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World of No Grandparents

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"But my dad had no grandparents. Not a single cousin. I've never met another Wayne in Gotham ever. Are we dealing with generations of only childs marrying other only childs, with grandparent suicide pacts?"

For a lot of people, their grandparents are a fairly prominent feature in their lives, at least when they're young. With medical science advancing and more elderly people overcoming previous aversions to doctors and medication, grandparents being around well into people's adulthoods is fairly common these days. Four-generation families are also fairly common, and there are uncommon cases of five-generation families, as well as sporadic cases of six-generation families.

So where are they in most works of fiction?

Sure, a fair number of sitcoms will have them pop up at least from time to time, especially when their grandchildren are youngsters (either the main characters or sons and daughters of the main characters). But in more dramatic TV series and movies, especially action, you can expect grandparents to not only be utterly absent, but the very concept never even mentioned.

This is especially telling in a shared universe setting where parental death is a common part of the Backstory for the characters. They may wind up being raised by aunts, uncles, butlers, random rich people or wolves, or wind up in an orphanage of either flavor. Which, hey, some people's grandparents just didn't live long enough to be a factor in this... but when you've got over 20 or so heroes with this in their backstory, and not one of them had one out of four grandparents live, it starts to become obvious that this is a World of No Grandparents.

The only conclusion one can draw from this is that apparently that particular generation gave birth to the hero's parents and, their purpose fulfilled, promptly croaked.

This trope is often just the most obvious symptom of a world where the main character apparently has absolutely no relatives other than their parents, sort of the exact opposite of a Tangled Family Tree. While it's possible that the hero might not have had aunts, uncles, cousins and so on, their parents had to come from somewhere. But these are not only never seen, but they're never mentioned; if ancestors beyond their parents are brought up, it's usually either ancient ones or at least a great-grandparent. This can also be a side effect of the Competence Zone; grandparents are seen as providing little of interest for the main characters.

This will often be seen in older franchises. The difference isn't just lower life expectancy in previous centuries, though; the frequency and means of immigration in the pre-jet era meant that many children born before 1940 never had the chance to meet their grandparents. When such franchises are updated and rebooted, the lack of family is much more out of place.

For the one-less-generation removed version of this trope, see Parental Abandonment. A World Of No Parents is a Teenage Wasteland.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Naruto:
    • After both of Naruto's parents die on the day of his birth, no one steps up to raise him. Not only is neither family ever mentioned, but Jiraiya doesn't recall that he is Naruto's godfather until the moments before his death! There are minor characters Raised by Grandparents, even when it is illogical or inconvenient. In some cases the lack more distant relations and even siblings can be explained by the fact that in the last two decades, Konoha has endured two major wars, a giant demon attacking it, two invasions, and several minor conflicts, including the genocide of an entire clan. Mass casualty events seem common enough that they put a major dent into the population. It's suggested that one reason nigh everybody in the village treated Naruto as though he were the Nine Tailed Fox was that everybody in the village knew someone who was killed in the attack. Naruto's mom Kushina is justified as the Uzumaki clan was nearly destroyed with the descendants scattered.
    • Subverted in Boruto. Though their grandparents don't get discussed much, most of the main characters do have at least one living grandparent. This is because they live at times of peace that are meant to heavily contrast with their own parents' childhoods. Unlike his orphan father Naruto, Contrasting Sequel Main Character Boruto not only has two loving parents and a little sister, but he has a doting maternal grandfather and aunt as well.
  • Yusuke and Kurama on YuYu Hakusho both have just their mothers. Atsuko had Yusuke at fourteen and there's every chance she was either already an orphan or disowned on the spot; his father is conspicuously absent. Shiori seems to have had her son late in life, but although her husband is dead it's still surprising that neither her parents nor his appear when she's dying. Kuwabara's parents seem to be just straight-up neglectful, and Hiei's case is justified.
  • In Lyrical Nanoha, the only people who are grandparents in the series are the characters who become grandparents when their children have children of their own during the course of the story (such as the Takamachis and Lindy). Teana lives with her brother after her parents die, and then lives alone after her brother dies.
    • ViVid and ViVid Strike! introduced grandfathers for Rio and Rinne respectively, with the latter being a fairly major character to the season (despite having been dead for three years). Lucino also mentioned that her grandfather served in the TSAB in one of the StrikerS Sound Stages, but he's never seen.
    • Justified with Amitie and Kyire in the Reflection/Detonation duology. All four of their grandparents are explicitly dead, having been members of the Planet Restoration Committee (who were slaughtered to the last man 40 years before the events of the movies).
  • In Attack on Titan, when Wall Maria was breached and people sought refuge in the inner walls, the government chose 250,000 refugees to send onto a mission to reclaim the wall. Only a good hundred of them survived, and it was done to avoid food shortage throughout the city, effectively killing off everyone's grandparents. The only relative figures still mentioned after this event are the few parents that manage to have survived so far.
  • In Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Jun and Jinpei are said to have been living on the street when they were adopted by Nambu. Jinpei was abandoned as a baby; no explanation was given for Jun. Subverted in Ryu's case, since his father (and brother) are still alive, but his grandparents are not seen or mentioned. Averted in Joe's case, since his grandparents would have been told he was dead (long story). Subverted in Ken's, where his father seems to have straight up given custody of Ken to Nambu (even though his mother was alive at the time...) but no grandparents are ever mentioned.
  • Many of the young Fairy Tail members are orphaned and have more or less been adopted by the guild with the older members acting as mother/father/grandparent figures. Examples are Gray, Juvia, Lucy (though she did have one parent left when she joined Fairy Tail), the Strauss siblings, and probably Natsu, Erza and Wendy. And yet none of these have ever had any single grandparent mentioned. The only character in the series who for sure has a grandparent is Laxus, and he isn't orphaned (though his father is evil, but Laxus only realized this when he himself did a Heel–Face Turn and came to see Fairy Tail as his "true" family).
  • In Tweeny Witches, Qoo and Nito are the only characters known to have a living grandparent.
  • Subverted in Immortal Rain. Machika calls Zoll Grandfather despite the fact he's clearly not old enough to have grandchildren, and he is more like a kind of adoptive uncle.
  • Pokémon: The Series has a variety of family size and types shown, but a fairly common trait is the general absence of grandparents. The vast majority of main characters lack any present in their lives, even in places it would be genuinely helpful (for example Brock's massive sibling collective). The only characters who have a grandparent in their lives are Gary (whose grandfather is the only parental figure of his we see), Kiawe (whose grandfather is inportant to his backstory, but dead in the present day), and Goh. Ash has a grandfather mentioned, but only in the Japanese version, and he's just as absent as his father. The sequel Pokémon Horizons: The Series would avert this as both Liko and Roy have at least one living grandparent who appears as part of their backstories and still being alive in the present day (the latter seeming to be Roy's primary caretaker a la Gary.)
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica, despite having quite possibly over half the main cast (Mami, Kyoko, and maybe Homura) being orphans, there isn't a grandparent to be seen to step in to take them in (or any other relative). This is averted in spin-off material, where various Magical Girls, such as Yuma, Oriko. Michiru, Yachiyo and Tsukuyo have grandparents play major roles in their lives and backstories, though not always in a good way (in the case of Oriko and Tsukuyo).

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU is particularly bad about this, considering the sheer number of heroes who can include "orphaned at an early age" as part of their origin.
    • Batman:
      • Bruce Wayne, orphaned at age 8. Despite being the heir of one of the oldest and most prominent families in Gotham (and possibly America), he is raised by his butler. Possibly justified by the fact that Alfred was more or less considered family and the fact that the character was created in 1939 when the average lifespan was a lot shorter, meaning fewer grandparents in general. In Golden and Silver Age comics, Bruce was raised by a relative, his uncle Philip Wayne; Alfred only raised him in modern comics.
      • Grant Morrison's run on Batman might provide some explanation on the grandparent front (at least for his mother's side), which is that A: The Kanes despised Thomas, and B: by the time Thomas and Martha died Mrs. Kane was already quite elderly, and Mr. Kane was paralyzed by a stroke.
      • Some other Waynes have appeared over the years including, believe it or not, Bruce's older brother. Where has he been all these years? In a coma, apparently. The ghost hero Deadman actually took over his body for a while. He doesn't seem to exist Post-Crisis, however. But possibly does in New 52 continuity. Also, Owlman, Batman's Evil Counterpart from a parallel universe, was Bruce's older brother rather than an alternate version of him.
      • Ironically enough his son, Damian (the page quote giver), might be the only comic book character ever to have an alive grandparent. Even that's just one of them. Obviously both of his paternal grandparents are dead but so is his maternal grandmother. His maternal grandpa aka Ra's al Ghul is still kicking it at 600 years young.
      • It's implied that the modern Batwoman Kate Kane may be a cousin, since Bruce's mother's maiden name was Kane. She is confirmed to be his cousin in New 52 continuity. Bruce has another cousin as well, Bette Kane whose father was Bruce's mother's brother (a different one from Kate's dad, who is Martha Wayne's little brother).
    • Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow. (Though he was always sort of Batman... WITH ARROWS! in his early days anyway.) Parents died in an animal attack on safari. Apparently raised by a business associate of his father.
    • Practically every Robin ever. Dick Grayson's parents (and sometimes a sibling or aunt and uncle depending on the version) fall to their death. The person that takes him in? A millionaire he'd never met before. This trope is recognized to such an extent in-universe that when someone did show up claiming to be one of Dick's relatives, everyone immediately disbelieved him outright.
      • A real uncle did turn up and successfully sue for custody fairly early in the comics' run—that is, in the forties. Of course, he was actually hoping to get Bruce to pay him a million dollars to get Dick back, and wound up trying to murder Batman and getting sent to jail. Unlike supervillains, he never appeared again, nor did his wife.
      • Robin does have an uncle in the comic based on Young Justice. The problem is that he's paralyzed due to the "accident" that killed Dick's parents, aunt, and cousin, and can't take care of him. Dick mentions in the same flashback that both of his grandfathers died before he was born. On The Adventures of Superman, Bruce is taking care of Robin on Robin's father's request. Moreover, it's revealed that Robin has an estranged grandfather.
      • For a time in the 60's and 70's, Dick had his Aunt Harriet Cooper. She was later used in the TV show.
      • Jason Todd's father died, and again Bruce Wayne takes in some random orphan he'd never met before. (Oh well, if Fate can get away with it...). At least Jason has the excuse of being a street kid.
      • When Tim Drake's father died... well, you can see the pattern here. Since the Drakes were apparently almost as well known a family as the Waynes, this adds an extra notch of "Huh?" to the whole thing. Tim even got away with making up an uncle and paying an actor to play the part right after his father's death in order to avoid being adopted by Bruce. Then the actor and Tim's step-mother were presumably killed when Bludhaven was destroyed and Bruce adopted him anyway.
    • The various Teen Titans teams are rife with this. In addition to the above mentioned Robins;
      • Roy Harper aka Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow, who was orphaned and raised on a reservation by his father's Native American friend Raymond Begay until Begay started dying of cancer and Green Arrow took him in.note 
      • Most of Wonder Girl Donna Troy's origins make her an abandoned orphan adopted by the Amazonian royal family. Who Is Donna Troy? revealed she had actually been kidnapped before Wonder Woman' rescued her and her original adoptive family was eventually tracked down.
      • Garth aka Aqualad/Tempest was abandoned due to a superstition about his eyes and raised by Atlantean King, Aquaman.
      • Gar Logan aka Beast Boy/Changeling was orphaned and eventually adopted by a billionaire. Notice a pattern?
    • Superman:
      • Although Superman's adopted parents the Kents were rebooted back to life after the Golden/Silver age, their parents are never really mentioned. This trope was (possibly unintentionally) lampshaded when, in Smallville, Clark responded to mention of Martha's father with a startled look and saying "My grandfather?" in a tone that clearly said, "I have one?!" This makes sense with versions of Superman that were adopted by already aging Kents.
      • Subverted in a Silver Age Superboy story (1959's Superboy #77), where a flashback to Clark's toddlerhood shows the Kents taking him to spend the day with Jonathan's very elderly parents, who're still alive (but deceased by the story's then-present).
      • In Superman: Birthright, Jonathan Kent's father is never seen, although he is mentioned once. Apparently, Martha didn't like her father-in-law at all.
      • Through the entire history of the character, Supergirl's maternal grandfather has barely been mentioned once in a 2009 issue.
      • Supergirl: Being Super. Kara's adoptive maternal grandparents only show up in one flashback scene. They stopped visiting their daughter's family because they were frightened of Kara's powers, and their son-in-law refused to throw her out.
    • Averted in Blue Beetle with the big family reunion in Blue Beetle #26.
  • Marvel Universe is pretty bad about this, too, though since it's a slightly less common origin there (slightly), it's not quite as glaring.
    • Spider-Man: Peter Parker's parents died in a plane crash, and he's raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, without much mention of any other family. (Though oddly, in the comic his aunt and uncle look more like his grandparents, the Fridge Logic of which has become more obvious to people in recent years.)
      • Peter's father was born when Ben was already an adult, so one can assume Peter's paternal grandparents would be too old. But no explanation for Peter's mother's side.
      • Some versions say that Aunt May and Mary Parker were sisters too, thus offering the same explanation. However, this is not true in all continuities. In standard continuity, May's maiden name was Reilly and Mary's was Fitzpatrick.
    • X-Men: Since many origin stories revolve around parents abandoning their mutant children, its assumed that the no one else in the kid's family would want a fish-boy/spiked/avalanche-making teenager. Averted (eventually), at least in one case. After Cyclops' parents are apparently killed (but actually kidnapped by aliens) he spends years convinced he's an orphan. Eventually it's revealed that his father's parents are still alive (so is his father, but he's busy being a Space Pirate), and they become a significant part of his life.
      Cyclops: I have grandparents?!?
      Corsair: Most everyone does.

  • An Arm and a Leg: It's noted that Elsa, Anna, and Rapunzel don't know their maternal grandparents. There's nothing on the records about them. Elsa and Anna's paternal grandparents died when they were both young.

    Film - Animation 
  • Averted in The Land Before Time. After Littlefoot's mother dies, his grandparents raise him once they're reunited. There is no mention of his paternal grandparents, or the grandparents of any of his friends. Littlefoot's father is eventually shown to be part of a migratory herd of Longnecks (Apatosaur/Brachiosaur), so it's not impossible that the rest of his father's family is also constantly on the move.
  • Disney Animated Canon films usually involve no grandparents. Often this is because the original stories had no grandparents either, though sometimes grandparent characters are Adapted Out; for example, The Little Mermaid had the little mermaid's grandmother as an important character, but she never appears in the Disney adaptation. Exceptions and variations include:
    • Semi-canon supplementary The Lion King materials introduced Mufasa and Scar's parents, Ahadi and Uru, but come the time of the film and neither are present. Prides seem to work more like human monarchies than realistic lion prides, so it's implied they're deceased. This extends to The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (and subsequently The Lion Guard) as Sarabi is mysteriously not present in the film, however this was due to her voice actress dying and the writers not wanting to kill her off, give her a new actress, or have her in a non-speaking cameo. Kiara's maternal grandmother Sarafina is also mysteriously absent from the film and series.
    • Averted in Mulan, where the title character's grandmother lives with the family.
    • Averted in Moana. Moana not only has both her parents alive and active in her life, but she has her paternal grandmother present too. The film averts the usual traditional of dying parents; however, Moana's grandmother does die.
    • Averted in Coco, in which the title character is the protagonist's still-living great-grandmother. His grandparents are also still around.
    • Averted in Encanto, as Abuela Madrigal is a primary character. Abuelo has been dead for years, however, having died when his children were just babies.

    Film - Live Action 
  • In the Daredevil movie, Matt Murdock's father dies, and he's immediately bundled off to an orphanage. There's no mention of his father's or mother's parents. (The comic doesn't have them either, but Matt is over eighteen at the time, so it's a less obvious omission.) It's implied in the Battlin' Jack Murdock mini that his mother's father didn't approve of her relationship with Jack Murdock, so she abandoned Matt and left to become a nun. Matt's maternal family may not even know he exists, and if they do, they may not care.

  • In A Brother's Price, grandparents are suspiciously absent. While men seem to die relatively early from diseases, no such explanation is given for the lack of grandmothers - women in general seem to live long enough to become senile. And then there are the Porters, who kill senile family members so that they don't blab secrets. This explains at least the absence of some grandparents. The fact that people marry relatively late in life (sororal polygyny, with the eldest sister being in her late twenties in some cases) could have something to do with it.
  • Harry Potter rarely mentions grandparents. Which is strange, since Wizards Live Longer.
    • The titular character was born when his parents were 21 and shortly afterwards was left with only one surviving family member in his Aunt Petunia. Apparently all four of his grandparents had died; Word of God was that James's parents specifically were quite old when they had him. Sirius mentions that he was taken in by James's parents when he ran away, and we get about a sentence mention of Lily's parents' reaction to Platform Nine and Three Quarters.
    • Neville Longbottom is a notable aversion, as he was raised by his paternal grandmother, Augusta. His parents are actually still alive, but they are in no condition to raise him.
    • Draco Malfoy is another aversion, as his maternal grandfather, Cygnus Black, lives until he is 12 years old, around the events of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In fact, Draco had a living great-grandfather until he was 10: Cygnus' father, Pollux, who died in 1990.
    • An exception is also Harry's godchild Teddy Lupin, who grows up with his maternal grandmother Andromeda because he is orphaned shortly after his birth. However, Andromeda is probably also the only grandparent left: his maternal grandfather and namesake, Ted Tonks, died several months before he was born, his paternal grandmother, Hope, died before Voldemort's first defeat, and his paternal grandfather, Lyall, is completely unaccounted for.
    • Averted with Tom Riddle, whose Muggle grandparents survived long enough for him to murder them both along with his father. Played straight with his maternal grandparents, as Marvolo Gaunt died before Tom sought out his wizarding family, and his maternal grandmother isn't mentioned at all.
    • Dumbledore got a Promotion to Parent over his two younger siblings when his mother died when he was seventeen, with no grandparents seemingly around to help out. However, he's mentioned to have had an aunt who never had any kids of her own in one of the tie-in books.
    • Still true a generation later, in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Characters a generation older than Harry (e.g. Lucius Malfoy, Arthur Weasley) are absent from the play. This can be chalked up to the cast limitations that come with theater, and Lucius is at least mentioned to have been around Scorpius when he grew up.
  • Ward of Hurog has no grandparents. This is explained on his father's side; castle Hurog seems to have a detrimental effect on the health of its inhabitants, and there was Klingon Promotion and Patricide involved. However, his mother's parents are unaccounted for. Could be because it's a medieval fantasy world, but could be to have the protagonist conveniently orphaned. (His mother is alive, but drug-addicted to the point that she doesn't live in the real world anymore). Of course, the political climate is not very healthy, either - there was a war in the not so distant past, which could explain why the people he meets don't have grandparents, either.
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Baudelaire orphans are raised by absurdly distant relatives (on the order of "fourth cousin three times removed") and later by people who aren't relatives at all, as if their grandparents or other relatively close relatives are simply not present. (Though in the book, Mr. Poe says that the children will be raised by whoever is most "convenient", and Count Olaf is simply the only "relative" of the children in the city, while in the movie, he explains that the children will stay with their "closest living relative", which he takes far more literally than probably intended, as Klaus starts to protest.) The movie gives this a Lampshade Hanging, in which Klaus observes that "none of our relatives are related to us".
    • As the series progresses it becomes apparent that all the guardians (or at least the first few) were part of VFD, and it's implied that the orphans' parents specifically intended for the children to stay with members of the group. Unfortunately, they didn't count on the schism.
  • Especially bad in Artemis Fowl, where fairies live for hundreds of years (usually over 1000) and Holly Short is stated in the first book to be somewhere in her eighties. So not only should her grandparents be alive, but her great-grandparents, her great-great-grandparents, and possibly her great-great-great-grandparents.
    • Of course, Holly states she lost her father when she is barely 60. It's not said why. Maybe he was hundreds of years old already at her birth, or died in an accident. Her mother died not long after she graduated from the academy from an occupational hazard.
    • We find out in the last book that the Fairies suffered a devastating magical disease recently in their history. That may explain why, although the natural lifespan of fairies is long, there are few very old ones named. Also, despite (or because of) their long lifespans fairies reproduce at a slower rate than humans do, so it's likely that there are only three or four living generations at a time anyway.
  • Enforced to some degree in The Giver. Since there are No Blood Ties, nobody knows who their biological grandparents (or parents, for that matter) are. As far as the families they were raised in, everyone's parents naturally had parents, but parenting and being a nuclear family are seen as a phase of life rather than a lifelong connection, so by the time that a person would become a parent themselves, their own parents would no longer be a part of their lives or be considered family. The Giver points out that such information (who anyone's parents' parents were) is public record and one could look it up if they were so inclined, but since their culture doesn't place any significance on these relationships, most people would never see a reason to do so.
  • To some extent, Star Wars averts this. Okay, there's a definite death toll, but the foster families of Luke and Leia have other members, and parts of their mother's family remain in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Padme's parents died long before their grandkids could meet them, but she had sisters who lived. Uncle Owen's father died, and he had an uncle who died as a child. Aunt Beru had at least two siblings, Dama and Haro. Leia had a large profile of aunts and an extended adoptive family, all of whom died on Alderaan. None of the survivors have particularly prominent roles in the Expanded Universe, but Haro was killed by Imperials and Dama once helped Han and Leia as they passed through her part of Tatooine.
  • Tash and Arranda of Galaxy of Fear were mentioned to have an extensive family network, but... they, too, were on Alderaan. One of their aunts had married the brother of an alien who was offworld at the time and took them in, but if this uncle had any other family is never explained.
  • Despite the large amounts of characters and the entire world set up in the Hunger Games only three grandparents are ever mentioned: Greasy Sae, President Snow and Mrs. Everdeen, who may not even be alive when her grandchildren are born. It can leave you wondering over things like why Katniss' grandparents didn't help them out after the death of her father (Are they dead too? Did they disown their daughter to the point of not caring if she and their granddaughters starve to death?) and if there's anybody left alive related by blood to Peeta at the end of the war. The prequel book heavily implies Deuteragonist Lucy Gray Baird’s cousin Maude Ivory is Katniss’s paternal grandmother but what became of her is unclear and she’s only nine at the time of the book. It’s also averted in that book with the future President Snow. He and his cousin Tigris are being raised by their slightly senile grandmother after their fathers died in the war and his mother died giving birth to his sister who also didn’t make it.
  • Played relatively straight in A Song of Ice and Fire, and justified insofar as it's a Crapsack World with a short life expectancy that is only shortened by the pervasiveness of armed conflict.
    • Notably, the Stark children not only lack living grandparents (their paternal grandfather died shortly before Robert's Rebellion, their maternal grandfather of natural causes during the War of Five Kings, and their maternal grandmother due to Death by Childbirth way before the series starts. Only their paternal grandmother is unaccounted for) but also aunts, uncles, and cousins more closely related than the centuries-distant Karstarks. This causes succession problems when things start to go to hell.
      • Although their father had three siblings, two of them died without (legal) children and the third joined a celibate order; while their paternal grandfather was an only child. They do have relatives descended from their great-grandfather's sisters, but none of them live in the North, and many Starks of that generation and the one before it were killed by the last King Beyond The Wall.
    • Averted by Joffrey Baratheon, whose maternal grandfather Tywin Lannister is a major character and outlives his grandson, but not by much.
      • Although Tywin's father died when his grandchildren were only a year old, and his father died when Tywin wasn't much older; so Tywin is something of an exception. Possibly because he's one of the few exceptions when it comes to older Lannisters and being fat.
    • The Targaryen dynasty was historically kept relatively small thanks to periodic succession crises that occasionally involved civil war or assassination and their habit of incestuous marriages. It's said that "too many dragons can be as troublesome as too few," so this may have been partially intentional as well. Currently there's only one confirmed member left, with no living parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.
      • Ironically, the second to last confirmed Targaryen was the last's 102 year old great-great-uncle; her great-grandfather's older brother. That said, the Baratheons are second cousins to the Targaryens, which is how they got the throne. Plus, at least in their case it is actually explained what happened; her older brother directly dies on screen, her parents, oldest brother, niece, and nephew were all killed in the war, her parents were the only children of her grandfather, who was sickly and died at 38, her grandmother lived a little longer but still died long before she was born, her great-aunt also died a long time ago but not before bearing Steffon Baratheon, neither of her great-uncles had any children, and it's implied that the fire that killed her great-grandfather and oldest great-uncle also killed all the more distant cousins.
      • In addition, the only Targaryen monarch who didn't live to see his grandchildren born was Aegon III, while Jaeherys I, Viserys II, and Aegon V all saw their great-grandchildren born (Although the latter two died when said children were infants). Admittedly; Aenys, Jaeherys II, and Aerys II all died when their grandchildren were very young.
    • Averted by the Freys: Lord Walder Frey has a veritable army of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even two great-great-granddaughters; along with bastards, grandbastards, and great-grandbastards. He's north of ninety and not looking likely to kick off any time soon.
    • Ramsay Bolton has no living grandparents, and his father Roose has no known granchildren.
    • Ditto the Greyjoys, who have only two living generations (Euron / Victarion / Aeron's and Theon / Asha's).
      • Although Quellon Greyjoy (Balon and co's father) died soon after Robert's Rebellion, when Theon was 5 and Asha 10.
    • Averted by the Tyrells: while Lord Mace's father is dead, his mother, Lady Olenna, is very much alive, poking fun at her son and grandchildren, pulling strings at court, tutoring her granddaughter Margaery and taking super good care of her family's interest and well-being, no matter what it takes.
  • Vampire Academy:
    • Played mostly straight. Though the Moroi are said to be long-lived by human standards, we generally do not see grandparents and grandchildren interacting. Trenton Dashkov lived to be 120-years-old but we never hear of him interacting with his granddaughter Natalie Dashkov. Frederick Dragomir is established to have died when his legitimate grandchildren Andre and Lissa were very young, and before the birth of his illegitimate granddaughter Jill Mastrano.
    • Subverted in the case of dhampir Yeva Belikova. She helped raise her grandchildren Karolina, Dimitri, Sonja and Viktoria. She is still alive and helping her daughter raise Olena raise her own grandchildren.
    • Subverted also in the case of Olena Belikova who helps raise her grandchildren.
  • Somewhat poignantly averted in The Dresden Files — the protagonist may have become an orphan at entirely too young an age, but eventually discovers that he does have a genuinely tough grandfather.
    • Sadly, said Grandpa had been alienated from his daughter well before Harry was born, so didn't meet him until much later.
    • Played straight with the paternal side of Harry's family, which evidently consisted solely of Malcolm.

    Live Action TV 
  • Supernatural has left the boys with no family whatsoever. It's been revealed that, somehow, all of their mother's family and friends were killed. Time Travel lets the boys' mother's parents show up, and we learn about their personalities and lives. However, we also get to see them die.
    • The sixth season reveals that some of their more distant relatives are still alive and their maternal grandfather has been resurrected. What happened to John's side of the family is less clear. (Perhaps the whole Hunter lifestyle made John lose touch with them even more completely than you'd expect? Perhaps Azazel saw to it that they died?)
      • In the eighth season, we get to meet John's father, actually, who was sent to the future when John was still a child and therefore John lived and died believing his father had bailed on him.
  • Averted in Stargate SG-1 by Col. Cameron Mitchell. He was raised (in part if not in whole) by his Bible-thumping grandmother, whom he often quotes.
    • There's also Daniel's "insane" (his words) maternal grandfather Nicholas Ballard in the episode "Crystal Skull". He still didn't help raise Daniel after his parents were killed, though, being too busy with archaeology (something which Daniel always resented).
  • On The Vampire Diaries, despite the fact that Elena's parents are all dead and Matt has been abandoned by his mother, we never see (or hear any mention of) their grandparents. The only grandparent that has been shown is Bonnie's grandmother, who dies.
    • Averted in "the spinoff" where we see three generations of Mikaelsons fighting it out. Technically four, depending on where you place Davina Claire on the family tree. Marcel is her father figure but she marries Kol. So she could be either Klaus's adoptive granddaughter or his sister-in-law. Didn't stop them from trying to kill each other.
  • Massively averted in Charmed, where we start with the Charmed Ones' grandmother dying and end up with them teaching their own grandkids magic.
  • On Glee when Quinn's parents disown her she is left homeless with no mention of why her grandparents are not an option. She lives with her boyfriend, then the father of her baby, and then just a new friend from school rather than any family members. Also in season 2 when Kurt's father is unconscious and in the hospital, only Kurt's teachers seem to be able to provide the role of surrogate guardian. His mother died but what about 1 of her parents or 1 of Burt's parents remaining alive and interested in either the well-being of Burt himself or Kurt? It seems particularly odd that these kids live in a world of no grandparents. The only two grandparents ever mentioned on the show are Santana's abuela and Puck's nana. We don't know whether these women are Santana's & Puck's maternal or paternal grandmothersnote  nor if each of the kids' other 3 grandparents are alive or not.
  • Chuck is another good example of this. Ellie & Chuck are both abandoned by their parents at too young of an age, and grandparents (or aunts or uncles) are never brought up even in passing.
  • Gossip Girl: CeCe (Lily's mother) is the single grandparent on the show, grandparent to both Eric and Serena... but some kids who might need a grandmother more might be Nate who was truly homeless and abandoned by his parents in season 2, or Chuck who was officially orphaned, also in season 2. They act like these boys have no other family members who might possibly be alive, and the idea of grandparents is ignored for the sake of, presumably, better drama - it is more dramatic to truly be alone in the world.
  • Played completely straight in Revenge where Amanda Clarke is institutionalized and placed in an abusive foster home after the presumed death of her mother and incarceration of her father. There is no mention ever made of any surviving relatives who could have raised her and the reasons for their absence are never revealed. The same conveniently applies for Amanda's cellmate Emily Thorne, allowing them to exchange identities and impersonate each other without being recognized.
  • Veronica Mars: Not once are grandparents brought up on this show. In especially Logan's case, a grandparent as a guardian might have been helpful especially starting in season 2. But it'd be interesting if Veronica maybe had some grandparents too, etc. Many characters this might have been applicable to.
  • Bones:
    • Averted since Booth was successfully raised by his grandfather in the absence of his parents.
    • Zig-zagged due to inconsistency in Brennan's case. At one point, it was said that her grandfather got her out of the foster system after her parents changed their names and disappeared, while at another point she claimed to have never met her grandparents.
  • Zig-zagged in Downton Abbey. The Crowley daughters have both their maternal and paternal grandmothers and, while their paternal grandmother is a strong presence in their lives due to popping in and out frequently, they still see their maternal grandmother every so often. On the other hand, both of their grandfathers are dead. Also zig-zagged with Mary and Sybil's children. George has both his grandmothers and his maternal grandfather, but his paternal grandfather is dead. We don't know if Tom's parents are still alive, but if they are, they'd still be in Ireland and not likely to show up any time soon.
  • Zig-zagged in Call the Midwife. While the mothers-to-be don't always have their own mothers with them (which often makes sense given that most of the women either moved away from their families or are otherwise in living conditions that aren't kind to the elderly), several episodes do emphasize the importance of a pregnant woman having her mother's presence to guide her through childbirth. One episode has a Jewish woman's mother living with her and her husband and another has a woman whose abusive husband keeps her and their children from seeing her mother. (when the woman and her husband are jailed for child neglect, their children are put in the care of their grandmother.) A later season also makes much of Chummy's mother visiting to see her grandchild, showing the differences between Chummy's upper-class mother and Chummy herself in how they think a child should be raised.
  • Nobody's grandparents are even mentioned in El corazón nunca se equivoca.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: While there are plenty of youth in the show, the only grandfather that exists is King Durin the III, to his grandchildren: Gimli and Gelda.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible, Book of Exodus: After wandering the desert for 40 years, only two people over the age of 20 when those 40 years started made it to The Promised Land—Joshua, son of Nun and Caleb, son of Jephunneh. Not even Moses was allowed to enter (though he was allowed to see it). This was intentional by God, thanks to all that kvetching the older generations did.
    • In some interpretations God's punishment only extended to the men, so that grandmothers would have been around. Some Jewish legends imply that Moses' own mother Jochebed, or even Asher's daughter Serach entered the Land.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Completely averted with halflings in Dungeons & Dragons, who are mentioned to, when meeting another of their species, trace their respective family trees back as far as they can remember, hoping to see if they're related. Taken almost to the point of parody by kender in the Dragonlance setting. The setting's resident halflings, a common kender greeting ritual when meeting one another is to walk back their own ancestry back to Uncle Trapspringer, a kender mythical figure. Thus, by kender logic, all kender are extremely distantly related and thus treat one another like long-lost brothers. This is most likely based on Hobbits from The Lord of the Rings who put huge emphasis on family and will often refer to each other by how they are related. Most famously, Bilbo and Frodo's are first and second cousin, once removed either way.

    Video Games 
  • This is why there's a case of Nephewism in the Another Code games. Sayoko's parents are implied to still be living in Japan, making it implausible for them to raise Ashley, while Richard's parents are mentioned as having died in a plane crash in his journal entries in the first game.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Apparently Trucy Wright-nee-Gramarye has no known relatives on either side of her family, which allows her to be taken in by a disbarred bachelor.
    • The same appears to be true for Miles Edgeworth, which allows him to be taken in by an Amoral Attorney from Germany.
    • On the other hand, there's Kay Faraday who goes to live with her mother's family after her father is killed.
  • Final Fantasy X. All but one of the main party members is an orphan (Rikku is the only one with a parent still alive, and she's still missing a mother) and none of them mention any grandparents. A Justified Trope with Sin kicking around.
  • Happens for the most part in The Sims series.
    • In the first game, other than Cassandra Goth, none of the premade Sims have grandparents. (Technically nobody has any family, since this instalment doesn't have family relations, but hers are the only grandparents in lore.)
    • The second through fourth games have very few Sims with living grandparents. A handful of exceptions are found in Veronaville in The Sims 2, where the Capp and Monty grandparents are still alive (and in fact have outlived several of their children); and Herb and Coral Oldie, who are the living maternal grandparents of Angela and Lilith Pleasant, but this really just goes to show how vanishingly rare it still is.
  • In the Persona games, the only grandparents of the main cast known to still be alive are Rise's grandmother and Naoto's paternal grandfather; while the only one known to be dead is Mitsuru's paternal grandfather. However, Akihiko, Shinjiro, Ken, Yusuke, Makoto, and Futaba can all be assumed to have no living grandparents based on their living arrangements (The first two grew up in an orphanage and were supported by the school via the Kirijo family once they developed their Personas, Ken also lives at the school full time after the death of his mother but is supported by a distant cousin, Yusuke and Futaba were raised by friends of their mothers, and Makoto by her older sister); while Yukiko (Since her mother runs the family business with no mention of her own parents) and the Persona 4 protagonist's (Since his cousin Nanako has basically had to live alone since the death of her mother) maternal grandparents are probably deceased as well.
  • Just as fathers are basically never seen, grandparents in Pokémon games are no shows and no mentions. The only characters with grandparents visible tend to be tied to the Professor or Science classes: Gary and Sonia have grandparents as their regions professors, while Lusamine's father (and thus the grandfather of Lillie and Gladion) is mentioned but is never seen.
  • Grandparents are virtually never seen in the Dragon Age franchise. They are occasionally mentioned - Hawke's grandparents having disowned their daughter (Hawke's mother) is a minor plot point in Dragon Age II, and Hawke's companion Sebastian can speak fondly of his own late grandfather; in Dragon Age: Inquisition, party banter indicates that Cassandra has a locket which belonged to her grandmother. Justified by the Crapsack World setting of the games, since growing old is something of a luxury.

    Web Animation 
  • In Autodale as seen in “Model Citizen,” as soon as the children grow up the parents are deemed “ugly” and killed.
  • No grandparents are depicted in RWBY. The only referenced grandparent is Weiss' deceased maternal grandfather.

    Web Comics 
  • Justified in Tales of the Questor. In spite of the fact that Word of God (and extra material published in the archival CDs) indicate that Racconans have an average lifespan of 250 years, we never see Quentyn's grandparents, great grandparents, etc. However, it has been revealed that a rather lethal plague had swept through Antillia about 100 years earlier, killing off many of the very young and very old, as well as savagely pruning the otherwise large family trees one would expect from such a long-lived species.

    Western Animation 
  • Darkwing Duck: Gosalyn's grandfather was murdered shortly after her parents died, getting her sent to an orphanage until the Diabolical Mastermind who ordered the hit on said grandfather came looking for her. Hence how she ended up adopted by The Hero.
  • All the parents of the cast of Danny Phantom are present and accounted for, but only one grandparent has ever shown in the series: Sam's grandma. Danny did mention his "Grandpa Fenton" in one episode.
  • Zig-zagged in the Avatar franchise. In the original show, Sokka and Katara’s paternal grandmother is raising them, but the rest of their grandparents are unaccounted for. Since their grandmother gets remarried, their grandfather presumably passed away sometime before the show started. Zuko and Azula’s grandparents aren’t around, but that’s partially because their dad had his dad killed. Their mom wasn’t allowed to talk to her family after she got married, and when she gets to go back home, she finds out they‘ve passed away. Their paternal grandmother just gets mentioned in passing. Toph’s grandparents also go unmentioned. Aang comes from a society with No Blood Ties so it’s not like he ever knew his anyway. In the second show, Korra’s grandparents aren’t around. Her paternal grandfather gets briefly mentioned. Her friends also zig-zag this. Mako and Bolin don’t get to meet their dad’s extended family until the third season but they do have one living grandparent, Grandma Yin. Their grandfather has already passed away but they never meet their mom’s family. Asami’s parents are/were seemingly her only family. Most of the original show’s characters get live to see their grandkids. Aang is the only one who doesn’t. Katara and Aang have four grandkids and she’s close to them. We don’t ever see them interact but Zuko was around for his grandkids’ childhood and is close to them as adults. note . Toph has five and lived with them when they were kids. Toph’s parents were also around until at least her older daughter Lin’s early twenties as she sends her younger daughter, Suyin, to live with them when she gets in trouble.
  • In the DCAU Batman: The Animated Series, the circus people offer to take Dick in; Gordon comments on the boy not having any (blood) family. But since Dick saw the guy who sabotaged the trapeze and caused his parents' deaths, Dick is a material witness. The combined needing him available (they didn't know it would take ten years to catch the guy) and the need to protect him explains why Bruce obtained physical (and apparently legal) custody of the boy.
  • Barring a few exceptions, no one ever makes mention of any sort of extended family in The Owl House, though given how dangerous the Boiling Isles can be, it's possible that they just aren't around anymore.
    • The only character outright shown to have living grandparents is King, with both of their maternal grandparents showing up onscreen.
    • A single line of dialogue makes mention of one of Luz's great-grandmothers still being alive, though we never see her.
    • During the opening scene of "Wing it Like Witches", two elderly women are shown with a little boy who might be their grandson in the background. While the two women are confirmed later in the series to be a couple, their relationship to the boy is never stated.
  • On Static Shock, Static and Gear are both of an age where'd you'd expect their grandparents to still be around. But even in the episode where Static teams up with Soul Power while working at a senior citizen home, we never see them.
  • The Zeta Project: When Ro finally met her brother, he mentioned about having briefly lived with grandparents. When she asked what became of them, he made a solemn face and told her they were old. The sad meaning of the statement was not lost.

    Real Life 
  • Justified and very, very common for the children of Holocaust survivors, and definitely in effect if they grew up in survivor communities.
  • Can be the case in many refugee and immigrant communities, if elders did not travel along with their family members.