Truly Single Parent

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The world gave me no child, so I built one.

The Megas, "The Message From Dr. Light/Level Select"

Mad Scientists, being the rampant egotists that they are, tend to clone themselves when they want children. Inevitably the children in question are as brilliant as their parent, though there seems to be only about a 50% chance of their brilliance being of the same sort. The clone's childhood, if portrayed at all, is frequently awful as they're forced to live up to their parent's seemingly-impossible expectations. Often, there's some attempt to subject them to the same childhood traumas as their parent had, in order to further force them on an identical path.

This applies particularly to mad scientists of the Evilutionary variety, and appears to be a primarily literary trope, probably because of the difficulty in finding plausible-looking pairs of actors.

Compare Replacement Goldfish and Homosexual Reproduction. Not related to normal single parenthood: normal single parents have one parent (or more, depending on how many you start with) leaving for whatever reason.

Examples of Truly Single Parent include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Father created his "children", the homunculi by splitting off various facets of his personality - specifically, the Seven Deadly Sins.
  • Ryouko in Tenchi Muyo! (OVAs only) is not really a clone since she was partly created from one of Washuu's egg cells and partly from the Mass (a shapeshifting Hive Mind), but is pretty close to the trope, and considered a daughter by Washuu. Her childhood was terrible, but mostly because she was enslaved by the villain (who also kept Washuu as a Human Popsicle). Notably, while Washuu is the greatest scientific genius in the universe, Ryouko...isn't. Though this might be just a result of Ryouko's complete lack of any kind of education.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS:
    • There's an unusual case of this; the cloning was done without the parent's knowledge and when Quint Nakajima discovered Subaru and Ginga, she raised them as her daughters in a normal, loving environment with her husband since she couldn't have children anyway.
    • Uno was also an Opposite Gender Clone of Scaglietti, and several of the other Numbers were based at least partly on his DNA.
  • In Gundam Seed:
    • Rau le Creuset is the clone-son of Al da Flaga, who was such an egotist that he despised his naturally-born son Mwu because he felt that the child was "impure" thanks to the genes he got from his mother. Two other Al da Flaga clones turn up in other parts of the series: Rey za Burrell in Gundam SEED Destiny, and Prayer Reverie in Gundam SEED Astray, although some evidence points to the possibility that Prayer is instead a clone of Mwu.
    • Kira was initially a natural son of Ulen and Via Hibiki, but his Mad Scientist father tampered with his genome so much (up to including parts of his employer Al da Fraga's genome, which is where Kira got his Newtype powers, and which makes him sort of Mwu's half-brother), that he should count as his Truly Single Parent, albeit in more of a custom-made light.
  • In Bleach, Nemu is the artificially-created vice-captain of Kurotsuchi Mayuri. It's implied that she's an Opposite Gender Clone of Mayuri, to the point where her level of free will is debatable.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho has Shura, who's a clone of his father, Yomi. He doesn't act exactly as his father does, but that's because he's still a kid, and it's stated that Yomi used to be more impetuous before he got blinded.
  • Appears in Hiroyuki Morioka's Seikai series. The Abh, though they are aloof, arrogant and imperialistic, are not as much evil, as they are odd by the standards of the most of the Galaxy, including even their own subjects. One of their oddities is that all their babies are essentially custom-made for the person who just happened to want to reproduce. As they generally do not practice marriage, this makes that person a Truly Single Parent for the said child.
  • Although the audience doesn't get to see much of the Silver Millennium, Queen Serenity may well qualify for this trope, albeit an unusually benevolent example. She has no husband, no one ever asks who or where Princess Serenity's father is, and she and her daughter look exactly alike. This is more obvious in the manga, where Princess Serenity is frequently drawn with silver hair, and much of the Moon Kingdom's resources include advanced technology.
    • There's a panel in the manga that shows Queen Serenity bringing the shell of a star to the Galaxy Cauldron, then Princess Serenity's birth.
  • The Soul Eater manga suggests this might be the case for Shinigami to Death the Kid. Kid is described by the Great Old One and the Book of Eibon's Index as a "fragment of Shinigami".

Comic Books

  • Dr. Alison Mann (no relation to Y: The Last Man, but eventually a close friend), when she hears rumors of one Dr. Matsumori's cloning breakthroughs, decides to use her own DNA and uterus to beat him to the goal of a viable cloned infant. It did not end well probably due to an agent of Dr. Matsumori slipping an abortificant into her dinner as she neared term. Later, she discovers that Dr. Matsumori had in fact used the same genetic progenitor for his project in an effort to have a second chance at raising the daughter he so estranged from that she renamed herself after Mann's Chinese Theater to irritate him. He succeeds, eight times over, before his death four years after the Gendercide. In the Distant Finale we see the cloned Manns (or 'Dr Men' as Yorick quips) working in the lab. But an elderly Yorick gripes that they were never as good as the original because they didn't have Allison's 'a**hole father' to spur them to greater efforts.
  • In the late 1980's DC Comics gave us Vril Dox and Vril Dox II. The story fits this trope to a tee, including setting impossible standards for the clone, and subsequent rebellion. Despite the latest continuity reboot claiming that Vril Dox has been operating entirely through robot proxies for thousands of years (Until Now!), it appears this relationship is still intact.
  • Laurel "Cobweb" Lakeland and her sidekick Clarice (and all their known ancestors) in Alan Moore's Tomorrow Stories are somewhere between this and Homosexual Reproduction. They're clones (parthenogenic reproduction), but their development was triggered by lesbian sex between the previous Cobweb and her sidekick.
  • Purple Planet Eater Galactus was recently revealed to have a daughter, Galacta, which led to some rife speculation about who her mom was. Turns out it was also Galactus.
    • Turns out, that "parasite" that's been bugging Galacta? It isn't. Not even close. And since she was born this way...
  • In The Initiative Baron von Blitzschlag sort of did this; having been given the job of cloning a superpowered deceased trainee he decided to include some of his own DNA in the process to carry on his legacy. It didn't go all that well, as two of them died and the remaining one (not too surprisingly) rejected his ex-Nazi supervillain "father".
  • Judge Dredd and his brother Rico were both cloned from Chief Judge Fargo. Dredd himself has been cloned to varying degrees of success.

Fan Works

  • In Aeon Natum Engel a truly Truly Single Parent's child appears on a talkshow. It's not nice; gender-swap-magic combined with artificial impregnation which makes it possible for parents to impregnate themselves and get children with horrible genetic diseases.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic one-shot I Got Soul But I'm Not A Soldier, Harry creates his son Marvin in order to remove the piece of horcurx stuck in his head, which after Voldemort's defeat is effectively inert metaphysical goop that is slowly killing him, so both Harry and Marvin are part Harry, part horcrux.


  • Jango Fett from the Star Wars prequels is by no stretch of the imagination a Mad Scientist, but other than that he's a classic Truly Single Parent to Boba Fett. He's also cloned to form the Grand Army of the Republic, though it's hardly a family relationship.
    • Also Schmi Skywalker, as Anakin is conceived through the Force, and thus has no father.
    • The novelization of Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie makes it clear that Rotta is Jabba's son - and his alone: Hutts are hermaphrodites.
  • Geppetto carved Pinocchio out of wood, so he definitely qualifies.
  • In Enemy Mine, all Drac are both male and female, and reproduce by self-fertilization. (As the novelette put it, "Don't tell a Drac to boff himself, 'cause it just might!")
  • Edward Scissorhands


  • The Durona group in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga is an extreme example - Lilly Durona clones herself forty times, and forms an entire research hospital out of her clones.
  • Cyteen by C. J. Cherryh is all about the version of this trope where the progenitor's childhood is reproduced.
  • Dan Sylveste, in Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space trilogy, is actually a clone of his father Calvin, with some attempt at childhood trauma reproduction. Unusually, this fact is kept secret even from him, by covert body modification to make him look more like his "mother".
  • David Brin plays with this trope in Glory Season, where the women on the planet undergo either parthenogenetic or allogamous (sexual) reproduction, depending on what time of the year they mate with the male.
  • This trope plays a significant role in Houston, Houston, Do You Read? by James Tiptree Jr (aka Alice Sheldon).
  • Two examples from John Varley:
    • Kenneth "Sparky" Valentine from John Varley's The Golden Globe turns out to be an (illegal) clone of his father.
    • The Titanides from Varley's Gaia trilogy, while technically male and female, actually have three sets of genitals making for an absolutely rediculous number of possible reproductive permentations one of which is—you guessed it—solo, in which a female Titanide impregnates herself. Solos tend to be considered a little odd.
  • The Ullerans from H. Beam Piper's Uller Uprising are a hermaphroditic race. Self-impregnation is difficult but not impossible though it is generally considered taboo. The chief of the one Ulleran tribe that practices it refers to his offspring as "little me".
  • In the Backstory of John C. Wright's The Golden Age, main character Phaethon was "born" when a computer simulation of his father Helion's personality became self-aware. After causing an Earthshattering Kaboom.
  • Not a cloning scenario, but in The Bad Place, by Dean Koontz, hermaphroditic Roselle, who is the product of brother-on-sister rape and fully reproductively functional as both male and female, self-impregnates three times, resulting in two sons (one the villain, the other a co-protagonist) and a pair of twin daughters.
  • "When It Changed" by Joanna Russ subverts this: in spite of being a One-Gender Race, the women had discovered how to replace cloning with merging ova.
  • In Stephen Hunt's The Rise of the Iron Moon, Lord Starborn to Starsprite—whom he then casts out, unnamed; it is Black and Coppertracks who name her.
  • Robert A. Heinlein provides several examples in his works.
  • Tad Williams' Otherland features a character who attempted this as part of an Immortality scheme. He commissioned two clones of himself—one of each sex—and had one of them raised in the same manner as his mother, intending for her to "give birth" to his male clone and raise it as he himself was raised, thus providing personal continuity as a form of Legacy Character. When the program suffers a catastrophe, he gives it up in favor of Brain Uploading.
  • This has been mentioned as having happened in the Honor Harrington series. There are even laws in place stating that a clone is legally the child of the tissue donor and can legally inherit from them - so long as the cloning was authorized by the donor or the donor's estate. That caveat is to prevent cases where someone clones a rich man, kills the rich man, and then has the clone claim his 'father's' fortune on behalf of his creator.
  • In John C. Wright's Count to a Trillion, Menelaus deduces that the story about the princess's mother is nonsense, and her only parent must have been her father—she was posthumous, though.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Monster Men, Professor Maxon to the men he created. (He also wants to create a perfect one to marry to his own daughter.)

"Though there are twelve more," continued Professor Maxon, "you were my first born son and I loved you most, dear child."
The younger man was horrified.
"My God, Professor!" he cried. "Are you mad? Can you call this thing 'child' and mourn over it when you do not yet know the fate of your own daughter?"
Professor Maxon looked up sadly. "You do not understand, Dr. von Horn," he replied coldly, "and you will oblige me, in the future, by not again referring to the offspring of my labors as 'things.'"

Live Action TV

  • Dr. Noonien Soong from Star Trek: The Next Generation has Data (and Evil Twin Lore). Data is not really a clone in any sense of the word, but he does share his creator's likeness, and is possibly a result of his creator wanting to better his "offspring". (Note that Data has a large portion of Dr. Soong's memories.) Data himself also tries to create a child, Lal, who's built to work almost exactly like Data, although she quickly gained her own personality. He also had B4, who he did not create, but did copied all of his memories into, creating the android equivalent of a clone.
  • Dr. Lewis Zimmerman from Star Trek: Voyager also put a lot of himself in his creation of the EMH Mark 1, although he never really regarded any as sons except the Doctor, when he finally met him. Incidentally, they also look exactly alike.
  • The Doctor Who episode "The Doctor's Daughter" sees the creation of the Doctor's daughter Jenny. His DNA was taken at gunpoint and recombined to form a new person of which he is genetically both mother and father. Everyone on the planet Messaline was made that same way.
  • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive has Mack Hartford, Ridiculously Human Robot son of Adventurer Archaeologist Andrew Hartford, whose biological clock was ticking.
  • So Weird: Fi dates a boy who discovers himself to be a clone of his scientist father.
  • Hyperdrive: First Officer York creates a clone of himself from his own cells including skin flakes, nail clippings and certain other emissions.
  • Henry Warnimont. He adopts an abandoned little girl named Punky Brewster.

Religion and Mythology

  • A recurring theme in Celtic mythology is that of a divine being being transformed into an animal (or in some cases, grain), eaten by a woman, who became pregnant with them in their new form.
  • Many variations in Greek mythology; Athena was born from Zeus' head, some versions have Hera giving birth on her own to Hephaestus and Typhon as a response, etc.
    • In some versions Athena actually had a mother, the goddess Metis, who was pregnant when Zeus ate her.
  • In Norse mythology, the Giant Ýmir was born from the cow Auðhumla licking the salt from a stone. (... Though this trope is averted if you count the stone as the other parent, I guess.)
    • The more common interpretation in the Nordic countries is that Ýmir had no parents. He came into being within the stone, and Auðhumla merely freed him.
  • Mary to Jesus, at least in mortal/biological terms.
    • Interstingly, Christians believe that Jesus already existed before becoming a mortal, as God's begotten Son. So yeah, Jesus has two Truly Single Parents at the same time.
    • There are no caveats in the Muslim account. Islam accepts the Virgin Birth, but The Quran also says very pointedly that God was not begotten and does not beget. The Muslim version of the story is that God willed that Mary become pregnant with Jesus without Him or anyone else being the father. No, this doesn't make sense: it's not supposed to. It's a miracle.
    • Also subverted to some degree in all versions of the story: although Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived, she was very much married to the carpenter Joseph. It is generally agreed that Joseph adopted Jesus helped raise him as his own.
  • Nyx from Greek mythology did this. A lot. Sources disagree on exactly which children were hers alone and which she had with her husband (and little brother) Erebus, but it was at most four. And she has like twenty kids.

Tabletop Games

  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Emperor of Mankind creates the twenty Primarchs at least partly from his own DNA. They end up scattered through the warp by the Chaos gods, helping him pull the scattered Human worlds into a single Imperium; years later one of them decides HE ought to be the Emperor and things go all to shit.
  • Halaster Blackcloak in Forgotten Realms makes a number of clones of himself (all of which were as crazy or worse than he was) before he died. Whenever two of them meet (like in the ending of the first chapter of Hordes of the Underdark) they hold a rather amusing argument over which is the original and which is the clone.
  • Finder Wyvernspur attempted something similar, feeling that his music was too perfect to be trusted to mere bards who would change them to suit their interests at the time and wanted them to exist unchanged by time. So he created what was in essence a clone of himself to use as an immortal repository of his music but his abuses of the newly created creature as it was developing left it with a burning and eternal hatred of its creator and it refused to ever sing a note of his 'father/mother's' music and killed one of the apprentices that was part of its creation. Later he teamed with an alliance of evil creating a daughter feeling she would be more pliable (and unbeknownst to him one of them created dozens on the side) to try and prove he was right and ended up with a raft of daughters all different in personality and crafted backgrounds (none knowing off of their created past outside of Alias).

Video Games

  • Caulder/Stolos from Advance Wars: Days of Ruin is probably the most prolific Truly Single Parent this side of Jango Fett, making no less than 4 different clones (which didn't really look much like him except for hair color and complexion, and most of them aren't even the right gender) and then making a bunch of backup clones for each clone type. The 4 end up ranging the entire spectrum of good and evil. On top of this, at the end we find out that he's actually a clone of the first Caulder/Stolos, the only survivor after the original and his clones decided that There Can Be Only One of them and killed each other.
  • Dmitri Yuriev of Xenosaga cloned himself six-hundred-odd times to create the URT Vs, inducing mutations only in the last three four embryos to create the Variants.
  • Divayth Fyr in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has five female clones of himself who describe themselves as "Like his daughters, but also his wives." When he talks about them to the player, though, his affection towards them sounds more fatherly than sexual (though there still is a Dirty Old Man aura about him).
  • Miranda Lawson and her sister Oriana from Mass Effect 2 was designed from her father's genetic information with the Y chromosome replaced by a mixture of specifically chosen female DNA. Miranda wasn't the first or last "daughter" her "father" made. Just the first one he kept.
  • The Founder in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer split off three distinct aspects of her personality into separate characters: Lienna, Nefris, and Safiya.
  • In Metal Gear Solid Solid and Liquid Snake are the cloned children of Naked Snake (Big Boss). But not a perfect clone. The donor egg was from a Japanese woman and he was brought to term by EVA.
    • Solidus is implied to be a perfect clone though
  • In Resident Evil, Alexia and Alfred Ashford were created from their father Alexander's genes along with those of supra-genius ancestor (don't think about that too hard) Veronica, apparently in an effort to restore their disgraced family name to its former glory.
  • Arceus from Pokémon. In one event you can see Arceus create an egg for you (using a ritual that apparently involves Google images). Said egg becomes a level 1 legendary, which can double as a Disc One Nuke.
  • In Mega Man, somewhat in the original series and especially in Fanon, Mega Man, Roll, and to a lesser extent Proto Man are all treated as Dr. Light's children, despite merely being Ridiculously-Human Robots created by him. (Though this may be partly because he simply has more regard for his creations than the series's other major robotics genius.)
  • In Digital Devil Saga Angel is the Truly Single Parent of Sera. Rather than cloning, however, Angel is a fully functioning hermaphrodite who created Sera from her own sperm and egg.
  • Kuchiki Toko in Kara no Shoujo has no father, though her mother didn't realize because she had been having sex with someone. However, this man was completely sterile.
  • Ever 17 has You'haru, whose daughter is a clone of herself.
  • In The Sims 2, if you use the Tombstone of Life and Death, you can choose to "simulate a genetic merger with" the Sims that are currently on the lot. The selected Sim (the one who would be getting pregnant) is included on that list. Children produced through this method will always be a gender-switched clone of the parent (at least, in facial features and coloring).

Web Comics

  • Helen Narbon and Helen B. Narbon of Narbonic. The B is for Beta.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob, Jean tells Bob confidentially that the genetic cocktail which accidentally produced Molly the Peanut Butter Monster contained genetic material from many creatures, including some human -- Jean's own. This only accounts for a small part of Molly's genome, but Jean is Molly's mother, just a little bit.
  • In Unity, one of the species can reproduce parthenogenetically. Juni Melrose, the main character, is the parthenogenetic offspring of Hira Melrose - and eventually, adopts Hira's second (also parthenogenetic) child. In the spinoff series "Planetfall" we see that some time later, there are quite a few Melroses running around.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Professor Farnsworth of Futurama, a true Mad Scientist, clones himself a son from a growth on his back. Instead of having a birthday, his clone ends up celebrating his growth-scraping day.
  • Subverted in an episode of Pinky and The Brain. The Brain attempts to take over the world by cloning himself, which he hopes will lead to a chain reaction where his clone will clone itself, and that clone will clone itself, etc. He would be a Truly Single Parent...until one of Pinky's toenail clippings accidentally gets in the cloning device, making the resulting "clone" essentially the son of the two title characters.
  • The various cloned Dannys (and Dani) in Danny Phantom all refer to Vlad as father, though technically parenthood should be either Danny himself or Jack and Maddie, what with them having Danny's DNA.
  • While they're not clones, The Powerpuff Girls father, Professor Utonium, could still qualify as a Truly Single Parent by adoption if nothing else. At least if you consider "Made in a lab out of sugar and spice and everything nice, plus Chemical X" to be adoption.
  • Dr. Von Reichter from Cybersix creates his "son" José with science. Von Reichter doesn't seem to consider José his son so much as José thinks of him as a father.
  • Subverted in Transformers Animated. It is strongly hinted throughout seasons 1 and 2 that Isaac Sumdac is a Truly Single Parent of Sari. It turns out that he isn't the only parent- he's the only human parent. Who the other parent(s) is/are is never revealed, and we don't know enough about where protoforms come from to make a guess.
  • The Transformers continuities in general do this a lot with their robot characters, given that they only need a single set of hands (or even no hands, in some cases) to build them.
  • Theorized about Hank and Dean from Venture Brothers, but Jossed by Word of God. The boys were born the old-fashioned way some time ago; Rusty is just very secretive about who the mother is.[1] Also, Hank and Dean we know actually are clones of the original natural-born Hank and Dean who were Too Dumb to Live.
  • In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog Dr. Robotnik creates a Ridiculously Human Robot son in the form of Robotnik Jr.
  • On Invader Zim, Dib may well have been created by his father Membrane as an experiment, according to Eric Trueheart. (Technically he only says that he was created as an experiment, but Fanon holds cloning because the two look basically identical. Fans are left to their own guesses where Gaz came from.)
  • In the Simpsons episode "Holidays of Future Passed," set thirty years in the future, Milhouse and Lisa have a daughter named Zia. However, they arranged to have her made out of only their best genetic material...which means she's just a clone of Lisa.

Lisa: You parked the car. That helped.
Milhouse: Yeah, I guess...

  • Chan of The Amazing Chan and The Chan Clan. It's never told whatever happened to the mother unless giving birth to ten children sent her off the deep end.
  • The final episode of The Owl House reveals that the Titan - King's father - has no gender (though having a male personality and appearance) and sired King alone.

Real Life

  • This can happen in some species of animals (and plants) through the various means of asexual reproduction, including Parthenogenesis.
    • Mostly in insects and suchlike, but the largest creature capable of this (in extremis; mostly it uses normal sexual reproduction) is the komodo dragon. One famous example was Flora, a female komodo dragon in the London Zoo who produced a clutch of 20 eggs despite not being near a male for two years, and all 20 eggs hatched into healthy baby komodo dragons. Imagine that. They do not need males to breed, just resources. And they're three-metre long armoured lizards. Be very afraid...
  1. The prime possible mother is batshit insane and an even WORSE parent than Dr. Venture is. That's saying something.