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File:Nuclear Family 8072.jpg

Mom, Dad, 2.4 kids, dog, house in the suburbs. Cat optional.

Basis for most Dom Com series. The name references that this is the minimal "core" family unit, a single generation of parents and kids, as opposed to an "extended" family with cohabiting aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Or the fact that it is usually unstable, can cause hair loss, has a fifty-fifty chance of a spontaneous split, and may also lead to early death; either works. Generally avoided in dramas, as missing parents are a good source of teen angst.

Compare and contrast The Clan, A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family and Big Screwed-Up Family.

Examples of Nuclear Family include:

Anime & Manga

Comic Books

  • In the DCU comic Batman and the Outsiders (first run), there was a group of robot super-villain terrorists called the Nuclear Family. They were based on an idealized 1950's sitcom family and had radiation-based powers. They were eventually blown up.


  • In The Phantom Tollbooth, the main character visits Digitopolis, the land of numbers, and tries to find a way to Infinity. After giving up, he encounters half a boy, cut right down the middle (the other half just not there). Turns out he's the .58 child in 2.58 children for the average family -- luckily the average went up a bit, because it was painful being only .47. Fortunately, the average family also has 1.3 automobiles, and since he's the only one who can drive three-tenths of a car, he gets to use it all the time.

Live Action TV


  • The "Loving Family" My Little Pony toys consisted of a mare, a stallion, a filly, and a colt.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons. Early on, it even used "America's Most Nuclear Family" as a Tagline.
  • South Park: all of the kids except for Cartman follow this trope to the T.
  • Family Guy
  • The evil supervillain "Brainchild" (a.k.a Charles) from The Tick's animated series is the older son in a nuclear family. His parents are very progressive and hope he'll eventually grow out of the "supervillain" phase.


If you want to break out of the 2-or-3-kids trope, you could try going much, much larger. This can be justified via religious beliefs (Catholics and Mormons being just two of the groups whose beliefs promote large families), but then again it doesn't have to be. However, if the big family is not the main family for the story, it's almost certainly a religious reason -- and almost certainly most or all of the kids are treated as a unit, not as individuals; they may even dress and look identical except by age and gender.



  • Cheaper By the Dozen (the book, movie version, and modern remake) has 12. In the original movie there's a scene where a representative from Planned Parenthood arrives to ask the mother (who's apparently well known as having her household in order) to head the local chapter... and upon meeting the kids at first thinks it's a boarding school and then gasps in horror, "Why -- they're all yours!"
  • Teresa Bloomingdale's comedy novel I Should Have Seen It Coming When the Rabbit Died is an autobiography about a strongly Catholic family with some 10 kids.
  • The Weasleys from Harry Potter. Six boys and one girl.

Live Action TV

  • The main family in Just the Ten of Us, spinoff from Growing Pains. As Bo-- er, Richard Stabone noted upon seeing the Lubbock family, "They're Catholic!"
  • Ma and Pa Kettle, stars of a popular franchise of late '40s/early '50s comedies, were a rural farm couple with 15 children. A running gag would have Ma forgetting a kid's name.

Western Animation

  • In The Weekenders, Lor is the sole girl in a family with 12 boys, all of whom are treated as a unit. Her family environment has formed much of the core of her personality.
  • Taken to perhaps its ultimate extreme with Cletus Spuckler, The Simpsons' resident "slack jawed yokel". He and his wife Brandine are the parents of some 44 children.

Alternatively, you could have a gaggle'o'kids by using a blended family. Parents' exes even more optional than the cat.


Live Action TV

Then again, you could go for moderation:


  • All-of-a-Kind Family details a depression-era Jewish family with 5 girls spaced two years apart, and, by the end of the first book, a new baby brother.

Live Action TV

  • Malcolm in the Middle has a core group of three boys, plus older brother Francis (away at military camp, and later starting his own family) and baby brother Jamie.

Or you could stick by the nuclear family, but have the extended family get way more involved than is typical. Instead of a grandparent or two and the occasional uncle or unruly cousin, try adding two to three siblings on each side and two to three kids per sibling (with the childless sibling constantly asked when he or she is gonna start a family). Pretty soon you have the kind of setup needed for My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Anime and Manga

  • Summer Wars features the exploits of an extended family (and one love interest) over the course of a few days trying to stop a viral social networking disaster from causing IRL mayhem.


  • In PS238, The Nuclear Family is a superhero team which is also an extended family. Despite their "Nuclear" moniker their power set varies from Gadgeteer Genius to at least one Flying Brick. Student Susie Fusion is the child of one of its members, and Julie Fincher ("84") is the daughter of a non-superpowered offshoot, who doesn't get along well with his superpowered cousins.


  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe uses the extended family trope quite a bit. In NJO, you might even think Luke and Mara were the Solo kids' parents.

Real Life

  • Completely and utterly Truth in Television, as practically any Indian family can attest to. A wedding for example, involves at least 300 people, just with the family. And that's considered small.
  • Also Truth in Television with Mexican Families: even extended family is considered close family
  • Heck, Italians take this Up to Eleven and include not only aunts, uncles, and cousins, but also True Companions under the roster of "family"! This can cause a lot of conflicts when planning weddings and the like.
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