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The ultimate way to introduce Parental Issues short of a murder plot. Your dad is revealed to have a Secret Other Family. In fact, if he's sneaky enough, from that family's perspective, yours might be the Secret Other Family.

Examples of Secret Other Family include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Mushishi, Ginko helps a woman and her son; the woman's husband is missing, and neither of them know what became of him. In the end, they find him living with his other family and child. Bittersweetly, the woman will never remember it, because of her anterograde amnesia. But she won't have to deal with the pain of knowing her beloved husband left her, either.
  • Satoshi Oginome in Mawaru Penguindrum either falls under this or Parent with New Paramour as we find out in Episode 8.

Comic Books

  • One of The Intimates' signature info scrolls mentions that when Punchy is 40, erectile dysfunction will threaten both of his marriages.
  • Lois Lane discovers this about Superman



 Tyler: Fucker's setting up franchises.

  • Takeshi Kitano's Kikujiro no Natsu has this as a MacGuffin.
  • One of the characters of The Vertical Ray of the Sun by Tran Anh Hung has a Secret Other Family which he regularly visits while ostensibly on photographic field trips. His wife later says that she knew all along, as he couldn't refrain from putting his other wife and kid in too many of his pictures.
  • The Captain's Paradise had Alec Guinness as a naval captain trying to keep his wife in Algiers unknown to his wife in Gibraltar and vice versa.
  • Eulogy: This is part of the Video Will Reveal.


  • Pasquinel in the novel (and later miniseries) Centennial.
  • According to one of the Armsmen in the Vorkosigan Saga, one of the other Armsmen has one family in the city and one in the country.
    • A legionnaire who pulled something similar in the Codex Alera had to transfer far away from both of his usual postings when the wife in post A learned about the wife in post B.
  • The book No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay used this trope. The protagonist and narrator was married to a woman called Cynthia, and her father was secretly married to another woman. He used his job as an excuse to keep an eye on both families. His first wife was an abusive, domineering psycho who turned their son against him. While working, he met Cynthia's future mother, they hit it off, had Cynthia and an elder brother, and he managed to keep the act going for years. Then the first wife, suspicious, discovered the second family, killed the mother and son while they were shopping, and was about to kill Cynthia until the father promised to never have contact with her again.
  • In the Montague Egg short story False Weight, the late Mr. Wagstaffe had, under various aliases, wooed and married a woman in his every port of call.
  • In the PG Wodehouse story The Luck Of The Bodkins, about a transatlantic steamer, the author writes that on landing in New York, those of the crew "who are bigamists have long since got over the pang of parting from their wives and children in Southampton and are looking forward with bright affection to meeting their wives and children in New York."
  • The financial difficulties arising from supporting a Secret Other Family was the criminal's motive in the Sherlock Holmes story Silver Blaze.

Live Action TV

  • Speculated by Roseanne in "Kansas City, Here We Come" when they discover their father's decades-long affair. "Roseanne, Dad could have kids with this woman. They would be, like... Darlene's age." "Oh, man, that would serve him right."
  • Jack's dad on Lost: implied late in season 3, spelled out in the fourth season finale.
  • Chris-In-The-Morning's dad on Northern Exposure.
  • The murder victim in the CSI episode "Grissom Versus the Volcano".
    • In "Divorce Party" of CSI: Miami also had the father who had a Secret Other Family murdered by his own son after the son discovered that he had been dating his half-sister. They fell in love and were having a baby together.
  • Shawn on Boy Meets World discovers that his dad had another family, and that he has a half-brother he never knew about.
  • The premise of Brothers and Sisters. Rumor has it that the spare illegitimate daughter is eventually revealed to have another father altogether.
  • Don Geiss in Thirty Rock turned out to have a secret Canadian family and a secret attic family.
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, Lois' father had a secret other family that he treated much better than his own. Ida simply cheated on him and conceived Lois with another man.
  • The bartender from Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire.
  • King Silas maintains a second family in the countryside on Kings. Of course, since he's the king, his mistress is fully aware that he's married.
  • There was an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit where a pillar of the community turned out to have maintained two families for a long time. Then two of his children started a relationship, without knowing they were half-siblings.
  • The victim in an episode of Bones had two wives and a kid by each, both with the same degenerative bone condition that he had.
  • The victim in an episode of Life — "Farthingale" — had two wives under two different names. Turns out he was living a triple life, in reality an employee of the IRS, and was killed by an anti-government bomber.
  • In one episode of Castle, a man is found dead and his wife and fiancee both show up to claim the body. Except that he and the fiancee were both playing each other, in a complicated bit of corporate espionage.
  • The whole premise of Lone Star: Bob is a Con Man who maintains two separate lives with two different women, and claims to love both of them.
  • Quantum Leap: Sam leaps into a man who has two families, and decides that he's there so both wives will break up with him and go on to lead successful lives of their own. He gets them both to break up with him by admitting to both that he's a bigamist; then just before he leaps the third wife & family show up.

New Media

  • It is revealed that the reason Billy takes over as cartoonist for a week every now and then is that Daddy's visiting his secret other family out in the country.Ways to make Family Circus funny


  • Taken to deliberately absurd lengths in series 4 of Bleak Expectations, when Harry Biscuit, paranoid about losing his new wife to the villain who stole his last one, marries 92 other women as spares and must then prevent any of them from meeting. For added ludicrousness, this takes place confined to a ship in the middle of the ocean. Upon arriving in America, Harry solves his problem by becoming a Mormon — Whereupon, of course, all 93 wives immediately desert him for the villain.


  • In the play Fool for Love by Sam Shepard, the main couple are half-siblings who committed Brother-Sister Incest before either of them knew their father had a Secret Other Family.

Web Animation

  • Homestar Runner's Strong Bad claims to have one. "Claims" being the operative word. Ol' SB has a rather... overactive imagination.
    • In any case, his "first family" is just his two brothers.

Web Comics

  • In Nightshift, Roxy knows full well her father had a secret other family... she just doesn't know said family is still perfectly alive and healthy.
  • One A Softer World strip is about this.

Western Animation

  • "Do you mind?! I am just trying to have a quiet meal with my secret other family!" --Mayor Quimby
    • Snowball V II also had a secret other family on The Simpsons.
    • A commercial of pills to help people sleep had a list of things that make people too worried to sleep. "Secret Other Family" was in the list.
  • Family Guy did a joke about Peter having one.
    • Except Peter was the mother. He dressed as a stereotypical housewife and spoke in falsetto.

Real Life

  • Real Life example: Vito Fossella, a Congressman from New York City, was arrested for drunk driving this year in Alexandria, Virginia. When a member of his Virginian Secret Other Family came to pick him up, guess who didn't get to run for re-election...
  • Chris McCandless, who's had the book Into the Wild based on him (and a movie based on that book), found out his dad had another family. At least, it was secret to him and his sister. His mother knew, and in fact it was why they moved at one point.
  • The late French president Francois Mitterrand revealed to the public shortly before leaving office that he had a Secret Other Family. Nobody really cared, and both families were present together at his funeral.
    • Knowing that he had taken good care of his illegitimate daughter actually made him more popular and sympathetic.
  • Eva Peron was one of the daughters in a wealthy rancher's Secret Other Family; however, on his death her father left the family a document stating that the children were his so they could use his surname, Duarte.
  • A variant sometimes happens with free-range pets, especially cats, who simply go from one "owner" to another to get extra food.
  • Josef Fritzl started a Squick-y one of these with his daughter Elisabeth. He imprisoned her in the cellar when she was eighteen years old and she was successfully kept there for twenty-four years. Meanwhile, Josef raped her enough times that she gave birth to seven children all fathered by him. And the way Elisabeth and the three children who he kept down there with her lived, they were certainly one of these for Josef Fritzl, with himself as the loving and benevolent patriarch who would come down to give his other wife (Elisabeth) flowers and have consensual (as he described it) sex with her and spend time with their children.