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Raised in a Lab

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This person spent their formative years in a laboratory, as a test-subject or experiment. Maybe they were created there, maybe they were taken there as infants due to there being something special about them — either way, they've got next to no experience with the world outside the lab. Of course, given that there likely was a reason they were IN that lab in the first place, they probably also have a severe case of Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training... which can, in combination, lead to that classic Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass setup. Rare is the person who was Raised In A Lab and turns out to be completely harmless!

They may be badly traumatized due to the torturous experiments that were performed on them regularly, or they may have been raised by a Motherly Scientist who provided a pleasant, if offbeat, childhood. And while they may end up escaping from the lab, that's far from a given — they may initially turn up as an obedient Tyke Bomb, or in more darkly comedic works, may simply have been kicked out on the streets after the project they were part of got defunded by the shady corporation or government who started it. Either way, they're a Fish out of Water, and even many years after (if being Raised In A Lab is part of an adult character's Dark and Troubled Past) it is likely to color their outlook and personality to a high degree. May lead to them being Not Used to Freedom and Skilled, but Naive.

Not to be confused with Designer Babies, which focuses on meddling with the baby's genetics, not on how the baby was raised after the meddling; or Tyke Bomb, which is a Child Soldier raised by the military instead of by a lab; or Escaped from the Lab, which also covers adults who grew up outside of a lab getting captured by the lab and later escaping.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Amazing Agent Luna: Luna was conceived and raised in a laboratory. Which becomes a concern for Doctor Andrew when the Agency wants Luna to go undercover in a public high school.
  • Bungo Stray Dogs: Chuuya may be this, depending on whether he is the original or the clone. When the original was very young, he was abducted by the military and cloned as part of a series of experiments to create an artificial Ability user by merging him with an entity called Arahabaki. Later, when Chuuya was seven, Rimbaud and Verlaine released one of the boys in a botched kidnapping attempt, who was found by Shirase and brought into the Sheep. The other remained in the lab for the next nine years until he was killed by N in front of the surviving Chuuya.
  • Cowboy Bebop: In the episode "Pierrot Le Fou", Mad Pierrot was created and born in a laboratory and grew up there. He was given superpowers, including Flight and being Immune to Bullets, and trained to be an unstoppable assassin.
  • Elfen Lied: Many of the Diclonius, including Mariko and Nana, were brought to the Diclonius Research Institute as infants or toddlers and raised as test subjects, having been deemed too dangerous to live in human society.
  • Kengan Ashura: Takeshi Wakatsuki practically grew up in Furumi Pharmaceutical's lab due to his Superman Syndrome. A benevolent example, the then-CEO of the company wanted to help the boy control his Super-Strength so that he would stop breaking everything he touches, and help him live a normal life. Heihachi Furumi (current CEO of the company and his predecessor's nephew), in particular, became his Parental Substitute and would send him to school and take him out to experience normal activities, such as watching baseball matches and playing bowling.
  • Iris from the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Reflection/Detonation duology is a rare positive example, as she is shown to have nothing but happy memories of all of the scientists who created and raised her. In fact, the main reason she's an antagonist is because she wants revenge for all of them having been massacred, especially the head scientist (whom she viewed as a father figure).
  • All three of the titular girls of Psychic Squad were placed in government facilities from a very early age due to their incredible Psychic Powers. After years of experimentation and training, they got turned into an obedient squad of government-sponsored Tyke-Bombs, but it was only with the start of the series and the arrival of their new manager, Minamoto, that they started getting treated as PEOPLE and not dangerous test-subjects/weapons. No wonder they all fixated so heavily on him...

    Comic Books 
  • The Boys: Known to be the case for the Homelander, who was raised in a lab equipped with an atomic bomb as a failsafe (as befitting a Superman Substitute, the official story is that he'd been found and raised by a rural couple). Strangely enough, his upbringing isn't what eventually drove him off the deep end, that was his clone gaslighting him into an official Face–Heel Turn was solely to have a reason to kill him, justifying the clone's existence.
  • The kids of Generation Zero were all taken from their parents at an early age and raised in a Project Rising Spirit facility. This has left them with considerable deficiencies in their social skills.
  • In the backstory of Luther Arkwright, we are told how Luther was abducted from the maternity ward right after being born, and then raised and nursed by machines. He ends up quite amoral.
    From infancy to adolescence, no family, no comforts, no natural emotive response patterns. Feelings subliminated. Reinforced by therapy and drugs. His name Alph. Rigorous martial training, reparation for the role planed for him.
  • Superman:
    • In Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen, Jimmy befriends the Outsiders, Modified Clones who were raised in Cadmus with the intent of them becoming Cadmus personnel, but the Outsiders chose to leave the project and become a strange biker gang in the wilderness outside of Metropolis instead.
    • The second iteration of the Newsboy Legion were clones who were created and raised in Project Cadmus where they were constantly meddling in things. They released Superboy "S-13" from the lab before he was completed to Director Westfield's specifications and generally annoyed many of the scientists there by being underfoot.
    • In the Flashpoint (DC Comics) universe, Clark Kent was captured as a child and raised in a lab. Before the Flash and his allies freed him, Clark had never even seen sunlight.
    • In his New 52 origins, Superboy Conner Kent/Kon-El was raised in a lab as an Artificial Human with Superman's DNA and later released as a Human Weapon.
  • The Unstoppable Wasp: Nadia van Dyne was raised in a Mad Scientist splinter group of the Red Room, the Russian Tyke Bomb-factory black ops organization better known for creating the Black Widows. This was an unusual variation, as the intention was not to experiment on her and her cohort, but to raise and indoctrinate them as the next generation of mad scientists.

    Fan Works 
  • A Certain Magical Friendship: In the last chapter of Mirror_Noise, it's revealed that the #1, 2, 4, and 5 Level 5 espers were raised in labs, presumably so the scientists could optimize their power growth, and to be more controllable, in contrast to the #3, which had an actual family.
  • In Singularity, Lucy was taken at a young age by the Balam Alliance to be experiment on, along with others, to find a way to create Super Soldiers for eight years. It seems she went through hell from what they did to her, possibly worse than any of the other test subjects, as she was the only one who came closest to the Alliance's goal. Jellal found out what the Alliance was doing and intercepted the ship transporting Lucy to a new facility and freeing her before dropping her on Erza's crew.

    Film — Animation 
  • Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo was a human-made, genetically engineered Pokémon that was an imperfect close of Mew. Created and raised in a test tube, Mewtwo used its psychic powers to communicate with the other test subjects, including the head researcher Dr. Fuji's deceased daughter Amber, to learn about life and morality. After Amber's consciousness faded, Mewtwo's memories were wiped in fear of the grief being too stressful, but this only left Mewtwo with feelings of sadness and loneliness that it did not understand, making him lash out and escape.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Fly II: Martin Brundle was raised in a laboratory at Bartok Industries since he was the only offspring of the mutated scientist Seth Brundle and his lover Veronica Quaife, and the CEO who funded Seth's experiments wanted to observe how Martin's dormant fly genes would manifest themselves.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: Rocket Raccoon was created and raised by the High Evolutionary, a galactically famous scientist who's obsessed with the concept of "perfecting the universe".
  • Logan: The child mutants were raised as bioweapons in a Mexican lab, with any attempt by the nurses to treat them like normal humans severely reprimanded by higher-ups.
  • Species series:
    • Species: Sil was raised in a lab until she was biologically about twelve years old (chronologically, much shorter) and escapes when the scientists try and euthanize her because she's perceived as too dangerous. Once out in the world, she becomes a bona fide psychopath, with no morals or inhibitions against doing whatever she has to do to survive and fulfill her goals.
      Laura: Well, she wasn't exactly smothered with a mother's love or taught good manners.
    • Species II: Sil's clone Eve was also raised in a lab, but much more care was taken to make her a relatively well-adjusted alien-human genetic hybrid, and it works out much better for the humans in the end (mostly).

    Literature 
  • In A Certain Magical Index and its spinoffs, Academy City is a hyper-advanced "world capital of science" founded to research esper abilities. Children who were brought to the city and abandoned, known colloquially as "Child Errors", are easily preyed upon by underground Mad Scientists in need of test subjects, making this a fairly common background for esper antagonists.
  • Maximum Ride is about a group of winged kids who were experimented upon as infants (thus the wings) and raised in a lab, and have since escaped.
  • In The Maze Runner, most of WICKED's subjects were raised at the organisation's laboratory complex after being taken from their families as young children.note  WICKED are searching for a cure for a deadly brain disease called the Flare, the result of a virus which was unleashed as a means of population control in the wake of the world being devastated by solar flares. The majority of the subjects were chosen because they had a rare immunity to the Flare and WICKED hoped that studying their brain patterns might lead to a cure; a few non-Immunes were chosen as control subjects.
  • Shiro, one half of 'The Blank' in No Game No Life, was moved to a lab — apparently with her mother's consent — before she turned one, due to her ludicrous intelligence. A Child Prodigy writ large, she was already speaking fluently at that point, and acing every intelligence-test put to her — rendering her IQ effectively immeasureable. While the tests and experiments we see all appear to be fairly ethical and nonintrusive, this nonetheless left her with a sense of profound isolation and disconnect from the rest of humanity, with her first real human connection being the fateful encounter with her step-brother, Kuro — a prodigy in his own right, though not to the same degree. We never find out how she eventually left the lab, though smart money is on it being thanks to Kuro and his mastery of social manipulation. Either way, those years left their mark — without Kuro close at hand, she's completely nonfunctional, basically shutting down and going catatonic.
  • In The Stone Sky, the Tuners are Artificial Human Child Mages trained from birth to operate the Obelisk Gate Amplifier Artifact. On their one trip outside the lab, they realize that they're kept sequestered because the Sylanagistine people loathe them and that they'll be destroyed for Human Resources as soon as they've served their purpose.
  • Sergeant Taura from the Vorkosigan Saga. In "Labyrinth", when her age was sixteen and her designation was Nine, she describes her upbringing as "I lived with hired fosterers till I was eight. Like the clones do. Then I started to get big and clumsy and break things — they brought me to live at the lab after that. It was all right, I was warm and had plenty to eat."

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Boys (2019): As in the source material, Homelander was raised in a lab throughout his childhood while his propaganda pretends that he's been raised as The All-American Boy. The constant feeling of isolation he felt, and accidental murders of others played a key part in making him into what he is today.
  • The Pretender: Believing that some children were born geniuses at "pretending" to be other people, the mysterious laboratory Centre raises and educates promising youngsters to be Pretenders, geniuses with the ability to become anyone they want to be. Then one day, their star pupil escaped...
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Odo was first discovered as an infant Changeling and was taken to the Bajoran Institute of Science where he was kept and studied until he managed to prove that he was actually sentient. Even then he was still treated as a science experiment or as a sideshow freak to entertain the Cardassian occupiers. This lead to a great deal of bitterness and resentment that he carried for years after he finally left the Institute.
  • Eleven in Stranger Things was abducted at birth due to her telekinetic abilities. She was taken into experimentation and trained to use her powers, deprived of all contact with the outside world. As a result, her language is stunted and her social skills are non-existent. At the start of the series, she escapes and is found by a group of boys her age.

    Music 
  • Meta Salmhofer from the Evillious Chronicles was created in a lab by Seth Twiright, and grew up without a mother or father to take care of her. When Seth selected her as the new Ma and she saw the children she bore being tested on, she remembered her loveless childhood, and, not wanting her children to suffer the same fate she did, kidnapped them and ran to the forest to raise them herself.

    Toys 
  • Averted with Gooliope Jellington from Monster High. She's a Blob Monster who was left with a travelling circus when she was just a baby goo. She still has the glass jar she was found in and the note that came with it that identifies Gooliope as Experiment 816, Batch 8708. It also contains an explanation as to why she was made a foundling: "A cold sterile world is no place to raise a little goo. I can give her everything, except a community where the only thing about her that will ever be measured is the size of her heart. I know that you can give her the unlife I cannot."

    Video Games 
  • Beyond: Two Souls: Jodie spent half of her childhood living on a military base so that scientists could monitor her connection to the Infraworld and the spectral entity "Aiden". Thankfully, her caretakers Drs. Nathan Dawkins and Cole Freeman were the male version of a Motherly Scientist.
  • BioShock:
    • BioShock: The protagonist, Jack, is revealed not to be an ordinary human who ended up in Rapture by accident, but the biological son of the city's founder Andrew Ryan, who was taken from his mother upon birth by Doctors Suchong and Tenenbaum. They performed a number of experiments on him, such as installing Fake Memories and Trigger Phrases, subjecting him to Rapid Aging, and more.
    • BioShock Infinite: Due to her ability to create portals to Alternate Universes, Elizabeth was locked in a tower deprived of human contact and kept under observation by many scientists, who kept very careful watch over her to the point of invading her privacy. This started when she was an infant, and she only escapes in her early 20's with assistance from Booker. However, she was never subjected under direct experiments.
  • This is implied to be the case with Ragna and his siblings in BlazBlue. The earliest record and memory that they have is that they used to be confined in a lab as little children before Jubei rescued them and put them under Celica's custody. As they are revealed to be the "children" of the 5th Boundary Interface Prime Field Device, it's implied that the three were raised in a lab due to their nature.
  • Crash Bandicoot: The title hero started out as being raised by Dr Neo Cortex but eventually escaped
  • Control: Dylan Faden was taken as a child by the FBC to be groomed into the next Director due to his innate supernatural power. Unfortunately, the FBC was unfit to handle a child. Dylan ended up being treated as little more than a resource to be used by staff, keeping him in a cell with his every action monitored. Even their more benevolent efforts to help him adjust to his new way of life failed miserably. Worse still, a fatal injury-inducing outburst due to this treatment caused the FBC to deem him unfit for the role but kept him locked up. By the events of the game itself, almost two decades later, he has become The Resenter.
  • Fate/Grand Order: In the prologue of the Sixth Singularity, it's revealed that co-protagonist Mash Kyrielight is a kind of clone/Homonculus mix, who was created with perfect magic circuits in order to host a heroic spirit, and had a predetermined life span. In addition, due to being raised in a sterile environment, she could not go outside. She was also not the only one, though all the others died. After said spirit called out the scientists and magi involved, they stopped the experiments out of guilt, and gave her as much freedom in Chaldea as they could. Most of their issues are solved at the end of the first part of the game.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Aerith Gainsborough, along with her mother, was one of Professor Hojo's test subjects in the Shinra labs as a child. Little is told of her time there, just that her mother was killed when they escaped when she was seven, and her father died trying to prevent Shinra from taking them when she wasn't even a month old. What we see of Hojo and her experience when she's briefly recaptured give just enough hints to let players fill in the gaps themselves.
  • 47, protagonist of the Hitman franchise, was created as part of a cloning experiment by Dr. Ort-Meyer, and grew up in a laboratory, in which he was raised to be the perfect assassin.
  • Jack from Mass Effect 2 broke out one day in her teenage years and spent most of her adult life tearing around Citadel space, since the lab taught her how to control her phenomenal Biotic abilities and not much else. Including social norms. She's rude, crude, runs around topless, and once rammed a space station into a moon for giggles.
  • Tamara from Moshi Monsters spent her childhood in a lab and was ostensibly created accidentally as the result of an eccentric scientist's experiment. However, it doesn't seem to have any effect on her except for the fact that her species is hard to define, she's super-intelligent and has electrical powers, and growing up in a lab seems to have inspired her to become a scientist herself.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross: Mono is an artificial human from another dimension that was created in a lab and kept there for most of her life. After years of being continually tested on, she grew a resentment for humanity. When Lilia from Britania pulls like-minded villains from across dimensions to aid her in her goals, Mono joins her team, the Seven Catastrophes, to help her destroy the world.
  • Selvaria from Valkyria Chronicles was raised in a laboratory because of her Valkyria blood. Emperor Maximillian personally rescued her from spending her entire life there, earning her Undying Loyalty.

    Webcomics 
  • Grace from El Goonish Shive is a classic example — a genetically engineered human/alien/squirrel hybrid created by a shady corporate lab. She was supposed to be trained into a badass Voluntary Shapeshifting Super-Soldier, but proved not to have the temperament for it. What happened next is... complicated. In short, by the time she actually made good her escape, it wasn't really a laboratory anymore, and she is still only slowly learning to pick up on the cues and references of normal society.
  • Lothar of Exterminatus Now was this due to being an artificially engineered person. He eventually escaped where he was found by his adoptive father who introduced Lothar to his extended, adoptive family, a large secretive guild of mercenaries.
  • Lab Raised Steven is an Alternate Universe fancomic for Steven Universe, where a shady scientist discovers a baby hybrid Steven and kidnaps him in the night, taking him to an enclosed lab and raising him as "Subject R-053". He performs various experiments and surgeries on Steven during his youth to see how his body and powers function, at one point even permanently removing his eye and keeping it in a jar to study it.
  • Both Helen and Artie in Narbonic. She is a clone created for study by a mad genius, he's an Uplifted Animal who hardly left the lab before getting turned human(oid).

    Western Animation 
  • To some extent, C2 from Carl². While a lot of his immature and socially ignorant behavior is attributed to his being younger than he looks, some of his nerdier behavior like a love of school can be related back to the set of triplet doctors who raised him. The opening theme song shows that he thinks a bowtie is acceptable for a teenagers' yearbook photo; when we finally meet "the lab guys", they do in fact all wear bowties.
  • Cubert Farnsworth from Futurama is Professor Hubert Farnsworth's clone, whom he has been incubating in a tank for 13 years as an heir. He has a genius intellect, which enables him to point out all the logical inconsistencies around him and also makes him something of an Insufferable Genius.
  • Ace from the Justice League episodes "Wild Cards" and "Epilogue" was born with incredible psychic abilities that left people in a state of catatonic insanity simply by making eye contact with them. She was taken into Project Cadmus' custody when she was a toddler. They subjected her to constant testing to examine the limits of her abilities and find a way to control her. In her final days, she expresses resentment for being cheated out of her childhood by something out of her control, which Batman empathizes with.
  • Omega in Star Wars: The Bad Batch is a female clone of Jango Fett without the Clone Army's growth acceleration. She spent her life growing up in Nala Se's private labs on Kamino as the scientist's assistant. As such, Omega has no experience with any setting outside of a lab and after landing on Saleucami she is quickly awed by everything. Even literal dirt has her giggling in childish excitement as she plays with it for the first time.


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