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Why Couldn't You Be Different?

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The century before you never could turn 21
Years and years he waited, just watching for a son
For someone to go ahead, "Take the name" he said
Years and years he waited, but a daughter came instead.
The Fray, "Enough for Now"

Genetics is a highly unpredictable thing. Sometimes it seems to seek to endow offspring with all the best or worst traits available. Hence the characteristic lament of parents who discover that instead of their dream girl, they have a rough-and-tumble boy, or that their long-awaited manly heir is actually a doe-eyed female. Or the kid simply is the opposite of what they want in talent or personality. Needless to say, this usually does not result in happy-go-lucky familial relations.

If the parents are really unhappy about this situation, they might raise the child to conform to their imagined ideal spawn. If the kid has powers, they'll be forbidden to use them. If they have the wrong gender, they'll have to imitate their desired gender (even giving them an appropriate name). This always has, at best, mixed success. Often said child catches on to their wish fulfillment and rebels.

That's assuming, of course, they can make it out of that house alive at all... Inheriting the family fortune is usually likewise out of the question, though chance and irony may well have them get it.

Compare All of the Other Reindeer, Against the Grain, Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?, Why Are You Not My Son?, The Un-Favorite, Where Did We Go Wrong?, Wanted a Son Instead, and Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • An unfunny example would be in .hack//SIGN, where Tsukasa's father was abusive about wanting a different gendered child. We only explicitly find this out in the end, though it's implied earlier, with, for instance, scenes of him throwing away a bra she had stolen for herself. He even goes so far as trying to pull the plug on Tsukasa's life support which ends up getting him arrested.
  • Assassination Classroom: Nagisa's mother puts him in dresses, forces him to wear his hair long, and sees him as her 'second chance' to live the life she wanted, plotting out every aspect of his life. She gets violent when he tries to deny her. Turns out there's a good reason for his prodigious killer instinct.
  • In Boy Soprano, though Akira is technically an adopted son, his mother raised him as a girl since early childhood, and even made him attend the girls' high school she's the principal of. This is sort of a subversion: Not only does she already have a biological daughter, she doesn't actually wish Akira was a girl, either, and frequently takes advantage of him sexually. In fact, she made him go to the girls' school so she could keep an eye on him (and so that he could get to know his boy-crazy classmates. Even if it is often explicitly against his will.)
  • Descendants of Darkness's Hisoka is named after his dead sister, whom his father loved. To make matters worse, he has the ability to sense people's emotions, which caused his parents to label him as a demon and lock him away in a cage.
  • In Digimon Tamers, Ruki Makino's dad wanted a boy and her mother tried to make her a model. Eventually, mother and daughter reconcile.
  • Fruits Basket:
    • Akito's mother Ren raised her as a male because she was jealous of the attention her daughter received for being born the zodiac God.
    • And then there's Momiji, whose mother said that her "greatest regret was giving birth to that creature" and actually had her memories of her own son removed.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: Switzerland created Austria, whose name means "Eastern Division," to fight, and though they were close as children, Switzerland was highly disappointed when fighting proved not to be the young Austria's strong suit, and he had to bail him out after wars. From then on, Austria went through life making alliances instead of waging wars, and in the present, he's become a clear Non-Action Guy.
  • There's also a Korean series (I.N.V.U.) with the same story for one of the characters, except it was the daughter pretending to be the brother, and only the mother had mistaken her for the son (the son and mother were in an accident, and the son died while the mother forgot the daughter's existence)
  • In Karin, the eponymous character's parents really wish she was a normal vampire. Of course, the fact that she isn't is a major plot point later on.
  • Yuuri's mother in Kyo Kara Maoh! laments that she never had a "cute" girl and is permanently berating him for it. She even dressed him up in dresses when he was younger. (The fact that both her children are demon kings doesn't seem to rate on her list of things to be proud of either. Weirdo.) She's actually extremely proud of them both. Very much including the kingship, although the calm with which she's taken that (and her idea of preparing him for it) is downright bizarre. She just really wanted a girl.
  • Played with in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Precia Testarossa hates her daughter Fate so much because Fate is an imperfect clone of her real (deceased) daughter Alicia. At the end of The Movie version, though, she realizes, just before she dies, that Alicia had always wanted a sister, and that Fate could have been that sister had Precia not been so fixated on Alicia.
  • Nono and Yuuta from the manga Nononono both get this from their father, but in different ways and for different reasons. Yuuta is subject to borderline abuse for not being good enough at ski jumping, and Nono is ignored because, as a girl, she can't compete in the Olympics for the sport. The premise of the story is that, after Yuuta's accidental death, Nono assumes his identity in hopes of making it to the Olympics and winning the gold medal to restore their father's honor.
  • One Piece: Monkey D. Garp really, really wanted his grandsons to be Marines like him instead of going into piracy. Granted, rather than a simple matter of carrying on the legacy, Garp just wanted to be loved by his grandsons and not have to arrest them when they inevitably became highly wanted criminals. The fact that his only son, Dragon, is the worst criminal in the world probably has something to do with this as well. In spite of all that, he has always been proud of them, because regardless of the fact that they are pirates, he still raised them to be good people. Unfortunately for him, Ace is the son of Gold Roger, so he'd never be allowed to join the Marines (let alone live), and Luffy is just kind of an idiot. Though it can be argued that even though Garp was his biological grandfather, Luffy wouldn't have been allowed to join the Marines as well, because of his parentage, similar to that of Ace's.
  • Kyouya of Ouran High School Host Club is the youngest of three brothers and therefore is believed to have no chance at running the Ootori family empire. His father pushes him all the time to do better ("being top of your class is something your brothers have already done...") and is never satisfied despite the fact that most non-family think Kyouya is the most striking and has the most potential of the three brothers, and Tamaki's father even scolds Kyouya's father for having four wonderful children (including his daughter) and being completely unsatisfied. Kyouya actually ends up earning enough money through the Host Club to not only buy his father's company but to throw it right back.
  • Kujira Etorofu from Penguin Musume Heart is raised as a boy by her father, who adamantly keeps denying she is a girl, despite her noticeable large breasts. As another result of this, she is being chased by her childhood friend Cha Chi, who wants her for her "husband". She even was confused about it herself as a kid and at one point confessed to a girl (and not just any girl either). Then again, she might just swing that way—and of course there is nothing wrong with that.
  • The Rose of Versailles has as its central character Lady Oscar, a French noblewoman raised as a boy by her father (who couldn't manage to produce a male heir). Unlike most characters forced to crossdress, Lady Oscar seems to have no problems dressing and acting like a boy — at least most of the time. (This could be due to the people around her being oddly accepting of her in her role as a woman pretending to be a man — to the point where they even allow her to be a military leader. To be fair, she does have to crack some heads to get some of her subordinates to fully accept her.) At one point it's even inverted: seeing the French Revolution approaching, Oscar's father tries and get her into an Arranged Marriage so that she would have to Stay in the Kitchen and away from the fighting, but Oscar ruins the party in which she was supposed to choose her husband and makes clear she wants to act as a man and a military leader because she considers the life of a noblewoman as empty and meaningless.
  • In The Secret Agreement, Yuuichi is initially abandoned by his clan for appearing to be a muggle but then assigned an unrelated guardian to watch over him in case he starts showing signs of change. In perhaps an inversion, despite his uncle's congratulations when his supernatural side finally awakens, Yuuichi is horrified at becoming "normal".
  • There's a hentai doujin (part of the Secret Plot: Deep series) where a boy who looked like his twin sister was mistaken for her by his parents after her death and started pretending to be his sister while at home, but himself while at school. It all works out in the end, as it turns out the tomboyish gym teacher and his childhood friend both have learned they have fetishes for guys in skirts. One of the few examples (or only) where it works in the end. Of course, one has to wonder how healthy it is for his parents to live a lie, or how long he can keep it up. But then again, Bellisario's Maxim...
  • Done somewhat humorously in an episode of Slayers in which there's supposedly a church town consisting completely of girls, and men are not allowed, causing some very amusing cross-dressing on the male characters' parts. Once it's found that one girl who Zelgadiss has a crush on is a boy, pretty much everyone else the village strips to their underwear to reveal the same. Read the summary here if you don't believe it.
  • Urusei Yatsura:
    • You have Ataru Moroboshi whose mother is constantly going "I wish I never had him." There's also a scene where both parents are away reminiscing about their life, and when they start talking about Ataru, both say that they had wanted a girl at the time.
    • Ryuunosuke is the version where her father wishes she was a boy... so he deludes himself into thinking she is one. Ryuunosuke does not appreciate this, being fully aware that she's really a girl and wanting nothing more than to be cute and frilly instead of rough and masculine (so much so that even girls who know she's really a girl try to get her to date them... although that might be because all of the real boys in schools are freaks, losers or lechers).
  • The Wallflower (or Yamato Nadeshiko Shiche Henge) is based on this trope, as Sunako, a girl traumatized by her first crush telling her she's ugly, grows up to become obsessed with horror movies and darkness, unable to even look at anything "bright" - or pretty. Oddly enough, her actual parents seem okay with it, defending her at school, but her aunt finds it unacceptable. The entire series is based on her aunt trying to get her four tenants (the most handsome boys in school) to turn her niece into a perfect girl - a Yamato Nadeshiko. In fact the Japanese name roughly translates to Perfect Girl Evolution in English.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: All Ra's al Ghul wants is a competent male heir.note  Unfortunately, he keeps getting daughters and incompetent sons. For a long time he hoped to accomplish this by having his Worthy Opponent, Batman, change sides and marry his beautiful daughter Talia al Ghul; eventually, he gets his wish when Talia and Bruce have a son, Damian, instead. Then Damian switches sides and becomes the new Robin. Never mind.
  • Finder: While the family was together, Brigham Grosvenor adored his daughters Rachel and Marcie, but didn't have much use for the middle child, his son Lynne, who ends up being raised as a girl. As if he wasn't confused enough, he develops breasts, just like all the males of his mother's clan.
  • Henchgirl: Mary Prosa has this problem with her parents. Her family are famed superheroes, but because Mary never developed any flashy powers other then partial super strength (Like being about to lift the back end of a car then completely). It's heavily implied they largely neglected her through most of her life and doted on their younger daughter, Paige, who got time stopping powers and allowed her to join in on their superhero escapades to keep up their image. A telling sign is when they release an autobiography about their adventure, there's no mention of Mary in the slightest, not even in the acknowledgements that they claim was "Because of the editors" (Which even the most naive of Mary's roommates, Tina, calls bull on). Paige, at the very least, is aware of her parents playing favorites and tries to be a good sister to Mary.
  • The Invisibles: Fanny was born into a tribal society where only women could receive the blessings of the spirits; in order to fool the spirits into accepting the young boy as a shaman, his grandmother cut a slash in his upper thigh to fake a menstrual period. By the time the series takes place, Fanny is a transvestite call-girl.
  • My Little Pony Generations: The witches Draggle and Reeka resent their daughters, Grackle and Dyre, for not living up to their expectations and aren't shy about telling them at every opportunity. The letter they send in issue #4 is particularly nasty, driving Grackle to tears when she reads it out loud:
    "We are so glad your dearly departed grandmother isn't here to see how you've turned out..."
  • PS238:
    • Tyler Marlocke is sent to the eponymous Superhero School despite his lack of powers, because his parents (both superheroes) refuse to believe that he's a normal human and insist that his abilities will manifest if he's just exposed to the right trigger. Of course, they may be right, broadly speaking, as a normal boy going to a super-school results in the Batman-like Revenant taking an interest in the kid's future and well-being, which ends up turning him into a Badass Normal-in-training. Which is more or less the opposite of what his parents want to happen. When Tyler's clone Toby starts manifesting Reality Warper superpowers, Tyler's parents are so ecstatic that they seem to wind up forgetting that Tyler even exists.
    • When Zodon discovered his parents thought this way about him, he took it poorly. "Give them Laser-Guided Amnesia and transport them to a parallel dimension free of superpowers" poorly. Even more twisted is that he only did it because he thought it was what they wanted, and things did turn out better for them in Alternate Omaha.
  • Robin: Tim Drake's father doesn't spend much time with him or really know him but he does make it very clear that he wishes his son was interested in American Football and completely ignores any mentions of Tim's actual hobbies of photography and skateboarding.
  • Runaways: Chase has a similar backstory to Cyborg, though unlike Cyborg he's not actually very intelligent. Avengers Arena established that, for instance, his father flipped his lid when he failed out of AP Science, but didn't care one bit that he broke a middle school receiving record just a few days later.
  • Strontium Dog" Johnny's father was the leader of a National Front-like party that seeks to purge New Britain of all mutants. Naturally, he's mortified that his own son is a mutant. When Johnny was a kid, he was forces to wear sunglasses at all times to hide his mutant eyes, and was told they were too sensitive to ever be exposed.
  • Superman: General Sam Lane was always more than vocal about the fact that he wanted a boy, but instead had Lois and Lucy. He even went so far as to treat them as such. While it did lead to Lois' tough-as-nails demeanor, it also caused her to have a very bitter resentment towards her father.
  • Teen Titans: This is part of Cyborg's backstory, going back to his time with the New ; he was an extremely gifted athlete with genius scientist parents who saw no value in his athletic accomplishments and successes. They refused to attend his meets and games, and often simply ignored him at home.
  • Ultimate X Men: Magneto constantly disparages his son from everything to his inadequate leadership skills to his mutant abilities. According to Quicksilver, Magneto views his powers as effeminate due only being good for running from danger. Xavier hypothesizes that this has more to do with Pietro's mother being human and him being a living reminder to the Super Supremacist Mags that he once "lowered himself" to a human's level.
  • X-Men: Graydon Creed has a Freudian Excuse for hating mutants — he's the non-mutant son of Mystique and Sabretooth, who gave him up for adoption because neither wanted a human child.

    Fan Works 
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail has an age-flipped example with Chloe calling out her father for putting his research over his own daughter every single time and never realizing that she wants nothing to do with Pokémon.
    Chloe: (in tears) Why did you have to become a Professor? Why couldn’t you be someone different?!
  • Ultimate Spider-Woman: Mary Jane Watson's bad luck started right from the moment she was born. When her mother Maddie became pregnant, her father Philip eagerly anticipated the birth of the son he always wanted. Once he realized he had a daughter, it was all downhill from there. Philip even outright justified his subsequent cheating on Maddie when he told Mary Jane to her face that he was trying to conceive the child he always wanted, instead of the one he actually got. Needless to say, this didn't do much for Mary Jane's mental health as she grew up.

    Films — Animation 
  • Frozen (2013): Parodied, where, as she trudges through knee-deep snow, Anna gripes for once that she wishes Elsa had tropical-related powers instead of ice-related powers:
    Anna: Snow! It had to be snow! She couldn't have had tropical magic that covered the f-fjords in white sand and warm...[sees the smoke coming from the chimney on Wandering Oaken's Trading Post and Sauna]!
  • Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon is well aware that his father is not pleased with how his son turned out.
    Hiccup: He never listens. And when he does, it's with this disappointed scowl, like someone skimped on the meat in his sandwich. 'Excuse me, barmaid. I'm afraid you brought me the wrong offspring! I ordered an extra-large boy with beefy arms, extra guts and glory on the side. This here, this is a talking fishbone!'
    Gobber: You're thinking about this all wrong. It's not so much what you look like — it's what's inside that he can't stand!
    Hiccup: ...Thank you for summing that up.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (1986): Wicked Witch Evil Matriarch Hydia is thoroughly upset about her daughters Reeka and Draggle's ineptitude as wicked witches. "Why can't you be evil like I taught you?"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In ...And Your Name Is Jonah, Jenny and Danny are both quite upset at Jonah's deafness, with Jenny insisting he must really be normal inside, Danny shouting "He can't hear! He can't talk! He can't think! He can't even live like a human being!" and even temporarily leaving the family, and both trying hard to teach him Reading Lips and speech so he can be normal. By the end, they've accepted him as he is and started teaching him sign language.
  • In A Child Is Waiting, Reuben's parents initially refuse to accept that he's mentally challenged, and take him to doctor after doctor trying to get a different diagnosis. While his father drives him to the Crawthorne State Training Institute, he considers driving the two of them off a cliff.
  • In David's Mother, Sally views David's autism as a punishment and fantasized about him waking up cured.
  • In Dead Poets Society, Neil's father just CAN'T accept that his son wants to be an actor. His complete dismissal of what his son wants for himself is ultimately what drives Neil to kill himself.
  • Eastern Promises: Mob boss Semyon isn't too impressed with his son and heir.
  • Kay from Jack of the Red Hearts has put the family $150,000 in debt pursuing one quack treatment after another for her autistic daughter Glory, whose diagnosis she compares to having her heart ripped out of her chest and served on a cracker. At one point she drinks from a Cure Autism Now mug. She complains about Glory when they're in the same room, and even when she talks about her positive qualities she's clearly sarcastic, so her claims to love her daughter can sound a little hollow.
  • Jenny's Wedding: Jenny's parents aren't happy that she's a lesbian. They get over it.
  • Faramir in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - especially the movie version, when he asks Denethor if he would have preferred Faramir to have died and Boromir to have lived. Denethor, master of tact, says "Yes."
  • In Midwinter Night's Dream, Jasna has taken Jovana to doctor after doctor, trying to find a treatment for her autism. Now she has more or less come to accept it, but she still longs for Jovana to wake up normal someday. Meanwhile, Lazar makes several ill-advised attempts at drawing Jovana out of her "shell," including an exorcism.
  • In Ordinary People, older son Buck is killed in a sailing accident. Mother Beth (Mary Tyler Moore) admits to father Calvin (Donald Sutherland) that she would have preferred that her other son, Conrad (Timothy Hutton), had died instead.
  • In The Silence of Adultery, Michael feels that his son Steven's autism is a penance for marrying Yvonne, who he knew was the wrong person, and sometimes finds it "very difficult" to love him.
  • In Sky High (2005), this is the unfortunate reaction from his superhero parents to the news that their son Will Stronghold has no powers. (He does gain them later in the movie...)
    Josie "Jetstream" Stronghold: We can't change who he is... not without dropping him in a vat of toxic waste.
    Steve "The Commander" Stronghold: [beat; obviously thinking it over] ...
    Josie: Steve!
    Steve: Where would we even find a vat of...
    Josie: STEVE!
  • The very thing that put Angela off the deep end in Sleepaway Camp. The real Angela died in a boating accident with her father, and her surviving brother Peter was put in the custody of his Aunt Martha, who forced him to dress as a girl and take on his sister's identity because she already has a son.
  • Live-action Spider-Man played up how much Evil Genius Norman Osborn would have preferred to have Peter Parker as a son to Harry, who is thoroughly unremarkable and defined by the wealth Norman built up and then reared him in. It's in the dialogue and called back in the climax. Ironically, Norman only starts to show more interest in Harry when the Goblin Serum starts to drive him mad. Of course, in this version, Norman is initially simply a neglectful parent who is not that bad a guy. The comic-book Norman...
  • In Stand by Me Gordy's parents paid much more attention to his older brother, who was a football star and had many friends in school. When he died in a car accident at his funeral, Gordy's father may have said to him "It should have been you, Gordon."
    • Since that occurs in a dream, it's more likely that Gordy's parents acted in a way that made him feel they would have preferred that he had died, instead.
  • In the 1956 film Tea and Sympathy, Tom Lee's parents are disappointed in his lack of athletic acumen, but that's nothing compared to their horror when he declares his intention to become—gasp!—a folk singer.
  • In Titanic (1997), Rose’s indifferent mother just can’t accept the fact that her daughter would rather run away with the penniless Jack Dawson to live out her own dreams then become a Proper Lady married to a wealthy, yet abusive, asshole with a heart of stone like Cal.
  • Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, being a parody of Walk the Line, has Dewey's more talented brother dying young. The Running Gag of the film is Dewey's father regularly appearing and stating, "the wrong kid died!"
  • Parodied in the beginning of Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.
    Honey, I know it's hard to hear this, but your dad and I had a long talk and we agreed that it'd be best for all of us if you would just stop being who you are and doing what you love.

  • Almost Perfect: After Sage realized she was trans at age five, her father spent most of her childhood trying to make her act more manly, forcing her to play various sports she wasn't interested in. When she was thirteen, she could no longer live as a boy, so her parents pulled her out of school and homeschooled her, allegedly for her safety, but really because her dad was ashamed of her. For four years she was banned from having friends or leaving the house without her parents. When they went on family outings, it was always to another city where no one would recognize her. When Sage turned eighteen, she informed her parents that she was going back to public school and they couldn't stop her. They responded by moving halfway across the state to Boyer, where no one could see what had happened to their "son."
  • In Anything but Typical, Jason's mother wants to "fix" his autism, which she blames on everything from brain damage to peanut butter.
  • In Helen Cresswell's The Bagthorpe Saga, the title character of Ordinary Jack is so upset at being the only "normal" person in a family of overachieving self-declared geniuses that his Uncle Parker comes up with a scheme which involves pretending he's a prophet.
  • Gemma's mother in Best Friends 2005 is very exasperated by her Tomboy daughter, as she already has two sons and really wanted a girly girl she could dress up, but Gemma is even more boyish than her brothers and Gemma is convinced her mother would prefer to have Alice as a daughter.
  • Jaenelle Angelline from the Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop is neglected all through her childhood because her role as Witch, the Chosen One, means she's not entirely human and her family, unable to reconcile their fear/horror of her with her relatively innocuous outside, decide she's insane. Consequently she is repeatedly sent to an institution where she is terribly abused.
  • In the book Boot Camp by Todd Strasser, children are sent to an extremely dangerous and abusive boot camp called Lake Harmony to be "reprogrammed" into the children their parents want them to be. The main character, Garrett, is sent because he embarrassed his parent by having a relationship with his teacher. Pauly was sent there because his dad wanted a manly football player for a son and his parents thought he was gay because he wasn't tough, and Sarah was sent because she disagrees with her parents' Mormon faith.
  • Both Can Be True:
    • Ash's dad claims to be a trans ally, but he spends most of his visits with Ash, who is genderfluid, nagging them to pick a gender. He calls them a naive child who doesn't understand the concept of trans.
    • Griffey's mom is religious and thinks he's going to hell for being gay.
    • Esme, a girl in Oakmont's Rainbow Alliance, buys girl clothes in secret, hides them at home, and changes into them in the school bathroom so her parents won't find out. She worked all summer to afford makeup, but when her dad finds it, he throws it out. He threatens to send her to live with her aunt in Texas if he ever finds out she's dressing like a girl again.
  • The Boy Who Drew Monsters: Even before the autistic child Jack Peter developed the severe agoraphobia that made him The Shut-In, his mother viewed him as broken and longed for him to be normal. Although his father is superficially more understanding and accepting of Jack Peter, that's just because he's convinced himself that he could potentially be normal, and used to take him to neurologists, therapists, and herbalists in search of a cure.
  • The mother of the savant-autistic main protagonist Christopher Boone in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time leaves her husband and moves to London with her next-door neighbour, telling Christopher via letter that she might not have done if he had been different.
    • She says she felt like she wasn't a good enough mother to him, and that, as his father was so much more capable, it would be better for her son if she just left. In her letters, and later when Christopher goes to London to see her, she's very sorry about it.
  • Tracy Beaker's friend Alexander from The Dare Game is convinced his father doesn't like him because he's a bookish nerd instead of a strapping young athlete like Football. Tim from Cliffhanger also feels this way, since he's nervous and not keen on sports like his father is.
  • Conina, daughter of Cohen the Barbarian, the Discworld's oldest and most successful barbarian warrior, inherited her father's skills as a fighter, making sure she lived a life of high adventure. Too bad what she really wants to do is be a hairdresser. Although this is not so much parental disapproval as a career forced by destiny. Due to the rather strange laws of genetics in Discworld, she has inherited not only father's skills but also his barbarian instincts. Turns out some people should really not spend their days holding a razor blade against people's throats.
  • Akili Kuwale from Distress was rejected by vis family after ve migrated to asex at age 16. Although being trans is a nonissue for most people in the year 2055, Kuwale's parents were strongly attached to their social stratum in Malawi, with all its traditions and prejudices. They didn't understand any of the things that were important to Kuwale, like being asex and believing in technolibération.
  • Diane from Dogs Don't Talk spent years in denial about her son Johnny's autism, convinced that his silence meant he was a genius like Einstein. After he was diagnosed, he spent years in therapy meant to "fix" him, as Diane believed he could potentially be normal.
  • In the Drake Maijstral series by Walter Jon Williams, Drake's parents are not pleased with his chosen line of work, feeling that it's totally beneath someone of his social class. Of course, if they hadn't blown the family fortune on futile attempts to end human independence and put the alien Khosali back in charge, Drake might not have needed a job.
  • "Fairest of All": Mahon and Siofra's families thought their autistic behavior meant they were faerie changelings. Mahon's father tried to burn him in the oven when he was two, thinking the faerie would flee up the chimney and his true child would be returned to him; Siofra's mother tried to drown her in the river for similar reasons. Eventually Mahon is abandoned in the forest, and Siofra runs away.
  • Played with somewhat in the first book of Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy, where the wife of Fitz's father finds she likes Fitz just as he is — except for the fact that he's her dead husband's bastard child, the son she never could give him due to her own frailty. The "Why couldn't you be different?" complaint isn't that he's the wrong sex or impaired, but is instead summed up in her lament to Fitz that, "You should have been mine!"
  • In A Frozen Heart, Prince Hans is well-aware that his father, the king of the Southern Isles, holds a dim view of him, repeatedly claiming that Hans should "learn a thing or two" from his twelve older brothers. To him, if any of his 13 sons began to show a softer side, they must be forcibly molded back into the Westergaard way of doing things, that is, to be forcibly indoctrinated in the view that the strong have a right to pick on the weak. His father and brothers often berate and emotionally abuse him for being too docile and not approving of their methods of harshly treating their subjects. And their opinion of Hans hasn't changed much even after causing an international scandal and tarnishing the family name.
  • Sue Townsend's The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole:
    • Adrian's father and mother talk about Adrian, making him "sound like Damian in the film of The Omen, and then proceed to describe their respective ideal sons at length. They then say that if Adrian "turned out like he was," it's because they called him Adrian rather than Brett... which is what his father ends up calling his second son.
    • Adrian, in turn, continually despairs over his oldest son Glenn's utter lack of intellectualism, obsession with football, and determinedly bad grammar.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The Dursleys absolutely detest the fact that their nephew Harry comes from magical stock. So much so that they hide him under a spider-filled cupboard under the stairs, until they have a reason to bribe him and move him into Dudley's room of old broken junk.
    • Despite the fact that he comes from a very loving family, Ron Weasley seems to believe that his mother values him less because he was the last of a series of sons born before Molly finally had the daughter she "craved".
    • The closest that Molly ever gets to this is wishing that Fred and George put more effort into their schoolwork and less effort into their pranks. This attitude vanishes since the twins start a successful business based on pranks, and Voldemort's return soon after means there are much more important things to worry about than grades.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: Vanyel Ashkevron has this in spades. Being a slight, delicate fellow whose main interest was music was bad enough in the eldest son of a provincial nobleman; but his interest in the opposite gender was also lacking.
  • In Robert Ludlum's novel The Janson Directive, Jessica Kincaid, a sniper hired to kill the protagonist who ultimately befriends him, explains that her single father effectively raised her as a boy, teaching her how to fix cars and hunt.
  • Riverhand from the Joel Suzuki books was born missing some of his fingers. His parents never accepted him, and he has a difficult relationship with them because of it. When Joel goes back in time to before Riverhand was born in Fable of the Fatewave, Riverhand tells him to tell his parents to accept their future child even if he's different from the others. Joel does, but his advice fails to have any impact on their relationship with Riverhand in the present.
  • Language Arts:
    • Alison spent her autistic son Cody's childhood wasting massive amounts of money on quack cures, banning random things like plastic containers and the microwave because she'd heard they cause autism, and only allowing Cody to do things he likes, like ripping up magazines and grinding up ramen noodles with a mortar and pestle, for ten minutes a day. When Charles asks her why she can't accept him the way he is, she says "The way he is sick!" and compares him to a kid with cancer. She becomes more accepting, repealing the ten-minute rules, after Cody bonds with Scatterbrained Senior Sister Georgia and helps her make a collage.
    • Not only was Sister Georgia a girl, instead of the boy her father wanted, she was regarded as a backwards child.
  • Love Anthony: For years, Olivia and David hated Anthony's autism. They spent their life savings and refinanced the house pursuing various quack treatments. Then, just as Olivia was starting to realize that Anthony was happy and she and David could be too, Anthony died.
  • In Jasmine Cresswell's Love For Hire, the main character's doctor and nurse parents can't understand why she became a baker instead of going into medicine like the rest of the family.
  • This is Alex Fierro's backstory in Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. Her parents' main motivation for abusing her was because she was gender fluid.
  • In Martian Time-Slip, Norbert Steiner is ashamed of his autistic son Manfred, who lives in a camp for abnormal children. He blames his wife for being a refrigerator mother.
  • Mindblind: Nathaniel's dad thinks his Asperger's is just an excuse to act like a brat and is constantly trying to make him act more normal, even going so far as to force him to attend a Wild Teen Party, where he drinks vodka-spiked punch that interacts badly with his medications and renders him almost catatonic for several days afterwards.
  • Miracle Creek:
    • Elizabeth Ward is an extreme example. She spends all her time dragging her mildly autistic son Henry to different therapies and researching experimental treatments, makes a big show of being tired and stressed out, and even forces him to drink bleach. She didn't just want a neurotypical child, she wanted specific traits - easygoing, cuddly, popular, good in school - and so she endlessly nags and belittles Henry over behavior that's completely normal for a child his age, wrecking his self-esteem.
    • Mary Yoo's gender is a milder example. Young needed an emergency hysterectomy when she was born, and Pak's family bemoaned his misfortune in his only child being a girl. Pak said, "She's as good as ten sons," but knew how unconvincing he sounded.
  • In The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly, some of the Ret-Gone kids in the Asylum asked Brona to erase their existences due to not being what their parents wanted.
    • Michael is gay. He never bothered to come out to his parents because he knew they'd reject him.
    • Neha is the daughter of two world-class athletes, but she turned out slow and uncoordinated. Her parents refused to believe that she simply didn't like sports and were angry at her for her supposed laziness. When she didn't make the high school track team, she didn't want to deal with their disappointment, so she had Brona take her away.
    • Madison's mom and stepdad were hard on her because she got all D's and F's in school due to dyslexia that no one realized she had before she came to the Asylum.
  • A Necklace of Fallen Stars: The King of Visin has this attitude towards his youngest daughter, Kaela. Her unruly behavior and refusal to act like a proper princess causes him constant grief.
  • In The Other Boy, Adam still thinks of his trans son Shane as his "little girl" and tries to talk him into detransitioning. He hasn't attended any of Shane's doctor's appointments, but when he learns that Shane is going to be prescribed testosterone, he refuses to consent. Shane's parents have joint custody, so Shane can't take testosterone without his dad's permission. Adam eventually learns to accept Shane as a boy and consents for him to take testosterone.
  • In Out of the Dust, Billie Jo's father, Bayard, wanted a boy, which is why he gave her a masculine name and forced her to work on the farm.
  • Peta Lyre's Rating Normal: Peta's parents openly disliked her and were embarrassed by her autism and ADHD, spent years trying to make her normal, and finally left.
  • Pilgrennon's Children: Pilgrennon's obsession with autism comes from his older sister Lydia, who had undiagnosed Asperger's, to the embarrassment of their parents. When she regressed due to bullying, their parents thought she was insane and banned Ivor from playing with her. They took away her electronics set and all her books in the hopes that it would force her to be normal, but instead she just sat in her room and stared at nothing. After she was finally Driven to Suicide at fourteen, their parents threw out her belongings and never mentioned her again.
  • The Roosevelt: In the first book, Jeremey's mom doesn't accept that he's mentally ill. She's always dragging him to public places that overwhelm him, and when he has a breakdown, she yells at him for embarrassing her. And that's before she finds out he's gay.
  • Sarah from Rubbernecker is a Resentful Guardian to her son Patrick, who has Asperger's. She desperately wants him to be normal and endlessly complains about his inability to connect with her and poor understanding of social norms, despite making little effort to connect with Patrick on his level or explain those norms to him. She's even told him to his face that she wishes she'd never had him. When Patrick was eight, Sarah was driving drunk and decided to run him down with her car. She hit her husband instead. She told Patrick that his father's death was his fault.
  • India in Secrets mentions that people are always shocked to learn she's the glamorous Moya Upton's daughter and they expected someone thin, elegant and into fashion, all the things India is well aware she isn't and notes Moya keeps trying to force her into the role regardless.
  • The parents of Ida in Shaman of the Undead are both powerful wizards with great political connections and plans already made for their daughter's entire future: she'll go to magical university, marry a Council-important wizard, give birth to magical children and generally be an obedient daughter and wife. Ida, however, turns out to have no magic at all, a rebellious streak and the ambition to study psychology at a Muggle university. Her parents are convinced she's actually hiding her magic from them, so they set multiple magical traps in their house, hoping to force her to use it. Even after finding out she really doesn't have magic talents, they still want to make a politically expedient marriage for her, so she finally runs away from home.
  • King Uthrik in The Shattered Sea resents his son for being born with a crippled left hand and therefore being a liability as a warrior. Yarvi's protests that he can't help how he was born meet with no sympathy, either.
    Yarvi: I didn't ask for half a hand.
    Uthrik: I didn't ask for half a son.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Tyrion Lannister gets a rather harsh version of this from his father Tywin, thanks to his dwarfism.
    • Randyll Tarly, likewise, does almost exactly the same thing to his fat, bookish son, Sam. As soon as little brother Dickon shows signs of the warrior Randyll desires, he sends Sam as far away as he can.
    • When we get a look into her head in A Feast for Crows, it's revealed that Cersei laments that Tommen is not as willful and "strong" as his older brother Joffrey. Of course, when Tommen finally does start to show some inner strength, Cersei punishes him for it by forcing Tommen to beat his whipping boy.
  • Split Heirs has a quite a bit on this. See, the queen has triplets, two boys and a girl, in a land where multiple births are supposed to be a sign of infidelity. She has one son and her daughter smuggled out in secret and sends word of the birth of a son... only to find out that the boys were smuggled out and she was left with her daughter. And the one she trusted to do the smuggling has a heart attack after dropping off the kids. Flash forward years later to the queen still having to fake to the kingdom and her daughter that there's only the one crown prince. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Georg Weiler in Stones from the River spends most of his early life in girls' clothes because of his mother's issues with men.
  • In The Story of Valentine and His Brother, Lord Eskside considers Richard to be a disappointment, as their tastes, interests, and worldviews are very different, even aside from Richard's scandalous marriage. Lord Eskside's main comfort is his grandson Val, who turned out to be exactly the kind of son he wanted to have.
  • The Suitcase Kid: Graham has a distant relationship with his father, with Andy noting that "I suppose he loved Graham but he certainly didn't seem to like him." Bill is constantly criticizing him for not being a "real boy" as he's quiet and nerdy, much preferring to stay in his room working on computers and scale modelling than doing sports. Andy starts to sympathise with Graham when she realises this, especially as she often feels like she doesn't fit in with her family either, nor does she think much of Bill as a paragon of manliness.
  • Truth or Dare (2000): Patrick Jordan, a boy who died under mysterious circumstances in The '50s, had epilepsy and undiagnosed Asperger's, and his father took his differences as a personal affront. When he was younger his father tried to force him to act normal, but after Patrick was expelled from school for his inability to follow instructions, his father focused his energies on Paul, who was the normal son he wanted, mostly ignoring Patrick except to beat him or lock him in his room. After Patrick died, his father burned his belongings, cut him out of family pictures, and forbade his other children from mentioning him. It turns out Patrick never died, but lived for decades in an institution. His father only pretended he was dead so he could pretend he never existed.
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts: As if Theo's scandalous birth wasn't bad enough, he was a sickly and girlish child, not the strapping lad his father hoped for. His father used to violently beat him for anything remotely feminine.
  • Dr. Austin Sloper in Washington Square not-so-secretly despises his daughter Catherine—she's not even a shadow of her beautiful clever mother (also named Catherine) in his eyes. While the elder Catherine was fair, witty, and extroverted, the younger Catherine is dark, "unclever" and a Shrinking Violet.
  • What Happened to Lani Garver: Before Lani's adoptive parents got divorced, his dad beat him for playing dress-up. The school board blamed his parents for raising a "gender-confused" child, so his dad took him to a drill sergeant, a priest, and a psychologist to try to force him to act more manly.
  • When My Heart Joins the Thousand: When Alvie was little, Mama thought she was perfect and didn't care that she was different from the other kids. But the older she got, the harder Mama tried to "fix" her autism, until their relationship consisted almost entirely of Mama dragging her to different therapists and complaining about how she wanted the "real Alvie" back. When she was eleven, Mama tried to kill her in a Murder-Suicide. Alvie survived. Mama didn't.
  • Xandri Corelel's parents regarded her as a disappointment and an embarrassment and subjected her to abusive "therapies" in an attempt to cure her autism.
  • At the beginning of The Young Diana, the titular protagonist is a middle-aged spinster who lives with her parents, working as an unpaid maid out of a sense of filial duty. She gets little gratitude from her parents, who doted on her when she was younger but have become desperately ashamed of her now that she's an Old Maid. One night she overhears her parents talking about her, with her father calling her "in the way" and "superfluous" and wishing she'd been trained to do something that would keep her out of the home so he could pretend he didn't have a daughter. This is what leads Diana to decide to finally leave her parents and go work for Dimitrius.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Saffron from Absolutely Fabulous is an intelligent, ethical, and hard working daughter who would be a joy to most parents. Shame her mother wants her to be a drunken, trampy, drug using party girl. Or at least gay so she'd be interesting. Edina is actually overjoyed to learn that her estranged son Serge is gay...but unfortunately he's a Straight Gay, and every bit as bookish and straitlaced as Saffron. Edina actually tries to officially adopt Serge's Camp Gay partner as her son instead.
  • Cheers: Cliff Clavin's mother routinely puts her son down for being a mail-man and an embarrassment, despite it being shown her parenting style is responsible for how Cliff's turned out, and that she directly pushed him to become a mailman.
  • On The Big Bang Theory, Penny's dad wanted a son so badly that he forced her to play all sorts of sports so he could pretend she was a boy. It was so bad that she actually does everything she can to make him proud, but it doesn't work because she's a girl.
  • Joyce uses one of these in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "Have you tried not being a Slayer?" Seems vaguely familiar...
  • Frasier has a man's man cop with two sons who hate sports and love the opera. The situation recurses when Frasier himself narrowly avoids buying his son an educational toy as a Christmas present, of the sort that he never got as a kid, when all his son wanted was an RC monster robot.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Sam Tarly was forced to join the Night's Watch because his father thought this of him.
    • Tyrion Lannister gets told this time and again because his dwarfism and whore-mongering wound his father's pride and prestige.
    • Deconstructed by Balon and Yara Greyjoy. After losing all his sons to death or captivity, Balon raises his daughter like a son, which Yara completely embraces.
  • Interestingly averted in Glee, where Burt Hummel admits that he didn't remotely anticipate having a son like Kurt, but still loves him deeply and would never want him to change. The aversion is seriously underscored when Burt orders his new girlfriend's son Finn - who is exactly the sort of boy Burt might be expected to want as a son - out of the Hummel house after overhearing him use the word "faggy" to describe Kurt's furniture (though later Burt calls out on Kurt's dishonesty about his crush on Finn and is shown to have forgiven and reconcile with his new stepson Finn months later).
  • Higher Ground: Peter's father: "I just want a son I can be proud of!"
  • In a similar vein, Robin Scherbatsky's dad in How I Met Your Mother also wanted a son - and didn't let the fact that she was his only child get in the way of that. Her full name is actually Robin Charles Scherbatsky Junior.
  • Even House got this treatment from his father, who found his son a disappointment (to be clear, his father was disappointed in his son's abrasive personality and generally jerkass-ness, not for being a brilliant and renowned doctor, though it's implied he also felt some level of personal disappointment over House's disability). It was later said that the two were never related in the first place, the man was not House's biological father, so that probably didn't help ease any tension. Him abusing House as a boy didn't do a lot for bonding either, come to think of it. Made all the more poignant with the actor used to portray him: R. Lee Ermey.
  • In the Mexican comedy La familia P. Luche, nearly everyone in town is a jerk, an idiot, or an idiotic jerk. Except for Bibi, who is sweet and compassionate, and doesn't wear plush clothing. As a result, everyone else considers her the weird one and frequently asks "Why can't you be a normal girl?"
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: Played for Laughs in the Northern Playwright sketch, in which the father is disgusted that his son would choose a radically different career. The father (who dresses and talks like a sterotypical working class coal miner) is the playwright, and the son (who dresses and talks like a college educated professional) is in the mining business.
  • Dr. Forrester, the mad scientist from Mystery Science Theater 3000 has, as his full name, Doctor Clayton Deborah Susan Forrester. (He was so named by his overbearing mother, who had really wanted a girl.)
  • NUMB3RS: Megan Reeves, as she was her father's last chance to have a son.
  • Only Murders in the Building: Teddy Dimas' son Theo is deaf. While Theo is probably the only person in the world Teddy truly loves, he was frustrated and even ashamed of Theo's disability, which boiled over in ways that bordered on abuse. By the time Theo's an adult, Teddy's seemingly made peace with the situation and has found ways to make use of it, his controlling nature and willingness to exploit his son for his criminal business has led to their relationship being strained.
  • The Orville: Heavily implied in the case of Alara. On the one call she makes to her parents, they spend the entire time asking when she's going to come home and get a "real" education, calling her intellectually "slow," referring to humans (the majority of the crew) as the galaxy's "hillbillies," and saying a military career is beneath her. Turns out that, despite her people being Heavy Worlder types with Super-Strength in Earth-like conditions, they true species hat is that of intellectuals and philosophers. Alara, being a security officer in a mostly-human military is considered a distasteful career choice.
  • Shawn Spencer of Psych also has a cop for a dad, who may also qualify based on their strained relationship. In this particular case, however, it's implied to be a more self-fulfilling example than anything else, since Shawn's primary motive for rebelling against his dad was Henry's obsessive and overbearing determination to have Shawn Follow in My Footsteps; had Henry been just a bit less pushy about the whole thing, it's likely their relationship wouldn't have deteriorated nearly as bad as it did.
  • The parents on Roseanne might not be really proud of their kids, but don't make an effort to force them to change since they recognize it would do more harm than good. One episode does give a brief nod to the desire for a child with a different gender though, and it's portrayed as something you really wouldn't do if you wanted what's best for your kids.
    Crystal: Y'know, sometimes I wish my Lonny was a little girl. Then I could get to dress him up in all sorts of dresses and bows and ribbons and put his hair in pigtails and... (She stops, seeing Jackie and Roseanne looking at her in a disturbed manner) I-I don't really do it, obviously.
  • Scrubs: Elliot Reid's father wanted a son. Which is sort of weird, considering how he already had four by the time his daughter was born.
  • In Skins, Sid's dad makes it perfectly clear that he would prefer Tony to be his son instead of Sid. He actually breaks down in one scene after seeing Sid and Tony together, and says to Sid, "Why couldn't you... why did I...?" Which is ironic given that Sid, despite being a rather ineffectual loser and a tiny bit dim, is a genuinely sweet and well-meaning guy, whereas Tony (prior to his Character Development) is a cruel, manipulative jerkass who constantly taunts and undermines his own father. This is made even more ironic when it is revealed that Sid's dad's dad despises him more than Sid's dad despises Sid.
  • Taken to rather horrifying extremes by Doctor Bashir's parents in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Dr. Bashir, I Presume", who had him genetically enhanced at the age of six because they were ashamed of him for having what sounds like some kind of learning disorder. Note: this is not only illegal under Federation law, but literally every other example of a post-eugenics augment we meet in the canon is either evil or suffers from some form of extreme dysfunction. Even having done so, his father seems disappointed that Julian has not chosen to take a more comfortable posting on Earth, rather than working as a Frontier Doctor on Deep Space Nine.
  • Supernatural: John Winchester practically disowned Sam when the latter was more interested in school than in hunting.

  • Played for Laughs in Barry Louis Polisar's "He Eats Asparagus", in which the protagonist's parents would unfavourably compare him to the perfectly-behaved boy who lives next door whenever he acts up. Even though the "boy" next door is actually a 34-year-old man.
    And Mommy wishes I was him and that he was me.
  • Paul & Storm's "Better Version of You," (song starts at 1:30) wherein a young boy is treated to a list of all the ways his new sibling will be better and more loved than he is. It is hilarious.
  • Linkin Park's song, "Numb."
  • "She should've stayed away from friends / she should've had more time to spend / she should've died when she was born / she should've worn a crown of thorns / she should've / been a son" - "Been A Son", Nirvana
  • Simple Plan's song "Perfect" is essentially about this.
  • "I'm a Boy," The Who.
    "I'm a boy, I'm a boy, but my ma wont admit it / I'm a boy, I'm a boy, but if I say I am I get it."

  • Strauss and Von Hofmannsthal's final operatic collaboration, Arabella, has the titular character's younger sister Zdenka go through life as "Zdenko" instead, to save money.
  • Averted in Carousel. Billy Bigelow seems ready to start down this path in "Soliloquy" as he spends several measures imagining the ideal son he's about to have, only to suddenly realize that his new child could easily be a girl. But rather than try to pigeonhole the unborn child into his dreams, he simply changes his dreams, realizing it could be kind of neat to have a Daddy's Girl.
  • Kimberly Akimbo (2021): Kimberly's mother unsubtly prays that her second pregnancy will be normal and not ridden with a rare rapid-aging disease like her first one.
  • Moira Buffini's Silence takes place around the year 1000, and its title character is a girl who was raised to think s/he was a boy, so that s/he could inherit his/her father's lands and position.
  • Frex Thropp in Wicked hates his daughter Elphaba for several different reasons, including being green, supposedly causing her mother's death and her sister's disability by being green, having magical powers, generally coming off as strange, and possibly being a Heroic Bastard. Not entirely unjustified if he figured Elphaba was fathered by a passing stranger, and was twisted and cursed as a result. Though it's 'extremely' unlikely he would have guessed the Wizard of Oz was involved, it's not like that would have made her much more popular in this setting.

    Video Games 
  • Sophia Lamb from BioShock 2 proceeded with her plan for utopia by attempting to brainwash her daughter Eleanor in various recorded-lessons and mathematics studies, in order to 'properly' derange her so that she could become a fusion core for all of Rapture's insanity-induced genius. The result is based on what Eleanor's "father", Subject Delta, does to the people he encounters on his way to rescue her. If Delta saves as many people as possible, Eleanor becomes a perfectly normal teen with a strong moral fiber, despite the brainwashing. If Delta is an unrepentant child-killer, Eleanor becomes a living, breathing weapon of mass destruction. Either way, Sophia doesn't take kindly to the fact that her plan for saving the world from decay and subsequent nuclear Armageddon is ruined.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Discussed in Dragon Age II if one of Hawke's younger siblings is brought along to the Legacy DLC. Learning that Malcolm Hawke didn't want his children to inherit his magic comes as a shock to the Hawke siblings. Bethany, who only survives the prologue if she is the family's only mage child, wonders in Act 1 or 2 - she is more understanding in Act 3 - if Malcolm resented her for her magic. Hawke argues that Malcolm adored his youngest and only resented that she had to carry a burden her mother and siblings could never understand. On the other side of things, Carver only survives the prologue if he is the family's only non-mage child, and for most of his life believed that his father resented him for his lack of magic. He doesn't know what to do with the discovery that Malcolm hoped all of his children would be like Carver.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition
      • Very clear example in Dorian's personal quest: Not only do the parents in question disapprove of their child being homosexual (since the only reason they married was to combine and continue their strong magical bloodlines), but Dorian's father actually planned to forcibly turn Dorian straight with blood magic.
      • Depending on the backstory dialogue options chosen, this can be implied for a human mage player character.
  • Final Fantasy XVI: Clive gets along very well with his father, Duke Elwin Rosfield, and his little brother, Joshua. On the other hand, his mother, Anabella, treats him very coldly and harshly, due to the fact that he was not born to be the Dominant of the Duchy's eikon, Phoenix. Conversely, Anabella dotes on Joshua, who was born as Phoenix's Dominant and, as such, is declared the Duchy's riteful heir. As it turns out, the reasons for the differences in how she treats her sons is entirely self-centered: she married Duke Elwin to advance her station in life, and having a firstborn son who did not have a claim to the Duchy's throne reflected quite poorly on her among the Duchy's court, hence her cruel treatment of Clive. She later is revealed to hold magic users -- including Bearers and Dominants -- in disdain. After Joshua was seemingly killed after she sold the Duchy out to the Empire, she married the Empire's ruler and had a child with him who seemed to possess no magic abilities at all compared to the Emperor's first son and Bahamut's Dominant, Dion. The revelation that this child is actually an avatar of Ultima drives her mad and leads to her killing herself.
  • God of War (PS4): Atreus thinks this is how his father Kratos sees him; in fact, Kratos is deeply proud of him but bad at showing it and is quite happy that Atreus is nothing like him. The only thing Kratos is uneasy with is that Atreus inherited Kratos's own godhood, since Kratos believes divinity to be a curse.
  • Guilty Gear has Bridget, with the slight difference that the parents weren't trying to correct for any perceived defect in their child. They were trying to prevent the neighbors from realizing that they were raising twins of the same sex, which is considered an omen where they come from.
  • Tales of the Abyss has a variation: Luke fon Fabre has a strong case of Identity Amnesia due to a kidnapping seven years ago and everyone wants him to regain his memories; especially his fiancee and Childhood Friend Princess Natalia. It turns out to have been fully this trope the whole time with the reveal that Luke is the replica of the original Luke.
  • The Demoman in Team Fortress 2 parodies this trope with his mother, who insists that he's wasting his talents and disgracing the family name... because he's only lost one eye to explosives and holds down only three jobs. Keep in mind that he has a seven-figure salary.
  • When Beat was alive in The World Ends with You, his parents had started voicing their desire that he be be more like his sister, Rhyme. This resulted in him starting to push her away.
  • A justified case with Jokichi and his daughter Ayano in Yandere Simulator: he's afraid she'll turn out just like her mother, a Yandere who murdered at least one of her rivals (canonically six) and got away with it, kidnapped him and forced him to marry her, and the other females in the Aishi line. Whether she does or not is ultimately up to the player.

    Visual Novels 
  • Minagi in AIR doesn't crossdress, but she does take on the role of her dead younger sister for her mentally ill mother, who not only rejected the older sister but denied her existence.
  • The Fruit of Grisaia: Yumiko's childhood was hell because of this, as everyone wanted a boy to inherit his father's company. At one point even her mother says this to her face, though she wasn't thinking clearly, and almost immediatelly regreted it.
  • In Mystic Messenger, this pretty much summarizes Zen's childhood. His parents hated how handsome he was because they feared he'd prefer to become a singer or actor rather than a doctor or some other "respectable" job, so they kept telling him he was ugly. His older brother feels enough pity to tell Zen he is actually beautiful, but once he actually wants to become an actor, his brother sides with their parents, too.

    Web Comics 
  • In Dork Tower, Kayleigh occasionally angsts about being overshadowed by her siblings and their numerous accomplishments, while she's reduced to being a journalist for a local newspaper.
  • Used in El Goonish Shive when Justin (who is gay) calls his parents to alert them he won't be coming home that night. We hear his half of the conversation: "Hello, dad... I might be sleeping over at a friend's house tonight... Uh, you've never met her, but her name is Susan and there's a girl named Ellen here along with Nanase... Yes, I am spending the night with three girls... No, I don't plan on sleeping with any of them... You know, most parents would be happy about their son answering no to that last question."
    • Later in that arc, Susan (who is not) has her mother lament her being straight; the former Mrs Pompoms's ex-husband cheated on her, and left Susan with a bit of emotional baggage regarding men in the process.
  • The Barbarian warrior maiden Jillian Zamussels in Erfworld, commander of the aerial cavalry of Prince Ansom, originally from the tiny utopian peaceful mountain kingdom Faq. Her "father", the king Banhammer, needed an heir, but "instead of a perfect little philosopher-prince like he wanted? ...He got a sword-swinging madwoman, who knows exactly which fork to use to pluck out an eyeball... but not for the salad". She delights in blood and guts mercenary work. She doesn't even look vaguely Asian as the other characters from her home kingdom, but has short blonde hair and a Scandinavian appearance.
  • In The Law of Purple, Blue's father made no secret of the fact that he would have been much happier if Blue, the only one of his family to be born as 2nd Kind, had been "normal" instead. Blue's mother seems to have been more okay with Blue being 2nd Kind, but she was also a known eccentric.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Roy Greenhilt of has a bad relationship with his father. Eugene wanted a wizard for a son, but Roy's a fighter.
    • Bonus points to the fact that Eugene's father wanted a fighter son who would enjoy manly things like fishing and sports. Instead he got a son who was more interested in academics and becoming a wizard. Although in that case, Eugene still comes off worse, since he apparently spent a lot of time telling his father he was stupid, which kind of makes this the son wondering why the parent couldn't be different.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, Zoe's mother is one of these. It's bad enough that she's got ridiculously puritan values (she thinks lingerie is a sexually transmitted disease), but she also has a strong Weirdness Censor, while Zoe is a Weirdness Magnet.
    Zoe: [on the phone with her mom] All right, I'll tell you! I'm trapped in a room where an alien and a rabbit with high explosives are trying to kill each other! ...No rehab Mom! I AM NOT on DRUGS!
  • Unsounded:
    • Sette’s father has come close to killing her as he can’t have no abnormal and in addition to her other bizarre qualities she’s stopped growing so she’ll never be big enough to properly take over as boss since she’ll end up killed by his underlinings.
    • Jivi’s mother is frustrated and abusive with him. It’s implied the core of their problems is because she hates men and he’s a son rather than a daughter.
  • Helen of Venus Envy frets that she may have inadvertently caused Zoe to become transgender by having always wanted a daughter.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Toph is a superpowered Action Girl whose extraordinarily rich parents kept her locked up and treated her like a fragile China doll because she's blind and they don't know how powerful her Earthbending powers really are. And then when they do know about her powers, their reaction is to do an even more thorough job of locking her up. This prompts her to run away to join Team Avatar.
    • As seen in flashbacks, Fire Lord Ozai clearly favored his daughter Azula over Zuko, which took a toll on Zuko's self-esteem and development. Epileptic Trees theories abound as to where Ozai's indifference to and hatred of his son stemmed from, but a simple explanation is probably that Azula had The Gift and Zuko apparently did not. Also very probably because he was very clearly not a psychopath like him, and Azula equally clearly was.
    • Mai's parents pushed this so early it was hard to tell how and in what ways she would even have been different — she has completely blunted affect from overtraining in all the qualities of a proper lady. The knife thing appears to have been her awesome private rebellion, though given this is the Fire Nation it could have been part of the regimen.
  • In the 1954 Disney short Casey Bats Again, Casey is devastated that his new baby son is actually a daughter who cannot carry on his baseball legacy. He and Mrs. Casey try for a boy, but end up with nine daughters—which, he realizes, is enough to make up a girls' baseball team. They don't disappoint.
  • Sam's parents in Danny Phantom are practically yanked out of a 50s public service announcement, not a good match for a hard goth daughter who enjoys video games, environmentalism and hanging out with a kid whose parents are obsessed with ghosts. Her grandmother is more understanding though.
  • In the later seasons of Dexter's Laboratory, it is revealed that the parents of Dexter's Evil Counterpart Mandark were in fact nature-loving hippies who didn't much approve of their son's obsession with science. Oh wait, did I say "Mandark?" I meant Susan.
  • In The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy travels back in time a few months before he was born. It reveals both his parents wanted him to be a girl, and his dad even got him many girl toys and said "I'd be crushed if we had a son!" And if that didn't already fit this trope, we get this exchange...
    Timmy: That explains the pink hat.
    Cosmo: And all these baby pictures of you in dresses.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Lucius wants his son Beezy to drop his Lazy Bum lifestyle and become a dog-kicking Corrupt Corporate Executive like him.
  • In Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, Jonny is trapped in a situation by Jeremiah Surd where he is confronted by a doppelgänger of his father Doctor Quest who calls Jonny a disappointment for not trying harder to be a scientist like him. Jonny falls to his knees and covers his ears as he tries to block out the fake Doctor Quest saying that he wishes the more academically oriented Jessie Bannon was his child instead of Jonny. The real Doctor Quest averts this trope and punches out the doppelganger for mocking his son.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Doughy, laid-back comedian Bobby is anything but the son Hank Hill envisioned he'd have in. Hank loves his son, but still openly pines for one who's more masculine. Hank might have a Freudian Excuse as his own father views him as a hugely unmasculine disappointment, although the older Hill seems to approve of Bobby by showing him the affection he'd never show Hank. But there are occasions when Hank finds a reason to be proud of Bobby.
    • Similarly the Hills' neighbor Khan introduces his kid as "Khan Jr." She normally goes by "Connie".
    • Subverted by Dale Gribble, who could never be disappointed by his son, who he believes is part-alien (when in reality he's an obvious Chocolate Baby).
    • Peggy Hill has suffered this as well from her mother, who spent Peggy's entire childhood criticizing and belittling her, and spends her adulthood expressing how Peggy was a disappointment after twenty years of ignoring her. Her mother has said she wishes Peggy had married someone she had no feelings for, believed it to be her daughter's fault they almost lost the ranch at one point (it wasn't; she actually had nothing to do with it), and even favors Peggy's twin brother—a jailbird.
  • In Moral Orel, Clay Puppington grows to resent his son for being a sensitive and innocent child, claiming that he's been corrupted by everyone else.
  • In an odd variant, The Spectacular Spider-Man's Norman Osborn wishes his son Harry was more like Peter, who is Harry's best friend.
  • Steven Universe: Future: In "Mr. Universe", Steven and Greg go on a road trip and enter the home of his parents, the DeMayos. Greg looks back on his "miserable" childhood of curfews, chaperones, meatloaf on Thursday nights, and his restrictive parents, who made him participate in numerous afterschool activities. Inverted when Steven wished that he could have grown up in a household like Greg's parents had, believing the restrictive boundaries were put there for a purpose, lamenting that he's never been enrolled in school or had never been to a doctor before seeing Dr. Maheswaran. Greg admires Steven's outspokenness, in contrast to his own life when he never had the guts to tell off his own parents.
  • Total Drama: Duncan parents (both police officers, according to his character bio) are, unsurprisingly, not happy that he's decided to be a career criminal at 16.
    Duncan's Dad: (after listing a number of his crimes) Come to think of it, do we love you?
    Duncan's Mom: That's a terrible thing to say!
    Duncan's Dad: Well, the boy's a criminal!
    Duncan's Mom: That hairpiece [of yours] is what's criminal.

    Real Life 
  • After a lifetime spent with one wife and a daughter - and a bastard son - he doted on, Henry VIII famously went off the rails in the last third of his life and went through multiple wives in an attempt to father a (legitimate) male heir. His first daughter, Mary, was a big example of this. Elizabeth, his daughter by his second marriage, was such a child as well. The (financial and social) circumstances of both were in constant flux during this period, dependent as they were on their father's goodwill, but Elizabeth generally fared a little better than Mary.
  • A real life example of this trope would be the Sworn Virgins of Albania — women who dress and act like men and who take up male roles in the community. (They are often encouraged to do so if a family produces no male heirs, since it's only men who can inherit property.)
  • Ed Wood, the infamous "Worst Director of All Time" and maker of the cult classic Plan 9 from Outer Space, was routinely dressed as a girl by his mother (who had wanted him to be female). Ed never grew out of the habit of dressing in women's clothing, and for the rest of his life lived as a non-sexually oriented transvestite; his film Glen or Glenda was based on his experience. (It is rumored he even participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal while secretly wearing a bra and panties beneath his uniform.) Ed personally put forth these rumors, though, so take it with a grain of salt.
  • The sad Truth in Television of many households with children with learning disabilities, and God help you if your parents prize things like high grades or how well others view the family.
    • If any of your parents can't help but desire that you were different, and can't resist the urge to force you in whatever direction they believe is better for you, you are probably screwed (bonus screwing points, when both parents want you to be different in ways that are not only incompatible with your nature but also — in some subtle way that they prefer to ignore — to the desires of each other). This goes beyond the sole gender identity issues: if you hate with all your guts a work they see as the embodiment of human perfection, they are gonna do all they can to force you into it anyway. This is really a mainstay of Abusive Parents of every kind.
    • More often than not, this kind of behavior backfires HARD, as The Unfavorite child will resent their siblings/friends for getting their parents’ affection they crave, and/or even their own parents for choosing to pick favorites.
  • Barack Obama's mother was born with the name of Stanley Anne Dunham because — you guessed it — her father wanted a son. She eventually managed to drop the "Stanley".
  • Tina Fey has spent years humorously noting in interviews her annoyance that her daughter Alice has turned out to be such a princess-obsessed girly girl.


Video Example(s):


Unhappy Mother's Day

When Dolly's Mother's Day surprise for Delilah goes awry, she angrily lashes out at her stepmother when she's told to behave more like Dylan.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / CallingTheOldManOut

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