This week's trope is Heartwarming Orphan!
"They're the characters the audience is predisposed to root for, suffering as they do from Parental Abandonment and a tragic childhood. They're the little orphan girls and boys who come into the story and proceed to melt the hearts of cranky old people and improve the lives of everyone around them just by being their cheerful, innocent orphan selves. The girls may turn out to be little princesses, and the boys might end up as Lords.
This, of course, is their Happy Ending after a terrible childhood of drudgery most likely spent in an orphanage or on the streets, or (shudder) under the care of their dear uncle or fond stepmother. If they have foster parents, or sometimes relatives, they can Earn Your Happy Ending by melting their cold and cantankerous hearts.
Heartwarming orphans don't have to do anything to be heartwarming. It seems inherent to their orphaned state. They don't even have to appear on stage. Announce that an orphanage has been destroyed... obviously only a Complete Monster would do such a thing.
Of course, if they do certain things, they can lose the "heartwarming" part and end up with a somewhat less appealing role.
The exact opposite of the Evil Orphan. Contrast Conveniently an Orphan. If they look and act like characters from a Dickens novel, that's a Street Urchin."
You know how some people love sappy romantic comedies, and others love shoot-em-up action flicks, and still others like John Wayne or whatever?
I love stories about orphans.
But not evil orphans. Gawd, no. I love good -- though often somewhat precocious and mischievous -- orphans who work their way into the hearts and souls of those around them. I especially love it when they get adopted. D'awww.
Some of my favorite movies and stories include Anne Of Green Gables (orphan adopted by an older couple), Pollyanna (orphan taken in by her aunt; in the movie, her friend Jimmy is adopted by an older gentleman whose heart has been warmed), The Secret Garden (girl adopted by uncle/dad's old friend (depending on the version) and brings the whole family together), A Little Princess (girl loses her father, is forced into servitude, and is later adopted by her father's friend, who has been searching for her; however, some versions keep the father alive), Heidi (orphan goes to live with grandfather), Road to Avonlea (Sara is sent to live with relatives in season one but becomes an official orphan a year or two later), Peter Pan (at least in versions where the lost boys get adopted at the end), DuckTales (Scrooge McDuck takes in his three great-nephews when their original caretaker and uncle, Donald Duck, goes into the Navy), Batman (parents murdered when Bruce is young; raised by Alfred), Superman (Kal-El's parents die on Krypton; raised by the Kents), Candleshoe (teenager enters a family home under false pretenses but eventually learns to love and be loved), Maniac Magee (boy bounces around, not really feeling like he fits in anywhere, until the end) and probably quite a few more.
And speaking of heartwarming orphans, if you have not yet checked out my new blog, Anne Of Green Brick Gables, where I recreate the classic story using Lego... well, you should! New chapters coming soon.