All of our favorite characters are orphans. Or else, they had horrendously abusive childhoods. Basically, giving characters childhood trauma is an all-purpose motivation—why else would someone be a vigilante/wizard/etc. unless something had gone wrong in their lives? But here are 10 people who had normal families that weren’t already dead—but they went on to become heroes anyway.
1. Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy’s role as the Slayer has nothing to do with her parental situation. Her parents had a pretty standard divorce, with her father occasionally visiting and then just fading out of the picture. He’s not a good guy, but he’s not an abusive monster, either. And Joyce Summers was flat-out just a typical mother. The conflicts she has with her daughter have everything to do with the friction between Joyce’s normality and Buffy’s extraordinary. Sure, Joyce dies eventually—spoiler!—but not until Buffy has been a hero for a long time.
2. Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle
It tends to stand out when a comic book hero has all their parents alive, well, and not horrifically abusive. So the fact that the third Blue Beetle is a teenager with a loving home and parents who give him support and guidance is almost revolutionary. Jaime’s parents, when they’re first introduced in the comic, are hardworking people who just happen to have a son who’s a superhero. His father runs a garage, and his mother panics when he disappears. In other words, good people, who have appropriate reactions to things.
Despite the stereotype that all Disney characters have a dead parent of some description, Mulan doesn’t. In the opening, when Mulan utterly fails at the Matchmaker’s, her mother mostly shows concern for her daughter, not anger. And it’s Mulan’s devotion to her father which spurs her to take his place in the army in the first place.
4. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, Harry Potter
While the title character hits all the classic tropes—orphan and abusive adoptive family—his best friends join him on his quest without any of that baggage. Hermione’s parents seem to have rolled with their kid turning out to be a witch with a shocking amount of resilience. And the Weasleys are the series’ standard bearers for a good family life.
5. Ms. Marvel
Like so many kid superheroes, Kamala Khan is hiding things from her guardians. Her parents, Jusuf and Disha, are loving people who do exactly what good parents should do, including grounding her for going to a party. Even if she did save her friend there.
6. Tiffany Aching, Discworld
So many Discworld protagonists have some form of misery and tragedy in their childhoods. Which makes sense, since Discworld operates by the most common rules of fiction. Tiffany Aching stands out because of her perfectly normal parents, who are tenants on a sheep farm. Her father, Joe, even becomes even closer to Tiffany as time goes on, although he struggles to understand her new witchy ways.
7. Marty McFly, Back to the Future
Marty’s parents are perfectly normal people, raising what should have been a typical teen. None of the weirdness around their pasts or Marty are due to anything they do.
8. Merida, Brave
For all that Merida is in conflict with her mother for the first part of Brave, you can’t say her parents don’t actually care for her. The conflict comes from her mother’s traditional royal expectations and Merida’s desire to do what she wants. Which is a family story as old as time. It doesn’t mean they don’t love each other, which is exactly what the second part of the movie proves.
9. Alex Mack, Secret World of Alex Mack
Alex Mack was dosed with a chemical from the local plant, which gives her the requisite superpowers. She’s got a chemist father who works for the company that dosed her, and a down-to-earth mother who works a PR firm. For all that they don’t know about Alex, their parenting helps her deal with her powers.
10. Quentin Coldwater, The Magicians
Quentin’s parents aren’t exactly warm, but they’re not evil or mean. They’re perfectly average professionals who have a child who’s more special than they know. The fact that Quentin hates how boring and normal everything is in their home isn’t really their fault. In fact, they’re perfectly functional, nonentity parents.
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