2666: Lola Amalfitano ditches her daughter and husband and travels with her best friend in search of a poet with whom she once had sex.
Sunny's mentor Sugar Cream in Akata Witch was found in the woods when she was three or so. She was found and raised by a seventeen-year-old.
Animorphs features Tobias, who from the get-go is described as the abandoned child. His mother ran away and he never knew his father, though we do later find out that his father is actually Elfangor. Other than that, Marco also lacks a mother figure, as she apparently died a few years ago (though it turns out that she is Visser One's host). Jake also loses his parents when they become Controllers near the end of the series. On the flip side, some of the other members of the Animorphs force their parents to abandon them (similar to Hermione in Harry Potter above) to protect them from the Yeerks.
Tobias's foster parents, supposedly his aunt and uncle, also emotionally abandon him to the extent that he figures they won't bother to look for him when he loses his humanity.
Jeremy Griswold's book Audacious Kids: Coming of Age in America's Classic Children's Books (published in softcover as The Classic American Children's Story: Novels of the Golden Age) explores how a large fraction of child-heroes in classic novels of the 19th and early 20th centuries are orphans, half-orphans, displaced from their homes, or have parental issues.
Beastly: Kyle's father never paid much attention to him even before the curse, and Linda's father is a drug user who gives her up to what he believes is imprisonment in a beast's dungeon. Both of their mothers also died when they were young This is one of the things they bond over, really.
Elin lost her father, Asson, when she was very young. At only ten, she loses her mother, Sohyon, to the Judgment of the Toda, a capital punishment reserved for informers and traitors of the Aluhan.
Seimiya lost her parents to a traffic accident, leaving her in the care of her maternal grandmother, Halumiya.
Enid Blyton's characters have absurdly neglectful parents by modern standards, in particular the Famous Five who are supervised largely by their Uncle and Aunt... who allow them to spend most of their time unsupervised on a distant island.
The Dunbar brothers from The Bridge of Clay. Their mother dies and their father abandons them, so they have to manage on their own, even though the oldest Matthew is barely 18.
Farideh and her twin sister Havilar of Brimstone Angels were abandoned as infants outside the gates of a remote village. Exactly what happened there remains unclear, though it's later revealed that the twins are direct descendants of the infamous warlock Bryseis Kakistos (the eponymous Brimstone Angel) and its implied their parents weren't exactly model citizens either which is confirmed when Farideh eventually meets her biological mother. Fortunately for them, they were Happily Adopted by Mehen and consider him their father regardless of biological relation.
Her parents were completely and utterly disinterested in her. This neglect leads to a moment where she's abandoned at an amusement park carousel; her parents refuse to be on the same side of the carousel while she rides it and both leave to chase a new affair, each assuming the other is watching Inara. She finds herself completely alone in a busy park and neither of her parents will answer the phone—she only makes it home that night because her neighbor was willing to drive four hours to pick her up...because he's a pedophile expecting favors. When they eventually divorce they're able to immediately decide on how to split up their possessions, only to spend months arguing over who gets stuck with the kid.
Inara's taken in by her grandmother who also doesn't give a damn about her. She raises herself while her grandmother drinks, smokes, and watches TV. Her parents never bother to call or write and stop paying their shared child support within a few months. When her grandmother dies Inara takes what money she can find and disappears into the Big Applesauce, with a fake ID and the name "Inara", rather than risk being placed back with her parents or another relation.
In Captain Underpants, it is revealed in a book that Harold's father walked out on his family when Harold was very young.
It's mentioned in Cat Pack that Texas Jake's mother abandoned her litter as soon as they were weaned. She didn't want kittens in the first place.
In The Chronicles of Narnia, the Pevensie childrens' parents rarely appear. Justified in that their father was drafted and their mother sent them to the countryside to escape the German bombing of London
In The Horse and His Boy Aravis' mother died much earlier in Aravis' life while her father tries to betroth her to a much older leader.
Ian Fleming's James Bond lost his parents (Andrew Bond of Scotland and Monique Delacroix Bond of the Canton de Vaud, Switzerland) in a climbing accident in the French Alps when he was eleven.
Taran of Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain was raised on a farm by two old guys, neither of whom are in any way relatives. In Taran Wanderer he tries to find out who his parents were, and ends up losing interest (The final book had Dallben explain Taran's ultimate heritage, which was that he found Taran on the site of a bloody massacre - Dallben was pretty sure that Taran's parents were among the fallen, but had no way of identifying which ones they were). Princess Eilonwy's royal parents are dead, as is their kingdom. She has an evil aunt, however. Gurgi, meanwhile, was such an orphan that nobody was even sure what species he was.
Achren was not really Eilonwy's aunt. In the fourth book, Taran Wanderer, Taran doesn't find out what happened to his own parents but does find out about Eilonwy's mother — it was revealed that Achren kidnapped Eilonwy as a baby, and Princess Angharad died trying to get her back. Additionally, the book The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain reveals the identity of Eilonwy's father.
In Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society, all the young characters of Alex's team. One of them lampshades it with the observation that some superheroes must have good parents who are still alive.
Alex's revolt against Cloak leads to his mother explicitly saying that as a liability not an asset, she was cutting him off; his father compiled with her dictate. Also Alex had a nanny once, who was probably killed, and his memories of her erased, because he was fonder of her than of his mother.
Amp's parents were thrown into the Gloom and presumed dead when he was only four.
Kirbie and Kyle were abandoned by their parents in Victory Park — the parents had taken them there on vacation and claimed they were going to get them ice cream.
All three of those had Lone Star, Lux, and Dr. Photon as Parental Substitute and then lost them again.
Mallory's parents died when she was six. She was told her powers had killed them; in reality, Cloak had murdered them because one was a defector.
Gear's father died in a lab accident when he worked himself to exhaustion in Cloak's service; his mother is never mentioned.
Misty's mother works for Cloak in the city and seldom sees her. (Father is not mentioned.) When the children escape Cloak, she tries to flush them out by pretending Misty has been kidnapped.
Bug merely left his and says they would not worry.
In Jim Butcher's Codex Alera, the protagonist Tavi is an orphan raised by his aunt Isana and uncle Bernard. Tavi assumes that he was illegitimate and that his father was a soldier killed in a famous battle around the time he was born. In fact, Isana herself is his mother and was married, but she kept it a secret that Tavi was her son because Tavi's father was the prince and heir to the throne and had been assassinated.
Kitai, the Marat ambassador, also has abandonment issues, but for more normal reasons: her mother was killed when she was young.
He drove me from him at last, saying that I was but a common witch in spite of his teachings, and not fit to command the mighty sorcery he would have taught me. He would have made me queen of the world and ruled the nations through me, he said, but I was only a harlot of darkness. But what of it? I could never endure to seclude myself in a golden tower, and spend the long hours staring into a crystal globe, mumbling over incantations written on serpent's skin in the blood of virgins, poring over musty volumes in forgotten languages. He said I was but an earthly sprite, knowing naught of the deeper gulfs of cosmic sorcery. Well, this world contains all I desire—power, and pomp, and glittering pageantry, handsome men and soft women for my paramours and my slaves.
Not uncommon in Dinoverse. Bertram's mother left the family for another man, and his father loves his work so much that he tends to forget Bertram, even though he's fond of his kid. Janine's dad died and she's increasingly distant from her mother, who never wants to talk to her - for a good reason.
Both Hagia and John go to fight in the Crusades in Dirge for Prester John, and neither of them seems to miss Sefalet that much.
In Discworld novels, Rincewind doesn't know anything about his parents. He claims his mother ran away before he was born. In The Last Continent, he meets a Bill Rincewind, and this is the first time he even realizes "Rincewind" is a surname.
Somewhat obscure children's book The Divide has an interesting variation. Protagonist Felix is Trapped in Another World, but we do see how his parents are affected by his mysterious disappearance. They ain't happy.
Jaxom could also apply for this trope as well. His mother died in childbirth and his father, the evil overlord Lord Fax, was killed by F'lar in a fight over who ruled Ruatha Hold that very same day.
And also F'lar and F'nor, who lost their father in a duel at a very young age. Since Weyr children are fostered anyway, this might not apply.
Menolly's parents alternate between emotionally distant and abusive. Her father whips her back bloody with his belt. Her mother deliberately lets a wound heal half-crooked so that she has basic use of the hand but not enough to play an instrument. Small wonder that Menolly runs away to go live with the miniature dragons.
Malcolm Dresden's death is way beyond being suspicious. In the TV series, it's revealed that he was murdered by Justin Morningway, Harry's maternal uncle, by means of a voodoo doll. Justin cursed Malcolm (who was in Florida) with a fatal heart attack so that Justin could gain custody and control of eleven-year-old Harry, who had come into his power very young. In Fool Moon, a demon tells Harry that both of his parents died unnatural deaths, which surprises Harry, who had thought that his father had died of an aneurysm when he, Harry, was six.
As for Margaret Dresden... in Blood Rites, Harry's mother is later revealed to have died due to a curse by her former consort and White Court vampire Lord Raith. As she is dying, Margaret curses Lord Raith so he cannot feed, condemning him to a slow death by starvation.
In Death Masks, Ivy comments that her mother went into a coma after giving birth to her. In Small Favor, Luccio reveals that Ivy's seventeen-year-old mother killed herself after her grandmother was killed in a freak car accident, passing the Archive down to her. Angry at her mother for dying and angry that the unborn Ivy would get to live the life that she never would, she killed herself once Ivy was born. What's worse is that because of the nature of the Archive (which is not only all knowledge ever written by mankind, but also the experiences of all the previous Archives), Ivy knows exactly how her mother felt about her.
Ayla, the heroine from Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series, was orphaned at the age of five when her parents died in an earthquake. She seems surprisingly free of parental abandonment issues until the third book, when she begins to wonder what tribe her parents belonged to and if she has any relatives still alive.
Probably helped that she had loving foster parents (Creb and Iza) raising her.
Edgar & Ellen: The titular twins live alone on the edge of town, except for a scary, silent groundskeeper who they avoid. Their parents left years ago on an "around-the-world trip"—according to the note they left behind, anyway. The twins, left to their own devices, let the house deteriorate into a dirty, decrepit mess, go around in nothing but their pajamas, crawl around in junkyards and sewers, and terrorize the local populace. But given that they didn't even question their parents' disappearances until years later, we can probably assume they didn't have the best relationship anyway. The issue is mostly glossed over though, especially in the Lighter and Softer animated series.
In On the Edge, the Draytons' mother first goes mad with grief and sleeps around indiscriminately, slowly dying inside. Then she finally does die. Later the Draytons' father runs off to hunt treasure, and when the novel opens he's been gone for several years with no word. Fortunately, Rose is old enough to raise her younger brothers on her own.0
Elminster's parents are both killed in the first book early on when his hometown gets destroyed.
Farl's mother was killed by his father shortly after giving birth, who then tried to kill him too. He later gets killed by someone else, while Farl grows up a street urchin.
Absolutely hammered in the once-popular antebellum girl's series Elsie Dinsmore. Elsie comes about after her father elopes with a beautiful young woman, who dies soon after her birth. The death causes her father to abandon his new daughter in his grief, so she is left with her grandparents, who vacillate between distant and abusive, who make her spend her days in the care of a tutor who also goes between distant and abusive. The only adult in Elsie's life who shows her any affection is her maid Chloe, but she doesn't really count, because she's not quite a person. When Elsie's father comes back when she's 8, he tries to be a good father, but he thinks Elsie is being purposely impudent and punishes her by not allowing her near him, despite her pleas for his love and attention. Things finally come to a head where she develops Brain Fever, somehow, after her father threatens to send her to Catholic school. He does realize the error of his ways, converts, and they have a somewhat heartfelt reunion, if you can get over the fact he beat her with a riding crop after she refused to play secular piano music on a Sunday. There's a reason these books are rarely read outside of Christian circles, and even then modern reprints tone down his treatment of Elsie significantly.
Candy's birth parents are killed in a traffic accident when she's ten months old. Her adoptive mother dies of an unspecified illness a few years before the events of the book, and her adoptive father is presumed dead after a bionuclear war, since he was in Washington, D.C., a known target for heavy bombing, at the time war broke out.
Adam's parents died in the epidemic triggered by said war.
Lisa's parents both survived the war and epidemic, but her father Jason was killed in an accident not very long after (mother Kim is still alive and a significant character herself).
In Conn Iggulden's Emperor series, Brutus has a dead father and a mother who abandoned him in order to have a career as a higher class prostitute. He later finds a father figure in Renius, however he seems to prefer Caesar to Brutus, even dying to protect Caesar, which can be interpreted as one of the reasons why Brutus ended up turning on Caesar. After all, Caesar didn't need any further father figures, he already had his birth father and then his uncle Marius.
In Alethea Kontis's Enchanted, eldest daughter Monday has had no contact with the family since her marriage to a prince, as Mama disapproves of receiving charity.
In Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, the parents of the geniuses Peter, Valentine and Andrew seem oblivious to the extracurricular activities of the elder two, as they use internet anonymity to gain influence on world affairs as political pundits. Peter in particular feels nothing but contempt for them and their ignorance. In one of the sequels to Ender's Shadow, however, this is completely inverted when the parents reveal they knew all along — but pretended not to so that their kids wouldn't be afraid to write what they needed to say. They none-too-gently chide Peter that he should have known his and his siblings' super-intelligence had to come from somewhere.
"Fairest of All": Mahon's parents, believing him to be a faerie changeling, leave him in the forest and tell him to never come back. He sits and stares at the leaves until he's discovered by an actual faerie queen, who takes him as her slave.
Nobody in the Fingerprints series has both parents. Anthony and Jesse are missing their fathers; Rae, Yana, Mandy, and Emma are missing their mothers, and Sam lives on his own.
The disappearance of Finn's parents is half the reason for the plot of the Finnegan Zwake books. (The other half is the murders that always seem to happen when Finn and his uncle go looking for them.)
Both Luis Black and Anna Maria Rosalita had mothers who died much earlier and fathers who died only about a year earlier or less.
The children in Flowers in the Attic, LIKE WHOA. Not only does their father dying in a car accident set off the horrifying events to come, but they spend the rest of the book locked up in the attic of their grandparents' huge house with their mother showing less and less interest in their well-being while she attempts to reconcile with her dying father to try and get written back into his will. Meanwhile, during their confinement, their grandmother becomes more emotionally abusive towards the children because she believes them to be inherently evil. They are the product of incest.
And if you can believe it, it gets worse: When one of the younger children gets sick and dies, they figure out that their mother is trying to poison them so she can get remarried and start over with a 'clean slate'. Yeah...
In the sequels, it's not much better for elder daughter Cathy's own children. Neither Jory nor Bart, Cathy's sons, meet their fathers; Jory's father died by suicide and Bart's father died in a fire - both before they were born. Cindy loses her biological mother after a car accident when she is two years old and Cathy and Chris adopt her shortly thereafter; no mention of a biological father. Additionally, Jory would later become a single father to young twins Deirdre and Darren when his wife Melodie leaves the family when the twins are infants.
In Suzanne Young's Girls With Sharp Sticks, Mena's parents are extremely distant and cold, failing to show up for the academy's open house and leaving their housekeeper Eva to take all of her calls home. That's because they don't exist — Mena is an Artificial Human. Part of Mena's impulse control therapy is Anton implanting happy memories of her family in her mind, to replace the points where she let her mind fill in the gaps in her backstory and assume that they didn't care about her.
In William Alexander's Goblin Secrets, all the children Graba took in have no connection to their parents. They don't even think of their mothers and fathers as Graba's children, though she calls them her grandchildren.
In GONE , by Michael Grant, the entire cast is orphaned at the same time on the first page of the book, except possibly the ones with family living outside of the FAYZ.
The Han Solo Trilogy: Something happened with Han's parents, so he ended up a street urchin, but he never learns exactly what. Most likely they're dead.
Although Rowling kills parents and parental figures with merry abandon throughout the series, she also throws us an inversion: In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, to protect her muggle parents, Hermione makes them abandon her by judicious use of memory charms to change their identities and make them forget they ever had a daughter. The emotional toll on her is quite intense.
Rowling not only admits to purposely orphaning Harry right off the bat, ("Harry had to be an orphan — so that he's a free agent, with no fear of letting down his parents, disappointing them....") but she even cites the Potters' brutal murder happening first thing in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to rebuff the argument by angry parents that her books betray their audience by getting progressively scarier.
NevilleLongbottom's parents didn't die either, but as one character puts it, "Better dead than what happened to them..." as they were tortured into permanent insanity by Death Eaters using the Cruciatus curse, and they don't recognise their son when he comes to visit. This is why he's raised by his domineering grandmother, who, on her first appearance, seems disappointed that Neville didn't turn out more like his dad.
Sirius Black was disowned by his Evil Matriarch mother when he was sixteen after he got sick of her Fantastic Racism. He promptly moved in with his best friend James and stayed until he was legally an adult.
Dean Thomas's father disappeared before Dean was born. Word of God says that Dean's father was a member of the Order of the Phoenix who was killed in the first war against Voldemort.
J.Ks morbid attitude towards parents comes from the fact in Real Life she lost her beloved mother at a early age and is no longer on Speaking terms with her dad. J.K admitted later had her mother not died, the Harry Potter books would likely be completely different.
Jason's mom. To be fair, she's following orders from Jupiter when she leaves him at the Wolf House. On the other hand she's a drug-taking mess, but on the third hand she became that way because she was cursed by Hera/Juno for having an affair with Zeus/Jupiter in the first place, although the affair was his fault.
Queen Marie, Hazel's mother, actively (if unintentionally) cursed her daughter and resented Hazel for it when bad stuff started happening. On the other hand Queen Marie only helps Gaea on condition of Hazel's safety and survival and her last living act is to futilely try to shield Hazel from the cave in.
In His Dark Materials, Lyra Belacqua starts off the series being raised (for a given value of the term) by the faculty and staff of an Oxford college, believing herself to be an orphan whose parents died in an airship crash. Turns out they're both alive — her father is the man she'd been raised believing was her uncle, her mother is her malign Fairy Godmother equivalent — and they had a fairly solid reason for giving her up: not only was she conceived in adultery, her father had gone on to kill her mother's husband in a duel.
Will Parry. When we first meet him, he's forced to abandon his mentally ill mother who he's been taking care of from a young age to go on his quest. When he finally finds his Disappeared Dad, he's immediately killed.
Happens to many children in Cittàgazze. Their parents suffer a Fate Worse than Death by the Specters who suck out their souls.
In Sarah Kuhn's Heroine Complex, Evie Tanaka's mother died of cancer when she was around seventeen and her father wandered off seeking peace two months later, leaving her to raise her twelve year old sister and finish high school on her own.
Jack Kerouac's poem "Home I'll Never Be" (which was also turned into a song by Tom Waits) is about a man finding his Disappeared Dad just in time to see him die of pleurisy.
Jasmines parents were taken from her by the Grey Guards when she was a little girl and mother died in the Shadow Lands. Jasmines father however survived and became the Rebel Leader Doom.
Barda lost his mother when Evil Chancellor Prandine pushed her down a staircase.
Lief loses his father at end of the first series and his mother barely survives the third series before passing away at later date.
Dains patents were apparently killed by Grey Guards when he was kid its actually a BS fabrication meant to lead the heroes into thinking he was the true heir.
Every Anthony Horowitz series uses it, including Alex Rider, the Diamond Brothers series, the first 4 Gatekeepers in the Power of Five series, and the protagonist of The Devil and his Boy.
In Dr. Seuss' famous children's book Horton Hatches the Egg, a bird named Mayzie gets Horton the elephant to sit on her egg while she takes a break... and then extends that break for months on end, without a care in the world. Eventually she shows up wanting the egg back, but then it hatches to reveal an "elephant-bird".
Happens rather commonly in The House of Night series if your parents don't approve of your new vamphood.
Zoey's mother has pretty much emotionally abandoned her in favour of her new husband/Church Militant religion by the start of the series anyway, and didn't need much more to abandon her child entirely.
This had also been happening to Aphrodite throughout the series for different reasons, but it was pretty much made official in Revealed, when her mother publicly disowned her shortly after the death of Aphrodite's father.
In The Hunger Games, Delly Carwright's parents died in the District 12 bombing, which also killed Peeta's family.
Everyone else suffers from this. And I mean everyone. Jem even mentions that everyone is an orphan. To be fair, this is what the Institute is for. It's essentially an orphanage for Shadowhunters. If any of them had parents, they would be living with them. Except Will and later Cecily, whose parents don't count since they're not Shadowhunters.
Standard practice for Edgar Rice Burroughs's Green Martians. The women do not know whether their eggs were selected for hatching, and couldn't identify the fathers. John Carter of Mars attributes much of their harshness to this; one Green Martian raised by her mother, and knowing her father, is far more generous and gentle than her fellows.
In the Chrestomanci books, Cat and Gwendolyn's parents are dead, Christopher's tend to ignore him, Conrad's mother is too busy writing to pay attention, and half the children in Witch Week have had one or both parents executed (and those that haven't have been sent away to boarding school because they are 'problem children').
Mig's father in Black Maria has apparently been murdered.
Polly's parents in Fire and Hemlock divorce and toss her around between them until her grandmother takes her in.
Kathleen in Dogsbody is living with her aunt because her father is in prison.
Hailey's parents in The Game are presumed dead.
Maree and Nick in Deep Secret are half-siblings and children of the Emperor, but both are brought up away from him, as are all his children. Nick lives with his real mother, but she is killed at the end of the book, leaving him with his (thankfully not at all wicked) stepfather.
Abdullah in Castle in the Air dislikes his family and daydreams about finding that he is not really their child.
This tendency becomes a little unnerving once you learn how neglectful Diana Wynne Jones's parents were — the family in The Time of the Ghost is closely based on her own.
In Kingdom Keepers, Maybeck lives with his aunt Jelly. When Finn questions him on where his parents are, he only responds that they "aren't around," prompting Finn to drop the issue.
The second book reveals that Amanda and Jez live alone, having run away from their foster home.
In Kushiel's Legacy, the protagonist Phèdre's parents sold her to the Night Court at a young age to be raised as a High-Class Call Girl. As a child she is quite insecure about being "a whore's unwanted get", but she finds herself Happily Adopted, comes to great personal success, and barely gives her birth parents another thought. At one point she speculates that they must have died, perhaps during an in-text plague, as she effectively becomes known nation-wide and they never rematerialize.
By the Sword: The protagonist is orphaned by an attack at the beginning of the story. Slightly subverted here. Yes her widowed father dies, but she meets her maternal grandmother for the first time in years and later finds out she has a clan of horse nomads for cousins.
To Take a Thief: Skif is an orphan who is technically a ward of his uncle as the story opens.
The Vows and Honor duology have this trope as Backstory for both protagonists. The first short story, "Sword Sworn", opens with a bandit attack in which Tarma's clan is wiped out and she is left for dead. In the first book-length story, The Oathbound, we learn that Kethry's brother used his Promotion to Parent on the death of their widowed father to sell her into an Arranged Marriage. She was rescued and put into a Wizarding School.
The Serpent's Shadow: A Twice-Told Tale version of "Snow White", in which the death of the protagonist's magician mother quickly led to the death of her father (since she had concealed him from a common enemy who objected to their marriage). The story opens after the protagonist has relocated to Victorian London in the hopes of escaping her family's enemy.
The Wizard of London: Nan doesn't know who her father is, and her neglectful mother eventually tries to sell her for drugs or alcohol. Luckily, Nan gets rescued by the boarding school that is giving her their leftover food.
Reserved for the Cat: Ninette's father disappeared when she was a baby, and her mother dies shortly before the novel starts. (Subverted when we learn Thomas the cat is Ninette's father, transformed when he lost a magic duel. He did what he could for his wife and child, but there just isn't that much a cat can do.)
Steadfast: Katie's parents die when their caravan somehow catches fire. In the ensuing grief, Katie is easily convinced by the owner of the circus her family worked for to marry the circus strongman, who turns out to be abusive.
Since From a High Tower is based on Rapunzel, Giselle's father trades her to the Earth Master next door for a garden of vegetables to feed his large family. Later on, Giselle's kindly adoptive mother dies, and she has to go out into the world in order to earn money to live on.
Common in books by Tanith Lee. James Nicoll had a project of reviewing one Lee a week for a year. His review of Black Unicorn includes a table of dead parents: after 29 books we have 27 missing or dead mothers and 21 missing or dead fathers.
Many characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion lost either one or both parents at an early age: Frodo (both his parents died in a boating accident), Aragorn (his father died when he was two), Túrin (his mother sent him away shortly after his father was captured by Morgoth), Tuor (his father died in battle before he was born and his mother died shortly after giving birth to him), Elrond and Elros (after they were captured in battle, their parents believed them dead and sailed away to obtain divine help) etc.
This may be because Tolkien himself was orphaned in childhood; his father died when he was four and his mother died when he was twelve.
You may perhaps have been somewhat surprised, my Dearest Marianne, that in the Distress I then endured, destitute of any support, and unprovided with any Habitation, I should never once have remembered my Father and Mother or my paternal Cottage in the Vale of Uske. To account for the seeming forgetfullness I must inform you of a trifling circumstance concerning them which I have as yet never mentioned. The death of my Parents a few weeks after my Departure, is the circumstance I allude to. By their decease I became the lawfull Inheritress of their House and Fortune. But alas! the House had never been their own, and their Fortune had only been an Annuity on their own Lives. Such is the Depravity of the World!
Inverted in Malevil. Emmanuel abandons his parents and is adopted by his favorite uncle. He considers his mother a simpering complainer, his father too cowardly to stand up to her, and both incapable of straight-forward honesty, leading him to run away from home.
The parents of the titular rascal boys in Max and Moritz are never seen nor mentioned. This is convenient, as it prevents the ending (in which the boys get killed) from becoming anything other than a comedy.
In Gene Stratton-Porter's Michael O'Halloran, Mickey's father died of drink, and then his mother, with no cause given. Near the opening of the story, he meets a crippled girl named Peaches, whose granny died and so will be taken to the Home.
The Mirrorworld Series: So, one day, Dad disappeared and Mom hit the sleeping pills... This is probably a huge contributing factor in Jacob's emotional detachment.
In Mo Dao Zu Shi, it's only easier to list the characters in the main cast with dead parents because it's all of them.
Reynie is an orphan whose parents died when he was an infant. At the end of the first book he ends up adopted by his former teacher and Parental Subtistute, Miss Perumal.
Kate's mother died when she was she was an infant and her father ran off when she was two. In reality her father is Milligan. He lost his memory on a mission and didn't remember it until the end of the first book.
Nothing much is referenced of Constance's parents but she is presumably an orphan. Mr. Benedict adopts her at the end of the first book.
After Sticky pretends to run away from home, he overhears his parents saying they'd be better off without him. This causes him to really run away. It turns out he misunderstood them. They thought he'd be better off without them due to his Child Prodigy traits and their Financial Abuse of him. He ends up forgiving them after learning how bad they felt and returns home.
Mr. Benedict and his Evil Twin Mr. Curtain are orphans.
Rhonda and Number Two were orphans until Mr. Benedict adopted them several years ago.
This happens to Benjamin in Never Wipe Tears Without Gloves. He's in his early twenties at the time but it's still notable. He's a Jehovah's Witness who confesses to his parents that he is gay and in a loving relationship with a guy named Rasmus. A few days later his parents show up at his apartment with flowers and cake. During their visit Benjamin realizes that they are cutting all ties to him and that for all intents and purposes he's partaking in his own funeral.
1984: Both of Winston's parents disappeared; his mother when he was around 11, his father much earlier. He has many memories about his mother, but remembers little about his father. He knows nothing of their fate; they might have been executed or sent to a forced labor camp.
In Catseye, we learn in the first pages that Troy's father enlisted and never return, and his mother succumbed to the Big Cough.
The Crystal Gryphon: Joisan's parents died when she was very small, leaving her in the custody of her father's brother and sister. Kerovan was rejected by his Missing Mom at birth, so his Disappeared Dad fostered him well away from her.
Kilda was was the product of a space Scout's Arranged Marriage, and was put in a creche at birth; her father moved on with his scouting, and her mother took her pension to a new marriage. She never saw either parent again. (This is typical for Scouts.)
Bartare and Oomart's father has died when they arrive on planet. This sends their mother into a mental collapse. The temporal effects ensure they never see her again.
Roane's parents are never mentioned; her uncle plucked her from a creche as another pair of hands
Princess Ludorica's are dead; she was raised by her grandfather
Nilas Imfray's are also dead.
Lavender-Green Magic: When the kids' Disappeared Dad went missing in action in The Vietnam War, their Missing Mom had to take the best-paying nursing job she could get, which meant leaving the kids with her husband's parents.
Octagon Magic and Red Hart Magic: the female protagonist in each was being raised by her grandmother, who has become ill; she has now been turned over to an aunt. In the latter book, Nan's mother is alive but has a job requiring a lot of travel. (Red Hart Magic also features Chris, Nan's new stepbrother, who seems to have been putting up with his Disappeared Dad's job all his life.)
Both kids in the Star Ka'at books are orphaned; at the beginning of the first book, Jim was living with foster parents, while Elly Mae was living with her grandmother. Jim's foster home is a bit cool and unwelcoming to him, and Elly Mae's grandmother dies, so both children are not too sorry to leave Earth when offered the chance. They're told that Earth is imminently about to be destroyed in a nuclear war, and the Ka'ats (who've been disguised as domestic cats) are leaving; the two Ka'ats who befriended Jim and Elly Mae want to take them along.
Steel Magic: The three kids' parents are on a trip to Japan; the kids have been left with an uncle.
In all three of the Warlock books, the main character is without parents. The death of Charis' father was the triggering of the opening events in Ordeal in Otherwhere.
The X Factor: Diskan Fentress' mother suffered Death by Childbirth after his Disappeared Dad (a Scout) was sent out on an exploratory mission, leaving Diskan to be raised in a creche intended to train the next generation of Scouts - a job Diskan wasn't suited for. Subverted in that Renfry Fentress' return just prior to the opening of the story has turned the now-grown Diskan's life upside down.
Year of the Unicorn: Gillian doesn't remember her parents; she became a refugee at Norstead Abbey as a young child.
Joan Lowry Nixon's first few Orphan Train books dealt with six siblings whose widowed mother sent them out west for a better life. Most of the kids remain with their adoptive families even after she moves west herself and remarries.
The Osmerian Conflict: Saku's parents are both believed dead from an accident prior to the start of the book, with Fae taking over as the parental substitute. Midway through the book his mother Arianna is revealed to be still alive, where she cites that due to her never wanting her son to join the military being at odds with the politically powerful UTSF she left him in order to Give Him a Normal Life.
At the beginning of the Outlander Leander series, Leander's father has been deployed. Since he was a single parent this leaves Leander in the house alone. He does, however, contact Leander daily, so he's only physically absent.
In Palimpsest, Casimira was raised by her house (It Makes Sense in Context) after her parents leave her there. Other wealthy parents in Palimpsest turn their children over to a specific boarding school as soon as they're born, not because they want to, but because the laws of the city require it (and also because the children of the rich are born without faces and require special care until they can grow them; it's a Catherynne M Valente novel, after all).
Bobby's family disappears in the first Pendragon book, and the only explanation given by Bobby's new father-figure, Uncle Press, is that Bobby will see them again. The other Travelers with mentioned parents were raised by the generation of Travelers before them, who generally die somewhere in the series. An exception is Spader's mother, who disappears the same way Bobby's family did. Uncle Press kicks the bucket in The Lost City of Faar. However, he does come back in the last chapter of Raven Rise. Also in Raven Rise, several of the Travelers, who Bobby thinks of as his brothers or family, die. And then come back at the end magically along with Press. Mark and Courtney are assumed dead, though they turn out to be alive in the final book.
In Jane Austen's Persuasion, it is casually mentioned that the reason that Captain Wentworth had stayed at his brother's and so originally met Anne was that his parents were dead.
Alanna: Mother dead, father emotionally distant — we see him on the first page and never again throughout the series — and later dead.
Daine: Daine is illegitimate, and by the time the story starts, her mother is dead. Her father turns out to be the hunt-god Weiryn.
Beka: Mother dead, father never even named, although we know Beka's gift is from him and his mother is a minor character. Also the numerous children who were sold by their parents as slaves, throughout all the books. In Mastiff, Beka even mentions that she'll have plenty of people in the Lower City angry at her now that they can no longer sell their children.
Averted with Keladry and Aly. Kel's parents are both alive and very supportive, and communicate by letter while she's training for her shield. Aly's parents are Alanna and George, who are both extremely difficult to kill.
Pippi Longstocking's mother was dead while her father was lost in the South Seas and didn't turn up again until the third book.
In Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series, Gen's mother died when she fell from a building, as did his mentor grandfather. His father is still living, but as Gen is nearly an adult and in the employ of their queen, he doesn't need to involve himself much.
A more straight example is the magus of Sounis, who explains that his entire family died in an epidemic, and the queen of Attolia, whose mother died when she was young, considered of little importance most of her childhood, and whose father was perfectly happy to marry her off as a young girl to preserve peace in his troubled country.
Rain Reign: Rose's father drops her off at her Uncle Weldon's house because he feels that Weldon would be a better parent than himself. Then he drives off and disappers.
REAL has Neru's workaholic mother Abigail, whose career as a doctor clearly takes priority over her son, and Fasia's parents, who were such internet addicts that they only ever logged out of The Metaverse to eat and get some sleep, completely neglecting their daughter. Eventually Fasia's grandfather gave up on them and took Fasia in.
The royal children of Pamela Dean's The Secret Country all have Missing Moms and distant fathers — which proves most convenient. As does the fact that their real world alter-egos' parents are all in Australia. They even bring this up; "there seems to be a shortage of mothers around here" or words to that effect.
Santa Olivia: Loup's father had to flee and hide out in Mexico prior to her birth, being a GMO, and died due to their shorter lifespan, thus she didn't meet him. Her mother Carmen dies later in her childhood.
In The Savant, Arlo's mother and her new husband moved to San Diego without Arlo when he was five.
Septimus: His parents are alive, but they usually don't show up frequently.
Jenna: Her father is almost always travelling around the world, and her mother is dead.
Merrin Meredith: His father drowned in the Castle moat, and his mother was confined to an Asylum, then fled to the Port.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The poor Baudelaires lose or are let down by about one parental figure per book for most of the series.
In The Shattered Kingdoms, Norlander culture believes in abandoning children who are deformed, and this happened to Lahlil (aka the Mongrel). She survives, and eventually returns. People who realise who she is tend to assume it's for revenge, but it isn't really (since the one responsible dies of illness anyway, as she knew he would). It's one of several things people incorrectly think she's motivated by.
Angela Sommer-Bodenburg wrote a book of scary short stories with an injured boy named Freddy as a Framing Device. All five stories touch on Parental Abandonment. Barbara doesn't like it if you imply that her own death was her mother's fault. Harry drained his family's blood. The Child Under the Cloak was looking for someone to be her mother. Wolfgang has a father and step-mother who treat him like a freak just because he eats raw meat, howls at the moon and won't clip his nails. In the story Freddy writes himself, the Kindergarten class gets sick of their self-centered parents And They All Went Over The Hill.
Star Wars Legends: It's not that the Solo kids are abandoned by their parents; it's just that it's very busy work, saving and/or running the galaxy, hence their nanny, Winter Celchu, doing a lot of the work in actually raising them.
Roofshadow never makes mention of her mother. Her siblings and most of her clan were mysteriously slaughtered while she was away. Her father Slipwhisker, along with the rest of the clan, vanished due to Hearteater and are presumably dead.
The Queen, Grimhilde's, mother died when she was an infant. Her abusive father died when she was a young woman.
Maleficent was abandoned by her parents due to her looks. She was taken in by Nanny.
While one won't see many parents in Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note's Animated Adaptation, the novels actually refers to the cast's parents sometimes and implicitly remind of their existence. Wakatake is the sole exception; his father working in New York City and hence he is living with a housekeeper.
Cynthia Voigt's Homecoming starts with the four child protagonists being abandoned by their mentally ill mother at a shopping mall.
At the beginning of Andrey Lazarchuk's Tranquilium, the main character's father is dead and his mother, whom he never even knew, is in an asylum, because she is insane.
The Turn of the Screw: To the Nth degree. Miles and Flora are orphaned, and their uncle ships them off to his isolated country estate and wants nothing to do with them. They're raised by servants, especially the valet Peter Quint and the governess Miss Jessell — who then died. Did the children still have the company of Quint and Jessell after death? were the servants bad influences on them? Who knows? Certainly the new governess proved to not be a satisfactory mother figure.
It's common for Dhampir's to have a Disappeared Dad, but Rose's mother dumped her at St. Vladimir's when she was two years old in order to continue her guardian duties. Eventually averted, as both Rose's mother and father begin to take a decent part in her life by Last Sacrifice. Her father more than her mother.
Lissa's parents and brother died in a car crash two years before the beginning of the series.
Christian Ozera's parents, Lucas and Moira Ozera, were royal Moroi who voluntarily turned into Strigoi. They were killed before his eyes when he was very young.
In Sharon Creech's The Wanderer it is revealed that Sophies biological parents died when she was very little, after which she was passed from one bad foster family to the next, until being Happily Adopted. She forces herself to think of her current family as her only one.
Parents are not mentioned very much in The War Between The Pitiful Teachers And The Splendid Kids, seeing as the characters are in a prison-like school for bad teachers and smartasses. The lone(?) exception is Big Alice Eyesore, who was so wild as an infant (her teeth came in early; they were all canines) that her child psychologist parents left her in a wild animal park where she was raised by hyenas. They came back for her when she was an adolescent, but after learning that child psychology doesn't work on hyenas they abandoned her for good.
Sol's parents from Warrior Cats. Sol's father didn't like his mate, Cinders, or his kits; he rarely visited them, and brought them very little food. Eventually he ends up leaving them for a new mate who didn't complain as much as Cinders. Cinders, who never particularly liked her kits, ended up abandoning them at different Twoleg homes.
In The Wheel of Time series, Rand's mother died when he was very young, leaving his father to raise him on his own. In reality neither Tam nor Kari are his parents; his father was an Aiel and his mother was daughter-heir to the throne of Andor before running away to become a Maiden of the Spear. She died on Dragonmount shortly after his birth (thus setting the entire series in motion) and his father went to the Blight to fight and die to the Shadow after hearing of her death.
Appears a lot in P. G. Wodehouse books. Bertie is an orphan who seems to have been largely raised by his aunts, and many of his friends seem to be in a similar situation. Psmith's father apparently died between books, leaving quite a few characters in the lurch financially speaking. Because it's Wodehouse, it's never really made angsty, though.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: Dorothy is being raised by her aunt and uncle. The book states that she's an orphan, while the movie just implies it.
Diver from the Xandri Corelel series grew up on the streets after his parents abandoned him as a young child.