Parents in Distress

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Kids have this tendency to get themselves in trouble, often requiring their parental figures to bail them out. Sometimes this goes to the point of violence or physical feats, where Mama Bear and Papa Wolf step up to the plate.

On the other hand, sometimes it's the parents that get themselves in a sticky situation. But then, sometimes the children will go to any lengths necessary to save their parents (or teacher, older sibling, etc.) from danger.

Any series with a Kid Hero who isn't Conveniently an Orphan is bound to try this at least once. See Adults Are Useless. This trope is often a non-Ho Yay version of The Not Love Interest.

Examples of Parents in Distress include:

Anime and Manga

  • Bumbling Dad Kogoro Mouri from Detective Conan has had to be bailed out of trouble more than once by his Action Girl daughter and his Kid Detective (sorta) protegé.
  • In the infamous Hentai La Blue Girl, Miko Mido has to save her parents several times. (Mostly in the sequels Lady Blue and La Blue Girl Returns)
  • Sailor Moon and Chibi Moon are so upset when Hawk's Eye attacks Ikuko (Sailor Moon's mother and Chibi Moon's grandmother) that they get their Super forms in Super S.
    • And in the anime, Rei/Mars once had to fight her grandfather, who has been transformed into a demon by Zoicite. (Or more exactly, reverted to the demon form he had in his past life.)
  • One story in Fresh Pretty Cure involved Love Momozono's mother getting taken into a mirror world and temporarily replaced by an evil version of herself, and Love has to figure out that what she thinks is her mother is a fake and find the real one.
  • In Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, Saber Rider is faced with a similar problem when his parents are kidnapped and replaced by evil Vapor Beings. He manages to trap the imposters first (with a little help of his Evil-Detecting Dog) and then goes to save Mom and Dad with the help of his friends and his clansmen.
    • Also, a good part of the plot is driven by the kidnapping of April's father/the Star Sheriff's leader, General Eagle.
  • Delia Ketchum is this in the third Pokémon movie, abducted by Entei after Molly Hale, an emotionally broken little girl whose father has just disappeared, wishes for a mother. Her son Ash is not pleased by this turn of events.
  • When Lovino aka South Italy was a kid, his "boss" and Parental Substitute Antonio aka Spain saved him from being kidnapped. Years later, Spain falls sick when his economy goes rotten, so South Italy decides to search for a "cure".
  • In the Vampire Princess Miyu OAV, the main character Miyu's main motivation is to save her parents, who are kept in an eternal slumber by the Shinma leaders as catch to have Miyu hunting down the Shinmas who have escaped to the human world.
    • Enma Ai's parents in Hell Girl suffered a similar fate.
  • In Berserk, Casca, rendered almost completely helpless after the events of the Eclipse, is protected from danger by her miscarried and tainted child by controlling the demons that would normally go after her and using them against those who try to harm her. It also uses its powers to warn its father, protagonist Guts, that she is in danger.
  • In Dragonball Z, Gohan powers up when his father, Goku, is in danger. He's not too pleased when his Parental Substitute Piccolo is injured either.
    • In a cruel subversion, when his mother Chichi was killed by Majin Boo, neither Gohan nor his brother Goten could do anything but watch, since both of them were in other dimensions.
  • In the FRLG arc of Pokémon Special, Blue has to rescue her parents who were kidnapped by Deoxys and by extension, Team Rocket.
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Rena Ryuugu wants to protect her father from scam artists (one of them being Ryuugu's new girlfriend Rina) who want to steal one million yen from him. This being Higurashi and Rena being Rena... well...
  • In Street Fighter IIV, Chun-Li's father Dorai is rendered in a coma after a brutal beating from Cammy. When she returns to finish the job, Chun-Li's childhood friend and Dorai's favorite disciple Fei Long rises to the challenge and fights her to protect his Parental Substitute, managing to both fulfill this and push Cammy to a Heel Face Turn.

Comic Books

  • The Power Pack have done this since day one.
  • Spider-Man will kill you if you even threaten Aunt May.
  • In Spider Girl, May once had to swing home to rescue her mom from Normie Osborn. However, MJ is a bit of a Mama Bear, so it wasn't really necessary. At another point she had to help save Peter when he was possessed by Norman Osborn.
  • Whenever Batman gets into serious trouble that he can't escape on his own, his adopted kids/sidekicks will go to hell and back to bail him out. The entire Batfamily including (and especially) Bruce will do the same if anything happens to Alfred.
  • In Runaways, Molly manifests her powers when her mother is struck. She is shown to be the one of the kids who misses her parents the most.


  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, John Connor risks his life to save his mother Sarah from being killed and replaced by the T-1000. After she's rescued, however, she castigates him for risking his life so much for her.
  • Penny's character in the Show Within a Show on Bolt
  • Will Stronghold in Sky High.
  • Spy Kids features this in the first movie, when the spy parents are in danger and the titular kids set out to rescue them.
  • Indiana Jones has to rescue his father more than once, though he's no longer a kid, in The Last Crusade.
  • In Red Eye, Rachel MacAdams gets violent to protect her father from Cillian Murphy.
  • The Ice Pirates combines this, Plot-Relevant Age-Up, and Express Delivery into one for the movie's bizarre climax. The pirates and their enemies boarding the ship are all caught in some kind of temporal vortex that causes rapid aging. The princess that the protagonist just slept with has a kid, said kid grows into an adult off-screen and saves the now-aged protagonist from a last bunch of robots. Then the Reset Button kicks in. Yeah, it's weird. (But kind of fun.)


  • A Wrinkle in Time. Meg and Charles Wallace Murray go up against an interstellar Cthulhu-level evil to save their father.
  • Mowgli in Rudyard Kipling's original The Second Jungle Book rescues his adoptive parents from the angry villagers, mostly for the sake of Messua - her husband's an ungrateful bastard.
  • Somewhat averted in Fablehaven since the children are staying with their grandparents while their parents are away, and their parents have no knowledge of the magical world at all. However, Kendra and Seth are responsible for saving their grandparents and other adults several times through the books and at the end of the fourth their parents are kidnapped to be used as leverage against them and their grandparents.
  • Invoked in Harry Potter 7. Instead of harming children to get parents to obey, the Death Eaters controlling Hogwarts target students' parents/guardians instead, to get the students to behave. When they try to do this to Neville and his grandmother, his grandmother escapes, injuring the Death Eaters sent after her.
  • Septimus Heap
    • Darke has Jenna and Septimus trying to save their mother Sarah when she gets trapped in the Palace in the Darke Domaine. She eventually is rescued by their older brother Simon tough.
    • Averted of sorts in Syren, as Jenna is more concerned with her brother Nicko rather than her actual and annoying father Milo Banda when she and Septimus attack the ship Cerys, where Milo and Nicko are being kept prisoners by pirates.

Live Action TV

  • Captain Sheridan on Babylon 5 gets captured taking crazy risks in order to try and save his father.
  • The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were willing to trade their powers in order to get their parents back in "Return Of An Old Friend". (Double in the case of the Pink Ranger Kimberly, who was in the middle of a Visit by Divorced Dad.
  • Buffy's mother Joyce has been used as leverage against her daughter several times. Buffy also has had to rescue Giles, her Parental Substitute, on more than one occasion.
  • On The Sarah Jane Adventures, the only thing as dangerous as messing with Sarah Jane's son is messing with Luke's mum. Forget shipping, their relationship is the show's real love story.
  • The made-for-TV Star Wars spinoff Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure is about two kids going on an adventure (with help from their new Ewok friends) to rescue their parents. The sequel... not so much.

Video Games

  • In Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure, the objective is for Pitfall Harry Jr to rescue his kidnapped father, who appeared in the original Pitfall games during the 8-bit era.
  • In Fire Emblem Elibe, Eliwood's main motivation is to find his father Elbert, who disappeared in strange circumstances. He finds him... in the lair of the Black Fang, gravely injured and weakened. And then he dies in his arms. And before that, Lyn's adventures involved her dracing against the clock to both to claim her inheritance as the Princess of Caelin and save her ill grandfather Hausen. And she has to do the second part again one year later, when the Black Fang attacks their realm.
  • In Dragon Age II, this happens twice to Leandra Hawke. The first time, she's fine. The second... not so much...
  • In Cosmos Cosmic Adventure, Cosmo sets out to save his parents from the aliens who apparently kidnapped them.

Web Original

  • In Thalia's Musings, Leto to her twins Apollo and Artemis. This is the origin of the Pythian Games.
  • The story "Christmas Crisis" In the Whateley Universe. Tennyo's parents get kidnapped because they're mutants who work for the C.I.A. Tennyo's brothers find out and call her because they're mutants who work for the C.I.A. Tennyo and her cabbit (It Makes Sense in Context) fly to the rescue because the villains want Tennyo and she's a Person of Mass Destruction.

Western Animation

Real Life