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Parental Substitute / Western Animation

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  • From Adventure Time, Simon Petrikov served as this to Marceline when she was a child during the aftermath of the Mushroom War. This makes it all the more heartbreaking when Simon's crown eventually drove him irreversibly insane and transformed him into the Ice King. While he still remembers her as someone that he likes and should be protective of, and thus still drawn to seeking her out, he has completely forgotten the true depths of their relationship.
    • In her mid-to-late teenage years Marceline would become quite close with an older man named Two Bread Tom. The details on their relationship aren't completely clear, but Two Bread Tom was honored for being "everyone's cool dad" after his death, so it's possible he took up another paternal role in her life after Simon's absence and the continued failure of Hunson (Marceline's biological father) filling that spot.
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    • Also, Jake's parents Margaret and Joshua filled this role for Finn. Two loving, dog parents raising the last human child on Ooo. To some extent, Jake filled this role for Finn as well, as it's heavily implied Margaret and Joshua both died very early in Finn's life.
  • In Alfred J. Kwak, Henk (a mole) functions as this to Alfred (a duck) after Alfred's parents and siblings were killed in a car accident. He was a close friend of Alfred's late father, and resolved to raise the boy in his stead. Discussed by Dolf, who thinks Alfred is weird or even inferior for having been raised by someone not his own species.
  • Despite often being at their throats, Dr. Scratchansniff tends to fill in this role for the Warners in Animaniacs. He's shown to genuinely care about them, to the point of clearly feeling bad when the C.E.O makes them leave the studio party in Taming of the Screwy despite them keeping their end of the bargain (they were told if they behaved they could stay and meet their favorite celebrities), and even prepares food for them and takes them to the circus on occasion. The Warners, despite frequently picking on him for laughs, return the sentiment and sometimes call him father or daddy (though usually to needle him).
  • Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender finds his parental substitute in his eccentric uncle, Iroh. While his biological father is an abusive, sociopathic tyrant whose "love" is entirely conditional, Iroh continues to be concerned only with helping Zuko find happiness even after Zuko stabs him in the back.
    • Also, shown in flashbacks, Monk Gyatso for Aang.
    • Toph admits that she views Katara, who is only two years older than her, as a mother figure. Toph's own parents weren't particularly good. Katara also acts as a mother figure to Aang, who never knew his own. In an interesting version of this trope, Katara's older brother Sokka expresses the same sentiments and he can't even remember how his own mother looked like because Katara has replaced her in his mind.
    • Aang himself was implied to have been this to Toph's daughter, Lin, between the original series and its Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra. It's all but stated that she's a Heroic Bastard and that she never met her real dad. They were noted to have "gotten along famously".
  • Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond functions as this to Terry McGinnis until the reveal that he is Terry's biological father because of a crazy governmental genetics program.
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  • Camp Candy: When Vanessa's parents can't show up for parents' day, John takes the place of her father.
  • In BoJack Horseman, Sarah Lynn views/viewed BoJack as this. She had a manipulative and dream-crushing mother, a stepfather who was heavily implied to have sexually abused her, and an unexplained Disappeared Dad. BoJack already played her father on TV, so she found herself looking up to him as a real father figure, especially given his "advice" to her. As an adult, she briefly used his house as a pseudo-sanctuary up until she was kicked out as he suggested she go to rehab (which she didn't do). However, this being said, she also showed shades of an Electra Complex as she had sex with BoJack twice during said stay.
    Sarah Lynn: You're not my dad! You're just a rugged older man who provided me with a strong masculine presence during my formative years!
  • Both Captain Planet and Gaia serve as these to the Planeteers, whom they truly love like their own children (at one point, Gaia even says, "Children. They make a mother proud" as she watches them head off to a mission), and whom neither of them will hesitate to protect with his or her life, if need be. Also, considering some of the kids' histories (Wheeler's father was an abusive alcoholic, Ma-Ti's parents were murdered when he was little), it's clear that they really do rely on their two mentors as they would on actual parents.
    • Gi also will occasionally play Team Mom in the field, particularly towards Wheeler and Ma-Ti.
  • In Defenders of the Earth, Mandrake is a father figure to the youngest Defender, Kshin, who was orphaned prior to the start of the series.
  • On The Fairly OddParents!, Cosmo and Wanda act more paternal than Timmy's amazingly neglectful parents could ever hope to.
  • Family Guy:
    • Stewie admitted in a dream that he sees Brian this way in "A Lot Going On Upstairs". Chris also once had this relationship with the Evil Monkey so it seems Peter has a tendency to be replaced with talking animals.
      • Quagmire also seems to be becoming this for Meg (when he's not trying to have sex with her).
      • Actually Subverted with Chris in an earlier episode. Peter decided that he'd failed as a father to Chris and tries to make up for it by being this to Cleveland Jr. but finds that he can't control him. Later, he tries to make Chris smart by having him spend time with Brian but when Chris realizes that Brian is actually a Know-Nothing Know-It-All he decides that he would rather be like Peter.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Frankie is this to Mac, whose mom is hardly ever home.
  • Futurama:
    • Farnsworth is the closest thing to family Fry has (he's Fry's very distant great-nephew), and Fry has a grandfather-like relationship with him. Except instead of being a Good Parent, Farnsworth is neglectful, abusive and a harmless sort of way.
    • Also inverted in that Farnsworth seems to view the technically-several-thousand-years-old Fry as the caretaker in their relationship, and so his behavior toward Fry is like that of a bratty know-it-all teenager.
    • In "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings", Bender acts as a parental substitute to Fry, going so far as to attend his holophone recital and yell at the teacher when she drops Fry as a student.
    Bender: Sometimes I wish your real parents were alive. [Hugs Fry] Not often though.
  • Due to the closeness (geographically and otherwise) between the Goof house and the Pete house on Goof Troop, there is a mutual relationship of Parental Substitutes. Peg serves as a substitute on several occasions for Max's Missing Mom, while Goofy serves on a few for PJ's Abusive Father. Both Peg and Goofy are portrayed as competent, caring parents not only to their own children but also to each other's.
  • In Gravity Falls, it's implied that Soos sees Grunkle Stan as a role model, and possibly a parental figure. Support for the parental figure shows up when it's revealed that Soos was hired on the day he realized his actual father wasn't coming back. For his childhood, Soos was raised by his grandmother.
  • Ivanhoe and Rowena both to Rebecca in Ivanhoe: The King's Knight.
  • Jem}: Word of God is that Rio had an abusive father growing up. He latched onto his girlfriend Jerrica's father Emmett as a father figure.
  • Kaeloo: Kaeloo is this to Quack Quack, whose parents are dead.
  • Dennis the monk to Quasimodo in The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Twilight Sparkle can be seen as a mother or sister figure to Spike, knowing that she hatched him as part of passing the entrance exam at her school, as revealed in "Cutie Mark Chronicles" and also following the events in "Owl's Well That Ends Well". According to Lauren Faust, Spike's original backstory had him raised by Celestia as well since Twilight was a filly herself at the time, but she also said this was a storyboard concept and not official at the time. In "Father Knows Beast," Spike all but calls Twilight his mother. Shining Armour and Twilight also call Spike their younger brother in Twilight's Seven.
    • Celestia herself is an odd example; although she's officially Twilight's teacher/mentor, they tend to act more like family even before Twilight becomes her niece-in-law through her brother marrying Cadance. But Twilight's parents aren't absent at all, and there's no indication that they have a troubled relationship with her, so it's more like Celestia becomes an additional parent to her.
    • Celestia is also this for her adopted niece Cadance, who was an orphan before ascending to alicorn-hood, and fanworks tend to depict her as acting as a parent for her younger sister Luna when they were growing up since we have no idea what their parents were actually like.
    • Mr. and Mrs. Cake serve as this for Pinkie Pie. She lives with them in Sugar Cube Corner and Lauren Faust said they see her as a daughter. Furthering the connection, she is a Cool Big Sis and the go-to foalsitter for their blood children.
    • Granny Smith acts as this for Big Mac, Applejack and Apple Bloom since their parents are absent and, as of "The Perfect Pear", very heavily implied to be dead. Big Mac and Applejack sometimes fill in as this for their little sister as well.
    • Rainbow Dash sways between this and Cool Big Sis where Scootaloo is concerned, as the filly's parents are often absent.
  • Ye-Ye in Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, who seems to be the only family member she lives with. Her parents never appear on the show. Kai-Lan's grandfather is always there when she needs him, and he helps both Kai-Lan and her friends when they need it.
  • Project G.e.e.K.e.R.: Lady Macbeth and Noah (though to a lesser extent than the former) frequently fill the role for Geeker, who although isn't technically a child due to being an Artificial Human, is mentally stunted and requires a certain degree of caretaking.
  • Rugrats: Stu and Didi Pickles could be seen as this to their niece, Angelica Pickles. While Angelica's parents, Drew (Stu's brother) and Charlotte (Drew's wife), are around and really do love their daughter, they're also workaholics (especially in Charlotte's case) and can be rather negligent towards her (albeit unintentionally). Angelica's shown to spend a lot of time at Stu and Didi's house, and Stu and Didi (especially the latter) are shown to pay considerably more attention to Angelica and actually discipline her more often than most of the other adults on the show, including Angelica's own parents.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Plo Koon seems to be filling in this role for Ahsoka, though Anakin Skywalker, normally a big-brother figure, can be this on occasion.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Kanan and Hera are this to Zeb, Sabine, and Ezra.
    • In "The Siege of Lothal", Hera tells them to "make mom and dad proud" as they get to their battle stations.
    • "Legacy" has a more symbolic moment where Ezra has a vision of his dead parents standing next to him. When the vision fades, Kanan is standing where Ezra's father was in his vision.
    • In "The Protector of Concord Dawn", Sabine comments that she must have been "raised right". Cue proud paternal look from Kanan.
  • The three adult Crystal Gems (Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl) in Steven Universe serve as the titular character's guardians, mentors, and family after the death of his mom Rose Quartz, who belonged to their team. Among them though, the general consensus is that Pearl acts the most like a mother to him and fits this trope the best, with the other two being Cool Big Sisters in their own ways. Unlike most examples, Steven's (human) dad Greg is still alive. While he was Steven's primary caretaker, he let the Gems take over when he was of certain age, but is still an active presence in his life.
    • Mildly deconstructed since the Gems still have plenty of insecurities with how to raise Steven becaue he's part-human and it's clear that Greg put the bulk in raising Steven while also helping the Gems.
    • Rose Quartz was this to Amethyst, who hatched in the Kindergarten 500 years later than the older denizens.
  • In TaleSpin Baloo mirrors this relationship with Kit. He also has moments of this with single mother Rebecca's daughter Molly.
  • From Teen Titans: Starfire's "Knorfka" Galfore, who raised her from childhood. Her and Blackfire's parents are never mentioned in the series.
    • Of course, the comic books are another story. Koriand'r's (and, naturally, Komand'r's and Riand'r's) parents are alive and well and living on Tamaran.
  • In Transformers: Prime, although Cybertronian culture lacks conventional "parents" in general, Ratchet tends to act in this way to Bumblebee. In Season 2, it's revealed that Ratchet had saved Bumblebee's life after he was critically wounded by Megatron and still blames himself for being unable to fix his vocalizer.
  • Blinky becomes one for Jim in Trollhunters, most noticeable when he gets Jim what he always wanted for his birthday, specifically, a Vespa. Or at least, all the parts for one.
    • In the episode ‘Just Add Water’ of Season 2, Jim admits he viewed his History teacher Walter Strickler as “the closest thing to a Dad” he ever had, until he turned out to be a Changeling and tried to kill him.
  • Brock Sampson from The Venture Bros. claimed that the closest thing he ever had to a father was his old mentor Hunter Gathers, in turn he seems to be a more attentive parent to the titular Venture brothers, especially Hank.
  • Shiro from Voltron: Legendary Defender is this to his fellow teammates, especially Pidge, given that he and her father were good friends prior to the show. In fact, fans have nicknamed him "Space Dad".
    • Coran is this to Allura and serves as the uncle figure to the team.
  • In We Bare Bears, the titular bears grew up as orphans, but they do have some humans raising them, albeit briefly.
    • In "The Island", a shipwrecked young woman named Karla becomes a motherly figure to the three bear cubs during their time on the titular island, including singing a lullaby to them and putting them to bed. But when they escape the island, they are separated when a sleeping Karla is taken in by a rescue crew while the bears surface to Japan, losing the closest person they had as a mother.
    • In "Yuri and the Bear", set in the Arctic and before meeting Grizzly and Panda, a cynical Russian man named Yuri becomes one to baby Ice Bear when he trespasses in Yuri's tent and helps him out when he breaks his leg. Afterwards, Yuri, who lost his wife and daughter, slowly warms up to and bonds with Ice Bear, teaching him various skills and generally becomes a loving father figure for him. However, when Ice Bear gets hunted by poachers, Yuri comes to the cub's rescue, but then has to send him away into the ocean floating on a piece of ice to keep him safe. As a result, a heartbroken Ice Bear never saw Yuri again, but kept Yuri's axe in remembrance of him.
  • Wheel Squad: Mr. Rotter is such a good father to his stepdaughter she's never bothered by her birth father never being mentioned in the series.
  • In X-Men: Evolution, like in the comics Professor X, Storm, and Wolverine both serve as parental figures to Scott, Jean, Kurt, Kitty, Evan, Rogue, and the New Recruits. Logan also tried to do this with X-23 (as he's the genetic base for her and as such technically her father), but she refuses to let him as she sees herself as a weapon, not a child.
  • Young Justice:
    • Bruce Wayne is very much this to Dick Grayson. Dick actually gets jealous in one episode when Bruce privately lectures Aqualad after a disastrous mission. Bruce then alleviates Dick's concerns by playing basketball with him (claiming that it's "training"). Suprisingly enough, this series averts the parental relationship between Bruce and Alfred. Word of God states that Alfred deliberately remained emotionally distant from Bruce in his youth because he felt it was inappropriate for a butler to act as a father to his "master". Alfred regrets that and has since become closer to both Dick and Bruce.
    • Much of Superboy's season 1 character arc deals with him struggling to come to terms with being Superman's clone, and he frequently laments the fact that Superman is unwilling to serve as a parental figure, which is further complicated by the fact that some of Connor's DNA is actually Lex Luthor's, and Luthor does actually consider Connor his son- at least when it serves his purposes. Season 2's Time Skip mostly resolves the issue, with Clark and Connor settling into a fraternal relationship, with the implication that Jonathon and Martha Kent became Connor's parental figures.


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