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So your hero has just become a mommy or a daddy -- wow! Either he wasn't planning on it, and has managed to admirably rise to the challenge of parenthood, or this is something he's always wanted, and having a baby is making many of his dreams come true. (Sometimes, it can be a mixture of both)
But it doesn't take long before there are problems. Having a child may have changed the hero, but it hasn't changed his life any. He still has to go out and save the world, fighting criminals or slaying monsters wherever they may roam. This kind of thing really cuts into spending quality time with the kid he wanted so much a few episodes ago, and can make him question how selfish he might be being.
There's also the inherent issue of him being a complete and total danger magnet. All those psychotic bad guys who, by virtue of existing and hating the hero, nearly destroyed the hero's love life (and perhaps continue causing dangerous hiccups in the hero's attempts at normalcy) are still out there, and couldn't care less that there's a baby in the picture now. In fact, how lucky this is for the villain that likes to attack the hero by kidnapping/torturing/killing his nearest and dearest! The hero now has someone else to lose.
Last, but never least, if the hero is supernatural or paranormal in some way, there's a good chance the baby will be just like him, with powers of his own that make him a target even without Mom or Dad's help.
Well, the hero loves his precious offspring more than anything else in the world, and couldn't bear it if anything happened to the kid, or if the kid had to live with all the stuff the hero has to every day.
"I just want to give him a normal life."
Being just that noble, the hero will then give his child up, to live in blissful normalcy with ordinary parents that will presumably provide the child with a life that doesn't have any supervillains.
It should be noted that despite the hero's best intentions (and presumably those of the adoptive parents), it's not unsual for the child's life to be anything but normal, especially if Superpowerful Genetics comes into play as mentioned above. (Or if the child is to grow up to be the protagonist of their own series.)
If the other parent enforces it, it's Turn Out Like His Father.
Compare It's Not You, It's My Enemies, where a hero goes through a similar process (with a similar result) with a love interest instead of a child. Related to Deliver Us From Evil for villains--many a bad gal has done a Heel Face Turn because the kind of life she leads is one she doesn't want for the kid in question. Also related to Muggle Foster Parents when the story goes back to follow the kid. Don't Tell Mama is an inversion of sorts where a character (usually a bad guy, but sometimes a good one) keeps an uncomfortable or disturbing truth about himself or his profession from his mother, family, or True Companions so that they can live a normal life in blissful ignorance.
- Hinako Aikawa, the lead female from Bitter Virgin, was sexually abused by her stepfather and got pregnant twice. She had a miscarriage and lost her first baby, then when she gave birth to the second one, she preferred to give the baby boy up for adoption, so the kid would have a chance for a normal life.
- It's strongly hinted that Ryuuken Ishida and his son Uryu are distanced because father didn't want son becoming a Quincy and facing the dangers of such a life. It may also be a reason why Ryuuken hardly ever uses his abilities in front of his son.
- In One Piece, Luffy's Disappeared Dad was unknown to him until revealed to him by his grandfather. That's probably because his father is Dragon the Revolutionary, the most dangerous criminal in the world. It's strongly hinted that Dragon left Luffy to give him a semblance of a normal life as he'd no doubt be targeted by the World Government if his relation to Dragon had been known. Dragon is even seen in a flashback sharply cutting off a subordinate who guesses about the location of his family. When that relation is ultimately revealed, Luffy has already become a world-famous pirate and his father remarks simply that he's not a child anymore.
- And it turns out Garp did the exact same thing for his rival Gold Roger, by taking in his son when his mother Rouge fell victim to Death by Childbirth.
- In the beginning of the final arc of the Sailor Moon anime series, Sailor Stars, Setsuna (Sailor Pluto) takes baby Hotaru (Sailor Saturn) away from her father to live with her, as well as Haruka (Sailor Uranus) and Michiru (Sailor Neptune), who are concerned at the amount of knowledge that Hotaru takes in. Michiru laments that she wanted Hotaru to grow up like a normal girl.
- OTOH, in the manga Professer Tomoe is killed by Sailor Moon and they raise her through the end of the 3rd arc until the end of the 4th, as a more or less normal girl. She gets her powers back at this point.
- In Lucky Star, Soujirou remembers that his late wife Kanata asked this for Konata. Kanata was hoping their daughter wouldn't inherit her height and Sou's Otaku tendencies, but it turns out to be exactly that when she grew up.
- Mahou Sensei Negima: Turns out that this is part of the reason that Negi ended up living with his cousin. As a war hero, his father made enemies that still hold a grudge on him for foiling their plans. And when your mother gets wrongfully accused for starting a war, then escapes her execution by faking her death, it's probably best for you that you don't hang around her. Or live in her home world. Just look at his hometown when they found where he lives...
- Also what Ala Rubra did with Asuna, by erasing her memories and taking her to Mahora Academy so she'd live a normal school life, watched over by Headmaster Konoe and Takahata-sensei, who also sorta got to live a normal life after being one of the two kids from Ala Rubra.
- A fan-proposed reason in Naruto for why Naruto didn't know for several years that his dad was Minato Namikaze aka the Yondaime Hokage. Also one of the reasons Minato instituted his secrecy law about the Kyuubi. Their attempts were not entirely successful. The Fourth Hokage was concerned that Naruto would be targeted if people found out about his parentage, so this is true to some degree.
- Fate of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha initially opposed her adopted children Erio and Caro joining the Time-Space Administration Bureau despite their abilities (Caro can summon dragons, and Erio made it to B rank at the age of 10), and notes to herself that she had hoped they would take a more peaceful path in life. Over time, she becomes more at ease about allowing them to serve.
- In Code Geass Nightmare of Nunnally, Marianne expresses the desire that Lelouch and Nunnally can live as humans. Of course, this was before she was gunned down, forced to go into her assassin's body, and had her worldview changed to the point where she needed her children's geass, "The Zero," to open Heaven's Door and achieve her Assimilation Plot.
- Used in the Zeta Gundam movies, when Haman Kahn is shown arranging for her charge Minerva Zabi to live as a normal schoolgirl on Earth after the last battle. Years later, we re-meet the teenaged Minerva... as a young girl named Audrey Burne, the female lead of Gundam Unicorn.
- Whilst Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ is in a different (and more canonical) continuity than the Zeta movies, it shows that the same thing happened there as well. In the last episode, the 'Mineva Zabi' we've seen throughout the show turns out to be a Body Double, and the real Mineva hasn't been seen since the end of the Gryps Conflict.
- Also in Gundam Seed's backstory, when Via Hibiki called her younger sister Caridad and handed her and her husband Haruma her twin babies, Kira and Cagalli, asking them to give them normal lives. It was right on time, too, since soon she perished in a fire alongside her husband Ulen (the one who caused her to take said decision, by experimenting on baby!Kira) and Al Di Fraga; Caridad and Haruma raised Kira, and King Uzumi from Orb took Cagalli in.
- Used in Karin, after the titular character loses her blood-creating powers as a consequence of being kidnapped and almost used as a Barrier Maiden by the Brownlick clan. Her Friendly Neighborhood Vampire relatives, who were planning to do that from a while ago, erase her memories of themselves and the very existence of vampires; then, they ask her boyfriend and their Secret Keeper Kenta Usui to help her rebuild her life from scratch. Kenta thinks it's not fair to Karin, but ultimately accepts, and later they're Happily Married.
- This is most of the reason why Catwoman/Selina Kyle gave up her daughter Helena for adoption.
- Cynical readers believe the writers got rid of Helena upon realizing that a baby would be inconvenient for a Chaotic Neutral thief, and that Selina would have most likely gotten an abortion in the first place.
- Inversion: In one Astro City story arc, Jack-In-The-Box, after visits from evil future versions of his unborn son (they turned evil because he died and wasn't available as a father), semi-retires from super-heroics to raise the child. He recruits a replacement and relegates himself as Mission Control support.
- In the Batman comics, Spoiler gave up her baby at birth because of her own heroic activities and her father's villainous ones; she refuses even to let Robin tell her whether the baby was a boy or a girl.
- An inversion occurs in Fantastic Four where Reed and Sue Richards do not want to give their children up to Child Protective Services. They realize how dangerous their lives are, but they also believe they are the only ones capable of protecting the children. They make a deal with the CPS agent to announce on TV that they had given up the children, but the safehouse location was secret. In less than a few hours, the undisclosed safehouse was destroyed by rockets; the children had never been moved and were allowed to stay with their parents.
- Oh, and it turns out Reed fired the rockets.
- In Usagi Yojimbo, Usagi gives the son of a lord and his favorite courtesan to Inspector Ishida to raise after the former becomes gravely ill and the latter is killed by an ambitious courtier trying to get at the kid, whom the lord acknowleddged as his legit heir. Maple, the courtesan, couldn't even see her own child and just wanted to be normal, and out of respect Usagi doesn't tell Ishida anything about the boy except that he comes from a good samurai family.
- This is also kind of the reason Usagi doesn't tell Jotaro he's his father, since he doesn't want to disturb Jotaro's relationship with his father, who's also The Rival of Usagi.
- In a flashback in the movie Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, her mother is shown dropping the infant Elvira off at a convent to protect her from the convoluted magical politics in their family.
- Possibly Alessa's intention with her good half, Sharon, in the Silent Hill movie, but if it was, it didn't work.
- In Wanted, this is the reason that Wesley's father left the family when Wes was a week old. He was trying to save the kid from growing up to be a Crazy Awesome assassin. Unfortunately for him, Wesley later Jumped At the Call.
- Subversion: Parent figure Dumbledore leaves infant Harry to the Muggle world so that he has a chance of growing up relatively normal and level-headed. We later learn another part of the reason Dumbledore had Harry live with the Dursleys was so that he could be protected until his 17th birthday from Voldemort by the charm Lily had unintentionally put on him when she died protecting him. The only way this charm could work was if he called the place when Petunia (Lily's only living blood relative) lived home. This is also the reason that Harry is not allowed to spend entire summer breaks with the Weasleys and must go home each summer. It's a miracle it works, as the foster parents he had could have made him a new Voldemort. He does acknowledge his error at the end of Book 5, though.
- Likewise, Memory Lupin actually says this to Harry:
"...I am sorry I will never get to know him... but he will know why I died and I hope he will understand. I was trying to make a world in which he could live a happier life."
- The other wizard Harry gives up his daughter so that she can have a normal life - or a life at all - in Changes.
- In the book Ruby Red, Gwen's mother lies about her birth date so that no-one will suspect that she inherited the family time-traveling gene; she hopes that Gwen won't inherit it after all and can live as a normal kid. For sixteen years, Gwen's cousin Charlotte (who has the same birthday) is believed to be the heir of the gene, and she was groomed to survive in the past. But then Gwen starts time-traveling.
Live Action TV
- On The X-Files, Scully gives her infant son up for adoption to protect him from the villains hunting him down.
- In the third and final season of Roswell, Max gives his son, Zan, up for adoption to protect the boy from the life of secrecy and persecution Max has had to live with for the entire series.
- Angel had the extremely rare usage of this trope when the child in question wasn't a baby. Angel sold himself to Wolfram and Hart so that his teenaged son Connor could be placed with a new family and new memories, to be safe and happy. It doesn't quite last - the kid's memories are restored a few months later - but while he gets the memories back, he keeps his new, much more stable, personality, so it's still an improvement.
- In a flashback, Xena is shown doing this with her son Solan. She places the boy with a centaur foster father so that he can grow up in peace and safety (and away from his mother's violent influence).
- Richard Sharpe gives up his baby daughter to her uncle after her mother dies so she'll have a proper family.
- On Charmed, this is the explanation for why the Halliwell Sisters grew up not being able to use their powers or knowing about them: Their mother and grandmother "bound their powers" in order to let them live a safe and normal life. This was never quite as much of an option with baby Wyatt, who is an even greater Chosen One than the Charmed Sisters themselves, but the Halliwell Sisters stil had a tendency to wish that they could give Wyatt a normal life.
- This pretty much sums up why Papa Bartowski left his children on Chuck - another rare case of this trope happening when the children in question weren't infants.
- Occurs in an unusual way on Lost: Claire disappears into the jungle on her way to the beach camp, leaving baby Aaron behind; Kate then takes Aaron with her to the real world and poses as his mother, presumably justifying this to herself by the fact that she's giving Aaron a normal life off the island.
- In one episode of Monk this sort of occurs; Monk bonds with an orphan who found a severed finger while investigating the case, and starts to want to adopt him. Eventually, Monk delivers The Summation in the form of telling a story to the boy about the boy being a prince with all the standard fairy tale trappings, and at the end delivers the very poignant line "and something wonderful had happened. Mr. Monk realized that he loved the little prince, but he also realized that they couldn't stay together. Because Mr. Monk can barely take care of himself". When a family arrives to adopt the kid, Monk tells them "let him get dirty. Kids should get dirty", indicating that he doesn't want Tommy developing all the phobias he has.
- In the second Kamen Rider Den-O movie, the heroes work with a police investigator who's trying to live up to the image of his father, a great cop who was killed in the line of duty. At the end of the movie, as a "thank you" for his help, the team takes him back to 1986 so he can see his father at least once. At one point the father's partner asks if he wants his son to become a cop too, to which he responds, "No, I don't want him having to do this for a living."
- Next to Normal quotes this almost verbatim in one song. However, it's in reference to Diana staying and trying to be a responsible mother even though she's struggling with severe bipolar disorder.
- Fallout 3 has the main character's Father, a scientist who wants you to stay in the Vault, while he goes out and about in the Capital Wasteland.
- It backfires. Horribly.
- It's James' fault. Nice way to give me a normal life, Dad. Asshole.
- It backfires. Horribly.
- Tsugumi tried to do this with Hokuto and Sara in Ever 17 to prevent them from being captured by Leiblich. Oddly enough, while this failed, they did actually get somewhat normal lives out of it. Emphasis on somewhat.)
- In Mass Effect 2, Miranda Lawson is the genetically-engineered offpring of a powerful business tycoon who wanted her to be his "heir." To do this, he was extremely obsessively controlling of her life, to the point that when she decided that she wanted to live her own life, the resulting argument turned into a running gun battle. As a result, when Miranda learned of her genetic twin sister, she swore to herself that her twin sister would live a normal life without their father controlling her. Completing this mission forms the basis of Miranda's personal mission in the game.
- John Marston in Red Dead Redemption wanted his family to have a normal life, particularly his son Jack who wanted to be like his Father. Thus, he gives himself up to be shot to death by Edgar Ross and his army, giving Edgar no more reason to go after his family. However, this would only backfire and make Jack follow in his father's footsteps.
- In WTF Comics, Straha left his daughter, Katis, with her mother so she would never have to deal with being an Ironscale. Katis did,however, eventually display Ironscale abilities when her father (who she had previously believed to be her uncle) was wounded.
- In Order of the Stick, Vaarsuvius chooses not to contest his/her mate's divorce so that their children can have "the normal life of a baker's family." This was shortly after an Ancient Black Dragon tried to kill them and ensnare their souls for eternity.
- Batman and Sons plays with this--Terry's mother, Catwoman, leaves him with Batman because he'll be safer that way, but of course there's no illusion that he'll have a normal life.
- Inspiring the Xena reference above, Zeus' mother Rhea lovingly palmed her youngest son off on a centaur to raise on a beautiful island. (So her husband wouldn't swallow him like the rest.) This was somewhat more of a 'keep him alive' stratagem than a 'normal life' one--there hadn't even really been enough people in the history of the world at this point for 'normal to have many benchmarks.
- However, since Zeus' older siblings came out of Kronos' stomach fully grown and ready for war, having presumably matured in there, there is a normal life element. Since a major factor in both wars was the question of whether Gaia's ugly children would be immured forever underground where the current lord of the universe didn't have to look at them, growing up in your father's stomach counts as 'abnormal' even then.
- Oddly, Zeus doesn't seem to be any better adjusted than any of his sisters and brothers. Trauma may work differently for gods.
- And his children aren't any better adjusted, either.
- Mainly because he either ate them like Athena, who came out fully grown. (Do these people learn nothing of their parents?) or completely neglected by their father and tormented by their evil stepmother.
- And his children aren't any better adjusted, either.
- Happens in Futurama. For a few seasons, Leela, who grew up in an orphanage with no knowledge of her origins, always believed herself to be an alien. It turns out that her parents are really mutants. On the Futurama Earth, mutants are forced to live in the sewers. When Leela was born, her parents realized that she was the least mutated mutant ever born. They left her on the doorstep of an orphanage with a note written in an alien-language, with the reasoning that she could have a normal life if her origins were unknown.
- In the Christmas Episode of Hey Arnold, Mr. Hyunh reveals that a couple of decades back during the Vietnam War, his village was attacked, but some soldiers were evacuating civilians. However, they only had room on the helicopter for one, so Mr. Hyunh gave up his then two-year-old daughter Mai to the soldiers, so she could have a better life. The soldiers apparently found a home for her in America, and she is reunited with her father as an adult thanks to help from Arnold.