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Playing With / Abusive Parents

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Basic Trope: A character's parents were not good to them.

  • Straight: Carl's mom "forgets" to feed him and yells at him for everything while his dad whips him with a TV cord every other day.
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed:
    • Carl's parents mistreat him and his brother Dave, but treats Eric better.
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    • Parental Neglect
    • While not outright scumbags, Carl's parents are simply jerkasses at worst.
  • Justified:
  • Inverted:
  • Subverted:
    • Carl's parents seem to be abusive towards their son at first, but when he is in actual danger through outside forces, it turns into a Papa Wolf and Mama Bear team up.
    • Or, Carl's parents seem neglectful at first only because they are Hippies, and as the story progresses, it becomes obvious that they all love each other very much.
    • Carl claims he is brutally abused by his parents, but it's all a lie for attention.
    • Carl is an Enfant Terrible who abuses his parents, with the threat that he'll call social services and lie about being abused if they don't do what he wants. Finally, his parents snap and start disciplining him in ways that might seem abusive, but after the way we've seen Carl torment his parents, it comes across more as Kick the Son of a Bitch. At that point, the parents reason that going to jail is preferable to another minute of being tortured by the little psychopath.
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    • Carl's parents are trying to discipline him, but his constant and escalating antics finally push them too far and they resort to more drastic measures.
    • It is found out that Carl's parents were acting abusive to him which they think will make him a stronger and well-behaved child.
    • Carl's parents were having a bad day and soon mellowed out at the next.
  • Double Subverted:
    • ... But when the threat is gone, the reset button is pushed.
    • While Carl's claims of physical abuse are false, psychological abuse and neglect are plentiful.
    • But they were going too far in punishing Carl and become worse than he is.
    • But regardless of whether or not Carl became a better person because of this parenting, it's learned that his parents only used the "tough love" treatment as an excuse to mistreat him.
  • Parodied:
  • Zig Zagged:
    • Neither Carl nor the audience can tell which days his parents will abuse him and which days they won't.
    • Due to Values Dissonance, Carl's parents' treatment can either be interpreted as either harsh discipline or simply crude abuse.
    • Carl has avoided becoming bitter, hateful, and evil and has generally strived to become better than his parents, but the lasting effects of his abuse hinders his ability to make significantly positive contributions either.
  • Averted: Carl's parents are at least competent and fair.
  • Enforced:
  • Lampshaded: "Man, your parents suck, Carl." "I know. Though it's kinda funny, in a way."
  • Invoked: "HIT ME!"
  • Exploited: Carl is a masochist. He does his best to make his parents mad so that they can hurt him as much as possible.
  • Defied:
    • Carl solves his problem by calling child protective services.
    • Carl solves the problem by murdering his parents.
  • Discussed: "That villain must have been abused as a child."
  • Conversed: "What is with all this stuff? If they did that to their son in Real Life, they'd be locked up!"
  • Implied: Carl noticeably doesn't talk about his parents or avoids going home as much as possible. He's also prone to getting bruises and gets really uncomfortable when someone asks how he got them.
  • Deconstructed:
    • The constant abuse from his parents leads Carl to believe that society is meaningless and he is either Driven to Suicide or grows up to be the Big Bad of the current story. His parents end up being portrayed more sympathetically: they had a more depressing backstory and were just too critical and both were a bit of a Knight Templar towards their son, making them much stronger and better people.
    • Alternately, Carl's bruises just couldn't not be noticed by someone else, and abusive parents were quickly deprived of parental rights, before even causing anything he considers really severe.
    • The abuse drives the child to become a better person than he would have been, and makes him happier and more independent. It was his parents' plan all along.
    • Because Carl only knows abuse from his parents, he ends up becoming just as abusive to his own children when he has a family of his own, and starts a cycle of abuse that will result in his children abusing their families as payback for his actions and this cycle will continue for future generations.
  • Reconstructed:
    • However, neither Carl nor his parents are responsible for what they bore. So, none of them is more sympathetic in the end, and Carl is still a woobie.
    • It still made him think that it was normal for him to be hit.
    • It also makes them struggle with controlling their bad memories and their reaction to them resurfacing.
    • Alternatively... He instead grows up to try to be different from his abusive parents and becomes a loving and caring father, raising/becoming the next hero.
  • Played For Laughs: Hilariously Abusive Childhood
  • Played For Drama:
    • One or both of Carl's parents were abused as children themselves, spurring them to abuse Carl in turn.
    • Carl's Panicky Expectant Father antics take a turn for the dramatic when he voices concerns about hurting his child like his parents hurt him.
    • Carl does end up being as bad a father as his parents.
  • Plot Foundation:

No! Please don't hit me! I'm sorry...

Example of: