Clark: Can't I just keep pretending to be your son?
Jonathan: You are my son.
The super-powered hero is raised by normal human foster parents, sometimes unaware of his true heritage until his abilities manifest. This can be used as an open plot device for a Luke, I Am Your Father later in the series. Though they might not get combat training or magic instruction while hidden, they usually find out Upbringing Makes the Hero.
This is a frequent trope in mythology. If the foster parents are not called the child's mother and father, they are frequently their aunt and/or uncle. This is a throwback to older times, where children whose parents died were often adopted by the parent's brother.
Don't expect them to live too long once they've served their purpose, and their "offspring" might not be terribly grief-stricken either. On other hand, if they are still around into the hero's adulthood and you are stupid enough to threaten them, it's not going to end well for you.
See Tell Me About My Father, can be Happily Adopted. Contrast Muggle in Mage Custody, Raised by Orcs, Turn Out Like His Father and Raised by the Supernatural. See also Changeling Fantasy and Raised by Natives.
- This is fairly common for the Cute Witch subset of Magical Girls if she comes from another dimension. Her foster parents either know of her powers, or are hypnotized to think they always had a daughter and that she's a normal girl.
- Minky Momo in Magical Princess Minky Momo.
- Nina Sakura in Ultra Maniac, but only her foster mother is a muggle; her foster father is magical, too.
- Tickle from Majokko Tickle pretends to be the twin sister of a mundane girl.
- Comet-san from Princess Comet lives with the mundane family of two toddlers she makes friends with, as a home-stay student. Meteor, on the other hand, uses Mind Control on an old couple to make them think they've always known her.
- Subverted in the Italian magical girl series W.I.T.C.H.: Elyon is the true heir and ruler of Metamoor; the couple she thought were her natural parents are, in fact, caregivers who have been looking after her on Earth, but they aren't human, either; they are good Metamoorans.
- In Sailor Moon, Usagi's parents were her biological parents; but she also had a moon ancestry through Reincarnation. However, it comes closer to the description with her daughter Chibi-usa who (not knowing them to be her Grandparents and Uncle, at least not in the anime) hypnotized Usagi's parents and brother into thinking that she (Chibi-usa) was their niece and cousin. Chibi-Chibi is probably closest, in the anime she's not related to Usagi at all, and hypnotizes her Mother into thinking she has a second daughter; she does the same in the manga but there she is, apparently, a disguised version of Usagi from an alternate future and so is related to Usagi's family.
- Majokko Meg-chan not only had a muggle foster family (except for the mother, Mami, who was also a witch): she actually had no concept of family life herself being a witch from a realm where families don't exist. The focus of the show is Meg learning what a family is like. Mami, the motherly ex-witch and Parental Substitute, uses what remains of her magical powers to make people believe that her protegèe is her biological daughter, including her own husband and biological kids.
- Sarutobi Ecchan is a ninja Magical Girl who moves in with her muggle friend, Miko, and Miko's grandparents.
- Mahou Shojo Lalabel is similarly taken in by her muggle school-friend, Teko, and her grandparents.
- Subverted in Mahou Tsukai Chappy: Chappy's parents actually go to fetch their daughter after she leaves the Magical Land, but end up staying on Earth.
- Also subverted in Sally the Witch: Sally's parents do watch over her but they stay in Astoria almost all of the time since they're the Ruling Couple there, while she lives and trains on Earth. Sally's friends and teachers believe that they work abroad, and a whole episode of the 1989's series is dedicated to her trying to make up an excuse when her teacher says he'll go to her house...
- Glass Fleet's Vetti and Cleo were raised by these. Cleo was raised by his father's right hand man, while Vetti was raised by former subjects of his father's, who weren't so nice to him.
- The Arima family for Shiki in Tsukihime. It actually counts twice because of his mixed upbringing by the Nanaya (assassins, but good) and Tohno (half demon clan) families. When he finally goes back to the Tohnos, he uses his Nanaya abilities to quell problems related to the Tohnos to some extent depending on the route. Also vampires.
- Goku of Dragon Ball Z was found as a baby and raised by a human Cool Old Guy named Son Gohan. He thought of himself as one until his long-lost brother told him of his alien origins and how he was sent to Earth on a mission to destroy humanity and take over the planet to sell for profits.
- The reason for him being on Earth was retconned in Dragon Ball Minus as his parents Bardock and Gine willifully sent him to Earth in order to save him from the destruction of Planet Vegeta at the hands of Frieza.
- Honoka of Chibi☆Devi! becomes the surrogate mother of Mao, a demon baby. Slight variation in that Honoka is only 14.
- Played with in Silver Diamond - while Rakan's MOTHER is also from the other world, his "grandfather" is not.
- To a degree, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED does this with Kira Yamato's adoptive parents Haruma and Caridad, though Caridad is actually his maternal aunt. He was created to be the perfect human, with capabilities beyond the reach of anyone else. But it was his adopted parents who raised him in a neutral nation, making him a peaceful and kind young man, rather than a weapon for war.
- Tokyo Ghoul
- Ikuma Momochi, a reoccurring character in the side novels. After her own child died, Mrs. Momochi encountered a female Ghoul fleeing Investigators and the two women traded babies to save his life. She used her position as a doctor to steal flesh for him to eat, and created a fake record of him having severe food allergies to prevent anyone from learning about Ikuma being a Ghoul.
- The novels also subvert this with the Utsumi family, featured in the second novel. A wealthy human adopted a pair of orphaned ghoul siblings, but only because he was a Serial Killer that used them to carry out his crimes. He fully intended to have them take the fall for it, should the crimes ever be exposed. Even so, Koharu loved her adoptive father very much and struggled with guilt over helping in his crimes.
- Matasaka "Shachi" Kamishiro reveals that he was raised and trained in the martial arts by a human.
- Early on in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Kobayashi takes in a young (well, youngish) dragon named Kanna. Kanna also has a second mother figure in the form of Tohru (the eponymous Dragon Maid), but prefers to view her as a Cool Big Sis. Kobayashi later takes in another dragon named Ilulu who fills the teenage daughter role.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS plays with this a bit regarding the Nakajima family. The fact that Genya is a muggle and his daughters are both mages is not an example of this trope, as magic is considered to be an everyday part of life on Midchilda. The fact that said daughters are both combat cyborgs that his late wife rescued from an illegal research facility on the other hand...
- In Figure 17 Tsubasa & Hikaru, biomechanical battle suit Hikaru starts living with Tsubabsa, so in order to avoid awkward questions about where she came from, DD modifies the memories of Tsubasa's father to make him believe that he had twin daughters all along and that Hikaru was simply living elsewhere with an aunt.
- Pictured above: Superman was raised by the Kents in Smallville.
- In an Alternate Universe named The Nail, he was raised by Amish and didn't become Superman, but was a simple Amish farmer. By the end of that issue, his Amish parents were brutally killed in front of him, almost causing him to cross the Despair Event Horizon. The Kents take him in, and this is how Superman was "born" in that particular AU.
- In Superman: Red Son, after landing in the USSR, Superman was raised in a collective farm in Ukraine rather than in Russia, which later causes Supes to become a reluctant Evil Overlord (after a brief, but concise, and perfectly timed written Breaking Speech from Lex Luthor, he winds up pulling a Heroic Sacrifice actually faking his own death and taking on the Clark Kent identity to live a quiet life in secret), as mentioned above.
- And in Superman: True Brit, he's raised by British nitwits to become one himself, resembling John Cleese (who co-wrote the story).
- Fred and Edna Danvers were the adoptive parents of Pre-Crisis Linda Lee Danvers/Kara Zor-El and Secret Keepers for her role as Supergirl.
- Post Crisis Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers - two agents of the D. E. O. (Department of Extra-normal Operations), a Government agency created to deal with and neutralize alien threats- became Supergirl's foster parents in Supergirl (Rebirth). They helped Kara understand Earthlings and adapt her new home-world.
Eliza: (smiling) Damn — Look at her go. And here's us, the adorable, slow-moving human parents.
- At the beginning of Bizarrogirl, Kara wants to be adopted by Lana officially.
- In The DCU, Jade and Obsidian, the children of the first Green Lantern, were raised separately by normal adoptive parents, unaware of their parentage or each other's existence until their late teens when their powers manifested.
- ElfQuest: Wavedancers has Wavelet, who was raised by humans from infancy. Being an elf, the "adopted" part was rather obvious, though her being one of the few treeshapers, she became very respected by the tribe that raised her as "good spirit of plenty".
- A relatively mundane example appears in Swordquest, where the twins Torr and Tarra — who have been prophesied to overthrow the Big Bad King Tyrannus — are raised by a faithful friend of their late father.
- Deconstructed in Irredeemable, where it's shown that the Plutonian's superhuman powers frightened and isolated any potential foster parents. He did get one set of decent adoptive parents who tried to teach him to be a selfless hero, but even that didn't work out.
- Deconstructed in Supreme Power. The U.S government attempts to invoke this with Hyperion in an attempt at turning him into an obedient, All-American metahuman weapon, by making two agents raise him together as their adopted child. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. Not only does Hyperion realize what's going on by the time he's a teenager, as his enhanced senses mean that they can't effectively hide the surveillance, but it's also heavily implied that the agents not only don't love him as a son, but are actually afraid of him and his powers, and are only following orders.
- Victor and Rosa Vasquez are this to Billy and the others in the New 52 reboot of Shazam! and the movie adaptation of it.
- Runaways (Rainbow Rowell) introduces Josh and Paul, Klara's new foster dads.
- Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld: The Winstons are the normal human foster parents of "Amy", who is actually the magical princess Amethyst.
- Child of the Storm:
- The Grangers turn out to be this for Hermione, whose biological parents are Wanda Maximoff and John Constantine - since it was at the height of the first Wizarding War, Wanda had all the enemies she'd made as Apprentice to Doctor Strange, as a member of the Order of the Phoenix, and as the daughter of Magneto, and that's before one gets on to Constantine's enemies, it's not surprising that she had real reason to doubt that Hermione would live beyond infancy.
- And, of course, the usual examples of Clark and the Kent family, and Harry and the Dursleys (at first). Needless to say, one is considerably more positive than the other.
- It turns out that Clint Barton's mother had a case of this, being the daughter of Minerva McGonagall and Bucky Barnes, and winding up being raised by the parents of a certain Jonathan Kent.
- This is the big twist of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic Mommy Nearest. Rainbow Dash is actually Celestia's daughter, sent to be raised by a pegasus couple to protect her from unicorn prejudice in Canterlot. The pain in her head is in fact from her horn growing in belatedly.
- Godzilla Junior hatched inside an institute and was cared for by a female biologist he saw as his mother. By time we see him all grown up in The Bridge we see the effect. Instead of a destructive True Neutral like his adoptive father, Senior, adult Junior is a Gentle Giant and the Big Good of the benign kaiju.
- In the Gargoyles AU fic "Guardian of the People", while Elisa Maza is a gargoyle rather than a human, she was raised by the Maza family after the rest of her gargoyle clan died out before her egg hatched, her mother passing the egg on to the Mazas and suggesting her name before she died.
- This is played with in Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!. Inko and Hisashi Midoriya both possess a Quirk, a natural superpower possessed by 80% of the population, but that makes them "normal" in a world where 90% of people have superpowers. They also become the loving foster parents of their wayward Kryptonian son Izuku, raising him into a Hero Fan Boy with a heart of gold and a desire to save others like his idol, All Might. Then it's subverted when Hisashi is revealed to be one half of Firestorm.
- Worlds Apart (MLP): Lunarstar is the only known magical pony in the world. She's adopted by normal ponies and raised as an Earth pony.
- In Yokai Watch Re!, Nate is at least half-yokai and is secretly Lord Enma's heir. He was adopted by humans and raised for eleven years, knowing that he was adopted but not knowing his exact heritage. After he's taken back the Yo-kai World with his biological mother, he promises to still visit his adopted parents.
- The Dogfather is a Harry Potter What If? fic where an infant Harry is placed in foster services and Happily Adopted to a Muggle couple, whose positive influence and close ongoing interest in his Hogwarts life cause major changes to the plot of the books. Harry corrects anyone who calls him Harry Potter and, much less politely, anyone who implies that the MacIntyres are anything less than his real parents.
- In the Disney version of Hercules the protagonist has these, a la Superman. In this version the reason Hercules is a Demi-God is because he was Zeus and Hera's son but was fed a 'mortal potion' as a baby, but retained his strength because he didn't drink the final drop of the potion. In the original tale, it was because Zeus had sex with a mortal woman — and for this main reason, Herc's main nemesis in the original myths was Hera, not Hades.
- Luke and Leia in Star Wars, though Luke was well aware he was living with his aunt and uncle. Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, Luke's caregivers, were about as Muggleish as anyone gets in Star Wars (not only did they lack any Force powers, they also kept far away from galactic affairs and focused themselves entirely on their moisture farm). Leia's foster parents were royalty (but still not Force-Sensitive, so "Muggle" in the Star Wars sense).
- Rebecca, in Birth Rite, had foster parents before she found out about her witch heritage.
- A horrifying variation is seen Brightburn, where Brandon is raised by the well meaning couple that found him in his alien spaceship, but after he realizes that there is literally nothing anyone can do to stop him, he decides to use his superpowers to murder and destroy.
- A lot of fairy tales invert this trope by having a mortal hero/ine who is stuck with a Wicked Witch Stepmother and step-siblings.
- Harry Potter, the source of the trope name, has a strange twist since the Dursleys hate Harry and vice versa.
- In an example of this trope, Hermione and all muggle-borns are naturally-gifted humans born to parents who are unaware of magic. Their extended families are presumably unaware of magic as well. It's mentioned a few times on how Hermione has to help her parents with magical-related things, including wizard money. It's also implied that there was probably a wizard somewhere on the family tree; see The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
- The opposite of this is the Squibs: they're unmagical humans born to magical families and are usually looked upon with disdain or at least pity. Filch is presumably mean to his students because he is jealous and bitter. An advertisement for a product that teaches magic to Squibs is presented like a Hollywood diet pill, including testimonials. It doesn't work, of course. However, Squibs do serve as excellent (if eccentric) informants, witnesses, and spies for wizards amidst Muggles. The leading explanation for the origin of muggle-borns is that they are descended from squibs who integrated into muggle society.
- Pratchett's Discworld has Carrot Ironfoundersson, born human but raised by dwarves; he is in fact the legitimate heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork. He doesn't claim the title, though: he doesn't want the job, and there's a good chance Vimes would literally have his head if he did. It's the biggest Open Secret in the city.
- Somewhat applicable to Wee Mad Arthur as well, as he's a Feegle who was carried off by a bird of prey as a toddler and was adopted by gnomes, who found him lying beside its strangled carcass. Although too much the Feegle to ever be The Cape, his pictsie strength and aggression made him an important defender of the gnome community until his move to Ankh-Morpork.
- In The Wheel of Time, Rand is found by Tam al'Thor on a battlefield, and Tam decides to take him home to his wife Kari to raise as their son. Tam isn't completely a muggle however. He is a skilled swordsman and Rand uses basic techniques Tam taught him to survive his first brushes with baddies before he can get more training. Also subverted in that it appeared Tam was going to be a Death by Origin Story, but he survives and becomes an active member of his hometown's resistance fighters and has a heated confrontation with Rand in book 12 that leads to Rand having a My God, What Have I Done? / Epiphany Therapy moment.
- The Chronicles of Prydain: Inverted, as Taran is a muggle with a Magician for a foster parent. Played straight in the third book by Eilonwy, however; as the last Princess of Llyr, she is a natural sorceress, albeit one without much understanding of her own power. In the third book, Dallben arranges for her to be fostered on the isle of Mona by the kindly but very muggle royal family.
- Subverted in Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. Sunny has magical abilities, but her parents don't. However her parents are her biological parents, the magic just skipped a generation.
- In The Sword of Truth, Richard Cypher is kind of raised by a muggle foster father in the non-magical land of Westland, and although his mother is his real mother, she's also non-magical. It's only much later that he finds out that the Big Bad who is a powerful wizard, is his father and that the 'friend' he's known all his life is actually his grandfather and a powerful wizard as well, which is where he gets all his awesome wizard powers from.
- Since magic is passed down by familial lines, and Richard is explicitly said to have inherited magic from both the Rahl and Zorander sides of his family, it's very probable that his mother did have magic, but there doesn't appear to be direct evidence either way.
- Inverted in Septimus Heap, where Princess Jenna is adopted by a Wizard family.
- In the Alcatraz Series, Alcatraz goes through 27 sets of these.
- The Changeover: The romantic lead, Sorenson 'Sorry' Carlisle, was raised by the abusive kind.
- In The Sanguine Chronicles, Marko is raised by distant relatives (he doesn't know who his father is, and his mom is dead). They know exactly what he is, and help him cope.
- In Animorphs, Tobias is raised alternatively by an aunt and uncle who live on opposite sides of the country; neither was very good at it. An odd example of this trope, because while Tobias has a supernatural origin (his father was an alien who Shapeshifter Mode Locked himself as a human) he was in every other way a Muggle himself before the series begins.
- Morgan of the Sweep series is a blood witch who was adopted by a Catholic family.
- In Sorcerer To The Crown, magically gifted Prunella is raised by the completely unmagical Mrs. Daubeney. The trope is subverted with Zacharias, whose parents may or may not have any magical talent, and who was adopted by the sorcerer Sir Stephen because of his magic.
- InCryptid: Johrlac, also known as "cuckoos", leave their babies with unassuming human families, where the infant's subconscious telepathy convinces them that it's their own child. Once their powers fully manifest at puberty their Genetic Memory/Ghost Memory "hatches", imbuing them with the Johrlac species' cultural memory, and the knowledge of what they are. This usually makes them (from the human point of view) temporarily Go Mad from the Revelation and murder their human family. When they resurface, they're fully aware of their own telepathic abilities, and their status as an ambush predator.
- Twice in Kyle XY: In the first season, when Kyle himself is unaware of his true origins, and in the second season, when Kyle wants to live the normal life that his genetic father was never allowed to have and so returns to his old foster family.
- Subverted in Heroes, where Claire's
fosteradoptive dad is an incredibly badass secret agent, whereas her superpowered mother is a regular woman who lives in a trailer.
- Though her real dad is a flying incredibly wealthy politician.
- Sylar is later revealed to have been adopted by Muggle relatives. His real father has a similar power to him, which makes him just as Ax-Crazy as he is and caused him to murder Sylar's mother.
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "True Q" involved a similar scenario for Amanda Rogers, except that her biological parents were self-depowered Q living as humans, although her subsequent adoptive parents fit this trope.
- In Charmed, Paige Matthews was given to normal parents after her birth and didn't know her true heritage until her powers started manifesting in her early twenties, thanks to a spell Piper had cast to bring Prue back awakening her powers instead.
- In Tin Man, DG believes her parents are her real parents. Later it is revealed that they are robots with nurturing chips.
- In Supergirl (2015), Kara was adopted by Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers, veteran agents of the D.E.O. and allies of Superman, after crash-landing on Earth.
- In Merlin., this applies to the Uther and Morgana relationship, until season 3. Then we find out Uther IS Morgana's father as he had an affair with her mother, though he isn't a sorcerer either.
- Grimm has a teenage blutbad who gets adopted by humans. As a result, she ends up being unable to control her animalistic nature until she meets Monroe, who helps her.
- In Mako Mermaids: An H₂O Adventure, we have Zac, who doesn't even know he's adopted until the fact that he's a natural-born merman whose powers were locked, rather than a human who accidentally gained merman powers, comes to light. His parents remain oblivious to Zac's status as a merman for the run of the show, but in the final episode, Zac (reunited with his biological mother) declares his intent to tell them the full truth.
- In Baal Veer, the eponymous character is a boy with the power of the fairies from Fairy Lok. He lives undercover as Ballu, the adopted son of the Daglis.
- Joseph in The Four Gospels of The Bible, being the literal stepfather of Jesus. Partially averted with Mary, who actually is Jesus' birth mother (being human, she still fits the "Muggle" definition though different denominations will dispute just how much bearing and raising God in the flesh affected her).
- In the Mahabharata, both Karna and Krishna are brought up by foster parents who don't realize their real power. Both end up fighting in opposite sides of the Kurushetra War.
- In the background story of Warhammer 40,000, the Primarchs (bio-engineered Super Soldier sons of the God-Emperor of Man) were scattered across the planets of the galaxy in their childhood. While some were forced to fend for themselves on these planets, many more found themselves in the care and protection of normal human foster parents. The way they were raised differed from person to person; people like Roboute Guilliman, Vulkan, and Magnus had rather loving foster parents, while people like Angron and Mortarion had cruel parents who treated them like slaves. Eventually the Emperor would find all of his superpowered sons and take them home (with varying degrees of cooperation).
- Lloyd Irving in Tales of Symphonia was raised by a Dwarf, unaware that his mother was involved in experiments to create Cruxis Crystals (crystals that turn people into Angels) and that his father really is an Angel. Rumors also claim that Colette's real father, Frank, is really a Muggle Foster Parent and Colette's real father is an angel. Angel Remiel tells the party that Colette is not the daughter of an Angel but simply a human chosen to become the new host for Martel, and that he never actually said he was her father and just played along since they assumed it was so.
- In the Golden Sun series, Ivan was surrendered by his family to the merchants who founded Kalay to ensure his eventual destiny, and Sheba is a foundling who was Happily Adopted by the town leaders of Lalivero.
- One side effect for Ivan is that no one ever taught him reading minds is rude, causing him to develop a bad reputation for knowing everyone else's secrets.
- Amiti of Dark Dawn counts as the "raised by uncle" type, though Paitos's "Muggle" status is uncertain — one line he has suggests that he is a very weak Venus Adept.
- Westa Lanford in Star Ocean: The Second Story is the adoptive mother of Rena, the only Nedian outside of their artificial homeworld. Westa figured out very early that her daughter had powers that no one else on their world did, but didn't find out the full story until after the adventure was over.
- Elie from Gifts of Wandering Ice was raised by a cave dwelling couple. Her biological parents died hundreds of years ago.
- Agatha from Girl Genius was raised by people she knew as Adam and Lilith Clay, and she referred to them as her parents, but it was later revealed that they were the Heterodyne Boys' construct sidekicks, Punch and Judy (not quite Muggles, but pretending to be), and the famous Bill Heterodyne was her real father. She still treats them like her parents and is enraged when Von Pinn curtly dismisses their destruction at her hands.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Molly the Monster—arguably the most intelligent being on Earth but still young and very naive—is being raised by the very human Bob & Jean.
- Tally from The Weave was raised by her aunt after her mother died and her father disappeared. Whether or not she knew about Tally's true nature is not known, but either way, she didn't seem to be the most loving or supportive surrogate parent, begrudging the fact that she had to raise Tally without having a choice in the matter.
- The Questport Chronicles: Gawain, an elf, is raised by a human blacksmith after being abandoned by his parents. The blacksmith's death in a plague is what catalyzes Gawain to seek adventure in Questport.
- Subverted in the '80s cartoon Wildfire, in which our heroine is a mystical princess from another dimension being raised on Earth by a Muggle foster father...who, it turns out, is her father, brainwashed to think he comes from Earth.
- In Wakfu, Yugo's Muggle foster-father was hand-picked by a dragon.
- Uncle Dudley for Billy on Young Justice (2010). Oddly he seems to be the only example, since all the other kids were either raised by their biological parents and/or adult superheroes.
- Jonathan Kent appears in Season 2, and is revealed to be this for Superman and a Parental Substitute for Superboy.
- In Winx Club, Bloom is Happily Adopted by Mike and Vanessa after being found in a house fire on Earth as a baby. She later finds out that she is not just a fairy but a princess from a dead planet. Then, even later, it's revealed that her birth parents are alive. Some plot is made of the relationships between Bloom, her birth parents, and her adoptive parents.
- In Peter and the Magic Egg, the son of Mother Nature is adopted by two Pennsylvania Dutch farmers.