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Raising children is one of the most daunting challenges a parent can face. You have to supply material needs like food and shelter, as well as providing a moral education by teaching through example. You can see where this would be problematic when a parent supplies the latter by breaking kneecaps or threatening global annihilation.

Some parents make ends meet through frowned-upon trades like prostitution, others turn to crime, some master crime and become The Don, and there's more than a few Super Villains who start families... intentionally. The thing is, not every villain turned parent is a sociopath who chastises Overlord, Jr. for not being evil enough. Quite a few realize the choices they have made and that the life they lead is a fundamentally destructive one and don't want their child to mimic them as a family legacy.

What ends up happening is that the dad (and it's usually the dad who's the villain) hides his villainy one way or another. The easiest and hardest is to give the child up for adoption or abandon the mother. Non-deadbeats create a Secret Identity where they have a mundane, even boring job. If he doesn't bother hiding his nasty day job, he will either whitewash it to not seem villainous (replace "mob hit" with "rat infestation", for example) or say "do what daddy says, not what daddy does" without a trace of shame. If he's possessive and/or overprotective and has the means to, his children may become a Lonely Rich Kid Mafia Princess who is trapped in a Gilded Cage.

Of course, their kid is going to find out the truth and either be horrified at the Double Standard, or naively eager to become their dad's Sidekick. Sometimes, to dad's dismay, they will prove that villainy is In the Blood despite his best intentions. The realization (and some heroic coercion over revealing the truth to his kids) may lead to pulling a Heel Face Turn.

Compare White Sheep, Turn Out Like His Father. Contrast Daddy's Little Villain.

Examples of Evil Parents Want Good Kids include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Tiger and Bunny, Albert Maverick encouraged (and even downright manipulated) Barnaby and persuaded him to take up a career as a superhero — despite being rather morally bankrupt himself. He does have his reasons for it, though; he owns the media empire that capitalizes on documenting and marketing the exploits of superheroes. What better superhero to sell out than a good-looking ace persona who considers you the only family he has left and is thus okay with enduring all the bureaucratic rubbish the job puts him through because it makes you happy?

Comic Books

  • In X-Men while not evil, Wolverine is fine with killing when necessary but he really doesn't want X-23 evolved in that type of lifestyle and wants her to have a normal life. Her mother Sarah Kinney under went a Heel Face Turn to try and secure a normal life for her. it ended tragically.
    • In "Schism", Logan feels this way about all of the younger mutants, and rebuilds the Institute in Westchester to give young mutants a chance to be kids.
  • Played with in Kick-Ass. Chris D'Amico, a.k.a. Red Mist, is entirely aware of what his father Frank does for a living, and wants to be a part of the family business, but his dad won't allow it. Oddly, it seems like it's more because he has no faith in his son's abilities (telling Hit-girl that he wishes he had a kid like her) than because he wants a better life for him.
    • Subverted again by Damon Maccready, a.k.a. Big Daddy, who despite looking like Ned Flanders, raises his little girl to be a ruthlessly efficient vigilante in order to exact revenge on D'Amico not really revenge, he was just bored with his life and wanted his daughter to have an interesting life.
  • Road to Perdition.
  • Runaways has The Pride, made up of six couples who led double lives to conceal their supervillainy from their children, while trying to raise them to be normal kids (at least until they destroyed the world for their kids as they planned to). The very fact that their kids happen to be good is what causes them to run away the moment they see the parents kill someone in a ritual blood sacrifice.
  • The toy maker in Wanted had his wife and daughters fooled he was a regular and even Sickeningly Sweet and fastidiously proper toymaker and not a supervillain. Interestingly, he enjoyed the services of hookers in other dimensions.
  • Onomatopoeia from The DCU leads a double life as a loving family man with a wife and two kids while spending his time away from home as a masked Serial Killer who hunts Badass Normal vigilantes.
  • Astro City has the original Quarrel intending for his daughter to have a better life than he does, one where she won't be a criminal. In a sense, he succeeds; she becomes a hero, using his name, equipment, and a costume patterned after his. In another sense, he fails; he's not around to see it happen, and she's bitter about the fact that her father was a criminal, to the point that she refuses to talk about him.
  • In one issue of the Justice League Unlimited spinoff comic, Mirror Master has a young son whose room is full of superhero paraphernalia up to and including a Flash action figure. He is shocked to discover that a fellow villain wears his costume in front of the baby.


  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has Nathan, who hides his job as the Repo Man from his daughter Shilo and protects her from the world and keeps her to himself by poisoning her.
  • The backstory in Coward Of The County
  • Michael Sullivan in Road to Perdition.
  • In The Godfather, Vito Corleone initially wants Michael, at least, to have a legitimate career and become a politician after he leaves the army... however, it's reasonably ambiguous whether he really wants to save him from the family business, or just wants to manipulate Michael's youthful Defector From Decadence tendencies to give the family a front of respectability and a whole new level of power.
    • Everyone always talks about Michael, but this already happened before, with Sonny. When Sonny comes to his dad and asks to be part of the family business, and dad asks why, he reveals he followed his dad and watched him murder a man and dispose of the evidence. The Don realizes the indelible effect this had on his eldest son and reluctantly brings him into the bussines.
  • In the second Pirates of the Caribbean film, Will Turner's father Bootstrap Bill is rather upset to discover his son followed his footsteps into a life of piracy.
    • Will didn't follow him into a life of piracy (he broke the law, but the law was Lord Cutler Beckett, so that just makes him Chaotic Good); it's still an example because he doesn't want that life for him, but he's only upset that Will found out and that he wasn't there for him when he needed him.
  • Paul Newman's character in Absence Of Malice had a father who was a bootlegger. After being caught by his father in doing something illegal his father locked him up in a cabin for a period of time. However the purpose wasn't to necessarily prevent the son from being bad just showing what he should get used to if he goes into a life of crime.
  • In Face Off, the villain's girlfriend Sasha's dying words are "don't let [our son] grow up to be like us."


  • Artemis Fowl is a case of this. Artemis comes from a family of very successful criminals, but his father was moving their money into legitimate fields shortly before he went missing. Artemis spent the years they were apart maintaining the family fortune (through crime), funding the search for his father (ditto) and looking after his depressed, bedridden mother. After his father's rescue, there's some friction between what Artemis's parents want for him and the life he's used to.
  • In the Robert Crais novel The Two Minute Rule, bank robber Max Holman mentions how he used to pray every night that his son Richie wouldn't end up like him. Might be seen as a subversion: Aside from being a bank robber, Max is more or less a good guy. He even stopped robbing a bank to save a man who was having a heart attack, which resulted in his arrest.
  • A Japanese light novel Durarara!! has a case of this. The Awakusu-kai are rather known local yakuza family. Awakusu Akane is a really good kid who wasn't aware of her family's shady dealings and how much the parents of her classmates go out of their way to look out for her well being, like teaching their kids to always obey her, in fear of the Awakusu name.
  • Judge Knott's father is a bootlegger (retired) who is very proud of his law-enforcing daughter.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel Villain Episode sequel Sir Percy Hits Back reveals the extents Chauvelin went to in order to conceal his job from his daughter.
  • In the Spanish novel The Last Caton, main character Ottavia Salina, a nun with a doctorate in Paleography and History of Art, eventually discovers from a girl she knew in her infancy that her father was a capo, that her mother is now the Don of the famiglia Salina, and that the reason her mother pushed her and two of her siblings to become part of the Church was because she wanted them to act as the white face of the family.

Live Action TV

  • In an early episode of City Homicide, a bank robber stayed out of his illegitimate son Brett's life to avoid "tainting" him. Then he disappeared and Brett got involved in his father's gang, quickly proving himself to be a violent sociopath anyway.
  • In the classic Star Trek: The Original Series, "Conscience of the King," the presumed dead mass murderer, Kodos the Executioner, has been hiding as the actor Anton Karidian for years, raising a daughter who he hope would never learn about his sordid past. To his horror at the end of the episode, he learns that not only does she know, but she's become an Ax Crazy fanatic Serial Killer determined to eliminate all the witnesses to her father's true identity.
  • The Wests from Outrageous Fortune try to turn away from their life of crime after the patriarch is arrested and sent to jail for four years. It doesn't go entirely as planned.
  • In the episode "Riding the Lightning" of Criminal Minds, a pair of serial killers on death row had a child. The official story is that the mother killed her baby, but Gideon doubts that. Turns out he's right, and the mother has been hiding her son all these years to keep him away from his father's influence. He doesn't know who his biological parents are, and eventually the team decides to leave him be and not tell him (which, consequently, means his perfectly innocent mother got executed by the state- her choice, but still a bit of a What the Hell, Hero? moment).
  • Lionel Luthor in Smallville raises his son as a bitter, resentful Bastard Understudy and grooms him to take over his corrupt corporate empire....until he undergoes a Heel Face Turn, at which point he plays this trope straight (albeit, with a few bumps along the road). These mixed messages, along with the fact that he starts treating local do-gooder Clark Kent like he should have treated his own son, just makes Lex even more of a bitter, resentful Bastard Understudy and culminates in Lex murdering him.
  • Tony Soprano of The Sopranos is adamanent that his son AJ doesn't go into the life like him, partly because he's simply not cut out for it. Jackie Aprile also felt this way towards his own son, and arranged with Tony to make sure this wouldn't happen before he himself died in the fourth episode. Tony doesn't succeed and Jackie Jr. ends up dead later on, further strengthening his decision to keep AJ out of it.
  • Home and Away has done an older brother/younger brother variant of this, with Darryl Braxton trying to keep teenage brother Casey Braxton in school and out of their family's criminal activities. In a subversion, their mother Cheryl has no such desires, kicking Casey out after he decides to stay in school. Middle brother Heath is somewhere in the middle - though he willingly takes part in Cheryl's activities and is similarly scornful of Casey's decision, he has shown some morals, not least of which was when he refused to sell April stimulants for her studies.
    • Brutally subverted by Johnny Cooper, who actively thwarted his brother Rocco's efforts to go straight after his release from juvenile detention, eventually having him murdered when Rocco betrayed him to the cops.
  • Dexter panicked when his girlfriend Rita got pregnant because of this trope. He's terrified that his kid will grow up to be a serial killer like him.

Tabletop RPG

  • Forgotten Realms has Lazouril, Zulkir of Enchantment in Thay and possibly the most charismatic of all villains in the setting. In Simbul's Gift it turns out that he realized that the position of a Zulkir marks him not only as being among the greatest masters of arcane magic on the planet, but also as a monster. Accordingly, his daughter discovered this fact only by accident. He even kept her far away from any Thayan magic, starting from his own... not that it helped much, given that her father was a magical talent this bright and her mother was a daughter of his predecessor.

Video Games

  • Thane Krios from Mass Effect 2 may be a cold-blooded assassin who sees himself as nothing but a weapon doing the deeds of other people, but he definitely does not want his son Kolyat either finding out or following in his footsteps, something that becomes the entire basis of his Loyalty Mission.

Western Animation

  • Felicia Hardy's father in Spider-Man the Animated Series, as well as The Spectacular Spider Man.
    • However, in the animated series at least, he wasn't so much evil as an unwitting dupe for evil people, and he did a Heel Face Turn when he figured it out.
  • In Sidekick, Trevor's father (or may or may not be the Alter Ego of XOX) tries to raise Trevor with love and prevent him from turning out evil. It's not working very well. This frustration often switches him to his XOX persona, who wants to kill his son, who admires XOX.
  • In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, space criminal Pops Vreedle enrolls his sons Octagon and Rhomboid in the Plumbers Academy, so they can have a better life then he did.

Real Life

  • Many real-life Mob men don't want their sons to go into "the life"---their attitude is "hey, kid, here's all this money I made the hard way. Go do something wonderful with it." Meyer Lansky moved heaven and earth to get his son into West Point.
  • One of Osama bin Ladens last messages to his kids was he did not want them to become extremists.