Anxiety by parents-to-be that due to particular or unusual traits that may be passed on from their partner or themselves, their children will lead a difficult life. This is often felt by the Inspirationally Disadvantaged who have one on the way, though this can be a particularly complicated issue if one of the parents happens to be the Friendly Neighborhood Vampire/Werewolf/Demon/what have you. Extreme family issues, Fantastic Racism (or standard racism, of course) or curses might be a cause for concern also. When it's played for drama, it's often used as a method of yanking the dog's chain, as this now means The Woobie might have ignorantly forced his burden onto an innocent child.
In most cases, however, these worries end up being completely needless. The offspring in these situations usually turn out completely normal, or if anything, only inherit the parent-in-question's "good" attributes. If the parent is a vampire, the child might inherit his super strength, but have a normal human diet and be immune to sunlight. If the parent is The Grotesque, the child will probably only inherit his Innocent Blue Eyes.
- The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You: No pregnancy involved, but in chapter 144 Rentaro meets Karane's family and it's shown that each and every one of them, from the eldest grandparent to Karane's infant nephew, are as Tsundere as she is. This makes Karane admit she's scared that any childred she has will also be a tsundere. Rentaro offers his assurance that such a baby would be the cutest in the world and that should they bring that child into the world they'll make it the happiest.
- In Lucky Star, Kanata wishes that her daughter Konata won't have her mother's height or her father's eccentricies and love for eroge. She gets all of the above.
- In Osamu Tezuka's Ode to Kirihito, a woman inflicted with Monmow (a disease that gives the victims the face of a dog) worries that her baby will inherit it, and has a nightmare about giving birth to a puppy. She ends up delivering a normal, healthy baby and cries in relief.
- A somewhat different example occurs in the anime movie Wolf Children. Hana and the Wolf Man know full well that Yuki will be half-wolf as is he, but not knowing whether she will be born in human or wolf form, they opt for a home birth without any outside assistance. It is implied that this is the reason for Ame's home birth as well.
- Megumi of That's My Atypical Girl, who has an autism spectrum disorder, mentions before having sex with her boyfriend for the first time that what terrifies her most about getting pregnant is the thought she might have a child who is also autistic - going so far as to suggest that if she becomes pregnant, her boyfriend should kick her in the stomach until she aborts. In her case, this may be less due to hating the condition itself and more because she can't separate it from the very miserable childhood she's had due to it (this is, sadly, somewhat Truth in Television, as Japanese society is far less tolerant of neurodivergence than is common in the West and neurodivergent children even today may be subject to parental abuse, discrimination, and social ostracism).
- In The Pulse, Jessica Jones's friend Carol Danvers sets up a lunch date Q & A with Sue Storm when Jessica is pregnant, to assuage any concerns about the baby being "normal". Then it turns out this was the one thing Jessica hadn't been worrying about.
- Welcome to Tranquility has a later story about psychotic superhuman sociopath Derek Fury, who has a romantic history with the sheriff protagonist Tommy. When they were young, and she revealed she was pregnant by him, he had a Freak Out and tried to drown her on the spot. Some of his words suggests he's offended by being made redundant in some way if his child is like him, while other dialogue suggests that another reason he doesn't want a child is because on some level he knows how dangerous he is, wanting to spare the world the danger of another him. Tommy secretly had the child and put him up for adoption, and fortunately he doesn't seem anything like his father so far.
- A subversion occurs in the Fruits Basket fic Unshakable; when Akito reveals herself to be pregnant with Shigure's child, she's not really worried about the baby turning out like her; rather, she's terrified of being a bad parent like Ren. Come the sequel fic, Silence, and it turns out she's a great mom.
- A.A. Pessimal's Discworld fic Hyperemesis Gravidarum note deals with pregnancy in career Assassins. At the time of the story, Assassin Johanna is happily married to wizard Ponder Stibbons. They make contingency plans against the child having either a predisposition to applied violence (mum) or else magic (dad) or both. It boils down to Assassins' School, Unseen University (if a son) or work experience in Lancre (if a daughter). it's a girl. With hints of magical ability. As you might expect from Ponder's daughter.
- Continuation fic Strandpiel follows the later lives of Johanna and Ponder as parents. Oldest daughter Rebecka has her mother's looks and her father's gentle generally non-violent personality. Bekki ends up in Lancre note training for witchcraft. Middle daughter Famke, from a very early age, displayed an affinity for weapons and applied agression. She is sent to the Assassins' Guild School. Youngest daughter Ruth appears to have neither magic nor a homicidal streak. She is the one who apparently takes after neither parent.
- The Peace Not Promised: Severus is very aware that with an uninterested mother and an abusive father, he's in danger of perpetuating a cycle of abuse, and for that reason he's concerned about the prospect of fatherhood.
- The titular character of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button stresses over this through a significant portion of the film. His daughter is born normal.
- This crossed Forrest's mind in Forrest Gump. Upon meeting his son for the first time, he asks the mother, "Is he smart? Or is he..." while gesturing to his own head. She assures him that he's "very smart".
- The Fly (1986): After Veronica discovers that Seth has impregnated her, most likely while he was already beginning to mutate into a man-fly, she has a nightmare in which she gives birth to a maggot. She quickly tries to arrange an abortion.
- The Fly II: Beth has a nightmare, after discovering what Martin's experimenting on, in which she gives birth to a human-scale maggot baby.
- Averted in the Teen Wolf franchise: the trait is a family trait and they all treat it like it's a pretty cool thing to have to happen. It enhances your physique to near-peak levels and makes you rockstar-popular, and the only drawback is that you're in desperate need of a razor on the full moon - not much to complain about, really. That said, the main characters would have preferred to know about it before the first time they changed.
- In Psycho IV: The Beginning, the finale of Norman Bates' story, an apparently rehabilitated Norman Bates nearly murders his pregnant wife Connie since he believes that his insanity is genetic and he doesn't want to inflict another Norman Bates on the world. Connie convinces him that they can ensure their child doesn't become a monster, which helps Norman become rehabilitated for real.
- In The Thin Man, Dorothy Wynant comes to the conclusion that she should dump her fiance when it looks like her father may be an insane murderer, and worries that it runs in the family. The case isn't helped by her Nightmare Fetishist/Cloud Cuckoo Lander brother, who rather than comfort her theorizes that it is a recessive trait and that therefore there is only a one in four chance of her child being insane. So she should limit herself to three children. Then he changes his mind because "The first one might be the bad one".
- In the Ray Charles biopic Ray, he fears that his firstborn son Ray, Jr. will be born blind like him until Della Bee assures him he's able to see. note
- Johnny Belinda: After Belinda gives birth to her son Johnny, the first thing she asks is if she passed down her deafness to her baby, she's then told that her baby is able to hear.
- In Addicted, Lo has a moment of this once Lily gets pregnant: he's worried that the child will inherit the gene for alcoholism, especially if it's a boy.
- Inverted for Chun Ke from Beware of Chicken, who is unwilling to have piglets because he cannot be certain that his offspring will inherit his sapience.
- Cal Leandros is so afraid of having a baby with his Auphe blood that he refuses to have sex with any girl who's capable of reproducing.
- In the Ender's Shadow series, Bean worries about this after his engagement to Petra, to the point where he refuses to even have children unless they can be sure they won't inherit his condition. He even calls the Mad Scientist who altered his genes in the first place to ensure that it doesn't happen. Said scientist pretends to alter the embryos such that normal children will be born, but roughly half of their children inherit Bean's condition. It's suggested that Bean knew the guy was lying but went along with it anyway because Petra really wanted to have his kids.
- In Fear, the fourth sequel to Gone, Diana is particularly concerned that her baby might be evil, like its manipulative, lying mother and its sociopathic, violent father. She's right.
- That was mostly not because of their genes, though: the gaiaphage basically had control of the baby's mind from day one.
Diana: Its father is evil. Its mother is just the same. How could it be anything but?
- That was mostly not because of their genes, though: the gaiaphage basically had control of the baby's mind from day one.
- Played straight with Remus in Harry Potter. He expresses a lot of anxiety that his child will be born a werewolf-like him (werewolves marrying and having children is extremely rare, so the exact effects on the child cannot be predicted). His son turns out to be a perfectly normal wizard, except for inheriting his mother's natural shape-shifting ability.
- Brought up in the Honor Harrington book At All Costs when Emily Alexander is confronted with a reason she never tried having a baby. A horrific accident left her wheelchair bound because she was one of the rare minority who couldn't use regeneration technology to heal. She feared her child having the same problem and ending up in the same situation.
- Richard Wilson's Nebula-winning short story Mother to the World has this at its conclusion: A male scientist and a not-too-bright cleaning woman are the sole survivors of a worldwide event. They set out to re-populate the world, and at the end the man quizzes his son, to test whether he's smart (and thus, whether the human race will be viable or not). He is.
- A rare variation where the person worrying this isn’t the parent happens in Out of My Mind. When Melody learns her mother is pregnant, her first question is if the baby will have cerebral palsy like her. Despite there being no real evidence that her mother is more likely to produce a disabled baby, both Melody and her parents worry about that until the baby is born.
- This is a concern of Alexia's in The Parasol Protectorate. Preternatural (which Alexia is) tend to breed true, and cannot tolerate being even in the same room as another preternatural. Alexia assumes that she will either miscarry or go insane from prolonged physical contact with her preternatural fetus.
- In Sisterland, Kate is initially reluctant to have biological children because she's afraid they'll inherit her senses.
- In Still Alice, Alice's early-onset Alzheimer's Disease turns out to be due to an identifiable mutation, and two of her three children get themselves tested for it. Anna has the gene as well, giving her a pretty much 100% probability of eventually getting Alzheimer's herself. She is concerned enough about bearing a child with Alzheimer's that she decides to have pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, and successfully produces twins who don't carry the gene.
- In The Time Traveler's Wife, this is a major concern for the Cursed with Awesome main character who suffers from spontaneous time travel. His daughter does indeed inherit the trait, but she also has a good deal of control over the ability.
- This, however, is after several earlier pregnancies all ended horribly due to the embryos dying because they time-jumped out of Claire's womb. She's given a whole raft of immune-supressing drugs to keep the foetal Alba in place long enough to be born. Not to mention what would happen if a newborn infant began time-jumping on her own... presumably, Alba didn't start to experience time-jumps like her dad until she was at least 2 or 3 years old.
- Armun in West of Eden is convinced her and Kerrick's child is going to inherit her cleft lip. He doesn't.
- One of the characters in the first Wild Cards book is seriously concerned about this issue, to the point of losing his Love Interest because she wants to have children and he's determined not to and won't tell her why.
- He's justified though, as she has a latent version of the same condition herself. So the child has a 90% chance of dying early and a 9% chance of being born physically mutated.
- Before Connor was born in Angel, there was a bit of concern over what kind of being would be born to two vampires. He seems to have been born a normal human, but he later develops into your average Dhampyr, more or less.
- Dexter: In the TV series, Dexter's pondering over this continues even after his son is born since it's too early to tell.
- In the Dexter novels, it's Dexter's stepchildren who end up being "like him"... and he ends up teaching them the same code he was taught by his own father. As before, it's too early to tell with baby Lily Anne.
- In V (1983), Robin is afraid the baby is like its father once she's learned that the Visitors aren't as cuddly and human-looking, as they'd led everyone to believe,.
- When Daphne and Niles were having a baby on Frasier, Daphne was worried it would turn out to be a sissy like him, while Niles was worried it would turn out to be a drunken ruffian like Daphne's brothers.
Daphne: Oh, a Moon boy I know how to handle, but what if he's a little genius, teasing me in French by the time he's 6?
Niles: That is so funny. I've been worried he's going to turn out like your brothers. I was sure when he kicked that speaker off your belly that you had a little Simon in there.
- In 3rd Rock from the Sun, Vicki Dubcek gets pregnant and Harry believes the baby might be his. The others fear that the child will come out an alien and expose their secret identities.
- Legion (2017): In "Chapter 22", Charles Xavier expresses his concern that his telepathic ability might be passed down to his infant son David, knowing full well how isolating and dangerous it can be. Gabrielle hopes that their child won't be like her because she has a history of severe mental illness.
Charles: What if I pass it on to him? And he ends up like me?
Gabrielle: Would you rather he be like me?
Gabrielle: [chuckles] I wouldn't.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Lineage", B'Ellana, who had a difficult childhood due to being a Half-Human Hybrid, is so worried about her and Tom's child having the same problems that she reprograms the Doctor so he won't see altering the unborn baby's genetics as unethical. Eventually, Tom convinces her that her problems were down to her dad, not herself.
- Related: One CSI episode had a primordial dwarf kill his (normal-sized) daughter's dwarf boyfriend for fear that they would have children - his daughter would have a very good chance of giving birth to another dwarf as a result. He was too late; she was already pregnant, so he'd killed the guy for nothing.
- A variation in Bones. Angela and Hodgins are both carriers for a certain gene which, if passed on, will result in their baby being born blind. (Both of them have full vision.) Their worries are for nothing, and their baby is born healthy.
- Brennan herself talks of a sort of positive version of this;she's sure her child will inherit her exceptional intellect.
- Ryan Lavery from All My Children came from an abusive father, a drunk mother, and his brother is a murderer. Fearful of this, he gets fixed. Bianca Montgomery's first daughter was a child of rape and she held the same fear the baby would turn out like the child's father.
- In a more humorous fashion, Ross and Rachel from Friends reveal in one episode that they are worried that their daughter will inherit Rachel's real nose. They are apparently saving money in case their daughter needs a nose job in the future.
- Another episode has Monica and especially Chandler worrying whether their adopted child's natural father is an academic college student/football player- or someone in prison for killing his own father with a shovel.
- In Being Human when Nina becomes pregnant, she planned to secretly get an abortion because she was apprehensive about having a baby that would be born to monsters. George adamantly disagreed, and later Nina revealed that what she was really afraid of was that she'd become like her emotionally abusive mother. They eventually decided to go through with the pregnancy. Nina eventually does give birth to a healthy baby girl, but tragically she's killed by vampires who wanted the baby as a gift to their elder since she was the first-ever werewolf who was born and not made. As it turns out, the baby doesn't have the werewolf gene and is completely normal. Well, except that she's The Chosen One.
- In one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the Victim of the Week, who has Down syndrome, is pregnant via rape, her mother fears that her unborn grandchild would also be born with Down syndrome (although Down syndrome doesn't run in families in the conventional sense, a parent with Down syndrome can pass it on to their child). Tests eventually reveal that the child does not have the disorder.
- In another episode, the mother of a rapist fears that his father may have passed down his violent traits to him given the fact that he is also a rapist, which the son denies. His attorney attempts to use his father's genetics as a defense for his actions, unsurprisingly to no avail.
- In The Big Bang Theory Howard is worried that if his and Bernadette's child is a girl she'll inherit his nose, whereas if it's a boy he'll have to teach it to play catch-meaning he'll have to learn to play catch.
- Into the Dark: In "Blood Moon" After learning Esme was pregnant, Joseph (as a werewolf), ruefully said she had to know something, clearly indicating the fact he's a werewolf. They got married and had Luna, who did indeed end up a werewolf like his father.
- In the song Betty and Me, by Jonathan Coulton. Betty is pregnant by Doctor Martin, so she doesn't wind up with offspring like her childish, naïve, and lovingly gullible partner.
- Comes up a lot in Werewolf: The Forsaken (and its predecessor Werewolf: The Apocalypse). There's about a 10% chance that a werewolf's children will be werewolves themselves (higher if the other parent is a wolf-blooded), and given how much a werewolf's life can suck, this bothers them greatly - but at the same time, the race is too important to just let it die out. Cue a lot of tension, not helped by how most werewolves are really, really bad about absentee parenting.
- Commented on briefly in the song "What Could Be Better" from the musical Baby. While Lizzie sings of their good qualities they could pass on to their unborn child, Danny teases her by singing "What could be better than if our little spawn/Got all his brains from his dad/And from his mom got his brawn?"
- In Arsenic and Old Lace, Mortimer tries to call off his marriage to Elaine when it becomes clear just how severely insanity runs in his family because he's afraid of what their kids would be like. At the end of the movie/play, he discovers that he's not genetically a Brewster and changes his mind.
- Page quote: The Dragon Age II expansion "Legacy" reveals that Malcolm Hawke, father of the PC and their siblings, didn't want his kids inheriting his magic. While at least one of them (Bethany) did, he evidently got over it and ensured they knew how to handle their powers responsibly.
- If the player is married to Yuzuki in Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns, he will voice his worry that their eventual child might have the same fragile health he had as a child.
- If the player marries Dylas in Rune Factory 4 and hope for a son, Dylas will say that they can make things right and raise the boy to be nice and not like him.
- The Child Festival Scramble DLC of Fire Emblem Fates has Azura, if she's married to the male Avatar, worry that their daughter Kana will end up as cold and anti-social as her.
- If Peri is Soleil's mother, she also shows that she's afraid her daughter inheriting her Blood Knight and Lack of Empathy tendencies.
- In the same DLC, Beruka has this concern just about no matter who her child is. She grew up to be an emotionally stunted assassin and doesn't want her kids to turn out like her and worries that being around her might be a bad influence on them.
- KatRaccoon Comics: In “Mistakes Were Made”, a small dachshund tells her much larger mate that she’s pregnant. While speculating what their puppies might be light, she expresses concern that the babies might be closer to his size than to hers. Her mate’s eyes widen and he exclaims, “We fucked up, honey.”
- Namir Deiter: This is the reason Twix was unwilling to have kids with Snickers. Twix is a cat, the rest of his family are giant slugsnote and he didn't want any child of his to suffer the feelings of isolation he felt (despite the best efforts of the rest of the Dorpes).
- Earth's "Gene pool improvement act" in Schlock Mercenary forbids total idiot couples to reproduce naturally to avoid this trope.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: The Plague has been a very real threat for the past ninety years, which causes some people who are not The Immune to be reluctant to have children that are genetically related to them. To top things off, immunity gives every sign of being a recessive trait, which means that couples made out of an immune person and a non-immune one reproducing naturally will have one chance out of two to have a non-immune child in the best-case scenario and only non-immune children in the worst one.
- Painfully averted in the prologue to Errant Story. Sarine knows that her unborn child won't turn out like her; she's an elf, after all, and the baby's father, her unnamed husband, is human. But turning out half like her is the thing she frets about, because half elves, as the kid will be, are at a serious risk of being extremely messed up. And sure enough, things do go badly, although not exactly in the way she fears.
- In one episode of X-Men: The Animated Series, Jean Grey worries about this when Scott proposes to her. Scott's response? "I wouldn't have it any other way."
- George Bernard Shaw was pestered for a while by an actress who had an over-inflated idea of her own attractiveness, and insisted that she wanted to bear Shaw's child, who would of course be the perfect combination of his genius and her beauty. Eventually Shaw got exasperated enough to reply to her, "But, my good woman, what if it turns out to have my looks and your brains?"
- Comedian Rob Newman once did a sketch based on this, where he speculated about Shaw's reaction once he realized he had just turned down sex with a beautiful actress for the sake of a one-liner.
- Referenced in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, when a Russian ballet dancer approaches Holmes with a similar offer, prompting Holmes to make a similar reply. Unfortunately for him, she's made of stronger stuff than Shaw's actress, meaning he eventually has to feign being closer to Dr. Watson than anyone suspects in order to get out of it.
- A man with an extreme case of hypertrichosis who worked in a circus as an acrobatic wolf man was terrified that his wife's child would be born with his condition.
- This can be a real problem for people with genetic diseases. For instance, the child of a sufferer of Huntington's disease has a 50% chance of inheriting the trait and will usually develop symptoms younger than their parents, who may not have been diagnosed at the time the child was conceived.
- Sarah Silverman has stated that she doesn't want to have any biological kids because of the possibility of them inheriting her clinical depression.