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"...And then they made me their chief."
Jack Sparrow- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

One of the classic story hooks is for an orphan child from a strange land be raised by the people native to the land he or she finds themselves in. His origins (the orphan is usually a boy) and the purpose of his parent's trek so far from home is a mystery, but they'll usually face an accident of some kind that wipes them all out save for him. Whatever the case, the child will be adopted by the chief and raised as one of his sons.

Growing up will be tough, he's likely to face discrimination from other children if not the tribe itself, and even without that he'll feel as out of place as a Halfbreed.

When he grows up and finally feels at home after the tribe accepts him (or alternately, feels the most out of place and restless) his parents people will show up. At best, they're peaceful(ish) and want to reintegrate him into their society, usually helped by a family member coming along who can connect him to the memory of his biological parents. In this case, he'll help resolve potentially deadly conflicts between both peoples and find a place as a mediator. At worst, it'll be a violent Culture Clash because they're conquerors, slavers, or very violent settlers who may or may not turn his village into a Doomed Hometown. Expect this to galvanize him as a pro-native hero.

A common variant is to have the kid be Mighty Whitey raised to be a Noble Savage, uniting the most powerful traits of both (being mighty, white, noble, and a savage!) and getting rid of his invading relatives. More seriously, this can be an Anvilicious trope used to give western audiences (the orphan is usually a Caucasian in a non-European continent) someone to relate to who can defend the natives of the place from "evil" Caucasians.

Raised by Wolves often functions as a subtrope. Compare with Oblivious Adoption, Jungle Princess and Upbringing Makes the Hero. Contrast Raised by Orcs and Muggle Foster Parents.

Examples of Raised by Natives include:


Anime & Manga

  • Dragon Ball has Goku, who ends up being sent to Earth from his home planet as a baby in a similar fashion to Superman.
    • The similarities between Superman and Goku are briefly pointed out in Dragon Ball Abridged; when Grandpa Gohan finds Goku for the first time, he decides to name him Clark, only to immediately change his mind afterwards.

Comic Books

  • Superman. And all Captain Ersatz thereof.
  • Tom Strong, from Alan Moore's comic of the same name.
  • Firehair in The DCU.
  • Jonah Hex, also in The DCU, although he wasn't orphaned. His drunken father sold him as a slave to the Apaches.
  • Hellboy.
  • James-Michael from Omega the Unknown is orphaned by his robot parents and is put into the care of two locals in Hell's Kitchen, who try to teach The Stoic how to Become a Real Boy.
  • Elf Quest has the story of Little Patch, a human raised by elves. (This is, however, somethng of an inversion, since the elves are descendants of stranded aliens.) When he grows up he returns to a human tribe, and thanks to his elfin upbringing eventually becomes a chief.

Film

Literature

  • Moses from The Bible was raised by Egyptians.
  • In Conrad Richter's Light in the Forest, a young white boy is captured by Native Americans in a raid. They raise him as their own, renaming him True Son. Eleven years later, he thinks of himself as completely Indian and does not remember his life with his real family. He is forced to leave his Indian family and return to his white family after a treaty is signed and all white "prisoners" were given up. When he returns to his white family he is unable to reconnect with them and runs away. However, when he returns his Indian father tells him he must return and accept his heritage.
  • Stranger in A Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein has Michael, a human raised by Martians after the first crewed exploration mission all died, and returned to Earth by the second. The Martians teach him their language-philosophy, how to use his puny human brain to use amazing powers, and to spy on humanity to determine whether they should or shouldn't blow us up, like they did to the intelligent race on the "fifth" planet between Mars and Jupiter. You know, the asteroid belt? He starts out as an Idiot Savant, and ends as The Messiah.
  • G. A. Henty's By Right of Conquest features an interesting twist on this. Roger Hawkshaw is the sole survivor of a shipwreck of the Yucatan coast and finds himself taken in by a village on the outskirts of the Aztec empire; everything else wobbles about this trope up through when Hernan Cortez arrives. Unfortunately, by this time most of the Aztecs don't particularly like him much, and the reason Roger was shipwrecked in the first place was part of a British attempt to break the international (Pope-mandated) division of the New World between the Spanish and Portuguese. Xanatos Speed Chess ensues.
  • Not exactly orphaned (his mother was marooned with him), but The Savage from Brave New World. Curiously, he isn't really a "Noble Savage" even though you would think the Indians would be portrayed a little nicer considering they're the only cultures left that aren't a dystopian baby factory. Still just the usual "hey, we smoke Peyote" and "random death-inducing ritual for no reason" stuff that was common in period Western works.
    • Actually, an alternate reading is that their culture has decayed, with nobody remembering why they perform certain rituals anymore (or why they might not) -- and they are nicer by comparison to the rest. Remember, it is a Crapsack World.
  • M.M. Kaye's The Far Pavilions has the Mighty Whitey Raised by Natives variant, who even ends up with an exotic Far East princess.
  • Rudyard Kipling's Kim. The title character is raised by a Hindu (Hindoo) attorney from Bengal, a Muslim warrior (specifically a Pashtun/Pathan tribesman from the foothills of Afghanistan), a Buddhist monk from Tibet, and a British colonel. The product: Kimball O'Hara: Friend of the Stars/Friend of All the World, the perfect warrior for the Great Game.
  • From Discworld Captain Carrot (City Watch books) was raised by dwarves. Despite bordering on 7 foot and being the only dwarf who keeps bumping his head on the ceiling in mineshafts. (His dwarven name is literally translated as 'Head Banger'.)
    • Unusually for this trope, Carrot wasn't merely raised by dwarves but actually is a dwarf, in every sense that matters to all but the most ultra-conservative elements of dwarven society (and even they merely call his dwarfishness "debatable". This becomes a plot point in both The Fifth Elephant and Thud. [1]
    • From Going Postal we have Stanley, who was abandoned on a farm and raised by peas (yes, not on peas, but by peas) and so tends to turn gently to face the sun. manages to be rather better-adjusted to non-vegetable society than one might expect.
  • In a rare female example, Ayla was raised by Neanderthals in the Earth's Children series when her parents were killed in an earthquake. The Clan Of The Cave Bear and its sequels devote extensive time comparing the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal cultures, and following the interactions and occasional clashes between the two races, with Ayla often serving as an interpreter.
  • In C. J. Cherryh's Alliance Union novel Finity's End a merchant spacewoman's orphan is raised on a space station by the local humans and also the Downers from the planet below. Just as he is getting settled into that society, his mother's ship returns and forces him back into their very different society. Drama ensues.
  • The protagonist of The Hound and the Falcon is an elf who was raised by monks. Among other things, he's the only elvish character who's uncomfortable with the idea of changing gender.
  • Nefret Forth, in the Amelia Peabody series, fits this trope morally if not factually. Her parents were 19th-century explorers who discovered a remnant of ancient Egyptian civilization in a lost oasis and spent the rest of their lives there, Going Native in varying degrees. When Amelia and her family arrive, they find the 13-year-old Nefret being high priestess of Isis. Her parents being dead by the end of the book, Nefret goes back to Western civilization with the Emersons, where she has a realistically rough time fitting in.
  • Nobody "Bod" Owens, hero of The Graveyard Book, was orphaned just before the book starts, as a toddler, and wanders into a graveyard, where he is taken in and raised by ghosts. The whole book is a translation of The Jungle Book into the new setting, so this case wavers between Raised by Natives and Raised by Wolves.
  • Bria in The Last Dove is often mocked in the village of bird people where she was raised because she hasn't yet been able to change into a bird. She later turns out to be able to turn into both a dove and a wolf.

Television

  • Johnny Reach, the sidekick in the CBS Western action series Bearcats!, was raised by Indians.
  • In The Talons of Weng-Chiang, Leela says she was trained to strike at the heart a certain way. To keep them both out of Colney Hatch or Broadmoor, the Doctor concocts a line about being raised by South American natives.
  • Worf of Star Trek: The Next Generation is a Klingon raised by humans. Done interestingly because his foster parents wanted him to get the Klingon cultural side of his heritage and raised him accordingly, but the result is that Worf is often stricter about holding to Klingon customs and laws than ordinary Klingons.
  • Cole Evans of Power Rangers Wild Force.
  • Kamen Rider Amazon himself.
  • Ilox in The Wild Boy. He was raised by wild 'wolf' humans after the Lindauzi kicked him out. So it's also Raised by Wolves in a sense, but not literal wolves like that trope means. They accepted him after a while, but he did get regarded nervously because he was Lindauzi-bred. The 'wolves' he, Phlarx and Caleb take up with later do the same thing to a point.

Video Games

  • In Mass Effect, a batarian was raised by human parents, and founded an extranet organization dedicated to connecting children of various racial and ethnic backgrounds so that they would understand, tolerate, and befriend each other to make the galaxy a better place.
  • Samus Aran may count, since she was raised by The Chozo after Space Pirates destroyed the human colony she was born on (and then, later, the homeworld of the Chozo who adopted her).
  • Rock from the Soul Calibur.
  • Thrall was raised by humans.
  • In a variation on this, Lloyd Irving of Tales of Symphonia, while not raised entirely immersed in a separate culture, was raised by a dwarf living in human lands, and it's clear right from the start that he considers his adoptive father's culture to be his own, right down to reciting Dwarven Vows. This is occasionally speculated by the other characters as being the reason for his willingness to fight against the social tide - he was never a part of it anyway.
  • The main character from Beneath a Steel Sky.
  • Ivan of Golden Sun was entrusted by his Adept family to (soon-to-be) Lord Hammet and Lady Layana of Kalay, along with some business advice to ensure that he grew up comfortably and in the right place at the right time to join and help Isaac & Co. Ivan doesn't even bother referring to Hammet or Layana as family, but anyone who thinks he doesn't care about them is in for a nasty surprise.
    • Sheba fell from the sky near Lalivero as a small child and was promptly adopted by Faran's family. It's generally assumed by fandom that she came from the city of the Anemos Jupiter Adepts, which was removed from mainland Weyard and became the moon hundreds of years ago. The fact that Sheba herself is a Jupiter Adept supports this.
  • Dragon Quest VII has Firia, a Heartwarming Orphan who was adopted by the Pendragon, leader of the Winged Humanoid Lefa tribe. As the only person in Gorges without wings, she has difficulty getting around, and is constantly bullied by the other kids. Her own little sister treats her like a personal slave! Yet she endures it all with a smile, until her grandmother reveals she's Lefan by blood. She was just born without wings, and her cowardly father decided it'd be better to pretend he merely adopted her than admit she was his own flesh and blood, for fear he'd be ousted as leader if anyone knew he's fathered a 'flawed child'.
  • A Dark Elf in the town of Riften in Skyrim says he was raised by Argonians, and follows many of their traditions and customs, even taking a Argonian name. He gives you a quest to find out who his real parents were and where they came from. Turns out he's the son of a House Telvanni woman.

Web Comics

  • Little Patch in Elf Quest: Hidden Years #3 (Link) is abandoned by his human parents and raised by wolf...rider elves. Eventually he returns to a human tribe and becomes chief, teaching his tribe some of the elves' wisdom. The story has some obvious similarities to The Jungle Book.
  • Digger has Shadowchild, who is speculated by the characters to be a demon growing up around mortals.
    • Later confirmed after Shadowchild defeats Sweetgrass Voice he explains that most demons are raised evil or grow up feral, he is the only demon child raised by good.
  • In Dominic Deegan this is the backstory of major villain Karnak and Dominic's father Donovan. Karnak was raised by Orcs in Maltak and Donovan was raised by Elves. Karnak had a harder time with it due to the considerable differences between Orcs and Callanians (for one thing Karnak can't properly eat their food thanks to his teeth) and the Fantastic Racism on both sides. A war started because one zealous racist Callanian warlord was pissed off about Karnak being raised by Orcs.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Even though Tarzan is typically more of an example of Raised by Wolves, the Disney Animated Canon version stuck closer to Raised by Natives, including Tarzan angsting over the fact that he's "different" than his friends. (Of course, this being a Disney movie, the apes were sapient.)
    • In the original novel, the apes (specifically stated as being different from Gorillas) were borderline sapient themselves, complete with a limited though functional language.

Notes

  1. The similarity to Judaism is quite deliberate; Discworld dwarves are basically the nigh-universal Culture Chop Suey of Celtic, Nordic and stereotypical Jewish traits by someone familiar with more than The Theme Park Version of the three constituent cultures.
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