Wife Husbandry

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A story where a man scores with a woman because the man had a protective role towards the woman when she was a child. She looked up to the man, thought of him as a parent or beloved uncle, a role model, counted on him to be there when she needs him, etc. In the more extreme cases she might have even vowed to marry him when she grew up.

Then, when She's All Grown Up, the girl often decides she is in love with the man, or vice versa.

Nothing is ever said about how inappropriate, and even creepy, this is. If the man was a real parent, this would be incest, but of course they're Not Blood Relatives. Often, the story tries to excuse the man's behavior by claiming that he resisted the idea of a relationship but it's the girl who convinced him. Advanced cases can have him trying to play The Matchmaker with her and men her own age despite his Matchmaker Crush; he may even be Oblivious to Love because of it. This makes it less creepy, in that he didn't plan it in advance, and it is what she wants as well.

A source of Values Dissonance in older works, because it used to be common practice for noblemen to marry younger women from friendly families, so this trope would have occurred a lot both in fiction and real life. Even in modern times, some people argue that this is not a problem as long as the former child is now an adult and able to properly consent. Your Mileage May Vary on whether or not There Should Be a Law.

Known in Japan (and for some years on The Other Tropes Wiki) as the Hikaru Genji Plan, after the main character in The Tale of Genji, who kidnapped a young girl named Murasaki from a life of poverty for the purpose of marrying her once she grew up. The current name is a pun, as Husbandry is the act of raising something (animal husbandry, plant husbandry, etc.), and also contains the word "husband".

This is by definition a subtrope of May–December Romance or in supernatural settings Mayfly-December Romance, but not every romance with a significant age gap falls under this. Compare Pygmalion Plot, The Jailbait Wait, Teacher-Student Romance, Parental Incest and Incest Is Relative. See also Father, I Want to Marry My Brother.

Examples of Wife Husbandry include:

Anime and Manga

  • Otaku no Musume-san has a very literal instance in which the landlady, Taeko, was raised since elementary school by Sousuke, an aspiring manga artist, after her grandfather, her previous guardian, died. To solve an inheritance dispute when Taeko turned 16, the two get married, but the story makes it clear that love for each other strongly influenced the decision.
  • In Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water it is initially averted between a then-teenage Electra and Nemo, when she decides to keep her feelings for him a secret after accidentally overhearing that he viewed her as a surrogate daughter to replace his own children who he believed had both been killed (ironically she was on her way to confess her love to him at that time). They later get together anyway though when she finally manages to reveal her true feelings (and how) after his real daughter Nadia turns up again years later.
    • Directly invoked in the epilogue to the entire series, in which it's revealed Marie (age 4 in the main story) and Sanson (age 27) end up getting together when Marie is 16.
  • More directly from City Hunter II episode 39-41, where Umibozu had taught the girl Miki to fight when she was a child, and protected her for a while. When she's grown up she appears, wanting to marry him. Umibozu doesn't, but they end up running a restaurant together; exactly how close they are stays vague. Ryo Saeba refers to this as the Hikaru Genji plan.
  • In Desert Punk, the title character takes on little Kosuna as an apprentice for this very reason. It's notable that this was actually her suggestion, which she supported by providing a picture of what she (falsely) claims is her Hot Mom.
  • Inverted in Kure-nai: while Shinkurou is very protective of the little girl he's caring for, any romantic affection seems to occur solely on Murasaki's side (notice her Meaningful Name). Then again, considering Murasaki's Big Screwed-Up Family, this can be seen as played straight from their part.
  • Amaterasu and Lachesis' relationship in The Five Star Stories is like this, but since they're more or less the only two Physical Gods in their universe it's excusable. Who else are they gonna be with?
  • Gender-swapped in Shakugan no Shana where a female Crimson Lord by the name of Pheles raises a boy named Johan and the two later fall in love after Johan was grown up.
  • In the Bastard!! manga, Dark Schneider rescues a dark elf girl named Arshes Nei and then pursues a sexual relationship with her once she comes of age. (Of course, Dark Schneider isn't exactly meant to be a paragon of moral behavior...) Comes off as far-less squick since, being a Dark Fantasy setting, they're both pretty much immortal by definition (one being a demi-deific sorcerer, the other being a Drow) - at the very least, they each have potential lifespans that reach well into multiple millennia, so the years matter less.
  • Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid:
    • Everything short of explicitly stated to have been successfully executed by Gauron with the twins Yu Fang and Yu Lan. The twins are so completely heartbroken by the fact that he's on the verge of death that they willingly undertake a suicide mission at Gauron's behest, rather than outlive him, and Melissa Mao at one point notes that they seem to be devoid of any emotion other than total despair. Being able to see him again is the only thing that brings them a shred of happiness. In fact, their grief over Gauron's impending death is used as a narrative counterpoint and equivalent of Sousuke's sadness at being separated from Kaname (as Mao notices that Sousuke's eyes and expression are exactly the same as Yu Lan's).
    • Apparently, as clarified further in the novels, he tried to execute a Hikaru Genji Plan with the young Sousuke, but failed completely. He pretty much told 12-year-old Sousuke, "Why don't you come to my camp? There's food, ammunition, and AS parts there." (Which sounds suspiciously like a "There's candy over in my van, little boy" scenario.) Knowing Gauron, it's highly doubtful that his plans were anything pure and kindhearted. Of course, Sousuke refuses, and Gauron spends the next five years unable to forget "beautiful" Sousuke.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Poor Rei has certain... issues with Gendo, that's for sure. First off, Gendo cloned her from his dead wife in order to trigger a controlled Assimilation Plot with him as God, then raised her in place of Shinji, causing him to develop his laundry-list of psychological problems (well, develop them further anyway); she is suicidally loyal, moreso because she knows very well that when she dies, Gendo has a few dozen fresh clones in the basement she can possess (which results in her Catch Phrase: "If I die, I can be replaced"). In the original episode 25, it is revealed that Rei will "return to nothingness" if she fulfills her purpose, something she looks forward to. She likes Gendo because he gave her said purpose and the means to carry it out. At the same time, she dislikes Gendo because he's the one who decides when she can do so. She has issues.
  • It is mentioned by Ranmaru's parents in The Wallflower anime as a way that Ranmaru can capitalize on his Arranged Marriage to Tamao... by the end of the episode they have a Hikaru Genji moment... which is quickly ruined.
  • The handler of Naomi Umegae in Zettai Karen Children attempted to raise Naomi (age 16) into his own ideal bride. The training was sufficient that Naomi found it difficult to outright say she hated it, but an encounter with Kaoru awoke her resistance and she began making him pay. She also soon after changed her codename from "Kittycat" to "Wildcat." In what may be a Shout-Out to another entry on this page, the manga chapter this took place in was titled "Princess Maker".
    • The director of BABEL wants this to happen with The Children (age 10) and their handler Minamoto (age 20), as it's the best way to make sure they won't become evil. Yes, all three of them. Weirdly enough, Minamoto's mother also wants this as well, as do The Children. Minamoto does not. This will happen, at least with Kaoru.
  • In the manga Franken Fran, Fran is asked by a patient to impregnate her with the DNA of her dead best friend and love interest after it's revealed her friend sabotaged her marriage because she wanted her for herself. The patient specifically requests that the resulting baby be male, since, as Fran puts it, the patient "finds men easier to love". This isn't even the most disturbing story from that manga.
  • Part of the plot of the 2009 anime adaptation of The Tale of Genji (see Literature example below), Genji Monogatari Sennenki.
  • In Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix: Life, Aoi falls in love with the girl he adopted when she comes of age, but she only thinks of him as a father. This ultimately leads to his Heroic Sacrifice, as he feels he has nothing left to live for.
  • This is pretty much the relationship between Moeko and Mariya in the shoujo manga series Kindan (by Osakabe Mashin). Not that Mariya even really bothered waiting until Moeko grew up. A lot of people were unnerved by how he raped her when she was really young (around maybe six years old?), and used his status as her guardian to take advantage of her. Yes, it was all played as being romantic. It's especially creepy when it shows how he actually planned to do a Hikaru Genji Plan with her the moment he saw her in the orphanage.
  • Inverted in the manga Until Death Do Us Part, where the heroine who ran up to the protagonist for rescue early on for help later revealed that she's staying with him not only to be rescued, but also because he's her future husband. The two she told this to were shocked on finding out and told her not to tell the protagonist about it, though she seems set on making said prediction come true. The heroine is twelve and the protagonist is in his mid-to-late twenties, which would make this a lot more squicky if not for the fact that there is no romance to speak of at this point and she is a powerful precognitive, so the foretold marriage could be decades off.
  • Arguably used in Appleseed (the manga, at least—the movies are rather vague about the whole affair). Deunan is nine years younger than Briareos. She was eleven when they first met, and flashbacks have her father already aware of Bri's feelings for her when she was only seventeen. Averted slightly in that if either of them is forcing themselves on the other due to a past close relationship, it's Deunan.
  • In the manga Ardashan no Hanayome, the main character, Prince Alexid is forced into a political marriage with the youngest princess of a conquered nation (a nation Alexid was largely in charge of conquering). How young? Ten. To the story's credit, this is treated as pure politics, even as Alexid and Justinia do grow closer to each other, with Alexid taking on a Guardian/Big Brother role towards her. And the story clearly implies that that will mature into something real by the time Justinia comes of age, assuming they survive the political shenanigans around them.
  • In the Peacemaker Kurogane manga, this was what the old merchant Yamatoya does with Suzu after Suzu's master was killed and he was left all alone starving in the streets. Although he's old enough to easily be his grandfather, he apparently picked up Suzu entirely for the purpose of raping him and making him his "pet". Suzu wasn't the only one, however—two twin kitty boys were also picked up by him for this purpose. Suzu does end up getting revenge on him, however. To put it in Suzu's words:

Suzu: Thank you for picking me up from the streets. Unfortunately, your enjoyment is based on another's tears.

  • In D.Gray-man, the Noah Sheryl can be viewed as this. He's... a bit too affectionate towards Road, his adopted daughter. Not to mention that it's pretty much stated outright that the only reason why he got married was just so he could get Road as his daughter. Hum. Although to make matters more confusing, she's Older Than They Look and at least 45 years old. She might well be older than him.
  • In Berserk, this is very disturbingly done with Princess Charlotte and the King of Midland. She grew up to look exactly like her mother, the Queen of Midland. Unfortunately, this also caused her father to go from being a Papa Wolf to an out-and-out attempted rapist. Very, very disturbing indeed.
  • In the Gankutsuou manga (which should be noted for veering far, far away from the anime, and containing a thousand times more depraved Nightmare Fuel) Villefort is revealed to have made his daughter Valentine into a replacement for his first wife. He made her wear the same clothes her mother wore, and... did stuff to her that a father shouldn't do to his daughter. Of course, this change seems to have been made to erase any doubt that Villefort is a depraved villain that deserves what's coming to him. Let's just say that even with all that, the Count's punishment for him still seems overboard and insanely gruesome.
  • Inverted in the manga version of Hayate the Combat Butler, as far as Athena goes. When she and Hayate were both around 6-7 years old, she took him in as her live-in butler, but she was also grooming him to be a gentleman... a fitting 'life companion'. That is, until the whole End of the World Story Arc, at any rate. She did seem genuinely surprised when he offered her the ring. Or at least that he had worked so hard that he could. Considering that she had told him to go out and buy a present for her.
  • Vampire Knight has this between Kaname and Yuuki.
  • Inverted and subverted in Mai-Otome. Nina is desperate for the love of her adoptive father Sergay Wong who only thinks of her as his daughter. Her friend Arika also falls for him, and that's almost as awkward for Sergay since he suspects (correctly) that Arika is the daughter of his former love, Lena Sayers. It should also be pointed out that it was Nina who decided to play off this trope and wanted to become an Otome in order to be more like Lena who Sergay had a crush on as a boy. Sergay doesn't find out Nina's feelings until late in the series, when he actually does get a chance to play this trope straight and yet he can't do it because he thinks of Nina as his own daughter. His failure to reciprocate on her feelings nearly causes The End of the World as We Know It..
  • Gender Flipped in Code Geass, where C.C., an immortal woman, bestows Telepathy on a Chinese street urchin named Mao. However, he loses control of it, profoundly affecting his sanity, and the pair move into the wild where she practically raises him, during which time he falls in love with her. Thing is, C.C. never intended anything romantic to come from the relationship; it was all in Mao's mind.
  • Gender Flipped and generally dicked around with in Durarara!!. At the age of four, Shinra Kishitani took one look at the centuries-old Celty Sturluson and decided that they were going to get married as soon as he was old enough. Celty's response over the next twenty years can be summed up as going from "Cute. The dumb kid wants to be my husband." to "Seriously, stop it or I will punch you." to "... I think I might actually love him back. Crap." to "Screw it. Let's date."
  • Kaguyahime: It's unclear just how planned this was, but Shoko adopted Akira just to spite her ex-husband and forbade her from calling her "mother" from the start, with the words "I don't intend to ever be your mother". By junior high school Akira is forced into a homosexual relationship with her stepmother and frequently poses nude for her to draw.
  • Weiss Kreuz: Persia I/Saijou Takatori is a Dirty Old Man who did this to Sano and Uno, two girls that he bought as children, enslaved and trained to be deadly bodyguards, used as sex toys, and was planning to have Mamoru marry one of them to ensure heirs.
  • In Loveless when Soubi's parents die (he is about 5 at the time) he is raised by his teacher Ritsu, we later find out that Soubi lost his virginity to Ritsu and that the two shared a sadomasochistic servant-master relationship.
  • An inadvertent version almost happened in Volume 4 of Ooku. As she lay dying at age 27, Shogun Iemitsu the Younger asked the former abbot (and only true love for all that his infertility obliged her to bear the children of several other men) Arikoto to guide the eldest of her daughters as a father. Clueless Chick Magnet that he was, Arikoto had no idea what feelings his charge was developing towards him until the teenage Shogun Ietsuna gave an Anguished Declaration of Love as he carried her to safety during a disastrous fire. As soon as a proper audience count be held, Arikoto made his feeling clear by formally petitioning to be dismissed from his duties in the Inner Chambers.
  • In Dance in the Vampire Bund, while the elder did not raise the younger the relationship between seventeen year old Akira Kaburagi Regendorf and his father's 90-plus liege lady Mina Tepes has strong overtones of this; especially as Akira was pledged to serve her from birth and one of her vast Embarrassing Old Photo collection has her holding him as an infant.
  • In Hana to Akuma, the entire plot is centered around Hana and Vivi falling in love with each other after he raised her as a foundling, despite the fact that most of the story happens when Hana is 10 and Vivi is a centuries old demon. Vivi attempts to resist this attraction by going to the demon world for awhile in a Jail Bait Wait.
  • Occult Academy (gender flipped.) Implied by the ending. 17 year old Maya's fallen in love with 23-year-old time-traveled-from-13-years-in-the-future Fumiaki, but he makes a heroic sacrifice. So she takes 10-year-old current-day Fumiaki in hand, and we see that 13 years later, they're at least living together.
  • Black Butler. Well, maybe more like Husband Husbandry. Or Soul Husbandry. Sebastian tries really hard to ... cultivate Ciel's soul.
  • In the Vampire Princess Miyu manga, Miyu accuses a Shinma male that she's chasing after of wanting to do this to a human little girl named Ruri, whom he raised after her parents died. He sees her more as a Replacement Goldfish for his Dead Little Sister, though. It doesn't matter that much in the end, since she still sends him back to the Darkness. Ruri is later Happily Adopted by humans.
  • In Bunny Drop, after the Time Skip, Rin realizes she has feelings for Daikichi, who raised her and is her father-figure (though technically she's his aunt, as she's the daughter of his grandfather).
    • Played straight as of Chapter 54, where we find she is adopted by Daikichi's grandfather and they really aren't blood-relatives. Rin takes the news quite well.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni has Irie who plans on doing this to Satoko. While it's hard to judge just how earnest he is about it, it's seemingly played for laughs.
  • Implied in Saber Marionette J in the very final last episode, where a young elementary-age Cherry is still in love —and lust— with Otaru, even after she's been reborn as a fully-organic human girl, along with her sisters, Lime and Bloodberry, who he's now raising as his adopted daughters.
  • During a flashback in Fairy Tail, Markarov takes the then eight-year-old Erza to Porlyusica for treatment. Markarov comments that Erza will be very beautiful when she grows up. Porlyusica, who knows very well that Markarov is a Dirty Old Man, asks if he's planning on seducing Erza later. Markarov nervously replies that he wasn't.
  • Gender flipped In Eureka Seven, the eldest of Eureka's 3 adopted kids Maurice had some form of romantic affection towards his foster mom Eureka. He even resents and gets jealous of the protagonist Renton for being her lover, threatening to shoot him in episode 45, claiming that he can be a better replacement for Renton. If Eureka didn't resolve this issue, Maurice probably might end up playing this trope, despite knowing Eureka killed his family.
  • Clearly discussed (in a strangely gender-flipped way) in Mahou Sensei Negima, where some of the girls are plotting to raise Negi (their ten-year-old teacher) to be the perfect boyfriend. Explicitly called the 'Reverse Hikaru Genji Raising Plan'.

Comic Books

  • One of the outright weirdest examples of this trope happened in a Silver Age issue of Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane. You see, Superman is turned into a baby by some Red Kryptonite, and both Lois and Lana try to get him to promise to marry them once it wears off. Ultimately they both hypnotize him into marrying them. But it works out fine for Superman—though not our universe's Lois or Lana —because this is actually a Superman from an alternate universe where bigamy is legal.
  • X-Men: According to rabid anti-fans of Magneto, he apparently did this to Rogue in the Age of Apocalypse, as they initially had a surrogate father-daughter relationship when he mentored her after she accidentally permanently absorbed the powers and part of the psyche of his own secretly long-lost biological daughter Polaris , who was even older than her.
  • It happens in Lex Luthor: Man of Steel when Lex Luthor creates the superheroine Hope to serve as his own private Superman as well as concubine. He sacrifices her to discredit Superman.
    • Lex Luthor does this a lot. The Lex Luthor of the Pocket Universe created a protoplasmic Supergirl with the appearance of Lana Lang. While he doesn't end up with her, she clearly adores him sexually and eventually ends up with his alternate universe double.
  • In Captain Atom, the hero's daughter, Margaret, begins a relationship with Jeff Goslin, her godfather. Not her father, but the implications are the same. The subtext, incidentally, was that she really did have romantic feelings for her father, and was (barely) sublimating them by dating Goslin, who was her father's best friend in addition to being her godfather.

Fan Works

  • Apparently there is a camp of fanfiction writers for Fate/stay night that use this angle on Archer and Rin.
    • Specifically, these fanfics follow on (sort of) from the "Childcare is War/Together with House Husband" doujins where Archer is summoned by the Tohsaka sisters (Sakura and Rin) prior to the fourth war.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia fics have several of these.
    • The Spain/Romano pairing. Romano used to be under Spain's care as a kid, with Spain doting on him and Romano getting jealous whenever Spain paid more attention to his brother than to him. In modern times, Spain's still very affectionate towards the grown-up Romano, and Romano still has his Tsundere streak. They're not quite an Official Couple, but the Subtext is definitely there.
    • The America/England pairing, actually called the "Reverse Hikaru Genji Plan" in Japanese fandom, is a more complicated example: England and America used to be in a happy big brother-little brother relationship. Then America grew up, decided he didn't want that kind of relationship with England anymore, and broke away from him. It's implied that the two still care about each other after that event, but that the nature of their affections has changed, with England going from Parental Substitute to blushing Tsundere and America from adoring little brother to an equal who enjoys riling England up. Not an Official Couple either, but the Subtext is heavy.
    • While they haven't had half the subtext these two other couple had (at least in the strips), a potential relationship between France and Seychelles could certainly be seen as an example. The Gakuen Hetalia game (written by and illustrated by Himaruya himself) shows a younger France playing with a child Seychelles in a beach as he helps raise her and then bringing her to the High School AU where the "story" sets in, and one of the game's endings has him hugging a blushing Seychelles and being snarked at by her.
    • J-fen seem to be fond of equaling the Japanese colonization of the Taiwanese islands with Japan raising his younger sister Taiwan as a prospective wife.
      • There are several Japan/China works (mostly in the Japanese fandom) where Japan is the "wife" being husbanded. This is of course an extension of China being portrayed as the big brother who raised the other Asian countries.
    • Any nation who was ever responsible for raising a nation in their childhood falls into this. Currently in fandom, England's the biggest bait for this. Having had the largest empire in history, and having the most ex-colonies appearing in the series, it's not that hard to put him in this position. Evidence: The Commonwealth of Nations. America/England was already explained in detail above. There are tags on the Kink Meme (the section where they organize the fills) just for England and his Commonwealth. On dA, some memes include a "Draw England as a pimp with his colonies" section.
    • This is also the portrayal used by Turkey fans, in regards to the Turkey/Greece or Turkey/Hungary pairings.
      • And one or two Egypt/Greece fanworks, but not half as strongly.
  • Lenore and Ragamuffin from Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl are prone to this, mostly due to the fact that he takes care of her, being her guardian and friend at the same time. Even though she's often paired with him when she's a child, because Lenore can't practically grow up physically. Still, there are instances when fans make Lenore older just to avoid any Squick.
  • Some Gorillaz fanwriters have this happen between Noodle and either Murdoc or 2D (or, very occasionally, Russel). A less-squicky-than-usual variation in the fic A Man Out Of Time involved, thanks to time travel, Noodle meeting and falling in love with Murdoc's sixteen-year-old self, then using another time jump to allow her thirty-six-year-old self to come back to Kong and meet the forty-year-old Murdoc.
  • Legolas By Laura: Legolas adopts the eponymous Laura as his sister, or daughter, or something - it's unclear - when she's a baby. Ten years later, he rescues her from orcs, and agrees to "be her boyfriend". Even though she's still ten. The So Bad It's Good quality of the fic suggests that either it's a Troll Fic or the author was also ten, and the Beige Prose makes it far less squicky and more funny than it sounds.
  • In the Oneiroi Series (an Order of the Stick fanfiction series), Xykon practically raised Tiasal/Deirdre, and he has this weird thing going on where he's almost but not quite started a sexual relationship with her. Unlike the other examples, he never exactly planned on it and she's the only one who's actually interested in the sex, but he uses it to manipulate her. (And Word of God says that he gets enjoyment out of it despite being a walking skeleton because it gives him a power trip.) The trope is also inverted with Deirdre as she actually forces her father (who also practically raised her after a while) into sleeping with her. And she's implied to be planning on doing the same to her uncle (who raised her while her dad didn't), and Word of God says that she wants to do it to all the men who were involved in raising her. She has issues.
  • Mao and C.C.'s relationship is explored in-depth in Code Geass: Mao of the Deliverance, with plenty of backstory and Flash Back, including the implication that C.C. had sex with him when he became a teenager, increasing his Yandere Fan Boy treatment of her Up to Eleven.
  • Inverted and most likely played for Squick in the Twilight fanfic Seven, when Jacob proceeds to strip Renesmee (who looks eighteen but is only seven, thus the title), and she is both frightened and unwilling.
  • There are a few My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics that pairs Twilight Sparkle and Spike.
  • This seems to be at least partly at play in the relationship between Loki and Hermione Granger -- which started when she was 11 and came upon him in the Hogwarts library — in Aphelion by "Dresden Blue".
  • If a Chinese webnovel has a main pairing of a martial artist/cultivator and their Shifu/Shizun, expect this plot to appear in fics, or at least the variant where the student falls in love and plots to seduce/marry the teacher who raised them.


  • This is the plot of The Bow by Kim Ki-duk. The main character is an old man, who lives in seclusion on a boat with a 16 year old girl, whom he found at an early age. It is agreed that they will marry when she turns 17. The girl trusts him absolutely, up to the point when she meets a young boy, who plans to take her away from the old man. The old man eventually marries her, but after the ceremony he rides with her on another boat, then makes her go to sleep by playing a song and jumps into the water happily, drowning himself. The girl wakes up at the bigger ship with a spontaneous orgasm. She acts like she has an intercourse with a man, and it ends with blood on her crotch. She rides off with the boy.
  • Léon: The Professional (or) Leon: Natalie Portman's 13-year-old character Matilda asks a hitman named Leon to train her to be an assassin, to avenge her younger brother killed by a crooked cop and his henchmen. He reluctantly takes her under his wing and she grows to have sexual feelings for him, which he never returns, but she does confess her love to him as he does. Leon goes from being teacher and protector to a love interest for the young girl. Averted by the ending.
  • Happens in the French movie Le Bossu (a.k.a. On Guard), with the girl having fallen in love with her guardian and him initially resisting. It still fails not to seem creepy, mostly because he became her unofficial adoptive father sometime when she was one year old, and she went with unnerving speed from regarding him as "Papa" to thinking of him as "husband on the hoof" once she learned he wasn't any blood relation.
    • In the latest adaptation (Le Bossu was originally a swashbuckling novel, as mentioned below), Lagardère (2003), he marries her widowed mother instead.
  • There are overtones of this in the 1989 Canadian film Cold Comfort (not to be confused with the better-known Cold Comfort Farm). Floyd, who lives in a remote rural cabin, tries to set up traveling salesman Stephen with his innocent-but-willing eighteen-year-old daughter Dolores. Complicating this situation is that Floyd is a mood-swinging psychotic who himself has lustful feelings for Dolores. He has her do a strip-tease for Stephen, then nearly kills him for looking at her topless, then calmly praises her "perfect" breasts. It all goes downhill from there.
  • This is basically the exact romantic subplot of Memoirs of a Geisha, wherein Sayuri falls for The Chairman, who buys her shaved ice when she is a little girl and he is in his forties. They wind up together in the end, and this is made to seem right and happy. The aforesaid old guy may be portrayed by Ken Watanabe, but still... For bonus wrongness, when they first meet in the film, he mentions doing this for his own children.
  • Inverted in Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders, when a man accidentally turns himself into a baby, and his wife is left to raise him.
  • The movie/play Gigi is about an adolescent girl raised to be a wealthy man's ideal mistress (not wife, just mistress), but he ends up falling in love with her and marrying her.
  • Inverted in the 2009 movie Orphan — the titular character is actually a thirty-something year old adult who tries to come on to her legal guardians, and kills them when they refuse.
  • Narrowly averted at the end of An American in Paris.
  • The film (and presumably the literature it's based on) Portrait of Jennie does an odd variation on this when an artist meets a mysterious, too-young girl. Jennie promises him that they are meant to be together and that she will grow up for him... and does. Very quickly. Of course, she's already dead. Despite this description, it's a beautiful film.
  • In Hideo Gosha's Kai (桨), a man buys up the pre-teen daughter of a poor family and has her trained as a geisha. In the following years, she develops romantic feelings for him.
  • This sort of thing happens a lot in Hollywood films —The main characters are an older, middle aged (but still handsome) man and a very young girl whom the man feels very protective of, leading the audience to think that their relationship might end up being like a father and daughter. But since the film producers felt the need to shoehorn in a romance, the old man and young girl shack up by the end leading to Squick. (Examples of this can be seen in the movies Halloween 3 and Looker.)
  • A slightly different version occurs in Great Balls of Fire, where it's suggested that Jerry Lee wanted to marry Myra to raise her (and train her in wifely obedience before she'd be old enough to "Get Ideas").
  • In Park Chan Wook's Thirst, Tae-ju is adopted by Mrs. Ra with the intention of raising her as a wife for her son. The protagonist Sang-hyeon becomes her lover, alleviating the misery of her loveless marriage and the slave-like relationship she has to both her husband and foster mother. Then he turns her into a vampire.
  • Somewhat averted in Bicentennial Man. After Andrew helps to raise Amanda, she clearly develops romantic feelings for him, but he's oblivious to her advances (not to mention that he doesn't even look human yet), so she marries someone else. Then he comes back after a century or so and falls in love with her identical great-granddaughter Portia.
  • In Womb a woman gives birth to the clone of her dead boyfriend, raises him like a son, and eventually has sex with him.


  • Older Than Print: The Tale of Genji: (Genji Monogatari) from Japan. Hikaru Genji raises the 10 year old girl Murasaki to be his wife.
    • Years later when Genji 'adopts' another girl, Tamakazura the daughter of his best friend, he tells Murasaki that it is perfectly harmless and platonic, he is being a father to the girl since hers can't be, etc. To which she replies dryly that as she recalls their relationship began in much the same way and has, if she is not mistaken, become anything but platonic and paternal!
  • Paul Féval's swashbuckler novel "Le Bossu" ("The Hunchback"). Rather on the creepy side, since the knight of Lagardère also raised Aurore when she was a child. Surprisingly, it hardly raises an eyebrow from anyone (political intrigues excepted) that they do love each other and get married in the end. Well, this is one of those older works, written in 1858.
  • In Ezekiel 16:8, God Himself uses this as a metaphor for how His relationship with the Israelites was supposed to work out.
  • The legendary King Cophetua had no interest in women until he fell in love with a beggar child and decided to raise her to be his queen. This story is best known through Lord Tennyson's poem The Beggar Maid.
  • Averted in the early 19th century novel Belinda. Clarence Hervey raises Virginia St. Pierre and gives her an education a la Rousseau's Emile. Then, after some particularly contrived coincidences, he figures out that she is incredibly insipid, due to his teaching, and instead falls for the titular Belinda.
  • Happens in Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo between the titular character and his young charge, Haydée. He even has the line: "Youth is the flower and love is its fruit... happy is the gardener who has seen it grow ripe before picking it." There's also a scene where he worries that in ten years' time he'll be an old man and Haydée will still be young, to which she answers (paraphrased again): "My father was sixty years old but I thought he was more beautiful than any young man I have ever seen." And this is supposed to be romantic and not creepy. Adaptations have steered clear of this subplot, usually either marrying Haydée off to someone else or just writing her out of the story, and the Count is usually paired off with Mercedes. Interestingly, the anime adaptation Gankutsuou (in space!) presents a familial love between the two, without romantic overtones.
  • Subverted in Charles Dickens' Bleak House; while really grateful to him, the heroine essentially tells her guardian that she loves him as a daughter and not as a wife.
  • Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now plays this realistically and tragically: Roger's love for Hetta (who has the added bonus of being his cousin) is portrayed as more pitiable than creepy. She isn't into it, though.
  • In the novel (and anime, and films) Daddy Long Legs, the main character Judy ends up marrying her patron. At least in the novel, Judy's interaction with the titular Daddy-Long-Legs ( aka the eccentric millionaire Jervis Pendelton, her roommate Julia's uncle) is limited to the letters she send to him, so they don't really have an actual relationship until she meets him in person (not realizing he's her patron) and they begin a romance. On the other hand, he does occasionally abuse his authority as her patron to interfere with her relationships with other young men, particularly her best friend Sallie's older brother, Jimmie McBride.
  • In Chapter Fourteen of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a bit of backstory (about the enslavement of the Winged Monkeys) mentions this trope. In the past, the Sorceress Gayelette in the North (implied to be someone other than the Good Witch of the North that Dorothy met, but the latter only gets a name in adaptations and second-party continuations) couldn't find a suitable husband, so she picked an attractive little boy and had him raised to be her ideal husband.
  • The story "The Education of Betty" from L. M. Montgomery's Further Chronicles of Avonlea. Best friends fight over girl. The one who marries her quickly dies, so the other becomes a sort of unofficial godfather to his best friend's daughter. He falls in love with her, but knows how inappropriate it is, so he tries fixing her up with his nephew. She'll have nothing of it, and marries him anyway.
    • Also appears in the titular short story from The Doctor's Sweetheart and Other Stories. Doctor John is thirty when he first meets the eight year old Marcella, and "[h]e had the most to do with bringing her up..." and "Marcella was one of those girls who develop early...at fifteen, she was a woman, loving, beautiful, and spirited." The Doctor realizes he loves her, but vows not to put himself forward as a suitor, given her age and inexperience; but it's too late and she already loves him, anyway, so: "...one day, just a month before her sixteenth birthday, the two came hand in hand to Miss Sara and me...and told us simply that they had plighted their troth to each other." Of course her legal guardian uncle interferes and takes her away; but she comes back to marry the doctor when she is twenty-one, as she had promised.
  • In Junichiro Tanizaki's Naomi, Joji tries this with the fifteen-year-old of the title, rationalizing that it gives him time to scope out his potential bride.
  • In G. K. Chesterton's story "The Vanishing of Vaudrey", this is Vaudrey's motivation for adopting Sybil Rye. She's horrified when he proposes to her, and her refusal is what motivates him to plot the revenge that leads to his own death.
  • In PG Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster stories, Roderick Spode and Madeline Basset come close to this sort of relationship, although Spode was merely a friend of her family's, and not her actual guardian.
  • One of the creepier subplots in Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth involves the male protagonist's relationship with Pear Blossom, a girl he allowed into his household as a servant. When they consummate a relationship, she's still jailbait by modern standards and he's at least old enough to be her grandfather. I'm not sure if this counts because the man didn't directly raise the girl as a daughter but took her in as a servant out of pity.
  • The plan of the Duke in James Thurber's The 13 Clocks, having kidnapped the Princess Saralinda as child and raised her. He's under a curse, but on her birthday, he will be able to force her to marry him.
  • This was Humbert Humbert's motivation for marrying Charlotte in Lolita. Of course, he wasn't really planning to wait that long... And didn't have to, thanks to Charlotte's fortunately timed death.
    • Taken even further when it's revealed that he was planning on impregnating Lolita so that by the time she's aged beyond his interest, he will already have the next Lolita.
  • Robert Heinlein did this a lot:
    • Time for the Stars ends with the spacefaring Tom Bartlett returning to earth to marry his great-grandniece, whom he's been in telepathic contact with since she was a toddler. What's more, she's descended from Tom's identical twin brother, so in genetic terms Tom is marrying his own great-granddaughter.
    • In Time Enough for Love, Lazarus Long (under an assumed identity) adopts a young girl named Dora on a pioneer planet after her parents die in a fire. She discovers who he really is and, upon reaching her majority, tells him that she wants to marry him. This makes him apoplectic until he realizes that she is very much serious and he decides to go along with it as she can only live so long. She winds up being the greatest love of his life.
    • In The Door Into Summer, a thirty-year-old man, and an eleven-year-old girl who thinks of him as an uncle, use cryogenics to "even things out": he goes into the deep freeze first, for thirty years, while she waits ten years, then goes in for twenty years, so eventually they both come out and he's still thirty and she's twenty-one.
  • A series of '70s spy/mystery stories had Jeff Pride become the guardian for Anglo-Japanese Cherry Kobayashi when she was six. The stories are set somewhere between ten and twelve years later, she's grown to be very beautiful and sexy, and he's horrified at her romantic feelings toward him. One of the funnier parts is his outrage when told that the counsellor at her school approves of her intentions because he's not blood-related. The series ends with the situation unresolved.
  • The Thorn Birds. It's the sole plot of the book. Especially awkward since the man in question is a Catholic priest. Father Ralph first meets Meggie Cleary when she's just nine years old, and is an integral part of her life for the next ten years. After she grows up and marries another man, they reunite and have a brief, torrid affair which results in the birth of a son, Dane. When confessing to his superior, Father Ralph even admits that if he had met Meggie as an adult, the affair would never have happened; it's specifically because he had known her from a child onward that he developed feelings for her.
  • The second book in the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant nearly goes there - Covenant's daughter (from his rape of Lena in the first book), Elena, repeatedly makes advances at him; he refuses, because... well... Squick.
  • In Sidney Sheldon's Master of the Game, as a child Kate MacGregor vows to marry David Blackwell (who is about twenty years older than her); as her father died while she was a baby, he's one of the few adult men in her life and by far the nicest to her. She eventually succeeds at this plan once she's an adult, even though he does all he can to discourage it.
  • In P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, villain Gerridon takes in the abandoned Jame at age seven with the express plan of bringing her up to be his replacement bride and replacement sorceress. Unfortunately for him, his retainers subvert his brainwashing intentions ... Made somewhat more squicky by the fact that Jame's mother is Gerridon's sister, Jamethiel and that Gerridon sent her there explicitly to ensure the birth of his future bride. Of course, Jamethiel is also Gerridon's wife... the Kencyrath have no problems with incest. In fact, due to their magically robust genes, incest is a good way to create more powerful children.
  • The novel Fire and Hemlock has a variation: while Tom is not involved in raising Polly per se, he is her moral support when her parents aren't there for her. She befriends him at age eleven or so and when they discuss what she should call him, she suggests "Uncle Tom." It also stresses the angle that she is the insistent partner, writing what amounts to a self-insert romance novel about them as a tween, while he tries to distance himself by dating a woman his age.
  • What Augon Hunnamek had planned for Jessamin in Infanta. As Jessamin turned out to be the mortal avatar of a sea-demon called The Serpent who Devours, that didn't turn out well.
  • In David Eddings's Elenium, the queen Ehlana browbeats her protector, Sparhawk, who practically raised her, into marrying her in the third book. Sparhawk seems to realize the inappropriateness of it, as he tries to back out of it several times and feels guilty about it when she's kidnapped in the Tamuli to get at him, but she outranks him, and overrules his objections.
    • There's actually a line of dialogue about how she's carrying a Prince Consort coronet for him "around with her like a coil of fishing line."
    • Their daughter, age 6, tells her father who she's going to marry; as she's the incarnation of a god, if the prospective husband disagrees, he better have started running right then.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series has a major villain, Hulda, who uses this as her means of ascending to power. She poses as a nursemaid to Princess Elspeth of Valdemar, intending to corrupt her and become the power behind the throne when she grows up (never mind that the Companions would never have Chosen her in that state, and only a Herald can be Monarch). When that plan fails, she does the same with Prince Ancar of Hardorn—becoming his lover in the process—and succeeds in having him usurp his father's throne. It is later revealed that she did all this as an agent of the Eastern Empire.
  • He doesn't raise her, but Drizzt Do'Urden from the The Dark Elf Trilogy clearly thinks of the human girl Catti-brie, whom he met when she was about ten, as something like a little sister. However, as she grows up, she seems to have fallen for him, and he doesn't even notice until she's already involved with someone else... at which point, with some more overt hinting from her, he finds himself very attracted to her. Some years later, they finally connect.
    • Even more Squicky than a normal Hikaru Genji Plan, on the other hand, is Drizzt's relationship with his sister (though they are actual siblings). She seemed taken with him from the time he was an infant, and did most of the work in raising him. At his graduation from the warriors' academy, he is repulsed by the drug-fueled demon orgy and leaves. His sister follows him, and tries to seduce him. He is about as repulsed as ever, thankfully... kee-rist, drow are messed up.
      • Being raised in a culture where your goddess is the ultimate Demonic Spider, you're encouraged to get ahead by murdering people, and your general life is a heady cocktail of fear, arrogance, and raw animal cunning, this is hardly surprising.
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Damia, the titular character falls in love with Afra, her mother's best friend and advisor, who is twenty four years older than she is and literally helped raise her from the day she was born. At first you may think it's sweet... and then, about a week after you've read the book, you think about it, and the eeeeeeeeewwwwww hits ya right in the face.
    • Twice in the same series: In the prequel Pegasus books, Tirla marries Sascha (thirty-something) on her sixteenth birthday, or pretty much the instant she was legally allowed to. Although he hadn't raised her since birth, he had taken on a protective, father-figure role in her life since she was about age twelve.
  • Robin McKinley has so many May–December Romancess that it was inevitable that a few would fit this category. Notably Aerin/Tor, and Rosie/Narl from Spindle's End, but the most straightforward example of this trope is in "Touk's House", a modification of the Rapunzel story. After a woodcutter steals herbs from a witch's garden, the witch Maugie requests a baby girl in exchange. But in this case, it's so she can raise a wife for her half-troll son. (Who is, yes, around, older, and helping to raise the child.) Needless to say, Erana's not too happy when she grows up and figures it out. But it works anyway.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Jorah Mormont feels this way about Daenerys Targaryen. Dany only loves Jorah platonically, and she eventually ends up banishing him from her presence when he admits he was spying on her for Robert Baratheon, the man who usurped her father's throne, and he will not concede that he was wrong for deceiving her.
    • Worse is Petyr Baelish adopting Sansa Stark, whose mother he was in love with and to whom he's now transferred that affection based on the fact that she looks exactly like Catelyn did. Oh, she's also thirteen years old. And pretending to be Petyr's bastard daughter. And when he asks her to come "give her father a kiss", he does not mean on the cheek.
    • Double worse is Craster, who has bred his own harem. Of his own daughters.
    • Being set in a relatively realistic medieval world, some of the minor characters are married couples where one partner or the other is severely younger than the other one. These are generally political rather than romantic relationships, and generally the older partner is supposed to wait quite a while until the younger one has grown up, but there is still quite a bit of Values Dissonance to the whole thing. One of the Lannisters was literally married to an infant, which he had to help raise.
      • "And likely the first bride in the history of the Seven Kingdoms to be widowed before she was weaned."
  • The villain in Sandra Brown's novel Fat Tuesday. And after his bride figured out just how crooked he was, he threatened to replace her with her little sister.
  • In the alternate history novel Fortune's Stroke by Eric Flint and David Drake, Rome's spymaster has to bully an Indian Empress into marrying the great warrior assassin who raised her and trained her, even though they both want it.
    • But is it really? She still had an actual father on the scene until she was an older teenager.
  • In Cold Copper Tears, thirty-plus Garrett teams up with street kid Maya, whom he'd saved from her stepfather's molestation as a young girl. Now eighteen, she repeatedly declares her intention to marry him. They do hook up, but she eventually married someone else because Garrett was too immature about commitment. Not as creepy as most, as he was never actually her guardian and she always saw him as more hero than parent.
  • When Sarek appears on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard mentions in passing that he had attended "your son's wedding" some two decades earlier. So...whom did Spock marry? The EU novels come to the rescue: Spock married Saavik, to whom he had been a surrogate parent.
    • Oddly enough, in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Saavik briefly played a nuturing role to the (young but rapidly aging) Spock.
    • In the Star Trek: The Original Series novel "The Vulcan Acadamy Murders", Dr. Daniel Corrigan, a middle-aged human doctor, has had a highly successful partnership with the Vulcan healer Sorel, and has become something of a favored uncle to Sorel's daughter T'Mir. Years later, when T'Mir returns from several years studying xenobiology at Starfleet Acadamy, she and Corrigan become bond-mates. Subverted in that 1) Corrigan underwent an experimental neural treatment that he and Sorel pioneered that would extend his life-span, and 2) he hadn't allowed himself to consider T'Mir as a life-mate or wife, until she proposed to him.
  • In Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky, Pham Ngyen is the younger side of a Human Popsicle's ambition-driven sexual relationship. She makes the plan, goes into hypersleep, and then once their ages are aligned, they have lots of sex.
  • In the first book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf tries to marry his young ward Violet. He didn't use a "position of trust", though — he tried to force her so he can inherit her and her siblings' money.
  • In S.L. Viehl's Stardoc series, this turns out to be exactly why Grey Veil created Cherijo in the first place.
  • An odd version occurs in Kushiel's Dart: Anafiel Delaunay adopts two children and believes that both will eventually come to see him as a father/mentor figure. Both of them, however, fall in love with him, and one of them eventually finds the courage to make a move.
  • The Obsidian Trilogy: Played somewhat worryingly straight in Mercedes Lackey's and James Mallory's series. The human Wild Mage Idalia and the elven warrior/Dragon Mage Jermayan are in love. Elves, however, marry for life, and only once, and like most elves, Jermayan's people can live for much longer than the healthiest human. After they reconcile themselves to this, Idalia dies as part of a price for a powerful spell she cast. Then the queen of the elves has a child...and the child has most of Idalia's features; apparently reincarnation is something elves believe in. He notes that now they're both elves, "eighteen years is not so long to wait".
  • Happens via time travel in The Time Traveler's Wife in a Stable Time Loop: When the unwitting Time Traveler Henry meets Clare for the first time, she immediately starts a relationship with him and eventually marries him. Only after this does he begin to time travel to various points in Clare's childhood, causing her to fall in love with him over time until they meet as adults.
  • In the Twilight series, male werewolves sometimes "imprint" (a sort of one-way soulmate-recognition thing) on girls while the girls are still toddlers or even infants (as Jacob does on Bella's baby daughter Nessie). In such cases, the male werewolf becomes a sort of uncle/older brother figure, or even a father figure, to the child, and it's assumed that of course she'll want to marry him once she's of age. To quote the series, "why would she say no?" It's also discussed how sad it is that the relevant werewolf is going to have to wait fourteen years to have sex with his adopted daughter.

"You never saw a real parent so jazzed to play whatever stupid kiddie sport their rugrat could think up. I'd seen Quil play peekaboo for an hour straight without getting bored. [...] Though I did think it sucked that he had a good fourteen years of monk-i-tude ahead of him until Claire was his age." Making things convenient for Jacob, "Nessie" will age faster than Claire.

  • Something akin to this happens in Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson. The main character, Jane, had an imaginary friend named Michael when she was eight. He was much older than her, and it's established that he doesn't know how he came to exist, just that he takes care of children by being their imaginary friend and has been doing this for quite some time now. As the story progresses, they eventually meet again when Jane grows up and fall in love. Toward the end Michael gives up his immortality to be with Jane. A bit disturbing, considering Michael is, in all probability, extremely old.
  • The disturbing aspect of this is the entire point of the Fyodor Dostoevsky short story "A Christmas Tree and a Wedding." Made even worse because the real motives of the older man are to get at the girl's finances, with him mentally calculating how much interest her bank balance will accumulate in the years before she comes of age.
  • In Emily of New Moon and its sequels, by L.M. Montgomery, this is what Dean Priest plans for Emily. Yes, he saves her life the first time they meet. Yes, he's the only adult who understands Emily and she's the only person (other than her now-dead father) who was ever his real friend. But he's old enough to be her father, and at their first meeting he's saying things like "Your life belongs to me, now," and "I'll wait for you," and "One day I'll teach you all about lovers' talk." In the third book they actually get engaged, but Emily breaks it off. Eventually Dean is able to be reconciled to her as a friend.
  • A boatman tried this in one of the short stories from the book Cuentos de Angustias y Paisajes, the girl who called him dad, she apparently drowned. However, it was noted she was an excellent swimmer and a man she seemed to fancy disappeared around the same time.
  • In the antebellum book series Elsie Dinsmore, Elsie's father's best friend complains frequently that he and Elsie aren't closer in age, because she'd be the perfect bride. He starts saying this when she's seven, right after she's been encouraged to call him her Uncle Edward. She marries him as soon as she hits 21, and the entire family rejoices. Her father had her quite young, so Edward Travilla is only about 16 years older than she is, but since he begins talking about wanting to marry her when she's a small child, and remains a huge influence in her life (taking her side against her insanely controlling father, trying to break things up with her first love), it's never not creepy.
  • In Jane Austen's Emma, the titular character falls in love with her sister's brother-in-law, who has been something like a real elder brother to her since childhood. He even remarks to her that he has been in love with her ever since she was thirteen at least. Not quite as overt as other examples, since there was no intent and both parties had no idea they were in love until Emma had a presumed suitor, but still mildly squicky to modern readers.
    • In the modern-era remake Clueless, this character is replaced by Cher's "ex-stepbrother" (his mother was married to then divorced from her father), who is two or three years older than Cher. This cuts down on the squick considerably.
  • In the Tudor/Elizabethan period novels by Mercedes Lackey and Roberta Gellis, the elven warrior Denoriel is Elizabeth Tudor's destined protector starting several years before her birth. When Elizabeth is 14, Denoriel (and his sister Aleneil) deal with Elizabeth's awakening sexuality by getting her into Denoriel's bed. To be fair, in that era a 14 year old female was old enough to be a mother, and Denoriel was a "safer" lover than some of the humans who were sniffing around the third in line to the throne. But this doesn't stop Denoriel from being simultaneously aroused and squicked by the idea.
  • Spider Robinson wrote a short story, "Soul Search"(featured in the anthology Time Travelers Strictly Cash) which asked what happens when you have a universe with both reincarnation and cryogenics. At the end, when one character dies, the man who loves her tracks down the baby she was reincarnated as and adopts her, intending to marry her in eighteen years.
    • Her plan had been this as well, but a bit more sinister version: cryogenics comes in because she was going to kill the three children she'd determined had the highest chance of being her late husband's new form, in hopes of the soul returning to the frozen, now-healed body. When her life is eventually threatened by a lab accident, the people working for her - the man mentioned above included - allow her to die. However, he'd determined that a soul grows in maturity with each life, so it's with the hope that she's better in her next life that he prepares to enact the Hikaru Genji plan.
  • Marius, the ancient Roman Vampire from Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles series, encounters a female vampire named Eudoxia who does this with a young mortal who she eventually plans to turn into a vampire companion, and urges Marius to do the same. Once he finds Amadeo (later known as Armand), he does.
    • Don't forget about Claudia (though perhaps to a lesser extent) as it's implied that she and Louis (one of her 'vampire fathers') have romantic feelings for each other, which is a source of Squick when you remember that Claudia has the body of a six-year-old and Louis was in his twenties when he became a vampire.
  • Frankenstein's parents are a semi-example. His mother was the daughter of his father's best friend, and he adopted her after said friend died.
  • In Maggie Furey's Aurian books, Aurian is raised by her deceased father's friend Forral, from the age of seven to around eleven, complete with Aurian claiming that "I'm not going to marry a prince, I'm going to marry you." When Forral leaves after injuring her during their sword training, Aurian goes on to study magic at the Mage's Academy and becomes the Archmage's protégé. When Forral later returns, they both find themselves attracted to each other, and eventually after much angsting they consummate their love. It helps (or just makes it worse) that Aurian is a mage and thus immortal.
    • Far worse is the Archmage Miathan's perverse lust for Aurian once she "matures" upon the return of Forral into her life. While he's been raising her to be a loyal ally, he gradually goes from benevolent father to attempted rapist.
  • In Peace Like a River, Jape Waltzer's "daughter" is really a girl he bought off some guy in Utah. He freely admits that he's "raising himself a wife", apparently planning to marry her when she's a bit older. However, Davy absconds with her (presumably with her consent) before this happens.
  • In the Rendezvous With Rama sequels by Gentry Lee, Nicole des Jardins' daughter Simone Wakefield's life pretty much is this trope. The man she chose to marry at fourteen, Michael O'Toole, is not only fairly old (in his sixties if memory serves), but also her stepfather for all intents and purposes. He helped deliver Simone at birth, actively raised her and her siblings, and fathered Simone's half-brothers with Nicole. Granted the Wakefield/O'Toole family were not exactly suffering an embarrassment of riches in the human gene pool, but still. Squick.
  • In Child of Darkness by V. C. Andrews, Celeste is adopted by a wealthy woman whose father-in-law has fallen for Celeste, and wants to marry her when she is a little older or at least convince her to have a child with him so the child can inherit the family's money. They drug and rape her when it becomes clear their little scheme isn't going to work.
  • In the post-Apocalypse novel Malevil, Emmanuel is torn on his precise relationship with fourteen year old Evelyne. He is trying to raise her as best he can, for her sake and the future of mankind, but he realizes that their relationship is not entirely adopted father/daughter and borders on paedophilia. He recognizes his Dirty Old Man habits and understands that if Evelyne grows to be beautiful then he has most likely raised a bride for himself.
  • In James Thurber's comic fairytale The Thirteen Clocks the Cold Duke admits near the end that the Princess isn't actually his niece, but a stolen child he's been raising as a bride (but can't marry till she's 21 due to the same witch's geas that forced him to let Princes try for her hand.)
  • In Edith Wharton's novel Summer, Lawyer Royall takes in Charity when she is 5 and then drunkenly enters her room in an attempt at starting a sexual relationship when she turns 17. He continues to make advances, proposing to her twice.
  • The world of Dragonlance has a race of Lizard Folk called "draconians", all of whom are the result of the eggs of good dragons being stolen and subjected to evil magics which transform what's inside of them; instead of baby dragons hatching from them, multiple draconians hatch from a single egg. Draconians were created to be reliable soldiers for the Big Bad of the story. However, only male draconians were ever hatched. Eventually, after thirty-some years pass in The Verse, readers learn that eggs containing female draconians do exist; they were never hatched because there was concern that if draconians reproduced, then they would become too numerous to control. The adult male draconians embark on a quest to find the female eggs and hatch them, in an effort to keep their race from dying out one by one. They succeed and find themselves in the position of raising twenty baby females to adulthood. No matter who these females conceive children with, it will end up being somebody who remembers them as babies.
  • A short Miss Marple story has this trope as the motivation of a murder. A young woman was the ward of a man who intended to marry her, when she rejected him, he killed her so she wouldn't marry anyone else.
  • In Doña Bárbara, Santos Luzardo brings his teenage third cousin once-removed Marisela under his wing, to educate her and made her a proper lady. This causes Marisela to both develop an increasingly serious crush on him, and become tremendously appealing to Santos' tastes. They eventually get together, but not before the obligatory Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure where he internally chokers over Marisela having feelings for him and he reciprocating them.

Live Action TV

  • A gender inversion occurred on Angel, between Conner and Cordelia; later lampshaded in the comics with Conner's line about "My first time was with a woman who changed my diapers?!" (Though she didn't actually raise him.)
    • Also lampshaded in the series:

"Angelus: She's practically your mother. There should be a play."

    • It is partially averted when it is later revealed, that Cordelia had died/ascended and not been resurrected/returned as they thought. It was actually an ancient Lovecraftian terror inhabiting Cordelia's body. This doesn't keep it from being any less creepy, but it's not Cordy's fault.
  • If you think about it, eventually inverted on Farscape: In the time-travel episode "Kansas", 16-year-old John Crichton loses his virginity to Chiana, and gets his memory of the event muddled. Years later, he meets her for, from her point of view, the first time and rather quickly takes her as a little sister or occasionally even daughter figure, which works really well to her benefit, considering he has little reason to trust her at their first meeting otherwise. Yeah.
  • One sided version: In the Murder, She Wrote episode A Murderous Muse, the manager Byron has been pressuring his student Leslie to marry him, the twist is that she isn't quite 18 yet and Byron has raised her like a father since she was 8 years old.
  • In Carnivale, Jonesy was a surrogate father/uncle figure to Sofie when she joined the troupe at a young age, and by the time the series is set (where she is around 18 or 19) it's quite clear he has feelings for her.
  • Taken: Mary Crawford and her 'Uncle Chet' (i.e. Dr. Wakeman, her father's coworker) develop feelings for each other while she is still a teenager. Years later, they meet again and begin a romantic relationship.
  • The relationship between the immortal vampire Mick St. John and the girl he saved from a fire as a child looked quite a bit like this.
    • Not really. That was the only time she met him previous to growing up. Not only did he have no influence over her, she didn't even know him until she was in her twenties. ...Which doesn't make the fact that he stalked her for most of her life any less creepy. But it doesn't fit this trope.
    • And for bonus points, the woman in question also played Madame De Pompadour in the above Doctor Who example.
  • Done humorously in Arrested Development between Buster and Lucille II. Not only does she have the same name as his mother, lives across the hall and is his mother's best friend (and main social rival) but at one point Mama Bluth tells Michael that Lucille II changed Buster's diapers when he was a baby. This makes it that much more disturbing for everyone there, except possibly Buster, who is obviously on a different wavelength than normal, well-adjusted people.
    • And this isn't even getting into the part where she's basically just a stand-in for Buster's Oedipal crush on his mother...
  • An episode of Criminal Minds focused on a family whose tradition it was to "make wives" for their sons. They would do so by having the boy pick a girl he liked and then the whole family would abduct her and murder her parents. Aw, bonding.
  • Doctor Who, episode "The Girl in the Fireplace". The Doctor saves Madame de Pompadour when she's a child, and meets her when she's all grown up via time travel. She's been expecting him all her life, and they "dance," which has been used as a euphemism for sex in the series.
    • During the Eleventh Docor's tenure, the Doctor meets a young Amelia Pond when she's 7, and makes such a huge impression on her that she goes through four psychologists (she bit them - and I'm assuming when she did they quit...). When he leaves her as a young girl he intends to make a 5 minute jump into the future but instead makes a 12 year jump, then another 2-year jump. She then leaves with him to have wacky adventures on the night before her wedding with Rory. When they later return to the night of her wedding she tries to seduce him. By the end of the series the triangle is resolved, though, as it's revealed that Amy would rather die than live without Rory. Then the thing becomes more convoluted with the relationship between the Doctor and River Song, his wife, who happens to be Amy and Rory's daughter Melody, conceived in the Tardis and while he didn't raise her he was quite close during several formative moments of her life.



  • Judge Turpin tries to pull this with his ward Johanna Barker in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, since she reminds him so much of her mother Lucy, whom he had a major lust for and eventually raped. It doesn't work because Johanna hates him and seeks to elope with Anthony the sailor. When Turpin finds this out, he is furious enough to have Johanna thrown into a madhouse, where she is eventually rescued by Anthony. And her real father, the title character, eventually catches up to Judge Turpin and takes very bloody revenge upon him.
  • In Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, Ko-Ko attempts to marry his ward, Yum-Yum, though by the end he's paired off with Katisha, a woman closer to his age.
    • They do it again in Iolanthe, where the Lord Chancellor eventually convinces himself that he can marry his ward Phyllis. He doesn't get to, though.
      • The weird version, deliberately contrasting with the authors' other "straight" examples. The Chancellor is portrayed as a sympathetic rather than manipulative figure and didn't actually raise Phyllis. Being the legal guardian for orphans in the region is part of his government position. Even his self-stated "susceptibility" to teenage girls ends up justified, as in the back of his mind he's never forgotten his apparent teenage wife who died a quarter-century earlier.
    • And in The Pirates of Penzance (notice a trend here?), Frederic's onetime nursemaid Ruth, who is the only woman he has seen in 13 years, convinces him that she is a beautiful woman, and that he should marry her. This plan falls apart the second he sees a group of girls his own age.
    • In HMS Pinafore, little Buttercup, the captain's nursemaid, ends up marrying him.
  • Used in Moliere's comedies School for Wives and School for Husbands, where in both cases a male character has a female ward they plan to marry—this doesn't end up working in either case, as the girls confront their patrons and earn their freedoms. By the way, in School for Wives, the man's definition of "perfect" is "as idiot as possible".
    • Ironically, while the would-be husbands are the butt of the comedy in both plays, Molière himself did end up marrying a girl who had been a young member of his theatre company, and was rumoured to be the daughter of his long-term mistress (scholars now think she was probably her niece). They even played the lead roles in the first public performance of School for Wives.
  • This plot is lampshaded and averted in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, as while Jack/Ernest has his excessively pretty ward Cecily being raised in the countryside like male characters in similar comedies, he is not interested in a romantic relationship with her. His best friend, however, is.
  • In Beaumarchais' play The Barber of Seville (and the operas based on it, of which Rossini's is the most famous), Doctor Bartholo plots to marry his ward Rosine (Bartolo and Rosina in Rossini). Count Almaviva and Figaro foil the plot.
  • The plot to Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge. However, Eddie Carbone cannot admit to himself or anyone else that he has romantic feelings towards Catherine, his wife's sister's daughter. Every time someone hints he might have "too much love" for Catherine, he says he isn't that kind of person. Tragedy results.
  • Done in Sondheim's A Little Night Music, but partially averted. A paraphrased line: "Just imagine, a few years ago, you were Uncle Frederick. And now, you're Darling Frederick." * Giggle* * Cue squirming and uncomfortable audience.* The girl discovered that it was just a crush and Frederic discovered his true love in a former mistress. His 18-year-old ex-wife ran off with his son, who was the same age.)
  • In the 17th-century play The London Cuckolds, one of the title characters has a girl raised in the country to be so much of an idiot that she'll believe just about anything anyone tells her (except that she does know trees don't have rats on them), and when he brings her to town to be his wife, Hilarity Ensues (no, really). Initially he doesn't plan to consummate the marriage, telling her instead her "wifely duties" are to guard his nightcap in full armor, but the two main characters of the play end up interfering with that plan.
  • In most of the renditions of the Phantom of the Opera, the Phantom is depicted as being several decades Christine's senior, and has been her voice instructor for most of her life.
    • Add to this the fact that many versions also have her under the initial impression that the Phantom's voice is her father's ghost, or something of that sort, and you've got even more Squick.

Video Games

  • Bakumatsu Renka Karyuu Kenshi Den. Heroine Shizuki Rin is adopted by male lead Iori, who was in love with Rin's mother.
  • The Princess Maker series of video games have this trope as a possible ending if you develop a close enough relationship with the girl you raise from age 10 on (the youngest you can make the "father" in a later version of the game is 16). It should be noted that this is generally frowned upon in game and, depending on which guardian spirit you have, she will also frown on it but still approve because they're not blood related. The only requirement is that the girl have max relationship with her "father" and not have promised to marry anyone else (since those marriages takes priority over this one). The girl herself can have any non-marriage profession ending, including being queen through her own abilities rather than through marriage.
  • In Soul Nomad and The World Eaters, Hawthorne is revealed to be a serial perpetrator of raising, sexually abusing and 'disposing of' female children, his daughter Tricia being the latest victim. Although he is killed before this happens in the normal storyline, in the Demon Path, he succeeds and breaks her utterly. The Nereids' plan for Penn is similar to this since due to their status as a One-Gender Race they need a male from another race in order to breed.
    • The Nereids' plan is slightly less squicky since its clear that they care dearly about him as a person and not just as breeding stock. With this example, Penn is in for an... interesting life.
  • It's quite possible in The Sims 2. Basically, it involves taking a child-Sim away from its parents, and sending it to live in the same house as an adult Sim, who from then on takes care of it and acts as a surrogate parent. When the child grows to be an adult, the relationship score should be high enough for them to fall in love and marry.
    • In the sequel it's easier, since you can have children not related to you from the get-go.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni has Irie, the closest thing Satoko has to a (non-abusive) guardian, say that he wants to marry Satoko when she grows up. He may have been joking, though.
  • A gender-reversed variant in Chrono Trigger - talking to the right people reveals that caveman Kino was found as a child by Nubile Savage Ayla, who raised him. They end up marrying after the credits. Ayla's somewhere in her twenties at the time, Kino in his late teens.
  • In Crisis Core, the Final Fantasy VII prequel, one of the little girl NPCs in the slums apparently wants this relationship with her uncle. If you bother the conversation a little further, you find out that it's just from her point of view, sure, but the girl's uncle is DON CORNEO, the notorious mobster and pervert from the original game. He also apparently laughed and patted her head or something similar when she told him she wanted to marry him. Not only is he ugly as sin, he's well-known for being a creeper and morally impossible. So...
  • In the Soul Series, Setsuka realized she was in love with her mentor and father figure after he succumbed to the injuries sustained in a fight with Mitsurugi.
  • The protagonist Rex Raglen can fall under this in Agarest Senki if you get the True Ending. He can get every single woman who's not part of his ancestor's harem and all of them raised him up.
    • Leonis from Agarest Senki Zero also fall under this. Most of the women he can romance has raised him as a baby. (He even considers Alice as his surrogative mother and Mimel as his older sister)
  • Inverted in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Micaiah found Sothe as a child and raised him but due to her long lifespan, she looks younger than Sothe in the current game. However, they are so far ahead of everyone else as a canon couple that they start out with max support for each other. You HAVE to go out of your way to make them not end marrying each other.
  • In Koei's renderizations of the Sengoku Era of Japan (Samurai Warriors, Kassen, etc), Hideyoshi Toyotomi is constantly courting Oda Oichi, a girl 11 years younger than he is. She always rejects him and even calls him a persistantly annoying monkey in the Samurai Warriors series. She later marries the young pretty boy lord Nagamasa Azai and has a daughter who is later known as Lady Yodo. After Nagamasa is killed in a battle against Oichi's brother Nobunaga, Hideyoshi helps raise the young Yodo and she eventually becomes his concubine, producing a son name Toyotomi Hideyori. Hideyoshi is more than 30 years older than Yodo. Yeah... couldn't get the girl so went for brain-washing the daughter huh? Nice!
  • In Harvest Moon 64, Elli's potential suitor was Jeff, the baker, who had at least a supporting role in parenting her (presumably, Ellen, her grandmother, was dominant).

Web Comics

  • Mandy and Grim in Grim Tales from Down Below. While Mandy never exactly looked up to him, Grim was a major part of her childhood. He used to treat her like his snarky niece, then several years later, he married her.
  • The Dr. Steve/Oasis relationship from Sluggy Freelance has a few overtones of this. After raising Oasis to adulthood and taking control of her brain, Steve's plans include having her give him firsthand accounts of a lesbian date and wearing skimpy clothes while she serves him food.
  • In Daily Grind between Howlett and Jolene. Even with as many mitigating circumstances thrown in as one can possibly imagine, it is still creepy. A man serpent of Howlett's obvious moral qualities ought to have rejected Jolene's advances rather than declare that reaching a certain chronological age magically makes her able to make her own decision. Of course, their relationship is completely non-sexual, and Howlett is only five years older than Jolene, but even Howlett seems creeped out a bit by the whole thing. He just hasn't figured out how to defuse it without someone getting hurt.
  • Eerie Cuties has a ridiculous example - Layla's jerk of a fiancee Dio "noticed" her sister, after Nina's figure was temporarily boosted with magic and immediately began deluding himself that "One day" Nina will be "so grateful...". Of course, even Layla quickly figured out what's going on, and she's oblivious and mentally lazy (though not stupid).

Real Life

  • Filmmaker Woody Allen and Soon-Yi, the adopted daughter of his then-girlfriend Mia Farrow. Cue massive amount of speculation and Squick in the media.
  • U.S. President Grover Cleveland took a major role in raising his goddaughter Frances after her father died. During his administration, rumors abounded that the bachelor president was going to marry Frances' mother. Those rumors turned out to be a generation off.
  • Adolf Hitler's alleged relationship with his own half-niece, Angelika Maria "Geli" Raubal, led to a massive underground conspiracy theory after her demise under suspicious circumstances. In some versions of the story, she had become less enamoured with him due to his interest in politics superseding time spent with her.
  • Catherine the Great's ninth lover Alexander Lanskoy was a rare inversion. He had been raised in the Palace together with Catherine's illegitimate son (as well as her future twelfth lover, Zubov). When Lanskoy died at 26, Catherine (then 51) wrote to a friend: "I thought I was going to die with grief; I had raised this young man, he was gentle, obedient and grateful, and I had counted on him for support in my later years..."
  • The notorious Chinese pirate Ching Shih took over the pirating business after her husband died, and then married her adopted son Cheung Po Tsai. Supposedly, Cheung Po Tsai was also the lover of both Ching Shih and her husband after they adopted him at the age of 15.
  • René Angélil and Celine Dion met when she was 12 and he was 38, married, and had a son who was her age. He became her manager, divorced his first wife and married someone else, divorced his second wife, and started dating Celine when she was 19 and he was 45. They were married 7 years later. Despite this trope being squicky, they have three kids and appear to be Happily Married.
  • Due to the infamous one-child policy in China, and the accompanying widespread infanticide of infant girls, there are now people who do this so their sons can have wives. It's pervasive enough that there are now detectives whose entire careers are dedicated to finding people's daughters and bringing them back... just as there are people who make livings kidnapping and selling girls for wives.
    • In more ancient times, some affluent Chinese families had the tradition of adopting, fostering, or just flat out buying children in order to raise then and marry them to their offspring when they came of age. While usually girls were subject to this, if the family has only had daugthers they would get a boy to adopt so they could keep the fortune within the family.
  • Adult male baboons sometimes abduct subadult females from their mothers and raise them apart from the troop, as a safer alternative to fighting over potential mates. The male grooms and guards his captive like a protective father while he awaits her reproductive maturity.
  • John "Johnny Appleseed" Chapman apparently attempted this.
  • WB Yeats did a subverted version of this trope. In his younger days he pined after Maude Gonne, who spurned him and married an abusive Complete Monster named John MacBride. After John MacBride's death Maude still refused Yeats' offers of marriage,so he finally proposed to Iseult Gonne, Maude's illegitimate daughter, who was born before her marriage to MacBride (he was 52 and she was 23). She turned him down, but apparently they became good friends and Yeats was something of a father figure to her.
  • Something like this happened in the Bloomsbury Group. Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf) had a daughter, Angelica, with Scottish painter Duncan Grant, her lover at the time. Present at the birth (aside from Vanessa's husband!) was Grant's lover David Garnett, who afterwards wrote to a friend, "I think of marrying it. When she is 20, I shall be 46 – will it be scandalous?". When Angelica Bell was in her early twenties, she did marry Garnett, who had remained a close friend of her parents.
  • Female spiders of certain species prefer to mate with males they are already familiar with. Some particular orb weaver males will find an immature female and move in next door, so to speak, in an attempt to pull this off.
  • Chinese man Deng Jianguo married his goddaughter Huang Ziqi. The writer of the article asks "What is the ethics?"
  • The poet Michael Field was actually two women writing under one pseudonym. Edith Cooper was both the legal ward and niece of Katherine Bradley. It's widely believed that the two became lovers when Cooper was in her late teens. They spent the rest of their lives together.
    • Averted in similar cases when a gay couple, who differ significantly in age, opt for legal adoption of the younger by the elder as their only means of becoming a family under law. While it might look like this trope to the uninformed, such couples' romantic relationships generally pre-date the legal fiction of a "parental" one.
  • George Takei once said "If you can't find a good man, raise one." This is a joke referencing the fact that his partner, Brad Altman, is much younger than him. However, they do not fit the trope in real life.