Follow TV Tropes


Playing With / Designer Babies

Go To

Basic Trope: Genetically-engineered offspring

  • Straight: Alice and Bob seek out the help of the local Mad Scientist to create a "super baby".
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed: The resultant embryo has genes that would allow to above average, but not prodigious, intelligence, and a talent for music — but other than that, Alice and Bob trust in their love and parenting skills to raise their kid right.
  • Justified:
    • Alice and Bob are carriers of a serious genetic condition (such as Tay-Sachs disease or Huntington's disease or Cystic Fibrosis or haemophilia or diabetes), and are seeking to use LEGO Genetics to not pass those genes onto their kids and end up torturing them. They only want to allow their children to live normal lives, not to create "super babies".
    • Alice and Bob live in a world where it is perfectly routine to have your local friendly Mad Scientist make sure your embryos have all genetic diseases removed—and to Alice and Bob this is part of being a responsible parent.
  • Inverted: Alice and Bob seek out to eliminate all genetically modified embryos.
  • Subverted: Alice and Bob seek only genetic counseling.
  • Double Subverted: But then decide that with some of the long-term health risks in their family, that they'd better find themselves someone who knows a thing or two about LEGO Genetics.
  • Advertisement:
  • Parodied: Determining the "desirable" traits is done on a sheet of paper and with a roll of a die, much like in Dungeons & Dragons. The parents apply copious amounts of Min-Maxing in order to create the "perfect" baby. For example: A mute midget with no social skills that has great combat prowess and supreme hacking skills!
  • Zig Zagged: ???
  • Averted: No babies are genetically modified at any time, either during conception or growth.
  • Enforced: "We need to create a futuristic Sci-Fi setting that is somewhat of a Crapsaccharine World".
  • Lampshaded: ???
  • Invoked: Someone invents genetic modification techniques and/or artificial growth media for human embryos.
  • Exploited: Alice and Bob seek to create the "perfect" child.
  • Defied: Alice and Bob decide that this is unethical and/or not practical, and decide to just let nature take its course. If the child has a genetic disease, they'll deal with it.
  • Advertisement:
  • Discussed: ???
  • Conversed: ???
  • Deconstructed:
    • Genetic modification techniques are very expensive; only the rich and powerful people could afford to afford Transhuman technology and have "super babies". These "super babies" born from the elite outclass "natural" children and gain an advantage over them. Thus, class conflict is merged with genetic conflict.
    • The science is played realistically, and it's established early on that the whole idea of a 'perfect race' is absurd: nurture plays as much a role as nature, and environment matters. The technology is used mostly to eliminate genetic diseases and to reduce the human costs involved in adjusting to new environments.
    • There are designer children...however, due to the fact they were "designed", they are treated more like an object than a person by their parents. They are left with a crippling fear of failure and an unhealthy desire for perfectionism, if only to avoid abuse.
    • The process is technologically possible, however no genetic engineer is willing to perform it for fear of the potential consequences if the traits fail to manifest or the genetic tampering causes unforeseen problems down the line.
  • Reconstructed: Strict laws are enacted (and enforced) that dictate when, where, and how LEGO Genetics are to be used. (i.e. they are used to get rid of genetic diseases, not to create "super babies" or homogenize society. Everyone has advantages and disadvantages, like normal.
  • Played For Laughs: Alice and Bob create Punnett squares...on the first date.
  • Played For Drama: A "normal" child from a poor family must compete in a world populated by Designer Babies from old money.

Back to Designer Babies

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: