Abusive Parents/Live Action TV

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search


  • Brenda's parents in Six Feet Under had sex in front of her during her childhood, threw orgies while she was in the house, and sent her to a psychiatrist who scrutinized her and played mindgames with her for a book. When she grew up, her mother constantly put her down and laughed at any attempts she made to improve her life and told her that she would've aborted her if her father hadn't talked her out of it.
  • There are many abusive parents in Skins. Just in the first generation, we have Chris, whose mother left him without even saying goodbye and whose father rarely bothered to see him, Jal, whose mother abandoned her, Cassie, whose parents neglected her and were more concerned with their sex life than with their daughter's emotional health, and Sid, whose parents make it pretty obvious that they preferred his best friend and considered Sid a disappointment. The worst, though, is probably Cook (of gen 2), whose mother had loud sex with strangers while he was in the next room, drove drunk with her kids in the car, and went on drunken rages, including smashing furniture in front of them. His father also walked out on him, made a pass at his girlfriend, and finally threatened to throw him into the river. Charming family, all around.
  • American dark-comedy sitcom TV show Titus has Ken "Papa" Titus, who was emotionally abusive toward his sons. One of the Too Good to Last shows, canceled due to Executive Meddling.
    • One of the quotes from the show:

"Why abuse a child physically when emotional abuse is far more permanent?"

  • John Winchester might just own this part of the trope. Dean had an "obey or somebody gets killed" issue while Sam got completely disowned when he wanted to be normal, their tearful phone calls in both "Home" and "Faith" got ignored, Dean got used as an emotional punching bag when he was pissed off with Sam, and he gave them so little affection that when he acted like a "Well Done, Son" Guy, they thought he was possessed or that there was something incredibly wrong going on.
    • To add insult to injury, they were right: Daddy was possessed when he was handing out the congrats.
  • Lost: All the characters have Daddy issues, but Ben's father in particular is so nasty to him (blaming him for his mother's death in childbirth) that the viewer almost cheers when Ben kills him.
    • Ben's case really includes 3 types -- emotional abuse, neglect, and physical abuse. Roger blames him for his mother's death, hits and manhandles him (breaking his glasses at one point), and always forgets his birthday. The only time he cares about his son is when Sayid shoots little Ben.
    • Locke's father, Anthony Cooper not only stole Locke's kidney and pushed him out of an eight story window, but was also the original Sawyer-- you know, the man who ruined James Ford's father's life so badly that he murdered his wife and killed himself.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tara Maclay's father brainwashed Tara into believing that she's a demon.
    • And then there's Xander's implied difficulties with his parents. He was so worried he might turn out to be a horrible husband and father like his dad that he ended up leaving Anya at the altar, unable to commit to marriage.
    • Can anyone remember seeing Willow's dad ever? Was her mom ever around except when it was going to be unpleasant or dangerous for Willow? Great parents there.
    • This trope is so prevalent in this series and in Angel (and in any Joss Whedon work that mentions parents really) that only one major character, Fred, was shown to have a happy and loving relationship with both her parents (it came as a shock to the other characters too). Then she got her soul devoured by an Eldritch Abomination from beyond who then took over her body.
      • Buffy, Dawn and their mom had a good relationship...and thus the mother must die... the mother and father were unhappy in marriage and their father left.
        • There was the one episode where Buffy's father and mother were a loving, caring couple and all they wanted was for Buffy to be OK [sigh]. In that one, it was Buffy who was INSANE!!!!
    • It's heavily suggested that Faith of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a victim of parental abuse. Her mother was a neglectful alcoholic who was likely physically and mentally abusive. As well, Faith's rather twisted relationship with sex hints at possible sexual abuse. The Big Bad who took her in as a Dragon and surrogate daughter was a better parent! Even after his death, Faith still remembers him fondly while still acknowledging that he was an evil man.
    • Amy's mother told her she was useless and wasting her youth, stole her body, kept her locked in the house as a prisoner (while still in the wrong body) and almost trapped her in a small cheerleading trophy, forever.
    • Over on Angel Wesley's father is obviously incredibly emotionally abusive, and used to lock him under the stairs. Any time Wesley speaks to him it's nearly possible to see his self-esteem draining away. When he finally showed up in person this continued, until Wesley actually managed to impress him. Except that no, this was all a ploy to gain access to a mystical artifact to use against Wesley's friend and employer. Also the father turned out to be an illusion-clad cyborg impostor, but Wesley was perfectly willing to believe that his father would actually do this. After shooting the cyborg while still believing it to be his father, he called home to make sure the real one was alright, and was promptly told off for calling at that hour.
    • Connor's relationship with Holtz started when he kidnapped him as a baby and fled to "the darkest of dark worlds". Apart from that he raised him to hate his biological father and tied him to a tree and abandoned him for weeks at a time to teach him how to track. From the age of about six. Given that this is a man who decided to teach someone else "loyalty" by nailing their hand to a table there's presumably a lot more.
    • One case dealt with a telekinetic teen named Bethany who had been sexually abused by her father. Wolfram and Hart's attempt to turn her into a killer amounted to putting her father in the same room, on the basis that she'd be unable not to kill him with her new powers.
  • NCIS:
    • Ziva's father. Dear Lord, Ziva's father. Descriptions of her childhood mention that the "fun" activities she enjoyed involved being taken blindfolded into the forest and left to find her own way out. After that, he raised her to be a killer, instructed her to kill her own brother, abused his position to spy on her, sent a drunken assassin to pretend to be in love with her, left her to be tortured to death in Somalia without a pang of guilt, and finally tried to frame her for murder. She cut off all contact with him recently. What a shocker.
    • Despite his outwardly sunny, joking exterior, Tony DiNozzo implies that his parents were physically and emotionally abusive, in addition to being alcoholics. That's not even mentioning the fact that Tony's dad went on a buisiness trip with child!Tony to Maui, but then he forgot him there! It should also be mentioned that Tony was left there for a week. That's right folks, Tony's dad went home from Maui, and forgot his son was there until a week later!
    • The episode "Restless" had the foster daughter claiming that she ran away from home because her birth parents in a commune were abusive. Although her parents living in a commune wasn't true and in fact part of a scam (although the episode itself implies that she genuinely believed her identity and the part about her parents was true due to mental brainwashing and subsequent reprogrammings), the part about her having an abusive parent (more specifically, an abusive uncle, as her actual birthparents were killed in a car crash and he received custody) was actually true, as her uncle, a person working as a chef in the second-chance shelter, and also the person who masteminded the foster child scam that she was unknowingly/unwillingly involved in, often physically abused her (one example is a burn mark on her shoulder that was revealed to be from tongs used for handling taco shells), and had her reprogrammed at least twice beforehand.
  • House: Dr. House's father started out as just a harsh bastard who didn't see eye to eye with his son, but then, as is always, more than a few nasty things popped up about him. He doesn't believe in unconditional love, he apparently never told his son that he was right or did the right thing, he made him sleep outside and take ice baths when he was a child (trust the writers to go for things that are considered torture in some places), refused to speak to him for two months when a twelve-years-old Greg told him (truthfully) that Papa House wasn't his real father, and let him go without food if he was ever a tiny bit late for a meal. But, even after all this and in the last fifteen minutes of "Birthmarks", House (in his own guarded way) admits that his father's death has affected him more than he would care to admit.
    • Greg House hated his dad so much, he convinced himself that he wasn't his biological son. Not only was he right, but he made the deduction based on red flags spotted when he was fourteen, something that impresses even Wilson. He even deduced his actual father. The accuracy of the second part is never confirmed, though. Whatever kind of lesson this gives is rather ambiguous.
  • Scrubs:
    • Dr. Cox's father was an abusive alcoholic who showed love by throwing bottles at his head and missing on purpose while his mother simply stood by and let the abuse happen. He can't stand the sight of his own sister, because seeing her reminds him of their childhood.
    • Jordan used this as an excuse for why she's so mean once or twice, but later admits that her parents were both very supportive actually.
    • Elliot's parents were emotionally abusive and neglectful of her when she was little to the point that the maid raised her and her mother still ridicules her whenever she comes to town.
    • The Janitor's parents kept him in a "Baby Cage" (which was actually a pet carrier). One would assume this was just another one of his many Blatant Lies if he weren't so distraught that no one else had ever heard of a Baby Cage and were so horribly disturbed when he gave one as a present for a baby shower. The overheard phone conversation with his mother: "no mom, playpen/baby cage is not like tomayto/tomahto." The Janitor also has occasional flashbacks in the show to his mother cheerfully assigning him bizarre and rather cruel punishments when he was messy. Like making him eat his dinner off the floor (with no plates), because he got crumbs everywhere. "Soup night was the worst..."
  • Tony Soprano is emotionally manipulated and terrorized by his difficult mother throughout his childhood and well into his adult life. One notable incident featured his mother threatening to stick a fork in his eye when he was only ten years old. Tony's father was outwardly friendly, yet also a manipulative sociopath who indoctrinated his son into violent crime and the mob. It's implied that the various degrees of emotional manipulation and terror Tony suffered under his parents is what turned him into the violent sociopath that heads the New Jersey crime families. Oddly enough, Tony manages to become a better father to his kids than his parents ever were to him (despite being an aforementioned violent sociopath), and his children turn out relatively nice and normal, even if they have a few issues of their own.
  • In Young Dracula, Dracula shows blatant favoritism for Vlad over his older sister Ingrid, even though Ingrid acts exactly the way he keeps pressuring Vlad to act. One could argue that he's also abusive to Vlad based on his inability to accept that Vlad isn't a younger copy of himself, but it's much less blatant than his abuse of Ingrid.
  • George Sr. and Lucille Bluth of Arrested Development treated all of their children with varying degrees of abuse, which continued (to an extent) well into their adulthood. Michael and Gob were constantly played against each other (and occasionally manipulated into physically fighting each other. Said fights were viedeotaped and sold later as Boyfights) because George believed it to be a way of preparing them for conflict in life. They were also constantly undermined to keep them working for George's approval (Gob' desire to pursue a career in magic is constantly mocked, and his parents make it clear that he is The Unfavorite; Michael had a ridiculously extreme work ethic instilled in him, and George would often shoot down his ideas for the family business, regardless of what he thought of them). Lindsey is often reminded of the fact that she has never really achieved anything, and Lucille has made cracks about her weight (when Lindsey doesn't really have any weight problems) since she was very young. Buster was made to have a crippling overdependence on his mother, only for her to discard him whenever she considers him to be an inconvenience or imposition; George is also highly disdainful of his lack of independence and maturity. George would also traumatise his children by making them associate certain unwanted behaviors with severe mutilation, in order to teach them "lessons" (such as leaving a note when they run out of milk). Lindsey's abuse is probably the darkest when it is learned that she is adopted, and Lucille admits they didn't want her and only adopted her to spite Stan Sitwell, who had been trying to adopt her himself. They also spoiled all of their children except Michael to the point that they had virtually no work ethic, which many would consider a form of abuse.
  • In Doctor Who Peri has nightmares of her stepfather doing unpleasant things to her and there's an implication he's abused her in the past.
    • The second season of the new series gave us Eddie Connolly, a 1950s patriarch who was a product of his time, treating his son like dirt.
    • Season 4 also had a somewhat milder example in Sylvia Noble, who didn't seem to realize that her daughter had an inferiority complex, and that her jabs were legitimately hurtful to Donna. The Doctor calls her out on this during the finale, and Sylvia becomes much nicer in subsequent appearances.
  • These kinds of parents came up a few times in the original Twilight Zone. Specifically, the stepfather in "Living Doll" and Jenny's aunt in "The Fugitive". Although the latter really did love Jenny, as she was clearly distressed when Jenny was near death, and the former was mostly antagonistic because a doll was trying to kill him.
  • On Star Trek: Voyager, what kind of parents did Annika Hansen have? They kept her with them when they flew into the most dangerous area of the galaxy, ignoring the danger while searching of the most dangerous species anyone in the Federation knew of. And we all know how well that turned out. Annika Hansen is the birth name of Seven of Nine. She says herself how irresponsible this was, in conjunction with denouncing Icheb's parents for using him as a biological weapon against the Borg.
    • They were more neglectful than abusive, really; they had no idea what the Borg were capable of when they started researching them, only that they came from far away and nobody knew anything about them. This tracks back to the TNG argument about keeping families on board the Enterprise, though.
  • In The West Wing, the only Jed Bartlet´s flashback about his past portrayed his father as a emotionally, and sometimes physically, abusive parent toward the young Jed. In a battle with his subconscious, personified by the "ghost" of Mrs. Landingham, his father is described as "a prick who could never get over the fact that he wasn't as smart as his brothers". Sorkin says that Bartlet's tirade against God in the episode "Two Cathedrals" is directed just as much at his own father.
  • Bones' parents abandoned her and her brother when she was fifteen. She goes into the foster care system where, at one point, she was locked in a truck for two days because she broke a plate. Sweets was physically abused as a child by his parents. He was removed from them by social services and adopted by another family when he was six. Booth and his brother, Jared, were physically abused by their father before their grandfather took them in.
  • The rich Shin family in the Korean Drama Bad Boy.
  • Practically every single parent in Gossip Girl, but especially Bart Bass.
  • There was a Texas Runaway Hotline Public Service Announcement that aired for a time that had two boys discussing how badly things were at home, cutting twice from the boys to a Jerkass father from one of the boy's point of view:

Boy's Father: You live in my house, you live under MY rules!
(After a while...)
Boy's Father: If you don't like living here, you can pack your stuff and LEAVE!!

  • Celia in Weeds, who constantly berates and belittles her Hollywood Pudgy daughter, Isabelle.
  • Rich in Community, revealed in the last few seconds of the episode "Beginner Pottery".
  • On the 1970s situation comedy Good Times, the Evans family (the main protagonists), Wilnona Woods (their neighbor) and building superintendent Bookman intervene when a little girl living in their building is physically abused by her mother. The story arc plays out over four episodes to open the 1977-1978 season. The little girl (played by a young Janet Jackson) eventually becomes a regular character on the series.
  • It was implied that Horatio and Ray had a level of angst with their father in CSI: Miami
  • Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica. We learn all of her fingers were once broken at the exact same place - due to her mother putting Kara's hand in the doorframe and closing the door shut. This being a show of Grey and Grey Morality, Kara's mother is not portrayed as pure evil despite this. She knew from oracles that Kara had a special destiny in store, and her way of trying to toughen her up and prepare her was really warped. She was also a Colonial Marine and a really bitter one for not having made officer (remember that OCS rejection letter?).
  • Character Aaron Echolls, father of Logan Echolls in Veronica Mars, is notably one of the worst dads in television - among other things he has been shown to physically abuse his son, hitting him and striking him with a belt. Logan's mother could be said to be neglectful, in the least, due to her drinking with the intention of ignoring her son being beaten in the next room.
    • It should probably be said that Aaron's "among other things" includes having sex with his son's girlfriend and then murdering her with an ashtray.
  • In Supernatural's "Nightmare", the first psychic child Sam and Dean meet is Max Miller. Max is a slightly deranged, telekinetic, abused child who was beaten by his father and uncle almost daily. He killed them both and, instead of killing his mother (before shooting Dean dead) like he was going to, he ends up tragically killing himself.
    • While Sam Winchester's childhood sucked ass, he openly and gratefully acknowledged that it hadn't been nearly as bad as Max's and he has his father to thank for it. Also of interest in that scene is while Sam is obvious in his relief, his older brother's subdued and twisted sounding agreement rings as considerably more hollow and forced.
  • In The Mentalist, Lisbon has this as part of her backstory. Her father was an abusive alcoholic who left her to raise her three brothers. Jane is not above using this to manipulate her, most notably in a recent Season 3 episode.
    • In a flashback, Jane himself was shown to have had an emotionally abusive father who brought him up to think of all other people as people to be lied to, stolen from, and thrown away when no longer required.
  • Not quite true parentage, but in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Doctor Mora Pol was the scientist that was supposed to figure out what Odo was initially, subjecting him to a lot of probings and unpleasantness (though he was under pressure from the Cardassians at the time). Eventually he figured out that Odo was sentient, but didn't quite realize just how much Odo resented being subjected to the crap that he was. Even years later, Doctor Mora didn't realize how much of an ass he was to Odo, constantly interrupting him and telling him that he was responsible for Odo becoming the man that he was and educating him in interacting in society (which would make him the closest thing to a parent Odo would have), leaving out the parts where also he electrified him, subjected him to vacuum, and used a "protein decompiler" on him. Eventually, it took Odo trying to maul/kill him while under the Changeling equivalent of a mind altering substance for him to realize that a lot of what Dr. Mora did was not appreciated, and he became somewhat less an ass to Odo in subsequent episodes. They do eventually reconcile fully.
  • Arnold Rimmer and his three brothers were abused by their father in various ways; the most severe of them was the use of a rack to try to accelerate their growth. Rimmer's father had been refused entry to the Space Corps for being an inch below regulation height. Indeed, all of the abuse they suffered was to make them succeed where Rimmer Snr. had failed; unfortunately, Arnold continually tries to use this as a Freudian Excuse for his constant failures and annoying behaviour, whilst his brothers each become successful in their own Space Corps specialty.
    • Ironically, a deleted scene from the series six episode Rimmerworld reveals that Arnold might be the best adjusted of his brothers: at some point before the accident that left Red Dwarf without a crew, Rimmer's three brothers suffered long-delayed psychotic breakdowns, each one resulting in a significant body count.
    • The Freudian Excuse even worked once: when asked to justify his existence to the Inquisitor, Arnold notes that yeah, he may have squandered his life, but compared to his childhood, it's an improvement. It works.
  • Part of Michael Westen's backstory is that his father physically abused Michael and his younger brother Nate. It's never mentioned if Mr. Westen beat Madeline as well (though good luck with that, considering the woman carries around a shotgun), but 3x07 "Shot in the Dark" has Michael, Sam, and Fiona helping a mother and two boys on the run from an abusive stepfather.
    • It also confirms the abuse is the reason why Michael is taking such a "domestic" situation so seriously:

Madeline: For two little boys getting kicked around by their father? Michael would take on the entire Chinese army.

    • Michael's background with his father was used in an episode overtly, when he was hired by a mother to get her son back from his father. The character's narration mentions that it's a bad idea to get involved with causes that have emotional impact, since they can lead you to make bad decisions. The mother who hired him turns out to be an assassin, after the father of the boy. After Michael and the target escape, the assassin tells Michael that she has been following his progress for the last decade (after he nearly managed to catch her following one of her hits, without knowing who she was), and she used the 'father kidnaps son' story specifically because he has problems with thinking clearly in such scenarios.
  • In one of the last episodes of All in The Family before the Stivics move to California, Mike and Archie get locked in the unheated bar's basement during a cold spell. Both drink to keep warm, and in this altered state Archie tells Mike about how his father would beat him and lock him in a closet to "teach me to do good".
  • A M*A*S*H episode has Frank Burns telling Trapper, "I'm from a very strict family. We weren't allowed to talk at meals. We couldn't even hum. Anybody who hummed got a punch in the throat."
  • Penny's mom on Good Times. She hits Penny numerous times, breaks her arm, and in one of the most infamous scenes in the show, she burns Penny with a HOT IRON. This troper still will not watch the last 5 minutes of that episode. Thankfully, Penny's life changes when her mom abandons her and Willona adopts her.
  • A Very Special Episode of Major Dad dealt with this, with Robin's new boyfriend being beaten by his father (another USMC major). Major McGillis eventually confronts his fellow major (leading to a Crowning Moment of Awesome), and the episode's stinger featured actors Gerald McRaney and Nicole Dubuc providing a hotline number for domestic abuse victims.
  • Francis implies that Lois in Malcolm in the Middle was physically abusive in addition to the more well known abuses in finance: For instance, when listing all of the punishments that they should make themselves immune to after she thinks they burned her red dress and is interrogating them as to which ones ruined it (which turns out to be neither of them, as it was actually Hal, the father, who did the deed), he lists them as crushing their toys, making them spin around with their heads on baseball bats to make themselves dizzy, corner standing, laying under a dusty couch, single interrogations, loud children's songs, and threatening to smash the TV, and in another episode was also implied that her punishments towards Francis actually made a cult trying to haze Francis completely incapable of humiliating him, and after learning his secret, actually adopts Lois's punishments on new recruitees as their new method of hazing. It's also implied that Lois's mother, Ima, was even worse.
    • Francis technically isn't a parent (yet, anyways), but he did abuse his brothers (IE, Malcolm and Reese) rather physically (such as locking them up in a closet, stealing their toys, frequently torturing them, and scarring Reese on the shoulder with a bayonette).
    • In the series finale, Lois actively made sure Malcom didn't get that high paying job which he EARNED by sole virtue of merit. Yeah, she did it because she wanted Malcolm to become president, someone who will know how people like them live and would be able to do something about it. However, Malcolm's family's problems largely are their own fault. She's also said at one point that she'll happily throw Malcolm's future away to save Reese (the family failure).
    • Hal kept a $10,000 grant Malcolm earned a secret from him. He also charged an expensive Christmas vacation on Malcolm's credit card; Malcolm wasn't completely innocent here, seeing as though he was responsible with it he got the card illegally, but still....
    • Lois takes 3/4 of Malcolm's paycheck from Lucky Aid with no reason given.
    • Malcolm was offered a full scholarship to a prestigious boarding school and knowing they wouldn't let him go under normal conditions, he makes a very rational argument that with him away, the family could actually afford a coming baby without being drowned in debt. Rather than let him go, Hal chastises him by telling him "you don't get to leave", with only the rationale that something will come up to keep the family afloat.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210 character Valerie Malone was repeatedly raped by her father as a child.
  • Child abuse of all flavors is one of the specialties of Law and Order Special Victims Unit, but since rape is the other, sexual abuse against minors is one of their most frequent case types. Female circumcision is one plot that shows up more than it in all likelihood would.
    • One episode had a set of white parents set their black adopted child to be killed by white supremacists to collect the insurance money.
    • Another episode had a family poison their granddaughter in a way to make it look like she had cancer so they could collect insurance money and sympathy.
  • Supernatural implied heavily that Bela Talbot was abused by her father in this way when she was fourteen. In that case, can you blame the poor woman for wanting to make a Deal with the Devil?
  • In Twin Peaks, murder victim Laura Palmer, repeatedly raped over several years and later killed by her father Leland. Leland is supposedly not entirely responsible because of possession by BOB, an evil spirit.
  • Ricky Underwood in The Secret Life of the American Teenager who was abused by his father at a young age, leading him to be placed in a foster home. Sets him up for this rebellious womanizing attitude that the high school girls are oogling over.
  • In Law and Order: Criminal Intent, in "Crazy", the team found out that the victim had molested his young daughter. He didn't. It was because his ex-wife was becoming desperate and accused her husband as such, despite knowing what really happened.
  • Gilmore Girls: Paris's parents decide to evade their tax responsibilities and leave the country, leaving her high and dry when the IRS moved in, and was forced to take work and move into a skeevy apartment featuring a "doo-wop group" on the front steps in order to get through the last two years of Yale.
  • Married... with Children: Bud Bundy has had his scholarship money stolen by his parents.
  • Dark Angel: Max was fostered by a family shortly after her escape from Manticore, the father of which was a drunk, and he smacked both her and her foster-sister around and molested the latter. This scenario is replayed in episode 3 of season one, when she is imprisoned in the Warden's house. However, it ended differently in the fact that Max ended up splattering him by ramming a jeep into the car he was hiding behind. Because Max was a Tyke Bomb, she endured plenty of abuse from the adults at Project Manticore. It's a wonder more of her group didn't go crazy like her brother Ben.
  • Both Niki Sanders and Elle Bishop in Heroes were abused by their fathers, though neither actually remember it. In Niki's case, her alter ego due to Split Personality does remember and also suggests that her father killed her deceased sister. Elle's father is alleged to have performed invasive experiments on her when she was very young, with the memories of this being removed through the use of another character's ability, and is shown to be generally cold and manipulative toward her.
  • In bits and pieces over the course of his run on Mash, Frank Burns revealed (usually while drunk) a litany of things his parents would do to him. Both of his parents were emotionally abusive, though it was his father who would do things like punching him in the throat if he so much as hummed during dinner.
  • Mad Men
    • Don Draper's father abused him physically (partially explaining how he got so messed up). On the other hand, messed-up as he is, he isn't half as abusive to his children as Betty, whose ice-cold and often oblivious parenting has given way to physical abuse; Don tends towards well-meaning cluelessness, and his all-too-frequent forgetting of important events doesn't seem to get to the level of neglect. Betty's 2nd husband, Henry Francis, is more understanding, but he doesn't seem to be able to make Betty get that she's making things worse. Given how he was born, Don was probably also emotionally abused by his father's wife. "I'm a whoreson, didn't you know?"
    • Betty's mother.
  • Smallville:
    • Lex's dad, Lionel witholds affection and approval from his son in the warped belief that it will make him stronger. Their tortured relationship is one of the keystones of the series, and ends very badly when Lex kills his dad. It is revealed in Season 3 that Lionel himself suffered physical absue from his drunken, alcholic parents, who sought to keep him down in the gutter with them, and prevent him from succeeding at anything; this is one of the reasons he's so oblivious to his abuse of Lex, as he thinks he has a firm grasp of what abuse looks like. And then there's Tess Mercer, who's real parents abandoned her and who's foster father broke her eardrums and arm through physical violence.
    • In Season 4, we meet Jason Teague, who's parents were also less than loving. His father, Edward, subjects him to Financial Abuse, disinheriting him when he sets off on his own. His mother, Evil Matriarch Genevieve is even worse, being more or less Lionel's Distaff Counterpart. She's emotionally manipulative of Jason and his girlfriend, whom she plans to murder in order to fullfill a prophecy; her control of Jason is so extreme that by the end of the season he's unwilling to do anything without seeking her permission first. Then in Season 10, we meet Earth-2 Lionel, who takes this Up to Eleven, encouraging his kids to plot against one another for the privilege of being his Bastard Understudy, and eventually tries to have them all killed off at one point or another. Archnemesis Dad indeed.
  • Benny Lopez was pretty bad to George as a kid, but it was more due to George's dad walking out on her and not having the money herself to afford it. The real abusive parents are hers, who took this to Complete Monster level and make her look like a decent mother compared to them.
  • CSI has Sara as a main character, and possibly Ray,plus all the CSIs have quite a few criminals with such pasts.
  • Adam's father on CSI: NY
  • Michael on Roswell has this problem with his foster dad, until he emancipates himself.
  • Kenzi's stepfather from Lost Girl used to lock her in a closet for laughing too loud, and it's implied that he was sexually abusive.
  • In Criminal Minds, some of the UnSubs were abused by their parents.
    • Then there are the UnSubs who are the abusive parents.
  • Starsky and Hutch
    • One episode deals with child abuse, where the titler characters attempt to find who hurt a young boy they see at school and initially suspect it was the father. As it turns out, the mother was the abuser and she was arrested after Starsky and Hutch barged in her house to look for her son.
    • At the end of another episode, it is implied that Starsky himself was once beaten by his father during his 8th birthday.
  • Regina in Once Upon A Time is strongly implied to be emotionally abusive towards Henry in terms of neglect and lack of involvement, but at the same time, she loves him in her own way.