. He loves his ward Rafe Sadler and frequently thinks of him as a son; they're closer than Cromwell is with his own son—whom he also loves, but Gregory is usually away and Rafe is more alike in thought to Cromwell. His nephew Richard Williams says that Cromwell is now his father after his own passes away and takes Cromwell's name, and when Cromwell's sister passes he takes her daughters into his household and acts as a father to them too.
  • In Wyrd Sisters, actor-manager Vitolier, many years after taking the playwright Hwel into his troupe, comments the dwarf has been like a son to him. Hwel points out he's substantially older than his mentor, and Vitolier amends it to "like a father".

    Live-Action TV 
  • In American Horror Story: Coven, Myrtle Snow, head of the Witches' Council, views Cordelia Goode as a daughter. Cordelia has similar feelings toward her, especially since her birth mother is Fiona, a Rich Bitch who only cares about herself—to the point where Cordelia's personal version of Hell is her begging for Fiona's approval and being cruelly abused by her. Myrtle and Cordelia's relationship makes Myrtle's death all the sadder: Myrtle arranges for her own burning at the stake to allow Cordelia's reign as the Coven's new Supreme to go as smoothly as possible. Among Myrtle's last words: " sweet daughter...I've never been more proud...
  • Parodied in Arrested Development when GOB refers to his son as "the father I never had".
  • Arrow. At the end of Season 3, Malcolm Merlyn says this to Oliver Queen only to be coldly rejected, given that Malcolm arranged the murder of Oliver's real father, and brainwashed his sister Thea (who is also Malcolm's daughter) into killing his ex-girlfriend Sara Lance. Malcolm takes back the statement in Season 4 after Oliver cuts off his hand to depose him as leader of the League of Assassins, and they become enemies instead.
  • The A-Team. In "Lease With an Option to Die", the team meets B.A.'s mother. She loves Murdock and announces she wants to adopt him, to Murdock's utter delight and her son's (apparent) horror.
  • The Barrier: Álvaro, whose marriage has never produced any children, views Luis' children as being like his own. In turn, Luis has the same sentiment towards the child Álvaro turns out to have produced with his mistress.
  • In the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, Admiral Adama has repeatedly told Kara "Starbuck" Thrace that she is like a daughter to him.
  • Subverted in the last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, where General Melchett tells Kevin Darling that he's "like a son to him" — not a favorite son, though.
    "Lord no, more a sort of illegitimate back-stair sort of sprog. Y'know, the sort of spotty squid that nobody really likes."
  • In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, as the two grow closer, Captain Holt begins to view Jake as a surrogate son much as Jake views him as a Parental Substitute. On occasion, they've even slipped up and referred to one another as "Son" and "Dad."
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Restless"
    Giles: Spike's like a son to me.
    • To clarify, that was a zany dream. Spike is not like a son to Giles. Xander, however, is, and Willow and Buffy are like daughters.
      • When everyone lost their memories in Tabula Rasa and started trying to reconstruct their relationships, Spike decided he was Giles' son while Giles seemed to think Spike must be his younger brother. It's only because they both speak with English accents, Giles looks a bit older (Spike is actually a century older than him!) and they feel an instinctive resentment toward each other.
    • Dickish Head of the Watchers Council Quentin Travers is the first person to say what Giles has been too shy to tell Buffy himself: "[Giles has] a father's love for the child". Quentin means it in a dismissive way, but it clearly means the world to Buffy to hear this when she's been dropping hints to Giles about wanting him to hang out with her socially now that she's realizing her real dad is no longer making an effort to see her, even on her birthday. Throughout the series Buffy is more comfortable with telling Giles how she feels ("Giles, I love you]]", "I want you to give me away [at her spell-induced wedding...but the sentiment about Giles is genuine]") while Giles — in his British repressed way — is more likely to take a roundabout way ("You're everything a Watcher-everything I could have hoped for", "Wish I could play the father/And take you by the hand") or express his love through gestures like helping out when her mother gets sick, paying her bills, verbally and physically defending her from men she can't slay, culminating in his attempt to help her fly out of the nest by going back to England. It kind of works and it kind of doesn't, and they both have regrets about it, but reunite as a team and a family in time for the series finale.
    • While never explicitly said, the relationship between the Mayor and his Dragon Faith definitely has the same father/daughter connotations, including a Villainous Breakdown of Papa Wolf proportions after Buffy put her in a coma.
  • Larry Sizemore calls Michael Westen this in Burn Notice. Subverting the usual associations of this trope, it is not a heartwarming moment- Larry is a former Evil Mentor and Michael has daddy issues.
  • Cheers: Done darkly in one episode, when Esther Clavin tells Woody she's like the son she never had, right in front of Cliff, who she's on the outs with for standing up to her. When he objects, she retorts he's the son she did have.
  • Cobra Kai:
    • History repeats itself, as the relationship between Miguel Diaz and Johnny Lawrence mirrors Daniel's relationship with Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid trilogy, as Daniel comes to realize once he finally gets a chance to know Miguel. For Johnny, it's a second chance at being a father figure after screwing up with his biological son Robby Keene, while Miguel gets a father figure he never had (his mother fled her abusive husband in Ecuador with her mother as a pregnant 18-year-old and subsequently raised Miguel on her own).
    • Daniel actually does attempt this with Robby, being a better father-figure to him then Johnny ever was. Unfortunately, this later transitions to Kreese and Robby after Robby sees Daniel as the enemy for "betraying him" by turning him in to the police.
    • Kreese views Johnny as a surrogate son in a very twisted way. It becomes even more twisted in Season 3 when he extends those feelings down to Robby and gets him to join Cobra Kai, in the hopes it will bring Johnny back into the fold and they can rule as "three generations" of Cobra Kai.
  • Daredevil (2015)
    • Karen Page feels guilty after Ben Urich is murdered by Wilson Fisk (due to Karen having tricked Ben into speaking to Fisk's mother), and tries to apologize to his widow at the funeral. Ben's wife isn't having it, saying that no-one ever forced Ben to write a story, and he regarded Karen as the daughter they never had specifically because she never gave up.
    • Though never said out loud, it's pretty clear that Mitchell Ellison views Karen Page as one after he hires her to take Ben Urich's job at the Bulletin.
    • Despite trying to kill her on a few occasions when she goes rogue, Stick still has a soft spot for Elektra, more or less seeing her as his daughter. This ends up being his undoing in The Defenders (2017) as he hesitates when Elektra shows up to capture Danny Rand, giving her the opening to stab him to death.
    • Wilson Fisk views James Wesley as "like a son" to him, saying as much word-for-word when tasking Dex with killing Karen as revenge for Wesley's death. However while Wesley was indeed Fisk's close friend, it's implied Fisk is just using this trope to manipulate Dex (whose father abandoned him at a young age) by implying that Fisk will be a Parental Substitute for Dex if he takes on Wesley's role as The Dragon.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The End of Time Part 2" has a variation.
      The Master: (to the Doctor) Oh, your dad's still kicking up a fuss.
      Wilfred Mott: No, but I'd be proud if I was.
    • The Doctor, despite being Wilf's senior by several centuries, returns the sentiment.
      "I'd be proud...if you were my dad."
    • In The TV Movie, the Master claims Chang Lee is "the son I've always yearned for." The Doctor is not convinced ("Oh, please.") — and moments later, the Master snaps Lee's neck.
  • In Drake & Josh, Josh's boss, Helen, is really affectionate towards Drake. She at one point says she feels this way towards him.
    Helen: Drake Parker, I love you like the son I never wanted.
  • On Everybody Loves Raymond, Frank feels this way about Debra. In one episode, he tells her that he's always viewed his battles with Marie, Ray, and Robert as "me and you versus them." In another, upon discovering that his lodge brothers are treating Debra, who's been volunteering with them, as a piece of eye candy, he lets them have it: "This is Debra! She's not just some cheap floozy—she's like my own daughter!"
    • Marie and Debra largely avert this trope, especially because the former is extremely doting and controlling toward Ray. However, it's occasionally hinted that Marie sees Debra fondly; for instance, she's arranged to leave all of her recipes to Debra in her will. As Marie is a Supreme Chef, that's quite a compliment.
  • Several in The Flash (2014), all by Dr Wells.
    • He tells Cisco that, although he doesn't have children of his own, Cisco has shown him what it's like to have a son. Partly due to not being on the best of terms with his own family, Cisco shares the sentiment. Then Wells kills him, but does look genuinely distraught over it. Not like it sticks.
      • In the subsequent episode following said Cosmic Retcon, we get a more lighthearted reprisal of the above scene when Wells consoles Cisco over how he had been forced to reveal Barry's Secret Identity to Captain Cold.
    • He later tells Barry that he understands what Joe (Barry's foster dad) and Henry (Barry's actual dad) feel when they look on him with pride and love.
    • In a somewhat tragic example, he refers to his former protege Hartley Rathaway as 'the Prodigal Son', suggesting that they also had this sort of relationship. Until, that is, Wells fired him because he realised something was going to go wrong with the particle accelerator.
  • In the Season 4 finale of Flashpoint, Greg Parker says pretty much exactly this to Spike, albeit in Italian. It's even more poignant when you take into account that Spike's father had recently died and his mother had moved back to Italy, leaving him without a readily-available parental presence for the first time in his life...or so he thought.
  • From a deleted scene from Flight of the Conchords:
    Eddie: Bret, I like you. You're like a son to me. You remind me of my niece.
  • Implied with Martin and Daphne on Frasier, especially when Martin becomes lonely when Daphne moves in with Niles and tries to get Daphne to promise to visit more often by using the fact that Eddie will miss her as a transparent excuse. Also given a Sibling Rivalry-like turn when Daphne gets jealous of Frasier's new girlfriend Claire, because Claire and Martin dote on each other and Martin clearly wants Frasier to marry her and make her Martin's daughter-in-law.
    Martin: Her laugh's just like music, isn't it?
    Daphne (wistfully): You used to think my laugh was musical... Remember, Marty?
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Uncle Phil sees Will this way. Phil is heartbroken and falls into a depression when Will pulls a You're Not My Father on him for trying to stop Will spending the summer with his deadbeat biological father, but still comforts Will when Lou (said deadbeat father) walks out on him again. In the series finale the family move out of the mansion and go their separate ways, Phil tells each of his kids to call him every Sunday and pointedly includes Will in that list.
    Phil: You are my son, Will. End of story.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Jon Snow to Jeor Mormont, whose own son Jorah disgraced their family.
    • Jon Snow is actually Ned Stark's nephew by his sister Lyanna and Ned raised Jon as his own son.
    • Shireen Baratheon to Davos Seaworth, in the "like a daughter to me" version. Davos outright says this when he finds out that Melisandre killed Shireen by burning her alive, promising that he will kill Melisandre himself if he ever sees her again.
  • The Golden Girls: When Rose is hospitalized for an esophageal spasm, Sophia cracks jokes as they wait for word. When Dorothy blasts her for this, Sophia admits that she's trying to hide her fear—"If something happened to Rose, it would be like losing one of my own children." She repeats the claim that she loves Rose like a daughter when Rose has a heart attack. Even though she doesn't say it, she clearly feels this way about Blanche too.
    • It culminates in the final episode when Sophia, who's planning to move away with a newly-married Dorothy, looks at a picture she's taken of Rose and Blanche and whispers "Good-bye, my girls..."
  • Gotham has Alfred Pennyworth and Bruce Wayne, of course. In the penultimate episode of the series, Alfred even flat-out says Bruce is the only son he will ever have.
    • Fish Mooney claims this about Oswald Cobblepot...and then beats him half to death for snitching on her to the police. Later episodes imply she wasn't entirely making things up though, as part of the reason she seems to have taken his betrayal so bitterly personal is because she really did believe this. As he becomes more and more powerful, she's genuinely impressed by how much he's accomplished, which leads to a villainous So Proud of You moment where she confesses she could never kill him because she had a hand in creating him. He's so geuinely moved by this he spares her life in turn, and even after her death he's pretty obviously taking cues from her in his dress and quotations.
  • In the Haven episode "Speak No Evil", Vince Teagues tried to claim Dwight Hendrickson was the son he never had, but Dwight was not impressed, and was annoyed by Vince keeping him Locked Out of the Loop on several of the town's secrets.
  • In Horatio Hornblower, the title character arrives on Captain Pellew's ship with a bad reputation, but Pellew is satisfied with the result after testing his actions. From there he treats Hornblower as his protege, and his regard for the young officer grows to barely-concealed affection. The final telefilm has Pellew spelling it out in nearly explicit terms by saying to the newly-promoted Captain Hornblower "You know, Hornblower, it is very hard for a father to see his children grow up." (Hornblower, however, is a little oblivious in personal matters and it sails right over his head.)
  • From In Plain Sight as Rafael is moving in with the Shannons before marrying Mary
    Brandi: So I guess I'm like the little sister you never had, huh?
    Rafael: I have three sisters. All little.
    • Later deconstructed, impressively. One of the witnesses flips on his criminal buddies after they kill the "son he never had" . . . except the witness had a son, who he couldn't connect with or accept, and who was rightfully jealous of the son substitute. Their relationship is . . . messy.
  • Iron Fist (2017): Harold Meachum acts at first like Danny is a better son to him than his actual son Ward, but it soon becomes clear that this is just an act.
  • JAG:
    • Harm's stepfather Frank Burnett tells him this when he visits his mother in "To Russia with Love":
      Frank Burnett: I figured out early on that I could never live up to your father in your eyes. I wasn't a Blue Angel. Hell, I never even wore a uniform.
      Harmon Rabb, Jr.: Frank.
      Frank Burnett: But although you never thought about me as your father, you're the only son I ever had.
    • From "Desert Son": General Williams to Lt. Boone, the only friend of the careless Lt. Williams that he approves of.
  • In Law & Order: UK, this is clearly how DS Ronnie Brooks feels about his partner Matt Devlin (no wonder, given that he royally screwed up raising his actual daughters, thanks to being a drunk). He outright says this while talking with the mother of the man who killed him. "The police officer who died? His name was Matthew Devlin and he was like MY son."
  • During the intro to the 1991 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, when Katie Couric entered the scene aided by a magician's box, her cohost Willard Scott jokingly referred to her as "the son [he] always wanted." See it here.
  • Gaius and Merlin (2008):
    Gaius: Merlin, you're like a son to me. I never expected such a blessing so late in life.
    Merlin: And you are more than a father to me.
  • Married... with Children: On several occasions Al Bundy spoke to/of someone as "the son [he] never had" -at least once in front of Bud.
  • In Colonel Blake's farewell episode of M*A*S*H, he exchanges gifts with Radar and tells him, "You're like a son to me." What makes this even more adorable is that at the exact same time, Radar says, "Sometimes I felt like you were my father." It makes Radar's devastation in the final scene, where he informs the rest of the cast of Colonel Blake's death, that much more gut-wrenching.
  • Mimpi Metropolitan: To Mami Bibir, everyone who lives in her dorm are her children.
  • Shows up very early in The Nanny. Fran is calling Maggie, Brighton, and Grace "her kids" by the fifth episode, and her love for them is clearly more maternal than professional.
    • It's later inverted with Mr. Sheffield and Sylvia, Fran's mother, later in the series, after Fran has finally married Maxwell. When Fran is briefly hospitalized, Max and Sylvia rush to the hospital together, and he does his best to calm her down, calling her "Mom." Sylvia notes that he's never done that before, and he explains that she's been a better, dearer mother to him than his birth mother ever was. It's especially surprising because Sylvia's behavior borders on invasive and annoying at times, particularly when she shows up to eat the Sheffields out of house and home.
  • NCIS has two examples:
    • Ducky doesn't say it outright, but is very fatherly towards his assistant Palmer.
    • Gibbs seems to almost view Abby as a daughter: he's by far the nicest to her, and even gives her a kiss on the head a few times.
  • Hook from Neverland is a unique example. He starts the series displaying this trope towards Peter. He took him in after his mother died and he did everything he could to protect him. However, he subverts this in the end and ends up wanting to put an end to the boy he used to care about.
  • NUMB3RS: When Larry leaves on his sabbatical in Season 6, he leaves a large amount of his work scribbled on a wall with a note that translates to "All to son". Everyone immediately knows he's referring to Charlie.
  • The Punisher (2017): Frank Castle's friendship with Karen Page stems from the fact that she reminds him heavily of his late daughter Lisa. He thinks of Karen as what Lisa would've been like if she'd grown to see adulthood rather than be cut down by a hit squad in the midst of an attempt to assassinate Frank.
  • When Rizzoli & Isles have a seemingly-insurmountable split, Jane's mother Angela tells Maura "You're like a daughter to me too."
  • Funnily enough inverted on Roseanne. After a rather uncomfortable discussion involving sexual dreams, David finally comes out and admits that he sees Roseanne, who adopted him, as more of a mother than his biological one. It's been clear for a while the feeling's mutual, and she's very touched by the affection.
    David: Do... do you want me to start calling you Mom?
    Roseanne: No. (grins) I want me other kids to start calling me Mrs. Conner.
  • Sarah and Maria in The Sarah Jane Adventures. At the end of "The Last Sontaran", Maria is leaving. Sarah Jane tells her she's losing the daughter she had always wanted. *sob*
  • Shadowhunters Magnus has raised many downworlders in his long lifetime. He says this to Raphael, whom he has always taken care of, calling him son.
  • In Stargate SG-1 Bra'tac has been a mentor and close friend to Teal'c for deacdes. In "Talion", Bra'tac explains to Teal'c that he is like a son to him, and that he is so proud of him.
  • Supernatural: Even though he doesn't say it out loud, its obvious that Bobby loves Dean and Sam like they were his sons. He even tells Dean in the season 3 finale that, "Family don't end with blood."
    • In a seventh-season episode, as he lies dying, Bobby tells the memory of his abusive father that he adopted two sons, referring to Sam and Dean.
      Bobby: I adopted two boys, and they grew up great. They grew up heroes.
    • Bobby also seems to think of Castiel as a son as well as Sam and Dean, despite the fact that Cas is millennia older than he is.
    • Mary also apparently regards Cas as one of "her boys", along with Sam and Dean.
  • Spin City: Mike and the Mayor gradually develop a relationship like this. In this case, the Mayor sees Mike as the father figure.
  • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: Mr. Moseby at first seems only to be playing Parental Substitute to London because her dad is his boss, but it quickly becomes clear that, having done this since she was a baby, he does care very deeply for the girl. He doesn't have kids of his own, but he's the one who taught London to walk, he's the one to discipline her when she goes too far, and more than once, he risks his boss' wrath to do what would be best for her. Her actual parents are never around, and she's gone through more nannies and stepmothers than she can recall, so Mr. Moseby is really the only consistently caring adult in her life.
  • In Teen Wolf, Melissa McCall is a substitute mother to her son Scott's best friend Stiles, whose mother passed away when he was very young. This is especially exemplified in season three when Stiles begins to show the same symptoms as his mother did just before her death. Melissa takes care of him, leading to the following:
    Stiles: Thanks, Mom.
    • She seems to have become this to Isaac, as well. When Isaac ends up in the hospital after being electrocuted, Allison is not allowed in to see him, despite her telling the staff that he doesn't have any family.
      Melissa: He's got us.
  • On That '70s Show, Kelso wants to buy a great car from Leo. As they're about to make the final deal, however, Leo recalls that he had originally planned to give that car to his long-lost son and said that he couldn't bear to sell it, which Kelso can understand. Leo then immediately gives the car to Hyde, calling him the son he never had (as opposed to that long-lost son that he did have). Needless to say, Kelso was annoyed.
  • Neal and Peter on White Collar. Oddly, Mozzie is the first person to point out the father-son relationship between Peter and Neal. In the third season episode Upper West Side Story, Peter is posing as a man enrolling his son in a prep school as part of an undercover assignment. Someone at the school asks Peter about his son. Peter doesn't have a biological son, so he describes Neal instead.
    "He's very intelligent, but impulsive. His moves tend to land him in trouble... Well, I wanna give him the best shot at life. I know it's gonna cost me."
  • Voyagers!: After a little while of time-traveling together, Phineas Bogg comes to see Jeff as being like his son (he actually says to another character during "Bully and Billy" that Jeff isn't his son, but he wishes he could say he was). While they don't quite have an average father/son relationship, he does try to teach and protect him.
  • All but actually said in The West Wing with President Bartlet and Charlie, especially when President Bartlet passes on to Charlie his family knife that has been given from father to son.
    • He also refers to Josh as his son in "Two Cathedrals".
    • Josh tells CJ that Bartlet thinks of her as a daughter.
    • Josh also has this kind of relationship with Leo, who is an old friend of his father's.
      President Bartlet: He loved you like a son. You know that, right?
  • In one episode of Wizards of Waverly Place between Max's conscience and his mom.
    Theresa: "You're like the son I don't regret having!"
    Max: "Oh, she means Justin."

  • Red vs. Blue
    • Sarge uses this line in season two at one point.
    Sarge: Grif, if you see Lopez, tell him I forgive him. Tell him, he was like a son to me.
    Grif: I thought Simmons was like a son to you.
    Sarge: No offense, Simmons. Lopez and I just understood each other better.
    Simmons: Understood? He refused to speak English.
    Grif: Yeah, and he ran away the first chance he got.
    Simmons: And now he's trying to kill you with a remote control jeep.
    Sarge: Ahhhh, what a little rascal.
    • Later, in Season 14, Sarge and Boomstick start bonding and Sarge comments that Boomstick is like the son he never wanted. Boomstick feels Sarge is like the dad he never had since his real one ran away to join the military. Sarge puts two and two together and awkwardly leaves.


     Professional Wrestling 
  • Before Kris Statlander's match with her trainer "The Buzzkiller" Pat Buck at LW Hooked On A Friedman, he said that if he ever had a daughter, he'd want her to turn out like Kris. This was followed by an inversion of Turned Against Their Masters, since Buck told her to lie down for him. The match started with Kris on the mat and Buck went for the pin, but Kris countered with an inside cradle for two.

  • In Big The Musical, MacMillian sings of Josh, "My god, he's like the son I never had!" Josh notices a picture on MacMillian's desk and asks, "Who's that?" "That's the son I had," MacMillian replies.
  • Prince Kaguya: Akahoshi tells not only Kaguya that she thinks of him as her own child but also Sora before she dies.

    Video Games 
  • In BioShock, the Big Bad Frank Fontaine reminisces on the circumstances of Jack's birth and sending him to the surface as he rides the elevator to the final showdown. He confesses that Jack wasn't just his "ace in the hole" but also the closest thing he ever had to a son.
  • Wynne, in Dragon Age: Origins, develops this kind of relationship with Alistair, as revealed in party banter if you bring them both with you often enough. At one point she talks about her son, whom she hasn't seen since he was born (she and her child are both mages and The Corps Is Mother for mages of the Circle), and remarks that she would have liked him to be like Alistair. Turns out he isn't.
    • Similarly, Oghren can develop a relationship like this with a Warden of either gender; if the Warden engages him in conversation a lot and treats him with the kindness and respect he's hardly received in recent years, there will come a very sweet piece of dialogue in which Oghren (who keeps his helmet on so you can't see him blushing) will tell the Warden that he sees him/her like family.
  • In Far Cry 4 Pagan Min sees protagonist Ajay Ghale in this light due to being the son of the woman he loved, despite the fact that Ajay's biological father was the founder of the local resistance movement and the man who killed his actual daughter. Despite the fact that Ajay ends up tearing through the entirety of Kyrat and dismantling his empire when confronted at the end Pagan is still willing to help him settle his personal affairs and pronounce him the new ruler of Kyrat.
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • Charles Babbage and James Moriarty see Frankenstein's Monster as their "daughter".
    • Vlad III from Fate/Apocrypha becomes sort of an uncle-figure to the young Elisabeth Báthory.
    • Due to Mash being fused with Galahad, Lancelot sees her as his child, even if it embarrasses him a bit.
    • Due to her Madness Enhancement, Minamoto-no-Raikou views The Protagonist as her child...and she cannot distinguish maternal love from romantic love. She also is Sakata Kintoki's foster mother.
    • When achieving her final Ascension and having her True Name unlocked, Tomoe Gozen comments that her husband would have get along with The Protagonist as if they were parent and child.
    • During Hessian Lobo's Interlude, Lobo eventually realizes that the protagonist is like a child to him.
    • To some degree, Helena Blavatsky acts a bit like a grandmother towards the protagonist.
    • As the namesake of the continent of Europe, Europa treats all Europeans as her grandchildren and all non-Europeans as friends of said grandchildren.
  • Played from an outside point of view in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, when Tyrell observes that King Paithos acts like an overprotective dad around his nephew Amiti, and even phrases it "he's like a son to you".
  • Grand Theft Auto V has Michael de Santa and Franklin Clinton, two of the Main Characters. Whilst Michael sees Franklin as the son he never had, Franklin looks up to Michael as a father figure of sorts and a mentor in being a much better criminal.
  • In Harvest Moon: Back to Nature, this would happen between Duke and Cliff if the player decides to invite the latter to help out in the Fall Wine Harvest. Duke would be so impressed with Cliff's work, he'd offer a full-time job at the Winery. Duke would eventually say that he considers Cliff a family, and he and Manna would be present at Cliff's wedding.
  • Maleficent, of all people, says this to Riku in the first Kingdom Hearts. He knows she's lying through her teeth, but is still convinced he can use her instead of the other way around.
    • Eraqus' relationship with his students (particularly Terra) in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. In this case, it's the student who uses the word "father".
  • It is revealed in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV that Lianne Sandlot has always treated Rean as her son who she watched from afar since Rean's biological father is the reincarnation of the legendary hero Dreichels, who is also Lianne's Love Interest.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
    • Dorephan, King of the Zora, saw Link as a son back when they first knew each other a century ago, and he's understandably sad to find out the latter no longer remembers him. The fact that Dorephan's daughter Mipha had a Childhood Friend Romance with Link, which could have led to the Hylian being his son-in-law, is likely a major reason.
    • The Champions' Ballad DLC revealed that Lady Urbosa was a close personal friend of Zelda's mother, and came to view Zelda as a daughter after the latter's death (even addressing Zelda with the same "little bird" nickname that the queen used to use). A cutscene in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity DLC hammers the point a bit further in.
  • In their final exchange during the climax of Mass Effect 3, Admiral David Anderson refers to Commander Shepard as "son/child" and tells them "you did good" as he lies dying.
  • Mortal Kombat X: Raiden mournfully expresses this sentiment towards Liu Kang and Kung Lao.
  • Zigzagged with Dutch van der Linde from GTA's sister series, Red Dead, mainly due to his Ambiguously Evil nature. He tells Arthur in a mission pretty early on in 2 that he's more than like a son to him but it's unclear if it's genuine or manipulation. His actions post-Sanity Slippage show he doesn't follow up on that talk. He also says this speaking in the past tense to John in 1 but at that point, Dutch is way too far gone to truly care about anyone but he very well could have actually felt that way in the past.
  • In Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, a talking baby cockroach hatches in front of Sam's eyes and thinks he is his "papa". Sam's response:
    Sam: Now I am, little champion...NOW I AM!
  • Scarlet Nexus: Kasane calls out Kagero for using her and Tsugumi as substitutes for bonding with his long lost daughter who he misses, using the excuse of dates with Kasane.
    Kagero: I guess I preferred it more when I was just the creepy old guy asking the young girl out on a date. That work?
    Kasane: Okay, so "Daddy Kagero?"
    Kagero: Let's drop the daddy bit. I don't think my fragile heart can take it.
  • Spider-Man (PS4): Otto Octavius clearly sees Peter as a surrogate son figure and even throws this fact in his face after he goes insane and becomes Dr. Octopus. For his part, Peter saw Otto as a mentor and father figure, and is left devastated by his descent into villainy.
  • The relationship Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan share in the Uncharted series, which is fully explored in 3: Drake's Deception. Nate is actually not a descendant of Sir Francis Drake. Rather he's a kid who was given up for adoption by his father after his mother committed suicide and lived out his teenage years roaming the streets of Cartagena ("Nathan Drake" isn't his real name either). During that time he crossed paths with Katherine Marlowe and Sully, who was in her employ at the time. When things get more intense than Sully can agree with (mostly by virtue of having to save the teenage boy from being needlessly killed by Marlowe's goons), he opts out from her organization and becomes Nate's surrogate father in the process.
  • The likes of Jane, Kenny and Lee see Clementine as such in The Walking Dead. For Lee, it's like the child he never had; for Kenny, she replaces his son Duck who died in Season 1; for Jane, she replaces her sister who she lost an unknown time before Season 2. However, by Season 2, Jane and Kenny's thoughts of her become unhealthy and almost threatening.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad! episode "Steve and Snot's Test-Tubular Adventures" is about Steve and Snot cloning two teenage girls to take to prom. The girls come out as babies, but by prom night, have reached the appropriate ages. Steve and Snot admit to each other that they can't go through with it; the last few days they spent raising the girls has led to them viewing the girls as their daughters.
  • Carl almost says this to Meatwad on Aqua Teen Hunger Force while trying to get his ticket to the Super Bowl, but reconsiders mid-sentence, resulting in:
    "Ever since my son was...never conceived because I never had consensual sex without money involved, I've looked at you as a... a thing I could live next door to, in accordance with state law. Now are we going to the Super Bowl or not?"
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In the first season finale, Iroh tells Zuko, "Ever since I lost my son... I think of you as my own."
    • And once Zuko sorts out his issues, he comes to think of Iroh as his father over his real father Ozai.
  • In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the mayor tells both Brent and Flint that they're like sons to him, but it is clear he's being insincere in both instances.
    "And without further ado, our town's hero and my metaphorical son, Flint Lockwood!"
  • Clone High
    Glenn the Janitor: Ponce was like a son to me, probably because he was my foster son.
  • Danny Phantom: Vlad Plasmius, once he discovered Danny's ghost powers, wanted Danny to be his son. However, Danny refused since Vlad wanted to kill Danny's biological father and marry his mother. Even more of a subversion when Danny destroys his chances of creating a Danny clone and continually fights him. It gets to a point in the show when he stops pursuing him and wants to make his life miserable and maybe kill him. He also tried to take Danny's sister Jazz in at one point. That didn't work out too well, either.
  • In the first episode of Dilbert, the CEO is firing an employee:
    CEO: Bob, you're like a son to me.
    Bob: You don't have a son.
    CEO: That's where I'm headed here.
  • In Dora the Explorer, the Marquez family treats Boots like one of their own, although Boots has two loving parents.
  • In one episode of Hey Arnold!, Arnold makes friends with a baseball-loving millionaire who says he is "like the son he never had." Then Arnold finds out the man actually does have a son, and spends the rest of the episode trying to help the two of them find a way to connect with each other.
  • Home Movies:
    • Coach McGuirk says Eddie is "like the son I never had... or don't know about."
    • Coach McGuirk's relationship with Brendon varies between being an Intergenerational Friendship to being somewhat like father and son. McGuirk even becomes noticeably jealous of Brendon's relationship with his actual father for much of season two.
  • In Motorcity, Kane saw Mike Chilton like a son, back when Mike worked for him, and hoped that he would be Kane’s successor. He was deeply upset by Mike’s Mook–Face Turn and outright says this during the finale before throwing him off a building dozens of stories tall.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Word of God says that even though Pinkie Pie isn't their daughter, Mr. & Mrs. Cake treat her as such. In fact, their actual foals, Pound Cake & Pumpkin Cake, see her as their funny older sister.
  • The Owl House:
    • Eda comes to view her apprentice Luz as if she was her own daughter over the course of the first season, even referring to her as "my kid" on multiple occasions. While Luz actually does have a loving, if complex relationship with her biological mother, it's clear that the feeling is mutual.
    • Similarly, Eda also treats her roomate King as a son which makes sense when it's revealed that she's actually raised him since he was a baby. This eventually results in him deciding to legally take on her last name.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Doofenshmirtz's dad had a dog named Only Son that he considered like the son he never had, despite the fact that he already had a son (and would later have another).
    • Norm is not this to Doof himself.
    • In "Minor Monogram":
      Major Monogram: Did I ever tell you you're like the son I never had?
      Carl: Really, sir??
      Major Monogram: Yes. It's because you're so unlike the son that I did have.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Frankendoodle", SpongeBob says this about his creation, DoodleBob.
    • Despite being an employer, Mr. Krabs has said this about SpongeBob. In The Spongebob Movie Sponge Out Of Water, Mr. Krabs is heartbroken when it seems like SpongeBob has betrayed him for Plankton.
    Mr. Krabs: SpongeBob! Oh, you were like an underpaid son to me.
  • Steven Universe: In "Dewey Wins", Mayor Dewey expresses his gratitude to Steven by calling him "the son I never had."
    Steven: You... have a son.
    Dewey: I know that! You're just very different from him, is all.
  • In The Venture Bros. it's shown that supervillain Dr. Z considers his former foe "Action Johnny" to be akin to a son since he's the only person from his glory days that he has any real meaningful relationship with to the point that he invites Johnny to live with him as a way to settle things as nemeses. Johnny, who's been struggling with addiction in the years since, doesn't quite return the feeling but is willing to indulge the man by reminiscing about old memories and letting him chase him around.

    Real Life 
  • George Washington, who had no biological children of his own, had this relationship with two of his young aides-de-camp during The American Revolution:
    • He had an especially strong relationship with the Marquis de La Fayette. When Lafayette was wounded during the Battle of Brandywine River, attempting to rally the troops, Washington told the surgeons to treat him "as if he were my own son." Lafayette would later name his son Georges Washington de La Fayette.
    • Washington was also noted to have a quasi-paternal relationship with Alexander Hamilton, although never as strongly as with Lafayette. Washington served more as a kind but stern father figure to the (orphan) Hamilton, which Hamilton probably saw in more parental terms than Washington did. That said, it's telling that when Washington became President, Hamilton was his most trusted advisor and the closest thing he had to a confidant.
  • Joe Biden developed a paternalistic relationship with Pete Buttigieg who was his rival in the 2020 Democratic primaries and later became Biden's Secretary of Transportation. Biden found Buttigieg's youth and military service to be reminiscent of his late son Beau Biden, who died in 2015.
  • After Stan Lee's death, Kevin Smith recounted a time when Stan's manager let him know that Stan loved Smith like a son.
  • Léon Degrelle was a Belgian fascist who joined the Waffen-SS during World War II. After the war, he claimed that Adolf Hitler said to him "If I had a son, I wish he'd resemble you" during one of their conversations. The veracity of this is still debated.
  • Napoléon Bonaparte tended to see his brothers (even his elder brother Joseph, at times) and younger friends like Marmont or Junot in this way. He took care of their advancement (sometimes against their will) and their marriages (again, sometimes against their will), expecting that they would repay him at least with gratitude. Not all of them did.
  • The Islamic warlord Timur the Lame had friendly relationships with the Catholic monarch Henry III of Castile and it's reported by one of his ambassadors that he regarded him as one of his own sons.

Alternative Title(s): Like A Daughter To Me