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Parents as People

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They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.
Philip Larkin, "This Be The Verse"

Unlike the all-powerful but undercharacterised Parent ex Machina, the reader/viewer knows about The Protagonist's parents. They have friends outside the home, hobbies that take them out of the house and full time jobs. The audience will also be able to discern what kind of relationship the two have as a couple—whether they're still as starry-eyed over each other as they were when they started dating, or on the brink of divorce. They will have quirks, character strengths and character failings.

They'll also be hopeless as parents.

This couple are not usually nasty—or, if they are, we'll be told all about their Freudian Excuse. They're probably at least sympathetic, if not downright likable. We'd probably like to have them as friends, but definitely wouldn't want them as parents. One way to tell which you're dealing with is to see the actions the story takes to humanize the parent. If the parent is actively evil like a Wicked Stepmother or Evil Matriarch, then that is not this trope. If the parent is neglectful, demanding, or ignorant of the damage they are causing, but the story shows that they're doing this unknowingly or out of a lack of awareness while partaking in activities or backstory to explain this behavior, then you're dealing with this trope. Be aware that such a character can still be an Antagonist without being an outright Villain.


If you're a protagonist, and your parents are given lots of witty one liners, lots of characterisation and inhabit the Competence Zone to some degree, expect to suffer Parental Abandonment as they pursue their hobbies and relationships at your expense. If mom and dad are still together, you'll be a living example of the phrase "the children of lovers are orphans," as the parental units will be too wrapped up in each other to spend much time with you. On the other hand, if they're fighting constantly, they'll be too busy yelling at each other to notice that you haven't eaten in three days.

One particular type of this parent is one, usually-single parent that is firmly in the Competence Zone, and probably a part of their child's zany schemes. Their friends will think these parents are "cool" and they will probably agree… he just wishes his dad would occasionally show up to parents' night, and that mom remembered to cook dinner every so often.


The "golfing dad" is an old trope, and if dad's the only absent parent the child probably won't suffer too badly (until the plot calls for it). However, if mom has a hobby that takes her out of the house, works at a demanding job or has a problem that makes her borderline unfit as a parent, parental neglect will almost certainly be a plot point. How it's approached varies from show to show, from the mother realising she'd go mad without her career, to an enormous guilt trip about abandoning her child.

If this happens in a family of sufficiently high social standing, particularly in a medieval setting (being a king requires a lot of work, you know), there is a chance that the protagonist and/or one or more of his siblings may become Royally Screwed Up as a result.

Unlike Parent ex Machina, these parents aren't infallible, and they can't solve all of their kids' problems because they can barely handle their own. Their son or daughter can't blithely assume that "dad will take care of it," because he won't. Or he'll try to and fail spectacularly.

To compensate, there's usually an alternative mentor who fills in for the absent or ineffective parent. If not, the child will be an adult long before his time as being the Only Sane Man in a crazy family will force them to take care of themselves. If they're the oldest sibling, they'll probably be the "alternative parent."

Someone who believes in Honor Thy Parent may point out that parents still deserve respect despite their failings; how much the child agrees with that is up to them.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Hirasawa parents in K-On! are usually away on romantic hijinks, leaving younger sister Ui to serve as a surrogate parent for Cloudcuckoolander Yui. In the manga, the rest of the main cast finally meet them on the day of Yui's entrance exam to college, and only because they came over because they were worried she might sleep too late.
  • Prof. Yumi from Mazinger Z sincerely loved and cared for his daughter Sayaka, but he was too Married to the Job and busy trying to save the world to take care of her properly, and often Sayaka missed her father.
  • Momomiya Ichigo's parents in Tokyo Mew Mew are completely wrapped up in each other. Her mother is quick to squeal over whichever boy she's seen her daughter with, and her father is overprotective and goes off on a Rant-Inducing Slight. However, they're shuffled off to Parental Abandonment-land when she has to save the world, only to come back and punish her for being late to get home. They're seen as good people, they just… don't get it.
  • Izumi's mother from Full Moon is eventually depicted as this, though she was originally more portrayed as an abusive woman. Her husband's apparently sudden and early death had her stricken with grief, to the point that she wasn't capable of giving comfort to her son, Izumi/Leo, and caring well for him, needing comfort herself. She got her comfort by continuously dating and sleeping with men, but their rejection because she had a child was too much for her and she, wrongly, blamed him for it. When Izumi/Leo runs off and commits suicide in front of her, she realizes the mistakes she has made and that she was not and could not be a good mother to him, even crying when she sees that her son prefers death than to live with her any longer…
  • Part of the Deconstruction in Neon Genesis Evangelion revolves around this trope. Many Super Robot shows have a teenage mecha pilot and a long-absent father who designed the mecha, so Evangelion shows how traumatizing it would be for a real teen to fight in a giant robot—and what kind of father would be long-absent to design the robot.
    • If one were to account parental guardians in this, Misato definitely counts. She tries as hard as she can to be nurturing and protective to Shinji and Asuka, but due to her own pressing emotional baggage, she has trouble getting close to them.
    • In fact Super Robot series very, very often show the teenagers being traumatized due to the absence of their parents. Mazinger Z? Dr. Kabuto was a Mad Scientist in the original manga, Sayaka missed her father constantly and it took a long while for Shiro to forgive his and Kouji's father for letting them believe he was dead FOR YEARS. Great Mazinger? Tetsuya Tsurugi is EXACTLY the same character Asuka is (but created twenty years before) due to being an orphan and his adoptive father Kenzou being more concerned with saving humanity than being a good father and helping him with his inferiority complex, lack of self-steem and jealousy (since Kenzou is coincidentally Kouji and Shiro's father, as mentioned above). Kotetsu Jeeg? Hiroshi Shiba stated in the FIRST episode that he thought his father could not care less about his family and therefore he could not care less about him, only realizing that this wasn't true when Dr. Shiba passed away in his arms (and later it was shown that, no matter what his father's computer-mind told him, Hiroshi was still hurt). Zambot3? His father being missing right when he needed him was one of the many traumas Kappei Jin was forced to endure throughout the series. Mobile Suit Gundam? Amuro's workaholic father hardly Tem Ray had time for his family and later was killed off ignominiously, while his mother Kamaria chose to stay behind on Earth and is heavily implied to have been having an affair. And so on.
  • Digimon loves this trope:
    • Ken Ichijouji's parents ignored him in favor of his genius older brother, Osamu. When Osamu was hit by a car and died, they were too grieved to pay any attention to him and missed a lot of things that could have prevented his Start of Darkness, such as the creepy e-mails he was getting from one of Mr. Ichijouji's coworkers. They did not seem to give their younger child the time of day until he started showing signs of genius tendencies and it was like Osamu reborn. They were understandably repentant when Ken, to all appearances, ran away from home and came back with Easy Amnesia, culminating in him acknowledging them as his parents again, and ever since then their relationship is more normal.
    • Juri Katou's father was simply not prepared to deal with his wife's early death and was a serious believer in tough love, and so he inadvertently warped his little girl into a Stepford Smiler who believed it's her destiny to be unhappy. When he realized his mistake, it was almost too late.
      • Ruki's mother Rumiko cares for her kid but due to having her when she was 17, takes quite a while to really assume her motherly role.
    • What about Mr. Lee? The man has a good heart and does try to help, but he completely neglects to inform Jian that Terriermon would be used to defeat the D-Reaper at the cost of all the kids losing their Digimon. And boy, does it hurt not just Jian, but everyone.
      • Note that he did not tell them deliberately, since there was the very real risk of the kids refusing to go through with the plan And allowing the D-Reaper to fuse Mother D-Reaper and Cable Reaper to complete its plan, i.e, the end of all life. In a way, it's also part of a deconstruction of what it would mean for the parents to have to rely on their children to fight.
    • Touma Norstein's father Franz, who couldn't stand up to his mother when she told his half-Japanese son that he wasn't good enough to be a Norstein, days after his mother's funeral and being transplanted to Austria, and nearly sold out the planet to a Mad Scientist because he promised to cure his Ill Girl daughter by fusing her with a Digimon. Touma, logically, was PISSED at that.
    • Yamato Ishida's dad Hiroaki is the "one foot in the Competence Zone" variety—he's probably the fourth most plot-involved parent in the franchise (losing to guys who significantly influenced the back stories of their canons) and basically treats his son like a House Wife sometimes. His ex-wife Natsuko fares somewhat better in regards to Takeru, but she's still unable to drive him to school on his first day there.
      • Sora's parents, Toshiko and Haruhiko. Toshiko was a traditional Yamato Nadeshiko who tended to be bossy and disapprove of Sora's more hotheaded nature (she scolds young Sora for talking to her when not properly seated once, and barring her from going to a soccer match when she was injured), whereas Haruhiko was too absorbed in his work outside of Tokyo. They do much better in the second season.
      • Koushirou's parents, Masami and Yoshie. They're technically Good Parents, genuinely loving and even doting a little on him… but didn't tell Koushirou that he was actually the son of a distant cousin of Masami's, and they adopted him as a baby after his parents died in a car crash. Which also coincided with the death of their own biological child. Koushirou learned this "little secret" while overhearing a talk between them, and it caused him lots of angst. But then, they talk about it openly and get better.
    • Try Kouji and Kouichi's parents in Digimon Frontier. Both boys were raised on the story that their Disappeared Dad (Kouichi)/Missing Mom (Kouji) was dead and until the death of their maternal grandmother, neither knew the other existed. On the other hand, Kouichi's mother is technically a good mother if a bit of an adult Ill Girl from the two flashbacks we see of her and Kouji's father at least seems to be a decent enough dad.
  • Dragon Ball: Son Goku and Chi-Chi love Gohan very much, but both have their own issues when it comes to raising him. Goku tends to go off and train for long periods of time, usually far away from Earth, and tends to project onto Gohan, believing his son to take as much joy in fighting as he does, when Gohan is really a Martial Pacifist who lacks the fight-loving instinct that Saiyans are known for (and according to the Japanese fanbase, Goku spoils him a little too much as well). And while Chi-Chi's push for Gohan to be more of a scholar arguably fits better with his own interests, she has a habit of taking her Education Mama tendencies to extremes and can be more than a little overbearing. That said, Goku still spends as much time as he can with Gohan while trying to teach him important things for a warrior to know, and eventually realizes how much he's misunderstood him later on, and Chi-Chi wants a bright future for him and worries about his safety while fighting, but eventually lightens up and even trains him later on. Both want what they see as best for him, even though it takes a while for them to realize what that is.
  • Nazuna's parents in Hidamari Sketch. When they first appear to help Nazuna moving in, the other Hidamari residents instantly like them, since they're friendly and apparently doting. However, a few comics later it's clear that they have basically abandoned their child, as Nazuna's dad was transferred and her mother decided that her teenage daughter was better suited to living alone than her husband, a grown man. So she decided to go with him, and left Nazuna to fend for herself. Good thing the Hidamari residents are so close-knit.
    • To a lesser extent, Yuno's parents. They can be a little oddball and embarrassing, but did at least worry about their daughter's decision to live alone. Her dad is also the classic Overprotective Dad, so they haven't completely abandoned their parental roles, even if they do like to recapture their youth by visiting amusement parks.
  • From Eroica with Love briefly examined the repercussions of this—an unusually serious take for a comedy manga. Dorian's dad was a gay aristocrat, who was presumably pressured into marrying. After three daughters (who he doesn't seem to have concerned himself with), he is delighted with his son, who he sees as "an ally in a house full of women." He no longer bothers pretending to be respectable, and fills the house with his assorted friends, including thieves and criminals of various types, introducing his son into this social sphere. Dorian takes to thievery like a duck to water, and his father encourages this. That's the last straw for Dorian's mother, who packs up her daughters and leaves the family home, which eventually has to be sold to pay for the divorce settlement.
  • In Sakende Yaruze!, meeting for the first time at the ages of 17 and 33 respectively, Nakaya and Shino both have trouble sorting out their father-son relationship precisely because at this point in their lives they are inclined to see each other as people first and don't know where to draw lines or how they should act once Nakaya comes to live with Shino. Ultimately, Shino does fail as an ideal parent and chooses not centre his life around Nakaya, but Nakaya also chooses not to ask him to.
  • Fruits Basket:
    • If the Sohma parents don't abuse their cursed children, they're likely to end up as this. Ritsu's mom Meshou is a Shrinking Violet who Apologises a Lot, and Kisa's mother almost gives up raising her because she's too stressed and sad upon not being able to help Kisa with her school troubles.
    • Kyo's mother is a particularly notable example; while she did try to make Kyo feel loved and supported, she failed to do it in a healthy way and ended up smothering him instead. Though she often told Kyo she loved him, Kyo suspects that this was her overcompensating to hide how deeply afraid and paranoid she was about his monstrous true form. He remembers how she would constantly check to make sure he was wearing his beads (which he wears as a Power Limiter), and she prevented him from leaving the house by claiming he was so adorable that she needed to keep him all to herself. Eventually, the stress of raising the Cat and the emotional abuse of her husband were too much for her, resulting in her taking her own life.
    • Akito's father Akira truly loved Akito and did his best to raise his child right, but his inability to really protect Akito from Ren's abuse and the fact that he promised Akito impossible things (that as the "God" of the Zodiac, Akito was destined for eternal love and happiness and no one would ever leave Akito alone) set the groundwork for a lot of Akito's mental issues.
  • Sailor Moon: While Kenji and Ikuko Tsukino are Good Parents and Minako's dad and mom are also hinted to be that way, Ami's mother Saeko falls into this squarely. She has good intentions, yes, but is simply too absorbed by her job as a doctor to spend time with Ami, and for worse she's also a single mom since her ex-husband is an artist who lives and works abroad. In the manga, Saeko is even seen apologizing to Ami for not being able to be with her.
    • Chibiusa's relationship with her mother is this. She is very much a Daddy's Girl and appears to have a good relationship with him and while she does love her mother dearly, Chibiusa half-idolizes her mother to the point of an inferiority complex. Even after discovering Usagi is her future mother, she bickers constantly with Usagi, having trouble reconciling that Usagi is still a young teenager whereas her future self Neo Queen Serenity is Older and Wiser.
  • Prétear:
    • Natsue, especially in the anime. Though she does care for her family, she simply doesn't seem to be cut out for motherhood, and at times she and Kaoru are just too wrapped up in each other to notice the problems between Himeno, Mayune and Mawata. Specially in the case of Mawata.
    • Kaoru, too. It's clear he loves Himeno, but he himself is a very irresponsible Manchild until almost the end of the story.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Relena is shown to be somewhat resentful of her father's job keeping him away from his family; in fact, one of her first lines of dialog has her admonishing him to take some more time for himself. This isn't helped by the fact that he brings her along on business trips so they can spend time together but keeps getting called away. However, there's no question that her father loves her, and that she loves him and understands that he's a very important man (being the Vice Foreign Minister to the entire planet). Later in the series, she admits that she was selfish for not seeing just how important his work was. Even the revelation that she's adopted does nothing to change how she feels, and in The Movie she takes up the Darlian surname once more.
  • Hamtaro mostly has Good Parents, but Mimi's family falls squarely into this. It's understandable if we consider that the Iwata family is very large by Japanese standards (four children, including their newborn baby), and they do try to aid her, but one can't help feeling bad for poor Mimi when she spends a lot of her time alone at home.
  • Kotetsu from Tiger & Bunny is a single father who struggles with the fact that his dream job as a superhero means that he can't really spend much time with his daughter, Kaede, who lives with her grandmother and uncle.
  • Satoshi and Eriko Oginome from Penguindrum do love their daughter Ringo, but the death of their eldest daughter Momoka in a strange incident completely trashed the family dynamics, since Satoshi insisted that they should move on and Eriko couldn't let go. Now they're divorced and the teenaged Ringo lives with Eriko, while Satoshi takes her out in periodic outings. But Satoshi neglects to tell Ringo that he is dating again… which unintentionally makes Ringo despair and speed up her "Project M", causing the infamous Attempted Rape incident of episode 8 and all that came up next.
  • Mariko Shinobu's parents in Dear Brother are not not bad persons per se, but they have very serious issues, which really don't contribute to Mariko's convoluted emotional state.
  • Kore wa Koi no Hanashi:
    • Haruka's parents. Her mother has become mentally instable after her son's death. Incapable of accepting reality, and his death, she flees into a sort of fantasy world, where Kazuma is simply 'not at home' and becomes worried when he's late. This kept going, until she started to see her daughter as her deceased son, calling her Kazuma and is implied to have simply forgotten that she had a daughter. And talking back to her, reminding her of her son's death, causes Haruka's mother to lash out violently. As horrible of a person she is, one cannot help but feel sorry for her.
      • Haruka's father fares a bit better. He's often overseas on business and never took a great deal of influence in the house, before or after his son's death, since he figured his wife had everything under control. After he has to cart his wife off to a hospital and continue to work himself, he gets a housekeeper to drop in a few times a week, to cook for Haruka and take care of the household. He just overall lacks the contact he initially needed with Haruka and has difficulty creating some now.
    • Shinichi's parents, if one looks at them from a certain angle. Both were hardworking people, trying to keep their family afloat, but the father was an alcoholic, who also was verbally and physically abusive to his wife. And his wife took the beatings, with Shinichi realizing years later that she might have stayed with him, simply to give Shinichi two parents to grow up with. Ultimately results in his mother burning down their apartment to create a family suicide, started to choke her son, but he was the only one out of the three to survive the suicide. At the age of eight.
  • Ed and Al's dad in Fullmetal Alchemist is a Disappeared Dad for most of their lives, but when he lived with them while their mother was alive, he's implied to have been this trope—spending most of his time holed up in his study working on his alchemy researches. He was mainly researching a way to cure his near-immortality so he wouldn't outlive his wife and children, but discovered the sinister plot his former friend had with the entire country.
  • Yusuke's mom in YuYu Hakusho. She genuinely loves him but gave birth to him when she was 15 and has a lot of associated problems with being a Hard-Drinking Party Girl.
    • Turns out his father is also somewhat like this, though not much is known due to being a Last Episode, New Character, but what is known is that he actually tried to instill discipline into Yusuke, i.e. spanked him, but his constant fights with Atsuko resulted in their divorce and him not being there to parent Yusuke. Both are also Amicable Exes who tend to have one night stands on occasion but realize it's too late to get back together.
  • Spirit Alburn in Soul Eater tries to be a loving father but is a terrible husband, as evident by his wife divorcing him due to his womanizing, which in turn, causes tension between his daughter who loses her respect for him.
  • In One Piece, Bellemere is this to her adopted daughters Nojiko and Nami. She tries to care for them, but does not make much money from her tangerines, and occasionally acts immaturely (for example, Nami claiming that Nojiko's not her sister because they're not related is a Berserk Button for her). However, she cares for them more than anything and when Arlong attacks the island, she pays their fee instead of her own, dying for them.
  • In Saki Shinohayu -dawn of age-, Kousuke, Shino's uncle, is this after he takes her in following the disappearance of her mother, who is his sister. He does his best to care for her, but is also busy with his job and searching for his sister. As a result, he makes the mistake of thinking that mahjong does nothing but remind Shino of her Missing Mom, and tries to sell it, much to Shino's displeasure. Thankfully, he was unable to sell it due to missing a tile, and after he sees her having fun at a tournament (partly in hopes of getting her mother to find her), he apologizes and returns the set.
  • Hana's mother, Yuri, in Girls und Panzer. While she orders Hana out of the house after learning that she's doing tankery, it's implied that she's otherwise warm and caring for Hana, and her initial reaction to hearing that Hana is doing tankery is to worry that something is bothering her, and to respond to her belief that flower arrangement is no longer enough for her by saying that she's done well so far. She also eventually reconciles with her daughter.
  • Naruto:
    • Gaara had every right to hate his father, the Fourth Kazekage. The man all but killed his mother to make him the Jinchuriki for Shukaku, and then drove him to his insanity by making him believe that he was never loved and that no one would ever love him. Then the man had to gall to try and assassinate him, several times. Ultimately, however, he came to understand that his cruelty was in the name of the village they both held dear, through his own burdens as the Fifth Kazekage. When the Fourth, resurrected by the Edo Tensei, is finally sealed, he has already made his peace with his son and leaves the village in his hands.
    • The epilogue and eventually Boruto shows Naruto as Hokage, which strains his time with his family. When his and Hinata's son Boruto starts acting out in order to get his attention (very much how Naruto was at the start of the series), Naruto tells him that his job means he can't be his dad all the time, so he must learn to endure it, because he's a ninja as well. He is also shown to try and balance his time better after this, though it is clear that this is a hard balance to make. Recently he's also outright stated that he is willing to outright kill his son if he were to succumb to The Virus, but he clearly doesn't want to, and seem to consider it a Mercy Kill for the worst case scenario.
    • Fugaku and Mikoto Uchiha were Good Parents, but they were still people who plotted a coup against their home village in retaliation for perceived isolation after the Kyuubi attack. Every single tragedy that their sons had to endure, including the brothers' own broken relationship because Itachi refused to tell Sasuke the truth about the Massacre, can be traced back to their parents' actions. For what it's worth, both understood the consequences of their actions for not only the clan but also their children, which is partially why they refused to fight back when Itachi came to kill them.
    • Hiashi Hyuga can be seen in this light, if still dangerously veering close the Abusive Parents territory. He put a lot of pressure in Hinata and when he deemed her a failure, essentially dumped her in Kurenai's care so as to focus on training Hanabi instead, which only damaged even more her already fragile self-esteem. But considering the man has a lot of pressure himself as the Hyuga Clan's head, not to mention that his brother's sacrifice still weighs heavily on his mind even years after, it's clear that the circumstances didn't give him any chances to act soft, as that would have been perceived as weakness. He eventually gets better.
  • Menma's mother Irene in Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day had neglected her remaining child, Satoshi, in her grief over her daughter's death to the point she refused to leave the house and see others. Thankfully, she got better by the end of the series.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, Grace and her daughter Y don't see eye to eye as Y dropped Rhyhorn racing in favor of Sky Training. That said, it's clear that Grace isn't a cruel person and Y does worry when Grace goes missing.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh! has a couple examples:
    • First, there's Lady Cecilia, the mother of three of the main characters, a beautiful, flirtatious and extremely flighty woman eternally on a quest for 'free love'. She loves her sons very much, and they love her, but all of them acknowledge her as being an unreliable and often irritating wild card in social and political situations. She is shown to have a deeper side occasionally: Conrad's father was human, and given the longer lifespan of Mazoku, this relationship ended predictably and tragically, and she seems to still mourn him. She also regrets that her weakness contributed to so much strife and sorrow during her reign as Maou.
    • Secondly was Conrad's father Dan Hiri himself. Although he seems to have been a pretty good parent to Conrad and Parental Substitute to Jozak, to Gwendal he was his endlessly irritating new stepfather, and a human, to boot. Dan Hiri seemed to find Gwendal's childish wrath amusing (while his mother appears to have simply been oblivious, as is her wont, to something she didn't want to see). This only worsened when Dan Hiri decided to leave his family behind and continue traveling the world in search of an immortal legacy he could leave, feeling the weight of his human lifespan. They eventually get some sort of closure when Dan Hiri dies in Gwendal's arms and Gwendal begins to understand how short and frail human lives really are, but the validity of his choices is left ambiguous by the story.
  • Tsuna's parents in Reborn! (2004). Although they do care for him, his mother constantly belittles him and cares very little for his future. His father, a Disappeared Dad most of Tsuna's life, who without even talking to Tsuna about it, decided to force him to become a Mafia crime lord that made him a target for countless assassins.
  • A Silent Voice:
    • Shouko's mother was well-meaning but harsh to her daughters to toughen them up, resulting in friction between her and her daughters, especially the youngest one.
    • Shouya's mother is too busy at work and oblivious that her son wanted to commit suicide and when Shouya fell into a coma, she was so overwhelmed by the situation that she doesn't know what to do.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club, Haruhi's father loves her dearly but tends to overwork himself a lot for her sake and Haruhi herself would rather have her dad stay home and rest than go see her at school events.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • This is an important part of Fate's characterization from StrikerS onward. Despite her desire to be the best mother possible for her adopted children, her position as an enforcer means that she's often away on missions for long stretches of time (which is part of the reason why Erio and Caro never lived with her). Vivio even teases her about it in ViVid.
    • The movie adaptation of the first season shows that Precia was also like this prior to her descent into insanity.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Kobayashi's parents were like this while she was growing up, and she ends up as one when she becomes Kanna's Parental Substitute.
    Kobayashi: Parents day... my parents never came. They were busy with work. It was to support the family, and I understood that.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Inko is essentially a single mothernote  who clearly loves her son, Izuku, and does her best to take care of him, but she doesn't magically know the best course of action to take and is generally hampered by being Locked Out of the Loop. When young Izuku was told that he would never develop superpowers, crushing his dream of becoming a hero, she did her best to comfort him without realizing that what he really needed at the time was to be told "Don't give up hope". When he spontaneously develops powers and gets into the #1 Superhero School in Japan, Inko is naturally surprised but does what she can to support him. However, the fact that he repeatedly gets badly injured because of those powers (including shattering his bones multiple times) horrifies her, and she initially refuses the school's request to move the students into a dorm, citing the fact that the students were attacked by supervillains on three separate occasions and even telling the #1 hero All Might (Izuku's mentor and the person who gave him his powers) that she can't trust him to keep her son safe. Rather than trying to shut him down outright, Inko proposes that Izuku transfer to a lower-profile hero school so she won't have to constantly worry about him getting killed by villains.
    • Rei was forced into a marriage with Endeavor because he wanted a child who would become a more powerful hero than All Might. She did her best to be a good mother to all her children and tried to raise Shoto right while protecting him from Endeavor's abuse, but one person could only do so much. The strain of all the abuse wore on her until she had a Freak Out that resulted in her scarring her son with boiling water, at which point Endeavor had her put into protective custody at a hospital. Years later Shoto refuses to blame her for what happened, viewing it as his father's fault for his horrendous attitude, and when he visits her in the hospital to try and patch up their relationship she's clearly very happy to see him.
    • Endeavor/Enji Todoroki himself, after character development. His obsession with beating All Might prevented him from properly parenting his kids, but even though he's finally given that up and wants to be a proper father, most of his now grown-up kids don't want to forgive him or have him in their lives.
    • Nana Shimura loved her son deeply and after her husband's death at the hands of All For One, she left her son in foster care as a means to protect him from the dangers of her hero work, even leaving him a letter explaining her reasons and that she would always love him. Her well-meaning intentions and subsequent death left her son very bitter and resentful towards her and all heroes. This would lead to her grown-up son to horribly abuse his own son, Tenko/Shigaraki and allowing All For One to easily come and exploit her grandson into becoming one of the most dangerous villains.
    • Nao Shimura did love her children but she was too weak-willed to stand up to her hero-hating husband who was abusing their children. By the time she did confront her husband after he had hit Tenko and threatened to divorce him and take the children away, it was too late as Tenko developed his Quirk and he accidentally ended up decaying his entire family.
  • Case Closed:
    • Kogoro Mouri is an irresponsible gambler who spends much of his time drinking, while his teenage daughter Ran takes care of most of the housework. Plus he also has a tendency to yell at Ran and Conan and, in the latter's case, sometimes give smacks to the head for getting in the way. However, when either of them is in real danger, he risks his life and limb for them, and is strongly implied to actually be very depressed and self-deprecating under his borderline Manchild facade. Plus he stops smacking Conan around as time passes, and starts treating him more like an actual son than as just a kid who happens to be under his watch.
    • His ex-wife Eri Kisaki is also not responsible either. While she clearly loves Ran very much, it's implied that her pride and hurt at seeing her marriage falling apart has kept her from building a close relationship and spending time with Ran until very recently. There's also the fact that Ran chose to live with her father and not her, implied to be out of respect for her career, has also clearly hurt Eri and has led to Eri constantly badmouthing Kogoro in front of her daughter.
    • While both of Shinichi's parents love their son, they've been rather irresponsible regarding him. They have no qualms about leaving their teenage boy to look after himself for years on end while they jetset around the world—something they've apparently done since the end of his preteen years. Shinichi himself loves his parents and is clearly inspired by his father's detective skills, but is well aware that they're far too irresponsible to be proper parents and thus feels no guilt about doing things like telling his dad's editor where he's hiding while skipping deadlines, or using their credit cards to pay for expensive dinners. The fact that Kogoro is shown in flashbacks to not be happy with the Kudos' Free-Range Children tendences says a lot.
      • ... On the other hand, directly witnessing Conan's situation seems to have been at least a mild Reality Check for them. It's implied they have their neighbor and family friend Agasa regularly reporting to them regarding Shinichi's wellbeing, Yukiko turns up fairly frequently to help in various schemes with her disguise skills (and Conan doesn't seem to have any doubt that she'll come when he calls for aid), and in at least one mini-arc Yusaku was lurking as back-up the whole time. They also came up with a convoluted scheme (which was kind of stupid and deserved to fail) in the early stages of the manga, to try and convince Conan that he's in over his head and to come with them to the US so that the three of them could try and unravel things together. On the other other hand, said "convoluted scene" involved posing as crime syndicate members, kidnapping their own son, and tricking him into believing that they had executed everyone he knew and loved, all to emphasize the danger of the situation to him as well as test his competency in such a scenario. After genuinely terrorizing their son for two entire days, they treat this cruel and ruthless tactic as a hilarious prank. This did not help the fanbase's opinion of them.
  • Accel World : this describes the parents of nearly everyone in the Accelerated World. One of the requirements is that the player has had a Neurolinker since shortly after birth; the most common reason for that is as an advanced baby monitor, so that the parents don't have to spend much actual time with the baby - Kuroyukihime hypothesizes this is pretty much the core trauma for almost all Burst Linkers. In fact, it's one of the reasons that Burst Linkers are so passionate about the game; they're usually closer to the True Companions and Found Family they have in the game to the people they live with in real life. To be more specific: Takumi's parents ignored his being bullied, and put so much pressure on him to succeed that he's now a Stepford Smiler with a major inferiority complex teamed with a Martyr compulsion. Kuroyukihime is living by herself while in middle school not to mention the Trauma Conga Line with her elder sister and Burst Link Parent, who it's implied is a Mad Scientist sociopath during the Chrome Disaster arc - and their parents haven't noticed, and has been for roughly a year when the story opens. Haruyuki himself never mentions his father; he doesn't seem to have even been in contact with him since his parent's divorce, and has some kind of trauma from that time frame that he seems to have repressed the memory of (it's hinted in one of the 'extra' episodes of the anime that this is at least partially responsible for his weight issues). Because his mother works for an international bank, he only sees her for about five minutes every morning when she's half-asleep (one of the reasons his apartment seems to be the main Team Gathering point for their Guild). The only reason he hasn't gone completely off the rails by the time the story starts is Chiyuri's parents, who "raised them like twins" until fairly recently (Chiyu's mother caters for pretty much every Guild meeting because she's so glad Haru has so many friends now, and Chiyu's always urging Haru to come by and visit with her parents). This trope is averted in the case of Chiyu herself, who is the only confirmed exception to this hands-off parenting rule - she was given a neurolinker shortly after birth because her father had damaged vocal chords from cancer, and the Neurolinker was the only way she could hear her father's voice.
  • King Viktor in The Royal Tutor genuinely loves his children but his duties as king often causes him to spend far less time with them than he would like. There are also times when he has to act harsh and stern to the younger princes as their king instead of their father because they are potential king candidates that he knows are not ready yet to be king.
  • Mr. Jigokumeguri in Ojojojo does want to be a good parent to his daughters and respects their decisions if they clash with his own, but the choices he makes end up having disastrous consequences, whether it be setting Haru up for an Arranged Marriage, set her up as heiress when she's only a child, or letting Aki compete for the position.
  • Lusamine is portrayed in a considerably more sympathetic light in the Pokémon anime than in Pokémon Sun and Moon and, to a lesser extent, their companion releases. Here she's a Doting Parent who never means any harm to Lillie and Gladion, but would easily go from embarrassing her daughter in front of her friends one second to ignoring her to take a business call the next, which makes her kids question how much she actually cares about them. That's not even getting into her obsessive fascination with the inter-dimensional Ultra Beasts, which is hinted to be about as unhealthy as it is in the games. When Gladion finally calls her out for never even noticing the terribly traumatic experience her daughter went through that caused her crippling fear of Pokémon—caused by one of the very UBs she dedicated her life to meeting, no less—Lusamine is downright horrified at how out of touch she's been and pulls a Heroic Sacrifice against that same UB when it threatened her children again.
  • Skip Beat!:
    • Lory Takarada is a grandparent variant of this. His granddaughter Maria was left him with from a very early age onward, as both parents were busy with their jobs overseas. When her fifth birthday approached, she gave in to her selfish desire and asked her mom to come home for it and celebrate with her. The mother got onto a plane to be with her daughter, only for the plane to crash and kill her. Maria has become convinced that her mother's death was her fault and that her father hates her for this. Lory wants for her to realize that it isn't the case, but nothing he says works. She's heard all of the arguments before, so she sees them as nothing but empty words... until Kyoko uses a play's words to 'switch roles' with Maria, and makes Maria use those 'empty words' as her own argument to prove that her father does love her.
    • Her father has his own share of problems. He did blame Maria for his wife's death at the funeral, but he was too stricken with his own grief at the time to care about how harsh his words were. However, he nonetheless has tried to keep in contact with her by sending her daily e-mails and asking her about how her life is going. The e-mails always have the same lines, but Maria realizes that he never sent her anything new because she never dared to answer his e-mails. Both have the problem of not knowing much about the other because they never communicated. And when Lory manages to get Maria's father to appear for her Gratitude/Christmas party, despite Maria having been too terrified that being 'selfish' again will cause more harm and didn't dare to invite him, the two hug for the first time in years.
    • Saena Mogami turns out be one herself. She was emotionally abusive towards Kyoko and reprimanded her for getting bad grades, leading to Kyoko having some severe trust issues and an urge to prove herself. Saena eventually left Kyoko at Sho's parents' house for good. It turns out that Saena used to be in a relationship with a man, but he turned out to be a company spy and only got close to her to get his hands on vital information for a big case going on. When he gained the data, he disappeared into the night, and Saena was left to deal with the mess her mistake had made. She eventually realized she was pregnant by this man, but circumstances prevented her from getting an abortion and she had no choice left but to give birth. Since Kyoko feels like a physical reminder of her biggest mistake she made in her life, Saena has been incapable of seeing her as a separate being from it and decided that leaving her with Sho's parents was the kindest thing she could do. When she and Kyoko clear the air, Saena admits to a colleague that she did have times where she considered Kyoko 'cute' as a child. But she felt that she wasn't allowed to admit that, given her attitude.
  • Bleach has Ichigo's father Isshin and Uryuu's father Ryuuken. On one hand Isshin seems to be a ditzy doctor that constantly embarrasses his three kids while also keeping many, many secrets from them ( like him being a powerful Shinigami), whereas Ryuuken's relationship with Uryuu became strained after the death of Ryuuken's father Souken and especially the demise of Uryuu's mother Kanae). Both are aware of their parental failures and not exactly happy about it.
  • Attack on Titan has Grisha Yeager's father, who does his best to keep his children, Grisha and Faye, safe in a society in which his entire family is a persecuted minority, and any suspicion of treason could be disastrous to the entire family. Unfortunately, his point doesn't get across very well to Grisha, who (perhaps justifiably) sees his father as almost completely indifferent to Faye's death, and is angered when his father condemns their Eldian ancestors' atrocities while calling their Marleyan oppressors "merciful" for not wiping out the Eldians. As such, Grisha does not understand his father's advice until he's much older.
  • Kimba/Leo of Kimba the White Lion is a kind-hearted and beloved jungle ruler who's always ready to defend his subjects, lend a helping paw to those who need it, bridge the gap between mankind and animal, and is forgiving towards those who wronged him and are seeking redemption. He's far less impressive as a father concerning his son Rune as he constantly berates him for his failings and often pushes him too much, at one point trying to toughen him up by abandoning him in the cliffs far from home and forcing him to make it back himself. This can be pinned on Kimba's less-than-stellar upbringing in which he lost his parents at a very early age, never even meeting his own father. While Kimba became stronger and more moral through enduring those ordeals, he grew up with no role model for what a father should be, so his idea of parenting a future king is throwing the hardships he went through at Rune, hoping that he will come out stronger like he did.
  • In Bokurano the parents often have as many issues as their kids.
    • Sen'ichi Honda is a decent man and an Honest Corporate Executive who, unfortunately, is highly out of touch with his significantly more cynical daughter Chizuru "Chizu" Honda. As such he's blindsided by Chizu getting into a relationship with one of his teachers, being gang-raped, and then using Zearth to kill the perpetrators, along with many innocent bystanders, leaving him to wonder where he went wrong.
    • Tomoe Komoda is seemingly cold and distant from his daughter Takami "Komo" Komoda, who at times wonders if he wishes she'd been born a boy. This does not mean he doesn't care for her, as shown by how he rushes over to his daughter after her death. Anko (see below) ultimately concludes that Komo's father cares for his daughter, even if he isn't good at showing it.
    • Akira Tokosumi spends most of his time at work, and never talked with his daughter Aiko "Anko" Tokosumi much until he learned that she was involved with Zearth. All the same, he regrets not being there for her more, is horrified at the idea that running the story about Zearth might have led to her being killed, and his seemingly callous decision to keep the camera running on Aiko's battles after Aiko loses her legs saving Machi is actually because he knows Aiko will die and is forcing himself to stay focused. He and Tomoe help Sen'ichi with the latter's philanthropic endeavor, with the three men knowing that they "caused (their) daughter's suffering."
    • Kana's father and Jun's adoptive father did his best to raise his adoptive son well, but admitted that he was afraid of ruining their relationship if he got too close to Jun, only to be rejected, so Mr. Ushiro stayed relatively distant from Jun, who said he was treated like one of his father's students. Mr. Ushiro's unconscious favoritism of Kana over Jun is driven home when he's devastated upon learning that Kana will be the next to die, and realizes that it hit him harder than Jun's death would have (since it's revealed that Jun isn't actually in the contract). In his last conversation with Jun, Jun apologizes for being a bad son, and Mr. Ushiro replies that isn't true— he's a bad father.
  • In Gakuen Babysitters, the parents are Good Parents who are very loving and caring to their children but are often away from them due to work. Yayoi doesn't like leaving Kirin for her drama club commitments and likewise, Kousuke is frustrated that his acting schedule forces him to spend long periods of time away from home.
  • I Think Our Son Is Gay: Akiyoshi spends most of his time away from his family on business and doesn't know very much about his own children, which causes him to make some Innocently Insensitive comments around his closeted son Hiroki. Nonetheless, he cares deeply about being a Good Parent and bonds well with them when he's home.
  • Musuko ga Kawaikute Shikataganai Mazoku no Hahaoya: As much as Lorem loves her son, it's blatantly clear from the start that motherhood doesn't come naturally to her. She's careless, socially awkward, clumsy, naive, and short-sighted. Because of this, she needs a great deal of help from Merii and Chiharu to properly care for him.
  • In Robotech, Max and Miria Sterling love their children, but have messed up big time with their oldest daughter Dana: when they joined the Robotech Expeditionary Force they did so to keep her safe from the Robotech Masters by fighting them away from Earth, so they left her behind with her never seen younger brother and had another daughter, Maia, during the voyage... And never bothered to tell her. On top of that the Masters bypassed the REF and attacked Earth anyway, and by the time they reunite Dana has fought against their invasion only to see Earth fall to the Invid due Earth's defenders and the Masters decimating each other and has been forced to flee. As a result, the comic "Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles" shows that Dana and Maia have a horrible relationship made out of the hatred Dana can't help feel for her sister and mutual sadness at the situation.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, this trope applies to Rui's parents. He was a sickly boy, and they tried their best to raise him well, only for him to come into contact with Muzan Kibutsuji, be turned into a demon and eat a human. In response, Rui's parents tried to kill him, which would ordinarily come off as a terrible thing to do, but they were planning on killing themselves as well in order to atone for their son's crime(not unlike what Tanjiro was told to do if his sister Nezuko ended up attacking a human) and join him in death. Rui later realizes that his anger over what his parents had done had caused him to misjudge them, and that he'd severed the genuine bond he'd had with them with his own hands.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman does truly love all of his children but since he’s an emotionally constipated Control Freak, he has trouble opening up to them. His only biological child, Damian, was introduced in Grant Morrison's Batman only for him to die in the pages of Final Crisis before they really got to be close. Dick Grayson became Batman in the interim and got promoted to being Damian’s dad and mentor. Dick being more of a Nice Guy, gets Damian to calm down and respect him much easier than Bruce ever did. By the time Bruce came back as Batman, he and Damian still clashed like crazy. Damian even lived with Dick for a little bit afterwards. The 2011 Batman and Robin series deals with them getting to know each other as both father and son and Batman and Robin. It takes them both a lot of time and work but they got there by the end of the series at issue #40.
  • In the Blue Devil comics, Kid Devil aka Eddie Bloomberg's parents were this to him, with his aunt Marla Bloom being the alternative parent and Blue Devil being a kind of surrogate uncle. His parents' neglect ended up having some effects on Eddie later in life when he joined the Teen Titans, making him very desperate to have a family.
  • Deadpool has a daughter who lives with foster parents. It's probably for the best, since he's been shown to be pretty neglectful and is an objectively terrible role model. However, he's also a Papa Wolf who dotes on her when he gets to see her and does sincerely try to be a good father.
  • General Ross has been presented chiefly as this sort of parent since the mid-80s in Hulk comics (as he is in the films, below). He loves Betty, but he's not equipped to get emotionally close to her, particularly not since the death of his wife, and his obsessions have often gotten between them. He's trying to reconnect with her these days, but it's not proving easy.
    • It's shown to be generational, as Ross's own father was a career officer who was rarely around.
  • PS238: Atlas is pretty much as you'd expect classic Superman to be as a father: Somewhat bumbling, well-intentioned and eager to show his superpowered son how to take part in the 'family business', but also chronically busy saving the world and somewhat uncomprehending of the fact that his son, Ron, is a slight Shrinking Violet who'd prefer to become a musician. Then he has to leave Ron behind to try and reform his still-existent, Evil Empire of a home world.
  • Recent interpretation of Lois Lane's father Sam to be in this light. He's a high ranking military officer, which frequently clashes with his daughter's career as a famous journalist who exposes corruption and dirty deeds of the government. He has hesitation about Superman - the man his daughter supports and is in love with.
  • Maus: Vladek is an obnoxiously stingy and controlling parent who works Art's last nerves on more than one occasion. But to be fair, Vladek's life was not easy: he lost his family (including his first born son) in the Holocaust, and lost his wife to a suicide. Art eventually accepts his father as an imperfect being.
  • The Knights of the Old Republic comic plays this for as much drama as it can. Krynda Draay, mother of the Big Bad, was a jedi seer who lived through the Great Sith War, and lost her husband in the process. As a seer, she blamed herself for failing to predict and prevent the war, which caused her to dedicate her life to training new seers afterward so that such a war could never come to pass again. This led to her neglecting her own son, Lucien, since he had no talent for Force Sight. Lucien thus grew up desperate for his mother's approval, leading to him slaughtering his own students when he believed it was what Krynda would have wanted.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Dad often remarks that he would've preferred to just get a dog. Mom generally keeps her game face on, but even she has her limits. In some fairness, Calvin is a Bratty Half-Pint who would definitely be a handful for most parents in general (while a lot of Alternative Character Interpretation theories abound that Calvin may have ADHD or be somewhere on the Autism Spectrum, two disorders that were way less known back in the strip's running days in the late 80s/early 90s), and even Bill Watterson did later express some regret at the way he depicted them (even though he's also remarked they're doing a lot better than he would've). Of course, a good deal of strips show that they do love Calvin at the end of the day; he's just hard to deal with at times. In short, they're ordinary people, and Calvin is extraordinary.
    • During the story arc where their house was broken into by burglars while they were away, several strips are devoted to Calvin's parents being shown as afraid and vulnerable. Calvin's dad discusses to his wife that he always believed parents were infallible and always knew what to do as a kid, but now a parent himself, he was a bit disappointed to discover the whole thing was improvised.
  • Baby Blues is a comic strip all about parenting, and it's not afraid to showcase the Warts and All aspect of the subject. As a result, while Darryl and Wanda always try to be Good Parents to Zoe, Hammie, and Wren, they are definitely not perfect. They're both capable of making mistakes, and even when they do have a handle on parenting, their life as a family is always going to be a little crazy...and they wouldn't have it any other way.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Although Ren Serizawa isn't a villain here like he was in MonsterVerse canon, what references we get still show his father the late Dr. Ishirō Serizawa was this. Serizawa genuinely loved and respected his son and wished him well in whatever choices he made, but besides being a bit of a When You Coming Home, Dad? guy, Serizawa couldn't help feeling closer to Vivienne Graham because they saw eye-to-eye more on Serizawa's passion for Godzilla and the Titans, and Ren couldn't help noticing this.
  • A major recurring theme of the Alexandra Quick series. None of the parents in the story have been shown to be outright Abusive Parents yet, but they all have significant flaws. The only parental figure that is close to ideal is Thalia King.
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Mary Jane wants nothing more than for May to live a happy, normal life. But after May develops powers and learns that her dad is Spider-Man, she's understandably cross that Mary Jane never told any of this to her. MJ also clamps down on any talk about superheroes, coming across as obstructive and unsupportive to May even though she just wants to keep May safe.
  • Orion and Walburga Black from The Black Sheep Dog Series. Sirius sees them as manipulative, power-hungry and bigoted tyrants and wants to have nothing to do with them. However, the series puts a painstaking effort to show that for all their flaws, both parents do love their wayward eldest son and wants him back in the family; it's just that Walburga's naturally astringent personality and Orion's closed-offness, in addition to their clashing ideas of what's good and bad, leads to communication problems that, more often than not, leads to hostile interactions.
  • Child of the Storm has a lot of these.
    • Wanda Maximoff, godmother of Harry, and (secretly) mother of Hermione by John Constantine, and she gave both of them up to protect them. It turns out that this was necessary, even though it broke her heart twice over.
      • With Hermione, she had her safely adopted by loving parents and cut off all contact for her protection, despite being in an awful situation and justly terrified for her daughter. However, her desire for a clean break and to keep the secret far past the point where it's practical (despite a number of warnings from characters who figure it out based on the chaos magic and increasing resembalance) or safe has disastrous consequences when Hermione's mutation, also Omega Class, manifests as the result of an exceptionally traumatic possession, where the monster that body-jacks her nearly kills Hermione and a lot of people around her. Her reaction is essentially My God, What Have I Done? mixed with It's All My Fault. Hermione rather agrees.
      • With Harry, it was both better and worse. On the one hand, as she puts it, she knew Hermione would be loved. Harry? Not so much. Plus, she was blocked off from taking him in by Strange, her teacher, on the same grounds - which, while logical, she bitterly resents him for. However, once she can take part in Harry's life, it's made clear that she adores him and is a loving and supportive Parental Substitute - something helped by the fact that Harry's pretty forgiving once he gets an explanation. But at the same time, this leaves Hermione feeling resentful of both the attention he got more or less unasked for and the implicit standard of tolerance he set, especially since he defends Wanda when Hermione really lays into her (Wanda, for her part, believes she deserves every bit of it).
    • It turns out to be generational: Wanda was believed to have been killed when newborn, along with her mother, so her father, Magneto, didn't find her until her chaos magic and mutation went nuts when she was about 12. While he protected her and wanted the best for her, he also handed her off to her teacher and foster-father, Doctor Strange, recognising that he couldn't help her and Strange could. Strange was an excellent teacher and clearly loves Wanda dearly, but despite his best efforts, was not at all suited to be a parent. Magneto, meanwhile, descended into total megalomania while she was under Strange's protection and guidance, and was The Dreaded and an absolute lunatic by the time she met him again. Combine that with Strange's routine omniscience and manipulative tendencies, involving the death of a number of people she cared about and the jerking around with her daughter and godson, and it's unsurprising that while she loves both of them deep down, she also bitterly resents them and is understandably sceptical of actions and motives, which they both understand and regret.
    • It's also generational in the Carter-Rogers family - Peggy had to pose as her daughter's older sister to protect her, and then vanished when said daughter, Alison, was 17. Alison, meanwhile, felt the pressure to live up to Peggy and Steve's legacy, and became a rising star at SHIELD, rising to Deputy Director and only realised she was neglecting her children after seeing the effects of Howard's Parental Neglect on Tony. She also ended up pushing her daughter, Marie, away when she Refused the Call. As she admits, "I was a much better spy than a mother."
      • Marie, in turn, ended up pushing away her own daughter, Carol Danvers, as she saw where her "scrappy little warrior-maiden" was going and tried to stop it. Not reining in her subtly psychologically abusive husband didn't help. Thankfully, she's reconciled with her mother, and does so with her daughter in the sequel, choosing to be supportive (and kicking said husband to the curb).
      • Plus, Steve understandably takes a while to adjust to the fact that at the mental age of 29, he has a fair number of descendants stemming from a slip in protection with Peggy (which he feels horribly guilty about). Later, he comes round and becomes Carol's 'dad'.
    • Odin is depicted as a well-meaning and genuinely loving father and grandfather... just one who's deeply emotionally stunted thanks to an abusive prick of a father, and consequently often bad at expressing it. The fact that he's bound by The Chains of Commanding doesn't help, nor does the fact that he's over 5000 years old - as is noted, the 10 years or so that Harry spent with the Dursleys are equivalent to about a month by his personal standard, and he wanted to keep Harry secret and thus relatively safe. He accepts his blame and apologises, but both his sons still weren't pleased at being forced to keep away from Harry (Thor by a mindwipe to keep him sane, Loki by his father's command), and Harry is explicitly noted to have forgiven, but not forgotten.
    • On the upside, it is noted that the characters in question tend to learn from their mistakes: despite Wanda's suspicion of her now Reformed, but Not Tamed father, she admits that he's being a model parent to her much younger half-sister, Lorna Dane (though she did pull him aside first and threaten him along the lines of "you will be a good father to her or else"), and Alison has learned to become an excellent grandmother.
  • In Superman story Superman of 2499: The Great Confrontation, Klar Kent clearly cares and does his best, but his failure to discipline Adam properly when his son brutalized a crook and reach him out afterwards leads to Adam becoming more twisted.
  • In the Katawa Shoujo fic Weekend at Hisao's, Shizune's father and Hisao's parents are seen in this light. Shizune is frustrated with her father's persistent attempts to get her to speak (in the fic, it's indicated that she can speak but sounds terrible), but sees that he wants her to succeed and appreciates that he doesn't treat her any differently from her non-disabled brother. Hisao says he didn't like his parents' frequent absences from his life due to working, but realizes that they worked so hard so that he could grow up in a nice house that they never had in their childhoods, and were willing to sell that house if it was necessary to cure his condition.
  • In the Mega Crossover Ultimate Re-Imaginings, Tony Stark is portrayed like this, even though Blair thinks he's neglectful and has made it more than clear if it wasn't for her adoptive mother she wouldn't have anything to do with him despite him trying to be a father. He's just not very good at it.
  • In X-Men: The Early Years, Jean Grey's folks are devoted parents who truly love their daughter, but their way to deal with the issues stemming from Jean's mutation is initially to try and keep the status quo with her powers being kept in check, then foist her on Xavier so they don't have to think about it - though Elaine, at least, is implied to practically recognise that they can't help her, and Xavier can, meaning that she takes the hard decision to send Jean away.
  • In Marie D. Suesse and the Mystery New Pirate Age!, Mar's parents have a troubled marriage at the start, before the Suesse family falls into the One Piece world. Her father, Garreth, often spends time at work to avoid having to come home, and Mar, at one point, believes that he has no serious desire to rescue her mother. Mar's mother, Blake, is strict with her, putting expectations on her that are difficult for her to meet. And yet, when Mar is separated from both of them after falling into the One Piece world, she can't help but miss them, in spite of their flaws.
  • Miraculous: The Phoenix Rises has Marvin, the only aversion of Adults Are Useless in the entire fanfic. Along with being Morgan's reluctant caretaker during her exile, he's also the adoptive father of Moof, a girl with enough emotional baggage to fill a cargo ship who he just barely rescued from the worst character in the story.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic The Twilight Child depicts Twilight Sparkle, of all people, as this. While she does care about her daughter, she also frequently fails to understand her interests and desires are different from Twilight's, causing the two to become increasingly distant as time goes on, eventually resulting in a very nasty argument between them. It doesn't help that Discord has caused some Laser-Guided Amnesia behind the scenes.
  • TRON: Endgame Scenario: Alan and Lora were this to Jet. Lora was stuck in Washington DC, trying to rebuild the Shiva laser while Alan was trying to put out all the fires Flynn left behind at Encom, run the Flynn Lives project, try to keep Sam in line, arrange the boys' futures, and so forth - which left little time and energy for Jet. As a result, Jet rebelled hard against his father's wishes until the F-Con incident.
  • The Potters in Princess of the Blacks truly want to reconcile with their daughter Jenny after learning they were wrong and she wasn't a squib. Unfortunately for them, Jen wants nothing to do with them at all and they can't seem to realize that. James in particular reacts poorly to anyone telling him Jen doesn't want to reconcile, even if it's Jen herself saying so.
  • In The Dark Trio, Lily and James are presented as well meaning parents who ultimately make a lot of bad decisions. They agreed to let Harry be raised by the Dursleys (who were actually willing to take him in, and only got their canon treatment because they were cursed by an escaped Death Eater out for revenge) due to Dumbledore's unfortunate advice to protect Harry from his brother's fame. When they reunite with Harry several years later, they really do want to reconcile with him, but Harry has a few reasons not to trust them.
  • Rumple is very much aware of how much he screwed up with his firstborn son Baelfire, and discovering he fathered another son in Dark Dynasty makes him fear he will repeat the same mistakes with Harry. Belle assures him he can be a good father, and even if he's really far from perfection, Rumple really does try.
  • Amanda's parents are a very negative case of this in Never Had a Friend Like Me. They clearly never wanted a child, and continue to maintain a lifestyle as young professionals, with their daughter tacked on as an afterthought and only given the necessities of life out of a sense of obligation.
  • The Potters in The Bloody Ashikabi never checked once on their eldest child after abandoning him with the Dursleys and outright became estranged from their daughter Ivy when she was sorted in Slytherin. However, they call out Dumbledore for entrusting Harry to a magic-hating couple when his abused past comes to light and when Ivy is almost raped at Hogwarts, James Potter refuses to be placated by Dumbledore's decision to lightly punish the culprits and announces he will go to the Aurors and the Board of Governors. Oh, and if Dumbledore isn't happy with it, James will take his children out of the school and let the old man explain WHY one of Britain's most respected families decided to quit.
  • In contrast to their portrayal in canon, Tommy AKA the Kangaskhan Kid's parents (known as Mr. and Mrs. Marshall) in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines are not perfect, but clearly care for their son's wellbeing and try their best. In fact, the incident that led to Tommy getting stuck in the Safari Zone was not because of neglect, but all a result of Mr. Marshall's attempts to make Tommy happy.
    • Ash's grandfather and namesake, Ashton Ketchum, was this to Delia. He loved her, but had some difficulties with interacting with people that did impact their relationship. The most notable example of this was Ash himself: Ashton never met Ash (having died before he was born), but he did want Delia to avert the Good Girls Avoid Abortion trope specifically because he didn't want her life utterly upturned by being a single mother. Delia implies that despite this, he would have liked Ash if they had met.
  • The Outside has Ragyo and, to a lesser extent, Satsuki (who's an older sister). Ragyo really cares about her daughters but, due to Satsuki's poor health, she coddled her a bit too much to the point of being doting and overprotective, leaving after a fight with her husband, which, after her husband's death, left her daughters to fend for themselves while she was unaware (until much later). In the latter case, while Satsuki genuinely cares for Ryuuko, it's made clear that she has a slew of issues that hasn't left her able to care for herself properly, let alone her sister.
  • Battle Fantasia Project: Yuuki Yamaguchi dumped poor Akiko into juvenile hall, and basically tried to forget about her. But he was a consummate professional who wanted to live up to his father's reputation, and Akiko would not reveal the reason for all her fights and bruises, which were shredding his family's good name.
  • The Stalking Zuko Series has Hakoda. Having been separated from his children, Katara and Sokka, for most of the series, he's trying to make up for lost time, which often involves fairly embarrassing attempts to be a "cool dad." More seriously, though, he doesn't fully understand how much Sokka and Katara have changed in his absence (particularly how Katara can no longer simply accept the Southern Water Tribe's patriarchal traditions), and takes his children keeping secrets from him poorly.
  • The Tyrant and the Hero: Alice VII genuinely wants to be a good parent to her children, but isn't sure how. She takes a stern and distant approach with them as a result.
  • SAO: Mother's Reconciliation: Kyouko truly does love her children, and tries to act in what she believes are their best interests, but her methods, which include trying to constantly control their lives and ensure they constantly study, get good grades, and marry a suitor of her choosing, do nothing but make them resent her. Shouzou even calls Kyouko out on it in chapter 15, stating her actions have done more harm than good and if it makes Asuna hate them for it, then it's not worth it.
  • Howard Stark in the Second Chances Series admits that he was a terrible father but it was largely due to a combination of his poor people skills and the demands of running a multimillion dollar business. Even times he deliberately avoided Tony was because he knew things would devolve into a fight and was trying to avoid that. When the reconcile, Tony realizes that his relationship with his father was so terrible because they're exactly alike.
  • Stoick in Persephone truly did love his son and is stunned when Hiccup tells him he thinks he was only Loving a Shadow when he thought Hiccup was excelling in dragon-training. Valka's relationship with her son is only slightly better. Astrid's parents agreed to Stoick's decision to sacrifice her out of desperation and pressure from (almost) the entire village to do so, though they regret the decision even before it becomes apparent that it didn't work. Relationships are strained, to say the least.
  • Some of the conflict in Secret Sunshine is implied to be related to this on Satsuki's end. From what can be said, she does care about her daughter, Kiko, but, if her telling her sister, "I know but I'm not ready for any of this." is a clue, she wasn't ready for motherhood and, so, didn't want to deal with the responsibilities, foisting them onto Ryuuko.
    • Ryuuko has some shades of this, too, as, like Satsuki, she wasn't ready to raise a child and, while she loves her niece and can't picture life without her, she still has her own issues (among other things) to contend with and is pretty overwhelmed, especially when it comes to taking care of Kiko and herself.
  • In A Pink Planet, Pink Diamond possesses fears that she would make a poor mother to Steven. She questions why he would want her around when Greg, Pearl and her various other servants would be able to see to his needs much better than she ever could. Greg assures her that being there would be enough and that she would be better at it then Yellow, Blue and White were to her.
  • A Bolt of Light shows Barry being very critical towards the Queens' parenting, noting they let their children getting away with anything without trying to discipline them. She still empathizes with Robert's Heroic Sacrifice, assuring any loving parent would die to save his child's life.
  • I Hope You Have Unlimited Text Messaging:
    • Tony was already fully aware of his parents' faults, but learning that their Parental Neglect wasn't because they didn't love him but because they were trying to protect him (HYDRA was performing multiple assassination attempts on Howard; after the third one — which killed Ana Jarvis — the Starks sent Tony off to boarding school for his own safety, without telling him why) complicates his already-screwed up issues with them, which he has to work through during therapy.
    • Steve suffers from this too. After he woke up from the ice, he learned (via dossier, of all things) that he had a 78-year old half-sister through his father. The same father who he thought had died during World War I. After things through, and remembering things such as his parents arguing and his father hitting his mother, Steve realizes that his mother actually lied to everyone about that after his parents divorced, and Steve, being so young, just accepted that as truth and never thought back on it. While he isn't happy with the situation, he ultimately can't blame his mother for doing what she did considering the time period, and it doesn't diminish his high opinion of her in the least.
  • To Hell and Back (Arrowverse):
    • Malcolm Merlyn is a terrorist and a former assassin, but he does love Tommy and Oliver. However, his inability to move on from Rebecca's death and obsession with avenging it via the Undertaking means he makes a poor parent. He neglects Tommy and rarely gives him any positive reinforcement, causing Tommy to become a "Well Done, Son!" Guy. As for Oliver, he tries to overcompensate the amount of time they spend together and favors him due to the guilt of both unwittingly neglecting him all his life and stranding him on Lian Yu after sinking the Gambit. That's not even counting for the fact that he's doing this when Oliver has no idea of their blood relation, nor the fact that Malcolm can't tell him due to the Queens threatening to expose the Undertaking otherwise.
    • Slade honestly loves all his kids, but being a Mirakuru-infused top agent means he can't really be a part of their lives. Grant has no idea he exists, he was forced to abandon Joe to save him from Amanda Waller (causing Joe to be obsessed with killing her in revenge), and his unwilling separation with his adoptive Lian Yu kids landed them in the laps of the League of Assassins. Even after he reunited with the latter, he's busy with constant missions and rarely has any time to spend with them.
    • Astra loves Kara, but is also a racist general who is obsessed with completing Myriad and implementing it on Earth to make up for failing to save Krypton. She is also in love with and married to Non, who hates Kara. Understandably, Kara is not keen on continuing their loving aunt/niece-maternal relationship when she finds out what Astra has been up to, even though she still loves Astra deep down.
  • Joe Danvers from A Prize for Three Empires unquestionably loves and cares for his daughter Carol Danvers, but he is an old-fashioned man who can't understand why Carol would want to become a career soldier instead of a housewife. To his credit, he's at least trying.
    Joe Danvers: Does that suit have to be that small?
    Carol Danvers: All the fashion these days, Dad. I hope you understand.
    Joe: I’m not sure. But I guess we’ll have to live with it.
  • In X-Men 1970, Cyclops is angry with Professor Xavier's manipulations, but he still thinks his surrogate father tried to do his best, and all told, he was a pretty decent father.
    "For five years, and more," he said, "I was father to all of you."
    "And you did a good job," Scott continued. "I can't say you were perfect, but no dad is. And I needed that. I'm the only orphan here, Prof."
  • Hinata has this opinon of her father in I Am NOT Going Through Puberty Again!. He may have never shown her much affection and been incredibly strict, but he was genuinely trying to do what he felt was best for her. Being a mother herself, she has a much better understanding of him now than she did when she was a child.
  • I am [REDACTED]: Hisashi's absence from his family's lives is described as this. He truly does love his wife and son, but stays and works in America so they can live comfortably. Reconnecting with Hisashi was one of the reasons why Izuku elected to study in America instead of going to UA.
  • born of hell('s kitchen):
    • Foggy furiously rants about Sister Maggie letting her freshly-orphaned, freshly-handicapped son sink into self-destruction and poor anger management without even trying to support the boy, which leads Matt to slightly cool down regarding his mother. Nonetheless, Sister Maggie is aware she failed as a parent, concedes Matt has a right to be angry, and genuinely wants to build a good relationship with him and be a good grandmother to Matt's son.
    • May Parker loved her adopted nephew with all her heart, but she was unprepared to deal with a superpowered preteen and her advice to keep it secret or else heavily contributed to Peter's anxiety and fragile self-esteem.
    • Matt and Jess themselves are desperately aware they're messed up and terrified of messing the tiny human being they created together. This awareness leads them to ask for help and advice regarding their issues, so they can work on it and become the parents Peter deserves.
  • Such a Doting Father focuses on the struggles of a reimagined Enji and Rei Todoroki to be both parents and pro heroes at the same time.
  • In Origin of a Non-Hero, Izuku and Ochaco unintentionally neglect their son as they focus upon their work as Pro Heroes. However, Shikinori sympathizes with their stance, worrying that his desire to have a better relationship with them is Secretly Selfish. The fact that Izuku honestly regrets how he's hurt his family makes it even harder for Shiki to reconcile his complicated feelings on the matter.
  • If I Could Start Again: Odin loves both his sons, but how he raised them caused a number of problems. He openly praised Thor in ways that led to him gaining his infamous ego that would've caused the second coming of Hela had Thor not learned humility on Earth, while he inadvertently left Loki starved for the acknowledgement of his father. He understands the mistakes he made and seeks to do better.
  • Us and Them: Much of the side stories deals with Aeris and Sephiroth, and pretty much anyone else who has kids, learning how to and how not to deal with them, such as Seph using Sleep and Silence materia to crowd control his kids, Aeris using a garden hose to break up fights, since she's not strong enough to do it herself, and Shera kicking Cid every time he swears in front of their daughter, which she quickly has to stop because said daughter starts kicking Cid herself.
  • In Natural Selection, Isshin Matoi/Soichiro Kiryuin shows in his POV chapter that he does deeply love his children, but he was at a crossroads where he had to choose between them and prioritizing his work with Nudist Beach, where he chose the latter. He's shown to constantly hate himself for this decision due to being forced to see what became of his children because of it. In spite of his predicament, he still does everything he can to save Ryuko and Satsuki.
  • one day at a time:
    • Jason warns Damian of this for when he finally meets Bruce. Later commentary on Original Bruce's parenting made it clear that while he loved his children, he was not a good parent. His emotional constipation, and more importantly, his refusal to grow past it led to him neglecting and even abusing his children on both the emotional and physical level. It's implied that his children eventually grew sick of it and cut him out of their lives until he finally got his act together. When Jason confronts him over this during his Near-Death Experience, Bruce has enough self-awareness to fully admit that he was a terrible father and apologize to his son for everything he put him through.
    Jason: Expect greatness when you meet him, but never perfection. He might be a great man, but he is still just that — a man.
    • He also tells Damian the same thing about Talia. According to Jason, while Damian shouldn't disregard everything Talia has taught him, he should take into account that his mother was trying to reconcile her love for Ra's and her love for Bruce (two figures with diametrically opposing ideologies) when teaching him. Indeed, while Talia did her best with Damian considering the circumstances, in the end she is even more damaged than he is and ultimately can't be the mother he needs right now. That is why she elects to leave at the end of the story; without Ra's, she has no idea who she is anymore, and that is something she needs to figure out on her own.
    • David Cain is a nuanced case. While there is no question he was horrifically abusive to Cass, he also provided her more emotional support than any of her siblings' biological and even adoptive parents ever did. He did genuinely love her, but he was also Vicariously Ambitious, and thus projected his desire to have the perfect assassin as a partner through her, convincing himself that having her 'fulfill' her destiny is what was best for her. In the end, however, his love for her won out, and he gave his life to save hers and finally allow her the chance to live her own life.
    • Crystal Brown loves her daughter, but she's also a Triple Shifter and a recovering drug addict, so she doesn't have a lot of time for Stephanie. This is one of the reasons why Stephanie bonds so easily with the Waynes.
    • Even Jason himself fell into this. While by all accounts he was a model father and adored by his children, the trauma over losing so much of his family made his overprotective instinct go in overdrive, sometimes to said children's detriment. Flashbacks show that his daughter Helena was deeply annoyed by this to the point of causing at least one argument between them, and it nearly caused him to alienate both his sister Cass and his son Terry.
  • The Moon's Flash Princess has Lux' parents: being wealthy and knowing their daughter is traumatized from the SAO incident, the moment they caught on Lux' attraction for Minako, who is quite unconventional and doesn't hold a steady job they decided to protect her from the supposed Gold Digger, and started trying to set her up into an Arranged Marriage. Word of God is that they have no idea Minako doesn't need any money, and they don't realize Minako either has no idea Lux is in love with her or just pretends due their age difference (Lux being sixteen and Minako in her twenties).
  • In The Day After You Saved the Multiverse, Jerome and Naomi Kent truly care for their son and want what's best for him, but they do not know how to handle the fact that he has mysteriously gained Superboy-like powers which he intends to use, even at the expense of his safety. They do not want him to get hurt, but he refuses to stop helping people, and they are afraid that he will cut their relationship if they push him too much or the wrong way.
  • The Persona 5 fanfic A Year To Fill An Empty Home follows Akira Kurusu a.k.a. Joker's parents and how they cope with a year separated from their son. They're unquestionably Good Parents and they love their son unconditionally with all their heart, but their initial passiveness causes issues throughout their character arcs and ends up straining their relationship with Akira. Specifically, because they were too passive to question the details of the non-contact order, they labored under the mistaken impression that trying to contact Akira would violate his parole and send him to jail, so they remained out of contact with him for the entire year, which led Akira to believe that they abandoned him.
  • In The Silver Raven, Lilith Clawthorne very much loves her son, Nero, and wants only the best for him, but she often struggles to relate to him due to their differing personalities and has a tendency to be overly protective of him.

    Films — Animation 
  • Barbie movies:
    • In Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus, Princess Annika's parents are overprotective, but it's revealed that this is largely because an evil sorcerer previously cursed their eldest daughter to be a pegasus when she was around the same age as Annika after she rejected his marriage proposal, and they haven't seen her since. Her parents are terrified that the same might happen to Annika.
    • King Randolph in Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses loves his twelve daughters unconditionally, calling them the "best part of [his] life", but he's often overwhelmed by their antics and energy, and believes they need a maternal presence to guide them in the absence of their late mother, Queen Isabella. Unfortunately, his choice for said maternal guardian is his treacherous cousin Rowena.
  • Cartoon Saloon:
    • Abbot Cellach from The Secret of Kells is technically Brendan's uncle, but he's still the closest thing to a father figure Brendan has. While he can be very strict and harsh towards his nephew to the point of locking him in his room to punish him, he still cares for Brendan, making sure to send him breakfast and being devastated when he thinks Brendan was killed in a Viking attack.
    • Conor from Song of the Sea does love both his children, but his grief over his wife's disappearance makes him emotionally unavailable a lot of the time, and his doting on Saoirse makes Ben feel like The Unfavorite. He eventually feels inadequate enough as a parent to let his mother take his children away to live with her in the city.
    • Bill Goodfellowe from Wolfwalkers clearly loves his daughter Robyn, but he still insists on her staying in town and going to work in the scullery despite how much she hates doing both and would rather go hunting with him. This is driven by his desire to keep her safe like he promised his wife, and also because he's scared of losing her if either of them disobey the Lord Protector.
  • Flint's father Tim in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs does care for Flint and is proud of him but simply has a hard time expressing it properly to Flint, ending up seemingly callous and uncaring to Flint's career choices and successes. Meanwhile, Flint desperately wants his father to acknowledge him and is frustrated when his father doesn't say so.
  • Coraline's parents are too busy trying to move into a new house and meet a publishing deadline to cater to their bored daughter—as her mother points out, she is old enough to entertain herself. What she finds when she goes exploring is more than enough to make her appreciate her lovingly boring parents. The book has a similar vibe, but Coraline's mother is harsh and unsympathetic, while her father is loving, but too distracted to pay much attention.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • In Frozen, the King and Queen meant well but understandably did not know how to handle a daughter with vast magical powers and an anxiety disorder. Their attempts to keep her isolated from everyone and telling Elsa to "conceal, not feel" prevented disaster in the short-term but they also strained the once close bond between their children and left them both with issues. Worse, the psychological toll this had on Elsa ensured that when she did eventually lose control she would lose it to such a degree that the entire kingdom was threatened. The sequel reveals that they were killed trying to find someone who could help them understand Elsa's powers.
    • Judy's parents in Zootopia have a loving, supportive relationship with their daughter, but they wish she would choose a safer career. They mean well but they do acknowledge and advise to a young Judy that it's near impossible for her to be a police officer and try to attempt to convince her to "settle" and be a carrot farmer instead. While they're honestly relieved that Judy is only a meter maid, Judy, who had higher aspirations, is not happy to hear their reactions.
    • Moana's father Chief Tui loves her very much and wholeheartedly believes that she'll be capable of leading the people of Motunui when she becomes the next Chief. However, because of his Dark and Troubled Past where his best friend drowned in a storm when the two of them recklessly stole a fishing boat and sailed beyond the reef as teens, he actively discourages Moana from her desires to wayfind despite being fully aware of her fascination for it because he fears that his only child might suffer the same fate if she tries it.
    • In Encanto, Abuela Alma has demanding attitude toward her children and grandkids. Mirabel calls her out for turning them all into Stepford Smilers and driving Bruno away, but this has severe consequences. Ultimately Mirabel realizes that Alma, who founded Encanto as a widowed refugee, was motivated by fear of losing everything again, while Alma admits to losing sight of the fact that the family, rather than their magic, is the real "miracle" in her life.
  • Dreamworks Animation:
    • King Harold in Shrek 2 clearly loves his daughter Fiona very much, but he also has his own views of what a happily ever after for a princess should be. Not only that, he has a secret Deal with the Devil that involved his daughter entering an Arranged Marriage with the son of the Fairy Godmother and breaking this pact has serious consequences. He does eventually have a Heel–Face Turn when he sees how unhappy Fiona is without Shrek as well as seeing just how low the Fairy Godmother and Charming were willing to stoop, realizing he was wrong to impose upon her free will and that being with Shrek is what truly makes Fiona happy.
    • Kung Fu Panda:
      • Shifu loved and spoiled his adopted son Tai Lung, having been convinced Tai Lung would be the Dragon Warrior and unfortunately neglected to teach him humility and the spiritual side of kung-fu. So when Oogway denied Tai Lung the dragon scroll and Shifu did not step in to defend or comfort him, Tai Lung took Shifu's silence as a withdrawl of unconditional love and that he needed to become the Dragon Warrior to be worthy of Shifu's love at any cost.
      • Even when Shifu adopted Tigress, he acted far more coldly and aloofly towards her, in an attempt not to repeat the same mistake as he had with Tai Lung. However, this made him often criticize Tigress, along with his other pupils, far more harshly if they did not meet his incredibly high standards.
      • Mr. Ping is usually a Good Parent to his adopted son Po and is very supportive of him. However in the third film, he displays signs of jealousy and fear that Po's biological father Li Shan might try to steal Po away from him.
      • Li Shan is naturally afraid for Po when he sees Po fighting, having been reunited with his long-lost son after twenty years and doesn't want to lose him again. This causes him to lie to Po about teaching him to mastering chi and bringing him to the panda village to hide him from Kai in a futile attempt to protect him. This actually sours his relationship with Po until Mr. Ping helps him through it.
  • Rick in The Mitchells vs. the Machines wants to connect with his daughter. Unfortunately, he doesn't understand technology at all, whereas Katie's passion lies in filmmaking. The split between them is not either's fault, and it's simply a matter of having completely different interests.
  • Pixar:
    • Bob and Helen in The Incredibles love their kids and normally are doting parents to them, but that doesn't stop Bob's desire to return to superheroics from causing issues. In the sequel, Bob's attempt at being a House Husband doesn't work out very well and he ends up making Violet's problems worse, but he's genuinely trying to help them. He even admits to Violet that he thinks he's being a bad father.
    • Brave: Queen Elinor is very dedicated to her role as queen, running the kingdom of Scotland and following tradition to a fault to ever notice that Merida feels trapped in such a rigid environment that doesn't allow her to do her own choices. Due to this clash of ideas the two fight and lead to the main plot of the movie.
    • Riley's parents from Inside Out are somewhere between here and straight-up Good Parents. It's shown that they're usually the latter — being affectionate, attentive, and compassionate caregivers — but they're not perfect. The bumpy move to San Francisco at the start of the movie (combined with Dad's stressful new job) has them distracted and stressed, and they make a couple major missteps. Most notably, Mom thanks Riley for being so understanding and cheerful in the face of the move, acknowledging that it's difficult for everyone... but then says that if they can just try and stay positive for Dad, it'd be a huge help to him. She obviously didn't mean to, but this encourages Riley to not only mask her sadness, but try not to feel it at all, which leads to her making some pretty bad choices. Fortunately, when Riley breaks down sobbing towards the end of the movie and admits she just can't pretend to be happy right now, her parents immediately realize their mistake and comfort her.
    • Explored in Coco where the story shows that parents and adults are like any other human being and can make mistakes, all while their ultimate goal is to support and protect their family.
      • When Miguel's grandmother Elena isn't doting on him, she harshly lectures him for having any love of music, not out of malice but because she is afraid that Miguel would lose sight of his family and abandon them like his great-great grandfather had.
      • Miguel's father also continues the Riveras' generation-long stance against music and wishes his son would follow in their footsteps. When Elena destroys Miguel's guitar, he looks horrified but can't bring himself to stop his mother, leading to Miguel running away.
      • Imelda has nothing but fierce love for her family but her stubbornness and refusal to let go of grudges causes problems for Miguel, especially when she tries to force him to give up music for good in exchange of getting her blessing to return to the land of the living.
      • As it turns out, Hector did not mean to abandon his family. He left to be a musician to make money for them and loved his daughter with all his heart. Unfortunately, his partner did not take him wanting to go home lightly.
  • Sing:
    • Meena's family are shown to be loving and supportive of her but their attempts to encourage and push her to pursue a singing career has the unfortunate effect of putting a lot of pressure of the already shy Meena. This is especially noticable with her grandfather, who is one of Meena's biggest supporters but has a tendency to be abrasive towards her stage fright.
    • Rosita loves her husband and 25 children with all her heart, but she feels consumed with taking care of them and wants to re-ignite her dream of being a star. That's the reason why she auditions for the singing competition in the first place.
    • Her husband, Norman, is a loving husband and father who truly appreciates his family, but he is a Workaholic who works 12-14 hours a day and is often fatigued and distracted as a result.
  • Turning Red has a major focus on the parental relationship of Mei Lee and Ming Lee. Ming tries to be a perfect parent while Mei tries to be the perfect daughter. It doesn't take long, however, for it to become apparent that Ming is a helicopter parent who doesn't listen to Mei and assumes she knows best at all times. This is then further explained when it becomes apparent that Ming has unresolved issues with her own mother. During the climax of the film, Mei finds a teenage Ming in the astral plane and sees her emotionally break down. Mei, for the first time, sees that her mother's behavior is due to the fact that her grandmother expected the same of Ming, and after a serious argument that resulted in injury to her own mom, Ming has never forgiven herself for being imperfect.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The parents in the documentary Abducted in Plain Sight are so trusting, so naive and so concerned with their own wants and needs it leads to unspeakable tragedy for their eldest daughter.
  • In Before Midnight, Jesse and Celine are shown as parents who try very hard and love their kids to bits but ultimately are flawed and imperfect at being parents. Celine later confesses how ashamed she was of being clueless as the mom of their daughters and making mistakes and how she felt she was supposed to be instinctual and a natural at this parenting thing. Also, Jesse totally steals a half-eaten apple from his sleeping daughter!
  • An early (and light-hearted)example in the 1948 A Date with Judy starring Jane Powell, a young Elizabeth Taylor, and Robert Stack has the protagonist and her best friend having these in their fathers—-Judy's father being a stodgy man set in his ways who she suspects is undergoing a scary midlife crisis and affair (he's really receiving dance lessons from Carmen Miranda) and Liz Taylor's character has a wealthy father who is a workaholic whose kids use their butler as a father figure. The girls lament to each other in one scene that "parents are a lot of work" and then leads to a musical scene where Judy is reading a book titled Are Parents People?
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • The Kents as they appear in Man of Steel and later, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, unlike most depictions of Clark's adoptive parents who tend to have perfectly instilled wisdom; here they admit that they are making up much of what they do as it comes since neither of them was prepared for accidentally adopting an alien child with immense power.
    • Billy's mother in SHAZAM! (2019). His memory of her showed an ideal if not perfect mom. But once he reunited her after ten years, Billy was faced with the truth that she was a flawed single parent trying to raise a child on her own with no support and that she knowingly abandoned him so she could have a better life.
    • In Zack Snyder's Justice League, Victor's father Silas is Married to the Job to the detriment of his son's life and it's strongly implied he never went to any of Victor's football games to support him and Victor just wanted his father's approval. After Victor's fateful car accident, Silas managed to save him using a Mother Box but Victor had nothing but resentment towards his father as Victor felt his father transformed him into a monster.
    • The original Ratcatcher in The Suicide Squad. His drug addiction was so bad that he and Cleo lived on the streets and used their rats to steal from people, and he eventually died of an overdose. Despite this he was clearly a very loving father, providing some of the most poignant scenes in the film. Cleo comments that while she knows he was flawed, she still wishes that Robert/Bloodsport had grown up with someone like him rather than his own horrible father. And of course, Robert himself takes the job to help his daughter...despite their one scene together largely consisting of them screaming "FUCK YOU!" at each other.
  • In The Descendants, Matt is a workaholic who struggles to connect with his two daughters after his wife goes into a coma. His wife Elizabeth is a self-absorbed adrenaline junkie who cheated on her husband and her refusal to admit her affair when her oldest daughter caught her only caused a lot of problems for said daughter.
  • James Reid from The Green Hornet is a very good example. He was a well renowned publisher, a strong believer in a free press which costs him his life at the hands of the corrupt DA Scanlon , and beloved by his employees. He was also a widower with a young son who had problems in school. Mr. Reid's response was to treat him with contempt, even in a case of self-defense. The result was a young, lazy playboy with no respect for any of the values James preaches. Over the course of the movie, however, Britt comes to learn about more about what his father believed in, and while still thinking he was a lousy dad, he was still a respectable human being, enough to put the head back on his statue.
  • In the earlier Hulk film, General Ross wanted to be a part of Betty's life but couldn't because of his work. He also disapproved of her relationship with Bruce, but only because he knew about Bruce's abusive parents and wanted to keep her safe. By the end of the film, Betty's house, phone, and computer are being monitored in case Bruce ever attempts to contact her, but the two of them make an effort to stay on good terms.
  • Joan Carlyle in Ice Princess. She clearly loves Casey very much, and she reveals that she feels guilty about not being rich enough to give Casey the life she wanted to, even though they have a comfortable home and Casey is perfectly content with their lifestyle. However, she also has a very specific plan for Casey's life and doesn’t take her feelings on it into consideration, and is shown to be just as controlling as Tina Harwood is to her daughter, just in a different way. She pushes Casey to pursue a career in science rather than her passion for figure skating because “there’s no shelf life on your mind”, while most pro athletes are done by their thirties. It’s also shown that she has some unresolved jealousy issues towards pretty or “glamorous” women from her school days so she is reflexively against Casey doing anything stereotypically feminine even if it makes her happy. She comes around at the end of the movie, but is still a little overbearing, arguing with her coach and insisting she take college classes part time while competing.
  • The reason Cobb in Inception took Saito's job was so he could return to America to see his children. Mal was like this too, but after being unable to tell reality from dreaming, she committed suicide, believing herself in a dream, so she could be with her children again, not realizing she was already in the real world. Or was she?
  • The Incredible Melting Man. Despite being Comic Relief, Judy's mother is having an affair with a man she's not married to. They joke and snark around with each other in a loving way. Even for The '70s, it was an unusual to depict older unmarried couples having an active sex life.
  • Jumanji:
    • Alan's father Sam may appear aloof and strict to his son but he clearly loves Alan and spends the rest of his life trying to find him after he disappeared and Sam would eventually die of grief.
    • Nora is having a hard time raising her niece and nephew after they lost their parents. She does care for them and is very concerned about them when she realized they are in danger but she doesn't have an idea how to raise two troubled children.
  • Juno uses this Trope to a degree. The title character's parents are divorced, leaving her with her Dad, step-mom, and half-sister. She hasn't seen her mom in years, only communicating through letters, and her Dad and stepmom don't exactly react too horrified or shocked when they hear she's pregnant, aside from Dad proclaiming an intent to punch the boy who did it in the balls. At the same time, Juno's stepmom sticks up for her in the doctor's office when an x-ray tech makes a passing insult, and when she's feeling doubtful about a potentially serious relationship, her Dad is there to offer some good advice (albeit admitting that as a divorcee, he isn't the best person to give it).
  • Zach and Gray's parents in Jurassic World are this. They send their children on a vacation without them to see their aunt and enjoy themselves, while they quietly arrange for a divorce, trying to hide the fact from their children.
  • King George V in The King's Speech is strict and harsh to his younger son Albert who has a speech impediment, especially when he was younger where George was a bit of a Jerkass towards him. But because his oldest son is shirking his duties, he knows that Albert may eventually have to take over his duties as a king (whether Albert wants it or not) and he is trying, in his own way, to fix Albert's stuttering. On his deathbed, he does approve of Albert as king but he never actually told Albert.
  • Difficulty in motherhood is the central theme of The Lost Daughter. The film slowly reveals Leda's struggles in raising her daughters. Her (now ex-)husband evidently left the bulk of the raising to her, a grad student, who slowly became more and more frazzled and frustrated with them. Eventually it became too much and she abandoned them for three years to have an affair with another professor. In the present day, the precise relationship she has with them is unclear, and she's conflicted over the choices she made. As she puts it, she's very selfish.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • General Ross from The Incredible Hulk (2008) has a few moments where he seems to care about his daughter Betty but most of his life and time is devoted to capturing the Hulk. In fact, in his determination to subdue the Hulk, his actions nearly got Betty killed at one point. Psychiatrist Dr Samson points out to him how he was lying when he said Betty's safety was his main concern.
      Dr Samson: "I never knew why she never talked about you… I do now."
    • Thor, Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok: Odin's parental skills leave a great deal to be desired and caused many of the problems and insecurities associated with Thor and Loki, which in turn snowballed into major conflicts such as Loki's invasion of Earth. That being said Odin loves both of his sons deeply and in his last moments made sure to tell them this in spite of everything Loki had done.
    • Ant-Man:
      • The aging Hank Pym had a strained relationship with his daughter, Hope, for not telling her the details of her mother's death. Because of this, Hope defected to Darren Cross when he took over Pym Industries until she found out Cross is not a nice man. Despite returning to her father, she's still angry at him particularly for choosing a con-man, Scott Lang, to take the Ant-Man mantle instead of her. Then it turns out that Hank is just trying to protect her because he doesn't want her to end like her mother who made a Heroic Sacrifice during their mission. In the end, they made up and Hank decided to let Hope inherit The Wasp mantle from her mother.
      • Scott Lang is an ex-con struggling to find work so he can help in taking care of his daughter, Cassie. Though Cassie loved him, his ex-wife thought that Scott is a very irresponsible parent.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: By his own admission, Yondu Udonta wasn't the best parental figure to a young Peter Quill: as a Ravager, one who had participated and/or bore witness to much of the darkness of the underbelly of the intergalactic community, he was hardly someone that should aspire to fatherhood. He could be harsh and he could be cruel at times. But when it came down to it, he loved Peter, and raised him that way so he could survive even without Yondu by his side, against any enemies that might come his way — such as Peter's biological father. As final proof of his love, he dies saving Peter's life, an act that makes Peter realize that Yondu, for all his faults, was the father he had been searching for all his life.
      Yondu: I'm sorry I didn't do none of it right, but I'm damn lucky you're my boy.
    • Black Panther (2018): T'Chaka was a good father to T'Challa, but far from a perfect person. This just makes it harder when T'Challa is confronted with the aftermath of his father's actions, such as orphaning and abandoning his cousin. However, despite both this and denouncing his father's traditionalism, T'Challa never stopped loving him, as seen when he proudly declares himself "son of T'Chaka" in The Stinger of his solo film.
    • Howard Stark is eventually revealed to be this. While he definitely could have done a better job as a father, Avengers: Endgame shows that at the end of the day, he did love Tony, even if he was terrible at showing it. When Tony travels back in time and runs into a young Howard, Howard reveals that he is overjoyed to be a father but also terrified that his child would end up like him and just plain don't know how to raise a child. It is this open conversation about the fear of failing children that allows Tony, who is a now a father himself, to finally accept his father truly cared for him in his own way.
  • Regina's stepmother in Mean Girls. She is so desperate to be the "cool mom" to her stepdaughter that she effectively spoils Regina rotten, letting her get away with anything, and contributes heavily to Regina's lack of respect to other people.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • In Godzilla (2014), Joe Brody spends fifteen years obsessed with trying to discover the truth about his wife's death and as a result, was a less-than-stellar parent to his estranged son Ford.
    • Mark Russell. In Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), he was too much of a jerk to practically everyone around him except his ex-wife and daughter to count for this trope, but in Godzilla vs. Kong, he's become a case of this after gaining custody of Madison as her sole surviving parent. Although he really does care a lot about his daughter and thinks he's doing what's best for her, he's a bit of a Fantasy-Forbidding Father and My Beloved Smother who wants her to stay out of Titan issues so he doesn't have to worry about her life, and his parenting involves projecting his own idea of what would be an ideal childhood (sending her to public school and ignoring her continuous complaints about how miserable she is there, when she's spent most of her life before this point being homeschooled by her mother and Monarch colleagues) instead of actually making any attempt to understand her differences from him.
  • Over the Edge: The parents of New Grenada pretty much built not only their lives, but their town around their lives and careers. Their children, left in a town without much to do, were driven to delinquency, and the solutions their parents proposed only made things much worse.
  • Herc Hansen from Pacific Rim is a good man and is trying hard to be a good father but he and his son Chuck suffer from poor communication and trauma from when Herc had the Sadistic Choice of either saving his son or wife during a Kaiju attack. Chuck is implied to have Survivor's Guilt in regards to his father saving him over his mother and resents Herc as a result.
  • Harry Goodman in Pokémon Detective Pikachu by all accounts is a decent and kind man, albeit flawed, but is a distant father to Tim who spent more time with his work and Pokemon than with his son, especially after the untimely death of his wife. However, he made attempts to patch things up and reach out to Tim, only that Tim was so hurt by his earlier absence that he had refused to meet with Harry or give him a chance. It wasn't until after Harry seemingly died and he was restored to his own body, that both Tim and Harry reconciled.
  • Rags: Kadee's father is also the CEO of Majesty Records, meaning that while he's a loving father who genuinely wants his daughter to succeed and be happy, he's also constantly busy, focused on the business side of her music, and eventually has to learn that she needs him to act more like a father than a manager.
  • In the stupid Mexican kids' movie Santa Claus, presented as a Christmas episode of MST3K, one of the children Santa visits is a little boy whose socialite parents literally needed Santa to drug them in order for them to remember that they have a kid.
  • In Searching, David is a loving father but when his wife Pamela died, he's too consumed by his own grief to realize that his daughter is having difficulty coping too and both become distant. All of this hinders his search to find Margot when she goes missing because David knows so little about her and he has to go through her social media to find answers.
  • The Secret Garden:
    • Mary's parents are hopelessly self-absorbed people who accidentally abandon their daughter during an earthquake because they forgot about her.
    • For that matter, Uncle Archibald would also count. He loves his son and sees to it that he has the best care, but is so driven to grief over his wife Lillias's death and the fear that Colin inherited his hunchback condition that he is almost never home at all. This is also the case when he becomes Mary's guardian. He sees her exactly once before the end of the story, but when he meets her, he makes sure that she has everything she needs to be well looked after.
  • The Squid and the Whale: Joan and Bernard aren't the most attentive parents because they're going through a lot in their own lives, which the film gives attention to. Joan has an active dating life, and is a rising literary star, while Bernard is struggling with his writing career and seems to be having a mid-life crisis of identity.
  • Kylo Ren/Ben Solo in Star Wars' The Force Awakens is implied to have a troubled relationship with his parents. Leia Organa and Han Solo are seen by the rest of the world as heroes but Kylo has a hard time reconciling that his parents are only human. The fact his parents also ship him off to his uncle for training made Kylo feel abandoned and neglected.
    • In The Last Jedi, Luke has lost his faith in the Jedi and the Force in general after he couldn’t prevent Kylo Ren from falling to the Dark Side, feeling he failed as a teacher, uncle, and Parental Substitute. Yoda helps him recover by bringing up this trope; he points out that, for all their wisdom and strength, the Jedi Masters (himself included) were always just people, as capable of failing as anyone else. He notes that the true goal of any parent or teacher is to help their child/pupil overcome such failures and become better people... a path that Luke has set Rey on via his teachings, however flawed they were.
  • Maisie's biological parents in the modern adaptation of What Maisie Knew. The father, though self-absorbed, is implied to feel seriously insecure about his paternal capabilities. Her equally self-absorbed mother tries to lavish Maisie with as much affection as she could but eventually pulls a I Want My Beloved to Be Happy and allows Maisie to stay with her kind stepparents.
  • Titanic (1997): Ruth Bukater is portrayed this way. She does care about Rose, but her obsession with maintaining her class and status means she neglects Rose's emotional health by forcing her to marry a rich asshole. Ruth does feel horrible when she thinks her daughter died.

  • SuperGifted: At one point, Donovan goes into the bathroom and finds his brother-in-law, Brad, in there after having finally gotten his baby daughter back to sleep. When Brad sees Donovan, he confides in him that he has no real idea how to be a parent. He knows what to do right away on the battlefield, but completely lost on what to do with his daughter.
  • Touch (2017): The early chapters depict James' parents, Peter and Sarah, dealing with the aftermath of James' rape. They're trying to seem brave about it but obviously freaking out when he's not around, and he's fully aware of that and feels worse because of it.
    • In a more extreme example: in this world, magical powers are always activated by a Traumatic Superpower Awakening. As a result, some parents (including Caspar's) honestly believe that it's okay to abuse your kid just enough for their abilities to manifest. Peter himself went through this as a child and insists that no, good intentions do not excuse child abuse.
  • Jacqueline Wilson is diligent in depicting her Parents As People. Often likable, these characters don't fall into stereotypes... but the reader still wouldn't want to be related to them. In The Illustrated Mum, Marigold, a manic-depressive single mother, adores her two children, but feeds them cake rather than cooking them a proper dinner. In The Suitcase Kid, Andy's divorced parents marry new partners who already have families of their own. Her parents are so involved with their new lives that they don't realize they're using Andy as a pawn to "get back" at each other. In The Diamond Girls, the heroine and her sisters have lived in continual disorder all their lives, with their mother frequently changing boyfriends and moving her family to new homes. Amber, an early novel, was about a girl who rebels against her traveller mother and struggles to live a normal life.
  • Judy Blume uses the trope as well.
    • In Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret., the religious issues affecting Margaret affect her parents too—her mother was raised Christian, her dad raised Jewish. They're good parents for most of the book, until Margaret's maternal grandparents show up... whereupon they cancel Margaret's holiday in order to allow her to meet them, only to spend the entire visit using her to placate or annoy her grandparents.
    • Tiger Eyes is about a teenage girl named Davey whose father, a convenience store clerk, was shot during a robbery and, it is eventually revealed, died in her arms. Davey's mother turns into pretty much a space cadet for most of the novel, unable to function, and transplants Davey and her brother Jason to the opposite side of the country. The three live for most of the story with the dad's sister and her husband, who try to act as substitute parents for the kids, but do so in the most ham-fisted manner possible.
    • There's also the stories about Peter Hatcher (the FUDGE series). His parents are nice, but often butt heads with their sons over various things (moving temporarily to Princeton, having a third child, etc).
  • A Patch of Blue has the mother and grandfather of the blind protagonist Selina: Rosanne, the villain, and Ole Pa, a sympathetic failure of a man, respectively. They both work most of the day in bathrooms, and Rosanne moonlights as a prostitute. Ole Pa is a stone-dead-drunk most of the time, but tends to be more humane to Selina, whereas Rosanne frequently beats her.
  • This is key to the mystery of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime. It turns out that being an adult does not automatically make you able or willing to adapt to parenting a child with a highly stigmatized disability. Nor does it make you capable, nor enable you to face up to that in a mature and constructive way.
  • Jodi Picoult's parents are often good parents to one child with exceptional needs, but pretty terrible parents to all of their other children. The story will detail the parent's private and legal struggles on the behalf of their child, while the rest of the family falls apart due to neglect. A classic case is in Handle with Care, where the mother sacrifices her best friend, her husband and her oldest daughter supposedly on behalf of her youngest daughter, only to realize that the real issue was not her invalid daughter, but herself.
  • April Cleaver in I Am Not a Serial Killer. As a parent, she's oblivious, emotionally inept, and frequently makes insensitive comments about her son's mental problems, but it's clear she loves John despite his hating her, and just wants to know how to help him. She's also insecure and needy, but it's not for no reason, and is mostly used to frame her as sympathetic.
  • Jon and Thayet are Royals Who Actually Do Something in the Tortall Universe books, but according to Word of God, being king usually takes precedence over being a daddy in Jon's book (he blackmailed his daughter out of becoming a knight in case that endangered her marriage prospects), and Thayet is often busy with the Queen's Riders military group.
  • In They Never Came Back by Caroline B. Cooney, Murielle's parents are like this, eventually abandoning her to escape charges of embezzlement.
  • Annabeth's human father in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, who is a brilliant man and cares deeply for his children, though he is a bit absent-minded at times, and his relationship with Annabeth is strained by his later marriage and kids. Swooping down to save the day in a vintage Sopwith Camel and strafing Kronos's army with celestial bronze bullets most certainly grants him major parenting points, and helps him make up with Annabeth to the point where she returns home for the school year.
    • The gods in general tend to be this, to greater or lesser degrees, towards their demigod children. Some examples:
      • Poseidon, upon meeting his son Percy for the first time, flat-out tells him that he regrets siring him - not out of cruelty, just because of all the problems that have resulted from it, and the fact that he broke an oath in doing so - and that he's not sure what to make of him. Their relationship remains awkward, but improves as the series goes on, and Poseidon is one of the more doting of the godly parents in his own way.
      • Hades once directly says to his son Nico's face that he wished the boy's older sister Bianca had survived instead of him, and openly criticizes Nico's abilities. However, he is later shown acting fond and even proud of his son, and in the sequel series is said to occasionally make awkward efforts to be "fatherly", such as gifting Nico with a zombie chauffeur, though Bianca's memory remains as a cloud over their relationship. He even encourages Nico in his inter-personal relationships, expressing a desire for his son to find the happiness that so few of his children ever have. Also, as Pluto, he deliberately avoids openly interacting with or even acknowledging his daughter Hazel, as she is technically breaking the laws of the Underworld by returning to the living world after her death, and he wants to give her another chance at life instead of enforcing his own law and bringing her back.
      • Even Zeus/Jupiter, though he often tends to slide into Parental Neglect or Abusive Parent territory (the latter more so with his godly children than the half-bloods), has been shown as conflicted, once expressing to his son Jason that he wishes he could be more of a father to his children but feels that he must maintain distance, as he is king of the gods and must make hard decisions that affect the fate of the entire world. He also saves his daughter Thalia's life by turning her into a tree, and later shows concern for her over her decision to join the Hunters.
  • Diana Wynne Jones, as noted below, wrote her nearest thing to an autobiographical novel and called it The Time of the Ghost; it is about this sort of family. The father is a towering professor known to his children as Himself, who runs a boys' school, where the lead and her three sisters live. The mother spends all her time keeping the school in order, and all four girls are really shockingly neglected. Getting food regularly involves raiding the school kitchens and doing their best to get away with it. Both parents, however, despite fairly limited page time due to their disinterest in their children, are highly realized characters with internal lives of whose shape we get a sense.
  • Dresden Files: Maggie LeFay, having the best intentions, skirted the bounds between white and black magic, falling in with what one might call "the wrong crowd", one of whom murders her in childbirth. Her son inherits one hell of a legacy.
    • Harry's father was a different story; Malcolm Dresden was a decent, kind, hard-working and loving man, all traits which drew Maggie to him. Then he died under mysterious circumstances....
    • And now Harry is a father... which just kind of says it all, really.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Mrs. Bennet is a shallow airhead who is an Amazingly Embarassing Parent attempting to match-make her daughters off in unsubtle and humiliating methods. When Elizabeth calls her out on her behaviour, she reveals her real fear that she and her daughters will be utterly destitute if they don't marry well. Meanwhile, Mr. Bennet copes with his ill-matched marriage by finding refuge in his books and sarcasm. He could care less that he exposes his wife and younger daughters to the ridicule of the world. By the end of the novel, he accepts responsibility for his youngest daughter's mistake and takes measures to instill some sense into his two remaining unmarried daughters.
  • An Old Republic survey team, well before Galaxy of Fear, crash landed on Dagobah and couldn't get off. They couldn't find enough food to support themselves, but a few years into this some still paired off and had children. This meant there were more mouths to feed, and not enough food for any of them, especially as more and more of the adults died from animal attacks and fevers. The remaining adults started to feed the bodies to their children, a practice which the kids adopted when the last parent died, when the oldest child was seven. Malnourished and uneducated, the Children felt cannibalism was an expression of love—and they're forced to confront the truth that in fact it was filled with desperation and horror.
  • Lampshaded by Poirot in Five Little Pigs: He finds it strange that every witness of a case seems to forget that the murder victim has a baby daughter. It's discussed when Miss Williams, a governess, explains to Poirot that middle-class children know that their parents love them, but the parents are too busy providing for them to pay them attention. The affluent murder victim, on the other hand, and his wife led such intense lives that the baby could never be their first concern.
  • Fanny Hatter in Howl's Moving Castle, while having good intentions, sends off her late husband's two younger daughters to their new placements without really considering their own thoughts on the matter. She also uses her eldest stepdaughter Sophie to run her hat store without pay and is implied to have an It's All About Me mentality.
  • All four of The Ultra Violets' mothers, who are all brilliant scientists and consumed with work. The only time they ever do get involved with their daughters is when they unintentionally impede their plans to save Sync City.
  • With the introduction of child viewpoint characters in Edenborn, several of the characters from the first book get this characterization.
    • Vashti and Champagne see maintaining humanity as their highest goal. Thus they raise many children, but don't spend too much energy on any one of them, which leads to tensions between Penny and her siblings. Vashti spends most of her time researching; Champagne spends hers on studying and composing artwork.
    • Isaac sees the spirituality of humanity as a key component of its revival and does not accept rebellion against his fundamentalist principles. This drives a wedge between him and his teenage son, as well as between his fundamentalist oldest child and the younger siblings.
    • Halloween teaches his son all the skills that Halloween needed to survive. He does not adapt to the circumstances around them, nor does he train Deuce to address novel situations.
  • In The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel's parents are shown to be very loving and supportive of her, but also have their obvious frustrations with the burden her illness has put on their personal lives.
  • The Empress Alexandra VII is a terrible mother to her youngest son because of unresolved feelings about his bastard of a father. She doesn't mean to take it out on Roger, but she does.
  • Harry Potter :
    • Petunia Dursley probably doesn't realize she's taking out her anger at the Wizarding World for stealing—and killing—her beloved little sister on Harry. She doesn't mean to to turn her own son into a spoiled, selfish oaf either. Petunia needs some serious counseling.
    • Molly Weasley is a good person with noble intentions and is an excellent Parental Substitute for Harry; but because she has so many kids and is very overwhelmed at times, her youngest son Ron feels ignored/neglected sometimes. She also sometimes has a tendency to treat Harry better than her own children, particularly Ron, when her other children are right next to Harry.
    • Sirius, as Harry’s godfather and intended guardian, does truly love him and and want the best for him. However, he got locked in a horrible prison for twelve years for a crime he didn’t commit at 22 and has a nasty case of arrested development because of it. Even though he’s twenty-one years older than Harry, he’s emotionally more like eight or nine years older than him. He just doesn’t quite have the maturity to be the parent Harry needs and treats him more like buddy or brother. Spending a year stuck in his abusive childhood home only exacerbates this.
    • Dumbledore does genuinely love Harry like the son he never had but like Sirius he's got a lot of issues that stop him from ever properly expressing that. He's a well meaning Manipulative Bastard but he's still very manipulative, including to Harry. He still hates himself for something bad he did as a teenager (causing his sister's death) and therefore can't open up to people (he never apologized to his brother for what happened either for similar reasons. There's also the fact that he knows Harry is going to have to die to stop Voldemort. It says a lot that both Harry and his brother have to clear up everything between the two of them and learn to forgive him from information they get from the other.
  • Janine Hathaway from Vampire Academy is a legendary guardian but Mother of the Year she is not. When we meet her she barely knows Rose, Rose doesn't like or trust her at all, and Janine has the tendency to project her own fears and failures onto Rose.
  • Kasia's mother Wensa in Uprooted loved her daughter "carefully" once she saw that Kasia was going to be pretty and intelligent and therefore most likely to be taken away the wizard called the Dragon. Wensa also sent Kasia on exhausting walks to other villages to learn how to bake, sew, etc fit for a lord's mistress and set her to frightening tasks to make her braver. When Kasia was not picked, the return home was therefore rather awkward, but Wensa is still distraught enough to go all the way to the Dragon's tower and beg Agnieszka's help when Kasia is abducted by the Wood. At the end, Kasia elects to remain with the royal children for a while. Her strained relationship with Wensa is a major reason why.
  • Spinning Silver
    • Miryem's father is a good and kind man who loves his family and does everything he can to ease their burdens—but it's his kindness and generosity that gives him difficulties, because he's a Jewish moneylender in a severely antisemetic town and he's too easily put off by the cheap excuses his neighbors give him to not pay what they legally owe him. This puts them into poverty and endangers her mother's life when she gets sick during a very bad winter, which drives Miryem to start collecting debts herself.
    • Irina's father, the Duke of Visnya. He is a hard but entirely pragmatic and competent ruler. However, that hard pragmatism has him view Irina largely as a waste of resources once he has two sons, because he's not wealthy enough to give her a large dowry (thus marrying her advantageously) and she's too plain-looking to woo any young men of powerful families without one. When he does see a way to marry her to the tsar, she knows that he views giving her a bad husband the same way he views having to go to war to become a duke—it was difficult and unpleasant, and he won't spare her when he didn't spare himself. When she uses her position as tsarina to start making clever political decisions and plans to end the Endless Winter, the duke starts speaking to her the way he does anyone else he respects.
  • Jessica Darling's parents aren't particularly good at being parents to her, but it's not for lack of trying and good intentions. Jess notes at one point that they clearly have her best interests at heart, they just have no idea what those interests actually are—and she finds it hard to hold that against them, because most of the time she can't even figure out herself what actually would make her happy.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has several noble parents who only see their children as pawns for political alliances and never bother their wellbeing. But there are a few who really love their children; it's just that they live in a Crapsack World where they need to make alliances:
    • Catelyn Stark has to leave Winterfell to find those responsible for the crippling and attempted assassination on her younger son, Bran. She stayed with Robb, when the War of the Five Kings broke out, to help him rescue Sansa and Arya, leaving Bran and Rickon in Winterfell, which is later invaded by the Ironborn and sacked by Ramsey Snow. While Catelyn loves her children, her desire to protect and save them led to dire consequences which resulted to the downfall of her family.
    • Doran Martell is not as much of a good parent as his brother, Oberyn. He even sent his oldest son, Quentyn, to a rival house due to Oberyn's mishap with its lord, causing his wife to leave him. His daughter, Arianne, noted that he doesn't mind that she lost her virginity at a young age and arranges marriages to very old people, which made her think that he's going to pass her inheritance to Quentyn, and all the important duties at Sunspear are done by Oberyn rather than her despite being the heir. But it turns out that Doran really cared about his family except that he's too caught up in wanting to avenge the brutal deaths of his sister, niece and nephew and paranoid in not telling his plans to Arianne and his brother's bastard daughters. It takes Arianne's failed coup to realize his weakness.
    • Lysa Arryn loves her sickly son, Robert, to the point of being My Beloved Smother due to suffering several past miscarriages. When she heard that her husband Jon planned to take Robert away, she poisoned him with help from her childhood friend and crush, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. Unfortunately, Littlefinger is only manipulating her to sow distrust between the Starks and the Lannisters. He later admits to Lysa, before he murders her, that he loved her sister Catelyn. As of A Feast Of Crows, poor Robert is under the care of Littlefinger, who is using him to further his plans.
  • Ronja the Robber's Daughter: Mattis loves his little girl deeply, but his pride and stubbornness make it impossible for him to end his feud with Borka, even for her sake. In fact, these traits make him the closest thing this book has to a primary antagonist.
  • Journey to Chaos: Basilard tries to be a good father for Zettai but the fact that he became her father because a Trickster God twisted his arm into committing sacrilege to his clan's religion makes it difficult for him to accept her.
  • Danny, the Champion of the World: Danny's father is a good man and very much a caring and attentive father, but he is also a poacher who risks getting killed and leaving his son an orphan for sport (not to mention that he is stealing someone else's precious game birds). Or as the narration puts it:
    You will learn as you get older, that no father is perfect. Grown-ups are complicated creatures, full of quirks and secrets.
  • In Room, Jack's Ma loves him unconditionally, but she suffers from severe PTSD from her time being held prisoner against her will by Old Nick. At times, she temporarily snaps and loses her temper with Jack. She wants to get her old life back but Jack wants to cling to her and their pre-escape lives, causing disagreement.
    • Likewise, Ma's mother loves both her daughter and grandson but struggles with trying to reconnect with her daughter and caring for her grandson who has very little experience and knowledge of the outside world.
  • Val and Max from Halfway Human both make sacrifices for the family. They are occasionally stressed out, broke, tired, etc. But they love their kid.
  • In The Babysitters Club, several of the girls have these, but most especially Stacey. Her father is a workaholic who doesn't have much time for her, and both of her parents are more than a little overzealous in their crusade to find a cure for her diabetes. It doesn't help that she's an only child. When her parents get divorced midway through the series, their Parents As People status gets turned Up to Eleven because the split is so acrimonious.
    • Mary Anne's father just wants the best for her, but this translates to him being extremely overprotective, especially in the first few books where he tries to dictate virtually every aspect of her life, including what she wears, how she does her hair, and what's on her bedroom walls. He gets a bit of a wake-up call in the fourth book and starts loosening up on the little things, but still has his moments on bigger things throughout the series.
    • Mallory's parents aren't as bad as Mary Anne's father, but they also seem to forget at times that Mallory is growing up, and they also sometimes over-rely on her to help manage her large family. However, they're usually receptive when she raises the issues with them.
    • On the opposite side of the coin, Dawn's mother is very scatterbrained and forgetful. Usually it only affects her, but there are times that it causes some minor inconvenience for Dawn and her brother (like not having milk for their cereal because she forgot to buy it), and in some cases Dawn herself has to be the one who's responsible to make sure important things get done.
    • Some of the BSC's clients have this, or at least start out as this, as well: for instance, Mrs. Arnold doesn't recognize that her twins are tired of not being seen as individuals (though, like Mallory's parents, she does listen when they raise the issue directly), Danielle Roberts' parents don't take her questionable antics seriously until one actually crosses the line into dangerous (fortunately, no one is seriously hurt), and Rosie Wilder's parents don't realize that their attempts to "nurture" their daughter's talents are actually over-stressing her, just to name a few.
  • "The Veldt": George and Lydia are a loving couple who care deeply about each other and their kids, but who unintentionally neglect them since the robot house does an inhumanly perfect job of looking after them than they do. To their credit, they realize this and resolve to fix things.
  • Essun in The Fifth Season has the heavily stigmatized magic of orogeny and passed the ability on to her children. Her own Trauma Conga Line of personal tragedies, including being Made a Slave and pressed into Training from Hell, then enduring the loss of her lover and first child, left her with a bone-deep fear for her children — which causes her to be cold, distant, and sometimes outright abusive as she tries to prepare them for a world that will hate them if it learns what they are.
  • Go the Fuck to Sleep is a light example and Played for Laughs. It's told from the perspective of all-too-human parents whose despair at their child's unwillingness to fall asleep leads to the use of hilariously inappropriate obscenities. No doubt Truth in Television for many a parent of small overactive kids.
  • In Love Letters to the Dead, Laurel's dad comes home tired most days but still tries his best to provide for her after her mother left, her mom doesn't feel equipped to raise her anymore after her sister's death, Natalie's mom often stays out late on dates and doesn't return home until the next morning, and Sky's mom seems to suffer from a mental illness.
  • In The Secret Garden, Mary's own parents were rather vain and neglectful, but Colin's father, Archibald, has a bit more of an excuse. His wife suffered Death by Childbirth and Colin himself was quite sickly; he never grew too attached to Colin, assuming that he would die too, and the fact that he so resembled his dead wife (while acting so different) made their time together especially painful. Thankfully things clear up by the novel's end.
  • In This Is Not a Werewolf Story, Raul's father lapsed into a deep depression after his wife disappeared; he often forgot to take Raul to school, and eventually a social worker showed up and saw that Raul was suffering from significant neglect. After that Raul got sent to a special boarding school for kids with problems at home, and eventually his dad stopped picking him up for the weekends because he was tricked by the villain. Raul is overall sympathetic, but at times understandably angry about this whole situation.
  • In The Chosen David Malter starts out as a caring, loving father to Reuven. However, when the war ends and he finds out about the full extent of The Holocaust, David throws himself into the Zionist cause and hardly has time for Reuven, nearly working himself to death (he has a serious heart attack due to overwork). The theme gets picked up again in the sequel The Promise with the troubled teenager Michael Gordon, who is bullied severely at school because of his father's highly unorthodox religious scholarship and emotionally neglected by his parents (especially, it's implied, his mother) due to his father's academic work.
  • Animorphs begins about two years after Marco's mom died, and his dad has been a depressed mess ever since, quitting his former job and leaving Marco to do much of the work around the house. He manages to pull things together a few books in, however. All this is complicated by Marco learning that his mom is still alive, just possessed by an evil alien warlord.
  • Nick's father Phillip in Crazy Rich Asians is more level-headed and open-minded than his wife and most of his family and is generally a Nice Guy but a flashback reveals that he and Eleanor had a massive argument once (alluding to possible infidilities) that scared a young Nick enough that he ran away to Colin's grandmother's house and stayed there until Shu Yi picked him up.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: Queen Selenay of Valdemar is a Herald first, a Monarch second, and a Single Mother for her eldest child Elspeth... *sigh*. She does her level best to make sure she finds good people for thatnote  mainly because she is convinced that she cannot keep herself from projecting her issues with her late husband onto the daughter who favors him so much.
  • In Mary Rodgers' sequel to Freaky Friday, A Billion for Boris, Boris' single mother is too busy with her life to spend much time with her son, and is not very good at certain practical tasks, which means that Boris takes them over. Boris is worried about her and thinks she needs a lot of improvements. When Annabel's younger brother accidentally creates a TV set that shows tomorrow's programs today, Boris takes it over and uses it to get horse race results that he can then use to win lots of money at the races. He does this so he can get the money to completely make over their apartment and pay for therapy for his mother. He eventually finds out that his mother is not as troubled as he makes her out to be, and their relationship can be improved by better communication, rather than the expenditure of lots of money.
  • In Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi, the Jiang family prove that, no matter how much they genuinely care for their children or wards, they are not doing a great job at parenting.
    • Jiang Fengmien is a mild-mannered man who cares for his children and is kind to his adopted son Wei Wuxian. But he is accused of failing to be the same loving father towards his biological son when it comes to showing favoritism towards Wei Wuxian and being more distant to Jiang Cheng, allegedly because he is in an unwanted Arranged Marriage and was rumored to be in love with Wei Wuxian's mother. Jiang Fengmien genuinely tries to make things work with his wife but they keep clashing because of their differing opinions regarding Wei Wuxian. His tendency to avoid properly communicating with his wife and refusal to address the rumors of loving another woman only made things worse for everyone involved.
    • Yu Ziyuan is a very strict and no-nonsense woman who does care deeply for her children but her way of showing regard for their well-being is questionable, especially when it comes to Jiang Cheng. She tends to drag Jiang Cheng into her arguments with her husband, which didn't help with Jiang Cheng's issues with his Inferiority Superiority Complex. Her resentment towards Wei Wuxian caused her to constantly compare him to her son, driving Jiang Cheng to try to surpass Wei Wuxian instead of helping him deal with it in a healthy, mature manner. She is unnecessarily cruel and verbally abusive to Wei Wuxian for not only being better than her son in many ways but because he is the son of the woman that her husband was rumored to have feelings for and Jiang Fengmien's avoidance of speaking of the matter only made Yu Ziyuan suspect that he was unfaithful to her and fathered Wei Wuxian.
    • Jiang Cheng is the closest person Jin Ling has to a father aside from his paternal uncle Jin Guangyao and is very protective over his nephew but his upbringing has resulted in Jiang Cheng being strict on Jin Ling and he can unfortunately come off as harsh and uncaring. He ends up unintentionally repeating most of his parents' mistakes, though there are signs that he's making a sincere effort to do better.
  • ''Olga Dies Dreaming: Tia Lola, cousin Mabel, and Blanca's friend Karen help Olga and Prieto understand more about their mother's character, acknowledging Blanca lacks the "mothering gene" As Lola says, while growing up, her sister was never happy unless everybody agreed with her. And as an adult, she cannot accept them unless they do and think like she says, which Lola says is not good mothering.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: Stannis to Shireen. Unlike his wife, he tries being a good parent to her, but he is too busy with the war. To his credit, he's a much better parent than Robert...or not.
  • Blanche Devereaux from The Golden Girls clearly didn't enjoy being a mother, mainly due to her vanity and It's All About Me personality. She basically left childcare to nannies and even admits that as they got older, she would tell people they were her husband's from a much earlier marriage. It all comes back to haunt her as she gets older and none of them want anything to do with her. An interesting perspective flip, as this is told from the view of the "bad" parent rather than the child. (Also, in a show known for its Negative Continuity, this is one of the few details portrayed consistently.)
  • Never Have I Ever: Nalini has good intentions, but is of course a deeply flawed parent who doesn't always understand her daughter.
  • Supernatural:
    • John Winchester is a good-hearted man who had something awful happen to his family... but no matter how much he tries or how much he loves his sons, he's just incapable of being a good father. Before he dies, he gives Dean an extra-horrible order to kill Sam if he can't save him, treats Sam like a child and Dean like a blunt weapon, and an awful lot of their issues that are still going on today can solely lay the blame at his feet.
    • Mary Winchester is revived by Amara in season 12 after having been dead for the past three decades. In addition to being a Fish out of Temporal Water, she turns out to be just as flawed as John was and not the idealized vision that Dean had of his mother (she's a complete stranger to Sam, who was a baby when she died). Amara later makes this clear to Dean when he asks her why she brought her back in the first place.
  • In general terms, this is a popular trope in drama series like The Bill or Holby City when the children of characters in high-pressure or high profile jobs (such as doctors, teachers, political figures or rescue services) are involved. Often the child will have a scene where they berate their parent for being a hero to everyone else but their child (i.e. a successful doctor who's never home because she refuses to abandon her patients, or a teacher who goes the extra mile for her pupils while completely forgetting her own son's graduation).
  • My So-Called Life can be considered the Trope Codifier in Teen Drama—Patty and Graham played just as large a role in the plot as Angela herself, because a Written-In Infirmity (Claire Danes's age—child-labour laws prevented her from spending a full work day on set) necessitated Two Lines, No Waiting.
  • Rumplestiltskin in Once Upon a Time is a Doting Parent toward his son Baelfire; but to save his son from being drafted into the Ogre Wars, he becomes the Dark One to get power, becoming increasingly ruthless and would even kill people in front of Baelfire as a massive overreaction to any injury done to his son. When offered the chance to live with Baelfire in a world without magic, he's unable to let go of his power and ends up losing his son.
    • Rumplestiltskin's wife, Milah, may also count since when she was around before Rumplestiltskin became the Dark One, she was often at the village's tavern and seems to not think about her son. Not to mention running away on Captain Hook's ship and letting her family believe she was dead.
    • That series runs on enough Big, Screwed-Up Family to power a whole season of Jerry Springer; Charming and Snow didn't get to be parents due to the curse, and are starting from scratch when dealing with Emma (who is now thirty and was raised by the Department of Child Disservices). Regina (aka Snow White's stepmother) is the adopted mother of Henry (Emma's biological kid from a Teen Pregnancy), but neglected the boy for hours on end because bullying the townsfolk into submission and batshit crazy revenge schemes against her old enemy Snow White were a more "worthwhile" use of her time. Regina's own mother, Cora, was weapons-grade sociopathy, and Regina's birth was nothing more than part of the plan to have the whole universe bowing to her in revenge for the royals making fun of Cora's low birth as a miller's daughter. It's bad when the boy who hasn't yet hit his teens is a good candidate for Only Sane Man.
  • In Flashpoint, Ed Lane struggles to be a good father and husband but his job often comes first, causing strain between his wife and son.
    • Parker's alcoholism had caused his wife to divorce him and his son to refuse to see or speak to him. But since then, he has cleaned up his act, resulting in reuniting with his son for the first time in ten years and eventually, his son Dean decided that his father is a good man and came to live with him.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Lily's father Mickey loves his daughter and can occasionally be a Doting Parent for her but he was emotionally apathetic towards her during most of her life and his gambling and money problems hurt his relationship with Lily who has difficulty trusting him. It's pointed out in a later episode that when she was a baby he was an exceptionally good parent. His flaws didn't manifest until she reached school age and he had to find other things to fill his time.
    • Barney's single mother Loretta slept around, constantly lied to him, refused to tell him or his half-brother who their fathers were, and was generally neglectful throughout his childhood. However, she's also a Mama Bear who dearly loves Barney and him her, and in "Cleaning House" she confesses that she only ever lied to him to protect his feelings, including about his biological father.
    • Speaking of which, Barney eventually meets his father who abandoned him when he was six. However, unlike most stories like this Jerry sincerely regrets leaving Barney and truly wants to form a relationship with him.
  • Graham and Jan in the Inside No. 9 episode "Last Gasp." They do love their daughter, who is terminally ill; but have no qualms in taking advantage of her illness for their own ends (Graham wanting money, Jan wanting to meet her favourite pop star.) When the pop star dies while blowing up a balloon for their daughter's birthday, they spend most of the episode ignoring her, instead preferring to argue with the singer's staff over who owns the balloon; which contains his literal last breath and as such is worth a lot of money.
  • Devin's parents in The Kicks aren't perfect, but they do their best and are generally pretty on top of things.
  • Martin Crane in Frasier is a down-to-earth, likable and friendly guy, especially when compared with his uptight, snobby sons, so it's easy to see why people tend to get on better with him and take his side in the tension he has with Frasier and Niles. But it's made pretty clear, and Martin himself at times concedes, that he has as much if not more responsibility as they do for the difficult relationship he has with them. While he clearly does love them, he appears to have been a rather distant parent who was largely uninterested in the more esoteric and refined interests of his sons and didn't make a lot of effort to bond with them. He tends to take other people's sides in arguments against them (including bullies) and appears to have spent more time at his favourite bar than bonding with them, something he later comes to regret.
    Martin: Maybe if I'd spent less time at Duke's and more time with you guys, I wouldn't be sitting opposite a son who places so much stock in one beer.
    • Hester Crane, Martin's wife and Frasier and Niles's mother, gets this somewhat less because she's deceased by the events of the series and all three choose to abide by Never Speak Ill of the Dead. Nevertheless, while she was a loving mother and wife to her family, she had feet of clay as well; she had a brief affair at one point, her overly clinical and psychological method of parenting appears to have directly resulted in a lot of Frasier and Niles's neuroses, and she appears to have been actively hostile to a lot of the women her sons chose to date.
    • This was demonstrated in vivid detail in her lone appearance in Cheers, in which she threatened to shoot Diane.
  • Another cop example is Inspector Brackenreid in Murdoch Mysteries. When his youngest son Bobby is kidnapped, he laments his failure to spend adequate time bonding with him, partly blaming his career, and resolves to put things right when Bobby is found.
  • Dead Like Me strongly focuses on this trope for the Lass family, particularly Joy. She's selfish, judgmental, narrow-minded, and completely breaks down when things don't go her way, but she's also trying to cope with a huge amount of grief and stress after what is implied to be years of putting in efforts for her family that went unappreciated.
  • The George Lopez Show: Several examples.
    • Benny neglected and mistreated George. But in her defense, her husband abandoned her to live with George, and while did have some moments of kindness toward George, her own parents were downright merciless to her.
    • George himself works to provide for kids, but often can give them the wrong advice, and can play favorites with Max.
  • Rebelde Way the three main parents exemplify this. While Sergio is absolutely abusive towards Pablo, Sonia and Franco instead are presented as doting parents who would do anything for their daughters, Mia and Marizza, even to the point of spoiling them. Yet they're also shown to have flaws in their parenting: the girls at times act a little too bratty due to their parenting; Sonia has difficulty connecting to Marizza who feels overshadowed by her, and Franco has kept Mia wrapped in a figurative plastic bubble that shields her from the reality surrounding her. Not to mention that when the two discover the parentage of their missing parents, the girls naturally freak out.
  • In The Crown (2016):
    • George and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon are portrayed as loving parents but still possessing many faults. They follow advice that Elizabeth only needs schooling in areas directly related to the monarchy, leaving her entirely unprepared with a broad range of subjects when she took the crown. Her younger sister Margaret ended up feeling like a lesser sister than Elizabeth and as a result, acted out for attention, though she believed that George loved Margaret better than Elizabeth.
    • Elizabeth and Phillip, especially in the second season. Though both love their children, Elizabeth's job as queen keeps her unavailable to them. She is also becoming distant with Charles as he is a constant reminder of the representation of the Crown and of her own mortality. Likewise, Phillip is disappointed in Charles' sensitive nature and attempts to toughen up his son by sending him to a notoriously tough boarding school. He also at times feels outranked by Charles, who is his wife's successor.
  • Britta has to deal with this in season 6 of Community, when her friends meet the parents she's always described as repressive autocrats and find them to be lovely people who admit they weren't great at raising her, but go on to lend her thousands of dollars via her friends in an effort to look out for a daughter who refuses to have anything to do with them.
    Frankie: One of the most unfair lessons we're forced to learn is that our parents are human beings. We want to think of them as gods — or demons, because then that would make us heroes — but ugh, gimme a break, we all suck.
  • Kim's Convenience has a lot of focus on the parents of the Korean-Canadian immigrant Kim family interacting with their children. Mr. and Mrs. Kim (Appa and Umma) love their children Jung and Janet, but often butt heads with them due to cultural differences. This includes Umma meddlinh with their love lives and (in Janet's case) nagging for grandkids and Appa dismissing Janet's opinions/decisions due to his traditionalist views. Appa also kicked Jung (who was doing mild juvenile crime at the time) out of the house many years ago after catching him stealing money from the family store; this lead to both the parents coddling Janet more than she would like them to and also Appa and Jung avoiding each other ever since. It's revealed that Appa is very conflicted about his son — he does want to see him again and has fond memories of him, but he just can't let the resentment go, even though Jung has straightened himself out. Umma regularly contacts Jung but also often obsesses over his delinquent past, which Jung calls her out on. The family frequently address these issues and make progress of sorts with each other as the series goes on.
  • Kingdom (2014): Alvey is a troubled, damaged man who has trouble emotionally connecting to his sons; his ex-wife Christina is a former addict and sex worker who gets clean but never quite fulfills the maternal role.
  • Schitt's Creek: Johnny and Moira were too busy globetrotting and enjoying their wealth to be active parents to their kids, but when they move to Schitt's Creek they are forced to connect with their adult kids without the money as a crutch.
  • The Other Two: Pat Dubek is genuinely enjoying the perks of her 13-year-old son becoming a star, after what is implied to have been a difficult life back in Ohio. She appears on talk shows, goes to parties and writes a children's book.
  • Norma Bates in Bates Motel, as opposed to her depiction in Psycho where she was an Abusive Parent, is a mother who makes a lot of bad decisions, especially in regards to her son Norman. She's controlling, tries to get Norman to do activities with her, acts passive-aggressive and guilt trips a ton when Norman isn't interested, acts jealous and petty when Norman shows interest in other women, and most damaging of all, when Norman shows signs of mental problems she refuses to get him treatment. The thing is though, she does this all because she really loves Norman, but not in the way a mother should love her son.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys frequently made a point of showing that those of great significance can make imperfect parents.
    • The top example is the king of the Olympians himself. Zeus is regularly portrayed as a Doting Parent that dearly loves his son and protects him from his worst enemies on Olympus, but he was never around when Hercules was growing up. He's a Dirty Old Man who prefers chasing mortal women and having fun to doing his job; one such incident gave Hera the opening to kill Herc's wife and children. Every encounter between father and son references these items in some way, with Hercules wanting to embrace his father but also resenting their history and how he has to clean up messes that the old man causes.
      • Conversely, Alcmene was shown to be the perfect parent: always around, always beaming with pride, etc. Zeus himself acknowledged that he couldn't be the father that Hercules needed, which was why Alcmene was so important.
    • As for Iolaus, his father was Skouros, a famed general who neglected the family before outright abandoning it. During one of the times he was dead, Iolaus encountered him in the Underworld, laid into him for his faults, and showed forgiveness when Skouros actually apologized for his mistakes. This actually proves very important in the long run; in the Grand Finale, Iolaus cites this lesson to Hercules to help him let go of his own bitterness towards Zeus. As he says, everyone is an imperfect being trying to make their way in an imperfect world.
    • Aphrodite has a tense relationship with her son, Cupid. She takes her job more seriously than Zeus, but she was still content to party and think of herself most of the time. Cupid remarks he spent much of his life never even seeing her unless she had a job for him to do. She does love Cupid, but she doesn't really know how to interact with him. An episode of Xena: Warrior Princess has her suffer empty nest syndrome and regret not being a mother when she had the chance.
    • Cupid actually had it easier than Deon, the half-mortal product of a one-night stand Aphrodite had with a fisherman. The moment Deon was born, she dropped him off at his father's house and never looked back. Hercules ends up meeting Deon and helping him with his legacy. He notes that Aphrodite has plenty of good qualities, but also a drive for fun that often hurts people.
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance: As Seladon states, Mayrin is a queen first and a mother second. She tries to impart her values to her daughters and steer them on the right path but often clashes with Brea and puts so much pressure on Seladon to follow in her footsteps. At times it's up to Tavra to keep the family together.
  • Star Trek: Despite Worf being a good and honourable man, he’s shown to be an inadequate father and clearly has no idea how to raise a child. He loves Alexander deeply but just doesn’t know how to connect with him, and sent him away to be raised by his adoptive grandparents for most of his childhood. Worf also generally doesn’t factor Alexander into his personal decision making, i.e. when the Enterprise is destroyed, he decides to resign from Starfleet and relocate to the other side of the Quadrant, and doesn’t even consider the effect that would have on his son until Chief O’Brien explicitly reminds him. When Alexander shows up as a young man in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Worf is surprised to learn he’s enlisted in the Klingon military, indicating he had no idea what his son had been doing since he last saw him. Their adult relationship is a bit closer but is still noticeably awkward.
  • Young Sheldon, and to a lesser extent The Big Bang Theory, show that the Coopers generally mean well but don't know how to raise a kid like Sheldon, who is much smarter than them and very likely neurodivergent, let alone balance his wants and needs against those of his average siblings. Mary overmothers Sheldon and tries to force him to live her idea of a "normal" childhood, which he doesn't want to do and may not even be capable of, in one episode intercepting and destroying offers from colleges to prevent him leaving home. Meanwhile George cares about his kids and does offer them encouragement and advice on occasion, but is largely checked out of their lives unless they cause trouble. However, they do still try to do the best they can, for example, making an effort to pay more attention to Missy when they learn she feels left out.
Sheldon: My father didn't always get the credit he deserved. The advice he gave me was actually worked out pretty well. Of course, I never told him... He may not have been the world's greatest dad, but maybe we weren't the world's greatest kids.

  • This is a realisation that The Divine Comedy had come to in his song 'Mother Dear', but uses this fact to sing her praises for how she was ever able to put up with him in his youth.
    It was not that long ago it first occurred to me,
    That my mother was a person in her own right.
    Now I realize how very lucky I have been,
    And there, but for the grace of God, go I.
    Mother dear, she can see inside.
    Mother dear, and I've nowhere to hide.
    Mother dear, did I spoil your plans?
    Mother dear, I do the best I can.
  • The protagonist in "Rockabye" by Clean Bandit is a poor single mother, work as a prostitute who struggles to provide for her son but love him dearly and wants him to have a better life than she did.
    Now she got a six-year-old
    Trying to keep him warm
    Trying to keep out the cold
    When he looks in her eyes
    He don't know he is safe when she says
    She tells him, "Oh, love, no one's ever gonna hurt you, love."
    "I'm gonna give you all of my love."
    "Nobody matters like you."
    (Stay up there, stay up there!)
    She tells him, "Your life ain't gon' be nothing like my life." (Straight!)
    "You're gonna grow and have a good life."
    "I'm gonna do what I got to do.", yeah.

  • One of the most famous and utterly tragic examples comes in the form of "Cat's In The Cradle" by Harry Chapin as a father is too busy at work to pay much attention to his son and only realizes it after his son has grown up and moved away.
  • The narrator's father from the 10-minute version of "All Too Well" by Taylor Swift. He obviously loves his daughter and is concerned and sad for her when her boyfriend stands her up, but unfortunately didn't notice the red flags in the relationship (such as him being much older than her) and bought into the boyfriend's sweet facade until the damage was done. She doesn't seem to hold it against him; after all, she bought it, too.

  • Dot Harper from Unwell Podcast. While she clearly loves her daughter Lily, they have a strained relationship.

    Video Games 
  • Tidus' father Jecht and Tidus' mom from Final Fantasy X. From the one scene we see of them together the two are Sickening Sweethearts. When it comes to their son, Jecht is an emotionally abusive jerkass (and a drunk to boot). Tidus' mom actually cares for her son, but outright ignores him whenever Jecht is around and when he disappears, she dies of a broken heart, essentially abandoning poor Tidus.
  • Life Is Strange 2: Karen is an interesting example, since she actively chose to leave her children and is still treated with some sympathy (by the narrative, if not necessarily by Sean). If allowed to explain herself, she says that she does care for Daniel and Sean and is deeply sorry for the pain she's caused them, but she's still adamant that leaving was the right thing for her to do since the alternative was a lifetime of being dead inside.
  • Despite the Heartwarming Moment at the end of the first game, poor Ashley Robbins suffered this between the first and second Another Code games. While it's forgivable in that Richard still had a ton of issues to sort out after coming back into his daughter's life and his social skills probably atrophied during ten years of self-imposed isolation, the two flubbed the initial bonding effort and had to work through another game to patch things up.
  • Parents in The Sims do very little to raise their children. Babies and toddlers will need constant attention, but older children only really need homework help and food cooked for them and teenagers can live in total independence. Later versions of the game encourage parents to be more proactive: the child/toddler is more likely to get positive traits if they're well looked after. Parents and children also receive a boost to their relationship score at family-creation but this can go up and down like any other relationship.
  • Tales Series:
    • Tales of Symphonia has Lloyd's Parental Substitute Dirk, who once hits him in a case of Anger Born of Worry: Lloyd had just been in quite the danger - plus he had an Exsphere with him...
    • Tales of the Abyss has Luke's father. Duke Fabre has a high standing in Kimlasca and is very hands-off and incredibly cold, almost harsh, to his son. He eventually admits why he remains distant. Since the Score predicted that Luke would die at the age of 17, Duke Fabre felt that it was better to just not get to know a son, who was destined to die so soon, at all, so that he wouldn't be sad or regret anything when the time came. But as Luke survives and the two talk, Duke Fabre admits that he feels like he missed out on Luke and tries to rectify things.
  • A few cases in World of Warcraft.
    • Magni Bronzebeard was quite disappointed that he was unable to get a male heir, leading to some distance between him and Moira. Anduin has great respect for Magni, but notes that it was partly his fault that Moira turned out the way she did, joining the Dark Irons out of love for their emperor, Dagran Thaurissan.
    • Varian Wrynn toward his son, Anduin. Varian's Lo'gosh side and his more warlike ways cause a rift between him and his pacifistic son Anduin, leading him to send Anduin to stay in Ironforge while he works through his issues. Later on, Anduin goes to study under Velen, rather than Archbishop Benedictus as Varian suggests, but Benedictus brings the two together to help them reconcile. Varian openly admits on a few occasions that he is a less than perfect father.
  • In the Persona series:
    • Persona 4:
      • Ryotaro Dojima, the protagonist's uncle and guardian for the events of the game. While he's a hardworking, honest cop and genuinely loves his daughter Nanako, he often neglects her thanks to lingering issues regarding his wife's unsolved hit-and-run death and his fear that he alone is inadequate as a parent, which he hides from by avoiding Nanako and burying himself in his work. Fortunately, it's possible to help parent and child overcome their problems and become a true family again.
      • Eri Minami, a young woman who has become a stepmother to a young boy named Yuuta, whom the main character can tutor. She has difficulty bonding with her new stepson, and in return Yuuta mistakenly thinks she hates him. Her social link allows the main character to help the two bond as well.
    • Persona 5:
      • Futaba's mother loved her dearly but tended to prioritize her work over her private life and therefore had little time for her daughter. After her death, this attitude coupled with her forged suicide note led Futaba to mistakenly believe her mother died hating her.
      • Sojiro also falls under this trope. While he also deeply loves Futaba, the trauma of what happened to her mother meant that she was distant from him; for a long while, all he could do for her was make sure she didn't starve and fulfill any requests she made of him. The latter part of his confidant has him confess that he isn't sure he's good enough to be her father; they end up having an argument since she interprets this as him not wanting to look after her anymore, although they both reconcile.
      • Ann's parents aren't abusive, but as celebrities in the fashion industry, they're often gone for months at a time due to work. Ann doesn't dislike them for it, but it contributed to her fairly lonely childhood.
    • Persona 5 Strikers:
      • Zenkichi does care for his daughter Akane but clearly struggles with connecting with her and trying to care for her after the death of his wife, viewing himself as a failure of a father. It's made all the more harder because Akane deeply resents him for not bringing justice to her mother's death, even if he had legitimate reasons not to, since he was being blackmailed that if he did continue to investigate, Akane's life would be threatened. At one point in the past, Zenkichi referred to her as a "burden", though that was done in part to distance himself to keep her safe but regardless, it only estranged their relationship further.
  • Crusader Kings: This is a game where Necessarily Evil dynastic realpolitik is the key to survival. You might really love your charitable, brave, gregarious daughter who happens to be a genius, but that won't stop you from setting up an Arranged Marriage to a man she hardly knows in order to help secure your borders from invasion.
  • Dead by Daylight has an example in the backstory for Claudette, whose mother insists that she should be more "normal" while lamenting Claudette's lack of friends as a child. Her husband calls her out on this one night while Claudette (who'd snuck out of bed) listened in.
    Her mother goes silent. She suddenly releases a cry and says she doesn't want her to be bullied like she was bullied throughout school. Claudette's eyes widen. For the first time in her life... she realizes... her mother's wired differently, too.
  • A spoilerrifc example—coming to terms with this is actually the crux of Cheryl's issues in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Harry and his wife Dahlia did seem to have a happy relationship at some point in the past, but they also had plenty of issues that made getting married basically out of high school and raising a kid pretty tough. (Depending on the player's actions, the ending can also reveal that the couple ended up going through a divorce, that either one of them was abusive, or that Harry cheated on his wife.) Then Harry dies in a car crash, causing Cheryl—who was seven at the time—to grow up obsessing over her few rose-tinted memories of him, while also viewing her mother as a bitter, washed-up tramp; Kaufmann's Wham Line and accompanying speech at the end of the game break down exactly how harmful such an unrealistic worldview is for the psyche.
  • An obscure example in Evolve is Ida Lennox. She's an engineering genius who vastly prefers designing space stations and colonies to interacting with people, has an (admittedly deserved) ego, and admits to switching men out every once in a while. Her performance as a parent is described by Word of God as being a hands off affair, allowing the child to find their own way, to the point where there's only a single line of dialogue mentioning she's a parent. The line in question comes from her son: Jack.
  • Fire Emblem has many of these:
    • Greil from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance was a loving father who cared not just for his own kids but for his entire mercenary company, but kept a lot of secrets from Ike and Mist. For example, the fact that he killed their mother Elena in a berserk rage, due to the effects of a cursed medallion that only Elena (and later Mist) was able to handle without going crazy. Or that Ike had witnessed the entire thing and had the memory magically sealed and repressed by Sephiran.
    • The entire first generation of Fire Emblem Fates. Because birth control was harder to come by in those days and several of the First Generations are either Blue Blood or members of a Legacy of Service (so they're in desperate need of heirs), any couple married during the war produced a child or two and in order to protect those children, their parents had to send them to the Deeprealms. They visit the kids but not too frequently as they keep fighting, so they eventually do reunite with their children (whose ages range from pre-teens to older teenagers, as the Deeprealms have different time flows) for real, the parents are aware that maybe sending them away wasn't the perfect choice due to some of the kids having abandonment issues or being pissed. The resulting support conversations delve into the troubled relationships and ultimately prove that even if circumstances weren't ideal, the parents do very much care about their children and want to keep them safe above all else. And in the end, the kids do recognize that they're loved even if their parents aren't perfect.
    • In Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Emperor Rudolf truly wanted the best for his son Albein/Alm and his nephew/adoptive son Berkut. Problem is, he had a huge Zero-Approval Gambit to play for the sake of the Valentian continent as a whole, so he first sent a pretty much newborn Alm away and made sure that he wouldn't learn the truth of his origins, then some time later adopted a very young Berkut as his heir without telling him about Alm or his plans. While Alm was more or less fine thanks to being raised by Rudolf's advisor Mycen, Berkut's already present obsession with strength (as already taught by his now dead parents) became even stronger, and this would bite everyone in the ass later.
  • King Rhoam in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a stern and harshfather towards his daughter Zelda, admonishing her for not being able to awaken the divine power of Hylia and forbidding her from pursuing other interests and studies. He had good intentions, but his methods only made things worse and it was after his death, Zelda sacrificing herself to seal Calamity Ganon and the fall of Hyrule that he realized his mistake. What's worse, in his journal he expresses regret for treating Zelda so harshly and planned to apologize to her once she returned from training on her birthday. And then the Calamity struck...
  • In God of War (PS4), while he was never physically abusive with Atreus, Kratos is rather abrasive and deliberately distant with his son, which obviously damaged Atreus and they have a strained relationship because of it. It's clear that Kratos does genuinely care for Atreus but ironically his cold attitude towards Atreus is his attempt to protect Atreus from Kratos's bloody past. Kratos admits to himself that he is simply not ready to be a father figure again after the traumatic loss of his first wife and daughter and he is terrified of failing as a father to Atreus.
  • The Resident Evil 2 (Remake) showcases the Birkins' relationship with their daughter Sherry. While their only redeeming trait is their love for Sherry, they are obsessed with their work and often leave Sherry alone by herself. All poor Sherry wanted was for her parents to be home more. Annette manages to find Sherry in the sewers in her surveillance equipment but scolds Sherry for leaving the police station (even though it was overrun with zombies). And after Sherry becomes infected, Annette writes her daughter off as a lost cause and would rather leave to stop William. While her justification is that millions of lives are at risk, that was just cold to say that to her own daughter.
  • John Marston, from Red Dead Redemption, is an outlaw who wants to leave his checkered past behind so he can raise his family in peace. Throughout the game, federal agents are holding his son Jack and his wife Abigail in custody with the threat of harm befalling them unless he helps the government hunt down his old gang. John dutifully carries through in his part of the job and, when he finally reunites with his family, makes an active effort in reconnecting with Jack. The two are never quite able to see eye to eye, given John's violent past and Jack's gentler demeanor and preference for academic ventures, but the fact remains that John cares deeply for his son enough that he makes the ultimate sacrifice to ensure he and Abigail survive when the government comes to silence them. In the prequel, it is shown that it takes a while for John to warm up to the idea of being a father, being loyal to the increasingly unstable Dutch van der Linde and initially unwilling to believe that Jack is his son. In time, however, he comes around and begins to care for Jack as his son. Jack's mother, Abigail, also ran with the gang, but also wanted a better life for Jack, and was instrumental in helping John put Dutch's gang behind them. While she Never Learned to Read, she enthusisastically encourage's Jack's education.
  • Mortal Kombat
    • Sonya Blade does care for her daughter Cassie but is Married to the Job and has high, strict expectations of Cassie which caused a lot of strain between them. Her job as a General Commander of the Special Forces is a demanding one, a decision Sonya isn't happy about, causing her to give up Cassie's childhood to make her world safe. She is also aware that Cassie prefers Johnny over her, which explains her source of animosity towards Johnny in Mortal Kombat X.
    • Kenshi had well meaning intentions when he left Takeda with Scorpion to hunt down his wife's killers and did not return for many years but this left Takeda feeling resentful and bitter against his father for this perceived abandonment.
    • Jax is an Overprotective Dad who is strongly against Jacqui enlisting in the Special Forces, having known what kinds of dangers and threats Earthrealm was up against. When offered a chance to change the past (so Jacqui would not enlist) by Kronika, due to his crippling fear and despair for Jacqui, Jax accepted, thinking this would keep Jacqui safe. He did not realize he was essentially doing this without taking Jacqui's own freedom of choice into consideration and that Jacqui legitimately wanted to follow her father's steps into the army.
  • Lorraine Maillard of The Park is this in spades. A Struggling Single Mother, she genuinely wants to care for her son Callum, but given that she has no support, no experience with kids and a possible case of chronic depression, she often ends up leaving the poor kid alone in situations where he shouldn't be left unattended. For good measure, it becomes clear that her feelings towards Callum are rather... complicated. While under the influence of Atlantic Island Park's brain-warping atmosphere, Lorraine expresses almost every single emotion she feels around him: nostalgia, confusion of self-image, self-doubt, self-loathing, irrational hatred, and even unchecked Mama Bear tendencies. For good measure, after finally realizing that Callum would never have ended up in this predicament if it wasn't for her, Lorraine is consumed with guilt and spends the rest of the game tearfully cursing herself for her failings. The Secret World reveals that she never recovered from Callum's murder, and spent the next thirty years committing suicide.
  • In Mass Effect, Tali relates that while she didn't doubt her father Rael'Zorah loved her, he wasn't a particularly big presence in her childhood, since as one of the Quarian Admiralty Board, he was very much devoted to his work in ensuring the survival and prosperity of the quarian people, and according to Tali, that tendency only got worse after her mother died because losing himself in his work was the only way her father could cope with his grief. And while he could be an Overprotective Dad at times, he wasn't above having his daughter acquire research material for his work from active warzones which in Mass Effect 2 ends up with Tali facing a charge of treason when the nature of her father's work gets out following an experiment gone wrong.
  • Yes, Your Grace: King Eryk is a father who loves his children, but also a King with very limited ressources at his disposal who is expected to provide for the general population in times of need. The easiest solution to that involves Arranged Marriage and his two oldest daughters, twelve and thirteen years old respectively.
  • Ghost of Tsushima:
    • Shimura loves his nephew Jin who came under his care when he was young and sees him as the son he never had and Jin returns the same devotion to his uncle. He even wanted to formally adopt Jin as his heir but his Honor Before Reason, fanatical devotion to the samurai code and classism towards the lower class damages his and Jin's relationship over the course of the game. When the Shogun ordered Shimura to kill Jin, he is visibly conflicted and is seen in tears just prior to the confrontation but continues to stay his course. And should the player choose to kill Shimura, he still calls Jin his son.
    • It's implied that Jin has a distant relationship with his biological father, Kazumasa, with him having more fond memories of his uncle and Shimura being the one to teach Jin how to ride and use a sword instead of with Kazumasa. It's implied that Kazumasa changed after the death of his wife. Yuriko tells Jin that his father did love Jin in his own way, something Jin seems to have a hard time believing.
    • Ishikawa did grow to care for his former student Tomoe and offered to formally adopt her - a grand gesture considering her gender and commoner status. However, his Sink-or-Swim Mentor actions would drive Tomoe to snap completely and betray him and join the Monguls. Before their falling out, he ignored the mounting signs of her betrayal because he wanted her as his heir too much.
  • Quantum Protocol: Despite her strictness towards her daughter, Maya does want Aurora to succeed and eventually supports the latter's activities in Quantum. She also allows Aurora and her friends to hack Neskara's Dungeon Network and covers for them when Omega tries to investigate.
  • The Binding of Isaac: the Jigsaw Puzzle Plot suggests that Isaac's father was one of these, in contrast to his abusive, fundamentalist mother. One item, "Dad's Lost Coin", is an Alcoholic's Anonymous sobriety coin. Overheard dialogue suggests it's "lost" because he suffered from the same Ambigious Disorder as Isaac himself, fell back into his alcoholism, and stole money to pay for it, leading to the divorce that removed him from Isaac's life. However, he tried to be a good parent to Isaac, doing his best to encourage his young son's artistic talents and curiosity, despite how troublingly dark and morbid Isaac's imagination was.
  • In The Walking Dead, Clementine became AJ's guardian and adoptive mother after the deaths of his parents. Since she was only eleven at the time, she had trouble being his guardian and she can admit in The Final Season that she was never taught how to be a parent in the first place. Although she loved A.J, she just didn't know how to handle the responsibilities of parenthood.
  • My Child Lebensborn: The titular child doesn't catch much of a break when it comes to this trope:
    • Their German soldier father has long returned to Germany and has a family of his own. He doesn't want to risk having his wife find out he fathered a child in Norway during World War II. He will, however, send money his parents saved for the child in exchange for a promise of not getting visits or being asked for child support.
    • Norwegian women who had been in relationships with German soldiers were publicly humiliated and stigmatized to the point of not being able to make a living on their own after the war, so the child's mother put them up for adoption. She does, however, come around just enough to tell the Player Character that her parents have the information about the child's father that they are looking for.
    • The child's adoptive parent, the Player Character, is also a Struggling Single Parent who sometimes has to be absent in times in which their presence is needed on a emotional level to be able to put food on the table and afford the occasional gift. The child getting a little entertainment out of watching the parent craft/cook and one of the "doing something fun" options being having a walk in one of the food scavenging sites are easily abused to delay the point where actual play is needed to keep the child sufficiently entertained.
  • In Hades, it's revealed that while Persephone is more caring towards their child compared to their spouse, they are still not without their flaws. While Persephone had legitimate reasons for not being in Zagreus's life (namely Zagreus was stillborn and she left not knowing he was brought back to life), Persephone was still so overcome by grief that they left the Underworld and was very reluctant to return even though Zagreus wished them to. It takes some time for Zagreus to convince them that Persephone shouldn't keep running from their family problems and they need to work together to resolve them sooner than later.

    Visual Novels 
  • Dream Daddy: Robert never managed to be the most caring and attentive father to his daughter, he also didn't had the best example of a father. He deeply regrets their currently estranged relationship and the end game shows he is desperate to make amends with her in any way he can.
  • Umineko: When They Cry is one of the most radical examples of this trope. The parents aren't just people, they're full-fledged main characters. All of the mothers got some great development, and the fathers have quite a bit as well. (Except Hideyoshi, who despite being really nice we don't know much about, to the disappointment of the fanbase.) They also have one of the Biggest, Most Screwed Up Families a videogame player is ever going to meet.
  • Averted in CLANNAD with Nagisa Furukawa's parents. Her father Akio has the phases of the tough guy and an Overprotective Dad, while her mother Sanae has the sensitive and loving personality as The Ditz. They are willing to do everything to protect and help Nagisa whilst trying to maintain a healthy, loving relationship between their own selves. It was eventually revealed that the two indeed followed this trope earlier in their lives, as they were constantly busy pursuing their dream careers in acting (Akio) and teaching (Sanae) and little Nagisa was left alone home constantly. After an incident where Nagisa fell seriously ill while they were working and they just managed to save her before she nearly died, they find out she was born sickly and have decided to both quit their jobs to pursue the goal of protecting Nagisa instead. This explains the bakery they set up, and why Sanae is so horrible at baking to begin with. Poor Nagisa doesn't know this, and falls into an Heroic BSoD after she finds out, but eventually recovers when her parents tell her directly during an important play she was doing that she shouldn't blame herself. In After Story they still fit in as they raise Ushio during her early years, after Nagisa's Death by Childbirth and Tomoya's years-old Heroic BSoD, but don't allow themselves to grieve for Nagisa so they can do their best for Ushio..
  • Phoenix Wright from Ace Attorney is obviously a loving, devoted father to his adoptive daughter Trucy, and while they have a very close relationship, he isn't infaliable. For example, he jets off to Khura'in when he believes his old assistant Maya is in danger, just days before Trucy's big television debut. When it turns out Maya is fine, but isn't going to be done with her training for a few more weeks, he decides to stay in Khura'in rather than come home to support his daughter. When poor Trucy gets accused of murdering her costar during the show, he still doesn't come home; while Apollo may be a capable attorney, the game makes it clear he's a complete legend by this point, and even if he weren't, Trucy would probably appreciate her father being there for her.
  • Perseverance Jack and Natalie are each flawed and fighting their own demons, but despite the strained relationship between them and Jacks' at times thoughtless behaviour, they still care for each other, love their daughter a lot, and are doing the best they can.

    Web Comics 
  • Occurs in Friendly Hostility. Padma and Nefertari Maharassa are still besotted with each other, and they aren't conventional parents—especially since "conventional parents" generally don't have a pet Satanist (Rafi) occupying the spare room. They're not bad parents though; the Maharassa kids have a interesting/fun childhood, it's just prone to some… drama. Such as the parents leaving Rafi to babysit only to find he'd lost their daughter to cannibals. Fatima, their oldest child, has a strange love-hate relationship with her family, but then again she's an extremely cynical Deadpan Snarker. Their younger son, Fox, just adores them. Padma and Nefertari are always there for their now grown-up children, but they're still prone to some rather eccentric behaviour.
    • In comparison to Collin's ultra-conventional, narrow minded family, however, the Maharassas are model parents. "Different is good" is a bit of a mantra for this webcomic.
  • Danny in Other People's Business (same creator as Friendly Hostility). Though she feels a certain amount of shame at not having custody of her son, she admits late in the comic that the first moment he called her "mommy" she felt like she wanted to die. She hated being a parent, and begrudgingly admits to feeling relieved that she doesn't have to be a full time mother anymore.
  • Anthony Carver in Gunnerkrigg Court is a cold, distant, and emotionally abusive father to his daughter Antimony, but as chapter 53 showed, he's a deeply flawed and neurotic man who blames himself for his wife's death, and deeply regrets the choices he made in its wake. Anthony does love his daughter, but he's so neurotic that he's assumed that she blames him for Surma's death and that it would have been better if he just stayed away from Annie's life. Especially after he discovers that the "ritual" that would bring his wife back from the dead is a fake and nearly killed their daughter in the process. He was also unprepared to see Annie after such a long time and how much she looked like Surma and admits that humiliating her in front of class was wrong, but has yet to apologize to her for it.
  • In Homestuck, this develops into a prominent theme. At the start, the kids do not understand their parents/guardians whatsoever. Instead, they regard them as obstacles and annoyances that are Are Useless to their quest and must be engaged in Strife. (The stylized way they are drawn reinforces this perspective: Guardians appear as imposing silhouettes lacking facial features, seeming at once more and less than human.) As the kids undergo Character Development and grow older their perspective changes. They gain the ability to empathize with their parental figures and appreciate their virtues as well as their flaws.
    • Questions about parenthood are thrust upon the kids by the game of SBURB they play. Since it makes them participants in a Creation Myth, they confront the responsiblity of bringing forth new life, and even discuss the (distant) prospect of repopulating humanity the old-fashioned way. John is the first to face these challenges when (thanks to cloning) he makes a bunch of babies (including himself).
    • This is further explored when the Beta kids meet the Alpha kids. Each kid comes face-to-face with an alternate version of their Guardian, but this time they are equal in age. Though they are not the same person as the adult they knew, they exhibit the way their parental figure must have looked and behaved as a kid. It gives them yet another perspective to grapple with.
  • In Whispers in the Wind Scarlet litteraly abandons her daughter Robin's side in the middle of a pirate attack because she's too caught up in the fire of the battle. Bailey in the other hand, not only does he hide to their son Evan that he is his real father but he also will try to mould him in the way he needs by influencing and manipulating his decisions.
  • Tripping Over You: Liam's father Eli is a strict widower who struggles to fill the emotional void left by his wife's death and whose parenting alienates Liam more often than not. Standouts include getting confidential information from Liam's therapist rather than speaking directly and pushing Liam into studying law, a field Liam hates, because he wants Liam to have a secure future. In a rare candid moment, he admits that he had dreamt of Liam joining his law office as a Family Business. He's also a bit homophobic, but makes a deliberate effort to overcome that when Liam comes out about his relationship with Milo.

    Web Original 
  • We don't see them, but The Nostalgia Critic's parents. Abusive, scary, implied to have expected way too much of him and apparently raised him as a girl for a short time, but took him out for a meal when he got an A—and his mum sorted things out when he was getting bullied as a child. That last bit more than likely induced Stockholm Syndrome, as he's still living with her and calls her his world.
  • Jobe in the Whateley Universe has parents like this. His parents are still together, but his father is a megalomaniacal supervillain who now runs his own country, and his mother is The Ditz. They seem proud of the fact that they have managed to raise a sociopath. The biggest area of friction before this year was that Jobe prefers bio-devising while his father is a robots-and-power-armor kind of inventor.
  • CollegeHumor: In "The Six Ways You'll See Your Dad", the last way you'll see your father, after viewing him as a superhero, a clown, a tyrant, a sell-out, and a source of income, is that he's a guy with his own hopes and dreams just like you.
  • Goku is depicted this way in Dragon Ball Z Abridged, which is surprising given how the series treats his Parental Neglect as a long running gag. Episode 60 shows that his desire to push Gohan into being a better fighter is because that's what he likes, and he wants to share that with his son. The problem is well, he's Goku, and thus never even considered Gohan may not be like him.

    Western Animation 
  • Ickis, one of the main characters in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters is often described as the son of the Great Slickis. Many characters, particularly Oblina and the Gromble gush about how talented Slickis is (in stark contrast to Ickis' struggles to successfully complete his assignments.) Slickis is shown to be a very friendly, laid-back monster who is often traveling the world while he son attends a boarding school, so consequently they don't talk to each other much. The first time they try to reconnect, Slickis honestly cannot remember whether or not his son likes certain activities and Ickis gets mad because everybody else wants to hang out with Slickis, and he wants to spend the day with just his Dad. They end up going to the surface world together in an attempt to scare the humans. Ickis messes up, Slickis saves him, and then decides NOT to humiliate his son by revealing what happened after they return to the Academy. Ickis is puzzled but pleased, and the episode ends with the two monsters finally having a nice conversation. Later seasons mention Slickis, who Ickis still wants to impress, and he actually does come to watch his son win a Sewerball game (the monster version of baseball) but mostly he remains too busy with his own career to help Ickis.
  • Adventure Time: Distant Lands fills in more backstory about Marceline's childhood, revealing that her mother, Elise, was Secretly Dying and sent Marceline alone to a bunker (unfortunately, making it seem like she was afraid of Marceline's emerging demonic powers). Marceline notes that her mom meant well, but suspects that this incident led to her trust issues.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: The episode "The Parents" reveals that Daniel and Mary truly do love their daughter Nicole, the mother of the titular character. Their problem, however, is that their mix of insane logic and ambition for Nicole has caused them to be controlling and put too much pressure on her, unintentionally being abusive to her.
    • Richard's mother Granny Jojo is partly responsible for her son becoming a lazy Manchild, having become smothering and overprotective because of the pain of her husband walking out on the family. Consequently, Richard never really learned how to take care of himself and this nearly happens again to Gumball, Darwin, and Anais when she comes to visit. A Time Passes Montage in The Choices also shows that she at some point did a complete 180, kicking Richard out of the house when he was a teenager, as opposed to gradually teaching him to be more self-reliant (which, given how extreme Richard's laziness and stupidity can be, is (in the spirit of this trope) understandable if not exactly great parenting).
    • Nicole and Richard themselves are also presented this way: They are both loving people at heart who care deeply about their three children, the latter is a lazy Manchild who's often presented as less capable than his own kids, while the former has serious anger issues, not helped by her being regularly stressed out by the fact she basically supports the whole family by herself and her kids (especially Gumball) often causing trouble, and can be overly controlling and harsh with the rest of the family. But they both still try to be there for their kids at the end of the day.
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise:
    • The Legend of Korra:
      • Tenzin is mostly a good father to his three kids. However, when it becomes clear that his daughter Jinora is much more spiritually talented than him, he ignores that due to both his pride and to avoid feeling inadequate as a spiritual mentor. He gets better after a pep talk from his student.
      • Tenzin's own father Aang spent more time with Tenzin than he did with Kya or Bumi, since Tenzin was the only airbender (and thus the only one who could help revive the Air Nomad culture). Kya and Bumi resent Aang and Tenzin for this even in the present day though they get over it in the second season, and when Bumi becomes an airbender in the third season, he takes it in stride. Plus, Tenzin has severe self-esteem problems due to being The Dutiful Son: he loves his father, yes, but for a long time he tends to view himself as "The son of Avatar Aang and the hope for future airbenders" rather then just as "Tenzin".
      • Toph was very "hands-off" with her daughters due to her resentment of her own parents' opposite methods. Her younger daughter Suyin resented the perceived lack of attention and acted out, resulting in her being forced to leave her home, something her older sister Lin took very badly. Suyin in turn tried to keep her own daughter Opal from seeing the world though she relents in the end, in a manner eerily reminiscent of her grandparents' treatment of Toph. The Bei Fong family in general seem to be prone to making mistakes in parenting despite the best of intentions.
      • Korra's father Tonraq, the chief of the Southern Water Tribe, never revealed to her that he used to be the heir to the Northern Water Tribe, but was exiled due to his recklessness, or that he raised her in near-total isolation and lied to her about the reason for doing it, so Korra is understandably pissed off when she learns about the first from her uncle Unalaq. Of course, then it turns out said uncle was behind his brother's exile in the first place, and in the third season it's revealed Korra was hidden away because a terrorist group wanted to kidnap her for their own ends.
      • Hiroshi Sato is a Rags to Riches success story and devoted to his daughter Asami ever since his wife was murdered by a firebender. Then when it turns out he funding the Equalist movement, he ends up trying to kill his daughter when she stays with the Avatar. He realizes how wrong he was and redeems himself later, though, via pulling Redemption Equals Death.
    • The parents from the original series are hardly better: never around (Katara and Sokka's dad, though he had quite good reasons), stiflingly overprotective (Toph's parents, as said above), overbearing (Mai's family, obsessed with their self-image and prone to ignore Mai's needs to favor her baby brother Tomtom), were banished (Ursa, expulsed from the Fire Nation court after killing her father-in-law, Fire Lord Azulon, to protect Zuko). Zuko's Archnemesis Dad Ozai is a whole other deal, however.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Mayor Hamilton Hill is portrayed as this. He is a competent public official, but he used his son Jordan's birthday as a platform to promote himself, and disapproves of the boy's interest in magic (then again, his son is only ten years old). This eventually drove the kid to run away. They do eventually make up.
  • Jack and Maddie on Danny Phantom are sometimes more obsessed with their latest ghost-hunting activities to pay attention to their children—like, for example, to notice their son is the half-ghost kid they're hunting. Their older daughter Jasmine actually Lampshades this, though her diagnosis is a bit of an exaggeration—when not distracted they can show plenty of interest in their kids, often to the point of clinginess.
  • Parents on Daria tend to be this way. Helen is a Workaholic and Jake is a Manchild who can't seem to move on from his own Hilariously Abusive Childhood, but both clearly care for Daria and Quinn. Jane's Hippie Parents are firm believers in Hands-Off Parenting, thinking that this is nurturing their kids' individuality, but don't seem to realize how dysfunctional her siblings are as a result. Jodie's mom and dad are both Education Mamas, but the Grand Finale shows that they are willing to put that aside when they realize how stressed she has become. Et cetera.
  • DuckTales (2017): Della Duck's character arc in season 2 focuses around this trope. She spends ten years stranded far away from her family as a direct result of her own thrill-seeking. Upon her return, she wants to become a good mother to her sons Huey, Dewey, and Louie, but has no idea whatsoever how to go about it, acting more like a Cool Big Sis than a mother. This results in things like letting them overload on sugary treats, telling stories that keep them up all night scared to death, or encouraging recklessness not unlike her own. She grows gradually, realizing she was encouraging Dewey the wrong way, helping Huey try to step out of his comfort zone and try new things, or laying down the law on Louie when his antics nearly get everyone lost in time. She even offers encouragement to Webby, who saw Della as Always Someone Better.
  • Timmy Turner's parents, in The Fairly OddParents, exemplify this trope. They're silly, affectionate, devoted to each other... and leave Timmy in the care of a psychotic babysitter while they're off pursuing their hobby-of-the-week. They do make earnest attempts at being good parents (and are always quick to declare You Are Grounded!), but the fact is that Wanda provides the more traditional "motherly" role. In the pilot, they were unaware it was possible to hire someone to look after your children and were just sickeningly devoted to giving Timmy all their attention.
  • Futurama: Fry's parents were odd individuals, with his mother being a hard-drinking sports fan and his father being a paranoid Conspiracy Theorist obsessed with the then-disbanded USSR. Though neglectful at times, the flashbacks showed that they really did love Fry and raised him as well as they were able. They even tried searching for him when he went missing.
  • Green Eggs and Ham (2019): E.B. has always felt her mom Michellee (a literal bean counter) was too much of a smotherer throughout her life, thanks to her severely limiting the amount of fun she can have. It gets to the point where she forces E.B. to wear a "friendship bracelet" that remains magnetized to hers so she'll never leave her side. Then E.B. learns about what Michellee was before a bean counter: an amazing artist. But after her husband passed away she gave up on her artistry and took up the bean job just so she can provide support for her daughter. This gives E.B. a new level of respect for her that even the Lemony Narrator lampshades.
  • Arnold, from Hey Arnold!, is the "old before his time" result of this trope, despite living with his grandparents rather than his parents. His grandma and grandpa are of the loving-but-eccentric variety (though his grandpa can step up to the plate pretty well when called upon), which means Arnold spends a lot of time alone or with his friends.
    • In sharp contrast to Arnold's absent-minded but loving family set-up, Helga lives in the purely dysfunctional version of a family whose parents have both personalities and serious issues. If anything, the extensive characterization given to her parents, particularly her disillusioned and possibly-alcoholic mother, make her and her sister's situation seem even more tragic: Helga is cynical, bitchy, Tsundere and disenchanted because they pay so little attention to her, whereas Olga is a deluded Shrinking Violet and Stepford Smiler because they give her too much attention.
  • Hilda:
    • Halfway through season 2, Hilda and Johanna's relationship becomes strained when the latter catches the former lying to her about doing an assignment to go off on a dangerous adventure that could have gotten her killed. Johanna grounds Hilda, but is visibly reluctant to do so, something Hilda herself sees in the following episode while trying to avoid getting eaten by a giant time-traveling worm.
    Johanna: Am I doing the right thing...? This isn't the sort of mum I wanted to be, but what am I supposed to do, I... [chokes up] Oh, Johanna just get a grip
    • In the season 2 finale, she sends Hilda to her room after the girl makes a snappish and rude insult to her, still unhappy with having to punish the girl.
  • Professor Membrane on Invader Zim is a generally-affable and utterly brilliant Bunny Ears Scientist who is entirely too wrapped up in fixing every problem in the world to pay much attention to his children. His relationship with his son Dib is particularly strained because Dib won't get involved in "REAL Science" (he's an eleven-year-old paranormal investigator), while his daughter Gaz's desire to spend time with him is the only time in the series she shows a desire to be around anybody. The movie actually has him and Dib's relationship as its main emotional arc, showing that he's always proud of Dib even when he pursues interests that Membrane thinks are nonsense.
  • Ron's parents in Kim Possible could be said to fit this trope. His parents—particularly his dad—are relatively pleasant people, but show little interest in their son. They barely even include him in decisions they make which affect his life, such as moving to Norway in The Movie or adopting a second child. The fourth season did, however, see them become a little more involved in his life, such as the episode in which Mr. Stoppable, who is an actuary, helped bring down a villain whose power was his ability to do math.
  • Discussed in Masters of the Universe: Revelation where, after Adam's death, King Randor and Queen Marlena's marriage completely fell apart. They blamed each other for Adam's death, became more and more burned out from constantly fighting over it, and eventually came to despise one another with Marlena even deciding to outright leave Randor and return to Earth (with only the return of Skeletor making her stick around to help). Adam feels incredibly guilty over this when he's resurrected as he feels it's his fault this happened, needing to confide in Teela over how amazed he is to see his parents this way.
    Adam: I think I just learned my parents were people.
  • On Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends, Miss Spider and Holley aren't portrayed as perfect parents and neither are Spiderus and Spindella once they become parents. As early as "Family Circus," Miss Spider is shown making a mistake when she admits she jumped to conclusions regarding Squirt's actions.
  • The Owl House: The pilot features Luz's mother being called into the principal's office again since Luz accidentally released a bunch of snakes for her book report. It's implied that Luz is in real danger of being expelled, so her mom thinks the best solution is to send her daughter to Reality Check camp for three months in the hopes that it will mellow her daughter. Mrs. Noceda does love her daughter, but is shown to visibly struggle with her exceedingly hyperactive behavior and the problems it can cause. Her constant insistence at encouraging Luz to make some friends that aren't reptiles or animals shows she is also deeply concerned with her daughter's poor social interactions. Eventually, Luz decides to spend the summer in a magical dimension instead and learn to be a witch.
    • Gwendolyn Clawthorne loves both her daughters, but she managed to be the exact wrong kind of parent to each of them. She always gave Edalyn, the younger sister, more attention because her big sister Lilith seemed so capable and she felt like Eda needed her more. After Eda was cursed and Lilith made it into the Emperor's Coven (the pinnacle of the magical regime) she devoted her life to finding a cure for Eda and basically ignored Lilith entirely. She didn't realise that Lilith was actually hugely insecure and desperately wanted her approval and validation, while Eda was a lot stronger and more independent than Gwen gave her credit for and didn't want or need her help. After her latest attempt at a cure goes awry she acknowledges that Eda is capable of running her own life and starts to rebuild her relationship with Lilith.
  • Doctor Doofenschmirtz, resident Mad Scientist from Phineas and Ferb would probably fit into this trope. After having a Hilariously Abusive Childhood, he's very dedicated to being a wonderful dad to his daughter Vanessa... except he isn't very good at it. When he isn't making the usual 'embarrassing parent' mistakes, conflicts result from the fact that he's sometimes too obsessed with his job of causing evil to care for his daughter. However, he's still overall presented as being one of the Good Parents, and Vanessa clearly loves him even when she's exasperated with him.
    Vanessa: I can't believe you brought work with you!
    Dr. Doof: What do you mean?
    Vanessa: Dad, you've got some guy tied up here.
    Dr. Doof: No, Vanessa. We've got some guy tied up here.
  • Ready Jet Go!: While Carrot and Celery are intelligent and loving parents, they also have flaws that help humanize them (no pun intended), and have actual personalities outside of just being the parents of Jet. For instance, Carrot can be rather bumbling at times. This eventually comes to a head in "Mindy and Carrot Bake", where Carrot's cluelessness inadvertently gets them stranded in space. Celery tends to be Innocently Insensitive, as it often seems like she doesn't care about Sean due to ignoring his protests of going to space. She does care about him, and just wants him to have a fun time learning.
  • This is a running theme on Recess. The Gang's parents aren't depicted much, but when they are, they're far more likely to end up making a mess or admitting their own flaws rather than saving the day.
    • The trope is most commonly seen with Spinelli's parents. As the toughest kid on the playground, she frequently makes it extremely clear that she doesn't like cosmetics and fashion, and has a general aversion to all things "girly." Despite Spinelli repeatedly saying this, though, her parents, and especially her mom, have a tendency to baby and treat her like a little princess, which she hates.
      • In "More Like Gretchen," Spinelli recruits Gretchen to come along to a cosmetics museum, as her mother is outright forcing her to go. While there, Gretchen makes a big impression on Mrs. Spinelli with her wide array of knowledge; she does the same with Mr. Spinelli at a family dinner later. The parents are so pleased with her that they constantly wonder why Spinelli can't be more like Gretchen to their daughter's face. Needless to say, this deeply hurts Spinelli's feelings.
    • Gus's father has a similar problem. A lieutenant who calls his son "cadet," he tends to look at the world through a military perspective, which, while well-intentioned, doesn't always come across as particularly wise. In one episode, he responds to Gus's question about a bully by telling a lengthy story about Belgium standing up to Germany during World War One. Gus is impressed at the idea of "little Belgium" defeating the superpower; Lieutenant Griswald then bursts out laughing, explaining that Germany absolutely destroyed Belgium in the war (although the action did prompt the rest of Europe to stand up to Germany, a metaphor for what happens later in the episode regarding the bully). Gus ends up feeling no better than before after hearing this "advice."
    • In a more minor example, Gretchen's parents often encourage her scientific pursuits to the detriment of her friendships and other hobbies. In "My Fair Gretchen," the young genius gets a perfect score on a difficult test, prompting the school to try to send her to a academy for gifted students. Gretchen doesn't want to go, because it will separate her from her friends, but her parents won't listen (in her own words, "my mom's been turning cartwheels since I told her").
    • During the series, most of the staff play defacto villains for the kids by being too rule-heavy or forcing conformity on the students. Despite this, many of them get various episodes that try to humanize them and show they aren't unstoppable monster adults. This becomes a major thread in the movie where the villain wants to get rid of summer vacation and the staff help the students take them down. TJ gets a strong speech from Prickly while the two are locked up where Prickly explains that he loves summer vacation if only for the memories he had in the past, and the hope that kids can make new memories in his stead as he ages.
  • Both Jerry and Beth of Rick and Morty often show concern for their kids and the effect Rick's antics can have on them, however they are continuously hindered by their own psychological problems and their failing marriage. Beginning with Season 4, the two of them have patched up their issues and make an effort to be better parents (even if their attempts aren't always successful).
  • Ray Rocket, Reggie and Otto's dad in Rocket Power, is a "cool" dad with one foot firmly in the Competence Zone… so he falls victim to this trope occasionally. One examples is in Race Across New Zealand, where he lets his own macho pride turn into Parental Favoritism, to Reggie's dismay.
  • The Rugrats parents were funny and developed, and their subplots were an important part of what made the show entertaining for adults as well as kids. However, the entire premise of the show relies on them being completely oblivious to their toddlers wandering off on dangerous adventures.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Out of the three parent-helmed family or family-like units we get in meaningful detail, only one isn't shown to be well-intentioned but flawed (the exception, Shadow Weaver, is "less well-intentioned but flawed" and more "manipulative, dishonest and cruel".
    • Queen Angella means well and loves her daughter, but her overprotective streak poses something of a problem, especially since she's literally a higher being by virtue of being an immortal angel: she spends most of the first season arguing with Glimmer, trying to get her to be more like Angella and less like her Disappeared Dad Micah. Eventually, she comes to accept Glimmer as the person she is, rather than continually trying to reshape her, and their relationship becomes a lot better, but Glimmer keeps her insecurities, and they play a role in some of Glimmer's more foolhardy decisions in the fourth season.
    • Bow's dads love him without reservation, but they've gotten it into their heads that his greatest dream is to be a historian like them, and they didn't listen when he told them otherwise. Bow has constructed an entire fake life to allow him to continue fighting with the Rebellion without disillusioning them. That being said, after the whole thing comes crashing down, they accept his choices and apologise for failing him as parents, but in a Lotus-Eater Machine that gives people some of their deepest desires to keep them quiescent - Catra gets Adora back, Glimmer's family is back together, and so on - Bow is shown as a trainee archivist, rather than the technically gifted soldier he became in the real world.
  • The Simpsons has Homer, who does admit he's a terrible parent, and he does try to rectify this (usually), but he and Bart don't usually get along, he and Lisa are too different despite her being a Daddy's Girl, and with Maggie, Homer sometimes forgets she even exists, or what her name is. At one point he even tries to be a better and attentive father, only for Bart and Lisa to tell him they prefer him being a "half-assed under-parent".
    • Marge can be considered a more mundane variant; while she's a more competent parent, she is still imperfect and sometimes vents her personal issues and overbearing nature onto her kids despite her devotion to them.
    • Abe is shown to be this as well. He was verbally abusive, rarely showed Homer any affection and never encouraged him at anything he attempted. However, he also did the best he could to raise Homer alone when Mona left them and it’s been shown that he made multiple personal sacrifices for Homer when he was a child and never told him.
  • The parents of the characters on South Park, especially Mr. and Mrs. Marsh, have received a surprising amount of development, even to the point of directly impacting the episodes' plots. Similarly, Kyle's mom Sheila often ends up causing more problems than she solves, both for her son and the town in general, when she starts off on one of her social crusades.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Marco's parents, Rafael and Angie. The two are Happily Married alright, but they act so much like they're still on their honeymoon that they can be a bit neglectful of Marco at times and are oblivious to all the life-threatening adventures he goes on with Star. Despite this, they still show a lot of care for their son, like showing concern for him when he's depressed, becoming lonely when he's gone for long periods, and enjoying those moments they spend with him.
  • A major theme of Steven Universe is that all of Steven's parental figures are, for all that he looks up to them, people, with problems and issues of their own. This is particularly true of the main maternal figure in his life, the local Team Mom Pearl, who has been a neurotic wreck ever since Steven's mother Rose left her for his father Greg, with resulting projection issues and a huge distrust toward any human that isn't Steven.
    • Steven's Missing Mom is a Posthumous Character, and while she initially seems like an ideal example of Deceased Parents Are the Best, she falls under this trope the more we learn about her, with Steven struggling with her imperfect decisions.
    • Steven's father Greg is a very loving, supportive, and open-minded parent who dotes on his son as much as he can. However, due to him almost always working just to support him financially and Steven's constant training to become a Crystal Gem, they don't always see each other as much as they want. It even becomes a plot point in one episode where Greg fakes an injury just so they can spend more time together.
    • Greg also gets several flashback episodes including one where he met Steven's mother, and another which shows how incredibly immature he was prior to Steven's birth. He may not be perfect now, but Greg had to learn to be better, and the flashback episode where Greg talks about a snowstorm shows he didn't know how to be a good Dad at first, he was just doing what he could because he loved Steven and Rose.
      • Steven Universe: Future dives into this further in "Mr. Universe." Much of what we hear about Greg's family presents them as stuffy and overly-conservative, which is why he lost contact with them and changed his name to "Universe." However, Steven gets into a fight with him and argues that he would have preferred the sort of childhood that Greg hated.
      Greg: You grew up with actual freedom!
      Steven: I grew up in a van! I never went to school! I'd never been to the doctor until two days ago! [...] My problem isn't that I'm a Gem, my problem is I'm a Universe!
    • Connie's parents, Priyanka and Doug Maheswaran, began as overly-strict Education Mamas, with Priyanka especially having Control Freak tendencies that made the poor girl terrified of her. The episode "Nightmare Hospital" has her find out about Connie's Gem-related activities and reluctantly start encouraging her to pursue them. She also decides to start mellowing out after seeing how much emotional damage her parenting techniques are causing and the fear that the rift being created will cause Connie to never ask her mother for help (even when she needs it).
  • Tino's dad in The Weekenders obviously cares a lot about his son but due to insecurities about being boring, fails to realize that all his son wants to do when he's visiting his dad (or his dad is visiting him) is to spend time with him and just him and is so upset by the latest visit that he just wants it to be over. He eventually fixes it but it takes a full-hour episode to do it.


Video Example(s):


Bill Goodfellowe

Bill does deeply care about his daughter, however his relationship with her is strained, due to his overprotectiveness of her and his work for the Lord Protector.

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Main / ParentsAsPeople

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