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Raised by Natives

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And after these heartwarming scenes, everyone had some of Mrs. Rozhenko's delicious Rokeg blood pie.

One of the classic story hooks is for an orphan child from a strange land be raised by the people native to the land he or she finds themselves in. His origins (the orphan is usually a boy) and the purpose of his parents' trek so far from home is a mystery, but they'll usually face an accident of some kind that wipes them all out save for him. Whatever the case, the child will be adopted by the chief and raised as one of his sons.

Growing up will be tough, he's likely to face discrimination from other children if not the tribe itself, and even without that he'll feel as out of place as somebody of mixed ancestry.

When he grows up and finally feels at home after the tribe accepts him (or alternately, feels the most out of place and restless) his parents' people will show up. At best, they're peaceful(ish) and want to reintegrate him into their society, usually helped by a family member coming along who can connect him to the memory of his biological parents. In this case, he'll help resolve potentially deadly conflicts between both peoples and find a place as a mediator. At worst, it'll be a violent Culture Clash because they're conquerors, slavers, or very violent settlers who may or may not turn his village into a Doomed Hometown. Expect this to galvanize him as a pro-native hero.

A common variant is to have the kid be Mighty Whitey raised to be a Noble Savage, uniting the most powerful traits of both (being mighty, white, noble, and a savage!) and getting rid of his invading relatives. More seriously, this can be used to give western audiences (the orphan is usually a Caucasian in a non-European continent) someone to relate to who can defend the natives of the place from "evil" Caucasians.

Raised by Wolves often functions as a subtrope. Compare with Oblivious Adoption, Jungle Princess, and Upbringing Makes the Hero. Contrast Raised by Humans (as that trope involves the adoptee not being considered a fully sentient being), Raised by Orcs (where the adoptee is raised by a family from an enemy culture), and Muggle Foster Parents (which involves an empowered adoptee and non-powered fosters).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball has Goku, who ends up being sent to Earth from his home planet as a baby in a similar fashion to Superman. The similarities between Superman and Goku are briefly pointed out in Dragon Ball Z Abridged; when Grandpa Gohan finds Goku for the first time, he decides to name him Clark, only to immediately change his mind afterwards.
  • In the 1981-1982 anime God Mars, the protagonist Takeru Myoujin is an alien sent to earth to destroy it when he grows up. But due to growing up with the native earthlings, he grows fond of them and refuses to set off the world-destroying bomb he was sent to earth with. And the series' storyline then proceeds to have the evil aliens trying to get him to fulfill his original job or kill him so the bomb's fail-safe kicks in and blows up the earth anyways if they can't get him to do it willingly.
  • The Inuyasha sequel anime Yashahime has Sesshomaru's daughter Towa. As a child, she fell down the well Kagome first came from, and was raised by Kagome's brother until her teens before she went back to the past.

    Comic Books 
  • ElfQuest has the story of Little Patch, a human raised by elves. (This is, however, something of an inversion, since the elves are descendants of stranded aliens.) When he grows up he returns to a human tribe, and thanks to his elfin upbringing eventually becomes a chief.
  • Jonah Hex, although he wasn't orphaned. His drunken father sold him as a slave to the Apaches.
  • James-Michael from Omega the Unknown is orphaned by his robot parents and is put into the care of two locals in Hell's Kitchen, who try to teach The Stoic how to Become a Real Boy.
  • Rom vs. Transformers: Shining Armor features Stardrive, a Giant Mecha from the Cybertronian colony world of Caminus who is aboard a ship attacked by the Galactic Council. Her helpless infant form is quickly rescued by Rom the Space Knight, sustained by the scientist of his home planet Elonia, and she is raised in Elonian society. The Elonians see her Cybertronian heritage as a potential danger to others because Elonians are a unified and peaceful culture while their only knowledge on Cybertronians comes from being in the crossfire of the Autobot-Decepticon war (Rom himself doesn't seem to understand that the Transformers are divided into factions at all, and believes them all to have a unified culture of violence and destruction). Stardrive herself becomes a Space Knight in hopes of putting her "natural bloodthirst" to positive use.
  • Sheena, Queen of the Jungle was raised by a native witch doctor after he accidentally poisoned her father.
  • Superman for being born on Krypton, sent to Earth, and raised by gentle farmers Ma and Pa Kent. And all Captain Ersatz thereof.

    Fan Works 
  • In All-American Girl (Shinzakura) a pony brought up as a patriotic... well, all-American girl.
  • Anthropology: Lyra's a human, and was turned into a unicorn by Princess Celestia and raised by ponies.
  • Besides the Will of Evil: After falling off of Cloudsdale as a filly, Fluttershy remained stranded on the ground (as she was still unable to fly well) and was found and adopted by a tribe of mule deer living in the Everfree Forest.
  • In Paradise, Celestia and Luna were born Earth ponies. The unicorns thought Celestia and Luna were this since they didn't believe that the fillies were ever born as Earth ponies. Also, the sisters were technically being raised by natives when they stayed with the Unicorns.
  • Faust, and several of the other Sparklings in Things We Don't Tell Humans: The natives are humans, and the children are sentient alien robots, whose lifespans are much longer than their adoptive parents'...
  • This is a cultural imperative for griffons in the Triptych Continuum. They believe that if a child is brought into the world, it must be raised to adulthood, and to attack a child is the highest of crimes. Should the parents die, someone else will always take over: no griffon is ever an orphan for more than a day. But in the deep past, when griffons went to war and the crying foals of the enemy were found... that belief was extended to them, and they were gently scooped up and flown to their new homes. Centuries later, the Republic has a significant pony population, virtually all of whom are the descendants of those children — and those ponies were generally raised as and perceive themselves as being griffons. This also applies to every species the griffons have ever fought.
  • Similar to the above is Two Worlds One Family except Harry was left as a human.
  • In To the Waters and the Wild Hagrid dropped baby Harry while flying over a forest and Harry was found and raised by fairies.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Dar in The Beastmaster was raised by a tribe of hillmen after one of their hunters rescued him from the witch that had stolen him from his mother's womb.
  • "Crocodile" Dundee was raised by Australian aborigines.
  • The Love Interest from Dances with Wolves was rescued by a tribe of Native Americans after her village was destroyed by another tribe.
  • In Elf, the protagonist crawls inside Santa's bag as an infant and is taken to the North Pole. With no way of knowing where he had come from, Santa raises him as one of the elves. He still doesn't figure it out when he grows over six feet tall.
  • The Emerald Forest is about an American boy who is abducted by an Amazonian tribe and raised by them for ten years before being discovered by his father and brought back to America, where he is completely out of place.
  • Natty Bumppo, raised by the Last of the Mohicans.
  • Little Big Man: The title character is a young homesteader whose family is killed by Native Americans, and he is adopted into another tribe. He's later taken back into white society and spends the rest of his life caught between white society and Native American society.
  • Little Indian, Big City and its American remake Jungle 2 Jungle. The child's mother has chosen to live in an Amazonian tribe and she's the one who raised him, but as she's fully integrated, the child ends up being brought up pretty much like the other native children.
  • Johanna Leonburger from News of the World (2020) was taken in and raised by Kiowa Native Americans after they raided her homestead and killed her family. She was quite young when this happened, as she only speaks Kiowa; what remains of her native German is broken and heavily accented.
  • The protagonist of Pathfinder (2007) is a Norse child raised by Native Americans, who sides with his adopted family when vikings return and start raiding.
  • In Revenge of the Virgins, Yellow Gold was abducted as a child and raised by Indians. Because of her golden blonde hair, they regard her as a goddess.
  • Jim West from Wild Wild West was raised by Indians.

  • Nefret Forth, in the Amelia Peabody series, fits this trope morally if not factually. Her parents were 19th-century explorers who discovered a remnant of ancient Egyptian civilization in a lost oasis and spent the rest of their lives there, Going Native in varying degrees. When Amelia and her family arrive, they find the 13-year-old Nefret being high priestess of Isis. Her parents being dead by the end of the book, Nefret goes back to Western civilization with the Emersons, where she has a realistically rough time fitting in.
  • Moses from The Bible was raised in an Egyptian household ... at least partially by his real mother, who was hired as a wet nurse by the Egyptians in question (who didn't realize the relationship).
  • Not exactly orphaned (his mother was marooned with him), but The Savage from Brave New World. Curiously, he isn't really a "Noble Savage" even though you would think the Indians would be portrayed a little nicer considering they're the only cultures left that aren't a dystopian baby factory. Still just the usual "hey, we smoke Peyote" and "random death-inducing ritual for no reason" stuff that was common in period Western works. Actually, an alternate reading is that their culture has decayed, with nobody remembering why they perform certain rituals anymore (or why they might not) — and they are nicer by comparison to the rest. Remember, it is a Crapsack World.
  • G. A. Henty's By Right of Conquest features an interesting twist on this. Roger Hawkshaw is the sole survivor of a shipwreck off the Yucatan coast and finds himself taken in by a village on the outskirts of the Aztec empire; everything else wobbles about this trope up through when Hernan Cortez arrives. Unfortunately, by this time most of the Aztecs don't particularly like him much, and the reason Roger was shipwrecked in the first place was part of a British attempt to break the international (Pope-mandated) division of the New World between the Spanish and Portuguese. Xanatos Speed Chess ensues.
  • Mikhail Akhmanov's Dick Simon duology has the titular character be the son of a xenobiologist living in a small human colony on the high-G world of Tayahat. The locals are primitive Proud Warrior Race Guys with four arms. Dick's father spends a lot of time studying their culture and the local wildlife, leaving his son to be trained by a Taya friend of his. Thus, Dick is raised to be a warrior, working extra hard to compete with the native Heavyworlders. When Dick grows up, he leaves Tayahat to train at the Academy, where he's taught different arts (of the special forces variety) by a red-haired Texan. He especially loves missions involving woods and jungles, when he can strip off everything but a loincloth and become a beast stalking his prey. He also has a pet snake (a large Tayahat semi-sentient snake), inherited from his Taya mentor.
  • Discworld
    • Captain Carrot (City Watch books) was raised by dwarves. Despite bordering on 7 feet and being the only dwarf who keeps bumping his head on the ceiling in mineshafts. (His dwarven name is literally translated as 'Head Banger'.) Unusually for this trope, Carrot wasn't merely raised by dwarves but actually is a dwarf, in every sense that matters to all but the most ultra-conservative, human-hating elements of dwarven society (and even they merely call his dwarfishness "debatable"). This becomes a plot point in both The Fifth Elephant and Thud!. note 
    • From Going Postal we have Stanley, who was abandoned on a farm and raised by peas (yes, not on peas, but by peas) and so tends to turn gently to face the sun. He manages to be rather better adjusted to non-vegetable society than one might expect.
    • Snuff: Miss Felicity Beedle's mother was found and raised by goblins when she was only three. Unfortunately when she was eleven, humans massacred the goblins and send Beedle senior to live in a convent where she was to be broken of her goblin habits. She escaped and her exploits influenced her daughter Felicity to become a campaigner for goblin rights.
  • Ayla was raised by Neanderthals in the Earth's Children series when her parents were killed in an earthquake. The Clan Of The Cave Bear and its sequels devote extensive time comparing the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal cultures, and following the interactions and occasional clashes between the two races, with Ayla often serving as an interpreter.
  • M.M. Kaye's The Far Pavilions has the Mighty Whitey variant, who even ends up with an exotic Far East princess.
  • In C. J. Cherryh's novel Finity's End, a merchant spacewoman's orphan is raised on a space station by the local humans and also the Downers from the planet below. Just as he is getting settled into that society, his mother's ship returns and forces him back into their very different society. Drama ensues.
  • In H. De Vere Stacpoole's The Garden of God (sequel to The Blue Lagoon), the son of the original couple falls for Katafa, a Spanish girl raised by Kanaka natives. Stacpoole, who despised racism, described the Kanaka as intelligent, complex human beings; but Katafa seems to have been Spanish because readers wouldn't have accepted young Dick marrying a Kanaka beauty.
  • In the Gatling series, Gatling is an orphan who was raised by Zuni Indians after his parents were killed by Apaches.
  • Nobody "Bod" Owens, hero of The Graveyard Book, was orphaned just before the book starts, as a toddler, and wanders into a graveyard, where he is taken in and raised by ghosts. The whole book is a translation of The Jungle Book into the new setting, so this case wavers between this and Raised by Wolves.
  • The protagonist of The Hound and the Falcon is an elf who was raised by monks. Among other things, he's the only elvish character who's uncomfortable with the idea of changing gender.
  • In I Am Regina by Sally Keehn, Regina is a colonial settler kidnapped by Allegheny Indians. She is raised by them, and they grow to love each other. Later on, she is found and brought back to her mother, only remembering a few words of English.
  • The Kharkanas Trilogy: Korya Delat was raised by a lone Jaghut named Haut following her people's tradition of exchanging hostages. Even though the Jaghut do not follow that tradition, the Tiste just dropped off a kid of vaguely noble blood which nobody wanted in Jaghut lands and called it a day. Since there's no mention of Korya's parents and everyone back home seems to have forgotten of her existence, she likely is an orphan. Now, even though Haut does try his best to educate her properly, the Jaghut are big proponents of the Misery Builds Character approach and live in solitary towers in the middle of nowhere, so Korya ends up with a heaping of No Social Skills. Unfortunately, shortly before she comes of age, civil war breaks out in her home realm and makes a return impossible. Still, Tiste culture comes a-knockin' with another Tiste youth getting dropped off with the Jaghut and shows Korya how estranged she's become from her own people.
  • Rudyard Kipling's Kim. The title character is raised by a Hindu (Hindoo) attorney from Bengal, a Muslim warrior (specifically a Pashtun/Pathan tribesman from the foothills of Afghanistan), a Buddhist monk from Tibet, and a British colonel. The product: Kimball O'Hara: Friend of the Stars/Friend of All the World, the perfect warrior for the Great Game.
  • Bria in The Last Dove is often mocked in the village of bird people where she was raised because she hasn't yet been able to change into a bird. She later turns out to be able to turn into both a dove and a wolf.
  • In Conrad Richter's Light in the Forest, a young white boy is captured by Native Americans in a raid. They raise him as their own, renaming him True Son. Eleven years later, he thinks of himself as completely Indian and does not remember his life with his real family. He is forced to leave his Indian family and return to his white family after a treaty is signed and all white "prisoners" were given up. When he returns to his white family he is unable to reconnect with them and runs away. However, when he returns his Indian father tells him he must return and accept his heritage.
  • Spells, Swords, & Stealth: Gabrielle is the daughter of the local mayor, and has been kidnapped by goblins on a regular basis for her entire life. They only need her as bait for adventurers, so they've never hurt her, but it could take weeks before she was "rescued." Eventually she learned their language, and they taught her how to hunt, track, and provide for the clan. She ended up identifying far more with the goblins than the pampered nobles at home. She still pretended that it was some horrific experience though, which annoys her guard when he finally finds out about it.
    Eric: I once stayed up for thirty hours straight to guard her door because we heard goblins were in the area, and she has her own horse she rides away on.
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein has Valentine Michael Smith, a human raised by Martians after the first crewed exploration mission all died, and returned to Earth by the second. The Martians teach him their language-philosophy, how to use his puny human brain to use amazing powers, and to spy on humanity to determine whether they should or shouldn't blow us up, like they did to the intelligent race on the "fifth" planet between Mars and Jupiter. You know, the asteroid belt? He starts out as an Idiot Savant and ends as a Messianic Archetype.
  • Temeraire: The eponymous character is effectively a lost prince of the Qing Dynasty who ends up entirely accidentally in the care of a British officer and becomes one of their most renowned soldiers. With the added wrinkle that he's a huge dragon and the branch of the military he serves in is the British Aerial Corps, alongside their other dragons. Upon the revelation of his royal heritage, he goes to China on a diplomatic mission in the second book, where he takes to local customs like a fish to water, mainly because they involve things like "being treated as equal to humans" and "eating cooked food instead of raw meat", and returns to Britain as an ardent advocate for dragon rights.
  • Ilox in The Wild Boy. He was raised by wild 'wolf' humans after the Lindauzi kicked him out. So it's also Raised by Wolves in a sense, but not literal wolves like that trope means. They accepted him after a while, but he did get regarded nervously because he was Lindauzi-bred. The 'wolves' he, Phlarx, and Caleb take up with later do the same thing to a point.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Johnny Reach, the sidekick in the CBS Western action series Bearcats!, was raised by Indians.
  • Episode "The Discovery" of Dinosaurs has a dinosaur girl raised by cavemen who in the show are stand-ins for Native Americans.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Talons of Weng-Chiang", Leela says she was trained to strike at the heart a certain way. To keep them both out of Colney Hatch or Broadmoor, the Doctor concocts a line about her being raised by South American natives.
  • Brought up in Chapter 8 of The Mandalorian. Having returned to Navarro at the beginning of the previous episode, Mando and company escape from Moff Gideonís army of stormtroopers by escaping into the sewers the Mandalorian tribe makes its home in. Upon seeing The Child, the Armorer tells the protagonist that in Mandalorian culture, The Child is a foundling and that Mando has to either raise it as a Mandalorian or return it to its own kind. As interesting as the idea of a Yoda Mandalorian is, The Child is barely equivalent to a human toddler at fifty years old, and Mando would likely be long since dead by the time itís old enough to be a proper Mandalorian warrior.
    • The Mandalorian himself could even be seen as this. The first three episodes feature a number of flashbacks to his home village during a Separatist attack during the Clone Wars, culminating in his parents being killed and a super battle droid aiming its wrist blasters at him. Episode eight finally plays the full version of the flashback. his parents place him in what seems to be an underground shelter of some kind, barely getting the door closed before they themselves are killed. The super battle droid opens it and before it can kill the young protagonist, a yellow blaster bolt destroys it. A member of the Mandalorian Death Watch splinter group helps the young boy out of the shelter and carries him to safety with his jet pack, as his allies fight off the droids.
  • Star Trek
    • Worf of Star Trek: The Next Generation is the TV Tropes image subject. He is a Klingon raised by humans; adopted by a Starfleet serviceman after being found as the sole survivor of a Klingon outpost attacked by Romulans. Done interestingly because his foster parents wanted him to get the Klingon cultural side of his heritage and raised him accordingly, but the result is that Worf is often stricter about holding to Klingon customs and laws than ordinary Klingons. He also got Mother Russia Makes You Strong on top of the usual Klingon traits.
    • Another TNG episode turns this around: a human boy had been captured and raised by the captain of some aliens who attacked his colony and killed everyone else. The main plot of the episode involved the Enterprise crew trying to convince both the boy and the aliens that he should be returned to his relatives on Earth. In the end, they decide that what's best for the boy was to not tear him away from the family and culture he had grown up with, but they leave the door open if he ever wants to return or learn more about his human heritage and surviving family.
    • Some of the Star Trek Expanded Universe novels invert this, with human siblings raised by Klingons.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has Odo, a Changeling raised by Mora Pol, a Bajoran scientist. Because he has lived among humanoids all his life, Odo is more accepting of them than other Changelings, who often exhibit fantastic racism. Unfortunately, being raised outside the Great Link means that he's behind the curve in terms of his shapeshifting skills compared to other Changelings. Throughout the series, Odo feels torn between returning to the Great Link and remaining with his humanoid colleagues and love interest aboard Deep Space Nine. Despite having successfully integrated into humanoid society, Odo has experienced discrimination due to his Changeling heritage. In one episode, when Odo is a suspect in a Bajoran's murder, his office is vandalized and a mob threatens his life.

    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, Lanaya of Zathrian's Dalish clan mentions that as a young girl, her city elf parents were murdered by bandits who kept her alive for use as a sex slave. She was rescued several years later when the bandits made the mistake of venturing too near a Dalish camp and killed one of their scouts, causing their leader Zathrian to personally come after the bandits and utterly destroy them! Because she reminded him of his own lost daughter, he adopted Lanaya and trained her as his apprentice.
  • Dragon Quest VII has Firia, a Heartwarming Orphan who was adopted by the Pendragon, leader of the Winged Humanoid Lefa tribe. As the only person in Gorges without wings, she has difficulty getting around and is constantly bullied by the other kids. Her own little sister treats her like a personal slave! Yet she endures it all with a smile, until her grandmother reveals she's Lefan by blood. She was just born without wings, and her cowardly father decided it'd be better to pretend he merely adopted her than admit she was his own flesh and blood, for fear he'd be ousted as leader if anyone knew he's fathered a 'flawed child'.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, a Dark Elf shopkeeper in Riften mentions he was raised by Argonians, and follows many of their traditions and customs, even taking an Argonian name. He gives you a quest to find out who his real parents were and where they came from. Turns out he's the son of a House Telvanni woman.
  • Golden Sun
    • Ivan was entrusted by his Adept family to (soon-to-be) Lord Hammet and Lady Layana of Kalay, along with some business advice to ensure that he grew up comfortably in the right place at the right time to join and help Isaac & Co., in fulfillment of a prophecy.
    • Sheba fell from the sky near Lalivero as a small child and was promptly adopted by Faran's family. It's generally assumed by fandom that she came from the city of the Anemos Jupiter Adepts, which was removed from mainland Weyard and became the moon hundreds of years ago. The fact that Sheba herself is a Jupiter Adept supports this.
  • In Mass Effect:
    • A batarian was raised by human parents and founded an extranet organization dedicated to connecting children of various racial and ethnic backgrounds so that they would understand, tolerate, and befriend each other to make the galaxy a better place.
    • Mention is made of some vorcha raised by asari, who turned out quite well-educated and civilized. They attempted to found a civilized vorcha colony world to become part of the galactic community, but it unfortunately failed within a few generations. As a short-lived Explosive Breeder race, they simply churned out too many children too fast to keep up and the asari (who have a lifespan of about one thousand years) found it heartbreaking to keep watching vorcha (who have a lifespan of about twenty years) mature and die of old age in such a short time.
  • Metroid: Samus Aran was raised by The Chozo after Space Pirates destroyed the human colony she was born on (and then, later, the homeworld of the Chozo who adopted her).
  • Mallow in Super Mario RPG is a fluffy cloud thing raised by frog peoples (unaware that he is not a tadpole).
  • In a variation on this, Lloyd Irving of Tales of Symphonia, while not raised entirely immersed in a separate culture, was raised by a dwarf living in human lands, and it's clear right from the start that he considers his adoptive father's culture to be his own, right down to reciting Dwarven Vows. This is occasionally speculated by the other characters as being the reason for his willingness to fight against the social tide - he was never a part of it anyway.
  • Warcraft: Thrall was raised by humans. To elaborate, orcs are not native to the world of Azeroth, unlike humans. Also, Thrall wasn't exactly raised by Blackmoore. The guy wanted an orc he could control to eventually lead the captive orcs to take over the world.

  • Digger has Shadowchild, who is speculated by the characters to be a demon growing up around mortals. Later confirmed after Shadowchild defeats Sweetgrass Voice he explains that most demons are raised evil or grow up feral, he is the only demon child raised by good.
  • In Dominic Deegan this is the backstory of major villain Karnak and Dominic's father Donovan. Karnak was raised by Orcs in Maltak and Donovan was raised by Elves. Karnak had a harder time with it due to the considerable differences between Orcs and Callanians (for one thing Karnak can't properly eat their food thanks to his teeth) and the Fantastic Racism on both sides. The Big Bad even used him as a Pretext for War that turned the Orc nation into one giant wasteland!
  • Miss Abbott and the Doctor: Cati Abbott was raised in an Amazonian tribe since she was orphaned at four, and even after moving to civilization she still knows a lot of the customs, skills, and practises they taught her.

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