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Promotion To Parent / Western Animation

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  • In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic is this to Tails, as the latter said that the former is his “mom, dad, and white picket fence”.
  • In Adventure Time, Finn was adopted by Jake's parents, who later died, and Jake watches out for Finn, although Jake is the Funny Animal version of a Manchild (a Dog Puppy?) and they mostly act like best friends and equals rather than a younger brother and a much older brother. In one episode, Jake makes an odd comment that his ability to sense when Finn is going to cry is like a "mother-daughter" thing.
    • Simon Petrikov as well, after he found a young Marceline in the ruins of a city in the aftermath of the Mushroom War.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Katara took on this sort of role in looking after her family after her mother Kya was murdered. A notable case, since Katara is actually the younger sibling. Even when she and Sokka leave the South Pole, she becomes the Team Mom. Her brother Sokka even highlights this at one point in Book 3, talking to Toph about how whenever he tries to picture his mother's face, Katara's is the face he sees.
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  • Their parents are alive and well in Danny Phantom, but Jazz relegated herself as the "parent" to Danny for a number of years. Fearing that her parents were too incompetent and obsessed with their ghost hunting that would in turn traumatize her naive, scared younger brother, Jazz served as a crutch and guidance to ensure his growth. In some ways it worked, but half the time he's irritated with her too-mature behavior. It works out in the end when Jazz realizes that she underestimated her parents' love and devotion to their children and that Danny's doing a fine job standing on his own two feet. With it, she, too, learns to let go and enjoy her given age.
  • The Daria website describes Casa Lane as the house where siblings Jane and Trent "were raised. By each other." It's not entirely true, but their parents are usually off in some foreign country and their older siblings (all moved out by the time the show takes place) are all dysfunctional in some way, leaving Jane and Trent alone to try to stabilize each other. (Trent is older, but Jane is probably the more responsible of the two.)
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  • In The '70s' Saturday Morning Cartoon Devlin by Hanna-Barbera, the main character and local Badass Biker Ernie Devlin has had to raise his teenage brother Todd and pre-teen sister Sandy in the circus they live and work in. According to some flashbacks, their dad was a highway motorcycle patrolman who was killed in the line of duty.
  • Peter and Lois Griffin are still alive, but they're also emotionally and physically Abusive Parents who are as likely to be the source of their children's problems as they are to be the solution. In an unusual subversion, it's the youngest child, Stewie Griffin, who acts as a parental figure to his older siblings Chris and Meg. He's shown more interest in their welfare and tried to help them with their problems than their parents ever did.
  • Though it's never mentioned what happened to their parents, Sue Storm on Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes is definitely this to Johnny.
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  • When Goliath in Gargoyles (the "rookery father" of the Manhattan Clan) goes missing, his Number Two Brooklyn, is forced to take up Goliath's leadership responsibilities.
  • On Invader Zim, Dib sometimes seems to feel this way towards Gaz, since their father is always working and their mom may or may not have ever even existed. Fanon tends to exaggerate this a bit, however; for the most part, Gaz is self-sufficient, and Dib seems to know it.
  • The Legend of Korra: Mako took care of his younger brother Bolin while the two of them were growing up on the streets, and is still fiercely protective of him.
    • Ghazan may or may not have been raised by an older sister.
    • It’s also implied that Lin had to take responsibility for Su as kids. Toph was a “hands off” parent and neither one knows her dad. Lin is also about six years older than her. In their flashback episode, Lin acts like her dad, trying to be a tough disciplinarian. The scene with the three of them arguing comes off like Toph and Lin are arguing about what to do with their kid.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The Apple siblings were technically raised by Granny Smith, but she's a bit senile. It's implied that Big Macintosh has taken on the "dad" role for his sisters (with Word of God adding that he's probably the farm's legal owner), with Applejack also trying to be a Big Sister Mentor for Apple Bloom.
  • Somewhat similar its live action counterpart, the animated Punky Brewster becomes a de facto parent to Glomer, the magical creature who is stranded from his homeland within a rainbow.
  • In ReBoot, Dot takes this role to Enzo. Naturally it ends after Enzo's Year Inside, Hour Outside Time Skip, rendering him physically older than Dot. Enzo's clone gets the original and Dot as surrogate parents, but later gets his real dad back (sort of).
  • Played with in The Simpsons episode "We're on the Road to Nowhere." The main plot revolves around Homer driving Bart to a behavior rehabilitation camp in Oregon, while the secondary plot revolves around Marge trying to raise money through a garage sale, where she gets arrested for selling Homer's pain medication. After Homer drops off Bart at the camp, he goes back for him and they drive off to Las Vegas. The mid credits scene shows Maggie alone in her high chair, and two messages in the answering machine. The first Message is from Marge, asking Homer for bail money and a lawyer. The second message is from Homer, asking Marge for money to pay back a casino, and that he lost Bart and doesn't know where he is. Lisa tells Maggie that she knew it would just be the two of them some day, and ads that she'll look for job the next morning.
  • As all clones see each other as brothers, Hunter naturally becomes this to Omega when the Bad Batch escape Kamino during the rise of the Empire.
  • A unique example in Steven Universe — the title character is the Half-Human Hybrid son of an alien Magical Girl Warrior, being trained by his mother's old teammates. Their attempts are spotty but loving. Steven's father, Greg, did raise him until recently and is still involved in his life, but decided that he needed to stay with the Gems in order to learn how to use his powers. (The fact that Greg Lives in a Van may have also contributed.)
  • During the first season of Transformers Animated, Bulkhead and Bumblebee seemed to have a sibling relationship with Sari. After her father disappeared, they started moving into more of a parental role — or at least they tried.
  • Combined with Surprisingly Realistic Outcome in Wakko's Wish. Confirming that the Warners are homeless orphans living in a classic example of a rundown house with broken boards and cloths draped over ropes to serve as doors, it's clear that Yakko, despite still managing to be his playful, upbeat self, has taken on huge responsibility for his rambunctious little brother and sickly little sister. Interestingly, the 2020 reboot plays up Yakko's role as the responsible authority figure more frequently then the old show did, and he is shown taking quite good care of Wakko and Dot when they need it.
  • Young Justice:
    • M'gann and Gar consider themselves "blood siblings" after she saves his life with a Super Human Transfusion. After his mom dies during the Time Skip he moves to Mount Justice with her.
    • "Misplaced" is sort of a worldwide temporary example: all the adults in the world disappear and we see teenagers rounding up and trying to care for all the younger kids.


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