History & Popularity of the Found Family Trope

Meg Rady // Blog Writer

The found family trope is perhaps one of the most popular tropes in modern media. Chances are you’ve consumed at least one piece of media that features found family, also known as family of choice. Popular found family stories range from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, to the popular anime Demon Slayer, to YA classics like the Six of Crows duology (one of my personal favorites).

This trope takes on many forms, but simply put, found family is when a group of individuals with no blood relation unite and form a strong familial friendship through a shared experience, identity, or other circumstance. This, of course, is in contrast to a person’s biological family that they are born into. As the name suggests, with a found family you can choose the people you love to share in this bond, which oftentimes can be thicker than blood.

I think a great example of this is Wizard of Oz, which has become a household story since its inception in the early 1900s. This, I think, is where the popularity lies because we often can’t choose the family we are born with so it’s appealing to be able to choose. Family is something everyone can relate to. Whether it’s the bond with your biological family or a group of friends that feel as close as you are with your family. For those who aren’t close to their family, this is especially important as it serves as their unconditional support system.

As consumers, for us characters are one of the most important aspects of a story. We watch and read stories to try to connect with the people in the story, and it’s a great way to delve deep into character development. It forces the writers to explore their character’s dynamics and internal development, which creates a richer story. The audience also has increased investment of the characters’ bond because they’ve watched it form alongside them, witnessing their relationship grow as they learn to trust each other, and eventually come to rely on one another. It seems like a tale as old as time, just a group of people forming a familial-like bond, but there’s a reason it’s a classic story theme. As humans, we crave social and familial connections; we need them to survive, so it’s no surprise that we gravitate towards stories that reflect what we often desire the most. 

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