Let’s Fight: The Most Important (Fake) Dead Parents

There are so many orphans in pop culture. Seriously, if you want to be a hero or a chosen one, you basically have to be orphaned first. And so, inspired by a delightfully time-wasting Twitter conversation, I’ve created a March Madness-style competitive bracket, beginning with a round of 32, to determine the Most Important (Fake) Dead Parents.

Because there so many orphans littering literature and pop culture, I had to impose a few rules. First, the death of the parent(s) has to be life-defining. For instance, Bruce Wayne is defined by the death of his parents, but Clark Kent, though his biological parents are dead, is a relatively well-adjusted adopted kid, whose (adopted) parents are very much alive, and he’s more defined by the Kents than he is by his Kryptonian antecedents. Therefore, I haven’t included Superman. Second, the “foundling division” is for characters who are defined by the traumatic loss of one parent, but the other parent is still living, though not actively involved in the character’s life (i.e., Simba from The Lion King).

I seeded the rankings with a completely made-up formula weighing popularity of character and traumatic impact of parental death, and followed a traditional high/low bracket formula, with the lowest and highest seeds in each division facing off in the first round. You can vote for the winners in the comments, or drop me a line on Twitter or Facebook. I’ll tally up the results and we’ll advance to round two whenever I get around it (let’s be honest, I can’t keep a schedule). And now onto the Very Important Business of deciding which fake person’s fake dead parents are the most important!

You can see the bracket here.

Superhero Division

  1. Thomas and Martha Wayne (Batman)
  2. Richard and Mary Parker (Spider-Man)
  3. Howard and Maria Stark (Iron Man)
  4. John and Mary Grayson (Robin)
  5. Hugo Kostas and Christina Natchios (Elektra)
  6. Harold and Edith Barton (Hawkeye)
  7. Larry and Dinah Lance (Black Canary)
  8. Joseph and Sarah Rogers (Captain America)

Foundling Division

  1. Mufasa (Simba, mother living)
  2. Mother (Bambi, father living)
  3. Fantine (Cosette, father living)
  4. Shmi Skywalker (Anakin Skywalker, father unknown)
  5. Padme Naberrie Skywalker (Luke and Leia Skywalker, father living/evil shithead)
  6. Jack Murdock (Daredevil, mother living)
  7. Meredith Quill (Star-Lord, father unknown)
  8. Ma Kelly (Jack Kelly, father living)

Disney Division

  1. Ma and Pa Cinders (Cinderella)
  2. The King and the First Queen (Snow White)
  3. King Agdar and Queen Idun of Arendelle (Princesses Anna and Elsa of Arendelle)
  4. James and Eudora (Princess Tiana)
  5. Ma and Pa Pelekai (Lilo)
  6. Cassim and unnamed mother (Aladdin)
  7. Uther Pendragon and unnamed mother (Wart)
  8. Della Duck and unnamed father (Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck)

Fiction Division

  1. James and Lily Potter (Harry Potter)
  2. Tom Riddle, Sr. and Merope Gaunt Riddle (Lord Voldemort)
  3. Aerys II and Rhaella Targaryen (Daenerys Targaryen)
  4. Andrew and Monique Bond (James Bond)
  5. Ned and Catelyn Stark (Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon Stark)
  6. “Pap” Finn and unnamed mother (Huck Finn)
  7. Lord and Lady Greystoke (Tarzan)
  8. Bertrand and Beatrice Baudelaire (Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire)
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11 thoughts on “Let’s Fight: The Most Important (Fake) Dead Parents

  1. Okay, my picks:

    Thomas and Martha Wayne (Batman)
    Richard and Mary Parker (Spider-Man)
    Howard and Maria Stark (Iron Man)
    John and Mary Grayson (Robin)

    Mufasa (Simba, mother living)
    Meredith Quill (Star-Lord, father unknown)
    Fantine (Cosette, father living)
    Padme Naberrie Skywalker (Luke and Leia Skywalker, father living/evil shithead)

    Ma and Pa Cinders (Cinderella)
    The King and the First Queen (Snow White)
    Cassim and unnamed mother (Aladdin)
    Ma and Pa Pelekai (Lilo)

    James and Lily Potter (Harry Potter)
    Tom Riddle, Sr. and Merope Gaunt Riddle (Lord Voldemort)
    Aerys II and Rhaella Targaryen (Daenerys Targaryen)
    Ned and Catelyn Stark (Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon Stark)

  2. Thomas & Martha Wayne
    Richard & Mary Parker
    Howard & Maria Stark
    John & Mary Grayson

    Mufasa
    Meredith Quill
    Fantine
    Padme Skywalker

    Ma and Pa Cinders
    The King and the First Queen
    King Agdar and Queen Idun of Arendelle
    Ma and Pa Pelekai

    James and Lily Potter
    Tom Riddle, Sr. and Merope Gaunt Riddle
    Aerys II and Rhaella Targaryen
    Ned and Catelyn Stark

  3. Anna

    Thomas and Martha Wayne
    Richard and Mary Parker
    Howard and Maria Stark
    Hugo Kostas and Christina Natchios
    Mufasa
    Mother (Bambi)
    Fantine
    Padme Skywalker

    Ma and Pa Cinders
    The King and the First Queen
    King Agdar and Queen Idun of Arendelle
    James and Eudora
    James and Lily Potter
    Tom Riddle, Sr. and Merope Gaunt
    Aerys II and Rhaella Targaryen
    Ned and Catelyn Stark

  4. Clementine

    The Waynes
    The Parkers
    The Bartons
    No idea…

    Mufasa
    Meredith Quill
    No idea…
    Shmi Skywalker

    The Cinders
    The Pendragons
    The Arendalles
    The Pelekais

    The Potters
    The Riddles
    The Targaryens
    The Starks

  5. Heather M.

    Here we go:

    Thomas and Martha Wayne (Batman)
    Richard and Mary Parker (Spider-Man)
    Howard and Maria Stark (Iron Man)
    John and Mary Grayson (Robin)

    Mufasa (Simba, mother living)
    Meredith Quill (Star-Lord, father unknown)
    Fantine (Cosette, father living)
    Padme Naberrie Skywalker (Luke and Leia Skywalker, father living)

    Ma and Pa Cinders (Cinderella)
    The King and the First Queen (Snow White)
    King Agdar and Queen Idun of Arendelle (Princesses Anna&Elsa of Arendelle)
    Ma and Pa Pelekai (Lilo)

    James and Lily Potter (Harry Potter)
    Tom Riddle, Sr. and Merope Gaunt Riddle (Lord Voldemort)
    Aerys II and Rhaella Targaryen (Daenerys Targaryen)
    Andrew and Monique Bond (James Bond)

  6. marie

    My takes (for comics and Foundling, I went with most traumatizing deaths. For Disney and Fiction, I went with films where I kept on asking “What would have happened had the ‘rents been alive).

    Thomas and Martha Wayne (Batman)
    Mufasa (Simba, mother living)
    Ma and Pa Pelekai (Lilo)
    Tom Riddle, Sr. and Merope Gaunt Riddle (Lord Voldemort)

  7. ROUND 2:
    Thomas and Martha Wayne (Batman)
    Howard and Maria Stark (Iron Man)
    Mufasa
    Padme Skywalker
    Ma & Pa Cinders
    King Agdar and Queen Idun of Arendelle
    J & L Potter
    E & C Stark

  8. Anna

    Round 2:

    Richard & Mary Parker
    Howard & Maria Stark
    Mufasa
    Fantine

    Ma & Pa Cinders
    Agdar & Idun of Arendelle
    James & Lily Potter
    Eddard & Catelyn Stark

  9. Agent K

    Round 3:

    Thomas and Martha Wayne
    (Overused but iconic…and because Iron Man 2 was an inexcusably bad movie partially due to inexcusably bad daddy issues)

    Mufasa
    (Easy vote, because the Star Wars prequels never happened.)

    King Agdar and Queen Idun of Arendelle
    (died onscreen…and HORRIBLY!)

    James and Lily Potter
    (honorable mention to Jon Snow’s real parents)

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