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Preacher's Kid

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No this isn't a porno; it just very intentionally looks like one.

"Well the preacher tried his best
To keep the girl in line
She undermines all that he believes
The beast could not be caged
And the daughter has her way
The souls of town, they could not be saved!"
3 Inches of Blood, "The Preacher's Daughter"

All children are individuals who exhibit good and bad behavior, regardless of what their parents do for a living.

Except these kids.

If you're a preacher's kid in fiction, you're either a perfect little angel or—more commonly—a beastly little devil more devoted to mischief and/or promiscuity than any kind of religious study. Bonus points for being the latter while people think you're the former, an ability no doubt gained from your years of living under a household where learning to hide your extracurricular activities proves to be a tad bit more important than mathematics. It also is easy to be bad if your ordained parent is a Sinister Minister.

Of course, in actuality preacher's kids run the gamut in personality traits, but their screw ups tend to be far more public. Think about it: If you're the child of say, a chef, and you're caught doing something morally ambiguous or even downright illegal, well, how many people in your town would really care? (Even if you're a bad cook, people will merely consider it amusing.) But if you're a preacher's kid? Let's hope you didn't inhale. From the kid's perspective, it might be because everything is Forbidden Fruit. Making something morally off-limits only makes it more tempting for many kids to do. Worse, this tendency to magnify even the smallest infraction makes it easy to get started on the vicious Crime After Crime cycle with a very small initial offense.


In regard to such kids being portrayed as sexually promiscuous, compare Catholic Schoolgirls Rule.

Note that Roman Catholicnote  priests are supposed to be celibate (as opposed to most Protestant and Orthodox Churches), so any examples from that denomination are going to be of necessity illegitimate. If the writer doesn't want to go down that route, one can either (a) substitute the Catholic for an Anglican (who are, in the words of the late Anglican Robin Williams "Catholic Lite") or (b) substitute a priest for a deacon (married Catholic men are allowed to become deacons—indeed, most deacons who aren't in training for the priesthood are married—and deacons are held to a similar standard of conduct as priests).


Subtrope of The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes and Strict Parents Make Sneaky Kids (for the beastly kind). In fact, the beastly kind is so widely-recognized that an old saying goes, "Minister's kids, the devil's grandkids."

The film by this name, Preacher's Kid, exhibits a mixed case.



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  • Rev. Spence's children in One Foot in Heaven are polite, well-behaved, good kids, who still chafe at their father's strict Methodist discipline and how it constricts their lives. Hartzell says that girls are shocked when he tries to hold their hand, thinking that he's a pure-hearted preacher's son, while his sister Elizabeth complains that boys think exactly the opposite. They win a small victory when Hartzell takes his father to the movies and convinces the reverend that film-going isn't inherently sinful.
  • In the movie based on Michael Shaara's Civil War novel The Killer Angels, one of the soldiers from the 2nd Maine regiment transferred to the 20th Maine is introduced to Colonel Chamberlain as a preacher's son and "the best damn cusser you ever heard. Knows more fine cuss words than any man in Maine!"
  • Footloose provides an example of this with Ariel Moore who rebels against the town's and her father's rules against dancing, alcohol, controversial books, etc, but at her core is a genuinely good person, and her rebellious attitude is implied how she copes with the loss of her older brother.
  • In Korean romantic comedy Marriage Blue, Yi-ra is this. She's a good person, but she carefully conceals her life of partying, short skirts, and premarital sex from her strict Christian minister father. Hilarity Ensues when her boyfriend knocks her up and they have to enter into an Altar the Speed marriage.
  • Zoe, in Moms' Night Out, is the daughter of a pastor and his wife, Sondra, one of the eponymous mothers. While she chafes under her parents' rule, she acts responsibly and recognizes the wisdom of their words by the end of the film.
  • Patrick in Saved!, is consistently a nice guy, and pious, throughout the movie.

  • Dane O'Neill, of The Thorn Birds fits into this category, subverted somewhat, because he is unaware of his parentage.
  • In Twilight, Angela Weber is the soft-spoken, shy, gentle daughter of a Lutheran minister.
  • The March sisters in Little Women all fit, despite their flaws since they don't actively try to be bad, but Beth fits the Angelic mold the best.

     Live-Action TV  
  • Kolby from Preacher's Daughters takes her religion very seriously. She was devastated when she found out that her sister was not a virgin when she got married.
  • In the "Hook Man" (S01, Ep07) episode of Supernatural, Lori is starting to explore Forbidden Fruit at college, but her guilt and anger over challenges to her sense of morality summon the titular Hook Man.

     Religion and Mythology 
  • In The Bible, Jewish priesthood is passed from father to son, and still is today (note that this is separate from being a rabbi, which isn't). Thus, any good kohen counts as this trope.
  • And regarding the Christian church, Paul addresses this idea directly when laying out the requirements for church leaders (1 Timothy 3):
    He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

     Western Animation  
  • The Simpsons: If you extend this trope to the children of the extremely religious in general, Rod and Todd Flanders are an example.


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  • Holly in Keeping Mum is a minister's daughter who has casual premarital sex and has a new boyfriend every time she enters a scene. In the end she becomes a serial killer following the footsteps of her grandmother and mother.

  • In old Russian novels, you can sometimes find "you son of a priest" as an insult.note  Similarly, in Greece, there's a proverb that translates into: "Priest's kids, devil's grandchildren".
  • Sheena (formerly known as Jane Grey) in Lawrence Block's Me Tanner, You Jane is the daughter of missionaries. After being repeatedly raped by the cannibals who ate her parents, she became a violent and cannibalistic hater of white people and women.

     Mythology and Religion  
  • Older Than Feudalism, since there are cases in The Bible:
    • The very first High Priest, Aaron (the brother of Moses), had two of his sons mess up in some way (Leviticus 10:1,2). The immediate pronouncement of a decree from YHWH about not drinking "wine or strong drink" when doing priestly duties has led some scholars to speculate that alcohol may have been involved.
    • Eli from the Books of Samuel was a renowned priest and judge. His two sons by birth were corrupt ministers who had respect "neither for the Lord; nor for the priests' duties for the people; they treated the offerings to the Lord with disdain" (1 Samuel 2:12b,13a,17b). The priesthood eventually went to the adopted son for whom the book is named.
    • Apparently a real problem with the holy men of ancient Israel, as Samuel's kids also went bad (1 Samuel 8:2,3), possibly due to lack of proper parental care while daddy dearest was busy shepherding the entire nation. While we don't know any details about exactly what Samuel's sons had done, it was clearly bad enough that people didn't want any of them to succeed their father as a judge. And thus, it was time for them to get their first king...


     Western Animation  
  • Jessica Lovejoy on The Simpsons is a juvenile delinquent. Although Reverend Lovejoy himself is a pretty terrible preacher and an even worse father.


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     Anime and Manga  
  • Kimberly, a character from a Christian manga series named Serenity, is the adopted daughter of a minister and helps run a Christian youth group, but she is portrayed more-or-less as Alpha Bitch and spends most in the series in a love triangle with her boyfriend and the title character.
  • Kyoko Sakura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica is the daughter of a priest and Used to Be a Sweet Kid—until her well-intentioned Deal with the Devil (not literally, but still) ended with her father going mad and committing Pater Familicide. She became The Cynic and even The Social Darwinist, allowing Familiars to kill people just so that she could harvest their Grief Seeds later. Her arc in the show sees her recover some of her initial goodness and optimism.
  • Sankarea: Chihiro Furuya ( son of a Buddhist priest) might not be a hell-raiser, but he is obsessed with zombies, and has even created two: a cat (intentionally) and a human (unintentionally).
  • Idol series Tsukiuta's Chivalrous Pervert and Mr. Fanservice You Hazuki is the third son of the head monk of a Buddhist temple in the very traditional town of Nara.
  • Blue Exorcist has both Rin and Yukio, who although adopted, still consider Catholic priest Fujimoto their rightful father. (Their biological father is Satan.) Rin appears to be the rebellious kind at first, with Yukio taking the foil as his angelic counterpart. But shortly after the series starts, it's made clear that both boys are just trying to help the people they care about, and Rin starts to look less like a delinquent and more like a brash optimist determined to kick the shit out of Satan. Yukio also starts to look less angelic as more of his hidden insecurities reveal themselves.
    • Ryuji Suguro is also the son of a high priest (Buddhist, or at least Buddhist-ish) and a Foil for Rin—a Rule-Abiding Rebel with a Hair-Trigger Temper, loyal to his friends and with his own vendetta against Satan. He's also on par with Yukio in terms of intelligence.

     Comic Books  
  • Creature Tech:
  • The Big Kahn is a graphic novel that begins with a rabbi's funeral; there, his family discovers that he wasn't even Jewish, but a criminal who pretended to be a rabbi for a con before Becoming the Mask. This causes his oldest son, who had been angelic, to fall "off the derech," while his younger son and daughter, who were not devout, begin to reexamine the religion that made their father completely change his life.

  • Angie King of Preacher's Kid starts out as the perfect angel. Twenty-two, she still spends most of her time serving her church and keeping her father, the bishop of a evangelical church. She is seduced into a life of theater and debauchery when she leaves with a traveling show. Near the beginning of the film, she complains about how preacher's children have to be perfect while Devlin continues to push the idea of all preacher's children being "the biggest freaks ever".

  • The disciple Levi-Matthew in The Bible. He was a member of the all-preachers Levite tribe who turned to tax collecting, a job that made him a traitor in the eyes of the other Jews, and many of them also embezzled public funds. Yes, this trope predates Christianity.
  • Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes has two examples:
    • Steve Ellerby is the "devillish"/irreverent one. Played with (subverted) in that Steve is clearly a good guy from the outset and it later becomes apparent that he is not nearly as irreverent as it first appears.
    • Mark Brittain is the angelic/"pure" one. Played with (subverted) in that Mark is nowhere near as pure as he'd like everyone to believe.
  • In Dirge for Prester John, Sefalet is both angelic and diabolic.
  • The title character in Colby Rodowsky's Lucy Peale is the daughter of a tent preacher who kicks her out for refusing to denounce the illegitimate baby resulting from a night of non-consensual sex.
  • The Harlequin (Kurtz's Sycophantic Servant) in Heart of Darkness identifies himself as the formerly-rebellious son of a Russian Orthodox archpriest.
  • Judith in The Anderssons was given up for adoption and spent her whole childhood with a religious family. Actually, her uncle (who becomes her legal guardian after her parents die in an accident) even is a priest. Judith is not really "Angelic", but she's not really "Diabolic" either. Rather, she is just a normal teenage girl. But that is terrible enough to her adoptive family, who are not portrayed in a positive light at all. So in the end, she feels that she can't fit in with them and eventually returns to her biological family.
  • Joyland: Features Annie, the daughter of a popular televangelist, who in the course of her life went through all 3 types. She started as a type 1, actively tried to be a good Preacher's Kid as a teenager despite her lack of faith. She rebelled once she entered college as a young aduld, becomming a type 2, even joining the American Atheist Society. By the time the story is set however, she has outgrown this phase as well and is now mostly neutral towards religion, with most of her time being devoted to caring for her ill son Mike. She and her father are still on bad terms with each other however.
  • Rainbow Valley has the Meredith children, the four children of Ingleside's widowed minister. They aren't bad by any means, or at least no worse than ordinary children, but are held up to such high standards by the community that whenever they try to meet those standards, it only leads them into more into trouble.

     Live-Action TV  
  • Jimmy Farrell in Breaker High in a flashback to his first day on the ship, is implied to be a bit diabolic, but more 'embarrassing frat boy' than rebellious.
  • Abena on Youngers, while not diabolical, doesn't seem to care that she is the daughter of a Pentecostal priest. Yemi finds this out the hard way when he is tasked with watching over with her when she is more interested in going to a nightclub.
  • Luke on Mom, Violet's boyfriend and the father of her baby. He's a slacker, a stoner and not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he's actually a Nice Guy under it all.

  • Tori Amos. One of her songs, "Icicle", is about masturbating while her father conducts a service downstairs.
  • The girl mentioned in Toby Keith's song "God Love Her". While she is rebellious by dating (and going to California with) a motorcycle riding, leather clad outcast, she also helps introduce him to the faith and helps to save him.
  • Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy is the son of a bishop. Would you guess that from listening to Casanova, an album about... well, look at the title? (He did also write the theme music to Father Ted, mind you).
  • Alice Cooper and Sheryl, his wife. They are devout Christians, much to the surprise of many fans and even Christians themselves.
  • '90s One-Hit Wonder Adina Howard started her career singing for the choir of her local church... until one day, when her clothes mysteriously vanished.
  • Know that slightly suggestive 70's hit song "Ring My Bell"? Singer/writer Anita Ward is actually a preacher's daughter.
  • Marvin Gaye's father was first a Seventh-Day Adventist and then a Pentecostal minister in D.C. He eventually fatally shot his son after an argument.
  • Billy Ray in the song "Son of a Preacher Man" made immortal by Dusty Springfield, which focuses on a young romance with one of these. It's even more awesome when you hear the gay version by Cam Clarke. Son of a preacher man sneaking around behind his daddy's back... with another boy!

     Recorded And Stand Up Comedy  
  • Sam Kinison wasn't just a preacher's kid, he was a preacher himself before going into stand-up.
  • Stan Freberg's father was a Baptist minister. He's admitted that this background helps account for the occasional dips into moralism in his comedy ("Green Chri$tma$", "Incident at Los Voraces").
  • Sinbad is also the son of a preacher, and even references the song in his "Guide to Life".

     Western Animation 
  • Metalocalypse: Toki Wartooth hits both ends of the spectrum. He's the most innocent, childish, and kind-hearted member of his group... then again, his group are world-famous death-metal rock stars, and he is prone to increasingly frequent Freak Outs and bouts of Unstoppable Rage.
  • On The Simpsons, Krusty the Clown is the son of a rabbi; they were estranged for years due to his decision not to follow in his father's footsteps. More recently seasons tend to emphasize him as Mr. Vice Guy, but at his core he really does love children and comedy.
  • On The Cleveland Show, Donna's sister Janet has a pair of bratty twins whose father was apparently a preacher. Arguably fits under "Diabolic," but they're never shown as being more than over-excited kids, and that seems to be mostly from Janet's Hands-Off Parenting.


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