Created By: Eievie on October 4, 2017 Last Edited By: AmbarSonofDeshar on March 14, 2018
Troped

Inbred And Evil

Being born of inbreeding is used as an indicator of evil.

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trope
In the real world, the issue with inbreeding is that it increases the risk of a recessive genetic disorder popping up. In fiction, it seems that the most common recessive genetic disorder is pure evil.

The reasons for this are varied. Taboos against incest are strong and have only gotten stronger with time and just as illegitimate children and children of rape have historically been shamed for their irregular parentage, so too are children of incest. This shaming may be strengthened by the fact that, outside of certain royal families or cases of Surprise Incest, children of inbreeding are likely to be illegitimate and/or the products of rape, worsening the negative connotations associated with them.

Alternately, inbreeding may provide a convenient and less ableist justification for the employment of certain tropes. Need to explain how the isolated Cannibal Clan keeps recruiting, and why its members are deformed, disabled, or mentally handicapped? Want a reason for why The Caligula is so Royally Screwed Up? Blame a recessive genetic disorder or hereditary mental illness and claim that the issues were exaggerated by generations of inbreeding.

Finally, incest and inbreeding may serve as a Freudian Excuse of sorts for a villainous character. The kind of person who would deliberately engage in incest is not, after all likely to be breathtaking parental material and their treatment of the children who result from their activities is liable to be atrocious. Said children are also likely to learn some very warped lessons about appropriate social behaviour and sexual mores from such a parent; more than one Serial Rapist has had incestuous parentage in the backstory.

A staple of the Hillbilly Horrors genre, this trope can be nevertheless be found on both ends of the villainous socioeconomic spectrum, overlapping with Aristocrats Are Evil as often as it does with rural Bandit Clans and Cannibal Clans. Often overlaps with Bastard Bastard and Child by Rape. See Red Right Hand, Evil Cripple, Mental Handicap, Moral Deficiency, and The Caligula for what the trope might be used to explain away.


Examples:

Comic Book
  • One memorable villain from The Authority was Seth Angus Billy Cletus Bubba Jamie Clement Cowie, a hillbilly given Combo Platter Powers by world governments specifically to take down the Authority (and nearly succeeded, receiving a harem of children as a reward). His birth came about around nine months after his mother was stuck in a cabin with her seven brothers, and after his defeat was transformed into seven chickens and returned to his uncles.

Fanfic

Film
  • Hot Fuzz has Lurch, a mentally deficient thug who serves as the villain's muscle and whose grandfather was also his father.
  • While this was absent from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its sequel, later installments in the franchise declared that Leatherface's oldest brother was also his father, and that most of cannibalistic Sawyer clan were products of Villainous Incest.
  • Wrong Turn features The Mountain Men, a clan of inbred cannibal hillbillies who have become mutant freaks courtesy of isolation and inbreeding.

Literature
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Jaime and Cersei Lannister have a long-term twincestuous relationship going on, and they have three kids together. We know dwarfism is a genetic disorder that's present in their family—their brother Tyrion is a dwarf—but all three of their kids are of normal height. The eldest, Joffrey, is a blatant case of The Caligula however, and it's heavily implied that this is the product of not one, but two generations of inbreeding (Cersei and Jaime's father married his cousin) coming back to bite them
    • In-universe, the Targaryen habit of marrying their sisters is often viewed as having exacerbated the hereditary madness that crops up again and again in the family, producing a series of warped aristocrats including Maegor the Cruel, Aerion Brightflame, Aerys the Mad, and Viserys the Beggar King within the main family line, and equally, if not even more depraved characters like Daemon Blackfyre and Maelys the Monstrous in the bastard Blackfyre branch of the family.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson's short story "Olalla" plays with this. When the soldier protagonist is sent to recuperate with a decayed noble family in Spain, he discovers that the family's isolation has resulted in extensive inbreeding, leaving them all with the same set of recessive traits, most notably flaming red hair, in addition to leaving the son, Felipe, and the unnamed mother, intellectually disabled. The protagonist nevertheless falls in love with the family's beautiful daughter, Olalla, and is pursuing a romance with her when he receives a cut on his hand that prompts the mother to attack him and try to eat him. Olalla sends him away after that, informing him that her family is too damaged for him to become a part of.

Live-Action TV
  • On Supernatural, there have been two different episodes in which the villain ends up being an inbred human.:
    • In the episode The Benders, a clan of hill folk are kidnapping people and hunting them for sport. It is heavily implied that that the younger members are products of incest and likely also engaging in incest with the only female member of the clan.
    • In the episode, Family Remains, a suspected series of ghost murders turns out to have been committed by feral twins born out of the incestuous rape of their mother/sister by their father/ grandfather, which led to the mother/ sister killing herself out of shame and the twins killing the father/ grandfather out of rage. They then hid in the walls of the home to avoid detection but emerged to kill anyone who tried to inhabit the house.
  • Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell from Prison Break and Breakout Kings is a Serial Killer and Serial Rapist who is revealed to be the product of incestuous rape between his father and his father's mentally handicapped sister. It's made pretty clear that T-Bag never really had a chance of being anything other than a villain, with Lloyd noting that "some machines just come off the assembly line broken."

Mythology
  • In many versions of the myth of King Arthur, Mordred is born of a union between Arthur and his half-sister Morgause. Mordred goes on to be an Antagonistic Offspring.

Tabletop Game
  • Hunter: The Vigil: Inbreeding is offered as an explanation for the deformities of both the Freak and Mutant Slasher Undertakings, with the disfigurements either arising from genetic disorders or from the inbreeding reinforcing a supernatural taint in the family.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Ogres are modeled on the Hillbilly Horrors and Cannibal Clan stereotypes, and as such, are not only willing to inbreed, but actively prefer it, marrying as close to the family line as possible, with parent-on-child, sibling-on-sibling and other combinations being a feature of Ogre life and resulting in ever more deformed offspring. Their half-human relatives, the degenerate Ogrekin are just as prone to inbreeding, and entire forests are haunted by families of Ogrekin with minds as twisted as their family trees.
    • The Ogre penchant for inbreeding is inherited from their parent race, the Hill Giants, who while not as fond of it as the Ogres, are still willing to breed within the family, producing some young in the process who look only barely like the standard Hill Giant. Marsh Giants, descended from Hill Giants who fled into the swamps and were reduced to reproducing with boggards, demons, and their own kin, are if anything, even more warped than the Ogres and Ogrekin, with bloodlines sullied by incest, interspecies rape, and demonic taints.
  • Warhammer: Sigvald the Magnificent, the Champion of Slaanesh, was born of a particularly depraved chieftain who ended up bedding his own sister. Sigvald continued in his father's footsteps until he tried to overthrow him, his excesses bringing him to the attention of Slaanesh, and now merrily rapes, tortures and burns his way through the world at the head of his army.

Video Game

Western Animation

Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • October 4, 2017
    KTera
    Cannibal Clans tend to be inbred.
  • October 4, 2017
    Kartoonkid95
  • October 4, 2017
    ZuTheSkunk
    • In Fallout 3, the Point Lookout DLC introduces swampfolk, who are a bunch of hillybilly denizens of the island, considerably mutated and disfigured by a combination of radiation and inbreeding. They're very territorial and invariably hostile to the player.
  • October 4, 2017
    Chabal2
    See also Villainous Incest.

    • Preacher: The Holy Grail is the organization that figuratively collected the blood of Christ... by keeping his descendants safe and making them inbreed to keep the bloodline pure. So while they're not quite evil (just heavily retarded and deformed), the Grail is intent on ruling the world openly by engineering the Second Coming despite already doing so secretly- Allfather D'Aronique forces nearly every world leader to call him every day just to say "Thank you" (for letting me live another day). One of the reasons Starr intends to take command of the Grail is that he alone recognizes that no one will accept a mentally-retarded Man Child as Christ even if his arrival appeared to stop every launched nuke on Earth from detonating.
    • One memorable villain from The Authority was Seth Angus Billy Cletus Bubba Jamie Clement Cowie, a hillbilly given Combo Platter Powers by world governments specifically to take down the Authority (and nearly succeeded, receiving a harem of children as a reward). His birth came about around nine months after his mother was stuck in a cabin with her seven brothers, and after his defeat was transformed into seven chickens and returned to his uncles.
    • Warhammer Fantasy: Sigvald the Magnificent, the Champion of Slaanesh, was born of a particularly depraved chieftain who ended up bedding his own sister. Sigvald continued in his father's footsteps until he tried to overthrow him, his excesses bringing him to the attention of Slaanesh, and now merrily rapes, tortures and burns his way through the world at the head of his army.
    • Averted in Warhammer 40 K in the case of the Navigators, who despite having even more reason to be despised by non-psykers (they're blind, their eyesockets are covered in skin, and they have a third eye that can see into the Warp and kills anything looking into it), are absolutely essential to FTL travel, but the gene that lets them read Warp currents can only be manifested as a result of two Navigators breeding.

  • October 4, 2017
    Synchronicity
    Re: Asoiaf, Jaime, Cersei, and Tyrion's parents were first cousins, so that likely also had a contributing factor.
  • October 4, 2017
    Eievie
    Question for you guys: Do you think that someone who has actual genetic issues and it also evil would be this trope, or not? I originally conceptualized this trope as "someone tries to hammer home a 'don't inbred' aesop and doesn't really heed logic, so the kid is physically healthy but evil". But of course there are examples where they're both deformed and evil. Do you think those should be considered part of this trope or not?
  • October 5, 2017
    mariovsonic999
    Fire Emblem Genealogy Of The Holy War: Julius was born of an incestuous relationship and bear the lineage of the evil dragon Loptyr.
  • October 5, 2017
    NightShade96
    Also in ASOIAF: The Targaryens have become notorious for their practice of marrying their own siblings, and quite a few of them have turned out to be insane, like King Aerys II (known as the Mad King) and Viserys.
  • October 5, 2017
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Call Of Cthulhu. In published adventures, communities of Cthulhu Mythos worshipping cultists are often described as inbred. This is a result of their shunning of the rest of society and a cause of both their degenerate physical state and evil behavior.
  • October 5, 2017
    Arivne

    Zero Context Examples have been marked as such. They need more information to show how they fit the trope, such as how the character(s) is/are inbred and/or evil. Please don't remove the marking unless you add enough context.

    For example, the Kylo Ren example needs to say that Luke and Leia are brother and sister and how Kylo Ren himself is evil.

    Please don't assume that everyone is as familiar with a work as you are.
  • October 5, 2017
    LordGro
    Sorry for playing the grinch, but: Is this really a trope?

    It's completely possible to be "inbred" and not be evil. You can even be heroic. Antigone is the daughter of Oedipus and his own mother Iocaste; she is also a heroine who is so virtuous she rather dies than let her own brother's corpse lie unburied.

    I can think of many mythological characters with incestuous parentage, most of whom are heroic, a few are ambivalent. Modred from King Arthur is the only 'inbred villain' I can think of off the cuff.

    Couldn't "evilness" and "incestuous parentage" simply be independent traits which occasionally coincide?
  • October 5, 2017
    Rytex
    • Harry Potter has Lord Voldemort. while not a product of direct inbreeding (his father is in no way related to his mother), he comes from the Gaunt family, direct descendants of Salazar Slytherin who inbred extra-heavily over the years to maintain their Pureblood status. His relatives from that side of their family are all clearly unhinged and dangerous people, and while he maintains his sanity, he does go very evil in the end.
  • October 5, 2017
    Eievie
    Lord Gro, I see this trope as being a lot like Bastard Bastard, in that in deals with how people think of those born of unsavory unions. Not all bastards are evil—there are enough heroic bastards for it to be a trope of it's own—but that doesn't mean Bastard Bastard isn't a trope.
  • October 6, 2017
    LordGro
    ^ But I'm not convinced that characters born of incestuous relationships are all that analogous to bastards.

    In most of the many, many cases of Surprise Incest, the incestuous parents are treated as tragic victims of circumstance. They may actually be married. Such unconscious inbreeding is usually not a sign of depravity. And indeed the offspring of such "tragic incest" is usually not "evil".

    The Modred example above is still a Zero Context Example; it only says that Modred is an Antagonistic Offspring, but being antagonistic is not synonymous with being evil. But consider that Modred is not only of incestuous birth, but also of illegitimate birth. He is a Bastard Bastard; it is not evident whether his "inbredness" marks him out for evil additionally to his illegitimacy.

    At least, you need to consider the circumstances of the incest that leads to inbreeding. Incest in itself is only "depraved" when one or both of the parents are conscious of it. Indeed all the examples above which are not Zero Context examples imply conscious incest. Which suggests the "evil" is not so much tied to the biological issue of inbreeding, but to the depravity of people who commit incest knowingly, which (in fiction) is naturally passed on to their children.
  • October 6, 2017
    Eievie
    That most of the examples double as Bastard Bastards is a very good point. I think inbred Bastard Bastards might be a subtrope of Bastard Bastard, but if so they're a minor enough one that I'm not sure it warrants a page—Too Rare To Trope.

    I created this trope launch to kind of poke fun at perfectly healthy but evil people born of incest because it seems like a Space Whale Aesop. (We all know there are a several trope pages that poke fun at the trope in question.) Maybe that wasn't such a good idea.
  • October 6, 2017
    IniuriaTalis
    The Fire Emblem example doesn't have a fraction of the context it deserves.

    • In Fire Emblem Genealogy Of The Holy War, Manfroy manipulates Arvis and an amnesiac Deirdre, two unknowing half siblings, into marrying because their family has a blood pact with the evil dragon god Loptyr. Their son Julius has enough concentrated Loptyr blood that Loptyr himself can use him as a vessel, making him a bloodthirsty tyrant.
    • In A Song Of Ice And Fire, it's explained that generations of royal Targaryen inbreeding have made it so that any given member of the family has a roughly 50/50 chance to be insane and murderous, like Daenerys's father Aerys and brother Viserys.
  • October 8, 2017
    ScroogeMacDuck
  • October 28, 2017
    darkemyst
    • Actually rather common in Harry Potter as those who care about their "pure-blood" status have mostly become woefully inbred due to the limited partners it offers them and their caring is a reflection of their Fantastic Racism. The Black family for instance has a long-standing tradition of disowning anyone who doesn't agree with the pure-blood agenda and their family tree shows that not only are they mostly marrying cousins they also have significantly short lifespans when considering wizards in the Harry Potter verse have longer lifespans on average than non-magical folk and can very comfortably survive past 110.
  • October 28, 2017
    zarpaulus
    • In Old Man Logan the Hulk Gang are psychopathic cannibals descended from Bruce Banner and his cousin.
  • October 29, 2017
    randomtroper89
    Fallout 3: The town of Andale. It's nice and peaceful (by Fallout standards, at least) and doesn't seem to be bothered by raiders. The townsfolk are cheerful and friendly, and proudly claim that theirs' is the best town in the US of A (as if the War had never happened). But it turns out that they're all inbred cannibals. With basements and sheds full of bodies and fridges full of 'strange meat'.

  • March 12, 2018
    LavonPapillon1
    Comic Books

  • March 12, 2018
    worldofdrakan
  • March 12, 2018
    worldofdrakan
    Cleaned up the zero-context example for The X Files.
  • March 12, 2018
    AmbarSonofDeshar
    To those trying to dispute this is a trope, it's absolutely a trope—and one I'm surprised we didn't alreayd have. Villainous Incest is about bad guys banging their relatives, and this trope is about the products of those unions. That there's some inbred characters who aren't evil doesn't make it not a trope, any more than Heroic Albino makes Evil Albino not a trope.

    For the question of whether characters who are deformed should be included I'd say yes, absolutely. The inbred Cannibal Clan is a staple of modern horror for a reason. Speaking of which:

    • Hunter The Vigil: Inbreeding is offered as an explanation for the deformities of both the Freak and Mutant Slasher Undertakings, with the disfigurements either arising from genetic disorders or from the inbreeding reinforcing a supernatural taint in the family.

    • Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell from Prison Break and Breakout Kings is a Serial Killer and Serial Rapist who is revealed to be the product of incestuous rape between his father and his father's mentally handicapped sister. It's made pretty clear that T-Bag never really had a chance of being anything other than a villain, with Lloyd noting that "some machines just come off the assembly line broken."
  • March 12, 2018
    AmbarSonofDeshar
    • Wrong Turn features The Mountain Men, a clan of inbred cannibal hillbillies who have become mutant freaks courtesy of isolation and inbreeding.
    • While this was absent from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its sequel, later installments in the franchise declared that Leatherface's oldest brother was also his father, and that most of cannibalistic Sawyer clan were products of Villainous Incest.
  • March 12, 2018
    AmbarSonofDeshar
    • Pathfinder:
      • Ogres are modeled on the Hillbilly Horrors and Cannibal Clan stereotypes, and as such, are not only willing to inbreed, but actively prefer it, marrying as close to the family line as possible, with parent-on-child, sibling-on-sibling and other combinations being a feature of Ogre life and resulting in ever more deformed offspring. Their half-human relatives, the degenerate Ogrekin are just as prone to inbreeding, and entire forests are haunted by families of Ogrekin with minds as twisted as their family trees.
      • The Ogre penchant for inbreeding is inherited from their parent race, the Hill Giants, who while not as fond of it as the Ogres, are still willing to breed within the family, producing some young in the process who look only barely like the standard Hill Giant. Marsh Giants, descended from Hill Giants who fled into the swamps and were reduced to reproducing with boggards, demons, and their own kin, are if anything, even more warped than the Ogres and Ogrekin, with bloodlines sullied by incest, interspecies rape, and demonic taints.
  • March 12, 2018
    AmbarSonofDeshar
    • Robert Louis Stevenson's short story "Olalla" plays with this. When the soldier protagonist is sent to recuperate with a decayed noble family in Spain, he discovers that the family's isolation has resulted in extensive inbreeding, leaving them all with the same set of recessive traits, most notably flaming red hair, in addition to leaving the son, Felipe, and the unnamed mother, intellectually disabled. The protagonist nevertheless falls in love with the family's beautiful daughter, Olalla, and is pursuing a romance with her when he receives a cut on his hand that prompts the mother to attack him and try to eat him. Olalla sends him away after that, informing him that her family is too damaged for him to become a part of.
  • March 13, 2018
    MathsAngelicVersion
    Maybe add Mental Handicap Moral Deficiency to the list of tropes about someone who has actual genetic problems thanks to inbreeding, and is also evil.

    Indexes: Parental Issues, Villains

  • March 13, 2018
    AmbarSonofDeshar
    Question—is the original sponsor still looking after this proposed trope? Because if not I'm happy take over sponsorship and get it up and running.
  • March 14, 2018
    StarSword
    ^According to the page history, the original sponsor was last active on it October 5. That's well past the Up For Grabs threshold.

    Video Games:
    • Inverted in Crusader Kings II. The "Inbred" trait (applied randomly to characters with similar DNA values in their files, which means sometimes it's applied to characters who aren't actually related) tends to make characters less evil, mainly because they have poor stats and tend to die young before doing much. Characters qualifying for the "Divine Blood" mechanic (Zoroastrians and Messalians in the unmodified game, High Valyrians in the Game of Thrones total conversion) are less likely to be Inbred (to balance their religion rewarding incestuous marriages) but more likely to have the "Lunatic" trait, which is portrayed mainly as Funny Schizophrenia.
  • March 13, 2018
    AmbarSonofDeshar
    ^I'll take it over then. It's already got enough hats, so I'll give the description a clarifying rewrite tonight or tomorrow and then launch it.
  • March 13, 2018
    Omeganian
    In The Awakening of a Magus, it is mentioned that the Dementors used to be the followers of a particularly evil wizard born to a pair of twins. The wizard is still their leader..
  • March 13, 2018
    LordGro
    @AmbarSonofDeshar: Given that neither you nor anyone else have actually addressed the points raised by me and by Eievie, we are not yet at the stage where one troper can unilaterally announce "will launch tomorrow".
  • March 13, 2018
    AmbarSonofDeshar
    You haven't made a point. You just kept repeating "there are good inbred people in myth" which is meaningless. There are handicapped people who aren't evil; doesn't invalidate Evil Cripple. There are disfigured people who aren't evil. Doesn't invalidate Red Right Hand. There are enough good illegitimate children and good albinos to have their own tropes. Doesn't invalidate Bastard Bastard and Evil Albino.

    You haven't presented a case that's any stronger than that and you're outvoted fifteen to one. I'm going to clean up the description tonight; we'll see if that satisfies your concerns.
  • March 13, 2018
    Gaon
    The description needs to be reworked, but Ambar is absolutely correct that it is a trope. He and I have discussed privately how it absolutely is a trope how authors use inbreeding to make sure their are mentally or physically deficient in many ways, which is the qualifier you're looking for, Lord Gro: the way the inbreeding is coded (genetically) into their villainy.
  • March 13, 2018
    AmbarSonofDeshar
    Changed the description and added a number of the examples. Far as I'm concerned, this is ready for launch.
  • March 13, 2018
    kjnoren
    The laconic implies a causality (evil is caused by inbreeding) rather than a correlation (inbred people are often depicted as evil).
  • March 14, 2018
    AmbarSonofDeshar
    Can't say it's any worse than lots of other laconic entries; they're normally written from the perspective of the trope, not the reality.
  • March 14, 2018
    kjnoren
    ^ We have lots of extremely poor laconic entries; that doesn't say we shouldn't strive to make good ones (I believe it's one of the endemic problems at TV Tropes is the poor laconics). To me, the job of the laconic is to define the trope.

    And "written from the perspective of the trope" just doesn't make sense.
  • March 14, 2018
    AmbarSonofDeshar
    I'd say this one handily defines the trope: character's inbreeding is used to signify his evil. That said if you want to play around with the laconic I also don't care all that much.

    EDIT: Decided to edit it anyway. Launching.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=be2k86cfwy5rirc97hypfsod