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Royalty often has its perks in love life, given the allure of power — or maybe it doesn't and the noble is stuck in an Arranged Marriage, so they go elsewhere. In settings without modern birth control, it often leads to a child out of wedlock.

The parent can be someone of lesser rank and can be of either sex (usually the father). If the child has been kept in the dark about it, this will likely be a part of The Reveal.

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Expect the child to angst about their heritage. Part of this angst can come from one of their parents being a commoner, leading to a "Child of Two Worlds" situation — out of the succession and sometimes ostracized, yet too much of a noble to get along with their commoner side. If both sides are nobility, expect the scandal to be ten times greater. This is not a source of distress for all bastards, however; some can expect privilege and an increase in wealth fare.

If Succession Crisis occurs, they may be forced into a difficult position, even though they've likely been told they could never inherit anything from their royal parents because of their illegitimacy. It could lead to Luke, I Am Your Father or Luke, You Are My Father. If the father has a serious Heir Club for Men problem, he might resort to legitimizing his royal bastard to prevent a Succession Crisis.

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The Bastard Bastard tends to be the scheming Evil Prince, trying to forcibly make themselves the legitimate heir, particularly when they're the older sibling and feel their rightful place is denied by their bastardy. Darker examples will involve a child of Droit du Seigneur. On the flip side, the Heroic Bastard will be a close ally of their half-siblings or a generation above The Consigliere for The Good King.

The Bar Sinister is typically used as heraldry for illegitimate nobles and their descendants, legitimate or not.

If they have brothers or sisters (especially half brothers or sisters) this may be a cause of Rich Sibling, Poor Sibling.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Astra Lost in Space: A variation. The "bastards" Charce and Aries are actually clones of the King and the late Crown Princess, respectively. They are accepted into the line of succession without anybody questioning it, to the point that the man plotting to usurp the throne tracks down and tries to assassinate Aries even though she's been missing and presumed dead for 17 years, lest DNA testing reveal her to have a better claim to the throne than him.
  • Attack on Titan: Historia Reiss is the daughter of the most powerful nobleman in the series and his mistress.
  • Berserk: Serpico is the bastard son of a noble named Federico do Vandimion and a maid.
  • William Vangeance from Black Clover is the illegitimate son of a nobleman who had to live in the Forsaken Realm. When his father's legitimate heir died, he was taken in by his father and treated terribly by his stepmother because of his curse birthmark.
  • Glen Schreiber of Bokura no Kiseki is the illegitimate son of a powerful nobleman and his commoner mistress.
  • The Bride of Adarshan: Alec is an illegitimate prince.
  • Candy Candy: Terry Grandchester is the love child of a British duke and an American actress. Apparently, his father left his mother because he felt he needed to start behaving "properly" but still acknowledged and supported Terry, sending him to St. Paul's College.
  • Code Geass: Because her biological father's wife could not bear children, Kallen was adopted into her noble father's household.
  • Digimon Data Squad: Touma H. Norstein is implied to be the son of an Austrian aristocrat and a Japanese exchange student who never married.
  • Dragon Ball: Both versions of Trunks were born out of wedlock to Bulma and Vegeta, the latter being the prince of all Saiyans (not that it means much outside of a title). While the main timeline Bulma and Vegeta eventually marry, Future Trunks remains illegitimate as his father died when he was a baby.
  • In Fate/Apocrypha, Mordred is a homunculus created by Altria's sister Morgan, making her King Arthur's illegitimate child. After being rapidly raised to adulthood over a few years, Mordred is excited to learn that she is the child of the King of Knights, only to be badly rebuffed when she reveals this to her "father" and denied the love and acceptance she craved. Mordred's rage at being denied at what she thought was rightfully hers leads her to start the rebellion that upends Camelot and ends in both Arthur's and Mordred's deaths.
  • Satellizer El Bridget from Freezing, daughter of a nobleman and his mistress.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: It's a longstanding tradition that The Emperor of Xing takes a girl from each of the nation's fifty clans to be his concubine. In the present time, two of these harem girls would become the mothers of Warrior Prince Ling and Princess May.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The first manga implies that Link is the son of Queen Zelda and her lover when she was married.
  • Magi: Labyrinth of Magic:
    • Alibaba Saluja is revealed to be the illegitimate son of King Rashid and his maid, Anise.
    • Emperor Koutoku Ren had two illegitimate children, Kouha and Kougyoku, with a concubine and a prostitute respectively.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!:
    • Keith was the son of a minor noble and a prostitute and was often bullied by his half-brothers for his origins, though his parentage is irrelevant in the story proper due to him having been adopted into the Claes family to serve as heir.
    • Anne was born to a baron and one of his maids who had briefly served as his mistress. Her mother had hoped to give her a better life and raised her to always defer to authority in the hopes that she would either be named her father's heiress or be given a good husband. Unfortunately, a house fire killed her mother shortly before she turned 15 and left her with a massive scar on her back (arm in the anime), leading her father to disown her since she could no longer be used in a political marriage.
    • Rafael was the child of a marquis and one of his maids, a union that is all but stated to have been non-consensual, but remained unaware of their father's identity or heritage until the plot reared its ugly head.
    • Subverted with Maria. Most people assume that the reason she can use magic is that her mother had an affair with a nobleman, but the truth of the matter is that she's a Mage Born of Muggles.
  • PandoraHearts: Jack Vessalius was born as a result of a nobleman's affair.
  • In Princess Jellyfish, Kuranosuke is an illegitimate son (born to a foreign mistress) in the most powerful political family in Japan. Kuranosuke's uncle is the Prime Minister, and Kuranosuke's half-brother Shuu, the legitimate son, is expected to follow in his father's footsteps in government. But since Kuranosuke is a bastard, he feels free to live his life as he pleases and indulge in scandalous hobbies like cross-dressing.
  • Queen's Blade: Hide & Seek: Claudette is the eldest of Count Vance's daughters and the half-sister to both Leina and Elina since she was born from one of her father's concubines. As such, she's ineligible for succession to the throne, which makes Leina the rightful heir. While it's true that Claudette feels some resentment towards Leina over it, that isn't the only reason.
  • Romeo X Juliet:
    • Leontes Van de Montague is the illegitimate son of a Capulet man and a prostitute.
    • Tybalt Volumnia de Capulet is the illegitimate son of Leontes Van de Montague and Volumnia Capulet.
  • Rio from Sound of the Sky. After years of neglect, save for her older half-sister, her family finally acknowledges she's around when they need a royal princess to marry for a peace treaty. She's not exactly willing, but she does it anyway because that's what her sister would have done

    Comedy 
  • An old joke goes like this: A duke is on his family's lands when he runs into a commoner who looks astonishingly like him.
    "Tell me, my man, did your family ever work for mine?"
    "Certainly your lordship, starting with my parents!"
    "Ah, yes, my father had a certain reputation for wandering... Your mother was a chambermaid, no doubt?"
    "Oh no, she worked in the kitchens. My father did too, he'd bring the duchess her hot milk every evening."

    Comic Books 
  • Aquaman: In the New 52, Arthur Curry was born of an affair between the human Tom Curry and the Atlantean Queen Atlanna.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Star-Lord is the illegitimate son of the Spartax emperor and a woman from Earth. After overthrowing his tyrant dad he briefly reigns as the emperor himself.
  • Red Sonja: Vulture's Circle: Xoana is the daughter of King Xoan of Zingara and his favorite concubine. When Xoana's mother died, Xoan, suspecting she was actually murdered by his jealous wife Queen Isaura, sent Xoana to Sonja's school for young female warriors for the girl's safety.
  • In Young Avengers, Hulkling is the illegitimate son of Skrull Princess Annelle and the Kree hero Mar-Vell, and the grandson of Emperor Dorrek VII of the Skrull Empire. The fact that this makes him a contender for the throne of Skrull Empire is something that he has spent years trying to avoid.

    Fan Works 
  • The Arrangement: Link is the king's son outside of marriage.
  • Bait and Switch (STO): Morgan t'Thavrau is revealed in Peace Forged in Fire to be the illegitimate daughter of a Romulan senator's niece (making her nobility of a Hereditary Republic). It's implied in "Flaihhsam s'Spahkh" and confirmed in "Heis'he Ri'nanovai" that her biological father was Senator Merken Vreenak, for whom her mother had been working as chief of staff at the time. He was married at the time, and her mother quit and hid Morgan's parentage to protect her from Vreenak's wife and prevent a three-way blood feud.
  • The Player Character of the Neverwinter Nights fan module The Bastard of Kosigan is a bastard of a recently-deceased unaligned Count, forced to leave his childhood home (only to return later and to get embroiled in political intrigue).
  • A Brief History of Equestria:. The result of an affair her mother had with a Unicorn noble (who then left her), Lady Cripps the Pink of the Hyracotherium Republic grew up hating the Kingdom of Unicorns as a whole. Because of this, she enlisted in the Hyracotherium military, eventually becoming a national hero when she led her forces to victory in the Lake Trot Crisis.
  • Code Geass: Paladins of Voltron: Kallen is the illegitimate daughter of a noble.
  • A Crown of Stars: Members of the secondary branches of the Avaloni Royal Family are known as Bastard Princes and Princesses. In the Avalon Empire, being a royal bastard is, in fact, an honor because it means that you have at the very least a smidgen of divine blood.
  • King Bikaia from Dreamland University Redux was the result of his father, the king, having an affair with a chambermaid. In a rare case for a character like this, Bikaia ends up on the throne.
  • Earth-27: Tula, the first Aquagirl, not only is the illegitimate offspring of Atlantis' King Consort Orvax Marius, she's also the daughter of the Amazon Princess Andraste.
  • In The Hobbit fanfic The Most Precious of Treasures, Frodo is the illegitimate son of Thorin (Dwarven King Under The Mountain) and Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit. Frodo's acceptance into Dwarven society is aided by the fact that he's Durin reborn.
  • The Palaververse: Princess Celestia was born as the result of an extramarital relationship between a pegasus noble and an earth pony farmer mare.
  • What About Witch Queen?: King Ferdinand is said by Word of God to be the effect of his mother's affair with another man.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Aquaman (2018): The titular character in this movie is the son of the Queen of Atlantis and a lighthouse keeper.
  • Beowulf (1999): Grendel is the son of the King and a demon.
  • King Ralph: Ralph's father was the bastard son of the Duke of Warren; since Ralph is the last surviving heir to the House of Windham, he becomes king of England.
  • Princess of Thieves: Philip of Cognac is the illegitimate son of Richard the Lionheart, the King of England.

    Literature 
  • Alex Mackay in 1632 is the illegitimate son of a Scots nobleman. As he is out of the succession, he takes up arms as a mercenary in the Thirty Years' War. Since he's serving Gustavus Adolphus, one of the few "good" monarchs of that time period, and is visibly disgusted at atrocities committed by German soldiers, he's probably Heroic even before the arrival of Grantville.
  • The Accursed Kings: Sparks much of the drama in the early story arcs, as The Reveal that the wife of the crown prince Louis (Marguerite de Bourgogne) had been taking lovers for quite a while puts her daughter Jeanne's legitimacy at risk.
    • Jeanne (still a child at this point) ends up shunted to the lesser position of Queen of Navarre to appease the Bourgogne faction.
    • When Louis and his court are looking for a reason to get rid of Marguerite, they hit on the idea of freeing her from her prison in exchange for her admitting Jeanne is illegitimate. Marguerite laughs the idea away but eventually turns around as imprisonment gets to her, but unfortunately the letter never makes it. By the time Robert d'Artois learns of it, he's there to have her murdered, and it's too late to save her.
    • Louis X himself also has an illegitimate daughter, but she doesn't figure much in the story, and when he dies without male issue or so everyone thinks, the throne goes to his brother.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: Noblemen often take concubines, so this happens a lot. The first chapter from the point of view of Ferdinand, Myne's mentor at the temple, reveals that he grew up in a noble household because he's the father's bastard son.
  • The vampire protagonist of the Blood Books series is Henry Fitzroy, the bastard son of King Henry VIII.
  • Mark of Tasavalta in Fred Saberhagen's Books of Swords and Books of Lost Swords is the natural son of Mala and the Emperor. In that setting, the Emperor is regarded as a legend or myth, and the phrase "child of the Emperor" is a euphemism for "bastard". It just happens to be literally true in Mark's case.
  • Captive Prince: Kastor is the illegitimate son of the King of Akielos and was heir to the throne until his legitimate half-brother Damianos' birth knocked him down the line of succession. He sets off the events of the series by usurping the throne after the King's death, which he turns out to have caused.
  • Lloyd Williams, in Follett's The Century Trilogy. He is the bastard son of Earl Fitzherbert, known as "Fitz", and his housekeeper (who in short order becomes his former housekeeper) Ethel Williams (who raises Lloyd).
  • The Chronicles of Amber: King Oberon of Amber has fathered about 50 children, but only 15 or so are considered legitimate. The fact that Coral of Begma is one of his bastards is an important plot point in the later books.
  • Codex Alera: Max is the bastard son of High Lord Antillus.
  • Tzigone, one of the central protagonists of Counselors and Kings is the bastard daughter of the renegade wizardess Keturah and King Zalathorm of Halruaa. She's very determined to keep this from coming out, however, since Halruaa's laws regarding marriage and procreation are draconian and a wizard's bastard is executed out of hand if both parents can't be named. In the end, Zalathorm acknowledges Tzigone as his daughter and marries Keturah, giving Tzigone a proper family for the first time in her life- and also making her Princess of Halruaa, much to her consternation.
  • Crown of Stars:
    • Alain is (supposedly) the son of a servant and either a merchant, a count, an elven shade (don't ask), his grandfather or some completely unknown man. This is a major plot point in the series - until he stops caring about it.
    • In order to become king or queen, you have to sire or birth a bastard to prove your fertility. Sanglant is the bastard son of the current king and an elven woman from that "ceremony". He gets treated even worse than the average bastard thanks to his mother's blood.
  • The Dark Wizard Of Donkerk: Rowan is a bastard, and one descended of the Queen, not the King. Therefore, he is not in the line of succession.
  • Discworld: Verence becomes king after his half-brother TomJon, the child of the last ruler, decides to be an actor. He was made king thanks to the fact that Verence and TomJon have a strong resemblance to each other and the previous king had a habit of exercising his droit de seigneur. Granny Weatherwax decided this was close enough and made him king. Subverted however in the previous king's wife had a thing for the previous court jester, Verence's father.
  • Desmond MaqqRee, known to the press of the Fair World as Doc Sidhe. Officially the records state "father unknown". Unofficially, it's well known that Doc is the son of the (now-deceased) prince-consort of Cretanis.
  • The Dresden Files: Thomas Raith was fathered by Lord Raith, the King of the White Court, on the witch Margaret LeFay, whom he had mentally enslaved. LeFay later escaped and married Malcolm Dresden, Harry's father.
  • David Eddings' The Elenium and The Tamuli series: Stragen, a thief, is the bastard son of a noble. He is initially a bit sensitive about it but gets over it. He then uses it to insult a vast number of obstinate Styrics.
    Is "Elene bastard" the best you could come up with? It's not even much of an insult, because in my case it happens to be true.
  • Farseer trilogy: Protagonist Fitz is the illegitimate offspring of crown prince Chivalry. His becoming public knowledge causes his father to abdicate his position as heir, causing political chaos. Fitz's narrative notes that, if he did nothing else in his life, he's still managed to change the course of the kingdom's history just by being born.
  • Nikolai from The Grisha Trilogy and The Nikolai Duology is officially the son of the king and queen of Ravka. However, it is widely rumored that he is actually illegitimate since the queen wasn't very faithful to her husband. The fact that, unlike his brother, Nikolai doesn't look anything like the king certainly doesn't help either. His mother eventually tells him that he was indeed born from an affair she had with Magnus Opjer. However, that doesn't stop Nikolai from becoming king after the abdication of 'his father', since his enemies cannot prove it.
  • I Am Mordred: Mordred is the bastard son of King Arthur and his half-sister, Morgause and was born from their extramarital tryst. He was prophesied to kill his father, yet Mordred goes out of his way to prevent it from happening.
  • Kane: Sesi from "Lynortis Reprise" is the daughter of king Masale and Reallis, whom he has taken as his Sex Slave.
  • Mahabharata has a rather unusual by modern standards conception of what counts as legitimacy due to all the Divine Parentage and Vows of Celibacy going on. Many characters, such as the Pandavas, are not actually the biological sons of their official father but are nevertheless considered legitimate because they are descended from their official father's wives. However, Vidura was born to a servant woman who swapped in for one of Bhishma's wives, so he is not considered legitimate, and serves as an advisor to the other royals rather than ruling as a king like Bhishma's other sons Pandu and Dhritarashtra.
  • Malediction Trilogy: Lessa is the daughter of king Thibault and a mixed-blood servant.
  • Old Kingdom: Touchstone was the bastard son of the Queen and a nobleman, though he ends up taking the throne after a Human Popsicle situation leaves him as the only royal left alive anywhere.
  • Orkneyinga Saga: Einar, later to become Jarl of Orkney, is the son of Jarl Rognvald with a slave-born woman.
  • The titular prince of Prince Roger, Ramius Sergei Alexander Chiang MacClintock, after he took multiple levels of badass. He also develops into the other type of bastard, the literal meaning already applicable since the Empress had never married his father:
    Sgt. Catrone: Order received and understood, and I will comply. You bastard.
    Prince Roger: That I am. Literally and figuratively. The last bastard standing. The flag of the Basik's Own wears a bar sinister proudly.
  • The Princess Diaries: Mia's father is the Prince of Genovia and her mother is an artist from the United States. She was conceived during a college fling between the two.
  • Realm of the Elderlings: FitzChivalry Farseer, as his name implies, is the bastard son of Chivalry Farseer.
  • The Reluctant King: The Dukedom of Othomae has both a Grand Duke (the actual legitimate heir) who takes care of most of the business of the Dukedom, while the illegitimate firstborn holds the title of "Grand Bastard" and takes care of the military business.
  • The Riftwar Cycle:
    • Martin Longbow is a bastard child of Duke Borric of Crydee and a serving girl. This poses a problem after his father, on his deathbed, legitimizes him as his son. Since he's the oldest of Borric's children, this puts him first in line for the throne of the kingdom itself. Thankfully for the kingdom, he surrenders his claim to that throne in favor of his younger half-brother Liam and ends up as the next Duke of Crydee.
    • Eric von Darkmoor is the bastard (although his mother tried to claim that he was legitimate and that his father's relatives annulled the marriage in order to get the Baron-to-be to marry another noble for an alliance) son of the Baron von Darkmoor. He is a much better person than the eldest legitimate child of his father.
  • Bane the Bastard in the Rigante series, the illegitimate son of King Connavar.
  • Scars: Danica is the bastard daughter of a gray fox nobleman and a red fox maid. Her father threw her out and declawed her after she accidentally scratched her half-brother. Her father turns out to be none other than the recently deceased king, and she identifies the "fake" prince she was hired to capture as the real one by the scars she gave him.
  • Seraphina: Princess Laurel, the youngest daughter of Queen Lavonda of Goredd, eloped with a Samsamese admiral and later died in a shipwreck. Their son, Prince Lucian, is raised at the Goreddi court and expected to marry his cousin, future Queen Glisselda.
  • The Serpent & Dove Trilogy: King Auguste has more than 20 bastard children. The main character Reid turns out to be one of them.
  • Sherlock Holmes: James Wilder, from "The Priory School", is the illegitimate son of the Duke of Holdernesse.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • In general, it's quite common for the nobility of all ranks, from common knights to kings, to have extramarital dalliances that result in noble and royal bastards. These are not legally considered children of their parents, meaning that they cannot inherit land or titles unless made legitimate by royal decree, although it doesn't stop some from trying to claim what they feel is their birthright anyway. Traditionally, they're given a shared last name used throughout each of the kingdoms, rather than taking their father's — Snow in the North, Stone in the Vale, Rivers in the Riverlands, Waters in the Crownlands, Hill in the Westerlands, Pyke in the Iron Islands, Flowers in the Reach, Storm in the Stormlands and Sand in Dorne. They cannot usually take their noble father's coat of arms, but many use it with its colors inverted, with a bend sinister — a bar running from top right to bottom left — across it, or both.
    • The Blackfyre Rebellions were caused by Aegon the Unworthy, who fathered a notorious number of children outside of his marriage, legitimizing all of his bastards on his deathbed, while also spreading claims his legitimate son was sired by his brother. The four "Great Bastards" are noted for playing important roles in the Targaryen family rather than Aegon merely being a Glorified Sperm Donor like most nobles; one, in particular, Daemon Blackfyre, funded a splinter branch of House Targaryen named after himself, using its parent house's heraldry with inverted colors (a three-headed black dragon on red, rather than a red one of black), which despite being exiled contested the Targaryen throne on and off for several centuries.
    • Ellaria Sand is the bastard daughter of Harmen Uller, Lord of Hellholt. Bastards tend to be more socially accepted in Dorne, so Ellaria had a noble upbringing and became the paramour of Prince Oberyn Martell. She and Oberyn can't marry because of her bastard status, but she's treated as his wife in all but name by the Martells. When she comes to a royal wedding in King's Landing, there's some debate over where to seat her; because she's a bastard seating her too near the royal family would be considered an insult to them, but because she's also his paramour seating her too far away would be an insult to him.
    • Prince Oberyn Martell has several bastard daughters known as the Sand Snakes; he's actively involved in their upbringing and they're generally treated as part of the family despite being illegitimate.
    • Jon Snow is the illegitimate son of Lord Eddard Stark, Snow being a surname given to bastards born in the north. However, in the HBO adaptation, it's subverted in that, Jon isn't Ned's son, but the child of former prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Whether this makes him a bastard (and this a Double Subversion) is a bit grey since Rhaegar and Lyanna were married in secret, though he did annul his first marriage to Elia Martell.
    • King Robert sired many illegitimate children who help Eddard realize that Prince Joffrey isn't Robert's son, rather the product of an incestuous affair between the Queen and her brother.
  • The Traitor Son Cycle: The Red Knight is a bastard child of the King of Alba and his sister, by the way of rape.
  • War and Peace: Pierre Bezukhov is the bastard of one of the wealthiest, most powerful counts of Russia, who, upon his death, legitimizes him.
  • White as Snow: Hadz is the bastard son of the king.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blackadder: "Born to be King" reveals that Prince Edmund was born on the wrong side of the blanket.
  • Blood Ties: After Vicki realises Henry is a vampire, he reveals that his full name is Henry Fitzroy, and he's an illegitimate son of King Henry VIII.
  • Chuck: In "Chuck vs. The Tic Tac", Chuck and Sarah meet a starstruck CIA tech who introduces himself as Stanley Fitzroy and babbles on about "Fitzroy" meaning "son of the king." He doesn't seem to be aware that this name identifies his ancestor as an illegitimate son.
  • Grimm: Sean Renard, Nick's boss and de facto overlord of Portland is eventually revealed to be the illegitimate son of King Frederick Renard of the House of Kronnenberg by one of his Hexenbiest mistresses. Sean has exploited his royal connections throughout his life as well as the fact no other royal dares kill him publicly for fear of the king's wrath to further his goals, often in his efforts to bring down the other royals.
  • Kaamelott: After giving up the throne, Arthur (himself an example, as in the myths) spends most of season 6 looking for any illegitimate children he might have sired, only to find they all died in infancy. This is what pushes him over the edge and he attempts suicide, although he's rescued in time.
  • Merlin (2008): Morgana is revealed to be the illegitimate daughter of King Uther Pendragon.
  • Midsomer Murders: "Bantling Boy" features a very dark example that is the explanation for the episode's murders. Peter Craxton is secretly the child of the former Lord Hartley of Bantling Hall, who raped his mother while she was his carer. Due to Ray Craxton's career being in making weapons and armour for medieval reenactments, Peter grew up obsessed with everything medieval. Thus upon discovering the truth of his parentage, he was overcome both with a belief in his own genetic supremacy and with shame at what his medieval codes told him was the ultimate disgrace. Together with his unusually high intelligence led to him manipulated his mentally disabled uncle into killing everyone who knew his secret.
  • Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: A flashback episode for Jafar reveals he was a bastard son of the sultan, was abandoned, and kept as a servant to a cruel blacksmith. He goes to learn dark magic to get revenge on the Sultan and probably on everyone else.
  • Reign: Sebastian "Bash" de Poitiers is the son of King Henry II of France and his mistress Diane.

    Mythology & Religion 

    Radio 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who: One of the rituals in The Holy Terror is that the Queen always has two sons: one legitimate, one a deformed and evil bastard who will conspire to overthrow the heir.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: Franklin Sakamoto is the bastard son of Theodore Kurita, who was heir to the Draconis Combine at the time he had an affair with Franklin's mother, an Internal Security Force agent. The head of the ISF ordered mother and child assassinated to prevent any potential messy situations from arising, but Franklin's mother had already sent him into hiding by that point. In 3050, Franklin was arrested for smuggling by the Federated Commonwealth and wound up being recruited by Adam Steiner to help with an intelligence-gathering operation against the invading Clans, and shortly thereafter the Black Dragon Society attempted to use Franklin as a pawn in their scheme to overthrow House Kurita. Franklin renounced all claims to the Dracois Combine's throne at that point, then largely dropped off the radar. However, in the Dark Age his great-granddaughter Yori wound up being installed as Coordinator of the Draconis Combine after all legitimate members of the Kurita bloodline were assassinated of had gone into hiding.
  • Dungeons & Dragons, Forgotten Realms setting: During the 2nd Edition AD&D period, King Azoun of Cormyr was changed to a serial philanderer, repeatedly cheating on his wife the Queen with married Cormyrian noblewomen. The result was a large number of illegitimate children of his (who had a strong resemblance to him) who were raised as children of the noble families of their mother.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Prince Yriel, the most famous Autarch of Craftworld Iyanden, is the bastard son of a princess of the House of Ulthanash (direct decedents of one of the two Aeldari founding heroes) and an unknown father, who some in-universe claim was a Drukhari. While the majority of his House (both living and dead) have accepted Yriel as a hero, some hardliners have refused to do so due to his lineage and arrogance.

    Theatre 
  • One of the main characters of King John is Philip "The Bastard" Faulconbridge, who is an interesting combination of Heroic Bastard and Bastard Bastard, providing much of the comic relief of the play and being focused on gaining wealth and power through his sword in John's service. Philip is introduced petitioning King John to inherit his late father's estate, citing the fact that he is the older of two brothers, even though his brother (and Philip himself) know that he was born under circumstances that mean he could not possibly be legitimate. John and his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, immediately realize how much Philip looks like the late Richard the Lion Heart, and figure out that Philip is Richard's bastard.
  • King Lear: Edmund is the illegitimate son of the Earl of Gloucester.
  • Much Ado About Nothing: Don John is called "the Bastard Prince".
  • The Ring of the Nibelung: Hagen is the illegitimate son of Alberich and queen Grimhild, the mother of king Gunther.

    Video Games 
  • Crusader Kings:
    • It can happen to your characters: such bastards are, unless made legitimate, unable to inherit your fiefs nor belong to your dynasty.
    • In Crusader Kings II, it is possible through events and use of the Seduction focus for women to become pregnant out of wedlock. Unless legitimized, bastards cannot inherit except in open succession (Muslims and reformed pagans with either Agnatic or Enatic Clans doctrine), but do receive claims from their parents which can be pressed in war or by factions. If an illegitimate bastard has a child or acquires a title, they create a new dynasty. There's also an event added in Holy Fury where a Catholic mother may confess their child to be a bastard, even if their biological father according to the child's character data is in fact her husband. The game features a number of illegitimate Historical Domain Characters such as William the Conqueror.
    • Crusader Kings III: Bastardy is governed by a religious doctrine rule: a faith may automatically consider children born outside wedlock as legitimate as any other child (such children gain the "Wild Oat" trait), allow legitimization, or outlaw it. Illegitimate bastards are disliked by their dynasty and, as in II, found a new one if they gain a title, and cannot inherit but get claims on their parents' titles.
  • Dishonored:
    • If you use The Heart on Slackjaw, it will reveal that he was raised by whores, but his father was a prince.
    • Emily is the daughter of the Empress Jessamine Kaldwin and her bodyguard Corvo Attano.
  • Dishonored 2: Delilah Copperspoon is the illegitimate daughter of the late Emperor Euhorn.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • Alistair is the illegitimate son of King Maric of Fereldan, which makes him the heir to the throne after his half-brother Cailan dies in battle.
    • Averted with dwarven nobility. Dwarven law means that all same-sex offspring of a dwarf belong to that dwarf's caste regardless of whether they were born in or out of wedlock. Thus if a dwarf nobleman has a fling with a low caste woman and she bears a son, that child is also automatically considered a noble as well and the woman is usually brought into the household as a mistress. As dwarves have a fairly low birthrate, this practise is encouraged and "noble hunter" women are common. The Deadly Decadent Court of Orzamar means that having a lot of heirs is a good thing.
  • Dragon Quest VIII: Played tragically, and with nearly world-ending consequences, with the character Marcello. The son of a local lord and one of his housemaids, Marcello was actually going to become legitimate. When his father's real wife finally bore a son, Marcello and his mother were cast out, with Marcello ending up becoming a Templar acolyte at the Abbey. He actually managed to roll with it, making a new life for himself and even becoming the order's golden boy. Then Angelo, the son who replaced Marcello, showed up at the Abbey, his father's fortunes destroyed and his heritage gone. Furious at this intrusion, and fearful Angelo would again steal his life, Marcello treated the younger boy as a pariah, even going so far as to try to use Big Bad Rapthorne's demonic magic in an attempt to secure his power, ultimately preventing the heroes from keeping Rapthorne from reuniting with his sealed ancient body.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: After the Emperor and his legitimate children are assassinated, the last hope for the world is to rescue his illegitimate son Martin, who has lived a monastic life with no knowledge of his heritage. Nonetheless, Martin's Royal Blood is the only thing that can protect the world from the realms of Oblivion.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics: Ramza and his sister Alma are mentioned to have a commoner mother by their noble father but he treated them as though they were legitimate. They are the only good members of the Beoulve family compared to their half-brothers.
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • Lord Haurchefant Greystone is the result of Edmont de Fortemps', the count of House Fortemps of Ishgard, affair with another woman. Despite being the eldest son by birth, Edmont cannot recognize Haurchefant as such, employing him instead as a knight of the house. For his part, Haurchefant has no issues with this arrangement and serves House Fortemps dutifully as a Knight in Shining Armor. It's only after Haurchefant's death that Edmont breaks down and finally calls Haurchefant his son.
    • The latter half of Heavensward reveals that Ser Aymeric is in fact the illegitimate son of Archbishop Thordan, who is supposed to be sworn to celibacy as the supreme religious authority in Ishgard. This is revealed to all of Ishgard as part of Aymeric's efforts to end the country's Forever War, drawing ire from the opposition for essentially ordering the Warrior of Light to help him commit patricide.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Genny from Fire Emblem Gaiden is the illegitimate daughter of an unknown nobleman who had a wife and family.
    • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War:
      • Azelle is the son of the former Duke of Velthomer and his wife Cigyun's favorite lady-in-waiting/maid.
      • Deirdre was the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Velthomer's runaway wife and the Prince of Grannvale.
    • Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade: Princess Guinevere is the illegitimate daughter of King Desmond and his mistress.
    • Lissa from Fire Emblem Awakening had thought she was this for a long time, as her Brand of the Exalt never appeared anywhere on her body unlike her siblings, and feared that because of it she was not their proper blood sister. Her fears are laid to rest when her son Owain tells her that he has a brand located on his shoulder, proof that Lissa is indeed legitimate.
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: Prince Amiti of Ayuthay was raised believing his late mother was a powerful Mercury Adept who restored the lost Magitek beneath the palace and conceived him by a miracle. Once the player characters show up, the truth comes out — Amiti's mother, a non-Adept, conceived him the natural way, with a foreign Adept who had started the machine and whose face no one else saw. It's implied the lie was to protect the royal family's reputation, but Amiti is still upset that he was the last to know. It's rather unsubtly indicated that Amiti's father is Alex.
  • Guenevere: King Arthur was illegitimately conceived.
  • Might and Magic: Heroes VI: Sandor is the eldest but illegitimate son of Duke Slava of the Griffin Duchy.
  • Persona 5: Played with. Akechi is often referred to as the Detective Prince and his costume in Mementos has a prince motif. He also happens to be the child of a prostitute Shido got pregnant, and was left in foster care after his mother killed herself, giving him massive resentment towards his biological father and causing him to seek revenge. Shido also engages in Offing the Offspring by having Cognitive Akechi kill him once Akechi outlives his usefulness. However, Shido is actually only a powerful politician, not royalty.
  • Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box: Two nobles named Sophia and Anton Herzen were still engaged when they conceived Katia's mother.
  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant: Nicolai Conrad is revealed to be the illegitimate son of Russia's Tsar Nicolas.
  • Trails Series: As an illegitimate child, Prince Olivert is ineligible to inherit the throne even though he's the firstborn of the Emperor.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Prince Addam of Torna is revealed in Torna: The Golden Country to be the bastard son of Torna's king and an unknown woman when Malos remarks that he has golden rather than blue eyes like Tornans normally have. While the people love Addam, his illegitimate status prevents him from being first in line for the throne.

    Visual Novels 
  • Sunrider:
    • Crow Harbor was one of the Ryuvian Infinite Emperor's three sons and the only bastard among them.
    • Sola vi Ryuvia was the product of an affair between a Ryuvian prince and a humble peasant girl.

    Webcomics 
  • Blindsprings: Tamaura, who is conspicuously the only redhead in her dark-haired family, was secreted away in a cloister before being brought to court by her mother, the Empress of Aberwelle, to take over the position of High Priestess from her legitimate sister Aliana, who absolutely hated losing her position. Tamaura had to put up with mutterings of "bastards at Court" behind her back and an enormous amount of scrutiny at or before the age of 12.
  • Dragon Sanctuary: Nima Neigentall is the bastard daughter of the elven King Neyano and an unnamed human baroness from Caara.
  • Sister Claire: Oscar is strongly implied to be the child of a prostitute, and though her biological mother is dead she was raised by "Maman" who runs a brothel that shelters the city's downtrodden. What's more, her father is the King of Thronum Mare.
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic: Glon is the product of a long-standing secret affair between Baron Owen Grayfort and Queen Maula Bloodhand.

    Web Original 
  • Twig: The twin sisters of the Baron Richmond are kept from even the Baron's tiny scrap of power by virtue of their illegitimacy.

    Web Videos 
  • Critical Role: Vax'ildan and Vex'ahlia were born from an encounter between a human peasant and an elven noble.

    Real Life 
  • Notable English and British illegitimate royals
    • William the Conqueror is noticeable for being the only illegitimate child who became King of England, though mainly through the right of conquest. He used to be known as "William the Bastard", which pissed him off. Despite being illegitimate he was able to inherit from his father Robert due to lacking a legitimate child.
    • Because of his failure to have a legitimate son, Henry VIII fully acknowledged and gave favor to his illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy. Unfortunately for Henry, he died young, shortly before a legitimate Tudor son was born. The Tudors themselves only had a claim to the throne because of being descended from a legitimized bastard line of John of Gaunt and his mistress; the Beauforts.
    • William IV is the last British monarch known to have illegitimate children in the FitzClarence line (though there have been some rumors about Edward VII). Unlike most examples, they were from a monogamous relationship, but societal reasons preventing him from marrying their mom and the two would separate anyway. Eventually, he had legitimate kids, but they sadly died as infants.
  • During her last years in power, Pharaoh Cleopatra had her son Caesarion serve as co-emperor. He'd been sired in a love affair with her and Julius Caesar, who even if he planned to marry her was assassinated when Caesarion was a toddler.
  • Due to a good number of bastards but a lack of legitimate descendants, Louis XIV attempted to make his bastards legitimate in his will until his will was quashed by the Parlement (the Non-Indicative Name of a law court of the Ancien Régime).
  • The Roman Empire
    • Possibly downplayed Drusus the Elder, who was the adoptive/step-son of Augustus. Since Livia divorced her husband and married while pregnant with him it's been speculated that he was Augustus' biological son, which makes him illegitimate in terms of his conception but legitimate in that his parents married.
    • During The Year Of The Four Emperors, one Nymphidius Sabinus tried to make a claim for emperor by using the claim he was the illegitimate son of Caligula. Whether or not he was, it didn't work and he was killed by his own soldiers for declaring himself emperor.
    • Related, it was rumored that Otho's father (him being one of the Four Emperors), Lucius Salvius Otho, may have been Emperor Tiberius' illegitimate son. These rumors came from the emperor's clear affection for him and the two resembling each other physically. If true, it'd make Otho the last person with Julio-Claudian blood to be emperor, though it wouldn't be all that helpful for Lucius Otho because Tiberius was unpopular.
    • Officially, supporters of Elagabalus claimed that he was the bastard child of Caracalla (his mother's cousin), citing their resemblance, in order to rally against and depose Macrinus (who likely ordered Caracalla's assassination). While this was likely just propaganda and Elagabalus was legitimate, it still helped him become emperor.
    • While not certain, an Ancient Roman history book posits that Crisis of the Third Century-era emperor Claudius Gothicus was the illegitimate child of Gordian II. He and his father Gordian I served very briefly as emperors during the Year of Six Emperors
  • Sverre Sigurdsson, leader of the Birkebeiner movement in 12th-century Norway, insisted he was the son, not of his mother's husband Unas, but of the former king Sigurd Munn. This was almost certainly a lie, but he still managed to amass a big enough army to take the throne. It should be noted that Norwegian succession laws at the time didn't actually distinguish between legitimate heirs and bastards, which had exactly the consequences you'd expect.
  • In Ireland and Post-Norman England, bastards had their father's name preceded with "Fitz" (Anglo-Norman for "Son of"), making "Fitz[father's name]"; royal bastards received the name "Fitzroy".
  • Alexandre Walewski was a Polish aristocrat, who led quite an adventurous life, finding his fortunes in France and even becoming French minister of foreign affairs during the reign of Napoleon III. His whole life he insisted his father was Count Athanasius Walewski, husband of his mother, despite not knowing him (the count was much older than his wife and died when Alexandre was little) and this clearly not being the case. The thing is, at the time of his conception, Marie was a mistress of none other than Napoleon Bonaparte himself, and reportedly quite devoted to him. On top of that, recent genetic evidence seems to confirm this, leaving little doubt he was actually his trope.
  • Polish King August II. the Strong is said to have as many bastards as there are days in a year. Of course, August himself recognized only eight... One of them, Maurice of Saxony, later became a decorated general in service of Louis XV. of France.
  • (Former King) Albert II of Belgium has been subjected to a controversy when Delphine Boel had claimed to be his illegitimate daughter by Sybille de Selys Longchamps. There were calls from Delphine to allow him to subject himself to a paternity test. The tests proved her claims and the courts allowed her to have the title of princess. Delphine has told journalists in interviews that she gets harassed once in a while due to her case.

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