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There's that old saying about apples and how they don't fall far from the tree. Sometimes they do. Sometimes that apple decides to jump and fly away, making sure not to be considered too close to the parental tree.

Enter I Am Not My Father. This is when a child decides for him or herself that he isn't going to repeat the same mistakes that their parents have made. Maybe the child was raised with a Jerkass for a father, or mommy dearest was a Cloudcuckoolander of the worst kind. Whether out of embarrassment or just for the sake of rebellion, expect this to lead to Calling the Old Man Out.

Contrast Turn Out Like His Father, where the parent actually doesn't want the child to imitate someone in the family, and Pursuing Parental Perils.

Examples of I Am Not My Father include:

Anime & Manga

  • Black Star in Soul Eater. Has no intention of going down the same path as the violently dangerous Star Clan, though it takes a while for him to recognise it was a real possibility and took the Nakatsukasa Purpose's third option. His Parental Substitute and Mentor, Sid, is the one who refers to this trope the most as he was the one (in the manga) who killed White Star, and so saw the signs that Black Star could Turn Out Like His Father.
  • Like hell Rin Okumura (from Ao No Exorcist) is going to turn out like his biological father.
  • Present multiple times, subverted and played straight, in the manga Love Pistols:
    • From the furthest generation back, Makio Madarame doesn't want to become like her father so she discards all family duty and elopes with her girlfriend - her case is partly subverted because A) her girlfriend was her father's lover first, with them having the same tastes, and B) Makio has a very similar personality to her father... to the point where the most she manages is Heroic Sociopath on a good day (her girlfriend being her Morality Chain).
    • Makio's son, Yonekuni, doesn't want to become like his father's lover and goes as far as to completely hate all men (and artists) just to make sure... only for this to be subverted harshly when it turns out he has exactly the same Green-Eyed Epiphany his step-father had regarding his lover (with both previously before being unattracted to men), exactly the same slow-realisation Oblivious to Love Green-Eyed Monster relationship with his lover as his step-father did with his father, and their lovers' personalities are incredibly similar.
    • Makio's second son, Kunimasa, actually ends up being the one to play this trope straight when Makio tries to force him into an arranged marriage by unwisely threatening his boyfriend, whereupon he ended up snapping and finally Calling the Old Man Out.
  • While definitely following in his father's footsteps, Negi in Mahou Sensei Negima picks up dark magic reasoning that no matter how much he pursues his father, he isn't him. If there's a better way to do what he has to, then he'll do it.


  • In Elf Quest, the wolfrider chief Cutter takes pity on a group of captive humans, and lets them go. His tribemate Strongbow angrily points out that his father Bearclaw would have killed them. Cutter enragedly exclaims "I am not Bearclaw! I am Cutter!" and proceeds to kick Strongbow's ass to drive the point home.


  • One of the major motivations of Dana Andrews' policeman character in the film noir Where The Sidewalk Ends (no relation to the Shel Silverstein book).
  • In Star Trek, Captain James T. Kirk does not enjoy constantly being compared to his deceased father. Kirk's father was not only a good man but also a hero who saved hundreds of lives (including Kirk and his mother) at the cost of his own. As cocky as Kirk is about his abilities, even he can't see himself living up to that example.
  • Subject of a joke in the film Barbershop, when Calvin rhetorically asks "Do I look like my father?", only to be met with a chorus of "Yeah." "Yes, you do." "In the nose, right here..."
    • A sadder underlying theme of the film is that Calvin, unlike his idealistic father, isn't willing to let people get by for free and his desire to finally remove himself from the barbershop and his father's shadow move the plot.


  • In Warrior Cats: A New Prophecy, Brambleclaw is determined to get out from under the shadow of being the son of Big Bad Tigerclaw.
  • Cathal in Heir to Sevenwaters
  • Daniel Leary, one of the two protagonists of David Drake's RCN Series, is a popular and genial military officer who cares for the lower-class people he works with and has a low regard for politics and finance...which is the exact opposite of his father, the most powerful politician in the government.
  • Shown across three generations in Purple Hibiscus: Jaja disagrees with Eugene who disagrees with Nnukwu.
  • According to Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, Darcy is one of these, but in a bad way.
  • Contrary to what Severus Snape insists on claiming, Harry Potter isn't the Spoiled Brat his father was.
    • Sirius Black rejected the darkness his family is known for. He and practically every other decent person in the family was rejected for this.
    • Percy Weasley moved out of his family's home to show the Ministry he, unlike the other Weasleys, supported Minister Fudge's position of denying Voldemort's return.
  • William de Worde in The Truth really does not want to be like his arrogant, aristocratic, bigoted father. His level of success at this is variable, but he's working on it.

Live Action TV

  • In Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, several people have made this comment regarding Batiatus. He essentially fires Doctore for this reason. It's made clear, he feels his father's patient attitude has held the family fortunes down.
  • A variation in the White Collar episode, What Happens in Burma. Neal reveals that his father was a dirty cop, and says that criminal behavior runs in his blood. Peter insists that it's not true and encourages Neal to be his own man. So in this case it's more like "You are not your father."
    • The heartwarming part comes when you realize that this is after Neal has served time as a convicted bond forger, and that Peter was the one who caught him, twice! Even after all that, Peter still believes in him and still wants Neal to realize that his choices are his own, and that it's still not too late to get his act together.
  • Chuck Bass keeps repeating that he's not like his father. Though he can't seem to decide if that's a positive thing or a negative.
  • Lee in Battlestar Galactica Reimagined.
  • Simon Marsden, when first introduced in Law and Order Special Victims Unit, is suspected of rape. He invokes this trope when Benson compares him to their dad.
  • This is a source of angst for D'Artagnan in Young Blades, son of the D'Artagnan from The Three Musketeers. In particular, D'Artagnan (the younger) is willing to leave his life in the Musketeers rather than abandon his child like his father abandoned him.
  • Raylan Givens in Justified despises his father Arlo, who is a notorious criminal. Raylan became a lawman specifically to make sure he never turned out like his father. Boyd Crowder also has shades of this, though he takes it in a different direction than Raylan.
  • Arthur is trying to be this trope in Merlin. Sometimes he manages it, sometimes he doesn't.
  • Ray Langston in CSI constantly worries that he'll become his father in regards to the inherited disposition to violence. He does kill a man, but it's complicated since the guy was a serial killer with a hate-on for Ray.
  • Lorelai in Gilmore Girls in general can't stand her mother and tries to be as free and different from her as possible, and is dismayed at the occasional moments where they are shown to have similarities.
  • A variation appears in Supernatural when Bobby tells Dean he doesn't have to be like John and let his relationship with Sam be ruined because he is too proud to forgive him.
  • A particularly heartwarming episode of Ugly Betty involves Daniel panicking after his father's sudden death because he's been left to run the magazine on his own but knows that he's "no Bradford Meade." After he has a brilliant idea that saves the magazine from total ruin, Betty has the following exchange with Bradford Meade's ghost:

 Bradford Meade: It was very clever. And I would never have thought of it.

Betty: Well, you're no Daniel Meade.

  • Ned from Pushing Daisies wants nothing to do with his Father and does not appreciate being told he resembles him.
  • It's implied in an episode of Criminal Minds that Hotchner's father was an abusive man who beat his son (and possibly his wife). When Hotchner admits that while children brought up in an abusive home sometimes become abusers themselves, sometimes they instead grow up to catch such people.
  • Ultraman Belial created Ultraman Geed for an evil purpose, but because of the way Geed/Riku was raised on Earth, he wound up defying his own fate.


  • In Elton John's Aida, Radames and his father, Zoser, sing a duet about how Radames refuses to follow in his father's footsteps


  • Formula One: Jacques Villeneuve, winner of the 1997 World Championships

Video Games

  • The Dragon Campaign in Battle Realms is based upon Kenji trying to distance himself from his Evil Overlord father. He utters the line verbatim to the Dragon when it asks him who he is.
  • Kazuya from Tekken hates his father Heihachi. Heihachi's adopted son Lee goes further than this by completely disowning his adopted father.
  • These are Ashelin's exact words to Jak in Jak II Renegade.
  • One of the first things said by Liara in Mass Effect ist "I am not my mother!".
  • Silver from Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver vows never to become like his dad Giovanni in a special event-only scene.


  • Kaji in 5 Elementos, despite Ember's efforts.
  • In Order of the Stick, Roy has chosen to be a fighter, against his father's wish (who wanted Roy to become a wizard like him; ironically, his father is a fighter and had the same problem). Much later, when Roy is dead, he realizes what a cynical Jerkass his father actually is, and makes a conscious decision not to be like that.
  • Lord Skärva in The Fourth dedicates himself to destroying Blank, something he knows his father could never accomplish.

Web Original

  • Apollo to Zeus in Thalias Musings. For the most part, Apollo is a perfect gentleman to the nine goddesses who live with him. He took the position of Governor of the Muses to protect them from his sadistic, lecherous father. Zeus talks about the Muses as though they're Apollo's harem.

Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko's Heel Face Turn happens when he stops being a "Well Done, Son" Guy and becomes one of these instead. Taking his Uncle Iroh as his alternate father figure didn't hurt either.
  • The Legend of Korra: A recurring motif. Tenzin is (or tries to be) as serious and staid as Aang was carefree, and, while she shares Toph's toughness, Lin is very strict about enforcing the law and has no patience with the Avatar Korra's vigilante justice.
    • Arguably the most significant is Asami refusing to join the Equalists with her father.
  • Batman Beyond: Commissioner Barbara Gordon delivers this line word for word when she lets Bruce know that she won't be working hand-in-hand with the new kid. It wasn't out of any disrespect for her father (quite the opposite). It was because, at the time, she did not trust the new Batman, Terry McGinnis. She does, reluctantly, work with Terry at times, but never reaches anywhere near the same relationship with him as her father did with Bruce.
  • In Justice League, Vandal Savage in the present says he's nothing like his grandfather, the evil Vandal Savage the League fought during a trip to World War II to prevent a Bad Future. Turns out he's not just like his "grandfather," he is the original Savage - he's an immortal who changes identity every so often.
  • In The Simpsons, Lisa discovers that Marge used to be a genius until meeting Homer essentially made her decide she didn't care about her future. So Lisa vows to be absolutely nothing like her mother, much to Marge's horror.
  • In American Dad!, both Hayley and Steve try not to be like their father Stan - Hayley because she hates his right-wing views, and Steve because he thinks Stan is an idiot for using words like 'irregardless'. At the end of the day though Hayley IS like Stan in her obstinance, and Steve is like Stan in his nerdy nature and well-meaning but naive ideas.
  • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Sisterhooves Social", Rarity's parents are officially introduced. While there doesn't seem to be any conflict between them and their daughter, their middle-class demeanor and low-brow tourist outfits are a hilarious contrast to fancy fashionista Rarity.
  • Willy Zilla's desire of being recognized by his own merit instead of just being famous because his Dad is a rock star triggers this trope. Rock actually understands it, as his father is a cello player.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Hoggish Jr. used to share his father's views on environment but changed his mind.
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