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Found Family

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Dec. 17, 2022

There's a weird hermit living at the edge of a street. Rumours fly about him and what he does all day, whether he's a criminal or a psychopath. People don't go near him or his property and any interaction is minimal. Until a young vagrant kid stumbles, exhausted, at his porch when he happens to be out there for a smoke.

The man hates the intrusion, but the kid is visibly sick, so he takes him in. Just for tonight. He leaves tomorrow.

And thus begins an odd, mismatched team that isn't really a team as much as it is …a family. A found family.

This trope has a very special allure to it because its basis hinges on seemingly mismatched characters being thrown together and somehow meshing together with strong bonds of love and friendship. Not just simple friendship: the bonds are strong as parents-children or siblings. The characters come to care for each other with a viscerable loyalty that manifests especially when facing highly threatening situations.

It also focuses on characters' multiple layers of personality and past experiences: most found family stories are about people that start off without a social network or anyone to rely on. They may be misfits, marginalized, traumatized, on the run, or anything else that exempts them from being integrated in a social safety net of any sort.

So for the found family trope to work at all, at least two characters in the story need a pretty solid character arc and character development: the hermit slowly comes out of his shell and shows a side of him that is more vulnerable and more nurturing. The kid on the run becomes more invested in protecting someone other than themselves. Both of them learn to communicate and cooperate, slightly changing their original behaviors to do so- and in the process, they become family.

Found family also has the advantage of being, in a way, true family: its members are invested in each other, constructively want to help each other, and they are a power unit that functions better together than when its members are apart. It is also likely to be emotionally and mentally healing for its members (as opposed to regular families that can be toxic, alienated, or just dysfunctional).

I believe that this latter quality it has is what makes it so popular and alluring to audiences: having people that have your back is priceless and rare, and getting immersed in this experience is peak escapism, even if the setting in which the found family is acting is dystopian.

I am very fond of this trope so I don't want to rush through discussing the workings of it, so let's consider this post an introduction to found family, and the next one a discussion of what usually one expects as members of a found family group.

Have you written any found family story for your webcomics?

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PaulEberhardt at 3:28AM, Dec. 18, 2022

My characters are kind of a family, even if only two of them are actually related, but their relationship and its structure works that way. The old "blood is thicker than water" adage always holds up, but families can be extended. It works even without an emergency. Having a found family doesn't preclude having an actual one as well. Things may get interesting if you put your characters into a situation when they have to choose between the two, which is something I wouldn't wish on anybody for real. The result is always dismaying, no matter who they decide for. I've witnessed groups very similar to found families in real life, so this trope must have something going for it, but usually their members aren't that mismatched. So I'd really like to see a story where these mismatched characters expect a found family to form eventually and it just doesn't. Possibly it's a bit risky for an author to do that, but the idea has just entered my notes.

TheJagged at 3:20AM, Dec. 18, 2022

Oh. God. YES. This is MY trope. Weirdos finding each other and becoming a family of weirdos. Probably 99% of my stories revolve around lonely outcasts, who manage to find the one person/group of people giving them a sense of belonging. Double points if there is some kind of interspecies aspect, and a Romeo & Juilet feud / Enemy Mine war sorta deal going on in the background.

dragonsong12 at 2:42PM, Dec. 17, 2022

I actually hate it when stories place importance on blood ties. I don't think that matters much. (Not due to personal reasons, my family is awesome! But I love them because they're awesome, not because they're my family. And I would drop them without guilt if they weren't.) Found families, though, those bonds are REAL. They aren't something someone told you that you have to honor, they're bonds you actually forged. That's a real family. I adore found family stories and tropes. ...and you might find all this odd if you read my Twisted Mirrors sequel, but the point in doing that was not to tie them together - rather it was to draw parallels between them - and I try to make it clear through the story that them being related does not matter, because I don't think it does. My other two stories are much more explicitly found family ones.

usedbooks at 6:17AM, Dec. 17, 2022

Also, Yuki's very large family is dysfunctional to the point that she relies entirely on her childhood friend as more of a true brother to her than her own five biological brothers, and Kaida is definitely a familial bond for her. (The two have almost nothing in common, but both need the support.) Not sure this fits your trope. Friendships and familial bonds are the strongest theme to my comic Used Books.

usedbooks at 6:13AM, Dec. 17, 2022

One of my protagonists doesn't have any close relatives, so I suppose she has found family. The others have a wide circle of parents and siblings and friends. More on point, however, there is a child that will be introduced (if I ever get to it, lol) who ends up more of a "found family" story. His birth parents are both living but not suitable to be parents. (He has been introduced in flashbacks in a teaser-y way but is not officially in the story as a realized character yet.)

InkyMoondrop at 3:01AM, Dec. 17, 2022

Yeah, found family will be a very important, overarching theme of Blessed Days, but I want to explore it detail and that takes time.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 2:12AM, Dec. 17, 2022

Well, in terms of Molly Lusc I certainly do have a found family background plot in store. My main character Molly, as been hinted at so far in the comic, used to be a street orphan as a child who knew no such thing as trust or unconditional love. This along with her adoption into the Addis family has done so much in shaping her into who she is, and the self-conflict that lies at the heart of her whole hero's journey.

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