TWR Articles
Characters in Popular Culture
February 16, 2017 | By Together We Rise- Kimberly Plum


Thinking back to your childhood- and maybe into adulthood too- do you remember your favorite television or film character? Was that character a product of the foster care system? Can you name any characters that were youth in foster care? As a child, we learn from and relate to our favorite characters on television and in films. Whether they are from comedies, cartoons, dramas, or are super heroes, many of these children’s characters are from the foster system. Some without even knowing they’re products of the system!

Television characters like Peyton Sawyer (One Tree Hill), Lily Pritchett-Tucker (Modern Family), and Paige Matthews (Charmed), to name a few, are children that have been adopted by their TV parents. These characters all have a unique backstory of their adoptions that shape who they are. By providing these characters to audiences, the television business provides viewers with a normalized view of adoption and parenthood.


More popularly, there are many film characters that are either adopted or from the foster care system. Here are a few characters that you may not realize are adopted or are from the foster system:

Spiderman, Spiderman

Buddy the Elf, Elf

Crazy Eyes, Orange is the New Black

Dorothy, Wizard of Oz

Cosette, Les Miserables

Princess Leia, Star Wars

Luke Skywalker, Star Wars

Superman, Superman

Harry Potter, Harry Potter

The Cullen family, Twilight

Tarzan, Tarzan

Lilo, Lilo and Stitch

Anna and Elsa, Frozen

Iron Man, Iron Man

Michael Oher, The Blind Side

Annie, Annie 


All of these characters come from foster care or were adopted, and all of their lives and personalities are shaped by their experiences in foster care or through adoption. More recently, ABC Family syndicated The Fosters, a whole show dedicated to acknowledging the foster care system and educating viewers on the system. Focusing on same-sex foster parents, this show challenges tropes and stereotypes that have previously been shown in television and in film. By creating these dynamic characters and their stories, the public is working to continue normalizing the foster care system and how adoption works.

Thankfully, the television and film industries are creating more and more stories that revolve around the foster care system. Can you think of more characters that are adopted or previous children in foster care? Together We Rise encourages research around your favorite TV shows and movies. If you see more characters that have been through these experiences, share them with your friends and spread the awareness of the system!

Together We Rise wants to help all children in the foster care system. To help in your area, visit to see what you can do.


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