[[caption-width-right:350:[[EyeScream No eyes]], [[Series/{{Dexter}} motherfucker]].]]

->''There once lived a man named Oedipus Rex\\
You may have heard about his odd complex.\\
His name appears in Freud's index\\
'Cause he... ''loved'' his mother...''
-->-- "Oedipus Rex", ''Music/AnEveningWastedWithTomLehrer''

''Oedipus the King'', also known as ''Oedipus Tyrannus'' or ''Oedipus Rex'', is the first in a series of three plays by the Greek tragedian Creator/{{Sophocles}}. The play tells of the downfall of the king Oedipus from his lofty position, due to {{hubris}} ({{pride}}), which seems to be the leading cause of death, despair, and destruction in Thebes.

The play opens with a terrible plague ravaging Oedipus' kingdom of Thebes. Creon, the Queen's brother, returns from the oracle at Delphi with news that the plague will not be lifted until the true murderer of the old King is found. The blind prophet Tiresias warns Oedipus that he really ''really'' does not want to know who the true cause of the plague is. However, Oedipus is driven by both [[HonorBeforeReason honor]] and a dedication to his people to root out the cause of this evil. It turns out [[TomatoInTheMirror Oedipus himself]] is the cause of the plague. The reasons behind it are long and complicated.

When Oedipus was born, the sole prince of Thebes, it was foretold he would kill his father and marry his mother. His father orders his son to be left in the wilderness to die. [[WhyDontYouJustShootHim This does not work.]] Oedipus ends up being adopted by another pair of royals who fail to tell him that they are not his birth parents. Oedipus eventually gets wind of the prophecy from his birth and [[{{Irony}} leaves home to avoid that fate]].

He ends up heading back towards his birth kingdom to solve the RiddleOfTheSphinx. On the way he unknowingly encounters his father, who, for lack of a better term, cuts Oedipus off in traffic. Words are exchanged and by the end of it Oedipus' real father is dead by his hand. Continuing on his way, he passes by Thebes, which is "guarded" by a vicious Sphinx, who won't let anyone in or out of the city unless they can solve her Riddle. Oedipus solves the Riddle, freeing his birth kingdom from the beast. In gratitude, the people make him king and he unknowingly marries their Queen, his mother. [[ParentalIncest And has children with her.]] It is this state of affairs, his father's blood on his hands and his, erm, relationship with his mother, that has thrown things out of whack in Thebes.

Oedipus' wife/mother figures things out shortly before he does and hangs herself. Upon finding her body, Oedipus [[EyeScream gouges his eyes out with her brooches]]. Now a completely broken man, Oedipus goes into exile.

The other two plays are ''Theatre/OedipusAtColonus'' and ''Theatre/{{Antigone}}''. Fragments of another play, ''Theatre/TheProgeny'', were discovered in 2005. ''The Progeny'' was about the Seven Against Thebes.

''Oedipus Rex'' redirects here. If you're looking for the character archetype that this play named, it's OedipusComplex.
!!This play contains examples of:

* AbdicateTheThrone: Oedipus, of course.
* AntiHero: Oedipus comes across as one nowadays, thought might not have at the [[ValuesDissonance time of the play's writing]].
* AtTheCrossroads: Oedipus has an encounter at a crossroads that ends violently.
* AwfulTruth: Guess.
* BlindSeer: Tiresias. And like most prophets, nobody listens to him until it's too late (though according to him it's been too late for some time, something quite a few people forget, including Oedipus in the final scene).
* BreakTheHaughty: In spades. Oedipus goes from a strong and beloved king renowned for his insight to a blinded shell of his former self in the course of a single day.
* ButForMeItWasTuesday: Deconstructed. Oedipus was horrified to find out that the man he killed AtTheCrossroads is none other than his father.
* CosmicPlaything: Oedipus himself. The whole mess happened simply for the fact that the [[SelfFulfillingProphecy prophecy said it would]]. If no one had heard it, no one would have attempted to avert it, and thus the events that led to it might never have happened in the first place.
* TheCreon: Creon himself is the TropeNamer. He actually outright describes himself as the [[Laconic/TheCreon second-in-command who is content with his position]], in a conversation with Oedipus himself - making him the de-facto UrExample.
* DownerEnding: Well what did you expect in a tragedy? [[WesternAnimation/WhatsOperaDoc A happy ending]]?
* DramaticIrony: Oedipus vows to track down Laius' killer... but the audience knows perfectly well that he is the killer, even though Oedipus himself does not.
** The play's dialogue is filled to the brim with this.
-->'''Oedipus:''' ''(referring to Laius)'' So I will fight for him as if he were my father...
* DrivenToSuicide: Jocasta commits suicide when she realizes what has happened.
* ExplainExplainOhCrap: Rather natural when dealing with a plot like this. A little more tragic than most examples.
* EyeScream: A brooch pin to the eye cannot feel good.
** BrainBleach: What the act was probably supposed to be. Sadly, water from Lethe wasn't available.
* GreekChorus: A staple of Athenian theatre.
* InMediasRes: The play starts at the beginning of the end (Oedipus's final day as king, unbeknownst to him), showing a single day in his life and in that day his whole life is revealed via backstory.
* LargeHam: Like most Greek theater, Oedipus is acted in this style. Later versions, such as the 1967 version, act it more realistically, but the 1957 version [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDndS5N9tes goes all out with its depiction of the style.]]
* MysticalPlague: Oedipus's actions (killing his father, marrying his mother) unknowingly brought blight and plague ("miasma") to his people. Crops did not grow, stock animals died off, and women suffered from infertility, all because Oedipus's actions went against classical concepts of morality.
* OedipusComplex: TropeNamer: Freud named his (in)famous complex after him because his murder of his father and marriage to his mother were both outside his conscious awareness. Of course, the play isn't actually an example of this, considering that Oedipus could not have been around his parents for more than a day or two as a child.
** Interestingly, Jocasta at one point comments that it's not especially unusual for people to have dreams of sleeping with their mothers, meaning the trope itself is OlderThanTheyThink.
* OlderThanTheyLook: At least one story mentions that Jocasta has a magic girdle that keeps her looking young and beautiful, rather than seeming her true age. Definitely helps explain why Oedipus never caught on to the idea that maybe she was his mother.
* ParentalIncest: Oedipus' wife is his mother and all his children are also his half-siblings.
* {{Patricide}}: A classic example.
* PoorCommunicationKills: All of this might have been avoided if Oedipus' adopted parents ''had just told him he was adopted in the first place.'' Perhaps a JustifiedTrope, though, since in those days being of uncertain descent could cause no end of problems for a person in a prominent position (although probably not nearly as much trouble as he ended up in anyway).
* {{Pride}}: Couldn't have a Greek tragedy without some hubris.
* PropheciesAreAlwaysRight: Unfortunately for Oedipus.
* ReverseWhodunnit: Could be considered the UrExample from a certain perspective.
* RiddlingSphinx: TropeMaker.
** RiddleOfTheSphinx
* ScrewDestiny: Subverted. Oedipus tried this, but in Ancient Greece, ''destiny screws you''.
* SelfFulfillingProphecy: Perhaps one of the oldest and best known examples. Trying to prevent the prophecy that their son will kill his father and marry his mother, Laios and Jocasta order that he be abandoned in the wild. But the baby is saved, and he not knowing his parents (nor they knowing him) is, of course, the set-up that makes the prophecy actually come true. Oedipus, unaware that he is adopted, visits an oracle and is told that he will kill his father. He immediately flees from his parents so that he can't possibly kill his (adopted) father... and runs into Laios on the road where they get into a fight...
* SurpriseIncest: Oedipus and Jocasta don't find out about their relationship until after raising a family together.
* SymbolicMutilation: Oedipus didn't realise what was going on and when he does...(See EyeScream above.)
* TemptingFate: Rarely is it more literal than here; after hearing that the man he's always believed to be his birth-father is dead of natural causes, Oedipus begins crowing that he's beaten the prophecy and ''specifically'' mocking Apollo, for whom prophecy was a domain. His ultimate fate might have been less hideous had he not done so. Fate is one thing, but there are ways to conduct yourself when meeting it.
* TomatoInTheMirror: Oedipus finds out ''he'' is the most evil character in the narrative.
* TortureAlwaysWorks: When the shepherd who found the abandoned infant Oedipus and gave him to Polybus, is brought to Oedipus and refuses to talk, Oedipus orders his guards to twist his arm behind his back until he does. Later, he threatens to have the man killed when he hesitates again. What he tells him finally leads Oedipus to be the last one to figure out who his real parents were, and are.
* {{Tragedy}}
* ATragedyOfImpulsiveness: Prior to becoming a king in Thebes, the eponymous character kills (unbeknownst to him) his father for basically cutting him off at the crossroads (and being a complete {{Jerkass}} about it). He marries his mother, completing the other half of the famous complex, at leisure though.
* YouCantFightFate: Despite his best intentions, Oedipus ends up fulfilling the terms of his prophecy.
* YouDoNotWantToKnow: Once ''everyone'' has figured the truth out but Oedipus, and even before, they start bombing him with this.
->''So be sweet and kind to mother, now and then have a chat\\
Buy her candy or some flowers or a brand new hat\\
But maybe you had better let it go at that\\
Or you may find yourself with a quite complex complex\\
And you may end up like Oedipus\\
I'd rather marry a duck-billed platypus\\
Then end up like ol' Oedipus Rex!''