Found family: the best trope in popular media
Most people are familiar with the found family trope, but many of them don’t know exactly what it is. The name for it is pretty self explanatory. It references a situation in which a group of people who aren’t necessarily related to each other come together to form a close friendship that can resemble a family. For anybody who felt like they didn’t fit in or were constantly searching for other people like them, this trope is probably their ideal outcome. I’ve gathered a few found family media recommendations for anybody who may be interested in discovering more of the genre.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
The movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is often revered as an instant classic. The animation, story-telling, soundtrack, and characters all contribute to the love that the film receives. Miles Morales is a high school student attending a prestigious new academy that he doesn’t quite feel he fits into when he’s bitten by a radioactive spider. This is particularly odd because while Miles is exhibiting powers similar to Spider-Man, there’s already a Spider-Man in his universe. As he grapples with what his powers mean, a mysterious rip in the universe causes five unexpected characters to appear. Miles discovers that they too are Spider-Man, but only in their own separate universes.
This is one of my favorite movies of all-time, and it’s largely because of how well written the characters are. I love the way that the other Spideys interact with Miles and help him on his journey of self-discovery. The superheroes are all grateful for finding other people who are like them and understand their unique struggles. As a result of this, they all feel like a family almost instantly.
The Long Way to a Small Angry
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is a science fiction novel that is the first in a series of four books written by author Becky Chambers. It follows the adventures of the ship the Wayfarer, whose crew has the job of creating tunnels through space in order to ease intergalactic travel. It focuses mostly on the perspective of Rosemary Harper, the Wayfarer’s new clerk with a mysterious past and a limited view of the galaxy. It’s her first time living off-planet, and there are a few non-human members of the crew whose species she’s interacting with for the first time.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book largely because of how character driven it is. It’s not to say that the overall plot takes the backburner, but Chambers focuses more on the perspectives of the ship’s ragtag crew and their interactions with one another as well as the galaxy around them. The characters truly do view each other as family members, and their love is unconditional in every single way. This is so true that I’ve even seen some critics say that it’s unrealistic how much every character cares about their crew, but I’d have to seriously disagree with that statement. Each entity aboard the Wayfarer is wonderful and well detailed in a way that makes it easy to believe that they’d do anything for each other.
Our Flag Means Death
Our Flag Means Death is an HBO Max original show that started airing in March of 2022. It found instant popularity due to it’s comedic writing and diversity of characters. It revolves around Stede Bonnet, a regular 18th century man turned pirate who dubs himself, “The Gentleman Pirate.” He’s not great at the job due to his softer nature and unending kindness, but that doesn’t stop him from gathering a crew and taking to the high sea. Along the way, he meets famous pirate Blackbeard, a ruthless killer and expert swashbuckler. The only thing is Blackbeard isn’t exactly what the stories make him out to be.
The crew aboard Stede’s ship “The Revenge” all clearly care about each other while still managing to come off as annoyed siblings at times. It’s the love that they all have that makes aspects of the show work well and even pulls together much of the plot. What really made Our Flag Means Death stand out to me was how it was able to have an abundance of queer characters and still manage to be hilarious without using any of them as the butt of a joke. The extent of representation this show offered is so rare and wonderful to see.
Big Hero 6
In 2014, Disney released the animated movie Big Hero 6, based loosely on the Marvel comics of the same name. When the main character Hiro’s brother dies in a fire that he later discovers isn’t accidental, he sets out to find the man who started it. A further search uncovers that not only did someone set the fire, but Hiro’s revolutionary microrobotics project wasn’t destroyed; somebody stole it. Along the way he teams up with Baymax, the loveable caretaker robot his brother built as well as his brother’s four best friends. Hiro takes a shot at turning the group into crime-fighting superheroes and commences his search.
This was one of my favorite films growing up, and I think that’s largely because of both Baymax and the superhero team dynamics. Hiro’s friends are dedicated to helping him through his brother’s death, and they will do anything to try and cheer him up. They were the perfect example of a friend group that I yearned for when I was a child. I also don’t think I would’ve minded have my own personal adorable robot best friend.
When I was younger, I didn’t really have a solid friend group that I could confide in. There weren’t many people my age that I could find myself relating to. I think that’s why I developed such an attachment to the found family trope, and I can imagine that there are droves of other people who feel this way, too, or else it wouldn’t be so prevalent in the media our society consumes.