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A plot in which the hero has passion for something that one or both of his parents died doing. The reason behind this is usually that either the activity is a family tradition, or the child feels like he can emotionally connect to the parents by doing it. Typically, the surviving parent or guardian will forbid the child from doing this. Occasionally, the child doesn't even know how his parent died, and the secret adds another layer of drama.

Preventing this is the motive behind Turn Out Like His Father and a common one behind avoiding Tell Me About My Father

Examples of Pursuing Parental Perils include:

Anime & Manga

  • Nozomi from Elfen Lied wanted to sing like her mother. Her father violently opposed this idea. We find out that the primary reason for this is that Nozomi inherited from her mother a defect in her vocal cords that would give out under strain if she continued singing. Her mother lost her voice and ultimately committed suicide due to this.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima has this with Negi wanting to become a Magister Magi like his father, and, like his father, ends up becoming a world-saving action hero in the process. Only time will tell if he starts picking up on his mother's role[1] after things cool down.


  • Disney Channel released two Disney Channel Original Movies with this plot in the same year: Rip Girls, with surfing, and Ready to Run, with horse racing.
  • Parodied in Superstar, where the parents were stomped to death while dancing.
  • Top Gun: Maverick's father was a fighter pilot who died in combat, supposedly by screwing up, and that always made Maverick feel he had to be better than everyone else.
  • In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Luke Skywalker learns that his father was a Jedi Knight who was murdered by Darth Vader. He later tells Obi-Wan Kenobi, "I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father." Of course, we all know what actually became of said father.
  • Tron: Legacy can be stretched a bit to fit this. Sam doesn't know why his father disappeared, but he knows what his passion and goal was, and seeks to kick Encom periodically for not following them. Resentment against his father for abandoning him is all that holds him back from doing more. When those issues are resolved, he becomes much more activist about it.
  • Twister: Jo chases tornadoes to understand them better and prevent casualties, because her father was killed by one.


  • The "Drina" ballet-book series is about a young girl who wants to be a ballet dancer, but is prevented by her grandmother. She discovers that her mother was a world-class ballerina until both parents died in a plane crash on their way to her mother's performance.
  • James Ramsey Ullman's book Banner in the Sky is about a young man who dreams of being a mountain guide and climbing a mountain called "The Citadel", even though his father died trying to reach the top. His mother and uncle attempt to keep him off the mountain.
  • Samantha, the Victorian Era American Girl, had a desire to visit the island her parents died sailing back from, just to see what it was like. She also got caught in a storm with her friends while sailing back, but managed to survive.
  • Harry Potter takes up fighting dark wizards, just like his parents. In particular, the Dark Wizard who killed his parents.
  • Comes up a few times in Speaker for the Dead, the first Ender's Game sequel, with several generations of scientists studying the culture of the Pequenino aliens (and dying horribly and mysteriously at their hands) as well as the microbiologist studying the super-virus that permeates the local ecosystem (whose mother and father died developing the initial viral-blocker that saved the colony when she was a child).

Live-Action TV

  • There's a Quantum Leap where Sam has to save a trapeze artist who will die doing the same stunt that killed her mother.
  • JAG: Harm's dad was a U.S. military pilot, who went MIA over Vietnam.
  • Pushing Daisies: Ned's mother died while baking a pie. While at boarding school, he began baking pies to reconnect to his mother. As an adult, he opens up a pie bakery, The Pie Hole.

Video Games

  • Yuna does this in Final Fantasy X by becoming a summoner. Her dad was the previous High Summoner.
  • To Laharl from Disgaea is being an Overlord, like his father, the aspiration he burns the most for. He sets out to make an even greater legacy than his old man.

Western Animation

  • In The Little Mermaid III, Ariel's mother was revealed to have died while visiting the surface.
  • In the Dexter's Laboratory episode "Mock 5", which is a parody of Speed Racer, Dad initially is loathe to allow Dexter to participate in a car race because Dexter's sister died in a car race accident years ago. (She's actually alive, but she always happens to be standing behind Dad, who is too lazy to turn around.)

 Dad: Dee Dee! You're alive! Where have you been all this time?!

Dee Dee: Right behind you.

Dad: You know I never look there!

Real Life

  • Irene Curie discovered artificial radioactivity when her mom died of cancer from radium (her father died from a carriage accident).
  • Bindi Irwin
  • Formula One driver Jacques Villeneuve (father Gilles killed in qualifying, 1982)


  1. ruling monarch of the largest kingdom on Mars
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