"Caligula preserved his uncle Claudius mainly as a butt for practical jokes."
— The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius (translated by Robert Graves)
We know about the Evil Uncle
. It looks like nephews in these families hav a difficult time.
But don't think that uncles always have it fine. Sometimes they can be the ones who have trouble. This trope is for uncles or aunts who get badly treated, sometimes they are the Butt Monkey
, and sometimes they are subject to avunculicide, the act of killing an uncle.
This can happen when the nephew is the one who succeeds to power and the uncle is still a member of court, but his nephew may treat the uncle poorly.
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Mythology and Folklore
- Apparently the last ruler of the Shang Dynasty, Zhou Xin, was like this. When his Uncle Prince Bi Ghan criticised him he had Bi Ghan's heart cut out as sages were supposed to have seven openings to the heart and he wanted to check this. His other Uncle Ji Zi feigned madness and was imprisoned.
- Then with King Arthur, there is his evil nephew and son Mordred, illegitimate son of Arthur's half-sister Morgause or half-sister Morgana. Mordred would kill Arthur in battle as Arthur killed him.
- In Action Comics #293 Prince Endor is nearly overthrown by his nephew, Lord Nomed.
- Played with in A Song of Ice and Fire, where Joffrey Baratheon, an entitled Royal Brat treats all three of his uncles Tyrion, Stannis, and Renly poorly. Granted, none of them are paragons of virtue, but they are saintlike compared to Joffrey. What's important, though, is that the public sees Tyrion and Stannis as the Evil Uncles, even though it's the other way around and they are more virtuous than Joffrey comparatively.
- Downplayed in Herodotus' Histories: Artabanus, uncle of Xerxes, criticizes Xerxes' plan to invade Greece, the latter tells him to stay at home with the women and says that if Artabanus wasn't his uncle, he would suffer even more. But by the next day, Xerxes has reconsidered and apologizes.
- King, Queen, Knave by Vladimir Nabokov has Franz intend to murder his uncle; the narrator tells us that later on he will be "guilty of worse sins than avunculicide".
- Happens in How to Train Your Dragon with Stoick, as his nephew Snoutlout has been made Chief while Stoick has become a slave.
- According to The Twelve Cesars, Suetonius' history about the Roman Emperors, Claudius (later to become Emperor himself) was customarily harassed and humiliated by his nephew, the Emperor Caligula.
- According to Heimskringla, the reign of the popular and just King Hakon the Good of Norway was continually under attack by his nephews, the sons of Hakon's brother Erik Bloodaxe. After many failed attempts, the Erikssons finally succeeded in killing Hakon in the Battle of Fitjar, and went on to establish an oppressive and despotic rule over Norway.
- In The Prince, Machiavelli relates how Oliverotto Euffreducci invited his uncle Giovanni Fogliani (who had brought up Oliverotto) and the other prominent people of his city of Fermo to a banquet, where he had them all murdered so he could set up himself as an autocratic sole ruler.
- Often found in mystery genre stories with a nephew who wants to inherit wealthy uncle or aunt's fortune—now. Such series as The Whistler used this plot setup all the time.
Live Action TV
- Two examples from I, Claudius:
- During the rule of Caligula, his uncle Claudius is customarily humiliated by him. Among other acts, Caligula forces him to be the doorman at a brothel, and has him thrown in a river. Caligula also plots the murder of his great-uncle Tiberius, though not actually performing it.
- Later Agrippina, both niece and wife of Claudius, poisons him so her son Nero can become Emperor.
- In God of War III, Kratos kills his uncles Poseidon, Helios and Hades in brutal fashion.
- When Jade Chan in Jackie Chan Adventures becomes queen of the Shadowkhan, she becomes this to her Uncle Jackie.