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Unpleasant Parent Reveal

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In some works, a mother or a father is simply missing and it'll get chalked up as Disappeared Dad or Missing Mom, no problem. The character might not care that their parent is gone and is happy without them. Or, finding out who their parents are might just be the character's whole reason for being. One day, said dad or mom might just show up, and reveal themselves to be something unpleasant. Whether it be a bad guy, a criminal, a thief, or even the Big Bad or some other villain the hero knew all along, their reveal is usually the exact opposite of how they imagined their parent to be. All their dreams of a happy family upon reuniting with their Disappeared Dad or Missing Mom are brutally dashed. It's the aversion of the fairy tale ending where all is made right when the character is reunited with their parents.

This trope also covers a character just finding out that their parent died horribly, was found living in some place undesirable, or simply, anything unpleasant.

If the dad or mom is dead and the character finds out posthumously he/she was a bad guy, then they can come up with all kinds of theories to justify their parent's actions in absentia. Only if they're alive can those be shot down.

See Refused Reunion if the dad or mom, after being discovered and confronted by their offspring, denies parentage to save the child the shame of knowing the truth.

See Archnemesis Dad. If this involves an entire family or cultural group instead of just a parent, see Disappointing Heritage Reveal. This may also result in a Broken Pedestal. Compare Visit by Divorced Dad and Anti-Climactic Parent; contrast Good Parents. See also Luke, I Am Your Father, for a specific form of this trope.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass: Late in the story, it's revealed that Lelouch's and Nunnally's sweet, deceased mother wasn't nearly as nice as presumed. Marianne was alive the whole time, is a Big Bad alongside her husband, and it's left vague if she even loved her children.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Future Trunks grew up without Vegeta around, and was given a whitewashed version of his personality by Future Gohan and Bulma. When they meet during the events of the Cell Saga, Trunks, initially happy to meet him, is horrified to discover that the father he never knew and wanted to meet is an arrogant, self-absorbed Jerkass who not only doesn't give a damn about Bulma or the son he fathered with her but is perfectly willing to endanger the entire planet for the sake of a good fight.
  • EDENS ZERO: Homura Kōgetsu's mother left her when she was a little girl to raise money with the promise of coming back, leaving the girl to fend on her own until Valkeryie found her and became her teacher and Parental Substitute. After coming to believe that Homura can only be happy with her actual mother, Valkeryie left to find and bring her back. It's then revealed that Homura's mother, Kurenai, was really a deceptive Manipulative Bitch, tricking Valkeryie to take her spot in the labor camp of Sun Jewel while she killed the current crime lord and took his place as a more ruthless tyrant. She would even send out the Stone monsters out of the cave onto the various miners, forcing Valkeryie to perform a Last Stand to save them at the cost of her life. After recovering from both the truth of her teacher's death and her mother's true nature, Homura came to realize that Kurenai didn't care for her when she failed to recognize a stuffed animal she gave Homura as a promise to her return. Homura declares that she doesn't feel anything for her mother besides thanks for bringing her into the world, and tells her to leave Sun Jewel and never cross her path again.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Golden Wind: Fifteen-years-old Trish Una had only heard stories about her father from her mother, and after her mother died she learned that her father is The Don of the criminal organization Passione. While initially acting like a Mafia Princess, she reveals to Bucciarati (who was tasked with delivering her to the boss) that she's terrified at the newfound danger of being the Boss's daughter. Then it turns out that the Boss is a raging paranoiac who is obsessed with his anonymity. He only ordered Bucciarati and his team to deliver Trish so he can kill her himself because he sees the fact he has a daughter as a threat to his identity.
    • JoJolion: With his amnesia, Josuke's investigation to find out who he is leads him to meeting his mother, Holly, who is a patient at the hospital, having lost some of her memory and mental functions as a result of a large portion of her brain, along with a number of other organs, have been surgically removed.
  • Kill la Kill: The first time that protagonist Ryuko meets her mother Ragyo involves said mother ripping her heart out of her chest. That's not even factoring in the fact that Ragyo sexually abused her other daughter for the past twelve years and plans on turning the human race into food for an alien parasite.
  • RIN-NE: Rinne's father Sabato Rokudo, who is a complete Jerkass who owns an illegal business stealing the souls of still-living people for profit. He steals left and right and is constantly scamming people. He frequently steals his teenage son's own hard-earned money, forcing him to live in poverty and leaves him in debt by purchasing things in his son's name, basically committing identity theft. He's the primary antagonist in the series and even though it's Played for Laughs it's pretty messed up.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Jason and Bruce spend a considerable amount of time looking for Jason's biological mother after he realizes that he's not related by blood to Catherine. Jason, excited about the prospect of having a living family, tells his birth mom Sheila Haywood about his secret ID as Robin and she immediately betrays him to The Joker, who then proceeds to beat Jason almost to death and blow him up. Upon his resurrection, Jay is not upset to learn Sheila died in the blast as well, although his last action in life was trying to save hers.
  • Runaways: Molly spent years deluding herself that her parents, despite being supervillains, could not possibly have been as bad as the rest of the Pride. In "Mollifest Destiny", she meets one of her parents' former enemies, who tells her that they tortured him for seven years straight just for mildly inconveniencing them. She punches him straight through a roof, and then breaks down and cries, unable to reconcile what she's been told about her parents with her own memories of them.

    Fan Works 
  • Alternate TKO Series: The Choice has Professor Venomous reveal that he was Terbio's father, Laserblast. This only serves to make Terbio resent him even more for how he abandoned their mother to raise him and his older brother by herself.
  • Cellar Secrets: A variant in that Satsuki and Nui find out that, not too long after he left the family, Souichiro died as opposed to having found out that he had done something horrible. However, while they knew he died, they don't find out how he died, until chapter 21, where we find out that he died in a car accident, leaving Satsuki to be relieved that he died rather quickly (his neck was broken) and not because what she would have thought previously.
  • Code Geass: Paladins of Voltron: Rai spends most of the story with no memory of where his family is. All he knows for certain is that he has a mother and sister who disappeared. Eventually he remembers that he and his family were kidnapped by the Galra, but he doesn't learn who his father is until the chapter "Isle of the Gods" where, thanks to a combination of Nonnette revealing her history with him and the Thought Elevator activating, he learns that Charles zi Britannia is his father. While this revelation horrifies him, thanks to the other Paladins, he's able to quickly move on from it, and at least becomes glad to know that he?s related to Lelouch and Suzaku, the latter due to Rai?s mother being Suzaku's aunt.
  • Code Prime: Throughout most of the first half of R1, Rai has no memory of his family, and joins the Black Knight/Autobot alliance in the hopes that he can learn about his past. In the chapter "Isle of Gods and Monsters", Rai gets stuck with Nonnette, and she reveals to him that he's Charles zi Britannia's illegitimate son, and that she's his former knight. Rai at first goes into denial, but when the Thought Elevator activates Rai's memories are restored, and he realizes that Nonnette was telling him the truth. While the revelation horrifies Rai at first, he nonetheless becomes glad to know that he's related to Lelouch.
  • Crimson and Emerald: After seeing Inko's wedding photos, Toshinori identifies her husband Hisashi as being none other than All for One. Inko is naturally horrified.
  • Fire Emblem Fates: Aftermath: Once Corrin is told that Anankos was his father, he's naturally shocked that he's the son of the insane dragon god that tried to destroy humanity. Even after it's explained that it was Anankos' good half that married Mikoto and sired him, Corrin cannot visualize his father as anything but evil.
  • Incarnate: Sunset Shimmer is Related in the Adaptation here to none other than Princess Celestia herself, with Mirror Sombra as her sire. All of this was kept from her until circumstances force the truth out into the open; to make matters worse, the latter half of her heritage spurs Starswirl to refer to her as "it", much to Celestia's utter outrage.
  • Infinity Train: Boiling Point: Skara's father is initially believed to be Warden Wrath, but eventually, we find out the truth: Warden Wrath's her adoptive father, while her biological father is Alador Blight, Amity's father.
  • Jonathan Joestar, The First JoJo:
    • Giorno Giovanna is horrified when he learns that his "father", DIO, was a twisted and cruel vampire that caused suffering to numerous people. It's enough that after the first time he sees him in person, he denounces Dio as his parent and burns the picture that he always carries. This is averted with his biological father Jonathan Joestar, who happily accepts Giorno as his son (even though the former is 20 at the moment) while Giorno sees him as the parent he never had.
    • When Josuke Higashikata finds out that the old man from Stardust Crusaders is Joseph Joestar, his biological father, he becomes enraged since for Joseph it would have only been a few years since he left Josuke's mother heartbroken and alone. He nearly kills Joseph if Jonathan didn't step in and calm him down.
  • Moving Forward, a Bleach fanfiction: Orihime's long-absent father shows up on her doorstep but he isn't there for a heart-to-heart talk. He is there to take her home so he can get her mother's life insurance, and he is ready to use force to make her come with him.
  • Recoil: Aster was adopted by a Jewish family and grew up knowing only that Miss Militia called her mother a hero. She was horrified when Taylor revealed her parents were the neo-Nazi villains Kaiser and Purity.
  • Super Koopalings: In A Jasper in the Rough, the koopalings learn that their biological father threw their eggs into a river.
  • There's More Magic Out There: Juleka's father had left before she was born, with the only thing she knew of him was that he was a vampire. After discovering his amnesiac self in a haunted house, she finds out that not only was his obsessed with immortality and had conceived her as a means of prolonging his life, he was also the monster that killed Rose's parents and indirectly caused her to be Buried Alive and become a Grim Dog.
  • TO On the Streets: After Monica apparently left home while Ross was on a trip with his father when Ross runs into her at her wedding to Chandler he's shocked to learn that their mother kicked Monica out and told her that he and Jack were aware of what she was planning and left because they couldn't be bothered. Once Jack confirms what Judy did, he leaves his wife that same evening, and Ross refuses to accept his mother's attempted explanation because every justification she makes is all about what she wanted rather than what he or Jack wanted.

    Film — Animation 
  • Aladdin and the King of Thieves: Aladdin finds out that his missing dad is the King of Thieves, who left years ago to find the Hand of Midas, but never could find it and was too ashamed to return home empty handed, until he finally returned and couldn't find his family note .
  • Coco: A variant. Miguel finds evidence that his idol Ernesto de la Cruz was actually his great-grandfather who abandoned the family to pursue a music career. He meets Ernesto in the Land of the Dead, only to find that he's...not so nice underneath the oily persona. Subverted, then, when it turns out that Miguel's ancestor is Héctor, who wrote Ernesto's songs before Ernesto betrayed and murdered him. Miguel is more than happy to find out they're related, however, even stating he's grateful compared to Ernesto.
  • Frozen II: Anna and Elsa clearly have different feelings for their grandfather, after seeing that he betrayed the Northuldrans and tried to subjugate them.

    Film — Live Action 
  • 3 Generations: Ray is quite upset to learn that "Uncle Matthew" is his birth father. Not only that, but his family had all kept this from him.
  • Cruella: After the Baroness nearly kills via burning her alive. Estella is rescued by John, the Baroness's personal butler, who later explains to her that the Baroness is her real mother and her initial one, Catherine, was one of the Baroness's former maids who agreed to look after her when it was clear the Baroness would likely have Estella left to die than be a parent (as well as keep her from getting an inheritance). Estella unsurprisingly doesn't take this well.
  • Joe Dirt: After Brandy calls Joe claiming his parents to be dead, his parents manage to find him, but he then finds out that they left him behind at the Grand Canyon on purpose and only found him to ride on the coattails on his newfound popularity. Brandy then tells him that she did indeed track them down for him and decided not to tell him after finding out how horrible they were.
  • Maleficent: Aurora finds out that her father, who she didn't even know was alive, was the one who disfigured her beloved "fairy godmother" Maleficent.
  • Million Dollar Baby: After yelling at Frankie for saying unkind words about her trailer-trash family, Maggie is forced to realize that he's right- after she ends up tetraplegic, her family do come visit her in Los Angeles... after spending the day at Disneyland.
  • Return To Seoul: Freddie is not pleased to learn that her reappearance in her biological father's life has caused him to be a soused, needy wreck.
  • SHAZAM! (2019): In the third act, after Victor and Rosa, Billy's foster parents, chew him out for skipping school and coming home battered and bruised (he cut school to make a few bucks showing off his superpowers and then got beaten up by Dr. Sivana), one of his foster siblings hacks into government databases and tracks down his biological mother, prompting him to run out of the house to meet her. When he does see her, he tries to hug her but she pushes him back, and explains what happened the day she lost him at the fair. Her parents kicked her out of the house for getting pregnant, and her husband, likely a kid like her, skipped out soon after. At the fair, she lost Billy, and when she saw him being well tended by the cops that found him, she concluded that if she could barely take care of herself, much less her own child, she decided that Billy would've been better off in foster care, and walked away. Billy gives her back the compass she won for him, stating that she needs it far more than he does, and goes back to the foster home.
  • Sorceress: Mira is deeply dismayed when Traigon, who killed her mother and foster father, reveals that he's in fact her birth father.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Empire Strikes Back: Luke Skywalker learns that his father Anakin, whom he sought to emulate as a Jedi, has become the infamous Darth Vader, having fallen to the Dark Side of the Force and become an evil killing machine who strikes terror into the heart of nearly the entire galaxy. Devastated beyond belief at this horrible news, Luke's only hope is to turn his father good again. In Return of the Jedi, Luke has the task of sharing this information with his recently-revealed twin sister Leia, who doesn't take it much better than he did.
    • The Rise of Skywalker has an example of Unpleasant Grandparent Reveal when Rey learns that she's Palpatine's granddaughter.

    Literature 
  • Animorphs:
    • A variant. Just before the two-year anniversary of his mother's "death," Marco discovers that his mother is actually the host body of Visser One, who faked the death when she was reassigned off-planet. Marco had actually been planning to quit the team but stayed on with the goal of eventually freeing his mom from the Yeerks. He succeeds forty books later.
    • Subverted with Tobias — he's initially hurt when he discovers that his Missing Mom is living only a few blocks away from his uncle's house, yet never bothered to contact him. It turns out that she has a decent excuse, as an accident rendered her crippled and blind when Tobias was young, and she's under the incorrect belief that he was Happily Adopted by this point.
  • Burn Our Bodies Down: Margot gets a double whammy. First she runs away to her grandmother Vera's farm, thinking Vera will love her the way her neglectful and manipulative mother doesn't. But Vera's just as bad, and on her first day, there a girl who's mysteriously identical to Margot dies in a fire that Vera refuses to discuss. Then it turns out Margot, her mother, and the dead girl are parthenogenic clones of Vera—Vera used a banned fertilizer in a desperate attempt to save the farm, only to discover firsthand why it was illegal when it made her start budding children. Not only that but there have been many such clones, all of whom Vera has murdered. And Margot is next on her list.
  • Dogman:
    • Petey’s Dad, Lil Petey’s Grampa is an evil, selfish, arrogant, careless, abusive, and irresponsible father, by having no love for Petey whatsoever and had abandoned him when Petey’s mom was sick, when he came back all he did was being mean to his son, then when Petey left to help Dogman from the villains, Grampa stole all of valuable stuffs. In his next parents from the book, he went to jail for stealing all of his son valuables then put skeeping gas a him when he and his grandson come to visit him Not long after, he disguises himself as Petey, making Petey look like himself. By the next book Petey confront his father say he is done hating him but it doesn’t mean he will love him either, all he can do is to forgive his father even though Grampa didn’t want his forgiveness and was very mad on why would Petey ever forgive him when he was never there for Petey that was last time they ever talk to each other.He is also shown to be incredibly rude to his grandson Lil Petey.

  • Everworld is a cross between this and Anti Climactic Parent. Senna sees her Missing Mom as a potential enemy, fully expecting a powerful witch who could easily put the smackdown on her uppity daughter. While Senna's mom does have powers that Senna doesn't, plus the ear of the Amazon queen, she's otherwise a pretty sad individual who spends her days praying to an utterly apathetic goddess and desperately wants to get Senna to like her. Since Senna's a Nietzsche Wannabe, she probably would have preferred the expected smackdown.
  • Gods and Warriors: Hylas, the protagonist, is aghast to learn that his father was a member of the same Mountain Clan that refused to help the High Chieftain of Mycenae fight the House of Koronos when the latter took over. Thinking his father was a coward, Hylas becomes determined to wipe out the stain of that cowardice, which he also believes to be the reason his mother ended up dying while trying to find a safe place for her children after Hylas' father refused to heed her warnings about the Crows finding them. Before the final battle, Akastos, the returned High Chieftain, tries to improve Hylas' opinion on his father by telling him that as the Mountain Clan's leader, his father was just doing what he thought was best for his clan by refusing to fight and fought bravely to the end when the Crows eventually hunted him down. This isn't much of an improvement to Hylas because his father didn't help Akastos — whom he has come to admire as a father figure — in the latter's time of need.
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins: In the final chapter, Gilly finally meets her long-lost mother... only to learn that her mother doesn't care about her at all, and only came to visit her at all because Gilly's grandmother basically bribed her to. This leads Gilly to a near breakdown, although her former foster mother convinces her to give her grandmother — who really does love her — a chance anyway.
  • Geekomancy: It's a Missing Mom who's the unpleasant reveal. Ree Reyes finds out that her Long-Lost Relative was thought dead... but Ree's mom was alive and had gone back to Geekomancy. In the years since leaving her daughter, Branwen had been killed, brought back from the dead, and enslaved by a demon Duke into a murderous Hexomantic witch. Ree slides up and down the emotional spectrum between crushed and furious about this. She also has a healthy side order of guilt because she is keeping the truth of her mother's whereabouts from her father. Ree is certain he'd be devastated to know she left him because she couldn't reconcile her geekomantic talents with being a wife and mother and because she'd shacked up with an old lover in the process.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Harry looks into Severus Snape's memories for a while and finds out that his deceased father, whom everyone who knew him called a great man, was, in fact, The Bully during his school days who regularly abused Snape. Subverted as James's friends later assure Harry that James had his issues, but he became a better person beyond the context of that one memory Harry saw from Snape's perspective, and part of the reason for James being so harsh towards Snape was because Snape would often do the same to him.
  • The Heir Chronicles: In The Wizard Heir, Seph finds out that, while his parents are not evil as such, his mother gave him to a foster mother instead of raising him herself, in order to keep him safe, and that she never told his father that he has a son. Less than stellar, one might say.
  • Inheritance Cycle: Subverted. In the second book, Eragon is told by Murtagh that he is the son of Morzan, the last of the Forsworn and an overall bad person. As it turns out, however, while his mother was Morzan's wife, his father is actually Brom.
  • Redwall: In Outcast of Redwall, Veil is the son of the warlord Swartt Sixclaw, though neither attempts to do anything about it. It's only the older members of his horde that see the resemblance (and of course, the fact that both have an extra claw on their hand).
  • Star Wars Legends: Leia Organa took a lot longer than her brother Luke Skywalker to come to terms with her biological father being Anakin "Darth Vader" Skywalker — and understandably so, considering that in A New Hope he personally tortured her for information and then watched mutely as her home planet was blown up. In The Truce at Bakura, Anakin appears to her in a vision asking her forgiveness, and she essentially tells him to pound sand and that her real father was Bail Organa, Prince Consort of Alderaan (who had adopted her with his wife Queen Breha). She eventually settles on the attitude of agreeing that Anakin had been a good man once, but it doesn't excuse his crimes as Vader.
  • Warrior Cats: Lionblaze, Jayfeather, and Hollyleaf, after spending most of a book trying to find out their parentage, are very upset about finding out that they are the product of a very taboo relationship in their society, between a medicine cat (cats who have an important religious role in society and are supposed to be celibate) and a cat from separate Clan, which is also forbidden. The very law-abiding Hollyleaf takes it particularly badly.
  • Wings of Fire: The protagonists of the first arc' each look for their parents in the books they star in, and almost all of them end up disappointed in some way. Clay finds out that, in his tribe's culture, parents don't take care of their children at all and just abandon them at birth, although at least he has siblings who care about him. Tsunami finds out that, while her mother genuinely cares for her and isn't a full-out villain, she has some very questionable morals, not to mention being very overprotective, and that she killed her own father without realizing it. Glory ends up in a similar scenario to Clay where her tribe turns out to not care for family, with the added aspect that, from what she knows about that tribe, her parents probably fit the stereotypes she's spent her life trying to prove wrong. Starflight's mother is dead and his father is a Mad Scientist who treats the captured RainWings horribly. Only Sunny, who never felt she needed good parents to be happy, ends up having parents who aren't disappointing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bones: In Brennan's Back Story, her parents disappeared when she was fourteen years old. As an adult, she learns that her parents were criminals who abandoned Brennan and her brother in order to keep them from being murdered by other criminals. She finds this out after discovering her own mother's remains in the Jeffersonian's vault of unknown persons' remains. Her father Max is still alive and is a recurring character until he sacrifices himself to save his grandchildren from an attack by an old enemy of Booth's.
  • Cheers: In "The Bar Stoolie", Cliff's Disappeared Dad shows up after being missing for years. They have a great time bonding until Cliff's dad confesses that he's on the run for real estate fraud. Cliff refuses to follow his father to Australia.
  • Doctor Who: Downplayed in "Father's Day". Rose gets the Doctor to take her back in time to the day her father died, and when she meets him she discovers that Pete isn't the wonderful man "always having adventures" and inventing things that her mother described, he's a gadabout looking for his next get-rich-quick scheme and he and Jackie had a rocky marriage. However, he is a nice guy and makes a Heroic Sacrifice when he learns that he was supposed to have died but Rose saved him from being hit by a car and accidentally created a world-ending paradox.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Will finally meets his father who left him and his mother a long time ago. While Phil and Vivian aren't keen on seeing him again, Will wants to try and reconcile with him, even planning to hit the road with him... only for his father to just up and leave without a word to Will's dismay. Phil comforts him when Will has a breakdown and wonders why his father doesn't want him.
  • House: In "Birthmarks", the patient of the week is a Chinese-American adoptee who travels to China to meet her birth parents. They are frightened to see her and deny having a daughter. Her birth had been a violation of the Chinese one-child policy, and her parents had tried to kill her by inserting pins in her skull.
  • House of Anubis: In season 2, Poppy is on a quest to find her and Jerome's Disappeared Dad. As the result of a private investigator rummaging through their mother's trash, she and Mara find an envelope from their dad to their mother with a court address on it. They assume this means her dad is a judge and get excited. After writing him, Jerome gets the letter first and tries to hide it from Poppy because he doesn't want her to know the truth — their dad isn't a judge, he's a prisoner.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: Murdoch character first mentions his father Henry during an interview for a promotion, but only to say the man worked as a fisherman and that they've lost touch. In a later episode, Murdoch and Constable Crabtree discover the man unconscious at a murder scene, and viewers learn that Henry has been an alcoholic for years and that William thinks his father is responsible for his mother's premature death. In a subsequent encounter, William investigates a shady land deal that's tangled with mining and murder only to have his father's name come up, and learns he has a half-brother that Henry fathered with a woman to whom he was not officially married.
  • The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg: Rohan was found abandoned as a baby by the druid Cathbad. Cathbad recognized a birthmark on Rohan as the Mark of Destiny, a sign that he would play an important role in things to come. In the final story arc of the first and only season, Rohan is horrified when he discovers that the Mark of Destiny is actually a birthmark shared by his biological family: his half-brother Lugad and their mother Queen Maeve.
  • Night Court: Harry Stone thinks that Harry Stone Sr. was his father. When it turns out that his stepfather Buddy (who met Harry's mother when they were both in a mental institution) is his biological father, it freaks him out.
  • Orange Is the New Black: While Alex was growing up, her mother always told her that though they were poor, she should feel proud that she was the daughter of a great man — a rock star. However, when Alex finally gets to meet him as an adult, she finds a washed-up obnoxious jerk whose first reaction to finding out that she's his daughter is to laugh that it's good he found that out before he hit on her.
  • Peaky Blinders: Arthur Shelby discovers that his Disappeared Dad Artur Sr. is still alive and back in town. Despite warnings from the rest of the family, Arthur tries to reconcile with his father believing that the man had a Heel–Face Turn. However, Arthur Sr. is still as rotten as ever and he cons his son out of a large sum of money and then leaves town once again. A despondent Arthur tries to kill himself. A subversion comes from the fact that the Shelbys, being gangsters and killers themselves, do not have an issue with Arthur Sr being a thief but they find it unforgivable that he has no problem stealing from his own family.
  • Search: Jun-seong is horrified to discover his father is a murderer. Played with, since in this case, the parent raised the child instead of disappearing for years, but his true nature is still a shock to his son.
  • Soap: In order to get out of the mafia Danny has to kill someone, so the mafia will have something on him. The good news is that he gets to kill the person who killed his own father - which is news to Danny, he thought his father died of natural causes. It turns out that his father was also in the mafia, and had been killed by Danny's stepfather Burt when Danny's father tried to muscle in on his construction business.
  • The Suite Life on Deck: In "Family Thais", London goes to meet her grandmother when the ship docks in Thailand, and she's horrified to find out that she's actually a lowly rice farmer.

    Music 
  • The Temptations, "Papa Was a Rolling Stone", in which a family learns the awful, awful, truth from Momma about their father's history of lies, theft, and deception.
    Hey Momma,
    I heard Papa called himself a jack of all trades
    Tell me is that what sent Papa to an early grave
    Folks say Papa would beg, borrow, steal
    To pay his bills.

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: Champion gladiator Agronak gro-Malog knows that he's the illegitimate son of a western Lord whom he's never met. When he hires the Player Character to investigate his heritage, he's devastated to learn that his father is also a vampire. He tries to get killed in his next fight, unable to bear being the "spawn of evil".
  • Fate/Grand Order: A variant of this trope between Mash Kyrielight and Sir Lancelot. In the Camelot Singularity, Mash finds out the Heroic Spirit in her is Sir Galahad, Lancelot's son. But between Galahad's pre-existing anger at his father and Lancelot working under the Lion King to collect the ideal humans and discard the rest (though he has been protecting many refuges in secret), Mash is the most aggressive in their fight.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II: At the climax of the main story, Rean finds out that his father is the chancellor of Erebonia and the one who is behind the annexation of small towns, cities, and even countries to be absorbed by the Erebonian empire, Giliath Osborne.
  • Love & Pies: While cleaning the café kitchen, Amelia discovers that her mother, who went missing on the night of the café arson and whom she believes is innocent of it, is the infamous thief known as The Purple Fox. Amelia theorizes that while Freya is still innocent despite this, the culprit set her café on fire as revenge on her for robbing them.
  • Resident Evil 6: Jake never knew his father, but his mother had told him "I'm sure he loves you and is thinking about you." During the game, Jake finds out that his father was actually Albert Wesker. Jake is disgusted by his father's actions and hates the idea of becoming like him.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Lloyd doesn't show any interest in learning about his father, citing he already has a father in Dirk. When he learns about his mother's past as part of the Exsphere project, he refuses to believe Kvar's worse of her having been killed by his father. But when he learns the truth about his father being Kratos Aurion, he basically has a Heroic BSoD. Partly because Kratos had betrayed the party and fought against them for the majority of the game. He does seem to accept the knowledge, as most routes of the game (except for Kratos' own route, ironically enough) have Lloyd call him "Dad" before heading off to fight the Big Bad.
  • Team Fortress 2: The Sniper finds out that he's really from the Atlantis-like lost nation of New Zealand. He finds his birth parents there... only to have his dad mooch money off of him and be abandoned for dead by both, and find out his survival was an accident while his parents fought over the escape rocket.
  • Twisted Wonderland: Silver discovers that he's the biological son of the Knight of Dawn, who lead an invading human army that tried to take over fairy territory and who eventually killed Malleus's mother. Finding out he's the direct offspring of his foster family's worst enemy briefly sends Silver into Heroic BSoD.

    Web Comics 
  • Girl Genius:
    • Agatha gets a fairly huge one when she realizes that her mother Lucrezia Mongfish is actually the Other, who was the cause of years of warfare and the mental enslavement of huge swathes of the population. This revelation comes at the same time as she is being hailed by worshippers of Lucrezia as the Holy Child, and then gets her mother's mind implanted into hers and has her body taken over. Not a fun family reunion.
    • Gil got a minor version at some point pre-canon - his father kept his parentage secret from him until he was at least eight, for fear of assassination, and he was badly bullied as a child for not having any family. He gets a small one when he and Tarvek find out that his father is apparently a rural Spark who was killed by one of his own creations and turned into sausages, which isn't exactly the kind of parent you want. He and Tarvek weren't satisfied with the conclusions, so they dug further and learned contradicting info that Gil's father was a Spark terrorist named Petrus Teufel, which is more impressive but not exactly something to be proud of. But later in his life, Gil finally found out that his father is actually Baron Wulfenbach, ruler of most of Europa — who hadn't told him even though he knew the bullying and torment he was going through. And he still doesn't know who his mother is, although if she is indeed Zantabraxus, Queen of Skifander, like Word of God implies, it's going to be an even bigger surprise.
  • Nothing Special:
    • Callie finds out in the first arc her mother is a wood nymph who full-on murders mortals to use their souls as decorations around her and had kidnapped her father to boot. Not helped when it was learned she nearly smothered Callie as a baby with her moss and tries to force Callie to help her after learning Callie is a muse.
    • Declan kinda gets this when he meets his grandmother, Laurel. While she's not evil, she is very snooty being the head of a high-class family of Earth faires. Naturally, while Declan does learn more about his mother through her (who Laurel, surprise surprise, disowned after she fell in love with a human), he likewise isn't too keen on her flippant attitude towards Callie, his girlfriend, and fellow friends Lasser and Radish.
  • Something*Positive: Rory wrote a letter to his biological father and got back a profanity-laden rant for his trouble. Interestingly, the dad later sends another note apologizing, along with some backed child support for Rory's mom, though beyond that he has yet to appear in his son's life.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • Finn's father is initially a complete mystery, but, when it's revealed that he's alive in "Escape from the Citadel", Finn is very eager to meet him. He has high hopes that he'll be some kind of hero like Finn himself, despite the fact that it's revealed he is in an inter-dimensional prison. However, it turns out that he's a selfish coward who scams and takes advantage of people as he bums around space, and Finn is devastated to find that he was abandoned and that his father doesn't seem to care about him at all. Granted, most of his dad's jerkish behavior does come from brain damage, but still.
    • His mother zig-zags this. On one hand, she is loads more competent and caring, plus the leader of a colony of likely the last remaining humans on Ooo. On the other hand, she turns out to be a Mad Scientist as well and nearly subjects him to Unwilling Roboticisation but he manages to talk her out of it and the two are still on good terms when he heads back to the Candy Kingdom.
  • American Dad!: In "Con Heir", Stan's real dad, Jack Smith, reappears after being gone for 20 years. He's eventually revealed to be a jewel thief who tricks Stan into helping him steal art and other artifacts. He's a recurring antagonist in future episodes.
  • Dofus: Joris is an orphan raised by Kerubim and thus spends a lot of time imagining what his parents were like (his favorite fantasy is that they were star Gobball players). Saying he's unnerved when he discovers that Julith is his mother is an Understatement.
  • The Ghost and Molly McGee: In "Like Father Like Libby", after six whole years of not being able to see him, Libby finally reunites with her father Matias, only for her to quickly learn that he's more interested in his writing career than his family.
  • Harvey Beaks: In the series finale, "The End and the Beginning", Fee and Foo meet their parents, whom they'd been separated from since they were very young. Despite previously wanting to meet them, Foo is disappointed that their parents are a pair of Funny Foreigners who lost their children out of sheer incompetence, and openly wishes she had "normal", dependable parents like Harvey's. However, Foo's opinion of them is greatly improved when Fee points out that their parents spent the entire decade since looking for the twins.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: The identity of K.O.'s dad is shown in "Big Reveal". At first, K.O. is excited that he's the son of Laserblast, one of the greatest heroes ever... until he finds out that one of his foes, Professor Venomous, was Laserblast. K.O. is ecstatic to learn who his father was, but not who he became.
  • Steven Universe: Steven's mother, Rose Quartz, is a Posthumous Character (more or less) who "died" when Steven was born. Early episodes have her loved ones always describing her as The Ace and an All-Loving Heroine, but as the series goes on we learn more morally gray or unpleasant actions that she was involved in; her intentions were usually noble, but Steven finds himself struggling more and more with what kind of person she really was. The ur-example being that rather than having shattered Pink Diamond, Rose Quartz actually was Pink Diamond in disguise, the "youngest" of the four rulers of the Gem empire, who took on another identity to lead a rebellion against herself because the other three Diamonds wouldn't listen to her desire to not strip the Earth of its organic life. And before she gained her more enlightened attitude in her time on Earth, Pink Diamond could be a real Royal Brat, accidentally cracking Volleyball Pearl's eye during a tantrum, and leaving Spinel to wait for her in a garden indefinitely after she'd grown tired of her antics - not to mention that she'd caused the colonization of Earth in the first place by begging the other Diamonds to give her a planet so she'd be taken seriously.
  • Tangled: The Series: In the pilot of season 3, Cassandra is shown learning that her biological mother is Mother Gothel. Playing With the trope, Rapunzel is more shocked by the revelation, and Cassandra wrongly believes that Gothel was a wonderful mother whom Rapunzel stole away from her. Eventually, she learns the full truth of the matter, getting solid proof that Gothel never loved her, willingly abandoning her daughter after kidnapping Rapunzel, as all she wanted was the power of the sun flower.
  • Time Squad: In "Forget the Alamo", Tuddrussel is floored when he sees that Jeremiah is absolutely nothing like he had envisioned in his mind.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: Caleb is not pleased to learn in season two that his Missing Mom is also the season's Big Bad, Nerissa.
  • Xiaolin Showdown: Omi was raised by warrior monks, with his upbringing and own arrogance instilling the belief that his parents were also gifted martial artists. In "Omi Town", Omi's search for his parents leads him to a small farm, where an old couple identifies him as the son they accidentally sold away due to mistaking him for a grapefruit. They turn out to be horribly abusive, treating Omi more as a servant than a son, up to forcing him to sleep in the chicken coop. This is subverted when it's later revealed that they were actually robots, programmed by Jack to lure Omi away from the Xiaolin temple and break his spirit.

 
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Heffer's real dad

Heffer's biological father is, to say the least, not a very pleasant person.

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