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File:ChasteToonsImage 8562.jpg

I believe this should answer where Huey, Dewey, and Louie came from... but then, just who is their dad?

Many cartoon characters intended for children, especially "iconic" ones, always seem to be surrounded by kids when the plot calls for it. These children are never their own, however, but the offspring of a brother or sister of the main character we never get to see.

Those characters are all unmarried, and since Status Quo Is God, they won't get married. So therefore, since these are children's show characters, they'll never have children.

Generally, it's seen as a safe kids show option. It means they don't need to think about the character being married, or why we've not yet seen much of the kid, but uncle or aunt is close enough as a relative to be trusted with them, and close enough to know that nothing untoward is going on. This also means that when the plot calls for the main character to go off on some adventure where having a kid in tow would hinder the plot, the kids can disappear for a while without anyone asking who's watching them.

Also works as a reverse Parental Bonus. It is still not as if any of these characters are immune to scenes that get crap past the radar and are clearly not literally chaste; they also can still get loads of Ship Tease moments. Good thing the kids would be too stupid to notice those.

Note that kids who are (at least implicitly) the biological children of the main characters aren't unheard of—it's just that the circumstances of their family situation will never be addressed, never mind the fact that pantsless cartoon characters have no apparent reproductive organs. Occasionally, characters will suddenly have children running around who... well, it's never made clear who their parents are! As a side note, many times the children depicted in such situations will be multiple births.

Note: The concept of an uncle at least looking after a child is an old tradition: if a parent died, the uncle would become the foster father (and in many cases marry the mother). For instance: The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Spider-Man, Star Wars, etc. In some cultures, (such as the ludicrously-often-used-for-examples Trobriand Islanders), the uncle is the "standard" parent while fathers have very little to do with raising their biological children (they're busy raising their sister's children instead, obviously).

For the non-animated version, where the absence of parents is most likely part of the plot, see Nephewism.

Examples of Chaste Toons include:
  • The most famous example is probably Donald Duck and his triplet nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Scrooge McDuck also took over this role in DuckTales. Since Scrooge was supposed to be Donald's uncle, this means the boys now live with their uncle's uncle — their great uncle.
    • Donald had a sister (called "Dumbella Duck" in "Donald's Nephews", the theatrical cartoon that introduced Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and "Della Duck" in the comics by Al Taliaferro), who apparently saddled him with her kids and then dropped off the face of the Earth.
      • Don Rosa developed the McDuck family history into a generation-spanning saga that's one of the deepest Disney comic works. You can get the official family tree here.
    • So that the boys had someone to play with, the Disney comics gave Daisy three nieces, April, May, and June.
    • And Mickey Mouse has twin nephews, Morty (whose full name is Mortimer) and Ferdie (whose full name is Ferdinand), though this is seen mostly in the Disney comics.
      • Minnie got a pair of nieces.
    • One origin story revealed that Donald was apparently orphaned as an egg and adopted by Scrooge and Grandma Duck (who were brother and sister); the monikers of "uncle" and "grandma" were mostly because Scrooge objected to the idea of becoming a father at his age. Later on, Scrooge found out they were actually blood relations (while not mentioning anything about the parents), prompting him to reduce Donald's salary.
      • Of course, now that nearly every artist takes Rosa's stories as canon , the old idea of Scrooge and Grandma Duck being siblings has pretty much died—its origin was apparently in Italy, where the Duck-stories have gone in a very different direction from the American and Scandinavian ones.
    • A fun example occurs with Jose ("Zé") Carioca. Back in the day when they were running out of stories, they started inserting Zé into unlocalized Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse comics. Thus, Zé's Nephews, Zica and Zeca, exist solely because they needed to replace Huey, Duey, and Louie in stories where Zé was taking Donald Duck's place.
    • Averted with Goofy, who has a son, Max. Mrs. Goofy showed up in a variety of cartoons in the 1950s, along with Goofy, Jr. That character eventually became Max Goof. Goofy was divorced in Goof Troop per the background bible. Goofy also has an Insufferable Genius nephew in the comics named Gilbert.
    • Oswald the Lucky Rabbit provides another aversion. In one of the Oswald shorts, "Poor Papa", Oswald and his girlfriend have so many kids he tries to kill the stork.
      • Also, under Walter Lantz, Oswald had two sons named Floyd and Lloyd.
    • Even Characters aren't immune to this trope. In the One Hundred and One Dalmatians TV series, Cruella had an Enfant Terrible niece named Ivy (and several other relatives who only showed up once). And in one episode of The Emperors New School, Yzma employed the help of her twin nephews, Zack and Cody Zim and Zam. Also, in comics, Magica de Spell had a niece named Minima.
    • Also in the 101 Dalmatians cartoon, Anita had a Friend to All Living Things niece named Amber. This is especially interesting since Anita is a married character herself, although if you think about it, all the puppies would have grown up by the time any of the Darling's children would have been old enough to do more than gurgle happily or cry
    • According to the House of Mouse episode "Clarabelle's Big Secret", Uncle Waldo is actually not only the uncle to Abagail and Amelia Gabble, but also a distant uncle to Donald Duck.
    • Rare Pixar example: According to the film Cars 2, Luigi is actually revealed to have an aunt and uncle living in his birthplace of Santa Ruotina, Italy.
  • Kermit the Frog sometimes had a nephew called Robin to look after. When Robin (as a tadpole) is introduced to Muppet Babies, there's a very brief mention of his mother, Kermit's sister. She doesn't get a name or anything, but she exists.
    • In the movie A Muppet Christmas Carol, Robin plays Tiny Tim, while Kermit plays Bob Cratchit. So in this story, Robin is Kermit's son - via Miss Piggy.
    • In Muppets Tonight, Miss Piggy acquired two nephews Andy and Randy Pig.
  • Inspector Gadget was the guardian of his niece, Penny, for reasons never explained.
  • Popeye was sometimes seen with his nephews, Pipeye, Pupeye, Poopeye, Peepeye, although Sweet Pea arguably filled this role anyway.
    • The strangest thing about Poopeye (aside from his name; seriously, what self-respecting person would answer to that?) is that he and his brothers first appeared in an episode where Olive Oyl dreamed about what might happen if she married Popeye and they had children.
    • As the series wore on into the 1950s, the number of nephews dropped to three, and then two. Clearly done in the name of animation economy, but it always worried me a bit.
    • Also Popeye slightly subverted this by officially adopting Swee'Pea.
    • In the theatrical shorts, Swee'Pea was usually portrayed as Olive's nephew. He's always been an orphan in the comics.
    • Popeye would later gain a biological son, Junior, with Olive Oyl in an animated series from Hanna-Barbera.
  • Scooby Doo's nephew Scrappy, whose attempts to inject cuteness and humor into the show backfired horribly and became a trope unto itself.
    • Then there's the lesser known Yabba Doo (Scooby's brother), and Scooby Doo's cousins Scooby Dum and Scooby Dee.
    • Scrappy does have a mother, Ruby Doo (Scooby's sister). Ruby is seen twice in the various Scooby spinoffs---the first, in a flashback to the day Scrappy was born, and the second appearance as a puppy in "A Pup Named Scooby Doo." Her name's presumably a reference to Joe Ruby, one of the co-creators of Scooby Doo.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures shows a multi-generational example of this; the title character has both an Uncle and a niece he lives with. Jade's parents are referred to a few times, however; in the first episode, they drop her off with Jackie and are rarely seen thereafter. In a Time Travel episode, Jade goes back in time and meets Jackie as a child, who tells her he has been sent to the United States by his parents to live with Uncle. In another episode Jade's parents actully appear and refer to Uncle as Uncle, resulting in Jade being utterly confused.
    • The latter example is part of a running gag where Uncle is never referred to by any other name. His actual name is never revealed, and even people who are not related to him call him "Uncle."
  • Animaniacs featured elderly Slappy Squirrel, who lived with her young nephew, Skippy. How he came to live with her is never explained; this is probably intentional, considering the number of other cartoon tropes the show satirized.
    • One (more dramatic than usual) episode, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo Clock" actually brought this up: after Slappy goes crazy from overexposure to bad daytime TV and gets put in a home, the local Child Welfare agency actually takes Skippy from his aunt when they can't locate his parents.
    • Sherri Stoner recently answered this question (while in character). Skippy's parents are apparently on sabbatical and send Slappy an alimony check every month.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch lived with her spinster aunts, Hilda and Zelda. Her parents do show up at times (these roles are rather prone to The Other Darrin), but she doesn't live with them. Her mortal mother has a good excuse - if Sabrina claps eyes on her, she'll turn into a ball of wax. This actually happened, although this didn't impede her mother's ability to speak, or try to have a sense of humor about it. And she did get better. Sabrina just can't look at her anymore or it will happen again. Her father just doesn't seem to be around; he lives with his second wife (Sabrina's parents are divorced) and his stepson.
  • In Family Affair, Uncle Bill, a bachelor, acquired his nieces, Cissy and Buffy, and nephew Jodie after his brother and sister-in-law died in a car crash.
  • Same would go for Uncle Jesse on Dukes of Hazzard. In addition, the whole extended Duke family seems to be made up almost entirely of cousins.
    • Nope, sorry, not gonna say it. Way Too Easy.
  • Fat Freddy's Cat from Gilbert Shelton's Freak Brothers has three nephews who finish each other's sentences in the time-honored manner. They actually ask him why so many cartoon characters have nephews and nieces. His answer is pretty much the same as the one on this page, at which they ask, "So are you saying that Huey Dewey and Louie are the illegitimate sons of Donald and Daisy Duck?"
  • Parodied in an issue of The Simpsons comic book. On one page of a story, Mr. Burns has a brief conversation with his three nephews, who look like smaller versions of him dressed like Huey, Dewey and Louie (and they talk like them too).

 Burns: Yes, nephews? What is it?

"Louie": There's a sunken galleon...

"Huey": Off the coast of Spain...

"Dewey": They say it's full of treasure!

Burns: I'm sorry lads. I'm busy with young Gary now. We'll have that adventure another time.

Nephews and Smithers (who is dressed like Donald): Awwwwwwww!

  • The Baby Ponies are an example as according to one of the comics, Majesty has a magic mirror that produces a baby pony based on whichever pony was looking in it at the time.
    • In the new series it's pretty much averted, since parents have shown up. Though we still haven't seen Applejack, Big Macintosh, and Applebloom's parents yet, just their granny and a lot of cousins. Word of God says she'd like to say the Apple-parents are dead but since Hasbro would never let that fly, it's up in the air for now.
      • And for a full-on subversion, a pair of minor characters actually had twins. The mother never appeared as pregnant onscreen, but their introduction was the episode's cold open, which took place in the maternity ward with the proud father looking disheveled (and giving an explanation of his childrens' anomalous traits which suggests that the twins are throwbacks to the in-laws of their ancestors).
      • Oddly, though, this seems to apply to Princess Celestia and Princess Luna, the rulers of the kingdom; at the end of the first season, we were introduced to Prince Blueblood, previously established as Celestia's nephew, and in the second season finale, Twilight Sparkle's brother married Celestia and Luna's niece, Princess Cadence. (However, Blueblood was only ever called Celestia's nephew once on-screen and never in the episode he actually appeared in, and Cadence was only ever called Celestia's niece in marketing - never in the show proper.) Fanon is largely up in the air as to how such blood ties to an effective Physical God are supposed to work. Although Word of God says that Blueblood is only very, very distantly related to Celestia, hence why he's not an Alicorn.
    • Also averted in My Little Pony Tales way back in 1992, where all ponies from main cast had parents (although Patch was adopted)
  • This trope also plays in Yo Gabba Gabba in the episode "Baby" where we see Plex with his baby niece, Plexee.
  • The title character of James Bond, Jr. is actually Bond's nephew. Of course, this hasn't stopped rampant speculation that he's an illegitimate son (this is James Bond we're talking about here, so there are many opportunities for such children).
  • 'Stargate Infinity has Gus and Stacy Bonner.
  • Woody Woodpecker also (at least in the late 1990's revival) had a nephew and niece named Knothead and Splinter, respectively. Get it?
    • They started off in the early 1950s comics as Woody's adopted wards rather than any kind of real relatives. The retcon took place when they made some cartoon appearances in the late 1950s.
      • It gets weirder; for the first two months of the comics appearances (New Funnies 182 and 183, both 1952), both kids are boys. One simply changes gender without explanation in month three (NF 184).
  • In the Donkey Kong episodes of Saturday Supercade, Pauline was said to be Mario's niece. This would be a typical example, if not for the fact that we know who Mario's brother is.
  • Speaking of Donkey Kong, Nintendo's strategy guide for Donkey Kong 64 claims that Diddy is the big ape's nephew. This doesn't appear to be true in the games themselves.
  • Sonic of Sonic Sat AM only ever referred to his uncle Chuck, not his mother or father (though everyone had missing parents, what with Robotnik Roboticizing them).
    • Sonic's Parents appear in the comics.
      • Better: It's essentially Chuck's own fault he suffers from Nephewism. Chuck originally devised the roboticizer with medical applications in mind, and is forced to use his brother Jules, Sonic's dad, as a test subject when he's grievously injured. When it turned his beloved brother into a mindless automaton as an unforeseen side effect of healing him, he abandoned the project, which ultimately allowed Robotnik to find it and use it to get cheap labor for his takeover campaign.
  • Sjors and Sjimmie, a very old dutch comic based on Perry Winkle & the Rinkeydinks, has one of the weirdest setups ever. Sjors is white, Sjimmie is black. They are living with a man called the colonel is neither a family member nor their guardian and his daughter sally is living with him and has somewhat of a husband and wife relationship with him.
  • In the 1978 animated series Fangface, teenager Sherman "Fangs" Fangsworth transformed into a werewolf every time he saw the moon (or anything remotely resembling the moon). Although this was supposed to be due to a curse that caused a werewolf to be born into his family every 400 years, the next season, Sherman's nephew "Baby Fangs" was introduced who also turned into a werewolf. (One of the episodes in the first season did mention Sherman had an uncle but nothing was ever clear about Baby Fang's origins.)
  • In an episode from the last season of The Powerpuff Girls, Fuzzy Lumpkins went on a camping trip with his three nephews - Wuzzy, Buzzy, and Scuzzy.
  • Last Res0rt has the Vaeo family with Vince, his daughter Cypress, and his nephews/ her cousins, Nathaniel and Damien. It's been heavily implied so far that the Vuelos Incedent killed off Cypress's mother and Nathaniel and Damien's real parents.
  • In Catdog, Rancid Rabbit had a convenient niece who was even named after him as Rancy.
  • A SpongeBob SquarePants comic has SpongeBob getting a visit from his triplet nephews, named Spongebrian, Spongekevin, and Spongecarl. The fact that they're a parody of Donald's nephews is made more obvious when SpongeBob sees that they've grown up to be punks. In a piece of irony, they become captivated by Squidward's hobbies.
  • One episode of Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness was about Po the panda befriending a young snow leopard cub named Peng, who want to be a famous kung fu master like Po. At the end of the episode, Peng tells Po that he is actually the nephew of Tai Lung, causing the panda to freak out.

Exceptions and Variations

  • Max Goof, the son of Goofy, whose lack of a mother was actually addressed a few times. Interestingly, he seems to have been more or less accepted in the 'modern' (if not iconic) Disney canon.
    • Goofy's wife (among other female... anthropomorphic dogs?) was shown and heard quite frequently in the old '50s cartoons, but as The Faceless, probably because the animators of the time couldn't bring themselves to draw a sufficiently silly looking female face to match with the male characters.
  • Sylvester the Cat had a son, Sylvester Jr. Mrs. Sylvester is shown in only one 1960s cartoon, "Goldimouse and the Three Cats".
  • The whole "toons having sexual relations" idea was deconstructed in the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which portrayed toon marriage as something which could take place between characters of different species. This would make the idea of sex between them squicky, if sex for them were anything like it is for humans. Considering that Roger's idea of adultery was literally a game of pattycake, this probably isn't the case. (This is a change from the book, where "pattycake" was not meant literally. On the other hand, Roger and Jessica's relationship was also nowhere near as close in the book, though they were married.)
    • Cool World, which came four years after Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and had a remarkably similar premise (at least insofar as the notion of toons existing in a world which humans can ostensibly reach) also explored the notion. Being much darker and more mature, they decided the answer was not to do something ridiculous for laughs, but to literally explore the idea of sex, namely between "doodles" (toons) and "noids" (humans). It's well known in Cool World (where apparently the only humans are Brad Pitt and, lately, the cartoonist who draws the Cool World comic, leaving a bit of Fridge Logic considering how widespread the knowledge is) that doodles should never bang noids, but no one is quite sure why. This turns out to be more than simple racism when it turns out is that what happens is the doodle becomes a noid, at the cost of reality starting to fall apart. After the doodle-cum-noid, flickering between human and toon, pushes Brad Pitt to his death, we get another bit of Fridge Logic to give us a happy ending: everyone (except, apparently, Brad Pitt's spider partner) knows that when a doodle bumps off a noid, they become a doodle, happy, healthy, and incidentally free for sex now that pregnancy is the only ramification of note.
  • British children's comic The Beano completely avoided this in its Dennis the Menace strips (not to be confused with the American character of the same name) - Gnasher, Dennis's dog, had an actual son named Gnipper. He also had a lot of other children, but Gnipper is the only one who really features. Then there's Dennis's baby sister Bea, who arrived in the mid-90s after an entire arc of Dennis wondering why the adults were acting differently.
  • The bulldog Spike from the Tom and Jerry cartoons has a pup called Tyke, who featured in an extremely short lived spin-off Spike and Tyke, his wife however was never seen nor mentioned.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: Filburt (male turtle) and Dr. Hutchinson (female cat) not only get married, but have several children together, all hatched from a giant egg (one looks inexplicably disturbingly like Heffer, who, uh, kept the egg warm.)
  • The Flintstones: Fred and Wilma have Pebbles and Wilma was even shown as being pregnant onscreen. Bamm-Bamm, on the other hand, was adopted.
  • Swedish comic Bamse, featuring a super-strong anthropomorphic bear, not only eventually ended up getting married and having children, but so did some important supporting characters.
    • And considering the educational aspirations of the comic, they took the opportunity to explain the basics on pregnancy and childbirth...
  • Ben 10 started out with an unusual solution to this trope: while Ben's and Gwen's parents were mentioned occasionally, every adult to appear on the show who was related to a child was a grandparent. (Eliminating the middle man, indeed.) The first depiction of a direct parent/child relationship occurred in the third season, and the trope was abandoned entirely in the fourth season.
  • While it doesn't directly involve children, one of the funniest variations on this idea appeared on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Or, rather, it's what didn't appear in the cartoon: a female ninja turtle. Why did we have to wait until the live-action series for a female ninja turtle? According to an old interview with the show's handlers, apparently the presence of a female ninja turtle would inspire children to "ask where baby turtles come from."
    • There were no female turtles in the cartoon because the original creators, Eastman and Laird, absolutely hated the idea. One shot character (and brief Love Interest for Raphael) Mona Lisa was intended to be a turtle, but Eastman and Laird basically said "no way!", so she was changed into a lizard instead. When Venus de Milo was introduced in the live-action series, this was the result of Executive Meddling. When Peter Laird got sole ownership of the Turtles later on, he made sure to remove her completely from canon and reinforce the "no female turtles!" rule. (Kevin Munroe, writer/director of the 2007 movie, said that you don't even joke about Venus to Peter Laird.)
      • Now that the TMNT have been sold to Nickelodeon, we'll see what happens...
  • Phil Mendez's "Kissyfur" had a surprisingly well-written father-son relationship at it's core. (Incidentally, the show was originally to be named "Bear Roots" and to this day nobody knows how Mendez was convinced "Kissyfur" would be a better title.)
    • As I recall, the prime time special that preceded the ongoing series established that the mother died while performing in the circus the family originally belonged to. That was why the father decided escape with his son to the swamp.
  • Darkwing Duck in his first episode adopted a daughter, Gosalyn. She's more than happy with the idea of crimefighting being a family business, too. Apparently Saint Canard was willing to let a single father adopt what up until (and, apparently, after) then was a very ... spirited young girl. Or they may have assumed some things about Launchpad. There's even neighbors with two kids of their own (presumably, Gosalyn may be in their care while Darkwing's flying off around the world).
    • Of course there's the possibility that they just wanted to get rid of her.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob, Bob & Jean's adopted Cute Monster Girl daughter Molly was spontaneously generated in a lab accident. Molly now has two clone "sisters" and a robot who calls her "Mom." So Bob and Jean now have three kids and a grandchild.
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: Gadget has a Disappeared Dad, Geegaw (her mother is never even mentioned), and Monty's parents Cheddarhead Charlie and Camembert Kate appear as characters in the show, Kate even in two episodes. The one-shot wonder Tammy has both a mother and a sister, too. Norton Nimnul's only known relative, on the other hand, is his nephew Normie.
  • In the Scrappy Age of Animation (1980s), Plastic Man in his animated series was given a son in the second season. Unlike most of his contemporary toons, Plas actually married his long-time girlfriend and had a kid. An odd fate for Hugh Hefner's favorite superhero.
  • Averted hard in Epic Mickey. In the 80+ years that Oswald has been in Wasteland, he and his wife/sweetheart/girlfriend Ortensia (It's never really specified) have had 420 Bunny Children. And to his chagrin, they all look up to their Uncle Mickey.
  • In the first episode of The Angry Beavers, we see the main characters' pregnant mother. Not even a minute later, she goes off-screen to give birth.
  • Felix the Cat is a weird example. He had three kids named Inky, Dinky and Winky, and they inexplicably got retconned into his nephews to preserve this trope.