Turn Out Like His Father

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Beru: Owen, he can't stay here forever; most of his friends have gone. It means so much to him.
Owen: I'll make it up to him next year; I promise.
Beru: Luke's just not a farmer, Owen. He has too much of his father in him.

Owen: (heavily) That's what I'm afraid of.

Widow Jane has gotten herself a nice home, and is raising her son Jack there, happy except for the loss of his father—but it has been years, and she has her son. Except one day, Jack comes running home burbling about someone's telling him that his father killed the dragon and Tell Me About My Father.

And Widow Jane feels like she's been stabbed to the heart, envisioning her son lying before her, pale and bleeding, like his dying father had.

A character has charge of a child (usually her son) and is desperate to keep this child from imitating another relative (usually his father). This is a fear of history's repeating itself for his fate, which may be turning evil and usually ends with being dead.

Making this relative a secret is one technique; which usually makes the forbidden relative Forbidden Fruit. Another, as popular, is extracting a promise, which the child will usually try to keep until the pressure gets too high.

Trying to keep him from evil has a fairly good success rate. Trying to keep him from his father's profession has a considerably poorer one, particularly when the reaction to the father's violent life is to try to make an Actual Pacifist; though the child may turn out less violent, there is usually something he must defend against. When the mother's motive is to keep him from being killed by the precise character who killed the father, generally a prequel to You Killed My Father.

Keeping the Ancestral Weapon out of the child's hand is often an element of it, and when he finally gets it, a sign that the struggle is over, and the child will be like his father -- Take Up My Sword metaphorically as well as literally.

When the hero wants the child away from him, it's Give Him a Normal Life. When the villain wants to raise the kid to act differently, it's Evil Parents Want Good Kids. When the character hates his "condition" and doesn't want to pass it on, it's What If the Baby Is Like Me?.

See also In the Blood, Generation Xerox, Follow in My Footsteps. Contrast Loser Son of Loser Dad, Raise Him Right This Time.

Examples of Turn Out Like His Father include:


Comic Books[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Batman villain The Penguin uses umbrellas because his father died of pneumonia, and his mother feared the same for him.
  • Jackie Estacado aka The Darkness is a hitman like his father, but unlike his father, he's not an out of control psycho. This is because the Brotherhood of Darkness arranged for him to be adopted by mafia boss Frankie Franchetti, who, knowing how messed up Jackie's father had been, could be counted on to raise him on the right side of the line between viciously ruthless badassery and self-destructive Ax Craziness.
  • Wanted reveals that Wesley's mother raised him to be a pacifistic loser because she realized that he had the potential to be the Complete Monster that his father was. It doesn't help.
  • Green Lantern Hal Jordan's father died on the job as a fighter pilot (in front of Hal's eyes). His mother made him swear to never join the Air Force, but he did so anyway.
  • Fun Home is based around Alison Bechdel looking back at her childhood with a new perspective after she finds out her dad was gay.
  • Matt Murdock a.k.a. Daredevil was raised not to become a fighter like his Dad because his Dad wanted something better for him.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Star Wars is probably the best-known example, and the efforts to keep Luke from being like his father (who, as we all know, went evil) occupy three separate characters: Owen, Ben Kenobi, and Yoda.
    • In Return of the Jedi, Luke realizes that he's dangerously close to invoking this trope after he cuts off Vader's right hand and looks down at his own cybernetic hand. This prompts him to deactivate and discard his lightsaber so that he won't be tempted any further.
  • Back to The Future. Mr. Strickland, an administrator at Marty's school, has already written Marty off as a slacker like his father.
    • This may or may not actually count; from what can be seen in the movies, Strickland calls just about everybody a slacker for almost any reason (such as having a "Kick me" sign taped to your back).
  • In Scanners, both the hero and his brother the villain develop a shared disdain for their father, and wish to avoid becoming like him.
  • In The Waterboy, Mama Boucher has kept Bobby sheltered and at home well into his thirties, because she fears him abandoning her, just like her husband did.
  • The Heavenly Kid A greaser in the is killed when his car goes over a cliff in a game of "Chicken". He comes back to Earth years later to become guardian angel to his nerdy teenage son. Neither of them know that they are father and son. The son starts acting like the greaser and says his catchphrase "I got it covered." This freaks out his mom, who is afraid he's going to die just like his father.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In some King Arthur tales, Percival was raised in The Lost Woods by his mother to keep him from hearing of knights. His first glimpse of a Knight in Shining Armor makes him long to be one.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals, Trev promised his mother not to play football, like his father did.
    • In Making Money, in Mr Bent's Backstory, his mother disapproved of clowning and raised him very soberly, though it appears as much a dislike of clowning in general than a specific desire to keep it from it.
  • In Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer's Sorcery and Cecelia, Cecelia's great-aunt lost her fiancé to his magical studies, and is horrified at the thought of Cecelia learning from the same wizard. (Fortunately, it was a misunderstanding. Though she is not entirely pleased about any form of study, she accepts it.)
  • Achebe's Things Fall Apart features the character Okonkwo who dedicates his life to proving that he is not his lazy father. It ends up being his fatal flaw.
  • The Dursleys do not want Harry Potter to turn out like his mother. So they don't tell them about her, or his father, and do their best to keep him from Hogwarts. This notably isn't because his parents were evil or even because the Dursleys care about him; they just don't like magic and hate the idea of there being a wizard in their normal Muggle family.
  • In the YA book, Banner In The Sky by James Ramsey Ullman, the widow of a famed mountain guide tries to keep her son from following in his his father's footsteps as a guide.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe expands on the similarities between Luke and his father at his age. In Dark Empire Palpatine, Back from the Dead via Cloning Gambit, corrupted Luke, dressed him in Vaderesque clothes, gave him the same kind of mechno-hand, and lost him to the Light Side when Leia came to save him. Luke is a pilot, a very good one, but not quite as reckless or as skilled as Anakin. He is fairly resourceful with machinery, doing things like opening up his artificial hand to use its battery for something and rewiring some power paks to make them explode, but he doesn't have anything like Anakin's ridiculous skill with machines.
    • It's underlined by both of them and their fascination with Jedi Master Jorus/Joruus C'baoth. True, the Jorus C'baoth Anakin knew was not yet insane, while his clone Joruus really was; and Anakin was fourteen while Luke was in his late twenties. But Anakin liked C'baoth's philosophy that the non-Jedi were sheep at best and should be handled without asking, while Luke, despite being on a quest to find surviving Jedi and thus presumably more interested, instantly felt uneasy about these teachings even though he thought they made sense.
    • Leia's got a little of her father too, though this is usually much more understated, particularly by writers who put her in the damsel-in-distress role. Mostly it manifests through her temper, her very strong will - Luke's determined, but Leia has more passion and staying power - and her sense of self-importance. She's not as arrogant as Anakin, but she's less quiet about her confidence and accomplishment than her brother is, and the impression she leaves on people has much more authority. Luke is an idealist, and a bit of a mystic. Leia takes charge. A politician who knows her heritage once insinuates that it means she'll betray them all. In The Thrawn Trilogy, the Noghri call Luke "Firstson of the Lord Vader". They call Leia the Mal'ary'ush, the heir to Vader's authority and powers. It's pointed out in the Hand of Thrawn duology that she's worried about putting her need to keep her spouse safe over her duty to the rest of the galaxy and second-guesses some of her decisions as a result.

She was magnificent, her style so different from her brother's. She was hard-edged where he made his demands with a deceptive softness. There was nothing soft in the President's [Leia's] manner. Cole would never had argued with her as he had argued with her brother.

    • Since much of the material about Luke and Leia outside the movies was created before the prequel trilogy, similarities of their personalities' to their father (other than the really evil version) are presumably coincidental. Not if the works being referred to were written later, of course.
      • True, though the C'baoth example is valid despite the book with Anakin and the original C'baoth being written second - both are Timothy Zahn novels, so it was a retroactive version of this.
    • With the direction the Fate of the Jedi book series is going, many fans predict a relationship between Ben Skywalker and Vestara Khai, mirroring the one between Luke and Mara. Vestara asks to be a Jedi, but things are still uncertain before the series' finale. Though Ben is consistently trying to do just what Luke did, and get his father to accept it.
  • Drina's grandparents in the Drina books by Jean Estoril don't want her to become a ballerina, because her secret famous ballerina mother died because of it.
  • Averted, hard, in Prince Roger series, albeit in a convoluted way. Roger resembles his father, emulating him without knowing. After (well, that is debatable) learning, finally, the consequences of this.. well, first time they met he decides to behead him for torturing, raping and mind raping his mother. Would have done it, if not for a timely intervention of Nimashet Despreaux.
  • In Warrior Cats, Firestar is awkward around Bramblepaw because he looks exactly like his father, Firestar's nemesis Tigerstar.
  • In Jane of Lantern Hill by L. M. Montgomery, Jane's grandmother disapproves of her chin because it comes from her Disappeared Dad, and Jane herself wishes it away.
  • In the Popol Vuh of the Kiche Maya, the mother and grandmother of Hunter and Jaguar Deer hide their father's ball gear from them, as well as the truth that their father was a ball player. A rat reveals the truth and helps the two to find said ball gear.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Bobby Singer in Supernatural had a whole series of flashbacks in the episode where he died where it eventually was revealed that he'd never been willing to have kids because he was sure he'd turn out just like his father. Whom he shot. In the same place in the head where Dick Roman tagged Bobby. According to the Reaper, "you have the only genetic case of bullet-to-the-brain I've ever seen."
  • Turned Up to Eleven in an episode of Criminal Minds, where the father is a Serial Killer and rapist, the mother the one victim that escaped and killed him, and the son the one she ended being impregnated with after being raped. The son eventually discovers his parentage by himself and is fascinated by it, becoming his father's Jack the Ripoff.


Music[edit | hide]

  • "Coward of the County"—where the father he shouldn't emulate is the one who tells him so.

Promise me son not to do the things I've done
Walk away from trouble if you can.

  • Cat Stevens has this in "Father and Son".

I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy.

  • "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin is about this.
  • "Seein' My Father In Me" by Paul Overstreet. Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • The Flemish/Dutch singer Stef Bos had the song "Papa" ("Dad") which is about a man remeniscing how much he looks and acts like his father.
  • Drake has mentioned similarities between he and his father several times in his music. Although in his song "Look What You've Done" he mentioned that his mother, who divorced from his father when he was five, sometimes makes negative comparisons between Drake and his father when she's upset with him.

"And you tell me I’m just like my father -- my one button, you push it"

Videogames[edit | hide]

  • Gorion in Baldur's Gate must have had this worry, though it's never quite stated outright. Being the Lawful Good foster father of the protagonist, whose real father was Bhaal, a God of Evil, he can't have wanted them to follow in his footsteps in any sense, even though the prophecies made it likely they'd either do that or just die.
  • Played with in Knights of the Old Republic, where the Jedi Council is trying to stop Revan from going down the same path he took last time around. It isn't the character's father, but the scene is played in the exact same manner down to the Council's reluctance to tell the player about Revan.
  • Dante in Dantes Inferno was raised almost entirely by his Complete Monster of a father since his mother committed suicide to escape his father's cruelty and, in his backstory before his Heel Realization when the freaking Grim Reaper told him his sins were not forgiven and that he was damned, it shows. When he confronts his monstrously deformed father in Hell Dante admits that, rather than being a better man than his father, he has turned out to be far too much like him.
  • Something along the lines of this probably happened with Percival Tachyon in Ratchet and Clank, though it substitutes "father" for "entire race". Of course, it didn't succeed.
  • In Fire Emblem Jugdral, Alvis has twin children, Julius and Julia. One of which has full Lopotuso Blood and the other has full Narga blood. Guess which one Julius gets? Come on...guess! So guess who Manfroy tries to remove to keep from emulating their other ancestor. That's right...Julia.
  • Positive examples of this trope show up in King's Quest. Alexander and Rosella turn out to be just as capable as their father when it comes to adventuring. Alexander is a case of playing it straight, or even an exaggeration, as Mannanan went as far as to call Alex a different name and raise him in a faraway land. (Justified because Mannanan was a wicked wizard and the last thing he needed was a pissed-off Graham showing up) Rosella is an inversion - with her brother gone, she was raised to follow in Graham's footsteps, though she's a bit too much like her father for Valanice's comfort sometimes.
  • The Tekken series has this in spades with the Mishima clan.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, after John Marston is killed by Ross, his son Jack becomes a wandering outlaw seeking revenge; exactly the opposite of the idealistic young man he was before his father died and precisely what John hoped he wouldn't become.


Web Originals[edit | hide]

  • The third film in The Laser Collection series features a police detective, Randall, growing metal limbs upon discovering that his father is Dr. Octogonapus.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Let's face it, every divorced woman raising a son probably feels like this every once in a while.
    • Every divorced Dad with a daughter too...
  • Ada Lovelace was taught mathematics to suppress the "fanciful poetic instinct" of her father, Lord Byron. It didn't quite work. She still had enough imagination to come up with what was likely the first computer programming language (for Babbage's mechanical computer).
  • Averted and then played straight with the early Christian theologian Origen. His father was martyred, and the teenage Origen wanted to follow him to glorious death, but his clever mother hid all his clothing. When Origen eventually died, it was late in life from broken health after a long period of imprisonment and torture.