Betrayal By Offspring

"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child."

The inverse of Parental Betrayal, Betrayal by Offspring is when a parent or parents is betrayed by one or more offspring. Similar to Et Tu, Brute? except the act of betrayal is done by a son or daughter rather than a close friend thereby making it even more painful. Can overlap with instances of Antagonistic Offspring but can also arise in cases where the child and parent had a good relationship before the act of betrayal.

Exactly what type of action constitutes a child's act of betrayal varies. In more overt instances, it can be part of an intrafamily power struggle over control of a kingdom or empire. Here, Betrayal by Offspring is a supertrope of Evil Prince and can result in a Self-Made Orphan if the act involves Patricide and/or Matricide. If this doesn't happen, Offing the Offspring can be the reaction of the betrayed parent. In less violent situations, the intrafamily power struggle and act of betrayal can be over business and/or financial matters. These usually have less bloody outcomes but the emotional wreckage is still high.

On the other hand, the child's act of betrayal does not always have to be unambiguous and outright. In fact, the child could be even trying to do something he or she thinks is the right thing. However, the parent considers it an act of betrayal because it conflicts with his or her religious beliefs, moral convictions, political ideology, cultural values, or family traditions. This, in turn, often leads to a scene where the parent proclaims, "I Have No Son (or Daughter)!" In examples where this trope is Played for Laughs, it also can be over something that's ridiculously minor but the parent reacts as if the child has stabbed him or her in the heart.

The instances of Betrayal by Offspring where the child informs on or turns a parent over to the authorities can be another case of a child following his or her moral conscience. However, it also can be because the child stands to personally gain from the action.

Can come into play with Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter if the daughter undermines her parent's Evil Plan by either her own will or after persuasion from the good guys.


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     Anime And Manga 
  • Flashbacks in Attack on Titan reveal that Zeke Yaeger, Eren's half-brother, sold out his own parents to the Marley as a kid, which ultimately resulted in Grisha, his and Eren's father, coming to Paradis, while Zeke's mother was turned into the Titan who later ate Eren's mom.
  • One Piece:
    • It's not an open betrayal, but 2 of Big Mom's daughters chose to rebel against her in the event of their sister (Pudding)'s wedding. Chiffon supports her husband Bege (one of Big Mom's subordinates)'s plan of assassinating her mom, while Praline follows her own husband Aladdin of the Sun Pirates on leaving the island while their leader, Jimbei, assists Bege and Straw Hat Pirates on the plan.
    • He's an adopted rather than biological son, but Teach's betrayal towards the Whitebeard Pirates (where the crew refers to Whitebeard as their "father") by killing his crewmate Thatch is treated like a son betraying his father, and thus Ace (one of Whitebeard's strongest crew members) takes it upon himself to hunt and punish Teach. Later on, in the Battle of Marineford, Teach - now Blackbeard - assaults the place and kills Whitebeard.
  • Code Geass: This is one of the purpose of Lelouch's rebellion against his father, Emperor Charles, who abandoned him him and his sister in Japan. Then it turns out that his mother, who is actually alive, is in league with his father and they both want to create a world without lies by destroying God and convince their son to join them. Lelouch rejects them both by using the Geass on God which not only thwart their plans but also cause them to disappear into oblivion.
  • Done near the end of Mobile Suit Gundam where Gihren Zabi kills his own father with a Wave Motion Gun when he tries to negotiate peace with the leaders of the Federation. Gihren's victory doesn't last long when his sister Kycilia arrives and kills him for what he did.

    Comic Books 
  • Green Manor: One lord with a gambling problem was murdered by his own son, afraid the family fortune would dwindle away to nothing before he could spend it.
  • Seen in various stories of Young Justice (The '90s version of Teen Titans):
    • In Justice League: World Without Grow-Ups, the Origins Issue of Young Justice, there's Matthew Stuart, a 13yo boy who hates his parents and in general all adult authority. For his birthday, his archeologist father gave him an Atlantean relic from an excavation. Being upset with him and all the adults, he broke up the relic releasing a power that granted his wish of no more adults as well great power as Reality Warper, later known as Bedlam.
    • William Hayes, an Evil Orphan adopted by a good family, but this is one of those case which being evil was in the blood, even almost killing his adoptive father once and threating him and his adoptive mother. By sacrificing her adopted sister to the demon Fuzz (later revealed this girl is actually Secret, one of Young Justice members), William gained powers and converted into the young supervillain Harm, a kind of Deathstroke for the Young Justice group. After the group saved the day, Harm is killed by his own father, but eventually he'll come back.

     Film - Animation 
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, Stoick sees his son Hiccup's befriending a dragon as a betrayal, as the Vikings and dragons have always been fighting each other.

     Film - Live Action 

  • Legacy of the Force has Jacen Solo, aka Darth Caedus, betraying his parents not unlike his film counterpart. He even has them fired on and arrested at one point for what he views as being traitors.
  • Cynthia Twite from the Mortal Engines series, who became so enthralled with the military dictatorship of the Green Storm and sick of her parent's peacenik attitude that she reported them to the secret police as potential Tractionist sympathisers.
  • Children in Nineteen Eighty-Four are encouraged to turn their parents in to the Thought Police for subversive behavior. Parsons is arrested after his daughter (allegedly) hears him whispering "Down with Big Brother" in his sleep.
  • In the first A Song of Ice and Fire novel, A Game of Thrones, Sansa is convinced by Cersei to rat out her father's plans, which leads to his capture and execution.
  • In Taras Bulba, the youngest son of a Cossack leader betrays both his family and his people to the enemy Poles after falling in love with a Polish noblewoman. This leads to his death at his father's hands.

     Live Action Television 
  • On Justified Bo Crowder, his son Boyd and his nephew Johnny are career criminals. After being shot, Boyd has a Heel–Faith Turn where he becomes convinced that he is on a mission from God to stop his father's drug dealing business. Boyd tricks Johnny into helping him destroy a truck full of drug making supplies which puts Bo into series debt to The Cartel. Bo is furious and he gives Boyd a vicious beating, shoots Johnny and murders all of Boyd's followers. Boyd's betrayal forces Bo into desperate action to appease his cartel partners and ultimately gets him killed.
  • Entirely justified in the made-for-TV movie Small Sacrifices, a dramatization of the 1983 attempted triple homicide of Diane Downs's children. At first, the Oregon police sought a vengeful carjacker as the culprit behind three children with gunshot wounds. However, detectives soon pieced together that their mother attempted to eliminate them as obstacles to her seduction of a married man. Karen Downs, mute from the trauma, gave a chilling pantomime in court of a heartless Diane systematically shooting her three children on a lonely farm road, then wounding herself in a Wounded Gazelle Gambit. Guilty on all counts, three life sentences without parole.
  • The plot of The Pinkertons episode "Double Shot" combines this trope with Frame-Up. The villain is a rich kid who really wants to get the family inheritance a little early. He kills his own father, then frames the prostitute his father was seeing. When the Pinkertons realize she's innocent, he kills her to keep her quiet, then frames his own mother.

  • Occurs with depressing frequency in Greek Mythology, not always by accident.
    • One king was fated to be immortal as long as he had a purple lock of hair on his head, which caused the besieging army no end of problems. The king's daughter fell in love with the enemy general and cut off the lock of hair before sneaking out of the presenting it to him. The latter was so horrified at the betrayal that he lifted the siege.
    • When escaping by sea alongside Jason, Medea took her younger brother with them. When her father chased after them, she killed her brother and dismembered him, forcing her father's ship to waste time by fishing the grisly remains for burial.
  • In some versions of the King Arthur myth, Mordred is Arthur's son and nephew (just nephew in older versions), betraying them to usurp his throne.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40K: The Horus Heresy was caused by half of the Emperor's genetically-modified sons falling to Chaos, with Horus and the Emperor duking it out on Horus' flagship. The Emperor held back for a time, but the one act that caused him to realize his son was irredeemable was seeing him mentally flay a non-enhanced soldier standing between the two (in other editions, the soldier was another Space Marine, or a Terminator-armored elite, or even an immortal human posing as a soldier and now revered as the patron saint of Guardsmen). While he struck Horus dead, the Emperor's wounds were too severe, and his quasi-corpse has been on the Golden Throne of Terra ever since.

  • In The Bible, King David's son, Absalom, turned against his father, seized Jerusalem, and drove David beyond the Jordan River. He ruled for years as a regent and as a self-declared king before he was slain by his father's Number Two, Joab, in the Battle of Ephraim Wood. David, despite everything Absalom had done to him, wept for his death afterward.
  • Mark 13:12 considers a child's betrayal of a parent a sign of the end of the world. ("[A]nd children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.")

  • In Fiddler on the Roof, the devoutly Jewish protagonist Tevye considers his beloved daughter Chava's converting from her faith in order to marry a Christian man to be an act of personal betrayal. Of course, it makes sense in the historical context of pre-revolutionary Russia, given the tension in that time and place between Jewish and Christian communities who often violently harassed Jews and eventually forced them out of their homes (which happens in the musical).
  • This trope is a major part of the plot of Shakespeare's King Lear with Lear's daughters, Goneril and Regan, turning against him after unctuously declaring their love at the play's beginning.
    • It is also a part of a subplot where the Earl of Gloucester's scheming illegitimate son, Edmund, betrays his father to the Duke of Cornwall by falsely accusing him of treason.
  • The Lion in Winter: Henry II has to fend off plots against his rule by his sons Richard, Geoffrey, and John.

     Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy XII, as part of his ambitions, Vayne Solidor assassinates his father and pins the deed on the Imperial Senate in order to seize control of the Archadian Empire for himself while removing the greatest political obstacle to his family.
  • Starcraft II: In the first game, Arcturus Mengsk's son Valerian takes half the Dominion fleet with him to what is by all accounts a suicidal mission on Char, but succeeds in de-Zerging Kerrigan. In the second game, Mengsk does not hesitate to have his ships open fire on his son's because Kerrigan is onboard. Valerian later admits that he realizes his father is beyond redemption (having sacrificed a world to the Zerg to become emperor), and is determined to be a better man and ruler, openly siding with Kerrigan.
  • Warcraft III: After falling completely under the Lich King's control, Arthas returns to Lordaeron and murders his father, unleashing the Scourge on the kingdom.
  • Pokémon Sun and Moon: Lusamine declares herself betrayed and disowns her children when they refuse to go along with her plans and even take measures to stop her from putting them into action.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, at the end of chapter 1 of Knights of the Fallen Empire, Arcann either (depending on player choice) frees the player character and gives them the opportunity to kill his father Valkorion, or kills Valkorion himself.

     Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Public opinion in the Fire Nation sees Prince Zuko as this for siding with the Avatar he was supposed to hunt down. Even his scar is proof of his disobedience, given to him by Ozai when Zuko spoke against him.
  • In the DC Animated Universe, both of Darkseid's children, Orion (his trueborn child) and Scott Free (his adopted child) turn against him (the former was raised by Highfather, Darkseid's greatest enemy, and the latter was tortured by Granny Goodness in an attempt to make him loyal to Darkseid).
  • On Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Ludo locks his entire family out of their ancestral castle while they were on vacation. Seeing as he was neglected by his parents for being the runt in a large family, his betrayal is somewhat justified.

     Real Life 
  • The example from Nineteen Eighty-Four about children being encouraged by the government to turn in their parent for subversive behavior is what actually happened in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
  • Actually as far as the USSR is concerned, this is propaganda; what really happened was, after a case where a child who told his teacher that his father and uncle were sexually abusing him was told to stop telling lies, and was subsequently murdered by his abusers, Stalin issued a decree that any child that made allegations of abuse was at least to be given the benefit of the doubt and the allegations fully investigated; this was given an unfavourable spin by anti-Soviet propagandists in the West.
  • Child Soldiers are usually trained to be human weapons since early age to fight in war or for being someone's personal army. In various cases around the world, one of the most known "baptisms of fire" is to shoot and kill their own parents without hesitation nor remorse.