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Parental Abandonment / Comic Books
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  • Age of Bronze: When Helen leaves with Paris, she takes her infant son with her, but leaves her nine-year-old daughter behind. She claims it is to secure Menelaus' claim-by-marriage to the throne; but it does not explain why she does not leave her son instead of her daughter, or leave them both.
  • This is implied by Word of God as to why Agnes lives with her Gran'ma, as her parents aren't mentioned and that he says, "Granma had unselfishly stepped up to the plate".
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  • Though they're adults in the series, most of John Byrne's team Alpha Flight have parental abandonment issues. In particular, the twins Northstar and Aurora are orphans, and didn't even know each other until adulthood.
  • Batman:
    • One doesn't necessarily think of Batman as having Parental Abandonment issues, mostly because he's not a teen hero and, unlike Spider-Man, never was. But one must remember that his parents being killed right in front of him when he was a child is the reason he spent most of his teen years taking about 20 levels in badass to become the Dark Knight.
    • Tim Drake (Robin III), who prior to becoming Robin had essentially no supervision outside of school as his parents were always traveling, then his mother was murdered, and he became a full-fledged orphan in the Identity Crisis mini. Made all the more poignant in that he and Batman hear the whole thing over the phone while in the Batmobile, interspersed with the son of his father's murderer, Captain Boomerang listening to, in effect, a suicide message from Captain Boomerang. The whole sequence ends with a very heart-wrenching two-page splash of Batman cradling Robin in his arms over his father's body.
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    • Dick Grayson (Robin I) and Jason Todd (Pre-Crisis) were both orphans from their origin stories onwards.
    • Other examples in Batman are Jason Todd (Post-Crisis; Robin II), whose long-lost mother betrayed him to the Joker and was killed in the same explosion that killed him, Cassandra Cain (Batgirl III), whose abandonment by her mother was part of the bargain between her parents to turn Cassandra into the perfect killing machine, and arguably Stephanie Brown (Spoiler), whose villain father was in jail for most of her childhood and who threatened to kill her should she act against his plans, and her mother was drugged up for most of her childhood. Oh, and Kate Kane (Batwoman), whose mother was murdered when she was a kid.
    • Damian Wayne hadn't met his father until recently. That changed when Batman "died".note  And since he chose his father and Dick Grayson's ideals over his mother's, Talia abandoned him also.
      • Bette Kane might qualify as well. Her parents have only been mentioned once in the 50 plus years she's existed. When she was hospitalized after being gutted, the hospital staff though her uncle Jake was her father. Her mother was mentioned once but it was about organ transplants right when they all though Bette was going to die.
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  • The original Black Canary, Dinah Drake, died of cancer received due to radiation exposure from a battle that also killed her husband Larry. Dinah Drake is the mother of Dinah Lance, the post-Crisis Black Canary.
  • Blue Beetle:
    • Completely averted with Jaime Reyes, whose parents are both not only alive but are very involved with his life as both a teenager and superhero. Plus, they're made of 100% pure awesome.
    • Played straight with his friend Brenda, whose mother died of an illness and whose father was murdered by her aunt after he beat Brenda badly enough to put her in a coma.
  • In Brat Pack, the adult superheroes invoke this by secretly killing their Kid Sidekicks parents. This allows the sidekicks to rely completely on them for support.
  • The Destine family in ClanDestine. The two youngest kids are raised by an older brother and sister (who pass as their uncle and grandmother; it's complicated). Their father spends their first decade of life in space in a state of Heroic BSoD; their mother has been off in a sort of Alternate Dimension, and it's hinted that she can't leave it, period. At any rate, older siblings raising younger ones seems to be the usual pattern for the Destines, rather than an emergency measure- one of the adult siblings mentions that he was also raised by an older brother, despite the fact that their father at least would have been on the planet at the time.
  • The title character in the newspaper strip Dondi was an Italian WW2 orphan adopted by an American GI, although this was de-emphasized after the strip's first few years.
  • Disney comics has this in tons. Every child of any importance seems to be living with their aunt or uncle. Huey, Dewey and Louie, in particular, whose parents have scarcely been mentioned since Donald's sister dropped them off at his house and drove off with only a note that their father was in the hospital, after the boys put a firecracker under his chair, and asking Donald to take care of them for a bit. That was in 1937. Daisy also has three nieces, Mickey Mouse has two nephews and Goofy has one. DuckTales gives us Webby, who lives with her grandmother. In each case, their parents go practically unmentioned, despite Goofy otherwise having a large extended family.
  • ElfQuest.
    • Skywise. In a backstory episode it is revealed that two teenage humans who only wanted to prove their manhood by playing a prank on the "demon" elves accidentally started a chain of tragic events that led to his parents' deaths, but not before his mother had set the newborn Skywise adrift on a river. He was found on the riverbank by the other elves and raised by the entire tribe.
    • Cutter loses his parents as a young teenager. His mother is killed (along with several other elves) by the monster Madcoil, and his father dies trying to take revenge. Cutter then organizes the rest of the tribe to avenge all of the deaths by killing the monster.
  • The Falcon and his siblings lost his preacher father, killed trying to break up a fight, when he was a teen. Two years later, his mother was shot and killed by a mugger.
  • Green Arrow's sidekick, Roy Harper/Speedy, was adopted by the Navajo after his forest ranger father died in a fire. He was then raised by a Navajo medicine man until he died as well. Then he was adopted by Ollie, who was so inattentive he needed Hal Jordan to attract his attention to Roy's drug problem, and reacted by throwing him out of the house. (You might notice everyone in this story is male; much later, Roy would claim "I don't have a mother. I don't even have a story about having a mother.")
  • Dr. Jack Hack of Hack/Slash left his wife and child due to a combination of gambling debt and being on the run from government agents because He Knows Too Much. His wife, Delilah, turned out be a cannibalistic Serial Killer who killed herself upon being discovered by the police, rose from the dead, and had to be re-killed by her own daughter. All this happened before said daughter, Cassandra, turned 16. No wonder Cassie is so screwed up.
  • Iggy in Heathcliff: He lives with his grandparents and his actual parents are never mentioned.
  • This is something of a pattern for the Incredible Hulk.
    • Bruce Banner's parents were both dead by the time of his accident with the gamma bomb.
      • For context, his parents were dead because his father killed his mother when he was a child, and he killed his father in "self defense".
    • His sidekick, Rick Jones, was also an orphan.
    • As for the Hulk's sons, Skaar and Hiro-Kala, their mother died in an explosion, and their father, unaware that they had survived their mother's death, headed back to Earth to seek revenge on those he blamed. Neither of them is entirely happy with their father.
    • His daughter was also raised without him because her mother (Thundra) took his DNA to the future to impregnate herself with it. She wasn't around for a good bit of Lyra's adolescent years herself. Banner also has another potential daughter running around, but they haven't officially confirmed the relationship yet.
  • Kick-Ass:
    • Dave Lizewski's mother died of aneurysm some time before the start of the story. His father is later killed by Red Mist's goons after claiming to be Kick-Ass in order to prevent Dave from going to prison
    • Subverted with Battle Guy in Volume Two - his origin story is that his parents were killed on the way home from the opera, and the criminal then forced him to watch as he cooked and ate his parents, then spent all the father's money on pay-per-view porn. However, Dave recognizes the voice of his friend, Marty Eisenberg, whose parents are alive and well; turns out he just thought superheroism would be fun, but (mistakenly) believed Justice Forever wouldn't accept him unless he had a cool background.
  • Little Orphan Annie:
    • She soon had a very strong father figure in Daddy Warbucks, but the earliest stories had her on her own in the world, and she never really has a mother figure.
    • In Annie, the stage musical adaptation and the film musical, she has Warbucks' secretary Grace acting as a mother figure.
  • Somewhat deconstructed in Locke & Key. The kids are largely free to roam the house, as their father is dead and their mother essentially ignores them. However, this is mostly justified as she is deeply traumatized by her husband's death, as well being raped at the same time, and is drinking a lot. And there's the fact that she literally can't see magic happening. Toward the end of the story, she is starting to pull herself together.
  • In The Order, Mulholland Black's grunge-rocker parents overdosed on drugs when she was only a little girl, causing her to become a ward of the state and spend most of her childhood passing through a number of foster homes.
  • Wellington in the British newspaper strip The Perishers is an orphan who lives with his dog Boot, originally in a large concrete pipe and later in a small abandoned railway station.
  • Rick and Morty (Oni): There is a gang of Mortys whose Ricks had so much fun at Rickworld that they forgot they left them at Mortyland.
  • Runaways:
    • Look at the title! Their parents aren't curiously absent so much as a group of supervillains out to help evil supernatural beings destroy the world. How's that for family issues?
    • The first 18-issue run ends with all the aforementioned supervillain parents dying. Later recruits include Victor (mother dies in his intro arc and his dad is Ultron), Xavin (both parents abusive war criminals, now dead) and Klara (a Fish out of Temporal Water whose parents sold her into marriage).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog'':
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
      • Name a character. Chances are that they went parentless or are missing a parent or two. Of the main Freedom Fighters, only Antoine and Bunnie are parentless after the initial war with Robotnik. The Chaotix aren't so fortunate - nothing is mentioned of Vector's family or Espio's father, Mighty and Ray's parents are MIA, Julie-Su's parents were killed by her stepsiblings, Charmy's presumably died when Eggman attacked Mobius after Sonic's disappearnce and Knuckles' parents got divorced with his father performing a Heroic Sacrifice to save him.
      • The Continuity Reboot universe reset the parental listings for the characters with the Sega-based characters never being mentioned outside of Cream and her mother Vanilla and Sally, Rotor and Antoine having just fathers (though Rotor would rather not deal with his Especially since he's an Egg Boss working with Eggman).
    • As with the games, there's a noticeable lack of parents in Sonic the Comic. Tails is the youngest (at least under fourteen by the final arc), but his parents are never mentioned, even in flashbacks or when he went to his home Zone. Knuckles is the only one with an explanation: his are dead because he is Really 700 Years Old.
  • In Spider-Man, young Peter Parker lives with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben because his parents were killed when he was a child, with most versions (including the main 616 continuity) having this happen before he was old enough to remember them. His parents' death usually has little to do with his origin story, with the The Amazing Spider-Man Series being the only major attempt to give them any plot importance. His adoptive Uncle Ben is shot by a burglar in the first issue too.
  • Superman's clone, Superboy (Connor Kent), is close to one of his fathers, but the other rarely if ever has anything to do with him, other than occasionally trying to use him as a weapon against the father Connor is close to.
  • Supergirl:
    • The titular heroine always goes through this: She loses her parents when they send her to Earth to save her from Krypton/Kandor/Argo City's destruction. In the Post-Crisis universe, Kara finds out that they are still alive after all... and they get murdered soon after. So she lost them twice. In the Post-Flashpoint continuity, she believes her father has passed away, then she meets him again... and he gets murdered.
    • In Supergirl (1982) super-villain Blackstarr was taken away from her parents when she was a child and grew to hate them because she believes they wanted to get rid of her.
  • Superman:
    • Clark has had it both ways. His origin has always involved the destruction of his homeworld, and his birth parents along with it. The fate of his foster parents is a bit of a Yo Yo Plot Point - in most takes, they at least get to see him grow up.
    • In The Golden Age of Comic Books and The Silver Age of Comic Books, both Ma and Pa Kent died before he moved to Metropolis — Bronze Age canon expressly stated that the death of his foster parents was the trigger that caused Superboy to adopt the name Superman instead.
    • Silver and Bronze Age Superboy stories made much of the tragedy of Krypton, to the point where Superboy always referred to the Kents as his "foster parents".
    • In Krypton No More, Superman is having a breakdown, and his cousin tells him that he feels alone because he is an orphan and he feels at some subconscious level that his birth parents abandoned him.
    • A major element of the Post-Crisis Retcon was that Ma and Pa Kent were still alive and well; Jonathan has since died, but Martha is still alive and well.
    • After the Flashpoint event, Pa and Ma are both dead.
    • And post-Rebirth, they're both alive again.
    • A major inspiration for the Smallville series was an avid Superman fan describing to the producers that Superman is unique to comics because his parents being there for him when he was a young child growing up with the powers of a god made him the man he is today. The early seasons of Smallville averted this trope many times and have been argued to be more about Jonathan and Martha raising the world's greatest hero than Clark himself.
  • Torr and Tarra from Swordquest, whose parents (and foster parents) are long dead at the start of the story.
  • For Wild Children like Tarzan to be raised by animals (or gods or spirits or whatever), their parents have to be missing or deceased. This also happens to Nävis (in the French Comic Book Sillage, a.k.a. Wake) — the only survivor of a spaceship crash, raised by a robot and a tiger; and also to the eponymous Pyrénée from another French comic, raised by a bear after her mother dies in an earthquake; and to numerous other characters. The Other Wiki has a list, but it's probably far from comprehensive.
  • DC's Teen Titans are prone to this as well — at one point in the '80s, they had exactly one member with biological parents who weren't dead, evil, or on another planet/dimension (possibly in an effort to keep up, in the first couple years of his own book his father turned out to be evil and then committed a Heroic Sacrifice, although it was reversed a few years later.) Changeling went through four different parental figures (not counting the ones who were evil) and eventually wound up with a stepfather who spent a significant amount of time going missing and/or insane. And he was still one of the most attentive parents in the book.
  • Tintin is especially impressive, because with the exception of the Thom(p)son brothers (who are only pretending to be twins, being unrelated lookalikes), and one fleeting reference to Captain Haddock's mother, it would appear that no one in the series has any relatives whatsoever. Whenever Tintin runs into kids, they are orphans. And no one, but no one, falls in love or gets married or is portrayed as being married. Pure True Companions.
    • Averted in a few cases with supporting characters: The Maharaja of Gajpajama and his son appear in The Cigars of the Pharaoh and The Blue Lotus; in the latter story, Mr. Wang heads a happy family with his wife and son Didi, and later adopts orphaned Chang, and the gypsy girl in The Castafiore Emerald has family too (this story also shows Calculus being shyly enamoured with Bianca Castafiore). However, the other examples are not so sympathetic: bratty Abdallah is spoiled rotten by his doting father, General Alcazar is paired with a harridan of a wife in Tintin and the Picaros, and then there is the horrible petit-bourgeois, "Belgican" Wagg clan...
  • W.I.T.C.H. examples:
    • Will started out this way: her parents separated about a year before the series because her dad was a compulsive gambler who had even bet away her mom's family house, and hen he did come back it was only to squeeze more money out of her mom to pay for some debt, using the fact he hadn't signed the divorce papers and formally renounced to Will's custody. Thankfully for her, the cartoon makes him extremely less of a Jerkass, and years later she got a good stepfather in the form of her teacher.
    • Irma's mother was revealed to be her stepmother during a fight between them (genuinely surprising the readers, as they have a very good relationship and look almost identical to each other), and nothing is said about her mom. The cartoon doesn't mention this, though.
    • Taranee was adopted, something that surprised everyone (including her) when it was revealed, with her stepmom revealing that her birth parents had to give her up for adoption as a toddler when their home burned down due to being hit by a magical meteor that saved her from being strangled by evil magical plants. Her stepmother kept track of her birth parent in case she decided to meet them, but she decided that her stepfamily is her real family. This isn't mentioned in the cartoon, as it never got around adapting the story arc where this was revealed.
  • Wonder Woman was initially a dedicated (if partial) aversion — while Paradise Island deliberately lacked men, maternal love was a very strong theme, and Diana was implicitly raised by hundreds of Amazons in addition to her mother-sculptor Hippolyta. Over the years, however, many writers have decided this meant her mythos lacked proper angst and took various steps to downplay the other Amazons if not remove them entirely:
    • In the '70s and again in the '90s, writers stuffed the island into a Pocket Dimension for nebulous magical reasons (though in the latter case, it was initially sold as the island being Killed Off for Real by Circe).
    • Other takes use the somewhat-softer route of Diana simply being barred from the island for one reason or another. In the Justice League cartoon she was outright exiled, while the 2017 film and the DC Rebirth have it as a security spell that nobody who leaves can ever find the island again.
    • Oddly enough, Hippolyta herself has only outright died once - in the early 2000s as fodder for the Our Worlds At War Crisis Crossover. She got better about five years later, when Infinite Crisis came a-knocking.
    • The crowning moment was almost certainly The New 52, which turned the whole island into a Crapsack World of misandrist, barbaric slavers that Diana couldn't wait to get away from.
  • In the X-Men titles, the teenaged mutants of Xavier's School are a mix of orphans, those with families hundreds or thousands of miles away, kids actively rejected by their parents, those on the run from parents who wish them harm, and other similar abandonment issues (for example, Kitty Pryde's parents went into the witness protection program (her father has since been killed). And Rogue's mother, it turns out, ascended to a higher plane of existence.)
    • Applies to the adult members, too. Classic examples include: school founder Professor Xavier (father, mother, and stepfather all died before he was out of his teens), Cyclops (parents threw him and his little brother out of a burning plane with the only parachute as young children), Wolverine was rejected by his mother when he unintentionally killed his biological father Thomas Logan and Storm (grew up a Street Urchin after a plane crashed atop her family home, killing her parents and burying her alive). Gambit also was apparently abandoned by his parents due his red eyes before being adopted by Thieves’s Guild.
    • In most continuities Xavier himself is a less than stellar father. It's especially blatant in Ultimate X-Men. He abandoned his family to work for mutant rights with Magneto, and barely gave his son a second thought. When Magneto (not a great father himself) called him out on this, Xavier justified it by claiming that he and his son had nothing in common so the boy wouldn't miss him. Xavier really believed that his son wouldn't suffer abandonment issues just because they didn't have common interests.
      • In most continuities, though it varies widely with the writer, Xavier is a very shady character in general. A very slight change in the angle through which you view him can make him look very much like a villain, using vulnerable and damaged teens and young adults as pawns in his own obsessions and contributing to the very problem he claims to be trying to solve. He's a very ambiguous character.
      • Magda fled from the man who would become Magneto and disappeared (she is usually believed to be dead), it was only many decades later that Magneto learned that she had been pregnant with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Until that was Retconned
      • Gabrielle Haller did not tell Charles Xavier that he had impregnated her and for decades he believed that her son Legion had been fathered by a mutual friend. Similarly, it is indicated that Nereel's son Peter was fathered in the Savage Land by Colossus, only she never confronted him with that.
      • Nightcrawler's and his half-brother Graydon Creed's abandonment by Mystique may be among the worst examples from the series, especially in poor Kurt’s case since Mystique literally abandoned him off a freaking waterfall. A later retelling has Mystique simply fall over and Nightcrawler get swept away by a stream, probably in a desperate attempt from the writers to make Mystique less of a monster.

Alternative Title(s): Comics


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