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Outliving One's Offspring

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"No parent should have to bury their child."
King Théoden, The Lord of the Rings
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A parent's worst Adult Fear is realized: they have outlived their children. Whether it is from disease, murder, war, an accident, etc., their children are all dead and buried. At this point, the parents can fall into a deep depression or seek Revenge on whoever caused this situation. If they are lucky, they will have their spouse to help them through this situation, but often they will be all alone to deal with their grief.

An even worse version of this trope can occur if the parent is immortal or The Ageless and cannot pass their immortality onto their offspring (provided they can actually have children). While they may have several generations of children, grandchildren, etc. they will be cursed with knowing they will outlive them all. This may cause them to choose not to have children to avoid this pain. A Supernaturally Young Parent can easily be accompanied by this trope.

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Very much Truth in Television. This can happen if someone dies an unnatural death (such as in an accident or due to disease) or if a parent lives particularly long (it's quite common for people over 100 to have outlived at least one of their children) and far too frequently during times of war when the offspring is old enough to fight. However, unlike in fiction, in real life, it is accepted as a fact of life, no matter how depressing the situation is.

The invocation of this trope is Offing the Offspring, where the parent deliberately outlives their offspring by killing them.

As a Death Trope, many if not all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ano Hana The Flower We Saw That Day has Meiko "Menma" Honma's parents, specially her mother Irene who pretty much locks herself at home and barely pays attention to her remaining child Satoshi.
  • Astro Boy starts with the death of Dr. Tenma's son. He created Astro as a Replacement Goldfish, but later abandoned him because he wasn't exactly like his son.
  • Due to the nature of Attack on Titan, several parents end up outliving their children.
    • Armin's grandfather outlived his son and daughter-in-law hinted to be the couple in the hot balloon killed by the government, raising his young grandson.
    • After the massacre of the royal family, Rod Reiss only had one illegitimate daughter left, Historia, after the deaths of his three other daughters and two sons.
    • Petra is survived by her father.
    • Mr and Mrs Yeager, the parents to Grisha and the grandparents to Eren. Their daughter was killed at a young age in a violent fashion and later they could only helplessly watch as Grisha was sentenced to be Titanized due to treason, effectively a death sentence.
      • At this point in time, they may also outlive both of their grandsons, Eren and Zeke.
    • Also happened to Sasha's parents, as Sasha was killed during the Liberio battle.
    • This is true for several parents whose children become titan shifters, as a shifter will die 13 years after inheriting their titan powers. Examples include Bertolt's father (who apparently died in his sleep sometime after Reiner returned home, although this may be a government coverup), Marcel Galliard's parents (who will probably have the same thing happen with their younger son Porco)... Some of the current titan shifters' parents may also fall victim to this trope (including Reiner's) but it remains to be seen.
  • Bokurano
    • Almost all of the pilots' parents end up having this happen to them- the only exceptions are those who die before their children(Kodama's father, Ushiro's mother and Komo's father in the anime). In the manga, Kana's father takes the news of her being the next pilot (essentially a death sentence) especially hard, and even asks if he can take Kana's place.
    • Also from the manga, Komo's opponent is a middle-aged man whose daughter was killed by the families of those who'd died in previous battles. His daughter's death sends him over the Despair Event Horizon and is implied to be why he doesn't want to win his battle.
    • In Kanji's arc of the manga, some of the soldiers who volunteer for the Suicide Mission to help him target Javelin's weak point have lost family in the attacks. As one older soldier talks about how he's been forced to confront the reality of losing loved ones, a panel shows a family portrait cracked and buried under rubble, implying that he lost his children.
  • CLANNAD:
  • Code Geass: During Shirley's funeral, her mother is seen crying over Shirley's grave. Easily one of the series' saddest moments, especially considering that said mother had been widowed a year earlier.
    • Aparently, one of the women sitting close to Prince Clovis's casket during his funeral is his mother, Lady Gabrielle.
  • Many, many of the sympathetic murderers in Detective Conan are mothers and fathers who kill the persons who directly or indirectly caused the death of their children.
  • In all but one incarnation to date of the Death Note series, Light's mother Sachiko is still alive by the end of the series, when her son Light dies. Light's father Soichiro also outlives his son in the live-action films and musical.
  • Death Parade:
    • Character of the Day Yousuke committed suicide in his mid twenties, leaving his step-mother and father. He feels guilt striken about this and can't believe he committed suicide.
    • The amnesiac protagonist of the series, Chiyuki, killed herself after she could no longer ice-skate due to a knee fracture. In the final episode where she visits her mother, who is mourning Chiyuki's death three months later. Overcome by her mother's tears, Chiyuki breaks down and regrets her decision, which causes Decim to cry. It turns out the whole scene was an illusion created by him to help judge her soul and he feels bad about lying to her.
  • Two cases in Digimon Adventure 02: Iori/Cody's father Hiroki was killed in London, survived by his father Chikara, and Ken Ichijoji's older brother Osamu/Sam was killed in a car accident, survived by their parents.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Vegeta winds up losing his son, Trunks, twice. First, after Trunks from the future was murdered by Cell, and second when Kid Buu destroyed the Earth. (Taking Goten, Gohan, and Piccolo with it, additionally effecting Goku since the former two are his sons.) It hits harder watching this happen to Vegeta since we see his genuine response in witnessing Trunks' death both times. Going ballistic, futily attacking Cell despite him being much stronger than Vegeta, and chewing out Goku for opting to save Hercule and Dende over their children instead. Though to be fair, Vegeta was dead himself when the younger Trunks died. And he'd already died once before Trunks had even been conceived.
  • The twist in the short manga Forever Honey is that the daughter had been killed in a car crash and what the reader had been seeing was her ghost.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist this happens to a few people:
    • Pinako Rockbell's only son and daughter-in-law, Yuriy and Sara, were killed during the Ishvalan conflict, leaving her to raise her granddaughter Winry alone.
    • Sig and Izumi Curtis lost their only child at his birth. That led a desperate Izumi to break the taboo and try the forbidden human transmutation, contrasting with the Elrics who did the same thing to recreate their Missing Mom (and in fact, she empathizes strongly with them because of that). In the 2003 anime this child becomes Wrath.
    • General Grumman outlived his daughter, Riza Hawkeye's unnamed mother, although this relationship is confirmed only in supplemental material.
    • In the 2003 anime Envy was created when Hohenheim and Dante tried to revive their son.
  • Gakuen Babysitters: The chairwoman loses her son in the same plane crash as the Kashima brothers lost their parents. Their conjoint inability to accept their deaths is what prompts her to ask them to live with her. Later chapters show she still hasn't fully accepted his death, but the Kashima's brother's presence is helping.
  • In This Corner of the World: Harumi dies to a time-delayed bomb, leaving her mother Keiko behind to take her anger and grief out on Suzu.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Erina Pendleton-Joestar outlived her son George, an Ace Pilot from World War I, when he was murdered by one of Dio's last zombies. For a little while near the end of Part II, she believed that she outlived her grandson Joseph as well. It was fortunately averted with the comical reveal of Joseph's survival.
    • Joseph would later outlive his own grandson, and given that his mother is never stated to have died and ages extremely slowly, she may have still been alive herself.
    • When Kakyoin dies in the battle with Dio, among his many final thoughts are his still-alive parents back in Japan, before his mind drifts to the final question that puzzled him.
  • Precia Testarossa of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha outlives her daughter Alicia, but not Alicia's clone, Fate, whom Precia refuses to see as her offspring to the very end.
  • One Piece:
    • One of the worst acts of the World Government in the past is killing many newborns and kids under one year old in their search for the child of Gold D. Roger, meaning their parents outlived them.
    • In a grandparental version, Garp outlived his grandson Ace... who turned out to be the aforementioned child of Gold D. Roger, since Roger entrusted Garp with the still unborn Ace's safety.
    • The Dark and Troubled Past of Doflamingo's dubordinate Senor Pink was kickstarted when his and his wife Russian's son, Gimlet, died of illness when he wasn't at home.
  • The catalyst for all the chaos of Shogun Tsunayoshi's latter reign in Ooku The Inner Chambers is the death of her only daughter and heir, Matsu. Likewise, Shogun Ietsugu inherited the sickly nature of her mother, meaning her father Sakyo is in the unenviable position of seeing a successor to his own daughter take the throne. It's also mentioned that his son by his mother died of the Redface Pox some time after he entered Ienobu's household.
    • Ieharu's children all died before her, leaving her with no heir and another succession crisis.
    • Tanuma Okitomo is assassinated in front of her mother Okitsugu out of revenge for Okitsugu's unpopular policies and the series of natural disasters that were blamed on her. To make matters worse, the assassin is regarded as a saint by the people.
    • A number of Ienari's children fall ill and die. One of the mothers figures out that their grandmother Harusada is poisoning them and trying to pit the mothers against each other. The worst part? It's implied Harusada's doing this because she's bored.
  • Dr. Fuji from Pokémon: The First Movie (who is a reference to Dr. Tenma from Astro Boy) lost his young daughter, Amber, when she was hit by a car. He tried to clone her; however, the clone ended up dying, too, because the cloning process was still developmental.
  • Private Actress: At least two cases involve the protagonist, Shiho Kobayakawa, posing as girls whose deaths deeply traumatized their parents:
    • The first one has her "as" Miyu, a girl who was stabbed to death alongside her mother in London, but whose corpse never was found. Miyu's dad, the rich businessman Sendoh, is mortally ill and has never fully lost hope of seeing Miyu again, so Sendoh's secretary secretly hires Shiho (who looks a LOT like Miyu would look like, were she alive) to pose as Miyu and keep him company for his last weeks of life. Sendoh eventually noticed that Shiho wasn't Miyu due to a small detail that she couldn't "copy", but he still appreciated her effort and how she sincerely felt empathy for his plea; when he peacefully passed away, he left some of Miyu's actual belongings and a poetry book as a parting gift for Shiho.
    • The second case involves Shiho posing as the reincarnation of Miyuki, a little girl who was gruesomely murdered. Her father Shigehide has gone pretty much insane with grief, so his remaining daughter Kozue hires Shiho to pose as a reincarnated Miyuki; she reasons that if Miyuki was reincarnated right after her murder, she'd be around Shiho's age, so if Shiho (who, again, looks like the dead girl's aged-up version) "plays" the role of the new!Miyuki well enough, Shigehide will finally be able to let go of his suffer and start properly living again. Not only Kozue and Shiho's plan turns out to be Crazy Enough to Work, but it leads Shiho and Shigehide to find the Serial Killer who victimised Miyuki and other people and help to catch him.
  • Lordgenome of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann fame is quite accustomed to it. Nia is not the first child he conceived and outlasted during his long reign.
  • Tokyo Magnitude 8.0:
    • Mari fears her four year old daughter and her mother have died due to the earthquake. In episode nine her fears seem to come to life, as supposedly they died in a fire, however it's shown later that both survived. The bodies weren't theirs.
    • Mirai and Yuuki's parents were not so lucky. Two of their kids left to see a robot exhibit but only Mirai came back alive. Her kid brother ended up dying due to likely a cranial injury combined with dehydration.
  • Your Lie in April: Kaori ends up dying of her illness in the final chapter/episode, and her still-living parents are last seen onscreen passing Kousei a letter from her and thanking him for being in her life.
  • Your Name: Mitsuha and Yotsuha's mother Futaba died of illness 6 years ago, leaving them in the care of their maternal grandmother Hitoha after their father Toshiki, having developed depression and irreconcilable differences with her, walked out on the family. For better or worse, the story never explores Hitoha's opinion on this.

    Art 
  • Michelangelo's Pieta depicts the Virgin Mary cradling the corpse of her son as if he was still her infant child.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • The relationship between Batman and Robin, Seduction of the Innocent aside, has always been a father-son one, and Bruce reacted in a highly similar fashion when Jason Todd was murdered by the Joker in the story Death in the Family, a point explicitly stated by Devin Grayson in in a retrospective Gotham Knights story.
    • This happens once more when Damian Wayne is killed by Talia in the New 52. Both Alfred, whom inadvertantly caused Damian's death by allowing him to leave the batcave when ordered not too and Bruce are crushed but they seem to be handling it about as well as can be expected. That is until Bruce finds a note from Damian telling him how he turned him into a hero and he loved him, sending him into a Berserker Rage and going through the 7 stages of grief that spans multiple comics. Alfred breaks when he enters a Virtual Reality Simulator and knocks Damian out to prevent him from leaving. He then tells him how proud he is and how he'll never forgive himself. He then exits the Simulator sobbing, not that anyone could blame him.
    • Alfred actually went through this twice when Bruce "died". When asked by Superman if he was alright he responded, "No sir, I am not. My son has died."
    • Alongside these, are one or two Alternate Universes in which Thomas Wayne becomes Batman after his son Bruce is killed by a mugger in Crime Alley. In one of those versions (being the Flashpoint AU), it also turns out that Martha Wayne became the Joker, having lost her sanity with her son's death.
  • One Elfquest story recalls the life of an elf-adopted human child called Little Patch from infancy to his death of old age. Shuna, another human, was later adopted by the elves as well, although she's still alive in the current storyline, one can surmise that the long-lived elves will outlive her with ease.
  • The Punisher takes the revenge aspect of this trope and runs with it, with the death of his children and wife serving as his motive to kill all criminals.
  • Wolverine:
    • Wolverine was born in the mid-19th Century, and is still alive and kicking in the 21st thanks to his Healing Factor. It's seldom touched on, but he has had many children over his lifetime (most of them illegitimate). Those not born mutants sharing his healing factor are very likely to die of old age or disease while he lives on. One story arc features a villain invoking this trope in the cruelest way possible: He gathers as many of Logan's illegitimate offspring as he can find, trains them, and sends them after him, knowing that Logan will make short work of them. And then not telling him until after the deed is done. The resulting guilt of having slaughtered his own children, along with the participation of his "daughter"/Opposite-Sex Clone, X-23, in X-Force is later a major contributing factor to his side of Schism.
    • Played straighter in the case of his son, Daken: Logan's pregnant wife Itsu was murdered by Winter Soldier in 1946, leading Logan to believe his son died with her. It's not until the present day that Logan learned Daken actually survived due to inheriting his mutant healing factor, and lived much of the past 60 decades (or at least, what he could remember of it) believing his son was dead.
  • The Walking Dead:
    • Hershel Greene is an extreme example, outliving six of his children, one of which is killed not very long before he dies. The only survivor of his children is Maggie.
    • Tyreese's daughter Julie is killed in a murder-suicide pact gone wrong, leading to him strangling Julie's boyfriend Chris to death for his part in her killing.
    • Morgan outlived his son Duane. This is brought over to the series.
    • As a part of her backstory, Michonne was a lawyer who ended her marriage and believes that her daughters were killed by the walkers.
    • Two minor characters named Jim and Brianna lost their entire families, including their children.
  • X-Men: The Holocaust survivors Max Eisenhardt and Magda settled down together in Vinnitsa (in then-Soviet Ukraine) with their daughter, Anya. When Max briefly lost control of his mutant powers during a fight with his Bad Boss, an angry mob (including some KGB agents) burned down the inn where the family lived, which killed poor Anya. The rest is, well, history.
  • Justice League: Cry for Justice saw Roy Harper lose his daughter Lian during the destruction of Star City, which was brought about by Prometheus.

    Fan Works 
  • Bait and Switch (STO): Nalak Lang, the USS Bajor's answer to Guinan, is an elderly Cardassian who lived through the Dominion's attempt to exterminate his species in DS9: "What You Leave Behind". His first wife and his children didn't.
  • In Dead or Alive 4: The Devil Factor, side character Yuri dies after taking a fatal blow for Ayane. Yuri's older brother had perished during the Mugen Tenshin's assault on the DOATEC Tri-towers, and their father had died years before that. Yuri's mother, having lost her entire family, is rendered near-catatonic.
  • Throughout Gensokyo 20XX, Ran has outlived her children Yume and her siblings (first litter), Bi, Akira, Bunmei, Yume Ni, and Ikki (second litter), and An (third litter), along with having stillborns and the fact that An was Dead All Along.
  • Ladder:
    • The Professor loses all three of The Powerpuff Girls, and the original character Ashley, over the course of a year. This is ultimately subverted though as he attempts, and succeeds (technically), to revive them.
    • Princess is killed by a Serial Killer while having a sleepover with Bubbles. Her dad and Professor Utonium become friends due to understanding each other's pain.
    • Blossom created Ashley so, as her father puts it, she's as much her mother as she is her older sister. Ashley ends up Driven to Suicide under two days after her creation.
  • It's mentioned that Lady Delphine, in the Contractually Obligated Chaos series, had just one child who died as a baby.
  • In Colossal Encounters, Lynn Sr. and Rita believe that this trope has happened to them. It's not true but they don't know that and considering their kids are only just finding out that they're not Sole Survivors, that doesn't lessen the heartbreak.
  • Since the Doctor in The Road To Shalka treats his companion Jasmine as a daughter, her death hits him very, very hard - hard enough that he asks the Master to kill him. Later, when confronted with an Upper-Class Twit father who thinks he lost his son but the young man is really just enthralled by aliens and thinks this justifies his running around with a rifle, treating people like dirt, he's pissed off.
    The Doctor: Man up. It's the first fifty years that are the worst.

    Films — Animation 
  • Shown in Anastasia, in which the Dowager Empress Marie outlives her son, Czar Nicholas, and four of his five children. Truth in Television — the real-life Dowager Empress was in Paris at the time of the Russian Revolution, and thus survived it.
  • Big Hero 6:
    • Aunt Cass outlives her nephew Tadashi, whom she was raising alongside with his brother Hiro since their parents' deaths some years earlier.
    • Later, Professor Callaghan believes his daughter to be dead, which causes his villainy, only to later find out that she is in fact alive.
  • Coco: The titular Coco is an old wheelchair bound woman, and while most of her descendants are alive, her daughter, Victoria, passed away before her.
  • In Finding Nemo, Nemo is Marlin's only surviving child out of hundreds, who were all eaten as eggs by a barracuda, along with their mother Coral. For some time later in the film, Marlin thinks Nemo is also dead, causing him to have a Heroic BSoD.
  • This is revealed to be part of Manny's backstory in Ice Age. His wife and child were killed by cavemen hunters, and that's why he's become so bitter and cynical.
  • Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox: Bruce Wayne is killed instead of his parents in the Flashpoint timeline.
  • The Land Before Time
    • Littlefoot's grandparents outlive their daughter, who famously suffers a fatal injury protecting her son from a Tyrannosaurus Rex. In the sequels we see them filling the void by lovingly raising their grandson.
    • Heavily implied to be the case with Cera's father. Cera's clutch included three other hatchlings, and after the Great Earthshake, Cera makes a point of not needing the other children because she's going to find her sisters again. While Cera is reunited with her father at the end of the movie, Cera's mother and clutchmates are nowhere to be seen, and they never show up in the sequels.
  • The Lion King:
    • Subverted in The Lion King, as Sarabi believes for a large portion of the movie that she has outlived her only child - but he's alive all along.
    • In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Nuka is killed by falling rocks trying to impress Zira. Zira blames Kovu for his brother's death and banishes him from the pride. Zira herself ends up dying a few days later.
  • Kerchak and Kala's biological son is killed by Sabor at the beginning of Tarzan, as are baby Tarzan's parents, which leads to him being found and Happily Adopted by Kala.
  • In The Secret of Kells, Abbot Cellach believes his orphaned nephew Brendan (whom he has raised since Brendan was a baby) is killed in a Viking attack (and worse, that it's his fault). He spends twenty years in mourning before he learns Brendan survived and they are reunited.
  • In Pinocchio, Geppetto goes through this when Pinocchio is killed by Monstro the whale while pulling his father to safety. Fortunately this is subverted as the Blue Fairy rewards Pinocchio's heroism by bringing him back to life as a real boy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Godfather, Sonny is shot dead while his father Vito is recovering from his own gunshot wounds. Finding out Sonny's dead is what spurs Vito to make peace with the rest of the mafia families.
    • Averted in The Godfather Part II, when Michael orders that nothing is to happen to Fredo while their mother is still alive.
    • In The Godfather Part III, an assassin misses Michael and kills his daughter Mary instead.
  • Highlander: Connor Macleod suffers from this, being practically immortal — they're adopted children in his case, but his children nevertheless.
  • The hero of Interstellar time travels into the future by passing through a black hole. Being 125 years old (while looking 40-ish), he meets his now-elderly daughter on her deathbed. After a short talk, she sends him away so he won't have to see her die.
  • Invoked by Denzel Washington's titular character in John Q. as to why he is taking a bunch of hostages at a hospital in order to get the heart surgery his son needs to survive.
    John: I am not going to bury my son! My son is going to bury me!
  • In The Last of the Mohicans:
    • Chingachgook's son Uncas is killed in battle by Magua, making the father the titular "Last of the Mohicans."
    • In the novel the film is based on, Col. Munro outlives his elder daughter Cora.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Allan Quatermain has long since retired from adventuring and become reclusive and apathetic, out of guilt for having raised his son on his tales, only for their own adventure to end with Allan watching his son die in his arms.
  • In The Hateful 8, General Smithers is in Wyoming having arranged for a tombstone on the grave of his son, Chester.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Théoden learns his only son has died while he had been brainwashed by his Evil Chancellor. He breaks down crying in front of his son's grave due to his grief. It's made all the sadder in that the line was something the actor had once been told by a mother who had lost her child.
    Théoden: No parent should have to bury their child.
  • Hercules Hansen in Pacific Rim. After saving Chuck from Scissure's attack on Sydney as a young child, Herc later loses his 21-year-old son by Heroic Sacrifice and nuclear explosion in order to close the Breach. At that point, the Kaiju have officially taken Herc's entire family from him and it's likely that he'll continue to Ghost-Drift with his dead son for an unknown length of time.
  • Averting this is the main plot of Saving Private Ryan, bringing home a family's last son after his three brothers have been killed in action.
  • In Stargate, Col. Jack O'Neil's son (Tyler) was playing with his father's gun and accidentally shot himself. O'Neil has a breakdown and becomes suicidal. The Air Force then recruits him to lead the mission through the Stargate on the understanding that it might be a Suicide Mission.
  • In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Kirk's son David is killed defending Saavik and Spock from Klingons. Kirk is shattered by his son's death and feels the loss keenly throughout the sequels. In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, his grief fuels a deep hatred for Klingons which makes him unable to believe that the Klingon Chancellor really does want to make peace and is later used by The Mole to frame Kirk for the Chancellor's murder.
    • In the same movie, Spock is survived by his parents Sarek and Amanda, before coming Back from the Dead.
  • In Stockholm East, Anders and Anna's daughter Tove gets hit by a car and dies.
  • In WarCraft, Lothar's son is killed by Blackhand in front of Lothar, causing him to become unstable and enraged.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: Erik Lehnsherr outlives his daughter Nina, who didn't even get the chance to reach adolescence.
  • Resurrection (1999): In the backstory the main character lost his son in a traffic accident a year prior, and is still emotionally distant because of it.
  • Barry Lyndon: Redmond Barry loses his only trueborn son by Lady Lyndon to a horseback riding accident when the boy wanders off to try to tame a horse by himself. This sends both Barry and his wife into a deep depression, while it also weakens his hold over Lady Lyndon's inheritance (Barry having married the beauteous widow for the money that she inherited from her late husband), opening himself up for challenge by his older stepson.
  • There's a special case in Aliens: Ellen Ripley was in stasis for 57 years, so her daughter had grown physically older than her.
  • In Kung Fu Hustle, the Landlady and Landlord had given up martial arts because their son was killed in a fight some years earlier.
  • In Deewaar, Sumitra outlives her son Vijay, whose child in turn had died without even being born.
  • Djinn: Sarah and Khalid's marriage has been fraught with tension since the post-natal death of their firstborn son.
  • In The House With a Clock in Its Walls, Mrs. Zimmerman lost her husband and daughter during World War II (possibly in a concentration camp, although this is not outright stated). Her grief is such that she has been unable to use her considerable magic powers ever since, and in one scene she remarks that she would give just about anything to have her daughter back.
  • This is Casper's backstory - he died at the age of twelve, having taken ill while playing in the winter weather, and his death drove his father to try to invent a machine to bring the dead back to life.
  • Several adaptations Oliver Twist make Mr. Brownlow into Oliver's maternal grandfather, rather than just a friend of his late father's as in the book. This means he outlives his daughter but is eventually reunited with her son.

    Jokes 
  • A joke:
    An elderly couple walks into the office of a divorce lawyer. "We want a divorce," they tell him.
    Taken aback, the lawyer asks them how old they are. "I'm 87 and he's 92," the wife replies.
    "How long have you been married?" asks the lawyer. "Sixty-five years!" is the reply.
    "So why now do you want a divorce?" asks the lawyer.
    "We wanted to wait until all the kids were dead."
  • A variation on the joke: the husband and wife are both over 100.

    Literature 
  • Blunted Lance by Max Hennessy, the middle book of the Goff family trilogy. Retired Field Marshall Goff survives various 19th century wars to see the end of the Great War, only to get a telegram that his son had died of injuries received in the final attack of the war. The shock kills him (fortunately his grandson is still alive to carry on the tradition in book 3).
  • A Brother's Price: Ten of the twenty princesses of the realm were killed in an explosion. And this is after their father was spared the fate of Outliving One's Offspring due to being poisoned prior to said explosion. The queens have to endure losing their husband and half of their daughters. Due to Exotic Extended Marriage, it is unclear who lost a daughter and who (technically) a niece, but as their society doesn't differentiate between the two, their feelings likely don't, either.
  • Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell. Diabolical Mastermind Elliot thinks this in a moment of guilt after almost all the orphans he's raised under the pretense of being his surrogate sons die in the service of his schemes.
  • City of Light: Kail and Shial's baby dies at birth. The trauma sends Shial into a catatonia.
  • Han and Leia Solo outlive two thirds of their children, with Anakin dying in the Yuuzhan Vong war and Jacen getting offed by their one surviving child following his Face–Heel Turn.
  • In the Codex Alera the First Lord of Alera Gaius Sextus and his first wife outlived their son, Septimus, and sole heir in a battle 15 years before the start of the series.
  • An occupational hazard for some in the Deryni novels by Katherine Kurtz:
    • Camber MacRorie outlives his eldest son Cathan and his grandson Davin, both of whom die violently, the latter while Camber helplessly watches via a psychic link.
    • This is King Donal Haldane's recurring problem. All the offspring of his first marriage are either stillborn or die in early infancy. After his first wife dies, he remarries a younger woman to ensure the succession, but two of his four legitimate sons die in childhood, as well as the illegitimate son he sires to be an arcane protector for his heir in In the King's Service; second son Blaine saves his sister from drowning but contracts pneumonia, and youngest son Jatham suffers fatal injuries in a riding accident. The death of his youngest son hastens Donal's own demise in Childe Morgan, but time was not on Donal's side to begin with.
  • Gods and Generals: Joshua and Fanny Chamberlain had three children die in infancy. "Stonewall" Jackson lost a young daughter and later a young girl he had quasi-adopted at the front. General Longstreet lost three children to scarlet fever, which haunts him further in The Killer Angels.
  • In Guild Hunter we have Jeffrey Deveraux, Elena's father, whose two eldest daughters, Mirabelle and Arielle, died at the hand of a psychopathic vampire.
    • Also Dmitri, whose children were killed by a psychopathic angel.
    • And more generally, what will happen to any vampire whose children will not be Made.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Amos Diggory's son Cedric is murdered by Wormtail in Goblet Of Fire. When Harry meets with him and his wife later, Amos is sobbing too hard to speak, while his wife is composed but numb.
    • Molly and Arthur Weasley outlive their son Fred, who's killed during the Battle of Hogwarts in The Deathly Hallows.
  • Heidi goes to live with her grandfather, whose dead son was her father.
  • It's the fear of this trope that makes Katniss Everdeen swear off the idea of having children. Her mother has to face this possibility twice when Katniss is sent into the arena, and ultimately her sister Prim dies.
  • Played with in the backstory of the Iron Druid Chronicles. Sometime during the Middle Ages, the immortal druid Atticus O'Sullivan settled down in Africa, married and had children. He managed to avert this trope by providing his wife and children with a limited version of his own immortality. His children and their children became the immortal elite of a new nation. However, after a few centuries, his wife died in a way that his magic could not prevent and he decided that it was a time to move on. He was sorry that his children would die but as a druid he felt that he has subverted nature for too long and that his descendants started to abuse their immortality. It is implied that most of the older generations of his descendants killed themselves rather than face old age.
  • The elves in the Labyrinths of Echo series are The Ageless but their offspring with other races (mainly humans) are not, resulting in the permanently youthful elven parents having to bury their non-elven children, grandchildren, and so on. This was the original reason why the elves built Kharumba, a city whose inhabitants also become ageless regardless of their species, in an effort to avert this trope.
  • In The Hobbit, Thorin Oakenshield's younger sister Dís outlives both of her young sons, Fíli and Kíli. She is also the last surviving member of their immediate family and the direct line of Durin the Deathless.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • This is why Elrond is so against Aragorn and Arwen's marriage; allowing her to marry a mortal means she must give up her own immortality. He does accept it, however, with the provision that Aragorn reclaim his ancestral throne, and once that is accomplished Elrond escorts her to the wedding and bids them both a fond but sad farewell for the last time.
    • Théoden loses his son Théodred while he is influenced and enfeebled by his Evil Chancellor.
    • The beginning of Denethor's downfall was when he learned of the death of his son Boromir. When he learned that Faramir was mortally wounded, he completely lost it.
  • In The Silmarillion, the Noldorin High King Finarfin outlives, not only his whole own family (sans his daughter Galadriel), but also all his brothers' offspring. Both Fëanor and Fingolfin get killed, and also each and every of their children and grandchildren, with the exceptions of Galadriel, and Maglor, who is banned forever from returning to Undying Lands.
  • In some of the works of Jodi Picoult, such as My Sister's Keeper and Handle with Care, parents outlive their children. The parents are usually such selfish jerks that it's hard to sympathize with them. Sarah from My Sister's Keeper is especially self-centered. Her first thoughts when the younger daughter she's exploited for spare parts all her life dies in a car accident aren't about the child she lost; she's wondering what the word is for a parent who loses a child.
  • In The Portrait of a Lady, Isabel Osmond loses her infant child to an unspecified illness, and the novel ends with the death of Lydia Touchett's son Ralph.
  • This is one of the central themes of Reconstructing Amelia, with single mother Kate having to deal with the sudden death of her 15-year-old daughter under mysterious circumstances. Several times she brings up that due to her age she's unlikely to ever have another, either.
  • In The Red Abbey Chronicles, the protagonist's younger sister died in a hunger winter, it is not clear whether starvation or sickness were the cause. (They tried to make her eat, but she was too weak; perhaps due to a history of malnutrition). This is the reason why the parents decide to send the protagonist to the Red Abbey; they might never see her again, but she'll have enough to eat.
  • By the time of the Serpentwar Saga, Pug of Stardock had already outlived his wife by several decades. The casualties of that war included his son, his adoptive daughter, her husband, and their son. In the time skips between story arcs Pug would then go onto outlive one of his great-grandsons as well. Thanks to a battle in a later Riftwar, he would also go on to outlive his second wife and one of his sons by that marriage as well.
  • The protagonist of Sarny ends up living to 98 and outlives both her children.
  • Toklo's mother Oka from Seeker Bears has lost all of her cubs prior to her current litter. After her ill son Tobi dies and it turns out there's no salmon in their usually plentiful river, she abandons the surviving twin Toklo due to being unable to watch another one of her children die. Oka later ended up dying but she gave a final message to another protagonist to give to Toklo.
  • Happens several times in A Song of Ice and Fire.
    • Mors "Crowfood" Umber lost his two sons at the Battle of the Trident fifteen years before the series began, while his only daughter was kidnapped by a wildling several years later and has never been seen since. This has given him an everlasting hatred of all wildlings.
    • Lady Donella Hornwood loses both her husband and her only son to the War of the Five Kings.
    • Ser Davos Seaworth loses his four eldest out of seven sons at the Battle of the Blackwater. He is crushed by their loss and extremely tempted to just go home, forget about the war, and spend the rest of his life with his wife and remaining three sons, but decides to stick with Stannis Baratheon out of loyalty. He is somewhat comforted by the fact that at least his two youngest sons are at home and away from the fighting.
      • In the television adaption, Davos has only one son, Matthos, and he dies at the Battle of Blackwater Bay.
    • Lord Rodrik Harlaw lost his two sons during Balon Greyjoy's first rebellion, which makes him opposed to the new one that Balon begins during the War of the Five Kings.
    • Rodrik's sister and Balon's wife Alannys also suffers from this, losing her two eldest sons in the rebellion and her third son Theon is taken as a ward/hostage to Winterfell. She only has her daughter Asha left to comfort her, but goes mad with grief, looking desperately all over the castle for her deceased sons. She eventually isolates herself in the Widow's Tower on the island of Harlaw.
    • Catelyn Stark believes that she has outlived (for a given definition of "live") most if not all of her children by the end of the third book. So far, only Robb is actually dead.
    • Cersei Lannister has spent most of her life fearing a prophecy stating that, among other things, all of her children will be crowned and die with gold shrouds. She has interpreted this to mean that she will outlive all of her children. She's already seen Joffrey die painfully from poison right in front of her eyes, and she later has a breakdown when she thinks Tommen has been poisoned as well.
  • In the Sword of Truth series, it is mentioned that Verna used to have a daughter who died of old age decades ago. Verna lived in a Wizarding School under a spell that slows aging, and if a wizard or a sorceress there had a Muggle Born of Mages, he or she was given up for adoption.
  • In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett and Rhett are devastated by the death of their daughter Bonnie. This event also kills their marriage.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Howard Families novels/stories, Fridge Logic says this must have happened to Lazarus many times, and probably to his mother Maureen (as a result of her time travel). It's not discussed, though.
  • Anyone Can Die in Warrior Cats, meaning that this trope is everywhere. The most extreme example of this trope has to be Dustpelt; he outlives five of his seven children, and his mate. He's so broken that he's happy to die!
  • The Silerian Trilogy: Ronall loses his unborn child with Jalilar when she's killed. He laments that it's probably the only child he'd ever have.
  • One of the last people Dante talks to in the Hell of The Divine Comedy goes into detail about how he and his sons were trapped in a tower until they starved to death. For his treason, his sons died over the course of days and he could do nothing but silently watch.
  • In Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff outlives his son Linton. Not that he cares much.
  • In Les Misérables, Thénardier outlives his daughter Éponine and son Gavroche (both killed at the barricade), as well as their mother (who dies in prison), and loses track of his two youngest sons, whose fate on the streets is left unknown. Like Heathcliff above, he couldn't care less. In the musical adaptation his wife also outlives Éponine and Gavroche, and seems just as indifferent to it as her husband. Additionally, Monsieur Gillenormand long outlives his daughter Mme. Pontmercy, the mother of his grandson Marius, whom he raises.
  • Little Women:
    • The March parents lose their third daughter Beth to complications from scarlet fever. Sadly Truth in Television for their models Abigail and Bronson Alcott – the latter also outlived daughter May, the model for Amy.
    • Mr. Laurence outlived his son, Laurie's father, and also his granddaughter, Laurie's unnamed sister.
  • Happens a few times in the Chronicles of Prydain:
    • In the second book, The Black Cauldron, the warrior-bard Adaon is mortally wounded while aiding the heroes in their quest, and dies. Taran meets his grieving father Taliesin in the fifth book, The High King.
    • Also in The High King, Rhun, the recently-crowned King of Mona, leads a heroic battle charge and is killed in the fight. The trope is thus conferred onto his widowed mother Queen Talaria, meaning that she loses her husband and her only child within months of each other.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Affair: Alison and Cole lost their son Gabriel in 2012. She blames herself for it, as they saved him from drowning and then put him to bed, only for him to die in his sleep as a result of secondary drowning (fluid retained in the lungs).
  • Seen several times in American Horror Story: Murder House:
    • Vivian and Ben outlive Violet, although they are not aware of her death until much later than it occurs, due to her appearing as a ghost. Both join her as spirits trapped in the house by the series' end
    • Constance Langdon survives all four of her children, although the effect of their deaths on her is debatable. While she appears to grieve for Adelaide, she quickly recovers from her death.
    Constance: I have grieved enough for two lifetimes. Most people would be broken by the deaths of their children, but my nature would not permit such weakness.
    • Nora Montgomery is driven mad by the death of her child and her husband's attempt to resurrect him. Eventually, she murders her husband and commits suicide, doomed to spend eternity trapped in the house longing for a child.
  • In Arrow this is distressingly common:
    • Moira Queen thought this happened when Oliver seemingly died on the Queen's Gambit, but it obviously didn't. She winds up dying before either of her children.
    • Malcolm Merlyn's son Tommy is dead... because of Malcolm himself. It's a testament to the kind of person Malcolm is that he doesn't seem that upset by it.
    • But the Lance family, hoo boy the Lance family. Dinah Lance isn't a main character, so it's less apparent with her than with Quentin, but it obviously still applies. In order, they, like Moira Queen, thought Sara died on the Gambit, Sara was actually killed in the Season 3 premiere, but was later brought Back from the Dead. Laurel was then murdered towards the end of Season 4, meaning they have lost their two daughters three times (they've seen their children die more than they've been born), effectively turning them into a Cosmic Plaything.
  • In The Beverly Hillbillies, Granny serves as the Clampett family's maternal figure due to the death of her daughter, Jed's wife and Elly May's Missing Mom.
  • On Chicago P.D. both Voight and Olinsky lost children tragically.
  • In The Conners, a Spin-Off of Roseanne, Bev is still alive after Roseanne died.
    Bev: No mother should ever have to bury her own child.
    Jackie: Mom, you're 92. You're gonna see all of us die, and then you're gonna get buried by a robot.
  • In Copper, Corcoran was serving as a soldier in the Union Army during the American Civil War when he got the news back in New York his daughter was found dead and his wife went missing. When the series starts, he is a New York City police detective and is still desperately searching for answers about what really happened. He also becomes obsessively protective of Annie, a homeless girl he rescues from pedophiles.
  • In Criminal Minds, two characters lost their children: David Rossi's son by his first wife died shortly after being born, while Alex Blake's son Ethan died of an unnamed neurological disease at age 9.
  • The second episode of The Crown (2016) is largely about the death of King George VI in 1952. But for Queen Mary, it's the loss of her beloved son Bertie. She openly blames his brother David, the brief king Edward VIII, since his abdication forced Bertie to bear the immeasurable burden of World War II.
  • Dawson's Creek: while technically she doesn't outlive her child, Grams Ryan ultimately was at the bedside of her granddaughter Jen when the latter was dying of a heart condition.
  • In Degrassi, Audra Torres outlived her son Adam when he was involved in a car crash, in one of the show's biggest undeniable tear jerkers.
  • The Diagnosis: Murder TV movie "A Town without Pity" has Mark Sloan investigating the murder of his daughter Carol. Mark has also stated numerous times that he's afraid of this happening with his son Steve, given that he is a cop.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor was a father and grandfather... until the Last Great Time War happened, and he lost his family along with his entire species. Several centuries later, he is incapable of telling even his closest friends about it in more than vague terms.
    • In "The Empty Child", the Ninth Doctor meets a bereaved doctor in Blitz-era London.
      Dr. Constantine: Before this war began, I was a father and a grandfather. Now I'm neither, but I'm still a doctor.
      The Doctor: Yeah, I know the feeling.
    • Gets worse when you remember Jenny, the Tenth Doctor's artificially created daughter born after the Time War. At this point, he had already lost his previous children, so he was understandably reluctant to let her in. He finally did, acknowledging her as his daughter and obviously enjoying her company, only to watch her get shot right in front of him. She got better, but he doesn't know that.
      The Doctor: I was a dad once, but I lost all that, along with everything else. And when they died, that part of me died with them.
    • The Doctor is, much later, able to save Gallifrey, and at one point Clara describes the Doctor's children as "missing". There's been no word on any of their family since, however, even when Twelve actually visits Gallifrey in "Hell Bent".
    • This would have happened to the immortal Ashildr/"Me", except her children died of the Bubonic plague in infancy. Understandably, she swore off having children ever again. Due to suffering from The Fog of Ages, she keeps this written down in journals so she'll remember to not have children again. The Doctor sees that some pages have been torn out, memories so horrific and traumatizing she doesn't want to remember them. When he asks what could be more painful than seeing your children die, she replies that obviously she doesn't know because she made sure to forget it.
  • In Downton Abbey:
    • Matthew's mother has a hard time accepting his death.
      Isobel: Once your only child dies, you're not a parent anymore. You're not... much of anything, really.
    • Cora and Robert, and Violet as a grandparent, after the death of Sybil.
      Cora: Is it over? When one loses a child, is it ever really over?
    • Mr. Mason after William is killed in World War I.
    • Played with when Ethel chooses to give up her son, Charlie, to his wealthy grandparents.
      Ethel: When you lose your child, there's nothing worse under the sun.
  • In Everybody Loves Raymond, Marie's antics endanger her son Robert's chances of becoming a Federal agent. The Federal agent reviewing Robert's application figures out that she's doing it deliberately and confronts her. Marie tearfully explains that she's terrified that she might outlive Robert. She felt relieved when he retired from the police force and she doesn't want him to take another job where he would be expected to die in the line of duty.
  • The Flash (1990) has Barry's older brother, a decorated cop, ambushed and killed by a criminal. Their parents are devastated, but knew it was a possibility, since Allen Sr. is a retired cop himself. Still, they're glad their younger son is just a lab tech, not knowing about his powers and crime-fighting.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Know how Cersei's mentioned up in Literature? Since Game of Thrones over took the books all three of her and Jaime's children are dead. Joffrey died the same was he did in the books, Myrcella was poisoned by Ellaria out of Revenge by Proxy for the Lannisters' role in the death of her lover. Poor Jaime was by both their sides as they died, but powerless to do anything about it. Tommen killed himself after he realized he was little more than Cersei's puppet, and after Cersei blew up the Sept of Baelor while his wife (whom he genuinely loved) was inside while Jaime was out of King's Landing. What's worse is that Cersei doesn't even seem to care anymore: she was upset but not very surprised at Myrcella's death, and she was rather callous when Tommen died, coldly telling Qyburn to burn and bury him before claiming his throne for herself.
    • That wife, by the way, was Margaery Tyrell, and that explosion also took out her father and brother, meaning Olenna Tyrell lost her son and her grandchildren in that explosion.
    • Cersei also got revenge on Ellaria Sand by poisoning her daughter Tyene in front of her and ensuring that she'll be Forced to Watch her die and see her body slowly decay.
    • Catelyn Stark dies after Robb and she also believes Bran and Rickon are dead.
    • Robb Stark dies after witnessing his pregnant wife repeatedly stabbed to death.
    • Unlike in the books, where Davos had seven children, in the show, Matthos is an only child, adding more drama to his demise.
    • The death of Rickard's two sons at Jaime's hands are the main driving force of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Lannisters.
    • Howland, after Jojen dies in the Season 4 finale.
    • Wyman Manderly's son and heir was butchered at the Red Wedding.
    • Daenerys had a stillborn son with Khal Drogo. Later she is Forced to Watch as Viserion, one of her beloved Dragons whom she considers a son, is killed by the Night King.
    • Three of Stannis and Selyse's children are stillborn, while they willingly sacrifice Shireen during the penultimate episode of Season 5.
  • General Hospital has the character of Edward Quatermaine who, prior to his death in 2012, lost two sons, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild (though some suffered from Comic Book Death and were revived). The deaths of his eldest son and youngest granddaughter affected him the most.
  • Glee: Carole Hudson outlives her son, Finn Hudson, mainly due to Cory Monteith's death. She has also outlived her first husband, Christopher Hudson.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: Rita reveals in conversation with Serena that her nineteen-year-old son died serving in "the war" (presumably the one Gilead is fighting against the rump US). All Serena can offer is a weak expression of gratitude for his sacrifice.
  • Hand of God: Pernell and Crystal's only child, PJ, eventually dies after his life support is removed. He was in a coma due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His injury had caused Pernell to have a mental breakdown and sent Crystal into a depression. Avoiding this is why they fought so hard with Jocelyn to keep him on life support initially.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess just love this trope. Herc's three children, along with his wife, are all killed by Hera in the first episode. Xena's son is killed in the third season. Gabrielle's Anti Christ child also dies before she does. Hera even outright refers to this trope when speaking to Hercules:
    "Because of a lesson I regret teaching you long ago, Hercules. Parents should never outlive their children."
  • In Legends of Tomorrow, Rip Hunter is determined to stop Vandal Savage at all costs because Savage murdered his wife and child. Savage himself, being thousands of years old, has had to watch his own children die of old age several times over.
  • The Magicians: It turns out that Fen and Elliot's real daughter didn't survive birth.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Daredevil (2015)
      • The season 2 premiere sees Frank Castle machine-gun a meeting of Kitchen Irish men, one of whom is the son of Finn Cooley, the boss in this Irish mob faction. A few episodes later, Finn arrives in New York City for the funeral. He does launch a manhunt for the guy responsible, but he seems more motivated by the money Castle took as collateral, rather than his son's death.
      • Frank Castle himself was targeting the Kitchen Irish, along with the Dogs of Hell, and a Mexican cartel chapter, because his wife and kids were killed (and Frank himself critically injured) in the midst of a three-way gang shootout in Central Park.
    • Luke Cage (2016): Misty Knight's corrupt partner Rafael Scarfe. He used to have a baby son named Earl, until one night when Scarfe accidentally forgot to lock up his off-duty gun, and Earl subsequently managed to shoot himself with it. Scarfe himself dies in the same episode that we learn about this, and one of the last things he says to Misty before he expires is that at least he'll be reunited with his son in death.
  • NCIS: Gibbs' first wife and their daughter were murdered by a drug dealer. Gibbs later got his revenge.
  • John Amsterdam, the main character in New Amsterdam, is an immortal man who has lived in the New York area since the 1600s. He's seen generations come and go, and his children and their subsequent children have all died in the interim. He's at the point where he's occasionally running into his great-grandchildren, and has to keep a chart of all his relatives to prevent becoming intimate with an unknowing blood relation. His latest son is physically in his 60s during the present day and has his own grandchildren.
  • Once Upon a Time has Rumplestiltskin, who takes on a dark curse to save his child only to lose him instead. He then spends 300 years to get him back only to lose his son again, and this time permanently. Ouch.
  • Riverdale:
    • Clifford and Penelope Blossom are alive (until episode 13 in Clifford's case) after their son Jason dies. This is later revealed to be the work of Clifford himself.
    • In season 2, Midge Klump's mother loses her daughter to the Black Hood, and is as distraught as one would expect. She later chews out Sheriff Keller for failing to protect Midge.
  • RoboCop: The Series sees Alex Murphy's parents alive and dealing with this as they're unaware their son was resurrected as the titular cyborg. "Corporate Raiders" ended with Alex's father, Russell learning the truth, and Alex swearing him to keep it a secret.
  • The story arc that spanned the final two seasons of Seinfeld, where at one point, Susan Ross's parents bring up what a tragedy it is when parents outlive their children.
  • Stated by Maggie's double's father in an episode of Sliders. Her double was an astronaut, who was reported to have died during humanity's first manned mission to Mars. While it was a lie, her double did die on Earth after the mission due to poor radiation shielding on the spacecraft.
  • Occurred several times in Six Feet Under, and the deceased were babies, young children, teenagers or adults, often due to illnesses or horrible accidents. Sometimes it was a funeral of the week, but at times a main character. Brenda Chenowith points out that this situation is so unspeakably awful that there isn't even a word for it in the English language: a person losing their spouse is a widow/widower and a child losing parents is an orphan, but a person losing a child doesn't even have a name.
  • On Soap, news that Jessica is dying snaps her father out of his dementia-related soldier fantasy.
  • In Stargate SG-1, the death of Jack O'Neill's son (Charlie) is occasionally mentioned, including one time when a crystal entity takes Charlie's form based upon Jack's memories. After entering an alternate reality in Stargate Continuum, Daniel mentions Jack's son's death as one of the facts that proves that he knows him, only for Jack to furiously respond that Charlie is very much alive in that world. Jack is now less inclined to help them.
  • In the seventh season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "The Dark Page", Counselor Troi is revealed to have had an older sister, Kestra, who drowned in an accident while she (Deanna) was an infant. Her mother, Lwaxanna, was devastated by grief and guilt, and destroyed all evidence the girl had lived (except for one photograph Mr. Homn had saved just in case) and buried the memory in what a telepathic ambassador with whom she was dealing described as a "dark place", because she was unable to live with the pain.
  • In the season 5, midseason finale of Supernatural Ellen ends up watching her daughter Jo die, shortly before she performs a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • In season 9, Linda Tran demands to be taken to her son after being freed from captivity. Sam doesn't explicitly say he's dead, but his silence tells her all she needs to know. She reacts as expected, but she forces herself to stay calm.
  • Teen Wolf: As of the end of Season 3, Chris Argent has outlived his daughter Allison, as well as the rest of his family (except for his father, with whom he now wants no interaction).
  • In Torchwood: Children of Earth Jack Harkness's daughter already looks older than him. And in the end Jack is forced to sacrifice his grandson to stop the 456.
  • In Twin Peaks, Laura Palmer's parents are devastated by her death. Sarah seems to be teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown from her grief, and her husband Leland begins showing signs of Sanity Slippage, including compulsive dancing and singing punctuated by crying breakdowns. He also takes revenge by murdering Jacques Renault, a suspect. Of course, he was likely mentally unstable to begin with and was pushed over the edge by Laura's death, given that he was being demonically possessed, a phenomenon that seems to corrupt the psyche, and also probably sensed or remembered on a subconscious level what really occurred the night of her death.
  • Applies to many characters in The Walking Dead. Carol's daughter was killed after wandering away from the group in Season 2, Morgan's son was bitten by his own undead mother, Abraham's children were killed early in the apocalypse by walkers when he was away scavenging, and Michonne's infant son was lost the same way. The latter is trying her hardest to avert this with Carl and Judith. In Season 4, Carol also lost her two surrogate daughters when Mika was killed by her mentally ill sister Lizzie, who Carol then had to put down herself. Zig-zagged in Season 6 when Jessie watches Sam being Devoured by the Horde before she dies herself, followed shortly thereafter by her other son, Ron.
  • Warehouse 13: Female H.G. Wells' Start of Darkness was when her daughter was murdered. When Claudia comments that outliving a child is the most painful thing a person can go through, Wells corrects her. What she did to the people that killed her daughter, that's the most pain a person can go through.
  • The X-Files: Scully's daughter, an unstable genetic experiment created using the ova stolen from Scully when she was abducted, dies just days after Scully learns of her existence.
    • Scully's mother also has to deal with this, when her other daughter Melissa is killed.

     Music 
  • Luis Alberto Spinetta's song "Era en Abril" ("It happened in April") is from the perspective of a couple struggling to deal with the miscarriage of their son.
  • Padruig Mór Mac Crimmon composed "Cumhadh na Cloinne" (Lament for the Children) in the early 1650s, believed to be based on the loss of seven of his eight sons to an unknown illness, possibly brought to the Isle of Skye by a trading vessel, although it could also refer to the slaughter of the Mac Leods fighting Cromwell's forces at the Battle of Worcester. It may have been inspired by both. The lyrics alone are deeply poignant: "Lad of the black hair, I gave you love,/Lad of the black hair, I gave you affection,/I gave you love and I gave you affection,/I gave you love that I did not give the others,/Lad of the black hair, I gave you affection."

    Myths & Religion 
  • The "Real Prosperity" Zen Koan:
    A rich man asked Sengai to write something for the continued prosperity of his family so that it might be treasured from generation to generation.
    Sengai obtained a large sheet of paper and wrote: "Father dies, son dies, grandson dies."
    The rich man became angry. "I asked you to write something for the happiness of my family! Why do you make such a joke as this?"
    "No joke is intended," explained Sengai. "If before you yourself die your son should die, this would grieve you greatly. If your grandson should pass away before your son, both of you would be broken-hearted. If your family, generation after generation, passes away in the order I have named, it will be the natural course of life. I call this real prosperity."
  • The Bible:
    • In the Book of Exodus, the final plague on Egypt is the death of all of Egypt's firstborn children, including Pharaoh's. His grief and anger over this leads him to tell Moses and the Israelites to Get Out, and then to muster his army and pursue them, only to be destroyed when the Red Sea swallows them up.
    • In the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve outlive their son Abel after their other son Cain kills him. Jacob also spends twenty years thinking his favorite son Joseph was killed by a wild animal, though really Joseph's jealous brothers sold him into slavery and faked his death, and eventually father and son are reunited.
    • In the book of Ruth, Naomi survives all of her sons. However, her daughter-in-law Ruth pledges to remain by her side.
    • King David outlives three of his sons: his firstborn Amnon is murdered by half-brother Absalom in revenge for his rape of their sister Tamar, Absalom himself revolts against David and is killed by the latter's soldiers (albeit against the orders of David, who grieves deeply at the news), and his first son by Bathsheba dies in infancy as punishment for the circumstances of the baby's conception.
    • The Virgin Mary sees her son Jesus crucified. The image of her cradling his body is one of the most famous motifs in all of Western art, La Pieta.

    Theater 

    Theme Parks 
  • In 1979, Kings Island built The Beast, which was the longest wooden roller coaster in the world. In 2000, as part of an expansion of the new Action Zone, the park built the Son of Beast, which was the world's first wooden hypercoaster and first wooden roller coaster with an inversion. It was the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in the world, and second longest behind only its "father" coaster. Unfortunately, unlike the father Beast, the Son of Beast was plagued with problems, closed in 2009, and demolished in 2012 to be replaced with an inverted coaster known as Banshee, while the "father" Beast remains operating to this day.

    Video Games 
  • There are a few examples in the Assassin's Creed franchise:
    • In Assassin's Creed II Ezio's mother Maria goes mute after witnessing the deaths of her husband and two of her sons and being abused by the city guards.
    • In Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Ah Tabai, the mentor of the West Indies Assassins, had only one son who died before the age of ten. Anne Bonny's child dies shortly after being born.
    • Desmond's death in Assassin's Creed III sends William Miles into a Heroic BSoD and causes him to leave the Assassin Order.
    • One of Altaïr's sons was executed when Altaïr's rival seized control of the Assassins while Altaïr was away. To make things worse, the guy who killed him taunted Altaïr when he revealed that he lied to Altaïr's son that he was being executed on Altaïr's orders. And then framed Altaïr's best friend Malik as the one who ordered Sef's execution before eventually killing him as well. Upon learning that his son died believing Altaïr had betrayed him, Altaïr immediately uses the Apple to Mind Rape the executioner—which leads directly to the death of Altaïr's wife, too.
    • In Assassin's Creed Origins, Bayek is forced by The Order to run his son through with a knife. Later on in the game, the daughter of two of Bayek's associates is drowned by members of the Order looking for information.
  • In Dangan Ronpa, in the first game, Kiyotaka Ishimaru is one of the murder victims, in the Spin-Off game Absolute Despair Girls, it is revealed that his father Takaaki is still alive half a year after that. Same goes for Chihiro Fujisaki's father Taichi, though he dies unaware of his child's death.
  • Dragon Age:
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, this happens to Fergus Cousland, the older brother of the Human Noble Warden; his wife and young son are slain during Arl Howe's coup in their origin. As Fergus has already left for Ostagar, his sibling is left with the sad duty of breaking the news to him, only to be prevented from doing so as he goes missing in action shortly before the battle. The Warden finally reunites with him at the end of the game, when Fergus is revealed to have survived the battle, but spent several months recuperating from his wounds. By that time, he's already heard about the massacre of his family, and is just grateful that his little brother/sister is still alive.
      • Tragically, this even applies to Fergus and the Human Noble's parents, who only perish at the end of the prologue, meaning that they briefly outlive their own grandson. After discovering her grandson slain, Teyrna Eleanor Cousland's reaction is to pick up a weapon and proceed to get very, very angry.
      • The City Elf Warden's father, Cyrion, can also fall victim to this if the PC chooses to perform the Ultimate Sacrifice.
      • This is also a potential result of the Redcliffe quest arc; depending on player choices, Arl Eamon and Arlessa Isolde's son Connor may be killed rather than saved from demonic possession.
    • Dragon Age II starts with the Hawke family on the run from the first game's Blight. One of twin siblings Bethany and Carver dies (which one depends on the main character's class), and their mother spends years recovering from it. If you take the surviving sibling into the Deep Roads without Anders, you'll have to break the news of their death to her as well.
      • This is a potential outcome of one early quest, as you can choose to murder the Serial Killer son of a local magistrate who does not take it well. You also have to kill Ser Thrask's possessed daughter shortly after meeting him, and the Viscount's son is murdered near the climax of Act 2.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, this is what Anti-Villain Alexius is hellbent on avoiding. Unfortunately, he can't - his son has the darkspawn taint, and without any Wardens nearby...
      • This is also part of the backstory of the Orlesian civil war, which is happening during Inquisition. Judicael II outlived his twin sons and left the throne to his younger brother Florian, who outlived his baby daughter; all three children perished in a plague called the Hundred Days' Cough. This had direct impact on the way the current ruler, Empress Celene, was able to take the throne.
      • Also related to Celene taking the throne, party member Vivienne's lover Bastien was the father of Grand Duke Gaspard's wife Calienne, who was murdered at the beginning of Celene's reign.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim usually averts this, because children cannot be killed, but there are some exceptions:
    • At the start of one of the Daedric quests, the Dragonborn encounters a couple who are burying their young daughter, the victim of a recent werewolf attack. In Morthal, the wife and daughter of a man named Hroggar perished in a fire. His neighbors are suspicious of him because he immediately hooked up with another woman named Alva and shows no apparent signs of grief over his loss. Hroggar is innocent. He is merely the charmed thrall of Alva, who is a vampire; she was the one who ordered another vampire to kill Hroggar's family.
    • Another Daedric quest is triggered by the funeral of a young girl in Falkreath, who was brutally murdered by a werewolf. In a weird case of Mood Whiplash, you can talk to her obviously grieving father about the situation, then sell vegetables to him; he speaks with all the cheerful tones of any other merchant. Once the transaction concludes, he goes back to grieving.
    • You can orchestrate this during the Dark Brotherhood questline. Torbjorn and Tova Shatter-Shield are mourning the death of their daughter, Friga. If you murder their other daughter, Nilsine, on your client Muiri's request (they initially took her in as her family, but after she was swindled by a bandit they blamed her and rejected her; the contract calls for killing the bandit primarily, but she'll pay extra for Nilsine), Tova will commit suicide in grief over losing both her children. Even before you do anything, all the family members are mourning for Friga's loss.
    • Sybille, the court mage in Solitude, was not the mother of the late King Torygg; however, she joined his father's court when he was very young and helped to raise him, so his murder hit her with an honorary form of this trope.
  • In Fallout 4, this will inevitably happen to the player character when they find out their son is an old man... and the leader of the Institute. Even if the player doesn't kill him personally, he's dying of a terminal cancer even the Institute can't cure.
  • In FarCry3, it's referenced to that this is the cause of Dr. Earnhardt's addiction, as he lost his three-year-old daughter when she fell to her death from his ten-story apartment.
  • Final Fantasy VI: Cyan Garamonde loses his wife and son when Doma Castle is poisoned. The last he sees of them is his son's spirit saying goodbye on the Ghost Train.
  • In Harvest Moon 64 Elli's grandmother, Ellen from SNES, lost her child and their spouse in a storm. The same happens in Harvest Moon: Back to Nature but this time Elli has a little brother and the parents cause of death isn't stated. This also happens to Lumina's grandmother, Romana in Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life.
  • This is what starts the plot in Heavy Rain. Then Ethan Mars will be challenged to avoid it with his youngest son.
  • In the prologue of The Last of Us, Joel's daughter Sarah is killed by a soldier ordered to shoot them. The experience (as well as two decades of surviving the zombie apocalypse) has hardened him into a rather bitter and cynical person by the start of the game.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Zora King Dorephan experienced the death of his beloved daughter Mipha at the hands of Calamity Ganon's forces; even a hundred years later, he still mourned her death.
  • In Lost Odyssey, this has happened several times to the immortal characters, particularly Kaim Argonar and Sarah Sisulart. At the end of disc one, you find their daughter dying, but Kaim is able to say goodbye to her and become the guardian of his grandchildren, Mack and Cooke.
  • In The Legend of Dragoon Haschel is looking for his missing daughter who is heftily implied to be the the mother of Dart and that happens to be an issue because Dart's mom is dead
  • This is one of the worst possible endings in Persona 4, where Nanako is killed. Dojima is forced to move on with his life after losing the only family he had left.
    • Saki's parents have a hard time coping with their daughter's death. They don't want to talk about her but their son reveals that they've been crying over Saki every night.
  • In Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, Professor Sycamore mentions in passing that his daughter would be about the same age as one villager if she were still alive.
  • The plot of Silent Hill: Downpour starts with Murphy Pendleton losing his son, Charlie.
  • This is one of the driving forces of the true plot of Undertale. King Asgore Dreemurr started his quest to destroy the barrier and wage war on humanity because of a tragedy that resulted in the death of both his biological son Asriel and his adopted child the "fallen human" you named at the beginning of the game, who isn't the Player Character. His wife Toriel refused to go along with this plan and left him to live in the Ruins, on the far opposite side of the Underground. It's also mentioned in the Golden Ending that their particular species of monster only ages while they have a biological child, so if Toriel and/or Asgore were to adopt the Player Character as they had offered to earlier in the game, this would happen again. note 
  • This has happened a distressing number of times in the Warcraft universe. Varok Saurfang, Eitrigg, Tirion Fordring, Genn Greymane, Fandral Staghelm and many others all lost sons in the many wars and conflicts that plague Azeroth, and broke them all to greater or lesser degrees.
  • The Reaper's Due DLC for Crusader Kings 2 adds the Immortal trait that characters can obtain in an event chain that can start only if the "Supernatural Events" game rule is turned on. While the characters with that trait can still die violent death, such as in combat or assassination, they can no longer experience natural death due to old age or illness. As a consequence, such a character can easily see the death of not only their children but also their grandchildren if not even more, provided of course that one of their vassals doesn't get suspicious of their liege's strange longevity and start asking inconvenient questions.
  • Part of the backstory for the enigmatic ancient king, Od Nua, in Pillars of Eternity. Originally a respected and wise leader, Nua had a beloved son named Manos. Manos was by all means a very unremarkable prince and an Inadequate Inheritor in the making, but Nua loved him all the same. To prove his worth and make his father proud, Manos became a soldier, but this career path ended with him dying on a battlefield. His son's death drove Nua mad with grief, and he became obsessed with finding a way of calling his son's soul back from the aether and resurrecting it, turning into The Caligula in the process, as he killed hundreds of his own subjects in horrific experiments to achieve this.
  • In God of War Series:
    • Tragically, Kratos was tricked by Ares into accidentally murdering his beloved daughter Calliope along with his wife.
    • In God of War (PS4), Freya received a prophecy in which their son would die a needless death. Terrified for their son, Freya does everything possible to prevent this and is even willing to let her own son Baldur kill them, but Kratos intervenes and killed their son instead.
      • After Magni was killed by Kratos, their father Thor was furious, assuming that his brother Modi had abandoned the former to death.
  • This is the backstory of the murder suspect in Dark Tales: The Tell-Tale Heart. Many years before the events of the game, his wife and young daughter were murdered; he was suspected of the crime, just as he is suspected of the more recent murders. Bizarrely, the game is completely ambiguous as to whether he was guilty of either.

    Web Comics 
  • In addition to the fact that they live in Crapsack World with a high mortality rate in general, fae in Drowtales can live for upwards of a thousand years, so many older dark elves and drow have experienced this and handle it in varying ways. The thousand-plus years old Diva'ratrika notes with sadness that she has had multiple generations of grandchildren who have died without ever meeting her. Sil'lice suffers a Heroic BSoD after she loses a number of adult children and grandchildren during the Nidraa'chal War, and as of chapter 46 her youngest daughter Shala - who, for added pathos, is named after another dead child, Kau'Shala, and was killed by the exact same person. Later, in chapter 50, Quain'tana briefly outlives her own grandson, Vene, when he's killed by traitors to the clan which contributes to her Unstoppable Rage.
  • In El Goonish Shive, it is revealed that Raven had unknowingly fathered children in the distant past which means he has outlived countless descendants without knowing it.
  • In Something*Positive, Fred Macintire outlived his first wife and their child. His second wife Faye also dies in her sleep relatively young and is outlived by her own elderly mother.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Ensi Hotakainen is implied to still be alive by author comments, while the story gives every indication of her sons being dead.
  • In Girl Genius the attack on Castle Heterodyne that occurred in the backstory claimed the lives of two sons who were outlived by their fathers. Bill Heterodyne lost his infant son and nearly went mad with grief (even worse since it's strongly implied his wife and the mother of the boy, Lucrezia, was responsible for the attack). Former seneschal Carson Von Mekhan had retired just three days before the attack. When he gathered the townsfolk to respond to the attack, he then discovered the body of the new seneschal — his own son. It was a cold comfort for him to learn that his son died trying to save Bill's son.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: The Ageless God-Emperor Solomon David appoints his sons as councilors of his multiverse-spanning empire, but after having outlived twenty-five generations of them, he's rather jaded about the whole arrangement.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, before the start of the series, Iroh's son, Lu Ten, died in the siege of Ba Sing Se. Iroh took his death so hard that he abandoned the siege and retired from the Fire Nation army. Incidentally, this event led to his Heel–Face Turn in his backstory.
  • Macbeth in Gargoyles. The scene in "City of Stone" where his son Luach's fate is revealed is one of the most tear-jerking scenes in the series.
  • South Park: Kenny McKormick's parents. Over and over and over again.
  • In the finale of Regular Show, Mr. Maellard is forced to see both of his sons killed, Pops performing a Heroic Sacrifice by tackling his brother into the sun. The Grumpy Old Man is (for once) visibly and understandably saddened, and he dies an unspecified but relatively small number of years later.
  • Inverted in The Simpsons episode "The Great Louse Detective"
    Bart: Dad, I'm really glad you're still alive.
    Homer: Yeah, it's every parent's dream to outlive their children. Good night, son.
    • Also in "Kill the Alligator and Run", after believing he'll only live to be 42.
      Homer: I won't even live to see my children die!
    • Spoofed in "Homer's Triple Bypass" when the family is saying their goodbyes to Homer in case he doesn't survive his surgery.
      Abe: They say the greatest tragedy is when a father outlives his son. I have never fully understood why. Frankly, I can see an up-side to it!

    Real Life 
  • This is a big deal in China due to the one-child policy. Parents who have lost their only child are referred to as "shidu" families.
  • Via the Three Kingdoms history, this is what most likely happened with Sun Quan's overall family after his parents' generation in real life (on top of having other close ones die on him aside from just his children), and most people who study up on that particular subject can easily assume that it was enough to drive him insane to make dumb decisions that effectively caused the infamous internal scuffle for the Wu throne.
  • The Sanskrit language uses the word "vilomah" for parents who have lost their children. Translated to English, it literally means "against a natural order".
  • Played Up to Eleven with Louis XIV, king of France (1638-1715), the Sun King. The longest reigning ever king in Europe, he outlived, not only all his legitimate children, but also all but one of his legitimate grandchildren (his only surviving grandson having renounced his rights to the French throne to become King Philip V of Spain), being succeeded by his five-year old great-grandson, Louis XV .
    • Louis XV also outlived all but four of his ten children, including both his sons, being succeeded by his grandson Louis XVI.
  • Neil Peart's Trauma Conga Line began in 1997, when his 19-year-old daughter, Selena, died in a car crash on her way back to college. His wife, Jackie, was devastated and considered killing herself - until she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer (she died less than a year after Selena).
  • François Joseph Lefebvre, one of Napoleon's Marshals, had fourteen kids. Only the eldest lived past his twenties, and he died during the Russian campaign while fighting under his father's orders.
  • Henry VIII's Succession Crisis was spurred along by the fact that the children he kept having with first wife Katherine of Aragon almost always died. During the course of their marriage they had approximately ten children, and only one — the future Mary I — survived infancy. He also lost Henry Fitzroy, his son by one of his mistresses, and his second child with Anne Boleyn.
    • Henry himself only became king because his parents, Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, experienced this trope with the death of their eldest son Arthur, Prince of Wales. Henry and Elizabeth also had a few other sons and daughters who died in infancy, with only four (Arthur, Margaret, Henry, and Mary) reaching their teens. Youngest child Katherine, only a few days old, died the day before Elizabeth herself did, on her 37th birthday; as Elizabeth was extremely ill, it's quite likely that she was not informed that she had outlived yet another child.
    • Henry VII's mother, Margaret Beaufort, also suffered from this trope. Henry was her only child; she had him so young that she was rendered infertile by the birth. By the time she herself died, she was nicknamed "Venerable Margaret" by the people and had outlived all three of her husbands, her son, her daughter-in-law, all but three of her grandchildren, and her two eldest great-grandchildren.
  • The Reverend Patrick Brontë had six children: Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne. He outlived all of them.
  • Victor Hugo outlived all but one of his five children: firstborn son Leopold died in infancy, daughter Léopoldine drowned in a boating accident at age 19, son Charles died of a stroke at age 45, and son François-Victor died of tuberculosis also at 45. The one surviving daughter, Adéle, was mentally unstable and lived out her days in an institution.
  • Mary Ida Vandross, mother of singing legend Luther Vandross, outlived all four of her children before her own demise in 2008.
  • Pierce Brosnan lost his only daughter Charlotte to the same type of ovarian cancer that had killed his first wife Cassandra 22 years earlier. Mother and daughter were almost the exact same age (43 and 42 respectively) when they died, too.
  • Veteran actress Vanessa Redgrave outlived her daughter Natasha Richardson (also a veteran actress) after the latter tragically died in 2009 due to a skiing accident.
  • American rocket scientist Jack Parsons, the inventor of modern perchlorate-based solid rocket fuel and one of the founders of Aerojet, died in a lab accident in his garage on June 17, 1952, at the age of 37. His mother killed herself with an overdose of barbiturates that very day.
  • Notorious gangster James "Whitey" Bulger had one son in 1967, whom by all reliable accounts he genuinely loved. When the boy died from Reye Syndrome in 1973 at the age of six, Whitey was devastated, and while there's plenty of indications that he already possessed the manipulative and violent characteristics that would lead to his later infamy (he did, after all, spend several years in Alcatraz), the boy's death warped his personality even more, and according to the mother of the child he vowed to Never Be Hurt Again afterwards. Whitey himself lived until 2018.
  • When Keith Moon died in 1978, the other members of The Who half-expected/hoped that it was just a big, elaborate practical joke on his part, but the sight of Keith's mother grieving at the funeral was the moment they accepted he was dead.
  • Many US Presidents have outlived their children for one reason or another:
    • George Washington was Martha Washington's second husband; before him, she was married to Daniel Parke Custis and they had four children before he died in 1757. Martha outlived all of her children: two died in childhood, another two in young adulthood.
    • John Adams and his wife Abigail had four children to survive to adulthood. Of the four, they outlived their second son Charles and their only daughter Abigail. Their eldest son, John Quincy Adams, and his wife Louisa also outlived two of their three sons.
    • Thomas Jefferson had six children with his wife. His wife and five of the children (only one of which survived to adulthood) died before he did. His daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, actually served as his official First Lady.
    • Martin Van Buren outlived his third son Martin Jr.
    • William Henry Harrison, the first president to die in office, and his wife Anna had 10 children together, 6 of which had died by the time of Harrison's brief presidency. Anna would outlive three more of their children, with their son John Scott Harrison, father of future president Benjamin Harrison, being the only one to outlive both his parents.
    • John Tyler, who had the most children of any president at 15, outlived four of his daughters.
    • Zachary Taylor and his wife Margaret outlived their daughter Sarah, who was married to future Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
    • Millard Fillmore lost his wife Abigail and daughter Abby within two years of leaving office.
    • Franklin Pierce and his wife outlived all three of their children. Their last, Benny, died at age 11 in a tragic train accident shortly before Franklin's presidential inauguration.
    • Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln had four children, only one of whom, Robert, outlived both of them. It's believed that the death of their third son, Tad, in 1871 contributed to Mary's already declining mental health and increasingly erratic behavior, and her son had her committed to a mental institution for her own safety.
    • Andrew Johnson and his wife Eliza outlived two of their sons.
    • Grover Cleveland and his wife Frances outlived their eldest daughter Ruth, allegedly the namesake of the "Baby Ruth" candy bar.
    • Theodore and Edith Roosevelt's youngest son Quentin was killed in aerial combat over France on Bastille Day (July 14), 1918. By all accounts his father never got over it, particularly because he had encouraged Quentin to join in the war effort. Theodore Roosevelt died on January 6, 1919, about six months after his son's death. Edith Roosevelt died on September 30, 1948, having outlived two more of their sons, Kermit and Theodore Jr.
    • Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace outlived their younger son Calvin Jr. Calvin Jr.'s death left his father devastated and partially because of that, he declined to seek reelection in 1928.
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower and Mamie lost their son to scarlet fever at age 3.
    • John F. Kennedy outlived two children; one was a stillborn daughter, and the other was a son, Patrick, who died of a lung infection at two days old, only three months before John's assassination.
      • John's mother, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, died at age 104, having outlived her husband and four of her children: Joe, John, Kathleen, and Robert, as well as some grandchildren (e.g. David Kennedy, the son of the late Robert).
    • Ronald Reagan and his first wife, Jane Wyman, lost their daughter Christine, who was born prematurely and died later the same day. Decades later, their eldest daughter Maureen would also predecease both her parents.
    • George H.W. Bush and Barbara lost their daughter, Robin, to leukemia at age 4.
    • Vice-President Joe Biden outlived his first daughter Naomi, who died in an auto accident along with his first wife Nielle in 1972, and his eldest son Beau, who died from cancer in 2015.
  • As has been made common knowledge in Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza lost their son Philip in a duel.
  • Hugh O'Connor, son of acclaimed TV actor Carroll O'Connor, committed suicide in 1995 after a battle with addiction. Grieving, Carroll lobbied to pass a law allowing family members of drug addicts to sue dealers for medical treatment and rehabilitation.
  • The phrase "may you outlive your sons" is used as a curse against someone in certain countries. It can even be said in a very congenial tone, making it sound as if the speaker is simply wishing for the health and long life of the recipient, but is actually one of the deepest expressions of contempt.
  • Professional wrestler Fritz Von Erich had six sons, and all but one (his second son, Kevin) died before him.
    • His oldest son, Jack, was electrocuted at the tender age of five.
    • Third son, David, died in 1984 while on tour in Japan. There are conflicting stories of his death: some say he died of a drug overdose, others say it was a heart attack caused by a ruptured intestine.
      • David also outlived his own offspring, a daughter, Natasha, who died in infancy.
    • Fifth son, Mike, committed suicide in 1987, overdosing on the painkiller Placidyl. Mike never wanted to be a wrestler, but was pressured into the business by Fritz, and the pressure only got worse after David died and Mike was considered his replacement.
    • Youngest son, Chris, committed suicide in 1991, shooting himself. Chris wanted to wrestle, but due to his small size (he was listed as 5 feet, 7 inches and weighing 201 pounds) and medical history of asthma, he had little chance of succeeding.
    • Fourth son, Kerry (the most successful of the boys), committed suicide in 1993, shooting himself in the heart. His marriage was falling apart and he had been arrested twice for drug possession. According to Bret Hart, Kerry had been planning for months to take his life.
  • The two eldest of Roy Orbison's six sons died in a fire in 1968.
  • Pierre Trudeau's youngest son, Michel, died in an avalanche in 1998, less than 2 years before Pierre himself died in 2000.
  • The Greek businessman Aristotle Onassis' eldest son, Alexander Onassis Livanos, died in a plane crash at age 24. Both Aristotle and his ex-wife Athina "Tina" Niarchos, Alexander's mother, fell victim to Death by Despair in less than five years.
  • Debbie Reynolds lost her daughter Carrie Fisher to cardiac arrest in 2016, one day before she herself died from a stroke.
  • Michael Jackson's parents were both living when their son died at 50. His father died nine years later, while his mother remains alive as of 2018. They also outlived another son who died at birth.
  • Zack Snyder's daughter Autumn suddenly died by suicide in 2017. This devastated him and his wife Deborah so much that he officially stepped down from the re-shoots and post-production of Justice League (2017) and let Joss Whedon finish it for him.
  • Steve Irwin's father Bob was 67 when his son died in 2006, and remains alive as of 2017.
  • Jeph Loeb's son Sam died of cancer at age 17, leading him to retiring from comic for a while and to quite the Creator Breakdown.
  • John Travolta lost his son Jett at age 16 in 2009. His daughter Ella and other son Benjamin (who was born after Jett's death) are still alive as of 2017.
  • Naruko Yanagihara, one of the concubines of Emperor Meiji, bore him three kids: Shigeko/Princess Ume, Yukihito/Prince Take, and Yoshihito/Emperor Taisho. Shigeko and Yukihito died of meningitis as babies; Yoshihito survived, but he also caught the illness and was left brain damaged. Naruko was still alive when Yoshihito perished in 1926 and, having died in 1943, outlived her only surviving child for almost two decades.
  • George III died late in his eighty-second year, by which point he had outlasted his wife, three of his sons and a daughter. That's before we get to his grandchildren:
    • Princess Charlotte of Wales died in childbirth note .
    • Princesses Charlotte and Elizabeth of Clarence both died in infancy, while their illegitimate half-brother Henry FitzClarence died at 22.
      • The above two facts, naturally, mean that Kings George IV and William IV also qualify for this trope.
      • In addition to those already mentioned is Sophia FitzClarence, who uniquely managed to outlive her grandfather George III by seventeen years but still predecease her father William IV by two months.
  • Queen Victoria had nine children and outlived three of them: Alice (mother of Tsarina Alexandra of Russia), Alfred, and Leopold. She also outlived a few of her grandchildren and only narrowly avoided outliving her eldest child Victoria, who died less than a year after she did.
  • George III succeeded directly to the throne upon the death of his grandfather George II, who outlived his eldest son (and George III's father) Frederick, Prince of Wales. George II also lost one son as an infant and he further outlived three of his adult daughters.
  • Austria-Hungary's Franz Josef I and Elisabeth (aka Sissi) outlived their eldest daughter Sophie (who died of illness at age 2) and only son Rudolf (who died alongside his mistress Maria Vetsera in the infamous Mayerling Incident). Sophie's death caused Sissi to have a huge breakdown, plus it broke her relationship with both Rudolf and her second daughter Gisela (who was Franz's favorite instead); she didn't recover until the birth of her fourth child and clear favorite, Marie Valerie.
  • Virtually guaranteed to occur in some animal species, if the life expectancy of one sex is significantly longer than that of the other. Male game birds often outlive their daughters because of the dangers faced by ground-nesting females sitting on eggs, easy targets for predators. Female Antechinus, a shrew-like Australian marsupial, can often expect to outlive their sons, as males die of exhaustion after a single frantic mating season whereas females can live 2-3 years.
  • Of Bronson Alcott's four children, two died before him, and Louisa May Alcott outlived him by only three days.
  • Patrick Swayze died from cancer in 2009, and his mother Patsy died almost exactly 4 years later in 2013.
  • Sylvester Stallone's son, Sage, died at age 36 in 2012, from a heart attack according to autopsy.
  • Bill Cosby lost his only son, Ennis, when he was shot to death at age 27 in 1997. One of his daughters, Ensa, died at age 44 in 2018 caused by renal disease having suffered from kidney problems throughout her life.
  • On July 29, 2018, Jerry Lawler's son Brian Christopher attempted suicide by hanging while in prison, but was rendered brain dead instead of dying. Lawler made the difficult decision to take him off life support.
  • Roger Moore's younger daughter, Christina Knudsen, passed away from cancer on July 25, 2016 at the age of 47, roughly ten months before his own May 2017 death (which was also from cancer).
  • Whitney Houston, who died in 2012, was outlived by her mother, Cissy Houston, who remains alive as of August 2018. Cissy also outlived her short-lived granddaughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, who died in 2015. Kristina was also outlived by her father, Bobby Brown.
  • When United States Senator John McCain died on August 25, 2018, he was survived by his mother Roberta, who was 106 years old at the time.
  • Stepmother example: The von Trapp matriarch, Maria (yes, that Maria von Trapp), outlived two of her stepchildren and at least one step-grandchild; Martina, who died giving birth to a stillborn child in 1951, and Hedwick, who died of asthma in 1972. Georg was outlived by all of his children, dying four years before Martina and her child in 1947.
    • Also, for the actors playing the von Trapp family in the 1965 film adaptation: Charmian Carr (Liesl) and Heather Menzies (Louisa) both predeceased their on-screen parents Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, who are still alive as of September 2018.
  • After Freddie Mercury died in 1991, he was survived by his father Bomi, who died in 2003, and his mother Jer, who died in 2016 (just before the 25th anniversary of Freddie's death).
  • Billy Mays was outlived by his father, Billy Mays Sr., after the former died of head trauma in June 2009 at 50 years old.
  • "Macho Man" Randy Savage died in 2011 at the age of 58. While he outlived his father, Angelo Poffo (who died the previous year), his mother Judy outlived him, dying in 2017 at the age of 90.
  • Michael Ansara and Barbara Eden, while married, had a son together named Matthew. Matthew died in June 2001; Ansara himself died in July of 2013, and Barbara Eden is still alive as of November of 2018.


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