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Tell Me About My Father

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Will Turner: You knew my father.
Captain Jack Sparrow: I knew him. Probably one of the few who knew him as William Turner. Everyone else called him Bootstrap or Bootstrap Bill. Good man. Good pirate. I swear, you look just like him.

A Stock Phrase that strikes terror in the hearts of single parents and Parental Substitutes the world 'round. (Can be Gender Flipped, but usually is the father.)

Generally indicates that the child, who has no memories of the parent, has an unrealistic view of Disappeared Dad (or Missing Mom). As such, particularly hard on the child with a villainous parent, or even a No Hero to His Valet father. But hearing tales about, or actually meeting, the father, is almost always a shock.

However, if the child has heard the parent vilified, it can lead to his learning that his parent was better than he had been told. (If not perhaps all that he had dreamed of.) This may lead to a "Your father would be So Proud of You." Bonus points if the child has recently done things that were very brave or noble, and, when he asks about his father the response is "You remind me of him"

Or, of course, both. As the page quotes show.

If the child knew the parent, but Parental Abandonment happened after, the child will want to know about changes since then — as when a father went to war and the child wants to know about his service.

A parent or other relative who wants him not to Turn Out Like His Father, especially when it's dangerous, will resist as long as possible. Unfortunately, this usually results only in the mysterious parent taking on the allure of Forbidden Fruit — which may result in a harder than usual crash.

In cases of Parental Abandonment, the child is usually curious about only one parent, to simplify the plot. Perhaps he knew one parent but not the other, but sometimes, he is just fixated on one — usually the father.

Muggle Foster Parents usually try to evade this, partly because it brings up Secret Legacy, partly because they think his safety lies in being Locked Out of the Loop.

If Dad ran off, possibly without even knowing about the kid, Mom is particularly apt to be bitter about it. The child's idealism sets them up for a clash.

If the parent is dead, may overlap with To Absent Friends for the people telling the child.

Dead Guy Junior may express this about the person he was named for, even if unrelated.

Often happens if child is Someone to Remember Him By.

May result in How Dad Met Mom.

Not to be confused with Tell Me About Your Mother.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Gon of Hunter × Hunter was always asking his adoptive mother, Mito about his father, who left him with Mito to follow his dreams, which he saw as more important than Gon. Gon ends up following in his father's footsteps and tries to become a Hunter for the purpose of finding out just why it is worth abandoning your only son over. Defied when it comes to his mother. He stops playing a recording left behind by his father when it seems like it will reveal his mother's identity. As far as he's concerned, Mito is his mother.
  • Hare pulls this in Hare+Guu with his mother, Weda. He asks her about his father. She tells him pretty blankly that it's Dr. Clive, the doctor who's just come to work in the village. Since Dr. Clive is a Chivalrous Pervert without the chivalry, Hare is not pleased.
  • Negi Springfield, titular character of Negima! Magister Negi Magi sort of counts. He thought his father the Thousand Master really was a man of a thousand powerful spells, when really he only knew five or six and had to look through a cheat sheet of complex incantations (of course his romantisizing son was rightfully disturbed). Despite all that, Nagi was a talented hand-to-hand fighter and his sheer power could more than accommodate for his lack of spells; for the spells he could do, they were often over-powered (including basics) or his natural ability made complicated magic a cinch for him. There's a reason they called him an invincible hero.
    • Also, Negi's recently started asking old allies of his dad's to "Tell me about my mother."
    • Later someone does tell him about his mother and calls her the "Queen of Calamity" who destroyed her own country. According to chapter 257, she was framed for being the mastermind behind the Omnicidal Maniac terrorists, tried, and officially executed... eight years before Negi's birth. As such, just about everybody thinks that Nagi busted her out, and nobody cares because they're pretty damn sure she didn't actually do it.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji asks Kaji to tell him about his father Gendo. Even though Shinji sees his father on a near-daily basis, he knows nothing about him, and, indeed, regularly declares that he hates his father.
    • He also asked Gendo about his mother.
  • Subverted in One Piece. Idiot Hero Luffy doesn't initially ask about his father. When his grandfather does supply information on the man's identity and motivations, Luffy's response is "Huh? My dad? What do you mean, my dad...? Wait, I have a dad?" He then turns to his crewmate Nico Robin to ask about him because everybody else is too busy freaking out about his father's identity being the most wanted and feared revolutionary in the world.
  • Panzer World Galient: Jordy constantly asks Asbeth about his mother. One of his first lines in the series consists of him asking: "What my mother was like?". Inverting the trope, he is not seen asking about his father, but his surrogate grandfather decides de motu propio to tell him that he is son of the late King of Arst.
  • Averted in Naruto, which is especially glaring when you would think that a boy who has grown up orphaned and isolated his whole life would ask anybody and everyone he could about his parents if a chance presented itself. Worse yet is that the adults who know who Naruto's parents are never sit him down and tell him about them either.
    • Sad to say, the chance never did present itself. Naruto spent the entirety of his childhood trying to survive, though how bad it really was is debated between fans from 'everyone trying to kill him' to 'everyone hates him.' It was pretty much established that Naruto was supposed to be told everything when he officially turned 16, else he would be too weak. Too weak to handle Minato Namikaze aka the Yondaime's enemies, that is. Naruto is his son, after all.
    • Considering how Naruto was a kid, it's probably for the best they didn't tell him. It would have gone straight to his head.
    • He finally does ask a little when he meets his mother Kushina while on a Journey to the Center of the Mind. Not nearly as much as he should have, but he had other, more pressing concerns at the time.
    • Explained in the anime during a flashback in Shippuden episode 257: Naruto apparently asked Hiruzen about his parents many times, but Hiruzen refused to tell him anything. Eventually, he must have decided that it wasn't worth asking.
  • Renton was shocked and anxious when he found out at episode 38 that Eureka knew his father Adrock Thurston all along in Eureka Seven, and urged Eureka to tell him about his dad. This sudden outburst made Eureka confused and uncomfortable, so she ran away. Eventually, she did come back to Renton and shared her experience with Adrock after learning from Stoner that Renton is eager to learn about his dad very much.
  • Subverted in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Right before Relena's adoptive father kicks the bucket, he manages to briefly tell that she's adopted and that her dead parents were the monarchs of the Sank Kingdom, but dies before giving her the details. She later cuts off her adoptive mother when she's gonna tell her how she came into the care of the Darlians, begging her in tears to not stop being her mom.
  • In the Alternate Bad Future in Dragon Ball Z, Trunks asks Gohan and his mother Bulma about his father, Vegeta. As Trunks is a fairly nice kid growing up in a hellish nightmare world, both of them try to spare his feelings by giving him a rather whitewashed version of the the man who, at one point, was trying to kill everyone on Earth — Gohan just refers to him as "intense" (which was true enough) and Bulma tries to play him off as a sort of Jerk with a Heart of Gold, although she does say he's probably in hell. Since he travels back in time, Trunks does eventually get to meet his father, and is rather horrified by Vegeta's callousness (although that doesn't stop him from wanting his dad's approval anyway), thinking he'd been lied to. After Vegeta does eventually have a Papa Wolf moment with his son, Trunks happily reports back to his mother that she'd been right all along, while Bulma thinks to herself she hadn't really expected Vegeta to go that far.
  • In Digimon Adventure, Koushirou asks his parents this when they tell him that he's adopted, although he already knew about it. Apparently, his dad was a genius too.
  • In CLANNAD the main character Tomoya's sick wife Nagisa dies giving birth to his daughter Ushio and he ends up leaving her to be raised by her grandparents, who make a point of not telling Ushio about her mother. When he decides to take care of Ushio again, one of the first things he does is tell her about her dead mother. This leads to a heart breaking scene where Tomoya breaks down in tears part way through talking about Nagisa, crying over her death for the first time in years.
  • In Natsume's Book of Friends Natsume tries to ask one of his relatives about his grandmother Reiko after learning that she had strong spiritual energy like himself and could see spirits and youkai. Unfortunately the kindest thing most people have to say about her is that she was weird and he is well aware that Reiko was as much an outcast as himself due to her abilities.
  • Mitsu, the protagonist of Saturn Apartments, works with his dad's old workmates. He's always eager to hear anything they have to say about dear departed dad.
  • Hero Mask: Living MacGuffin Tina is introduced to Anna Winehouse, a scientist she learns worked with her parents. She spends much of their time together learning about the mother she never knew and her father was reluctant to speak of.

    Comic Books 
  • Jesse Custer of Preacher by chance meets an old Marine Corps buddy of his late father, who had been shot dead in front of Jesse when he was a young child. This meeting serves for two non-consecutive breaks from the main storyline as the army friend tells Jesse about their time in Vietnam. John Custer is revealed as a tough but fundamentally decent and loyal man, much like his son.
  • The DCU:
    • When Damage discovered he was the son of the Justice Society's Atom, two members of the Society, with him, talked about finding the others, and every surviving member came with Damage to his parents' grave.
    • When Kate Spencer (Manhunter) wanted to learn more about her past, she visited her grandmother, Sandra Knight (Phantom Lady), who proceeds to tell the tale of her supposed grandfather and real grandfather.
  • Deadpool
    • Deadpool's daughter Ellie is curious about her mom. She first wonders why she was adopted, and Wade says he'll have thought of a better way to explain when she's older. She asks if he knew her mom and he says he didn't really know her. He sadly says he wanted to, but didn't get the chance. Ellie asks if her mother died, prompting Wade to turn away from her sadly.
    • Happens again with his second daughter Warda, whom he had with Shiklah. Warda loved her mother very much, but doesn't think much of Wade. However, Warda is confused on the details of her parents' relationship and where her mother is after their final war against one another. Wade has hidden her away, and Warda holds him captive trying to get info on what he did with her. At the arc's end, Warda finally calms down and seeing things weren't the way she thought. Wade plans to go visit with Ellie and catch up, but tells Warda he'll be back so they can talk more about Shiklah.
  • The Incredible Hulk: When Skaar first met the his father the Hulk's Warbound, he asked them this same question. Subverted in that he later clarified he meant "Tell me how I can kill him."
  • In an interesting inversion, Daken, the son of Wolverine, asks his father about his mother. Due to the fact they're in a mental plane of existence, Logan decides to show him rather than just tell him. It's a sweet moment until Daken can't touch her and demands more, which Logan can't give.
  • X-Men: In an issue, Cable asks Cyclops (his father) to tell him about his mother, Madelyne Pryor (presumably the woman she was before she became The Goblin Queen). This scene is given an odd dissonance, given that thanks to time travel Cable is old enough to be Cyclops' father.
  • Runaways has an entire plot arc based around this trope where their Sixth Ranger Victor Mancha attempts to find out the identity of his super villian father at first it appears to be Doctor Doom but then it turns out to be Ultron yes, that's right Technically he is an android made from Ultrons programming and his human mother's DNA.
  • In The Shadows of their Fathers, an arc of the Star Wars Rebellion comic, Luke Skywalker gets his first inkling that his dad wasn't as heroic as he'd been thinking ever since finding out that Anakin had been a Jedi. It happened in the most dramatic way possible, of course, when he went to help out the people of Jabiim, whom Anakin had left to die back in the Clone Wars. They found out who he was, they wanted to kill him, cooler heads prevailed and he was taunted and beaten up until a more sympathetic Jabiim started protecting him. Just the idea that Anakin was actually terrible practically breaks Luke, who pleads "Did my father really behead Jabiimi children?" before absolutely throwing himself into the cause of helping them however he can, trying to make it up to them. At the end of the series this attitude gets a soft reset, with Leia assuring Luke that his father had still been good and helped so many people even if he'd failed the Jabiimi, and Luke swears that if anything this just made him love Anakin more.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust: After kissing for first time Shinji and Asuka open up and argue that nobody ever talked to them about their deceased mothers, no matter how many times they asked.
  • Evangelion 303: In chapter 4 Shinji mentions Asuka that he has asked his father about his mother, but Gendo does not talk about her.
  • In Whispers in the Dark, Taylor was told all her life that her father drowned when she was a baby and that's why she doesn't remember him. But when she actually meets him, she's pretty pissed to find out that he's the one and only Luke Castellan, who betrayed the gods to join Kronos.
  • In the My Little Pony Fanfic The Son of the Emperor Charles doesn't really know much about his father Napoleon, so when he meets someone who does he quickly starts asking about him.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf novel, Papa Smurf tells Empath about his mother in the revelation that Empath is Papa Smurf's only biological son.
  • Ultimately defied in Better Off Not Knowing: Yes, viewpoint character Hakini asked about "the people who'd brought her into the world" (heavily implied to be Zaheer and P'Li) once, but it turns out that said information was deliberately withheld from her adoptive parents.
  • In the fanfic novelization Breath of the Wild, Paya takes note of Original Character Princess Lochlia of Zora visiting Kakariko Village regularly. Impa always asks Paya to leave them be so they can talk alone, but Paya happened to overhear them one time talking about Lochlia's father. She heard them ask when he, Link, would wake up from his slumber. She'd been visiting the village regularly so that she could learn more about her father that she spent 100 years of her life without.
  • Broken Bow: Apollo's children become very interested in Armani Dove after learning he was raised by the Sun god himself. Armani feels pretty wretched about his desire to escape his uncle's guardianship when he realizes those kids would give anything to spend one single day with their dad.
  • In chapters 6 and 14 One More Time, One More Chance, Ryuuko, abandoned as a baby, asks Satsuki something akin to this. This leads into some Unpleasant Parent Reveal, as Satsuki tells her about how Ragyo was in life (that Ragyo was, as she put it, "a monster"), however, this also leads to the opposite when she tells Ryuuko about Soichiro (that he was kind and loving). Ryuuko takes it rather well.
  • The Flash Sentry Chronicles: At the end of The Forgotten Darkness, Springer the Jakhowl discovers he is the son of Sharp Paw and Clear Paw, and asks Princess Luna and Ruby Scarlet, the only two ponies who knew his parents personally, if they can tell him more about them someday. They both happily agree to.
  • The very essence of Cabin Fever: Promises To Keep. A few years after Marcy accidentally got pregnant from the careless one-night-stand she had with Paul during the deadly outbreak, her daughter starts asking questions about her father, who tragically died from the disease.
  • Eden, by Obsessmuch: Averted with Hermione's son. He has his suspicions but doesn't ever ask his mother whether or not his father is Lucius Malfoy, the man who murder her parents and raped her.
  • Son of the Sannin: Downplayed. Jiraiya and Tsuande freely tell Naruto all about his parents, but a talk with Karin does get him asking about his Uzumaki clan heritage.
  • Dead Garden: Played straight with Sakura in concern of her mother, who died during the Kyuubi attack. Inverted with Naruto - when he's calling out his mother Kushina for not telling him how or why she's responsible for "killing" Sakura's mother, he furiously prepares to storm out after declaring how she never even told him about Minato; this prompts her to finally tell her son that his father was the Fourth Hokage.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Played with in Back to the Future Part II — Marty, in 1985-A, asks the alternate version of his mother to tell him about the alternate version of his father.
  • Defied in Pan's Labyrinth: when the about-to-be-executed villain Videl urges his much-abused maid to tell their newborn son about how he'd died well, she bluntly informs him that the boy won't even know his name.
  • In the Lindsay Lohan remake of The Parent Trap, Hallie (posing as Annie) asks her mother to tell her about "the F-word" - "You know, my father." Hallie was raised by her father, so she knows a lot about him already: what she's trying to find out is what her mother would tell Annie about him.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Will Turner realizes that Captain Jack Sparrow knew his father, and asks — getting a real shock when he learns that Bootstrap Bill was a pirate. Though when Will was prisoner in the Black Pearl, the tales told there about how he realized how treacherous they had been wins Will over.
  • In Star Trek (2009), young Kirk doesn't ask about his dad, but Captain Pike tells him anyway.
    • But he does ask Spock Prime about if he knew his dad in Spock Prime's world.
  • Star Wars:
    • A New Hope has Luke Skywalker ask Obi-Wan about his father, Anakin, after finding out they fought together in the Clone Wars. Obi-Wan tells him Anakin was a great pilot, warrior, and friend, and fudges the details a bit when telling him that Anakin was killed by the villainous Darth Vader. It's also implied that Luke has asked his aunt and uncle about Anakin, but that they refuse to discuss him.
    • After two films, Luke develops some curiosity about his mother as well, and asks Leia to tell him about her. Which was turned into a retcon when the prequels came out — Death by Childbirth took their mother, so the only mother Leia knew was her adoptive mother, Queen Breha Organa. However, Leia was well aware that she was adopted, she just didn't care, so the leading fan theory is that Leia's "memories" of Padmé were actually Force visions that she didn't have the knowledge to recognize as such.
  • Superman: The Movie: Clark Kent gets the lowdown on Dad from the Fortress of Solitude, via an interactive recording.
  • The Three Musketeers (1993) sees Athos telling D'Artagnan what he knows about D'Artagnan's father. Athos only knew him by reputation, not personally. But it's through the bits of information Athos says that D'Artagnan learns that his father was led into a trap by Rochefort when the two of them were still Musketeers, and then murdered.
  • At one point in To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout asks Jem about her mother as they're falling asleep.
  • Top Gun does this when Viper tells Maverick about his father's last mission after Maverick's confidence is shaken by Goose's death, and how his father saved Viper's life at the cost of his own.
  • Through much of Madame Rosa: Through much of the movie, Momo pesters the titular Rosa about info relating to his parents. Rosa is reluctant because the news isn't pleasant (his mother was prostitute and his father was her pimp and murderer).

  • American Gods: This is a point of contention between young Shadow and his mother (who didn't know/remember the father), which Shadow witnesses again while he is walking on the way to his judgment in the afterlife. A few pages later, we see why mother didn't divulge.
  • The Belgariad: The young protagonist Garion asks his Aunt Pol about his mother. A few years later he asks Mister Wolf to tell him about his parents.
  • In A Brother's Price, the protagonists find the corpse of a man who was raped repeatedly shortly before his death. His death is likely due to the fact that the kidnappers cut his tongue out. One protagonist asks "What did they intend to tell their daughters?", referring to the trope-name question. The answer "Your father? I raped him and cut his tongue out so he couldn't tell anyone" doesn't sound like something anyone would want to say to her daughter. Except maybe she's trying to make her mommy's little villain.
  • Dragonriders of Pern: Averted. Lord Jaxom's mother died in childbirth, and his father died in a duel minutes later. Jaxom grows up knowing that his father was a cruel, power-mad tyrant.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry specifically notes that his father told him so much about his mother that he never felt the need for this. Of course, it turns out that his father didn't know the whole story.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry asked the Dursleys about his parents growing up, but they never told him anything except "They died in a car crash and don't ask questions." After learning the truth from Hagrid (they were wizards who were murdered by Voldemort), he never directly asked but got good reports from his teachers and elders. The only dissenting voice was his bullying teacher Snape who he had little reason to believe. Then, in Order of the Phoenix, Harry experienced one of Snape's memories and saw for himself that James Potter was kind of a jerk when he was fifteen. This led to him directly questioning Sirius and Lupin, who assured him that James deflated his head once he grew up.
    • Harry's mother, Lily, was established as the reason he survived Voldemort early on, but isn't always mentioned alongside James. It's slowly revealed that Harry has at least as much in common with her as with James.
  • A Hole in the Fence: Grisón used to ask his foster mother Flammèche about his parents growing up, but she always asked him to be patient for a little longer. Flammèche finally tells him in the night of his twelfth birthday how she met his mother and agreed to raise him.
  • Robin McKinley:
    • In The Hero and the Crown, Aerin asks her nursemaid about her dead, foreign mother very early in the book. Even though by this time she's heard just about everything the woman ever knew about the queen, every so often she comes out with another word or so, and besides, Aerin likes to hear it again. Of course, it's important later, and comes up a lot in various contexts, since taking after her outlander mother is one of the defining facts of the main character's life.
    • Similarly, Beauty in Rose Daughter tries to find out, with the help of one of her maids, what scent her mother wore, as it's the strongest memory she has of her. The maid is able to find out that the scent was of roses, and this and Beauty's mother's origins are inevitably plot-relevant.
  • Monster of the Month Club: Rilla finally gets up the courage to ask Sparrow about her father in book 2 during her Calling the Old Man Out moment. Sparrow is startled, but admits she never realized how much Rilla thought about her father.
  • The Odyssey: When Odysseus went to war, he left a wife and newborn son at home. Twenty years later, the war is ten years over, but Odysseus has still not returned. His son Telemachus, now just barely an adult, goes on a road (and sea) trip to find out where the heck he's gone off to. As he interviews Ulysses' old war buddies (in books III and IV) he tries hard to keep it strictly business — when did you last see Odysseus, and which way was he going? — but the Tell Me About My Father vibe is unmistakable, making this one Older Than Feudalism.
  • Old Man's War has a variant: Lieutenant Jane Sagan is revealed to be based off of the genes of the protagonist's deceased wife. When they end up working together, she makes a point to quiz him about her progenitor whenever they are in private.
  • Seen in Paladin of Souls when middle-aged Arhys dy Lutiz asks Dowager Royina Ista (who is about his age) about the Disappeared Dad who died when they were both barely out of their teens if that old. This is further complicated by his belief that his father was actually executed for seducing the young then-consort and the degree to which Ista blames herself for the man's death.
  • Percy Jackson often wondered about his father (before finding out that his father was Poseidon) and despite his mother Sally often repeating carefully selected details about him, he never got tired of hearing them.
  • John Ringo and David Weber's Prince Roger: In March Upcountry, Prince Roger is considered a jerk, a fop, and a possible traitor by the other characters, mostly because he takes after his father who shares all the same qualities. The catch — he has never met his father and no one has ever told him why. The real reason for his being like this is that he has been sidelined all his life on the grounds that he MIGHT be like his father. Everyone simply assumes he knows his father's history, but no one has ever checked to make sure. Because of this suspicion, he ends up trapped on a Death World. So when he finds out, the result is an entirely justified temper tantrum.
  • Subverted in Septimus Heap: While Jenna does at a time inquire about her father, she doesn't really care about the issue any further, partially because fathers aren't considered important in the royal dynasty. Eventually, he turns up in person.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Daenaerys Targaryen believed that the stories of her father being an insane tyrant were lies spread by the Usurper Robert and his supporters. When she asks Barristan Selmy to tell her more about Aerys, she is not happy when she realizes that her father really was a monster.
    • Jon Snow grew up having no clue of who is his mother because his father Ned never speaks of her for unknown reasons. He later wants to ask him who she was, but too bad that Ned dies before telling him about her.
  • Subverted in John Varley's Steel Beach as Hildy's mother flatly refuses to even identify her father, let alone tell her anything about him. The resulting animosity causes periodic breaks in their relationship, But that doesn't prevent Hildy from resolving to similarly conceal the father's identity from her own child Mario.
  • Ukiah Oregon does this twice. Raised by Wolves, the only parents he knows are the women who found him in the Oregon woods and took him home. He's kidnapped and nearly killed by his father's side of the family, and learns that his long-dead father was a rebel from an alien invasion force and he's a Half-Human Hybrid. Later he meets his mother's side of the family, the Cayuse Kicking Deer family. His initial demands for information are rebuffed because he's believed to be an impostor, and no one alive knew his mother, who died centuries ago. He is eventually able to regain some memory of her.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga:
    • In The Vor Game, Emperor Gregor worriedly asks Miles if any of the more horrific stories about his Axe-Crazy father are true. All Miles can offer is the faint reassurance that not all of the stories are accurate.
    • Later, in A Civil Campaign, it falls on Gregor to tell Nikki Vorsoisson the truth about his father. Although the goal is to counteract some Malicious Slander about Tien Vorsoisson's suspicious death Gregor also tells him some unpleasant facts about his father straight, perhaps so he will not be blindsided later.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel First & Only, in many flashbacks, Gaunt is trying to learn how his father died, which is classified. He is finally told by a Chaos-tainted witch.
    • In Only In Death, Dalin Criid, who vaguely remembers Kolea from Vervunhive, asks him about his parents. Kolea assures him that his parents would have been glad that he and his sister were taken under the wing of the two Ghosts who act as their parents, and proud of how he turned out, and that they were died. (He's lying. In fact, he is their father, but he learned that they had lived only after the two Ghosts had raised them for some time. Thinking their lives had been disrupted enough, he did not tell even their adoptive parents the truth.)
    • In Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn novel Hereticus, after the death of the man who killed her father, Medea realizes that her desire for Revenge was really displaced desire to have known her father, and asks Eisenhorn to tell her about her father.
  • In Zeroes, Mob was raised only by her father. She tried asking him about her mother on numerous occasions, but he was never willing to talk to her about it. Scam finally uses his Voice to convince her father to tell her the truth when they believe they're all about to die.
  • In Warrior Cats, Twigpaw and Violetpaw were discovered as evidently-orphaned kits and raised in the Clans. After meeting and starting to live with their father, Twigpaw asks him to tell them about their late mother. Violetpaw's a bit mad at her for asking, thinking that Twigpaw's being insensitive, but Hawkwing assures them that he's always happy to talk about Pebbleshine and tells them a story about when she was young.
  • Siren: Vanessa finds out that her biological mother was the siren Charlotte Bleu, who is now missing. Charlotte's sister Willa promised Vanessa's dad long ago that she'd someday answer any questions Vanessa had about Charlotte. Vanessa and Willa finally meet when Vanessa is seventeen, and Willa tells Vanessa all about Charlotte and her relationship with Vanessa's father.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Claire does this on Heroes after her powers start to manifest.
  • Smallville has Clark asking The Fortress AI (a recording of his father), Brainiac, Raya, and Supergirl about his parents, but mainly Jor-El. He also gets to interact with a simulation of his mom Lara (played by Helen Slater, who played Supergirl in Supergirl (1984)).
  • Used in Criminal Minds, after Reid had been having nightmares about his dad being involved in the killing of a kid when Reid was little. In an inverse of the Broken Pedestal trope, Reid's father managed to prove that he's more sympathetic than previous revelations would grant.
    • Played with by "100", where it becomes "Tell Your Son About His Father": in her last moments, Haley pleads with Hotch to tell their son Jack about how he used to be; how he wasn't so serious, how he and Haley fell in love, how he used to make her laugh.
  • Happens at the end of a season 5 Las Vegas episode when Piper Nielsen aks AJ Cooper about her dead father, who was his best friend when they were soldiers but died in a military conflict. He had promised to take care of the recently born Piper from a distance as a Last Request to him, but circumstances led Piper to suspect Cooper was in fact her father but had simply abandoned her for the past twenty-five years.
  • Gender-inverted in Game of Thrones Jon Snow grew up motherless, not even knowing her name. Ned Stark told him before parting ways that the next time they'll see each other he'll tell him about his mother. As the end of Season 6 turns out Jon should have rather asked about his father indeed, as Ned isn't his biological father, but rather his uncle.
  • The Series Finale of Rome comes within a hair's breadth of being named after this trope: "De Patre Vostro" (About Your Father...).
    • There's also a scene a couple of episodes earlier in which Caesarion asks Lucius Vorenus to tell him about his father. Vorenus, of course, is one of the few people who knows that Caesarion's father isn't Caesar. It's Titus Pullo. As he goes along describing Caesarion's father, the description starts to shift from that of Caesar to that of Pullo. He has to hastily correct himself when Caesarion question's whether Caesar was actually a gambler and a womaniser.
  • Gender Flipped in several season 4 episodes of China Beach as Karen inquires about her mother among the group of veterans who knew her. She also eventually meets her father in the process. He's a jerk. No wonder she wasn't looking for him.
  • In Power Rangers in Space Astronema/Karone asks Andros 'what were mom and dad like?', so beginning the first honest and open conversation between the reunited siblings. Andros tells her they were 'the best parents any kid could hope for'.
  • Legend of the Seeker: Richard asks his sister to tell him in "Bloodline," but unfortunately she knows nothing because their mother refused to discuss it-not even whether they have the same one. His father is later revealed to be Panis Rahl. It's then inverted and gender flipped in the same episode when he laments he never got the chance to talk to his mother, and it ends with Zedd saying, "Then let me tell you about her."
  • In Kamen Rider Hibiki, the main character Asumu is a teenage boy living with a single mother. When his rival is constantly talking about surpassing his father, Asumu begins wondering what his own father is like. His mother is acting very distant about is, but gives him his father's address. Asumu indirectly gets to know his father by the testimony of other people. The episode ends with him asking his mother if its okay to like him, after which his mother encourages him to do so.
  • This happens twice on CSI: NY, gender flipped both times.
    • First, when Reed Garrett comes to town looking for his mother, Mac's late wife Claire. At first, he backs off when he finds out she's dead. Mac doesn't push him, but his caring persuasion and wanting to do it for Claire eventually gets Reed to open up and he eventually asks Mac about her.
    • Second, when Ellie Danville asks Jo about her birth mother. At first, Ellie wants to meet her so badly she skips school and takes the subway by herself to go upstate for a visit, but is interrupted by a murder on the train. Later, Jo gives her more information about her and offers to take Ellie there, but the girl changes her mind and they put the trip off yet again.
  • JAG: This trope always is played with in some fashion every time Harmon Rabb meets Thomas Boone, the wingman of his MIA father.
  • Given a slight extra spin in The City Hunter. Yoon Sung asks his mother this, and she responds, very carefully, with a description of her deceased husband, Mu-Yeol. Who, it turns out, is not Yoon Sung's father.
  • Stranger Things 2: Played with. Eleven asks Hopper about her birth mother in a flashback.
  • Supernatural:
    • Sam was only six months old when his mother, Mary, died and has no memories of her and is sometimes shown asking about her in childhood flashbacks. Older brother Dean was only four and has a few more memories, but because of the violent way she died, neither Dean or family patriarch John like to talk about her.
    • Jack Kline is shown doing this about his adopted father Castiel and his biological father, Lucifer. He later meets and forms relationships with both of them.

  • "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" by the Temptations literally IS this trope.

  • The character Sophie, in Mamma Mia!, doesn't ask her mother about her father, but finds her mother's diary describing three possible fathers, leading to the entire plotline.
  • This is the reason for Marmont's presence in Edmond Rostand's L'Aiglon: as his first appearance implies, the titular Eaglet only kept him around because he wanted to hear about his father.
    The Duke: Now I've learnt whatever you could teach me, // Whatever memories of him you had, // And that, in spite of you, was splendid in you, // I cast you off: a useless sponge!

    Video Games 
  • Gender inverted in Daughter for Dessert. Amanda is desperate to know more about her mother, but the protagonist hasn’t given her much to go on. She’s very surprised that the stupendously wealthy Cecilia is her aunt, and her father’s secrecy about Lainie allows Cecilia to twist the narrative about his relationship with her, making him look like a bad guy.
  • Used in Fate/stay night's "Heaven's Feel" scenario after Shirou learns that his foster father fought as a Master in the fourth Grail War. While Saber is reluctant to talk about him, Kotomine is only too pleased to.
    • Played with: Shirou knew plenty about Kiritsugu in the first place, it was just the bit about being a Master in the last Grail War that he wanted more info on.
  • In World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, we have Arator the Redeemer, the son of Alleria Windrunner and Turalyon. As an infant, Arator was separated from his parents after they left him on Azeroth to go fight a war on Draenor. Unfortunately, Alleria and Turalyon got trapped on the planet when the Dark Portal blew up. Twenty years later, the Dark Portal has reopened, and Arator has come to Outland (formerly known as Draenor) hoping to reunite with his parents (or more specifically, his father). As Arator never knew his father, he asks several of the veteran members of Alliance Expedition about Turalyon, including Turalyon's second, Danath Trollbane, for information and leads on Turalyon's current location. Several people then gave their opinion on how great a guy Turalyon was, but sadly, he has been MIA for 15 years. Arator is convinced Turalyon is alive, because he has the same vision of his father every time he sleeps, and vows to search for him. The story seemed to end for eight years, but then Blizzard revealed that Marksmanship Hunters would be able to track down Alleria and Turalyon, and in the same expansion Arator himself becomes a more important character.
  • In Aion's second area, Altgard Keep, you meet an Archon that hands you an expensive pendant and his story. He had been abandoned as an infant with only this pendant and now wants to know who his parents were, although he suggests that they were mere mortals. You track the owner of the pendant down and she tells you that a)she has lost that pendant long ago and therefore the boys parents must've been thieves and b) that she and her husband have no children. She does, however, hand you the box that belongs to the pendant and tells you to give it to the Archon with best wishes in regards of finding his true parents. In the box you find a letter detailing that said owner of the pendant is in fact his mother, the father being not her husband but a dead Archon that courted her and that he died because of political 'difficulties', namely her father, the High Priest of the Daeva himself and the girls family-in-law and that she barely was able to abandon him to let him live, that it broke her heart and that this scandal must never come to light.
  • Toyed with in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, when Lene the Dancer asks Prince Lewyn if he knew her parents, who left her in an orphanage when she was a little girl. He doesn't tell her almost anything, but tries reassuring her that her parents will come back to her. The thing is... the conversation only happens if Lewyn is Lene's father, via pairing him up with Lene's Missing Mom Sylvia in the first half of the game. And since Lewyn is all but stated to have become a Soul Jar for the Dragon Forseti, he can't tell her.
  • A rare example of learning about one's mother, from her son no less - Patrokles, protagonist of Soul Calibur V, desired to learn about his mother, Sophitia, from his Non-Action Guy father Rothion.
  • Inverted in Resident Evil 6 when NEO Umbrella just goes right ahead and fills Jake Muller in about his father Albert Wesker, telling him quite a bit more than he ever wanted to hear. Finding out his father was a murderous complete and utter psychopath who wanted to destroy the world, and fearing that he might end up turning out exactly the same, goes a far way in pushing Jake from Nominal Hero to the real deal.
  • In Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, the main human character, Kharg, has asked repeatedly about his father, Windalf, to his mother, Nafia. The reason she doesn't tell him is because his father is a Drakyr, one of the many Deimos races of the game, which would make Kharg himself a human-Deimos hybrid. He only finds out after her death, albeit refusing to believe it until he grows Drakyr wings in front of the people of Yewbell.
  • This is the crux of Aloy's whole journey in Horizon Zero Dawn. She was made an outcast by the Nora at birth due to the strange circumstances under which she was born and what is thought to be her mother, which prompts Aloy to set out on a quest to find out who or what her mother precisely was. As it turns out, Aloy is a clone of Elizabet Sobek, the genius scientist from the old world responsible for preserving life after it was all but wiped out by a Robot War, and she was "birthed" by the AI Sobek made to recreate life to avert another impending apocalypse. Which means Aloy effectively has two mothers.
  • In Marco and the Galaxy Dragon, the titular Marco travels to Earth to learn more about her mother, whom she barely remembers due to being kidnapped and sold into slavery at a young age. She eventually learns that her mother is Mitsuko, the kind lady she met during her first day on the planet.
  • In Road 96 Alex was Happily Adopted by Fanny who always told him she knew nothing about his parents. When she finally admitted they were Black Brigades, he was furious at her for lying and went on the road to try and learn more about them. John, who was friends with Alex's parents, has promised to tell him about them but constantly puts it off for fear that learning too much will radicalize Alex and get him killed. This in turn badly damages their relationship and can leave Alex vulnerable to Robert's manipulations.
  • Gender-inverted in Nightshade where Enju learns that Hanzo was childhood friends with her deceased mother, she starts asking questions what her mother was like since her mother died when she was very young.


    Web Original 
  • This is inverted in Worm, where the supervillain Tattletale threatens to tell the superhero Panacea about her father-specifically, about the horrible crimes that he committed that got him imprisoned in a maximum security facility for the rest of his natural life-in order to get away from a bank robbery gone wrong.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged takes the Future Trunks and Vegeta example (see above) and rolls with it. Bulma tactfully describes Vegeta as an abrasive loner who had trouble making friends. In the History of Trunks special, Gohan flashes back to Vegeta punching him in the face, and just says "He had a lot to prove." Needless to say, Trunks is not prepared for a verbally abusive jerk who once tried to kill all the heroes.
    Kid Trunks: Am I a lot like him?
    Future Bulma: You have...his gender.
  • RWBY: In Volume 4, Taiyang makes it a point to tell Yang of her mother's positive aspects, which hits her really hard in Volume 5 when she finally meets Raven and discovers that she's a self-absorbed, pretentious Social Darwinist and Dirty Coward who puts herself and her Bandit Clan above everyone and everything else. In "Haven's Fate," Yang even mentions this while calling Raven out on her cowardice and hypocrisy.
    Yang: You're right. I don't know you. I only know the Raven Dad told me about. She was troubled, and complicated, but she fought for what she believed in, whether it was her team or her tribe! Did you kill her too?
  • Whateley Universe: a persistent theme in "Silent Nacht" is Nacht (Kate) asking the her mother, the Bell Witch (Marzena), about her father, only to be rebuffed. it turns out that Marzena probably doesn't know who he is, as she kidnapped Kate from her family and pretended to be her mother after Kate survived what she expected to be, in effect, a Human Sacrifice to a literal Force of Darkness.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series: One episode featured a doctor who lost his license and only got to practice because his gangster brother set him up as "the Crime Doctor". At the end of the episode, Bruce bails him out, and the doctor is instantly suspicious about what he wants in return — until Bruce says this trope's name. (The doctor had been good friends with Dr. Thomas Wayne in medical school.)
  • Inverted in Justice League Unlimited. Shayera sits down beside Batman and asks him to "Tell me about my son." (Time Travel was involved and it led to Shayera and John learning that they'll eventually be the parents of Rex, aka Warhawk, a member of a future Justice League.)
  • Gender Flipped on Steven Universe, where Steven often talks to his father and maternal substitutes about his Missing Mom, Rose Quartz, who gave up her physical form when he was born. A later episode has Greg tell Steven the story of how he and his mother met, or more specifically the version where he didn't leave out his crappy former manager.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The Perfect Pear", the Apple siblings, having grown curious about the origin of the feud between the Apple and Pear clans and having learned from that that their parents (who have throughout both this episode and the show in general been very heavily implied to be deceased) were a Pear and an Apple, try to track down ponies who knew them — a genealogist cousin of theirs, their father's and mother's respective best friends, and the town major who officiated their wedding — to get their story and learn what kind of people their parents were.
  • DuckTales (2017): Another Gender Flipped version. Dewey wants anyone who has the knowledge to tell him about his missing mother.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Tell Me About My Mother


Janek Kos

Having been snuck into the Rusviets inner circle to get close to Colonel Zubov as "Victor Popov", Janek stumbles across Steinmetz; one of Teslas' associates who worked alongside Janeks' father Piotr.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / TellMeAboutMyFather

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