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A common subtrope of Parental Abandonment. In a nutshell, someone brings up a potential topic about someone close to them. Another one asks what happened to them, and the former frowns, saying "They're dead."
Cue awkward silence.
This is not when a main character's parents are dead. Someone has to say some variation of "My Parents Are Dead".
Anime and Manga
- In Lucky Star episode 4, Kagami and Tsukasa find out that Konata's mother is dead when Kagami asks her if her mother doesn't have a problem with her playing eroge. Konata being Konata, she follows up the revelation with "I've had to do housework since I was little, which is why I'm way better at it than Kagami!"
"You can't say things like that when the mood is like this!"
- Played with in Fullmetal Alchemist when a bunch of thugs asks Al about where his brother is, he replies "He's gone" (as in; gone to renew his State Alchemist-license). Everyone assumes he's dead and wonders if they were rude to bring it up.
- Subverted in Yotsuba&!.
Asagi: Father... isn't with us.
Fuuka: No, no, no, Dad is at work. Don't give people the wrong impression.
- Relatively early on, Mr. Koiwai reveals that Yotsuba isn't his biological daughter, that her "adoption" was basically him finding her and taking her home, and that he has never even seen her parents, implying he thinks her biological parents are dead. (Naturally, some fans insist that she's actually an alien who got lost.)
- Batman, to the point of Memetic Mutation. (The title image, contrary to popular belief, is actually a photoshopped rendition of this panel.)
- Aliens has this conversation:
Ripley: Is Timmy around here, too? Maybe hiding like you were? Any sisters? Mom and Dad? Newt, look at me. Where are they?
Newt: They're dead, all right? Can I go now?
- In Hanna, Hanna is eating dinner with a nice (If slightly weird) family that are not aware of her history as a trained killer and current status as a fugitive from the CIA. When they ask her why she is on her own she explains that her father encourages independence and that her mother is dead. There is a bit of an awkward silence before the father asks how she died, to which Hanna calmly replies "Three bullets." There is a suitably hilarious Spit Take in response.
- A Hardy Boys book that had this: A guy randomly asks Frank what became of his girlfriend, he replies that she died in a terrorist bombing.
- In Harry Potter, even though everyone knows that his parents are dead, uncomfortable topics might come up. When Ron once expressed his jealousy over Harry's fame, and his scar, he darkly replied "Would you really want that?" implying that it was the result of his parents dying.
- On another occasion, in Deathly Hallows, when Ron was worried about his family's safety, he told his friends that "It's all right for you two, isn't it, with your parents safely out of the way?" Probably it was supposed to be addressed at Hermione only, (he was directly talking to her), but Harry was not amused about the accidental wording.
- Another example from Harry Potter would be when Harry meets Draco Malfoy for the first time (in Diagon Ally while they're being fitted for their uniforms).
"Why's he [Hagrid] with you?" he sneered, "Where are your parents?"
"Oh, sorry," he said, not sounding very. "But they were our sort, weren't they?"
Voldemort: You kids know about the killing curse, right?
Harry: Uh, no, my parents died of old age. OF COURSE I KNOW!!
Live Action TV
- El Chavo doesn't have parents and has never known any kind of filial love, but since he rarely brought it up the rest of the cast simply doesn't bring it up either or just ignore it for the sake of keeping the series funny. Because of this, any time Chavo's orphanhood is reminded, is an instant Tear Jerker for both the other characters and the audience
El Chavo: (after hearing Kiko complaining about his mom not buying him a toy) Well, I'd be just happy if I ever had a mom, even if she never give me toys...
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Eleventh Hour", young Amy Pond says "I don't have a mum and dad." Which is true, but they're not, strictly speaking, dead...
- Kurt on Glee answers the phone this way:
- Parodied on Mad TV's alternative ending of The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy screams this at Glinda.
- In the 2007 adaptation of Northanger Abbey, there's this exchange between Catherine (protagonist) and her new friend Eleanor:
Catherine: And is your mother in Bath with you as well?
Eleanor: Our mother is dead.
Eleanor: So this is your first time in Bath?
- In Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Usagi tells Makoto is must be hard to be transferring school. Makoto brings up the topic, saying it's even harder as she lives on her own since her parents' death.
- Happens in a Last Comic Standing challenge where one comedian performs their act and the other heckles them. When Chris Porter, in the role of the heckler, cracks an I Banged Your Mom joke at Josh Blue, Blue responds with this trope. Later, when their places are reversed, Porter makes the same joke in response to one of Blue's heckles, except with "sister" in place of "mom". Blue again says she's dead, but this time Porter's ready with the comeback "No, she just doesn't call you anymore."
- Said disbelievingly by Rick on The Young Ones, when Mike informs him that his parents had died that morning. Subverted in that, rather than an awkward silence commencing, Rick immediately starts ranting about how selfish they were to die and leave him with nobody to stay with for the summer holidays.
- The trope-naming Batman example pictured above was parodied in this PvP webcomic.
- Also in this Boxdog webcomic.
- Exterminatus Now subverts this: Eastwood tells Lothar his girlfriend is dead, at which point Virus calls bullshit: not only is his girlfriend not dead, she broke up with him, and he had her new boyfriend declared Hereticus Abomini and shot him several dozen times while on the toilet. (Amusingly enough, the boyfriend was a heretic, it's just he was already dead when that was found out)
- A variant appears in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja when Ben Franklin meets the Beeman in the restaurant on the other side. Franklin, being cranky and noting the obvious similarity to Batman, sardonically jokes "who killed your parents?". Beeman responds that he has no idea; they never caught him. Que Spit Take and awkward silence before Franklin gets his bearings and apologizes.
- In El Goonish Shive, Noah says if everything was public knowledge his "parents would still be alive".
So ur with ur honey and yur making out wen the phone rigns. U anser it n the vioce is "wut r u doing wit my daughter?" U tell ur girl n she say "my dad is ded". THEN WHO WAS PHONE?
- The musical parody A Very Potter Sequel makes fun of the way Harry is treated like the only orphan in the wizarding world with the following quote (about his invisibility cloak):
"It was left to me by my dad, my dad that's dead. My father is dead. I have a dead father."
- Deirdre Rees's parents killed in a drive-by when she was seven in Night Hunters
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: When Chip, Dale, and Monty go looking for Geegaw Hackwrench, they find his daughter, Gadget, instead. When they ask about him, her words are ambiguous, but her tone is not; only Dale doesn't get it, so she has to be more clear. When Monty says he'll be missed, she says, "He already is."
- In Futurama, when Leela's former Orphanarium declared her "Orphan of the Year" for successfully holding a normal blue collar job, her Spoiled Sweet friend Amy Wong says "Your parents must be so proud... oops."
- The Great Mouse Detective: Basil, depressed about failing to catch Ratigan yet again and playing the violin to console himself, dismisses Olivia's request that he find her father with "Surely your mother knows where he is." Olivia responds, "I don't have a mother", and Basil's playing comes to a screeching halt.
- Played with in the South Park episode "The Jeffersons", where Michael Jefferson's son Blanket about his mom. Because Blanket was "made in a laboratory" (via in vitro fertilization) and born from a surrogate, he doesn't consider himself to have any mother, living or dead.
- Brought up quite a bit in Avatar: The Last Airbender, since a hundred years of war isn't without its casualties. Quite often it gives a chance for bonding.
Katara: The Fire Nation took my mother away from me!
Zuko: That's something we have in common.
- In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra episode "The Revelation," Mako snaps at Korra when she comments she has people to take care of her, and his brother Bolin explains to Korra that they've been orphaned for quite some time. Later, Mako elaborates further, revealing to Korra that at age eight, he witnessed his parents' murder during a mugging by a firebender.
- MAD: Parodied episode segment "Super Hero Millionaire Matchmaker"