Created By: Windsong12 on March 31, 2011 Last Edited By: Windsong12 on April 5, 2011
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Legacy of Service

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Blackadder: You're fired.
Baldrick: But my lord, I've been in your family since 1532!
Blackadder: So has syphilis, now get out.

Sometimes, there are servants who do get very attached to the master family. So much that their children follow in their footsteps and continue serving the family's descendants. Hence the reason why there are servants who come from a very long line of faithfully serving their masters.

Common in anime and manga, since 'servant families' were common in Feudal Japan - some of those relationships remain today, if only symbolically, and often pop up to be played for drama, action or romance.

Such servants are very likely to stick with the master should they ever become an Impoverished Patrician, like the Old Retainer. The servants can take any form, be it a Maid, a Butler, The Igor, or the housekeeper. Keep in mind, of course, that the trope need not extend merely to servants, and that anything from lawyers or flower girls can be subject to this, too.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Kaze no Stigma, where the first Arc is powered by the rebellion of a family of wind-ninjas who have been serving the Kannagi Clan for centuries, and have finally gotten tired of it.
  • Ouran High School Host Club: Mori is the son of a family that has served Honey-chan's family since the Warring States Era, and despite the relationship being officially dissolved, he continues to serve and protect Honey-chan with supreme loyalty.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh: The Ishtar family has been serving the Pharaoh for thousands of years, most of that living in an underground labyrinth protecting his tomb. Resentment over this is a huge part of what fuels Marik's Start Of Darkness.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ling's bodyguards Lan Fan and Fu come from a family that has served the Royal Family for a long time.
  • The Bakers have served the Burtons for centuries in Madlax.

Comics
  • The original story for Bruce Wayne's butler, Alfred Pennyworth, whose father, Jarvis, had been Thomas Wayne's butler. This particular version of Alfred was canon until Frank Miller's Batman:Year One, which established that Alfred had himself been Thomas Wayne's butler/valet, and had worked for the Wayne family since before Thomas and Martha Wayne were killed.

Film
  • Young Frankenstein: "My father worked for your father." --Igor
  • In Forrest Gump, Bubba's family has apparently been in service for at least a century. The montage which shows different generations serving seems to imply that they are serving different generations of the same family. In this case, it's treated as a bad thing, since their service originated during the time of slavery.

Literature

  • The Butler family in Artemis Fowl has been serving the Fowl family for a long time (the earliest recorded relationship between the two families dates back to the Third Crusade).
  • Afanasiy Zyukin from The Coronation is a butler in the third (I think) generation.
  • Thomas' family in The Infernal Devices is a long line of people with a touch of the Sight, which enables them to serve the Nephilim.
  • Kitty Goes to Washington features a family that has served a female vampire for centuries. It turns out they are all descended from the two children she had before she became a vampire.
  • From The Hound of the Baskervilles, John Barrymore, whose family has served the Baskervilles for generations.
  • In the Liaden Universe, the family firm of dea'Gauss have served as attorneys to Clan Korval through many generations. One of the prequels reveals that it was a dea'Gauss who did the paperwork for the founding of the Clan, centuries ago, and Korval has had them on retainer ever since.
  • The Stewards of Gondor, sort of. Being a family tasked over to watch over the throne in absence of a king, they had been waiting for the Return of the King and should have recognized Aragorn as the rightful King of Men, but Denethor has other ideas.
  • The Brands of David Eddings' Belgariad are hereditary servants to the Kings of Riva, serving as a sort of chancellor - handling the day-to-day drudge while the king makes the big decisions. So dedicated are they to their duty that upon assumign office, they abandon whatever name they had before, becoming known simply as 'Brand' (which was the name of the first one to hold the office). Similar to the Lord of the Rings example, they've spend a long time taking care of Riva and its throne while waiting for the return of the true king, but once he DOES show up, they never falter, and continue to serve faithfully. (With one notable, but quickly-corrected exception.)

Live Action TV
  • A Blackadder always seems to end up with a Baldrick as a servant or something or other regardless of his status. What's interesting about this is that we actually see the bond being formed in the first episode, something we don't usually see in other examples of this trope.
  • On The Nanny, Niles' father was the butler for Maxwell Sheffield's family before Niles himself became Maxwell's butler.

Webcomics

  • Girl Genius featured two such families:
    • Violetta is a member of a family of Smoke Knights who have served Tarvek Sturmvoraus's family for generations (her family being a somewhat lower-ranking branch of his).
    • The Von Mekkhan family has been serving the Heterodynes for generations as their Senechals, essentially family retainers who help maintain the Castle.
Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • March 31, 2011
    whereismytea
    My memory is pretty fuzzy since it's been years since I read this, but I think that Butler of Artemis Fowl is from one of these. His sister Juliet was able to take over for him when he was incapacitated once.
  • April 1, 2011
    Koveras
    ^ Yes, the Butler family has served Fowls for at least a couple of generations.

    • Afanasiy Zyukin from The Coronation is a butler in the third (I think) generation.
  • April 1, 2011
    Bisected8
    In Blackadder, he always ends up with a Baldrick as a personal assistant of some sort regardless of his status.
  • April 1, 2011
    AFP
    • Girl Genius features at least two such families.
      • Violetta is a member of a family of Smoke Knights who have served Tarvek Sturmvoraus's family for generations (her family being a somewhat lower-ranking branch of his).
      • The Von Mekkhan family has been serving the Heterodynes for generations as their Senechals, essentially family retainers who help maintain the Castle.
  • April 1, 2011
    yogyog
    In Young Frankonstien:

    "My father worked for your father" says Egor (now pronounced Igor)

  • April 1, 2011
    Koveras
    Can you please fix The Coronation link? FYI, you can click on the "pencil" button next to someone else's post to copy the complete markup, then click on it again to leave the message unchanged. Why do you think did I go to all the trouble formatting that example?
  • April 1, 2011
    Windsong12
    @Koveras I'm sorry, I was in a hurry and didn't notice it. :|

    Any new name suggestions?
  • April 1, 2011
    Premonition45
    On The Nanny, Niles' father was the butler for Maxwell Sheffield's family before Niles himself became Maxwell's butler.
  • April 1, 2011
    Koveras
    Oh. Sorry if I sounded harsh. -__-
  • April 1, 2011
    BlackDragon
    Clarification on Artemis Fowl example: The Butlers have served the Fowls for much, much more than 'a couple of generations'. The earliest record of the relationship between the two families dates back to the time of the Third Crusade - over 800 years ago.

    Anyway... this pops up quite frequently in anime, since 'servant families' were common in feudal japan - some of those relationships remain today, if only symbolically, and often pop up to be played for drama, action or romance. Two examples I can think of offhand...

    Kaze No Stigma, where the first Arc is powered by the rebellion of a family of wind-ninjas who have been serving the Kannagi Clan for centuries, and have finally gotten tired of it.

    Ouran High School Host Club. Mori is the son of a family that has served Honey-chan's family since the Warring States Era, and despite the relationship being officially dissolved, he continues to serve and protect Honey-chan with supreme loyalty.
  • April 1, 2011
    JoeG
    • Kitty Goes to Washington features a family that has served a female vampire for centuries. It turns out they are all descended from the two children she had before she became a vampire.
  • April 1, 2011
    Gray64
    You might consider calling this "A Legacy of Service" or "A Tradition of Service" or some such. Another example might be the original story for Bruce Wayne's butler, Alfred Pennyworth, whose father, Jarvis, had been Thomas Wayne's butler. This particular version of Alfred was canon until Frank Miller's Batman:Year One, which established that Alfred had himself been Thomas Wayne's butler/valet, and had worked for the Wayne family since before Thomas and Martha Wayne were killed.
  • April 1, 2011
    StarryEyed
    • Yu-Gi-Oh: The Ishtar family has been serving the Pharaoh for thousands of years, most of that living in an underground labyrinth protecting his tomb. Resentment over this is a huge part of what fuels Marik's Start Of Darkness.
  • April 2, 2011
    Windsong12
    Added examples such as Ling and Fu from Fullmetal Alchemist.

    @Gray64: I like your title suggestions.
  • April 2, 2011
    randomsurfer
    A note on the Blackadder example: we actually see the familial bond being formed in the first episode, which we don't usually see in examples of this trope.

    In some versions of the Batman mythos, Alfred's family has been service the Wayne family for generations.
  • April 2, 2011
    PaulA
    In the Liaden Universe, the family firm of dea'Gauss have served as attorneys to Clan Korval through many generations. One of the prequels reveals that it was a dea'Gauss who did the paperwork for the founding of the Clan, centuries ago, and Korval has had them on retainer ever since.
  • April 2, 2011
    DaibhidC
    Possible page quote:
    Blackadder: You're fired.
    Baldrick: But my lord, I've been in your family since 1532!
    Blackadder: So has syphills, now get out.
  • April 3, 2011
    TTurtle
    In Forrest Gump, Bubba's family has apparently been in service for at least a century. The montage which shows different generations serving seems to imply that they are serving different generations of the same family. In this case, it's treated as a bad thing, since their service originated during the time of slavery.
  • April 3, 2011
    cocoy0
    Are the Stewards of Gondor a type of this in a larger scale? They had been waiting for the Returnofthe King and should have recognized Aragorn as the rightful King of Men, but Denethor has other ideas.
  • April 3, 2011
    Windsong12
    ^Possibly. The King of Man thing is kinda hereditary after all, as is being the Steward. And "watching over the throne" could be considered "service".
  • April 5, 2011
    BlackDragon
    If so, then this counts too: The Brands of David Eddings' Belgariad are hereditary servants to the Kings of Riva, serving as a sort of chancelor - handling the day-to-day drudge while the king makes the big decissions. So dedicated are they to their duty that upon assumign office, they abandon whatever name they had before, becomming known simply as 'Brand' (which was the name of the first one to hold the office). Similar to the Lord Of The Rings example, they've spend a long time taking care of Riva and its throne while waiting for the return of the true king, but once he DOES show up, they never falter, and continue to serve faithfully. (With one noteable, but quickly-corrected exception.)
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