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"I'll be a better single parent than all of my high school girlfriends combined!"
Captain Hero, Drawn Together

In order to create a baby, a man and a woman need to have sex. Strictly speaking for the man this is an act of minimal investment since he can (and sometimes does) ditch the woman and leave her holding the bag (or baby, if you will). Unless she gets an abortion (which she never does) or puts the baby up for adoption, she either has to raise the child alone or with the help of a stepfather.

This trope is what happens when the sperm donor, having been absent for most of the child's life, is revealed to be the father and all of a sudden everything is chillin' between him and his long ago Love Child.

Can be justified if Daddy Had a Good Reason For Abandoning You, this trope is a bit of a harder pill to swallow when the guy in question suddenly receives a Promotion to Parent in spite of not actually having done a whole heck of a lot to deserve it. This trope is commonly averted if the stepfather is a sympathetic character in the story. On the flip side, if there is a stepfather and we hardly even see him, chances are that sperm daddy is going to be the one referred to lovingly at the end of the story.

Be wary of spoilers as you read.

Examples of Glorified Sperm Donor include:


Anime and Manga

  • Deconstructed in Sakende Yaruze. When they initially meet for the first time Shino is reluctant but quickly decides to take Nakaya in and they get along well despite the fact Shino wasn't there for the first 17 years of Nakaya's life. However, their relationship proceeds to go through a series of ups and downs, Shino trying to act like a father when Nakaya doesn't want him to or not acting like a father when he does want him to, while Nakaya at times idolizes Shino and then at others pushes him away. In the end Nakaya decides to move out because he feels uncomfortable with his father's new relationship but doesn't want to ask Shino to give it up because their father-son bond is too new for him to feel right in doing so.

Comic Books

  • In Watchmen, the Comedian, who is referred to positively in the end by both the first Silk Spectre (the mother) and the second Silk Spectre (the daughter). This left a bad taste in many a fan's mouth, as most of the things he does in the story are rather gruesome (among other things, he murders a Vietnamese girl who was several months pregnant with his child), this is greatly due to the Grey and Grey Morality that Watchmen enjoys.
    • Not that the second Silk Spectre is quite eager to forgive her 'father'. It takes her the entire book, his death, and the near end of the world for her to forgive him and even then it was more accepting he could have good parts. It's also implied that the first Silk Spectre only forgave him after he apologized for his attempted rape; "a man like that" showing a moment of genuine vulnerability and remorse was enough to move her towards forgiveness (briefly). She seems to consider him this trope (or worse) when next they meet, but looks back on him not unkindly in her old age.

Fanfiction

  • This trope is often played up to insanity in fanfiction. In particular, Hermione Granger, paragon of muggle-born and champion of the rights of the underdog, will immediately switch sides and become a House Elf kicking bigot the moment she finds out that Daddymort is her father.
    • Fanon has been known to like playing with the idea that "muggle-born" witches and wizards are actually the illegitimate children of Pure- or Half-Blooded wizards (always dark, usually Death Eaters) who take advantage of love potions or the Imperius Curse to have their way with muggle women. It doesn't help that Merope Gaunt actually did this with Tom Riddle Sr., giving us babymort, or that Dean Thomas's father was a (very heroic) variant of the trope, being a pureblood who was killed by Death Eaters after abandoning his family to keep them safe.
  • One of the numerous explanations of Ash Ketchum's Disappeared Dad is this trope.
  • DC Nation: Lian Harper refers to Cheshire as a "glorified egg donor." Her stepmother (Donna Troy-Harper) is "Mom in all the ways that count!" Cheshire is...less than happy to learn this.

Film

  • In Superman Returns, Superman fills this role. He ditched Lois for five years without giving an explanation to anyone. In his defense, he seems to have had no idea (until the end of the movie) that he had even gotten her pregnant.
    • Family Guy had a bit involving Superman's x-ray vision revealing a fetus growing in Lois, prompting him to bail on her with the excuse that he "forgot something on Krypton". Non-cannon prequel?
  • Used in Mamma Mia with a generous dose of Lampshade Hanging. No one else on the island thinks the heroine's desire to find her Glorified Sperm Donor makes a whole lot of sense, and she even realizes this herself at the end of the movie.
    • All three dads decide they're willing to be her dad at the end, too. One-third of a kid isn't bad...
  • Deconstructed in The Kids Are All Right, which takes a serious look at the ethical ramifications of this trope. Paul's apparent status as an instant parent comes off as insulting to Nic, as she and Jules were the ones who actually raised the kids. At the same time, the kids' desire to know their bio-daddy is shown as nuanced and reasonable- he is, after all, the only biological connection between them.
  • Maude Lebowski takes the "glorified" out of this when she has the Dude become the father of her child. She doesn't want to have to see the father socially, nor does she want the father to be invested in the raising of the kid. The Dude, of course, is cool with this.
  • The Game Plan

Literature

  • Martin Silenus' father in Hyperion is this trope Up to Eleven: Not only was he completely uninvolved in Martin's upbringing, he was completely uninvolved in his conception, as well; long after he died, his wife decided to hop onto a machine "part squirt gun and part dildo" to squirt his preserved seed into her "at the magic touch of a trigger" when "the moon was full and the egg was ripe." Yeah.
  • Used twice in John Varley's Steel Beach when Hildy refuses to inform her baby's father that she's pregnant even though her own mother's constant refusal to identify her father causes her considerable angst. After the baby dies her reasoning shifts from a selfish "mine, all mine" to "why ruin his [the father's] day?"
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, this is a grave insult among Mandalorians. As in "make out your will beforehand" insult. A Mandalorian father who does not not stick around to raise and train his kids is violating one of the six actions central to the society and therefore considered a traitor.
  • In Percy Jackson and The Olympians, some of the kids at camp get this; many of the kids in the Hermes Cabin are not Hermes's children but unclaimed by their actual divine parent, or whose divine parent does not have a cabin at camp, and this does lead to bitterness and resentment among some campers.

Live Action TV

  • Hotdog in Battlestar Galactica, after he's retconned as Nicky's father.
  • Fresh Prince of Bel Air devotes a full episode to that. Will's birth-dad Lou comes and Will's excited about taking a trip with him, only to be abandoned again. The episode ends with Will sobbing in Uncle Phil's arms and realizing he's the closest to a real father he could ever ask for.
  • ER does it with Sam's son Alex. Just as Luka (Sam's boyfriend) has become a suitable role model and father figure, his felon birth-father Steve appears for the first of several times, causing a lot of conflict. The long plot has its ups and downs including Alex visiting his dad in prison and ending dramatically with Steve abducting Alex and Sam, raping the latter and being shot by her.
  • In one arc in Gilmore Girls, Luke's nephew Jess comes to live with him. Jess has never known his father. The string of stepfathers he's lived through are implied to be pretty unreliable. Luke is the closest, most stable thing to a father he knows. But when his Bio Daddy comes to town--doesn't even say anything, mind you, just rocks out to a Bowie song with him--Jess drops Luke, his girlfriend, and everything he's come to care for just to spend some time with Daddy out in California. It was an aborted attempt at a spin-off.
    • Arguably Rory's father Christopher qualifies. Lorelai realized early on that Christopher was too immature to be a husband and father, refusing to marry him, much to their parents' chagrin. While Christopher may have wanted the family with Lorelai and Rory, he was never more than an intermittent presence in their lives until Rory was in her late teens.
    • One episode addressed this. Christopher accuses Lorelai of turning Rory against him and not letting her be with him more. Rory steps in and calls him out about how this and the above were not her mother's fault, but his, and that she avoided him because she wanted to.
    • Also addressed when Christopher attends a Yale event and Rory's schoolmates' parents are talking about how they had to be there for their kids all of their lives, helping out with assignments, coaching the soccer team, etc. Christopher felt bad and tried to overcompensate it with not very good results. YMMV about whether he ever fulfilled the role in more ways than being an "executive parent" (paying tuition, attending college graduation). Luke, on the other hand, was indeed always there for her.
      • Luke later finds out that he had a daughter he was never told about by an ex-girlfriend. He freaks out when he realizes that he's basically been this to her for the last 13 years. In fact, his relationship with Rory (specifically, Lorelai's character reference for him as a caring, reliable father figure) is part of what helps him earn shared custody when things get nasty between him and the mother (because she wants to move away and sees no problem with cutting him off from the daughter she never gave him a chance to know).
  • When Nathan Petrelli on Heroes finds out that his daughter he thought had died as an infant is alive and well, it leads to this exchange with his mother:

 Nathan: I'm this girl's father, Ma!

Angela: You're a glorified sperm donor. Don't get emotionally attached.

  • Averted on Friends, where Phoebe's dad eventually comes back eighteen years after abandoning her and her mother, only to find Phoebe quite pissed at him. Eventually she warms up to him, but it doesn't come even close to "glorified".
  • Subverted in Glee, though in this case it's an egg donor. Rachel eventually does learn that Shelby Corcoran is her biological mother, but she can't see her as a mother figure, and Shelby simply isn't fit to be a parent. Rachel keeps living with her dads, and doesn't see Shelby again.
    • Quinn treats Puck as this for most of the first season, deciding that Finn (who thinks the child is his) will be her baby's real dad (that is until the truth comes out and he dumps her for cheating, lying, and manipulating him).

Mythology

  • Some portrayals of the Hercules myth show Zeus as being distinctly hands-off, allowing other Gods to harass Hercules at will. Admittedly, Zeus' parenthood here is glorified for good reason, since his parentage is what makes Hercules a Greek Superhero. In fact, more often then not in Greek Mythology, the spawn of the gods get some kind of nifty powers which at least make the being dumped off by your parents pill a little easier to swallow.
    • Zeus... and ancient patriarch and/or warrior gods in general... have a habit of leaving little bundles of Demi-joy all over the mortal landscape and then doing bupkis about them.
    • While other Greek gods didn't see their children picked on as much as Zeus', their children typically didn't see much of the divine parent, either.
      • While Hera often actively hounded the (often unwilling!) mothers and children, with other gods sometimes having to step in to try and save them.

Music

 It's no stretch to say that you were not quite a father

But a donor of seeds to a poor single mother

That would raise us alone

We never saw the money

That went down your throat through the hole in your belly

Tabletop Games

  • Whether this applies in Scion is on a case-by-case basis, and usually connects to how the Scion's mortal parents were. In general, the worse a Scion's mortal family, the more likely they'll be relieved to discover they had a divine parent. Most of the sample characters are still a little bitter at the circumstances; in the opening fiction for Scion: God, Donnie Rhodes makes a point of barging in on his mother (Aphrodite - a rare glorified egg donor) to inform her that his (mortal) father is dead - and showing no surprise at her lack of reaction.

Video Games

  • Cernd in Baldur's Gate 2 is eventually revealed to have left his wife with child when he heeded the call of nature and became a druid (it's implied that he knew this, which was why he left her). He has a sidequest which involves retrieving said child from its abusive stepfather (who probably killed Cernd's wife)... And then leaving it to be raised by druids. If you keep Cernd in your party through Throne of Bhaal, his character epilogue reveals that his son grows up a bitter, bitter person since his father is always busy with being a druid. The son becomes an Evil Sorcerer who threatens large parts of Faerun, and Cernd tries to stop him: The two fight each other to the death.

Real Life

  • Horribly subverted by Matthew Roberts, the man who made recent headlines when he found out his sperm donor might have been Charles Manson.
    • Made much funnier when Manson found out, and sent him a letter saying "I didn't know my father either." Or a lot more depressing.
  • Gerald Ford's father, Leslie Lynch King, was essentially like this. They only met once, and all that King had to give Ford was ten dollars to get "something he normally wouldn't get".
    • And that is why he legally changed his name to that of his stepfather.
  • A Dutch TV show, airing in spring 2011, will attempt to take (voluntary) DNA tests of everyone who has donated to, or was conceived by, artificial insemination.
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