Created By: Eievie on October 4, 2017 Last Edited By: Arivne on October 29, 2017

Inbred And Evil

People born of inbreeding are 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 evilness.

If the moral is "don't inbreed," then this makes for a more straight-forward Aesop. Disability is a tricky subject. It's easy to feel sympathy for those with disabilities, and an Inspirationally Disadvantaged story about someone overcoming their limitations doesn't mesh well with an Aesop that this person should never have been born. Thus, it's something of a Space Whale Aesop.

The idea that evil can be In the Blood is already well accepted in tropeland, so perhaps the continuation that evil can be biologically inherited as a recessive genetic disorder might not be so far-fetched.

Those born of incestuous trysts are unlikely to be legitimate heirs, so this often overlaps with Bastard Bastard. Thematically, these tropes are similar in the idea that those born of socially unacceptable unions have poor character. This is a sort of Moral Lamarckism—the moral failings of your forebears express themselves in a taint on your own soul or karmic bank balance.

Often the child of Villainous Incest. If this takes place in the context of a royal family, it probably overlaps with Royal Inbreeding and Royally Screwed Up. If someone does have actual genetic problems thanks to inbreeding, and is also evil, you're probably looking at Evil Cripple or Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery.


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

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. This eldest is The Caligula, though.

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.

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
  • 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

Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • 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'.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=be2k86cfwy5rirc97hypfsod