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Nuclear Family

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Behold, the Nuclear Family! We have "Mom", "Dad", "Sis", "Biff", "Brat", and "Dog"...and they're nuclear energy-powered robots.

Connie: I told my parents you have a nuclear family!
Steven: Nuclear?! Sure, they make stuff blow up sometimes, but that's because they're magic, not radioactive!

Mom, Dad, 2-3 kids, dog, house in the suburbs. Cat optional.

Basis for most Dom Com series. The name references that this is the minimal "core" family unit, a single generation of parents and kids, as opposed to an "extended" family with cohabiting aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Or the fact that it is usually unstable, can cause hair loss, has a fifty-fifty chance of a spontaneous split, and may also lead to early death; either works. Generally avoided in dramas, as missing parents are a good source of teen angst.

If you want to break out of the 2-or-3-kids pattern, you could try going much, much larger. This can be justified via religious beliefs note , but it doesn't have to be. However, if the big family is not the main family for the story, it's almost certainly a religious reason — and almost certainly, most or all of the kids are treated as a unit, not as individuals. They may even dress and look identical except for age and gender.


You may also choose to have a gaggle-o'-kids by using a blended family. The parents' exes are even more optional than the cat.

Then again, you could go for moderation and stick by the nuclear family, but have the extended family get way more involved than is typical. Instead of a grandparent or two and the occasional uncle or unruly cousin, try adding two to three siblings on each side and two to three kids per sibling (with the childless sibling constantly asked when he or she is going to start a family). Pretty soon you have the kind of setup needed for My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Has nothing to do with people affected by radiation or a certain ending in Fallout 4.

A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family is a subtrope, when there's a son and daughter around the same age, and also a much younger sibling.


Compare and contrast The Clan and Big, Screwed-Up Family.


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  • Advertisements for four-door vehicles often pitch their ability to comfortably convey the average nuclear family, even using the 2.3 kids gag (meaning they've got extra space).

    Anime & Manga 
  • Summer Wars features the exploits of an extended family (and one love interest) over the course of a few days trying to stop a viral social networking disaster from causing IRL mayhem.
  • The Tsukino family in Sailor Moon fits to a T: working dad Kenji, housewife mom Ikuko, elder daughter Usagi and younger brother Shingo; from the Black Moon arc / R season onward, they functionally get a third child in the form of either Chibiusa or Chibi-Chibi. This is particularly noticeable because, with the exception of Minakonote , all the other Senshi come from broken families of varying degrees.

    Comic Books 
  • In the DCU comic Batman and the Outsiders (first run), there was a group of robot super-villain terrorists called the Nuclear Family. They were based on an idealized 1950s sitcom family and had radiation-based powers. They were eventually blown up, but were rebuilt for the much-maligned Battle For Bludhaven, and then later reappeared in Justice League Action, much less maligned than said Bludhaven bout.
  • The Far Side has a strip where the kids are watching TV while the parents are welcoming guests, telling them to come in and meet their 1.5 children.
  • In PS238, The Nuclear Family is a superhero team which is also an extended family. Despite their "Nuclear" moniker their power set varies from Gadgeteer Genius to at least one Flying Brick. Student Susie Fusion is the child of one of its members, and Julie Fincher ("84") is the daughter of a non-superpowered offshoot, who doesn't get along well with his superpowered cousins.
  • Invoked by The Vision in The Vision (2015); he creates a nuclear family of synthezoids for himself (comprised of a wife, a son, and a daughter) and gets a house in a suburb near Washington DC since he's trying to live a normal human life.
  • Sensation Comics: The Allen family, which Wonder Woman meets in issue #38, is the down on their luck remains of such a family. The father died a little over a year before and the mother had to take her two kids and move in with her brother-in-law, whom she did not realize was a massively abusive Jerkass until she was in a position she couldn't easily escape with her children.
  • Weapon Hex: The fact that the Kinney family consists of a mother, father, and two daughters is probably the only normal thing about them.

    Fairy Tales 

    Fan Works 
  • In The RWBY Loops team JNPR becomes this due to an early variant loop cropping up around the time Ren and Nora's baseline orphan status was confirmed. Unusual in that all four individuals are biologically unrelated, as well as generally all being seventeen years of age, and Pyrrha has an on-again-off-again affliction known as being dead. Jaune appears to just roll with it.

  • Disneyland Dream is a 1956 home movie by amateur filmmaker Robbins Barstow, documenting his family's trip from their hometown in Connecticut to the then-new Disneyland theme park. It is, among other things, a perfect record of the stereotypical all-American nuclear family with the mom, dad, and kids, in this case three.
  • In the 1997 informative video The Kids Guide to the Internet The Jamisons, as established in the Establishing Shot of their home. Mom and Dad, Peter and Dasha. They make it abundantly clear that Mom likes to pay bills and how the kids grades have improved, and Dad likes to check the stocks and sports scores. On top of that they all helped set up the computer, each having their own job. Any sweeter and Lisa and Andrew would have died of diabetes upon entering the house.
  • In Suffragette despite the film taking place in an age where the nuclear family wasn't that common, Maud's family consists of herself, her husband and her son. Having lost her mother at a young age, Maud never had siblings, and the fact that she never knew who her father was further serves to reduce the family size. Her husband's family is never mentioned, but it's implied he has no female relatives who can cook for him while Maud is away. Considering that they're not that well off, it can be assumed his parents died early, too.
  • The Social Dilemma: The family in the story is a blended one, consisting of a mother, a father, and three children, emphasizing how social media affects everyone.
  • The Bob Hope film the The Seven Little Foys, a Very Loosely Based on a True Story comedy about an immature, absentee father (legendary vaudeville performer Eddie Foy) forced to become a real parent after the death of his wife.
  • Invoked and spoofed in We're the Millers, where a drug dealer decides that the best way to smuggle marijuana across the US-Mexican border is to hire a female stripper, a neighbor's geeky son, and a runaway teenage girl to act as a wholesome, all-American nuclear family who would never dream about doing anything illegal.

  • Invoked by the Community in The Giver. All families are intentionally set up like this, although minus the dog, as pets don't exist in the Community.
  • In The Phantom Tollbooth, the main character visits Digitopolis, the land of numbers, and tries to find a way to Infinity. After giving up, he encounters half a boy, cut right down the middle (the other half just not there). Turns out he's the .58 child in 2.58 children for the average family — luckily the average went up a bit, because it was painful being only .47. Fortunately, the average family also has 1.3 automobiles, and since he's the only one who can drive three-tenths of a car, he gets to use it all the time.
  • ''Project NRI": Yamagi Noriko's family is composed of her mother, her father, herself and her little brother Haseo.
  • House of Leaves: The family that moves into the titular House and who are the protagonists of the core story, are a husband and wife and a son and daughter (plus a dog and a cat).
  • In A Brother's Price a nuclear family is made of a group of sisters, their husband, and their children. Thirty children are not uncommon, but considered irresponsible if there's only one boy. Overlaps with The Clan, as the children are technically half sisters, half cousins - but as far as the protagonists are concerned, they're sisters.
  • Cheaper by the Dozen (the book, movie version, and modern remake) has 12. In the original movie there's a scene where a representative from Planned Parenthood arrives to ask the mother (who's apparently well known as having her household in order) to head the local chapter... and upon meeting the kids at first thinks it's a boarding school and then gasps in horror, "Why — they're all yours!"
  • The Berenstain Bears Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear before Honey Bear came along.
  • Teresa Bloomingdale's comedy novel I Should Have Seen It Coming When the Rabbit Died is an autobiography about a strongly Catholic family with some 10 kids.
  • The Weasleys from Harry Potter. Six boys and one girl.
  • The Carsons in Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Changeling are like this. Outside of Ivy and Josie, the only one of the eight kids who appears or does anything is Jerry. They're described as all looking pretty much alike.
  • All-of-a-Kind Family details a depression-era Jewish family with 5 girls spaced two years apart, and, by the end of the first book, a new baby brother.
  • Star Wars Legends uses the extended family trope quite a bit. In New Jedi Order, you might even think Luke and Mara were the Solo kids' parents.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The main family in Just the Ten of Us, spinoff from Growing Pains. As Bo-- er, Richard Stabone noted upon seeing the Lubbock family, "They're Catholic!"
  • Ma and Pa Kettle, stars of a popular franchise of late '40s/early '50s comedies, were a rural farm couple with 15 children. A running gag would have Ma forgetting a kid's name.
  • On the Reality Show 19 Kids and Counting, the Duggar family has 19 kids. There also is a Spin-Off about their friends the Bates, who have 21 kids.
  • The Brady Bunch, bringing together a father with three boys and a mother with three girls.
  • Malcolm in the Middle has a core group of three boys, plus older brother Francis (away at military camp, and later starting his own family) and baby brother Jamie.
  • The Dunphys, in Modern Family, are presented as the "default" nuclear family—mum, dad, two daughters and a son—but the show introduces them as part of a larger extended family whose other nuclear components fall out of classic or stereotypical American family norms.
  • Too Many Cooks starts out parodying nuclear families... and then the episode just keeps going, and going, and going, introducing more and more Cooks along the way.
  • The Family from Titans, since they're based on the Nuclear Family (see Comics above). They don't appear to actually be related since when Dad is killed, he's simply replaced by a new man, but are brainwashed into acting like an old-fashioned nuclear family of Dad, Mum, son and daughter all while performing horrific acts of torture and murder.
  • Out of the main cast of Stranger Things; Lucas Sinclair and Mike Wheeler are the only ones to have this dynamic with their families: Lucas has both parents and a younger sister and Mike has both parents and is the middle child between two sisters.

  • The "Loving Family" My Little Pony toys consisted of a mare, a stallion, a filly, and a colt.

    Video Games 
  • The Beamishes of The Adventures of Willy Beamish. Gordon Beamish is a White Collar Worker while his wife Sheila is a homemaker. Their eldest child is Valley Girl Tiffany, followed by grade school-aged son Willy, and finally the bratty preschooler Brianna. Willy has a dog named Duffy (along with a frog named Horny), while Brianna has a cat named Mr. Snickers. However, their suburban lifestyle is also suggested to come with a pretty hefty price tag, with Gordon's job termination immediately instilling worries in how things like the mortgage, car payments and credit cards will be paid off.
  • The Sardini family in Haunting Starring Polterguy. Father Vito is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who sells crappy skateboards to innocent teenagers and does not care even if they die. Flo is his proud but easily frightened wife. Tony is their son who is interested in telescopes and ninjas. Mimi is their Bratty Teenage Daughter with Girlish Pigtails. They also have an unnamed dog that makes your game harder.
  • In Sheltered, you have to help a family of four (five if you let them have a pet) survive in the aftermath of a nuclear war by helping them to maintain their fallout shelter.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons. Early on, it even used "America's Most Nuclear Family" as a Tag Line. Homer working at a nuclear power plant even makes this more literal than other examples.
    • Taken to perhaps its ultimate extreme with Cletus Spuckler, the series' resident "slack jawed yokel". He and his wife Brandine are the parents of some 44 children. In one episode, the Spucklers take in Bart and Lisa when Homer and Marge go to jail, implying that some of the other children may be fostered as well.
  • The evil supervillain "Brainchild" (a.k.a Charles) from The Tick's animated series is the older son in a nuclear family. His parents are very progressive and hope he'll eventually grow out of the "supervillain" phase.
  • The Morgendorrfers in Daria are a parody, although they do genuinely seem to care for each other. Even if the mother is a hopeless Workaholic, the father a Cloud Cuckoolander, the eldest daughter a misanthopic Snark Knight, and the youngest a boy-crazy, popularity-obsessed Pretty Freeloader.
  • In The Weekenders, Lor is the sole girl in a family with 12 boys, all of whom are treated as a unit. Her family environment has formed much of the core of her personality.
  • The Loud House has the titular Loud family, consisting of Rita and Lynn Sr. and their eleven kids, with the sole boy, Lincoln, being the focus of the show.
  • Phineas and Ferb, where the family is so blended it can be hard for a casual viewer to notice it at all. This is helped by Ferb, who has a British accent, hardly ever speaking.
  • Rugrats began with Chuckie being raised by a single father, but in the second movie Chas remarries a woman named Kira who has a daughter named Kimi.
  • Steven Universe has a very unconventional family (his mother gave up her physical form to become half of him, and he lives with three of her close friends who are sentient gemstones with humanoid projections), but his friend Connie's parents are very traditional, which leads to this humorous dialogue when Connie's parents want to meet Steven's.
    Connie: I told my parents you have a nuclear family.
    Steven: Nuclear? Sure, they make stuff blow up sometimes, but that's because they're magic, not radioactive!
    • Steven then has the Crystal Gems fuse into Alexandrite to pass themselves off as his mother, because he can't choose just one of them to play the part.
  • Moral Orel Is easily one of the most scathing Deconstructions of the Nuclear Family ever made, showing how the institutionalization of the Nuclear Family above all else rips people apart on the inside, often at the neglect of the children.
  • P.C. Pinkerton: The titular P.C.'s family consists of him, his wife Jane, his kids Jane and Peter, and later their dog Slipper.

    Real Life 
  • The Western nuclear family is a relatively recent innovation, the product of social and physical mobility brought about by the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution.
  • In more traditional societies, like some in Latin America, the Mediterranean, and South/Southeast Asia, this is ubiquitous. Extended family are almost universally considered close family in those cultures. In many of these areas, extended family either lives under one roof or near one another. The Arab Gulf states, for example, are notorious for having cases of three or four generations living under one roof, with all of a particular patriarch's (very fertile) descendants living in a single building. In profound cases (e.g., Italy), "family" might include True Companions, or casual acquaintances.
    • Weddings are an issue in these cultures. The minimum size for an Indian or Middle Eastern wedding is somewhere in the triple digits; anything smaller and you will run the risk of offending many people. If you live far away from most of your relatives, they will insist that it be held close to them. This goes double if you live abroad—they will have you get married in The Old Country, and that is final.