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A fairly common plot in modern shows and sitcoms that due to divorce, widowhood, or some other situation that results in a single parent dating again and the child trying to accept a parent's new love interest.

Generally, this goes one of three ways:

  1. The kid and the new person get along quite well from the start. If Status Quo Is God this person may not stick around for longer than the episode, usually due to a breakup. In this case the kid may be quite upset to see this happen.
  2. The kid is nervous about the person at first (sometimes due to already knowing them or still being sore about their missing parent), but gradually warms up to them. This may go either way in terms of the people staying together. In this situation the kid is generally shown as being irrational and in the way of their parent's happiness.
  3. The kid doesn't like the person at all and never gets used to them. This can become a recurring plot element, and likely to have the line "You're Not My Father!" (or Mother) spoken at least once. If the person is obviously a villain, this can become Guess Who I'm Marrying, with the kid often being the Only Sane Man who can see the evilness of the new paramour. But even then, sometimes the kid puts this aside to let their parent be happy.

Wicked Stepmother may be referred to in either 2 or 3 -- regardless of accuracy.

Examples of Parent with New Paramour include:


Anime & Manga

  • In the Anime/Manga Midori no Hibi, Seiji helps his neighbor Shiori to accept her new mother after Shiori's initial dislike.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni is an interesting example: Tsumihoroboshi-hen has Rina, the new girlfriend of Rena's father. It turns out that She's the lover of Satoko's Evil Uncle Teppei and plans to extort money from Rena's father, and when Rena finds out, Rina tries to kill her. Rena ends up killing her in self-defense. Then she kills Teppei. Things go downhill from there. Of course, Rena has issues with Rina even before all of the stuff above. It mostly had to do with the fact that Rena's mom cheated on her dad. She liked her mom's boyfriend before her mother told her that she was pregnant and intended to divorce her father to marry the boyfriend.
    • A more traditional version happened in Satoko's backstory. After Satoko's mom remarried after going through about three other husbands, Satoko was not happy about her new stepfather and constantly fought with him, to the point where she faked child abuse from him in an attempt to get rid of him through social services. It didn't work. This comes back to bite her in the ass in some arcs where she is abused by Teppei, to the point where social services are reluctant to act out of belief she may be lying again.
    • Umineko no Naku Koro ni follows this up with an inversion. Battler likes his step-mother, Kyrie, viewing her as a sort of Cool Big Sis. It's his father he holds a grudge against for remarrying so soon after the death of Battler's mother Asumu. In response, he went to live with his maternal grandparents for the six years leading up to the beginning of the story. And to make things more complicated? There was a child switch involved, and Asumu is not Battler's bio mom. Kyrie is his biological mother.
  • This takes over the plot by the end of Sakende Yaruze and all reactions are covered. Initially Nakaya and Tenryuu get along (1), but Nakaya is also nervous about older men in general (2), and when he finds out that Tenryuu wants a relationship with his father he is very averse to the idea and starts to dislike him (3). Nakaya moves out once they get together, and it's suggested that while he gets used to Tenryuu in the end he's never entirely happy with his father's choice in a partner.
  • Source of conflict for Kaoru in Amagami
  • Odd variation in Marmalade Boy. Miki's parents Jin and Rumi get divorced amiably, so do Yuu's parents Youji and Chiyako... and then they swap couples and the two "new" families move into a Big Fancy House to avoid parental issues. It takes Miki more than a while to accept it, though: despite liking her stepmother and stepfather, she can't get used to the rest of the deal.
  • While Chief Togakushi of Region seems oblivious to the feelings of his coworker Asagiri, his daughter Kanon is quick to notice the way she acts around him. This drives a wedge between the father and daughter, as she feels that it's too soon for him to abandon the memory of her mother.
  • A good part of Nanako Misonou's angst in Oniisama e... is related to how her mother married her stepdad when she was five. Not because said stepdad was a bad person, far from it, but because her classmates used it as an excuse for bullying her.
    • Mariko Shinobu's father mixed it with Your Cheating Heart, as he first cheated on Mariko's mom with an actress and then ran away with her, pretty much abandoning Mariko and her mom. Her classmates, and specially Aya Misaki, also use this to bully her.
      • In fact, one of Aya's earliest Kick the Dog moments come from first trying to shame Nanako over her family, and when Mariko jumps in defense of her new friend, she reveals Mariko's family situation to the whole school. No wonder Mariko snaps badly on her. It's even WORSE when the Shinobus DO get divorced (very publically), Aya again gloats about it... and Mariko actually attacks her with a boxcutter.
  • Satoshi Oginome from Mawaru Penguindrum. He hasn't even told his teenage daughter Ringo that he not only has married again, but that he's got a little daughter named Aoi. It's not needed anyway, Ringo catches him with his second family in an aquarium... which sends her further into mental and emotional unstability.
  • Bianca from Hana no Ko Lunlun can't forgive her mother for pulling this (despite the second husband being a nice guy), so she runs away to Venice and there she runs into Lunlun...
  • In the prequel to Slam Dunk, Piercings, 11-year-old Ayako isn't too happy when her mother starts dating again.
  • In Private Actress, one of Shiho's jobs is playing a Phony Psychic stunt for the family of a child star who badly misses her dead mother and refuses to approve of her father dating her manager. The dad thinks that if Shiho acts the "psychic" part well enough, the girl will stop vetoing their marriage. Shiho soon realizes that the manager is a mix of Stage Mom and Wicked Stepmother, so she decides to protect the girl's interests at all costs instead.


Comicbooks

  • The modern Batwoman, Katherine "Kate" Kane, lost her mother when she was 12 years old, and her father got remarried to a wealthy Gotham socialite, who awkwardly enough is also named Catherine. Kate is always very quick to point out that Catherine is her stepmother, but they seem to get along well enough (though the fact that Kate is gay is implied to be a wedge between them, and Kate does remark that she lives to see her stepmother offended when she dances with Maggie Sawyer at a charity ball).


Fan Works

  • "Letters to an Absent Father, a mini-comic series set in the Pokémon universe has this as one of its subjects. Delia states that she's gonna start dating again, going as far as to say, "I'm lonely, Ash..." Ash responds by shouting her down (in front of his friends, no less) and storming out, leaving her in tears. In the last panel, a highly distraught Ash is writing down all the details in a letter to his father; Ash still clings to the hope that his long-lost, estranged father will someday come home.
  • A few Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan fics have Alan and Anne fussing when their widowed father starts dating Mrs. Van Inkley, as the two were very close to their late mother. They get over it with time, though, when Charlie assures them that he's not seeking to replace her mother.
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender Hakoda/Ursa fic Guide Me Home has Sokka, Zuko, and Katara all having to get used to the idea of Hakoda marrying Ursa. Katara naturally takes it the hardest, running away in tears and feeling like Hakoda is trying to replace her deceased mother, while Sokka is quite unnerved at the thought of Azula as his stepsister. Zuko, at least, acknowledges that Hakoda took good care of his mother even if he's not sure he's okay with the whole arrangement. Azula, however, has issues way beyond accepting the reality of a new stepfather...


Film

  • In Enchanted Robert's girlfriend Nancy seems to get along with his daughter Morgan, but Giselle and her hit it off almost instantly, with Morgan even helping Giselle realize her feelings for Robert.
  • Baroness Elsa Schraeder in The Sound of Music. Of course, she ends up losing out to Maria.
  • The movie Mrs. Doubtfire involves Robin Williams's ex-wife dating Pierce Brosnan. Williams spends his time dressing up as a woman to see his kids and running interference in his ex-wife's relationship. Brosnan on the other hand is shown to be genuinely caring of her and all three of the children, and actively wanting to be the responsible husband/father figure they never had.
  • The American President has a scene where the widowed president asks his daughter her feelings about him seeing another woman. She is completely fine with it.
  • In American History X, the mother bringing home a Jewish Liberal teacher doesn't sit well with Derek her White Supremacist Skinhead son. Cue Family Feud
  • In the movie Freaky Friday, Anna doesn't get along with her mother's fiance, despite him being a really nice and friendly guy, which also increases the tension between her and her mother. When he shows support for her band however, Anna realizes that he really is a good guy for her mom and their family, and she only disliked him initially because she didn't want her dead dad "being replaced."
  • Juno gets along quite well with her stepmother, who in turn, supported Juno during her pregnancy, even calling out a doctor lady who sterotyped her daughter.
  • In Howls Moving Castle, Fanny appears to care for Sophie, generally concerned for her welfare. However, she betrays her daughter by planting one of Suliman's bugs in Howl's house under Suliman's orders, who appears to be holding her boyfriend/husband.
  • In Love Actually, Sam got along fine with his stepfather Daniel, who raised him after his mother died. And when Daniel met another woman, he had no problem with it.
  • Sleepless in Seattle has this in spades, with Jonah being horrified with the women his dad meets, to the point that he tries to sabotage their dates. Of course, he has the perfect woman in mind for his dad...


Literature

  • In Animorphs, Marco's father had a mental breakdown when his wife died, and sank into a deep depression, even losing his job as a computer engineer. When he starts dating again, Marco doesn't really seem to have any problems with the new paramour herself; just her evil toy poodle, the fact that she's his math teacher (that'll teach Marco not to make the school call home!), and, oh, yeah--his mom's not really dead.
    • Unfortunately for the girlfriend (now his Dad's wife!), she ends up infested by the Yeerks after Marco tells his dad everything and finally rescues his mom.
  • Dexter puts a great deal of time and effort into gaining the trust of girlfriend Rita's children. He does succeed and they get as attached to him as they're capable of. In the second novel, Dearly Devoted Dexter, we find out that Dexter and Cody have much more in common than one would want to think, given that Cody's eight. Astor seems to share her brother's issues, but is more inclined to spectate rather than participate. Dexter decides the kids need him to train them in the Code of Harry.
    • In the television series loosely based on the books, Astor and Cody are as fond of Dexter as they are in the books, and do not like it when Rita dumps Dexter. They're delighted when she decides to take him back.
  • Anne Fine's Goggle-Eyes has the Tall, Dark and Snarky Kitty Killin reminiscing about her antagonistic relationship with her mother's new boyfriend to a classmate with the same problem. The boyfriend is old enough to be her grandfather and disagrees with every political stance the family takes, but is supportive of it and is fatherly to Kitty's younger sister. Eventually, Kitty accepts him... right before her mother breaks it off.
  • The Princess Diaries has Mia's mom dating her algebra teacher, which freaks Mia out at first because while he's a nice enough guy, Mia struggles with the lesson itself. Eventually they marry and produce Mia's half-brother Rocky.
  • From Howl's Moving Castle, Sophie's father marries Fanny after the death of his first wife. However, she does treat her two stepdaughters and her own daughter fairly. But subtly, Martha points out that after their father's death, she had sent her two daughters away for her own reasons and had the eldest Sophie left with the family hat store without any pay.
  • In Half Magic by Edward Eager, the kids introduce their mother to the new paramour, and are mostly quite happy with the whole situation -- except that they think it'd be strange to call him "father", so he gets declared an honorary uncle.
  • The conflict in the second half of Barry Lyndon is derived from type 3 of this trope.
  • In later books of Percy Jackson and The Olympians, Percy's mother Sally begins dating Paul after her husband Gabe "mysteriously" disappears. Percy is fine with this for the most part (though he does call Paul "Blowfish" for some time after mishearing his last name) because Gabe was an abusive asshole to both him and Sally and Paul, in contrast, is a nice guy who makes Sally genuinely happy.
  • The titular character in Ella Enchanted isn't too happy when her father announces he's getting remarried after her mother's death. She's outright dismayed when she learns the woman he's marrying is the mother of her two worst enemies.
  • When Kristy's mother starts dating Watson Brewer in The Babysitter's Club, Kristy is surly and a bit of a jerkass to him, especially when he and Elizabeth announce they're getting married and Kristy learns they'll be moving to Watson's mansion across town. She eventually does get over her negative feelings, though, especially when Watson asks her to be a bridesmaid and she happily accepts. Later stories have her accepting Watson more easily, and even calling him her father.
  • While not a major plot point, widower Claude Compton in Memories of Summer starts dating a divorced general store manager. While younger daughter and narrator Lyric is pleased for him, older daughter Summer has a fit and starts screaming that her father "shouldn't be courting" because "Mama's not dead." This scene is meant to display Summer's decaying mental state more than anything.


Live-Action TV

  • The Brady Bunch is the case of Parent With New Paramour taken to the ideal conclusion, with a relative minimum of tension between the parents and step children.
  • Pushing Daisies has a tweaked example: Ned's father trots him off to boarding school and ignores him in favor of his new wife and kids.
  • Buffy had her mother dating Ted, a gentleman whose only flaw was being a psychotically domineering killer robot.
    • And then there's Giles, who had a somewhat tentative but eventually friendly and entirely mature and responsible platonic friendship with Joyce. You know, except for that one time they ate the band candy, reverted to the mental age of 16 and had sex on top of a police car. Twice. Something of a subversion there, since Buffy canonically thinks of Giles as a father, but reacted with horror when she found out about the tryst - though that might have been because she got the gory details directly from Joyce's brain, and the memory was apparently a very pleasant one.
    • Also Dracula, though that lasted even less time, and was offscreen.
    • She seemed happy after when Joyce went out with a nice guy in season five, Joyce's hilariously Squicky jokes notwithstanding. Of course, this being a Joss Whedon show, Joyce died the next day.
  • In Aquila one kid freaks out about their mother dating a new man, and spies on him, convinced he's up to something. Eventually he gets used to it.
  • The TV show Arrested Development played with this trope whenever Michael got a new love interest. He always worried about what his son thought of his dating, and usually ended up sabotaging the relationship because of that. Of course, while George Michael would usually be fine with it, the two times he didn't consult him were the two times he would in fact have minded. One, when Michael started dating the teacher he had a crush on, after misinterpreting George Michael's opinion of her. And two, with Jesse, because she's psycho.
  • Freaks and Geeks has Bill's mom, Susan Ivanova dating his gym coach, Biff Tannen. Not only is this a to-the-letter case of example three, but Bill uses the opportunity to slack off in gym class and mouth of to the coach, placing said coach in a very difficult situation.
  • Much of the first season of Dynasty focused on this.
  • In The Sarah Jane Adventures, the title character's adopted son Luke, despite initial nervousness (and spying on his mother before finding out that she was disappearing to go on dates), gets along well with her new boyfriend/fiance and becomes the strongest supporter of her new relationship. He even brushes off his friends' valid concerns about the man's empty house with a warning not to spoil his mum's big day. Of course, the relationship doesn't work out; the man had died weeks ago (thus the empty house), and the Trickster had revived him to serve as a trap for Sarah Jane. When he finds out, he chooses to die as he should have.
  • In Misfits, Nathan and his mum's live-in boyfriend Jeremy do not get on - it seems to be mostly Nathan's fault though, and apparently he has a history of trying to ruin his mum's relationships (he even falsely accused one of her previous boyfriends of sexually assaulting him). He verbally abuses Jeremy a lot, even punching him for no good reason at one point and breaking the guy's nose. Nathan's mum gets sick of the situation and actually kicks her son out of the house, making him homeless. They do reconcile in the end though, and Nathan accepts that he was wrong to stand in the way of his mum's happiness and he moves out of the house permanently.
  • From Bones, Booth's son Parker doesn't like his mother's current boyfriend, who appears to be a decent guy. Of course, Booth doesn't like said boyfriend either. But also inverted, as Parker seems to like Bones, his father's work partner and potential (very potential) love interest. But then, Parker idolizes his dad (and mimics his dad's sarcastic nickname for mom's boyfriend) and Bones has a pool she lets him come over and swim in (Parker at one point suggests his dad should marry just for this reason, being largely unaware of their UST).
    • In the most recent season, now that Brennan has had Booth's baby and they live together, Parker treats her just like a regular mom and seems happy when he spends time with them.
  • In Burn Notice, Michael often lets his clients stay at his mother's house. He is hilariously horrified, in one episode, when he finds out she slept with one of them.
  • Hank Lawson was none too pleased when his dad showed up, and was even less pleased when he took up with one of his best clients, "New Parts" Newburg.
  • On Gossip Girl Blair is excited to meet her mother's new boyfriend Cyrus, believing him to be a dashing, charming, worldly man. He turns out to be tiny, nearly bald and, well, played by Wallace Shawn.

 Blair: I was expecting Cary Grant and I got Danny DeVito!

    • But, she does learn to at least respect him by the end of the episode. By the time he becomes her stepfather they have formed a pretty close relationship.
    • Chuck and Lily may also count. Since Chuck's mother died when he was born it's never a case of him feeling like she's replacing his birth mother. They get along great at first, then he hates her for a while after his father dies, but then agrees to let her adopt him. She's practically a better mother to him now than she is to her biological children.
  • Mrs. Benson on ICarly started dating the doorman Lewbert in one episode. They end up throwing Freddie down the stairs so they can break the Florence Nightingale Effect between his mom and Lewbert.
  • In the '90s teen show California Dreams, The Ditz Tiffany has been living with her dad since her mom walked out on them years before the time of the show. When Dad starts dating again, Tiffany is fine with it at first...until he starts blowing off his plans with her to be with the new girlfriend. She feels left out and unwanted, and makes a fool of herself trying to prove that the girlfriend isn't on the level (she's actually quite a nice person). The episode ends with something of a Broken Aesop, because while Tiffany apologizes for being insecure and acting like a bit of a bratty teenager, her father never apologizes for ditching her or hurting her feelings.
  • Glee has Kurt's father Burt finding love with Finn's mother Carole. While they're one big happy family now, at the beginning both boys had issues with the relationship. Finn was afraid that Burt would try to replace his father, who died in Iraq when Finn was a baby, while Kurt jealously (and erroneously) believed that his father would rather have Finn as his son.
  • Veronica Mars: Twice with Veronica's father Keith Mars. The first is an attempted relationship with her guidance councelor, but he decides to call it off because Veronica is still coping with the loss of her mother after she abandoned them both. The second is with her best friend Wallace's mother, which lasts quite a bit longer. This one just weirds Veronica out for a while but she later warms to the idea when she sees how they're happy together.
  • Mad Men gives us something of a combination of an inversion and Type 1: Don Draper invites his secretary Megan Calvet on a vacation to California with him and his kids specifically because she handled them so well on a visit to the office. It's only on the trip that he sleeps with her and then proposes after she's established a firm rapport with Sally and Bobby: when he announces his decision to marry her, they are actually kind of happy it happened.


Videogames

  • In Persona 3, Yukari Takeba is disgusted with her mother's constant search for new lovers because she thinks it dishonors the memory of her dead father. As the link progresses, Yukari learns that her mother wants to remarry, but ultimately decides to wait until Yukari is ready.
    • Persona 4 has Eri Minami, the Temperance social link, who recently married a single father and is trying to become close to her new stepson, Yuuta, but doesn't have any success. Meanwhile, Yuuta is convinced that Eri hates him because the two are so distant (what with Yuuta's father overseas at the time). It's up to the main character to help their relationship improve.


Webcomics

  • The early days of Better Days often had this as a plot element with Fisk's widowed mother Sheila trying to find someone new, including once dating her kid's principal (this ended badly, with him being psychotic and raping Sheila only to die under suspicious circumstances) and their married next-door neighbor Sam (who was also the father of Fisk's best friend, just to complicate things), who after having an affair with Sheila and being caught eventually married her years later. Fisk then had a a conversation with his mother where he told her that it was too late for Sam to replace his father, it didn't matter, she was happy now, and that was what mattered.
  • In Kevin and Kell, Lindesfarne (Kevin's daughter) bonds rather quickly with new stepmother Kell, while Rudy (Kell's son) has more trouble accepting stepfather Kevin, but does eventually. Species issues are probably relevant - Rudy, being a canine (fox/wolf cross), has some trouble accepting a rabbit as outranking him. Lindesfarne, on the other paw, does not have the pack structure issue complicating her relationship with Kell.


Western Animation

  • One episode of The Weekenders concerned Tino's reaction to his mother dating -- first trying to sabotage it, then finding out he actually likes the guy, and then being incredibly disappointed when the relationship ends up not working out and tries to get them back together.
  • In Arthur, Buster's mother dated a man named Harry for a while who Buster really liked, but eventually they broke it off so she could pursue other interests. However, Buster and Harry were still shown hanging out after this.
  • Pepper Ann one-upped this by having the new squeeze of the mother actually be PA's teacher, who had a dislike for PA. It didn't last.
  • On The Simpsons Comic Book Guy and Agnes Skinner dated for a time, made all the more awkward by the fact that CBG was younger than Seymour Skinner. It didn't appear to last past that episode.
    • Similarly, Luann Van Houten dated several men before getting back together with her ex-husband Kurt, and Milhouse generally liked all of the men she brought home (one was an American Gladiator). It seems Kurt had much less luck with the women he dated, and the only one we actually saw ended up stealing his car.
    • Rod and Todd were perfectly okay with their widowed father Ned dating and then marrying Edna Krabappel. At worst, they call her "do-over Mommy" and "cigarette Mommy" because they're not comfortable calling her their actual mother or by her first name.
    • Homer fusses when his father starts dating Marge's mother, afraid that will make him and Marge related. Later, he's disgusted when Abe starts dating Selma (though it's more due to his intense dislike for Marge's sisters as a whole, so of course he wouldn't want one as his stepmom).
  • In The Powerpuff Girls, the Professor's new paramour eventually turns out to be the villain Sedusa, but the girls were very suspicious of her from the start, for completely petty reasons.
  • Unusually amicable instance in The Aristocats - the kittens bond with O'Malley faster than Duchess does, and are very much in favor of him as their dad.
  • An episode of Duckman featured this trope; Duckman brings his new girlfriend home to meet his family, wondering if they'll accept her. His teenage son Ajax cries "Mommy!", leaps into the woman's lap and starts sucking his thumb.
  • Metalocalypse plays with this trope in the episode "FatherKlok", where Skwisgaar's search for his own biological father is interrupted by his mother introducing his new stepfather to him. Complete with a "You amn'ts my f**kings dad!" from Skwisgaar. However, by the end of the episode, the two of them get along rather well. Too bad this is Metalocalypse we're talking about...
  • Stan from American Dad has a creepy relationship with his mom, because he remembers how heartbroken she was when his dad walked out on them and fears any actual romantic interest would do the same. It turns out he's gone as far as kidnapping each of them, but comes around after Francine stops him from ruining her Third Date Marriage.
  • Family Guy had an episode where Peter's mother started dating local reporter Tom Tucker. Initially Peter is upset and tries to patch things up between his mother and father, but after a little while he warms up to Tucker and they get along very well - only for things to get complicated when Peter's mother dumps him.
  • Darkwing Duck's Happily Adopted daughter, Gosalyn, really likes his reformed criminal girlfriend Morgana. There is even an episode where, after Darkwing and Morgana have a fight, she tries to patch up their relationship with a Love Potion. Hilarity Ensues.
  • This was never a problem in Phineas and Ferb where Phineas and Candace get along well with Ferb's father and likewise with Ferb and Phineas's mom.
  • When Vergil's dad started dating again in Static Shock it turned out that Vergil already knew her-she was the cop he ran from when she tried to search his backpack (which contained his superhero costume). Awkward.
  • A late episode of Disney's Doug has Patti dealing with this trope when her widowed father starts dating her teacher, Miss Crystal. She's obviously unhappy and ends up snapping at the woman during dinner, followed by running off to cry at her mother's grave. Her father and Miss Crystal comfort Patti and reassure her that the latter isn't trying to replace Patti's mother, and Patti eventually comes around.
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