When watching Shark, Lie to Me, and Castle, which were all released in the late 2000s, it occurred to me that they all pose their strong but slightly eccentric/difficult male protagonists as divorced fathers with a single daughter that shares quite similar characteristics across those different shows. Julie Stark, Emily Lightman, and Alexis Castle are all daughters in late high school to college age, quite intelligent, reliable and grown-up (in a psychological sense) and more than once seem to be good for an advice or word of reason to their fathers.

I see that those are only three TV-shows from what feels like thousands, but seeing that they were released at roughly the same time and, together with their similar genres of more or less crime shows anchored around a characteristic protagonist, share a very similar father-daughter relationship, it was a pattern that struck me as pretty obvious.

So first of all, is there a general trend for those particular character constructions in other similar shows or is there any information if those shows might have influenced each other or were inspired by something else in particular? And, even more important, what are the narrative advantages of such a character constellation? In which way does it support the themes and stories of those shows and the development of their protagonists?

  • The title might not be too perfect, but was the most streamlined I could come up with for now.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    May 4, 2014 at 13:18
  • Blue Bloods comes to mind. Erin Reagan and her daughter Nicky. And Californication (although not a "crime show") as well: Hank Moody and his daughter Becca.
    – user1426
    May 4, 2014 at 14:30
  • I wonder if there could be some inspiration from Inspector Gadget and Penny. May 4, 2014 at 14:30
  • I wonder if Leon the Professional can fall under this as well.
    – Tablemaker
    May 4, 2014 at 15:14
  • @TylerShads I haven't seen that for quite some time, but it doesn't seem too likely (or was this just a joke?).
    – Napoleon Wilson
    May 4, 2014 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


I would consider this to be a subtrope of the fairly common Wacky Parent, Serious Child:

A pair that consists of a silly, carefree or simply lighthearted parent and a child who is down to earth, snarky, brooding or all three. Usually parent and child will be of the same gender (so a wacky father with a brooding son or a ditzy mother with a serious daughter). In addition, the parent will often be utterly embarrassing. Expect Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity to pop out, which will usually end with an Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moment. Can sometimes be played for drama and show how utterly messed up it is when the younger person has to be the more mature one. Undoubtedly Truth in Television.

The link also provides a few more examples which however are not exclusive father-daughter constellations.

That being said, the examples you posted seem to be a simple application of this trope to a crime show with a male main character. They put a grown-up daughter in there with the eccentric male protagonist to have the potential for comic relief and sometimes a bit of drama besides the main, more serious crime plot. By making the child female you also have the potential for the usual conflict scenarios between daughter and father.

My guess is that this is not a general trend but more of a coincidence. Maybe it just correlates with the rise of semi-serious crime shows during that time. The examples from TvTropes seem to indicate that the trope itself is nothing that especially developed during those years.

  • 1
    A TV Tropes link should come with a health warning. :-) Jan 13, 2018 at 11:21

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