Created By: Bluman08 on November 18, 2017 Last Edited By: AHI-3000 on December 26, 2017
Troped

Insanely International Ancestry

A character has ancestors that have lived across the world.

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trope
This trope is when a character is shown to have many, many ancestors that lived in various parts of the world, sometimes in different eras or time periods. This can sometimes be reasonable (Bob has ancestors that lived in Revolution-era France, Victorian Britain, and Roaring Twenties Chicago), or downright ridiculous (Bob also has ancestors from Imperial China, Reconquista-era Spain, pre-colonial Hawaii, etc).

While this trope could just be a fun little detail, it could become a plot point for multiple reasons. The ancestors could have learned special skills passed down through the family, either genetically or through lessons, such as area specific combat skills or language, or have allies that support their family to this day. A current member of the family could be inspired by their family history to try and do good in the world (especially if they happen to be related to someone historically famous.) If the story involves Time Travel, the current member of the family could go back and meet his ancestors.

Note: For examples of this trope to count, a character's ancestry should be exaggerated a bit, with approximately 3 to 4 nationalities and/or cultures in a character's background.This is of course a sub-trope of Mixed Ancestry. Can be related to Heroic Lineage if the ancestors were each awesome in some way, Cast of Snowflakes if each ancestor had a unique look, or Really Gets Around if some of the ancestors were all the offspring of the same person. Compare Multinational Team for a non-family version. Might justify a Multiethnic Name.

Examples:

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     Comic Books 
  • Inverted in the comic 7Brothers, which features eight protagonists of just about every ethnicity (European, Asian, Native American, African-American, etc.) all with a common Chinese ancestor: when an Evil Sorcerer went around the world on the treasure fleets, his apprentice seduced the local women as often as he could, leaving them with a child whose descendants his spirit could talk to and help to take down the sorcerer once he escaped his imprisonment.
  • By force of Continuity Drift and Depending on the Writer, Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge's ancestors include two Egyptian pharaohs, various Ancient Roman characters, Native Americans, French noblemen, Italian merchants, Spanish Conquistadors, the Scottish McDuck clan, and more. In the 1970's, a special comic arc that ran over twelve issues in Italy attempted to Justify it by showing how the family line had moved across the world for various reasons, but later writers couldn't keep that timeline straight and by now it raises more questions than it answers note 
  • In the comic book series The Crogan Adventures, a dad often tells his two sons stories about their ancestors, including a pirate, a French Legionnaire, and two brothers on opposite sides of the Revolutionary War.
  • Achille Talon has a similar set-up to the Crogan example, with Talon's ancestors all being spoofs of various historical figure, from a Roman legionnaire to a Christopher Columbus knockoff.

    Live-Action Television 
  • In F Troop, Corporal Agarn seems to have family from all over the world. Those that appeared on the show included a French-Canadian, a Russian and a Mexican.

     Video Games 
  • Desmond Miles, the modern-day protagonist of the first three Assassin's Creed games, has as ancestors a Levantine Arab member of the Hashashin in Altair ibn La-Ahad in Assassin's Creed I, an Italian nobleman in Ezio Auditore in the Assassin's Creed II trilogy, a half-Iroquois/half-British hunter alternately named Connor Kenway or Ratonhnhaketon in Assassin's Creed III, and Connor in turn is descended from the famed Welsh pirate Edward Kenway in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.
  • Sly Cooper shows that Sly's ancestors lived in Feudal Japan, Ancient Egypt, 13th century England, Ancient Arabia, the Wild West, etc, and even go as far back as the Ice Age.
  • inverted in Power Instinct series, since the major family from the series, the Goketsuji, are from Japan. For a tournament in which the fighters have to get some heritage from the family as exclusive requirement to enter, there're characters from USA (Keith Wayne, White Buffalo), England (Annie Hamilton), Italy (Angela Belti) and even Arabia (Sahad Asran Ryuto) apart of Japan.

     Webcomics 
  • El Goonish Shive: Ashley has ancestry from across the Orient, except for Japan.

     Western Animation 
  • Goofy: Something especially notable in his comics incarnations is that Goofy has a ridiculously old and spread-out family tree. In almost any given situation where history is brought up, he'll offhandedly mention having a great-great-great-great-grandfather or -uncle from the period and region in question and pop up to his enormous and cluttered attic to fish out yet another centuries-old souvenir that his family stashed there. This eventually got to be something of a classic Running Gag with him. It was eventually deliberately exaggerated in the Italian comic series Goofy's Great-grand-ancestors (I Bis-bis di Pippo), which focused on following en extensive series of Goofy lookalikes through 1800's Paris, Columbus' ships on the way to the Americas, the European Middle Ages, Ancient Rome, China, Greece and Egypt, Babylon, the Stone Age, and eventually culminating in a Precambrian single-celled lifeform that already had Goofy's distinctive ears.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Pinkie Pie and Applejack both have families that span over the Equestrian continent. The Apples have even founded another town: Appleoosa. So widespread are both families that Pinkie might be a legitimate cousin to the apples. As of S7, the Pears are another branch of the Apple clan by marriage. And they're in the equivalent to Canada. This has been used to get help from relatives, learn how different families do things, and as a framing device for other stories.

    Other 

Indexes:


Sub-pages:

    Laconic 
A character has ancestors that have lived across the world.

    Playing With 
Basic Trope: A character has ancestors that have lived across the world.
  • Straight: Bob finds that he has ancestors from Japan, Russia, and Ireland.
  • Exaggerated: Bob has at least one ancestor in every country that has ever existed.
  • Downplayed: Bob's ancestors come from countries in the same region or continent.
  • Justified: Bob's family was part of a group of nomads, and some settled down in some places.
  • Inverted: Bob has descendants that were born and raised in different countries
  • Subverted: Bob lives in the country his family was born in, and no known ancestors were born outside of it.
  • Double Subverted: ...Until he discovers a few forgotten family members born in other countries.
  • Parodied: ???
  • Zig Zagged: Every other generation of Bob's family has been born in a different place.
  • Averted: Bob's family had a few people in different countries, before most of them settled down in one country.
  • Enforced: ???
  • Lampshaded: Bob wonders how his family could have been from so many different countries.
  • Invoked: ???
  • Exploited: ???
  • Defied: ???
  • Discussed: Bob doesn't know his family background, and fantasizes about his many hypothetical ancestors whom he imagines as having lived in various exotic locations through History.
  • Conversed: "Dang, you really have a lot of cultures in your background, huh?"
  • Implied: ???
  • Deconstructed: ???
  • Reconstructed: ???
  • Played for Laughs: ???
  • Played for Drama: ???
Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • November 18, 2017
    Malady
    Webcomic.El Goonish Shive: Ashley has ancestry from across the Orient, except for Japan.
  • November 18, 2017
    Basara-kun
    Video Games:
    • inverted in Power Instinct series, since the major family from the series, the Goketsuji, are from Japan. For a tournament in which the fighters have to get some heritage from the family as exclusive requirement to enter, there're characters from USA (Keith Wayne, Annie Hamilton, White Buffalo), Italy (Angela Belti) and even Arabia (Sahad Asran Ryuto) apart of Japan.
  • November 18, 2017
    Bluman08
    For those wondering, Here's a little playing with chart I did: Basic Trope: A character has ancestors that have lived across the world.
    • Straight: Bob finds that he has ancestors from Feudal Japan, russia, and Ireland.
    • Exaggerated: Bob has at least one ancestor in every country that has ever existed.
    • Downplayed: Bob's ancestors come from countries in the same region or continent.
    • Justified: Bob's family was part of a group of nomads, and some settled down in some places.
    • Inverted: Bob has descendants that were born and raised in different countries
    • Subverted: Bob lives in the country his family was born in, and no ancestors were born outside of it.
    • Double Subverted: ...Until he discovers a few forgotten family members born in other countries.
    • Zig Zagged: Every other generation of Bob's family has been born in a different place.
    • Averted: B Ob's family had a few people in different countries, before most of them settled down in one country.
    • Enforced: ???
    • Lampshaded: Bob wonders how his family could have been in so many different countries.
    • Invoked: ???
    • Exploited: ???
    • Defied: ???
    • Discussed: ???
    • Conversed: "Dang, you really have a lot of cultures in your background, huh?"
  • November 18, 2017
    ScroogeMacDuck
    Seen It A Million Times! Of course!

    Discussed: (I personally saw that one in some comics) Bob doesn't know his family background, and fantasies about his many hypothetical ancestors whom he imagines as having lived in various exotic locations through History.
  • November 18, 2017
    zarpaulus
    Might justify a Multiethnic Name.
  • November 18, 2017
    DustSnitch
    What's the narrarive significance of this? Without that, it's People Sit On Chairs.
  • November 18, 2017
    Bluman08
    Well, the skills of the ancestors that they learned in that specific country or time could be passed down to the current generation, could inspire the current member of the family to try and live up to their legacy, or just give a character a little background.
  • November 18, 2017
    ScroogeMacDuck
    "What's the narrarive significance of this? Without that, it's People Sit On Chairs." —> While some examples may be "acciental" uses of it akin to People Sit On Chair, there are certainly quite a few examples where an absurdly spread-out family tree is shown and it's clearly the point that it's rather odd and cool.
  • November 18, 2017
    Skylite
    • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Pinkie Pie and Applejack both have families that span over the Equestrian continent. The Apples have even founded another town: Appleoosa. So widespread are both families that Pinkie might be a legitimate cousin to the apples. As of S7, the Pears are another branch of the Apple clan by marriage. And they're in the equivalent to Canada. This has been used to get help from relatives, learn how different families do things, and as a framing device for other stories.
  • November 18, 2017
    Bluman08
    Oh, if anyone has any possible quotes and/or images I could put up, please show me.
  • November 18, 2017
    JesseMB27
    A correction should be made in regard to the Power Instinct entry. Annie Hamilton is actually British not American, though Groove on Fight (the chronologically last installment in the series' timeline) does establish that she and Keith Wayne did marry and have a son (Chris Wayne).
  • November 18, 2017
    Theriocephalus
    • Goofy: Something especially notable in his comics incarnations is that Goofy has a ridiculously old and spread-out family tree. In almost any given situation where history is brought up, he'll offhandedly mention having a great-great-great-great-grandfather or -uncle from the period and region in question and pop up to his enormous and cluttered attic to fish out yet another centuries-old souvenir that his family stashed there. This eventually got to be something of a classic Running Gag with him, to the point that there likely isn't any major area or period left that he doesn't have one or several ancestors in. It was eventually deliberately exaggerated in the Italian comic series Goofy's Great-grand-ancestors (I Bis-bis di Pippo), which focused on following an extensive series of Goofy lookalikes through 1800's Paris, Columbus' ships on the way to the Americas, the European Middle Ages, Ancient Rome, China, Greece and Egypt, Babylon, the Stone Age, and eventually culminating in a Precambrian single-celled lifeform that already had Goofy's distinctive ears.
  • November 18, 2017
    DustSnitch
    If this trope is about ridiculously extended and multinational family trees, then it could be narratively significant. But if it's just blandly stating that a character has ancestors from France and Germany or from several Asian countries, then it really has no importance.
  • November 18, 2017
    Bluman08
    That is what I meant, I'll rewrite it so it makes more sense.
  • November 25, 2017
    AHI-3000
    ^^ I agree, a character's multi-ethnic ancestry should be fairly plot-relevant.
  • November 18, 2017
    Jokubas
    The Sly Cooper example I feel is the best example of how this can be narratively relevant. I wasn't sure until I got to that one, but now I feel like I've Seen It A Million Times. Often times a character having relatives everywhere is an excuse to have some connection no matter where they go, in space or time. A lot of stories like having identical reincarnations of characters regardless of where the characters are from in the modern day. Like how in Yu Gi Oh, almost every character had a distant relative in Ancient Egypt for some reason. That sort of family tree, especially when it includes multiple characters, can be extremely unlikely in real life, but shows up in fiction a lot if they need characters to have a connection to something.
  • November 18, 2017
    Chabal2
    Inverted in the comic 7Brothers, which features eight protagonists of just about every ethnicity (European, Asian, Native American, African-American, etc.) all with a common Chinese ancestor: when an Evil Sorcerer went around the world on the treasure fleets, his apprentice seduced the local women as often as he could, leaving them with a child whose descendants his spirit could talk to and help to take down the sorcerer once he escaped his imprisonment.

  • November 20, 2017
    Bluman08
    Couls someone provide a possible page quote or image?
  • November 21, 2017
    Berrenta
    Unlaunched. Just because there are 5 total hats doesn't mean ready. There were a couple bombs to offset it. Please resolve issues expressed in the comments, then discuss a launch.
  • November 21, 2017
    WaterBlap
    I agree that this does not seem to have narrative significance.
  • November 21, 2017
    Synchronicity
    I can sort of see it for an exaggerated, global version of The Clan, like mentioned above (eg. in The 39 Clues where nearly every famous figure and their mom was descended from the Cahills) or the justification mentioned above, where they have relatives everywhere to provide a connection wherever the cast goes . But just saying "My grandmother is from China and my other grandmother is from Mexico", like examples similar to the El Goonish Shive one doesn't mean much, especially in melting-pot countries where such intermarriage is common.
  • November 22, 2017
    klausbaudelaire
    • Desmond Miles from Assassins Creed descended from a number of Assassin Brotherhood members, the first being Altair, Ezio and Connor to name a few.
  • November 22, 2017
    Theriocephalus
    I agree sticking with examples that either a) deliberately, comically exaggerated — like the exaggerated entry where a character has an ancestor from every nation and civilization in history or close enough — b) tie into the story — as in, every time the story involves a new place or culture there's always the same one or two character/s who seem/s to have ancestry there to provide a link and/or exposition, or c) both. It should need to be something that's deliberately invoked and with some specific narrative use (wether comedy or plot advancement or whatever) to be tropeable.
  • November 22, 2017
    Larkmarn
    Going by the examples, I can see something along the lines of Expansion Pack Ancestry; that is, as the story goes on, more and more extended ancestors are revealed through all sorts of continents and whatnot. This serves to bridge a character's adventures there and/or just show they're an Identical Grandson and have, say, an episode of a cartoon set in Ancient Egypt with the same main character and go "it's totally his greatgreatgreatgreatgreatgreat grandpappy."
  • November 24, 2017
    Bluman08
    I did edit it to include a few reasons on how it could be plot relevant, but it doesn't have to be. It could just be a fun little detail.
  • November 24, 2017
    AmourMitts
    Should we allow real life examples, or just make this In Universe Examples Only?
  • November 24, 2017
    Theriocephalus
    ^^ In regards to that, it could definitely work as a something used for comedy or some quick humor — not everything has to have some deep metatextual purpose; Comedy Tropes is an index for a reason. Just as long as it's not something from real life that just happens to be in a work — and in that regard, I would expect sticking to the more exaggerated side of this should take care of this issue fine.
  • December 1, 2017
    Prime32
  • December 1, 2017
    sgamer82
    • Jotaro Kujo and, by extension, his daughter Jolyne of Jojos Bizarre Adventure have a at least three countries' worth of ancestors, though this fact never factors into the story in a way that affects the plot. Jotaro has Japanese ancestry on his father's side, while his mother was half-British, half-Italian. Jolyne has all that and a mother said to be Italian-American.
  • December 2, 2017
    Bluman08
    Can anyone provide a good page quote or image?
  • December 10, 2017
    StarSword
    Better Assassin's Creed example:
  • December 19, 2017
    DustSnitch
    I'd recommend changing "fun little detail" to "one-off joke" in the description. "Fun" can be taken objectively and "detail" can invite People Sit On Chairs examples, which is why I recommend changing the sentence.

    In terms of a page quote, I'm certain there's a decent one from Assassin's Creed somewhere. I'll find it at some point.
  • December 19, 2017
    Jokubas
    The concept of Identical Grandson has been used in plot relevant ways throughout the Yu Gi Oh franchise to give the characters a connection in different places and times. Even more than the main canon, Yu Gi Oh Forbidden Memories has all of the Japanese main characters have identical ancestors in ancient Egypt. In what is often viewed as a sequel to that game, Yu Gi Oh The Duelists Of The Roses features the same characters' identical ancestors during England's Wars Of The Roses. The relationships between these characters and the plots that they get involved in often dip into Generation Xerox territory as well, giving the mostly Japanese cast an extremely unlikely set of ancestors in both ancient Egypt and Middles Ages England that consistently knew each other and had similar experiences as well.

    Edit: A different version that might be better as an example.

    Yu Gi Oh involves the Japanese main characters having ancestors in ancient Egypt and some of the spin-offs take it further. Yu Gi Oh Forbidden Memories gives all of the main characters Egyptian ancestors, and Yu Gi Oh The Duelists Of The Roses features the same characters' ancestors during England's Wars Of The Roses. Making it even more unlikely is how the ancient characters are part of an Identical Grandson situation, and many of the interactions and plots between ancestors being an example of Generation Xerox.
  • December 19, 2017
    foxley
    In F Troop, Corporal Agarn seems to have family from all over the world. Those that appeared on the show included a French-Canadian, a Russian and a Mexican.
  • December 20, 2017
    LB7979
    Re: This playing with example:

    • Lampshaded: Bob wonders how his family could have been in so many different countries.

    should be reworded to "...how his ancestors are from...", to not confuse it with Walking The Earth and related moving tropes.
  • December 23, 2017
    AHI-3000
    So is this ready for launch?
  • December 26, 2017
    Bluman08
    No, I need five hats more than the amount of discards.
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