"Do you mind?! I am just trying to have a quiet meal with my secret other family!"
— Mayor Quimby, The Simpsons
The ultimate way to introduce Parental Issues short of a murder plot. Your dad is revealed to have been hiding a life with a whole other family. In fact, if he's sneaky enough, from that family's perspective, yours might be the Secret Other Family. The secret family might eventually be folded into the main one if the legal spouse dies and the other decides to get Remarried to the Mistress.
An occupation that requires one to travel (travelling salesman, ship's officer, pilot, etc.) is a great help in pulling this off.
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Anime and Manga
- Attack on Titan:
- Historia Reiss/Krista Lenz was born from Rod Reiss a powerful noble and the secret ruler of the walls. He fathered Historia with a simple farm woman named Alma, and gave her a life of ease, but later had Alma killed and forced Historia to join the survey corps under the name Krista. Reiss seems like he wants to reconnect with her, but really wants her to take up the Foundation Titan in his place so he will not be possessed by his ancestor, given he has no legitimate children to take the mantle.
- Reiner Braun was born when his mother Karina had an affair with a Marlayen kitchen worker. Karina convinces Reiner that joining the Warrior unit will result in the two reuniting, but when Reiner tracks him down, he rejects Reiner in disgust, given that if his affair with an Eldian, who are seen by the Marlayan people as evil demons and forced into ghettos, was exposed, he and his legitimate family could be executed.
- Eren learns from his father's diary that during the latter's time in Marley, he was married to a woman named Dina Fritz and had a son named Zeke. Likewise, Zeke deduced from Reiner's reports that Eren is his half-brother and sought to claim him.
- In Mushishi, Ginko helps a woman and her son; the woman's husband is missing, and neither of them knows what became of him. In the end, they find him living with his other family and child. Bittersweetly, the woman will never remember it, because of her anterograde amnesia. But she won't have to deal with the pain of knowing her beloved husband left her, either.
- Satoshi Oginome in Penguindrum either falls under this or Parent with New Paramour as we find out in Episode 8. His child from his first marriage, Ringo does not take it well.
- Tweeny Witches: Arusu finds out in "Lennon's True Identity" that Lennon is her half-brother from Jidan's secret first marriage to Atelia in the Magical Realm.
- Dynamo5: Captain Dynamo/William Warner was not only was cheating on his wife Maddie Warner with one of his enemies (Chrysalis), but he had a daughter with Chrysalis named Cynthia. He had a second life behind his wife's back as he helped to raise Cynthia with Chrysalis. He was there at Cynthia's birth while missing Maddie Warner's award. He and Chrysalis exposed Cynthia to the same radiation that he used to gain his superpowers and he trained Cynthia to use her powers.
- One of The Intimates' signature info scrolls mentions that when Punchy is 40, erectile dysfunction will threaten both of his marriages.
- In Secret Identities, the Front Line’s resident speedster Runabout has a wife and daughter in Nova Scotia, and another wife and daughter in California. He uses his superspeed and excuses of frequent business trips to be with them both. At the end of the series he marries and impregnates another woman in Florida.
Films — Live-Action
- Along Came Polly: After some prompting from Reuben, Polly reveals that as a teenager she learned that her father had a second family that he'd kept secret from her and her mother. The betrayal soured her on the idea of ever getting married herself.
- The Captains Paradise had Alec Guinness as a naval captain trying to keep his wife in Algiers unknown to his wife in Gibraltar and vice versa.
- Frequent Flyer has a pilot having a wife in Dallas and another in Chicago. And then he ended up getting married to a third one in Hawaii.
- In Girl Shy the cad who is about to marry Harold Lloyd's girlfriend is revealed to already have a wife hidden away in the country.
- In Takeshi Kitano's Kikujiro, Masao, a boy, discovers that his mother has a husband and a daughter and lives with them in another city, while his grandmother told him she was single and worked hard to support him.
- What drives the main plot of People Like Us, as the main character finds out he has a long-lost sister from another family his father had.
- One of the characters of The Vertical Ray Of The Sun by Tran Anh Hung has a Secret Other Family which he regularly visits while ostensibly on photographic field trips. His wife later says that she knew all along, as he couldn't refrain from putting his other wife and kid in too many of his pictures.
- In Zero Focus, Teiko's investigation into the mysterious disappearance of her husband Kenichi eventually reveals that Kenichi had a second wife hidden away in the county.
- Near the end of After Her by Joyce Maynard the narrator Rachel discovers that her (now deceased) father had a daughter he never told them about when the now-adult woman approaches her at a book signing. In a variation, everyone was aware of the relationship that produced her and their father had been divorced from Rachel's mother (who's implied to have known about the girl's existence and not cared) for years by the time the other girl was born, but he never told Rachel and her sister Patti about her because Rachel once swore in a fit of anger she'd never forgive him if he had another child. At first, Rachel rejects her half-sister, but the two reconcile after she saves Rachel from the Serial Killer who her father had tried and failed to find all those years ago.
- Boone's Lick: Shay's father spends most of his time working for the army out west, only coming back to Missouri to see his wife and surviving children for short periods every year or two. When his family head west to see him, they learn that he has over a dozen children with two Native-American women. This makes his wife, who already plans to divorce him, even more curious. Their kids get along well with each other, though.
- A legionnaire in Codex Alera quips that he had to transfer far away from both of his usual postings when the wife in post A learned about the wife in post B.
- In Eccentric Neighborhoods, a heartbroken Roque Vernet finds comfort after his son's death by suicide in the arms of seamstress Titiba. Eventually Roque keeps Titiba and their children in a household separate from his own family, keeping his wife Clotilde in the dark. After his own death, Titiba asks Clotilde, his widow, that they share him in death, like they did in life. This forces her to tell Clotilde about her life with Roque. Amazingly, Clotilde agrees and they hold a funeral with two rooms, one for each family unit.
- In the Midst of Winter: After Lucia's father dies, she and her mother learn that he had a second family, including a son with the same name as her brother Enrique. Lena Maraz is so angry that she destroys all his pictures (except those Enrique hides in time) and discourages any mention of him.
- In Lives of the Monster Dogs Augustus Rank, the creator of the titular Dogs, discovered that his father had one of these after his mother died and his father moved back in with his mistress, whom he formally married shortly after. Later on, Augustus murdered his half-brother from that relationship after he found out that they were competing for the same woman and that his brother planned to run away with her.
- In the P. G. Wodehouse story The Luck Of The Bodkins, about a transatlantic steamer, the author writes that on landing in New York, those of the crew "who are bigamists have long since got over the pang of parting from their wives and children in Southampton and are looking forward with bright affection to meeting their wives and children in New York."
- In the Montague Egg short story False Weight, the late Mr. Wagstaffe had, under various aliases, wooed and married a woman in his every port of call. When the truth came out, there was a blunt object with his name on it.
- In The Mortal Instruments Jace was unaware of Sebastian's existence, which led him to believe that he was Valentine's real son and Clary's blood brother. However, Sebastian spent his whole childhood knowing about Jace, but neither he nor his father knew about his sister Clary, and vice versa.
- The book No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay used this trope. The protagonist and narrator was married to a woman called Cynthia, and her father was secretly married to another woman. He used his job as an excuse to keep an eye on both families. His first wife was an abusive, domineering psycho who turned their son against him. While working, he met Cynthia's future mother, they hit it off, had Cynthia and an elder brother, and he managed to keep the act going for years. Then the first wife, suspicious, discovered the second family, killed the mother and son while they were shopping, and was about to kill Cynthia until the father promised to never have contact with her again.
- The financial difficulties arising from supporting a Secret Other Family (Especially since wife #2 had a taste for extremely expensive dresses) was the criminal's motive in the Sherlock Holmes story Silver Blaze.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: In the mythologized history of Westeros, the legendary figure of Florys the Fox is said to have kept three husbands, each ignorant of the other two.
- Fire & Blood: Sir Lucamore Strong of the Kingsguard ("The Lusty") had three wives, and sixteen children. Kingsguard aren't supposed to have any.
- Troubled Blood: A bit of comic relief early in the novel has detective Robin Ellacott tailing a man her firm has nicknamed "Tufty" because of his Dodgy Toupee. Tufty's wife in Windsor suspected he was cheating on her. It turns out that while Tufty does have a mistress, he also is a bigamist with another wife. And Robin discovers that their client and her children are actually the secret other family, as the other wife is the legal wife that Tufty has been married to for twenty years.
- According to one of the Armsmen in the Vorkosigan Saga, one of the other Armsmen has one family in the city and one in the country.
- Warrior Cats: Downplayed when Mapleshade finds out that her mate Appledusk is two-timing her with another she-cat and has also gotten her pregnant.
- On 9-1-1 fourth season Christmas episode, a woman is at a Santa Claus event with her daughter, talking about missing her pilot husband. At which point, the girl spots her father...with another woman and sons. It's after the guy runs away from them and is hit by a trolley that the first woman realizes the other woman's kids are older, meaning she's his second wife. They're still fighting at the hospital before it hits them they're both better off without him with Athena dryly telling the guy he "should ask Santa for a lawyer."
- Don Geiss in 30 Rock turned out to have a secret Canadian family and a secret attic family.
- All My Children: Del Henry came to town and rapidly befriended local Dixie Cooney, much to the alarm of Dixie's husband Tad, who feared that Del was a psycho. When the couple confronted Del about his intentions, he denied being in love with Dixie and revealed that he was in fact her brother, the result of an affair their father had had with his mother.
- Banacek: In "The Three Million Dollar Piracy", Banacek discovers that one of the suspects is married to two different women. A ship's officer, he maintains the charade by telling one wife that he is shipping out a couple of weeks before he actually does and telling the other that he is returning two weeks after he actually does.
- In The Big Bang Theory, after his mother dies, Howard discovers that his absent father remarried and he had a younger half-brother who tracks him down.
- When The Bill turned into a Crime Time Soap, DC Ken Drummond was revealed to be living this kind of life. Ken has children spanning almost a generation, with the youngest eight months and the oldest nineteen years old, with all of them making equal demands of him, whether it be financial or emotional. Somewhere along the line, Ken found himself in a second relationship, and he did not have the heart to end his relationship with either woman. When more kids arrived on the scene, Ken found it harder to secretly play the family man to both families. This explains why Ken sees work as a refuge from his hectic home life.
- A victim of the week had two wives and a kid by each, both with the same degenerative bone condition that he had. Interestingly his two wives and the third woman he'd been romancing were not the ones who killed him.
- Booth finds out that his mother had one. She met another man, helped raise his kids, and marries him in season 8, much to Booth’s anger.
- Shawn on Boy Meets World discovers that his dad had another family and that he has a half-brother he never knew about.
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Jake's father at one point confesses to Jake that he has several half-siblings scattered around the country. Downplayed in that he seems to have been just as, if not more, absent from their lives as he was with Jake.
- The premise of Brothers & Sisters. Rumor has it that the spare illegitimate daughter is eventually revealed to have another father altogether.
- In one episode of Castle, a man is found dead and his wife and fiancee both show up to claim the body. Except that he and the fiancee were both playing each other, in a complicated bit of corporate espionage.
- Chasing Life: Thomas, the recently deceased dad of April and Brenna, turns out to have another daughter living in Florida from an adulterous affair he had which they didn't know about. He had stayed surreptitiously involved with Natalie's life. They soon forge a relationship with her too.
- Cheers: Carla finds out her second husband Eddie had another wife and children who he'd married at the same time as Carla after he dies. Specifically, she finds out at his funeral.
- In one episode of The Closer, a man, his wife, and their young daughter are brutally murdered. The only surviving family member, a teenage boy, is initially the prime suspect, but the actual killer turns out to be the man's other teenage son, who had discovered that his dad had another family.
- Criminal Minds:
- Mentioned in passing in "Pay It Forward." The unsub turns out to be killing hypocrites. After the team looks into the seemingly clean second victim, Hotchner angrily confronts one of his friends who had called him a great family man, asking which family he was referring to: the family in town everyone knows about, or the secret family a few towns away.
- The unsub in "A Place at the Table" turns out to be the son from the victim's secret family. Though, in this case, the son wasn't aware of who his father was. The relationship between his parents was more of a long-term prostitution arrangement (she had to be available to him as his mistress at all times, and, in return, he provided for her financially), and the son wound up targeting both families when he found out about it.
- The intended murder victim in the CSI episode "Grissom Versus the Volcano". However, a short in the timing mechanism causes the bomb (planted by one of his wives) to detonate at the wrong time: killing three innocent people in a case of Murder by Mistake that makes it harder for the team to identify the real target.
- Deconstructed in "Divorce Party" of CSI: Miami, which has a father who has a Secret Other Family murdered by his own son after the son discovered that he had been dating his half-sister. They fell in love and were having a baby together.
- Subverted in Desperate Housewives. Lynette gets suspicious when her husband Tom is shown to be falsifying expense reports and follows him on a so-called "business trip" to Atlantic City. There, she sees him embracing another woman and a young girl, and concludes that this trope is in play. Tom later confesses to Lynette that the little girl is his daughter, conceived via a one-night-stand with the woman years before he met and married Lynette. But he only just found out about the lovechild when his old fling got in contact to ask for a decade's worth of child support for a kid he didn't even know he had. Once he got over the shock of finding out he had an eleven-year-old daughter he never knew about, Tom did intend to tell Lynette — she just happened to find out before he had the chance to fess up.
- On The Drew Carey Show Drew winds up married to his long-time friend/obvious series-long Love Interest Kate and an old girlfriend at the same time. (This happens shortly after he was in a mental hospital, so he may not have been thinking clearly.) He tries to keep them from knowing about each other until he can figure out what to do, only for them to figure it out and both leave his life permanently.
- On Drop Dead Diva, Jane represents a woman seeking a divorce, convinced her husband is having an affair after finding records of him paying another woman. that woman drops in to reveal she's married to the guy too. The pair bicker before Jane cuts in with "you want to go after each other or after him?" The man is horrified the two wives gang up on him. Then, at his trial, Jane wins the case by having a very upset woman stand up in court as she's the guy's third fiancee.
- In El embarcadero, the whole plot kicks off with Alejandra's discovery that her recently deceased husband Óscar had been living a double life with another woman for eight years, and even had a daughter with her.
- An episode of Hawaii Five-0 has a man about to testify on a gang gunned down in an office. His wife says the man had been busted for embezzling from his company and explained he was being forced to steal for a local gang. The team takes the gang down, only for the leader to claim they've never heard of the guy. Digging further, the team discovers the man had a wife and son on a nearby island and was stealing the money to help set them up and cooked up the gang story as an excuse. Grover openly notes how "it takes a certain kind of sociopath to do this." It turns out the killer was the boyfriend of the man's teenage daughter who was outraged at finding out what her dad was doing to her and her mother.
- King Silas maintains a second family in the countryside on Kings. Of course, since he's the king, his mistress is fully aware that he's married.
- An early case on L.A. Law was about a serial bigamist who concealed his wives from one another. He used false identities in alphabetical order and at one point the firm had tracked the wives through F. That case also introduced the infamous "Venus Butterfly".
- There was an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit where a pillar of the community turned out to have maintained two families for a long time. Then two of his children started a relationship, without knowing they were half-siblings.
- The victim in an episode of Life - "Farthingale" - had two wives under two different names. Turns out he was living a triple life; in reality, an employee of the IRS and was killed by an anti-government bomber.
- The Legend of Xiao Chuo: Xian takes a concubine and has a child with her without telling Yan Yan about it.
- London's Burning:
Bulstrode: "The only other fireman I ever met who knew anything about prisons had done time for bigamy."
- Mentioned off-handedly in one episode where Area Commander Bulstrode informs Station Officer Georgiadis that a senior officer who specialises in dealing with prisons is coming to the division after a major fire at a Young Offenders Institution.
- Vaseline never gets around to actually marrying either of them, but he spends most of the first season juggling two girlfriends, both called Marion. It's strongly implied he chose to woo the second Marion specifically so he wouldn't have to worry about accidentally calling either of them by the other's name, earning him a mixture of contempt and grudging admiration from the rest of Blue Watch for his sheer chutzpah.
- The whole premise of Lone Star: Bob is a Con Man who maintains two separate lives with two different women, and claims to love both of them.
- Jack's father, Christian, on Lost. During a flashback in season 2, we see Christian arguing with a woman in Australia about having a right to see his daughter and in the third season, we learn the daughter is actually Claire Littleton. Jack doesn't learn about this until the fourth season when Claire's mother attends the memorial service for Jack's father.
- In Malcolm in the Middle, Lois' father had a secret other family that he treated much better than his own. Ida simply cheated on him and conceived Lois with another man.
- The Naked Director: Megumi discovers some mysterious photos in an album in episode 1.4 and then confronts her mother in episode 1.5 about how the two of them live in relative comfort despite having a Disappeared Dad. It turns out that Megumi's strictly Catholic, religious fundamentalist mom was The Mistress of a married businessman, and she and Megumi are the secret other family.
- No Tomorrow: Xavier's father took up with another woman while his mother was still alive, and they had a daughter less than half a year after she died.
- The premise of the sitcom pilot The Other One: When Catherine Walcott's father dies, she finds he had a mistress, and a daughter by her also called Catherine.
- Public Eye: Episode "The Man Who Didn't Eat Sweets"; PI Frank Marker (Alfred Burke) is asked by a woman who finds a photo in her husband's wallet of an unidentified teenage girl to find out who she is; Marker follows the husband and finds he has not one but TWO Secret Other Families, none of whom are aware of the others. Marker confronts the man and persuades him that this situation cannot continue and that he must break up with two of them; he then tells his client that the girl in the photo is a daughter by a previous marriage. In the last scene, we see the husband making two telephone calls...
- Quantum Leap: Sam leaps into a man who has two families, and decides that he's there so both wives will break up with him and go on to lead successful lives of their own. He gets them both to break up with him by admitting to both that he's a bigamist; then just before he leaps the third wife & family show up.
- Rizzoli & Isles: In "Family Matters", the Victim of the Week has wives in two different states. The wives team up in order to murder him.
- Speculated by Roseanne in "Kansas City, Here We Come" when they discover their father's decades-long affair. "Roseanne, Dad could have kids with this woman. They would be, like... Darlene's age." "Oh, man, that would serve him right."
- On Sisters, the titular four sisters learn that they have another sister, the child of their father's mistress when the woman's doctor approaches them in need of a bone marrow donation (she has leukemia). After much pressuring from the sisters to meet the woman, the doctor finally admits that she is their half-sister. When the girls break the news to their mother, she isn't surprised (though she didn't know), as his relationship with the mistress was as long as their own marriage.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Gul Dukat had a wife and seven children. He was very proud of them. That didn't stop him from having a Secret Other Family of the most scandalous kind possibly for a Cardassian in his position of power: a Bajoran lover he had a Bajoran betrothal pledge with and their half-Cardassian, half-Bajoran daughter.
- Supernatural: Several years after John's death, Sam and Dean discovered that John had a third son that he would periodically visit while he left them in a motel while he supposedly was on a hunting trip. Seeing the effect that hunting had on Sam and Dean, John wanted Adam to have a chance at a normal life, but it didn't work. Adam and his mother were killed by ghouls who wanted revenge, but couldn't get it because John had already died.
- On Third Watch, after a much-publicized rescue, police officer Ty is approached by a young woman. Assuming she's romantically interested in him, he takes her to dinner, only for her to reveal that she's his sister—the child of a woman with whom his father had a long-term affair. When he reveals this to his other sister, she admits that she already knew and had met the girl for lunch several times, then informs him that their mother knows as well, citing a weekend when they were abruptly sent to stay with an aunt as a time when their parents were trying to work things out. When Ty confides in his partner Sully (who had been his father's partner), it turns out HE knew also. Ty is left utterly disillusioned with the memories of his father and infuriated at everyone for concealing the truth from him.
- The episode "Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail" of The West Wing had Sam Seaborne deal with his father's infidelity. It was very upsetting to him, such that he'd been working absurd hours and even sleeping at the office. When Leo McGarry tried to comfort him that "my father had affairs", Sam retorts that his wasn't an affair, this was a woman he kept in an apartment for thirty years.
- In an early episode of Without a Trace, the agents discover that the Victim of the Week had this and that his disappearance was the first step in a plot to officially abandon his first wife and run off with the second one.
- "It is revealed that the reason Billy takes over as cartoonist for a week every now and then is that Daddy's visiting his secret other family out in the country." — Ways to make Family Circus funny
- This was the concept behind The Dudley Boyz, a group of half-siblings from different mothers who were all the children of "Big Daddy" Dudley, a travelling salesman who had fathered children across the country on his travels. The original group consisted of Dudley Dudley (the only legitimate son by Big Daddy's wife), Big Dick Dudley, and Snot Dudley, but were eventually joined by the half-Indian Dances-With-Dudley, Chubby Dudley, Sign Guy Dudley, and finally the far-most successful members Buh-Buh Ray, D-Von, and Spike Dudley.
- Taken to deliberately absurd lengths in series 4 of Bleak Expectations, when Harry Biscuit, paranoid about losing his new wife to the villain who stole his last one, marries 92 other women as spares and must then prevent any of them from meeting. For added ludicrousness, this takes place confined to a ship in the middle of the ocean. Upon arriving in America, Harry solves his problem by becoming a Mormon - Whereupon, of course, all 93 wives immediately desert him for the villain.
- In the Sherlock Holmes (BBC Radio) radio drama "The Peculiar Persecution of Mr. John Harden", the title character is a millionaire who turns out to have yearned for a simpler life, an urge he indulges by having a secret life and family in a small village in Wales. Neither his Welsh family nor his wife in his own identity is aware of the deception, and his son is extraordinarily pissed off when he finds out.
- In the play Fool for Love by Sam Shepard, the main couple are half-siblings who committed Brother–Sister Incest before either of them knew their father had a Secret Other Family.
- Arthur Miller's The Road Down Mt. Morgan is about a New York City insurance agent who secretly has a second wife Upstate. The wives meet each other and learn the truth after a car accident puts him in the hospital.
- In Shadow Hearts, this is why Halley has no father. His mother is Koudelka, while his father is heavily implied to be Edward Plunkett, Lord Dunsany... who, by the time the game takes place, was married to Beatrice Villiers for ten years. At the end of the game, Halley and Koudelka set off to meet with his father. Lady Villiers's reaction is not shown.
- Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "secret identity", Strong Bad claims to have a "secret second family" whom he sometimes visits as "Vance Mudgeman". "Claims" being the operative word. Ol' SB has a tendency to just make crap up and an... overactive imagination, and in any case his "first family" is just him, his two brothers, and The Cheat.
- Weekend Pussy Hunt: Dirty Dog calls his visibly pregnant wife and three kids to tell them that he's going to be late coming home because he's chasing a cat that made fun of him. After having a fierce argument with his wife about him chasing Cigarettes the Cat, on how much trouble he can get in and refusing to come home, Dirty calls his second wife, who is more supportive of him chasing Cigarettes.
- In Nightshift, Roxy knows full well her father had a secret other family... she just doesn't know said family is still perfectly alive and healthy.
- One A Softer World strip is about this, though the reason it upsets the narrator is that the other family got to have a pet dog and theirs didn't.
- The Simpsons:
- As shown above, philandering politician Mayor Quimby is the Trope Namer.
- Snowball V/II was secretly visiting another family that considered her their cat.
- A commercial of pills to help people sleep had a list of things that make people too worried to sleep. "Secret Other Family" was on the list.
- The episode "Labor Pains" deals with a Not What It Looks Like incident of this in which Homer delivers a baby Born in an Elevator and secretly helps provide support and babysitting for the mother, who named the baby after him. Although he believes her to be a single parent, the ending reveals that her boyfriend has been away in the army and is happy to assume the responsibilities of fatherhood upon returning, allowing Homer to detach with no harm done.
- The intro for "Treehouse of Horror XXIX" shows a man laying a flower on a headstone that reads "BELOVED WIFE" and then attending to a grave beside it that reads "BELOVED SECRET WIFE."
- Family Guy did a joke about Peter having one where Peter was the mother, and somehow had three children with a husband in what was implied to be a sitcom-style family.
Man: Welcome home, dear! I'm so glad you're back! While you were gone, I tried to do the laundry! *holds up a comically shrunken shirt*Peter: Your favorite shirt! Adam Kenneth Handelman, when will you learn? *cue "Everybody Laughs" Ending*
- Another episode had an extended Nike commercial parody that eventually descended into Peter having a second family and a gay lover, then ended with him murdering everybody and getting the electric chair.
Peter: [in voiceover] Don't just run a mile, run a marathon! Don't have one family, have a second family across the country!
- Another episode had an extended Nike commercial parody that eventually descended into Peter having a second family and a gay lover, then ended with him murdering everybody and getting the electric chair.
- American Dad! had an episode where Roger, their live-in alien friend, was secretly a part of/spending time with dozens of other families as well. This was treated as if he was having an affair. Later episodes reveal Roger is still a part of multiple families outside the Smiths, like having two adult sons as Jeannie Gold and being the wife of a judge for over thirty years. Unlike before, the Smiths no longer care.
- In Dragons: Race to the Edge, Tuffnut acts as though this is what is going on when he discovers that his pet chicken has been sneaking out to visit a rooster and has a number of chicks.
- Robot Chicken: One sketch has Man-E-Faces from Masters of the Universe having three secret families, one for each face.
- Wakfu: Thanks to Amnesiac Dissonance, Sadlygrove ends up worried that he's abandoned lovers and children that he doesn't even know about.
- Real Life example: Vito Fossella, a Congressman from New York City, was arrested for drunk driving in Alexandria, Virginia. When a member of his Virginian family came to pick him up, he decided not to run for re-election.
- Chris McCandless, who's had the book Into the Wild based on him (and a movie based on that book), found out his dad had another family. At least, it was a secret to him and his sister. His mother knew, and, in fact, it was why they moved at one point.
- The late French president François Mitterrand revealed to the public shortly before leaving office that he had a Secret Other Family. The French have always taken a fairly relaxed view of their politicians getting up to this sort of thing so it didn't really affect his approval rating, except possibly with his wife, and both families were present together at his funeral.
- Knowing that he had taken good care of his illegitimate daughter actually made him more popular and sympathetic.
- Eva Perón was one of the daughters of a wealthy rancher's Secret Other Family. On his death, Juan Duarte left the family a document stating that the children were his so they could use his surname. However Eva, her mother, and siblings were still refused entrance to his funeral, and his death left them absolutely, desperately poor.
- A variant sometimes happens with free-range pets, especially cats, who simply go from one "owner" to another to get extra food.
- Twenty-nine years after his death it was discovered that Charles Lindbergh had three of these in Europe, fathering seven illegitimate children between 1958 and 1967 as part of a strange eugenics-inspired belief that he should spread his superior genes as much as possible. His children were unaware of their father's true identity until the 1980s.
- Lord Wigg, Paymaster-General under British Prime Minister Harold Wilson's two terms in office; MI-5 (the British Secret Service) found out about his two families and blackmailed him into leaking details of Cabinet Meetings to them; they then leaked the details to journalist Chapman Pincher at the Daily Express newspaper, which was unsympathetic to Wilson's Labour Party, putting the worst possible spin on Wilson's proposed policies even before they were announced to the public; it was Wilson's discovery of Wigg's treachery that caused his resignation in 1976.
- Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon suffered some embarrassment in 2016 when it was revealed that, along with his wife and four children, he had a mistress and two more children. But since Colon was immensely popular with the Mets fanbase, the scandal passed.
- H.H. Holmes, often considered America's first (or at least first well known) Serial Killer and a textbook example of The Sociopath pulled this off twice over the course of his life. He abandoned his first wife in Vermont and filed for divorce but never finalized. While still legally married to her, Holms married his second wife, Myrta, had a daughter with her. Several years later, he married his third wife, Georgiana, while still legally married to Myrta. Both Myrta and Georgiana remained unaware of his dual life/lives. And that's not even getting into his various affairs, most of which ended when he killed his lovers in his elaborate Torture Cellar.
- Josef Fritzl started a Squick-y one of these with his daughter Elisabeth. He imprisoned her in the cellar when she was eighteen years old and kept her trapped there for twenty-four years. Meanwhile, Josef raped her enough times that she gave birth to seven children, all fathered by him.