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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 Eastern 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 an Anglican for the Catholic (they are, in the words of the late Anglican Robin Williams "Catholic Lite") or (b) substitute a deacon for a priest (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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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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 Gettysburg, 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.
  • 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.
  • Breakfast on Pluto's heroine, Kitten, is the product of an affair between a Catholic priest and his housekeeper. She's also transgender, making a traditional religious upbringing somewhat hard on her, but she is undeniably the sweet-natured ingenue one might expect of this trope.

  • 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 shy, sickly 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?)

    Video Games 
  • Earthbound Beginnings has Ana, the daughter of Snowman's resident pastor. She is a kind, thoughtful girl with very strong PSI powers (though all religious mentions are omitted in the English translation).

    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 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.
  • Requiem (2021): Evelyn's father is Minister Gilbert. She resists his demand for her to marry, and secretly sees another woman (this would have been viewed as gravely immoral in 1605 England, definitely against accepted Christian morals at the time).

  • 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.
  • Don Camillo: In Don Camillo e i giovani d'oggi, Don Camillo is forced to take in his troublemaking niece Cat—youthful rebel, lover of beat music, and ringleader of a biker gang—as her family hopes that her conservative uncle and a rural environment will "set her straight". Initially Cat behaves as provocative as possible in the hopes that Don Camillo will throw her out; when this fails, Cat seems to undergo a change of heart and starts to dress conservatively, goes to church, and has long conversations about religion with Don Camillo's young auxiliary priest Don Chichì. Her spotless record is only tainted when she confides in Don Camillo that she is pregnant, prompting him to give her money so she can move out and start a business of selling consumer electronics out of a van. This goes well because Cat's business is the only one in town to compete with Peppone's, securing her the local conservative customers who resent buying from the communist Peppone. Her livelihood secured, she asks her priestly uncle to hear her confession, which is that she has feigned her religious leanings to manipulate Don Chichì, that she faked pregnancy in order to blackmail Don Camillo to give her money, and that she is really Peppone's business partner and only pretending to be his competitor in order to fool the conservatives who believe they are hurting Peppone by buying from the parson's niece. Her confession ends with the affirmation that she actually regrets nothing of this.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Young Sheldon: Tonya is Pastor Jeff's niece staying over, and the first thing she does is rent an R-rated movie. She and Missy get together and plot mischief, which includes smoking cigarettes.

    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...

    Visual Novels 


    Western Animation 
  • Jessica Lovejoy on The Simpsons is a juvenile delinquent who had to be sent to boarding school, though Reverend Lovejoy himself is a pretty terrible preacher and an even worse father (who's in complete denial toward her misbehavior).


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    Anime and Manga 

    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.

  • The protagonists of The Night of the Hunter are the stepchildren of a preacher, though he wasn't present during their upbringing (which is probably for the best). The kids themselves are portrayed as just ordinary kids, put in a terrible situation.
  • 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".
  • A River Runs Through It: Norman and Paul's father is a Presbyterian minister. The former grows up into a responsible, straight-laced man while the latter doesn't, leading to tragedy.
  • Plan B (2021): Lupe's dad is a pastor, and she's a rebellious queer teen who chafes at his rules.
  • Freshman Year: Subverted. Realistically, though CJ's father is a minister, he's neither devil nor angel. After he goes to college, CJ does act in ways his parents don't like, drinking and impregnating his girlfriend. However, he takes responsibility and they help him work this out, with him remaining an upright person overall despite this.

  • In The Color Purple, Shug Avery is an independent and brash "loose woman"...which is why she is semi-estranged from her father, the town reverend. They begin reconciling by the end of the story.
  • A Discussed Trope in Firestarter, when a Mad Scientist warns The Shop of what happens when a child raised to avoid a certain behavior ends up breaking that taboo. With the preacher's daughter he sites, she Really Gets Around and gives her many lovers the clap. With Charlie, a potential Person of Mass Destruction if her firestarting powers are unleashed, the consequences could be a lot worse.
  • 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 Glen St. Mary's widowed minister. They aren't bad by any means, or at least no more mischievous than other children, but are held up to such high standards by the community because of who their father is that whenever they try to meet those standards, it only leads them into more into trouble, leading them to impose fairly harsh punishments on themselves, leading to youngest daughter Una fainting in church (due to her being very frail and going a whole day without food) and Carl to come down with pneumonia. They get better once their father realizes what's going on. Also helps that Rosemary West becomes their stepmother by the end.
  • One of the Dear America books, dealing with Japanese internment during World War II, is narrated by the daughter of a preacher who moves from Seattle to Idaho to follow his Japanese parishioners who have been forced into an internment camp.
  • Just Juliet: Lacey's dad is a preacher, who believes extramarital sex is a sin. She's not only fine with that so long as Safe, Sane, and Consensual apply, but unabashedly promiscuous (however not openly to him, as you would expect). Lacey's not really portrayed as bad though, just rebellious and independent.

    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.
  • Rumpole of the Bailey: Rumpole doesn't mention it often, but his father was a vicar, and his childhood home was a vicarage. As expected for the "diabolic" end, Rumpole has less use for organised religion than anyone else in the series, has a hot temper, and is fond of his minor vices, particularly wine, poetry, blue humour, and small cigars. As expected for the "angelic" end, he is tireless in his pursuit of truth and justice and a noble defender of the rights of the accused with a strict and mostly self-imposed code of ethics.

  • 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).

  • This is pretty much the storyline of Ethel Cain’s first album, Preacher’s Daughter. In the album, Cain describes her feelings about being in a small conservative town in Alabama and being the preacher’s kid, her father’s past sexual abuse in her before his death, and her love affairs before her last boyfriend Isaiah gives her drugs and pimps her out, before eventually killing Cain and cannibalizing her. Yeah. Heart warming story.

  • 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 '70s 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. Tom Goss's gay reimagining of this song as a fundraiser for the Trevor Project is sadder and heartbreakingly beautiful. Son of an anti-gay preacher man sneaking around behind his daddy's back... with another boy... and then getting caught!
  • The folk song "Fire Down Below", most famously performed by Nick Cave, has a parson's daughter who is very beautiful and chaste, but also very judgmental and foul-mouthed.
    The parson's little daughter
    Was as sweet as sugar-candy
    I said to her, "us sailors
    Would make lovers neat and handy"
    'Cause there's fire down below
    She says to me, "you sailors
    Are a bunch of fucking liars
    And all of you are bound to hell
    To feed the fucking fires"
    'Cause there's fire down below"

    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".

  • In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye's daughter Hodel briefly expresses a bit of a crush on Mendel, the son of the local rabbi ("We only have one rabbi, and he only has one son. Why shouldn't I want the best?"). When we actually meet Mendel, however, he seems like a bit of a no-fun pedant, constantly correcting Tevye's Biblical references.
    Tevye: As Abraham said, I am a stranger in a strange land.
    Mendel: Moses said that.
    Tevye: Ah. Well, as King David said, I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.
    Mendel: That was also Moses.
    Tevye: (Beat) For a man who was slow of tongue, he talked a lot.

    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.