This is a work that traces the evolution of a single family through multiple (usually three) generations, covering a long enough period of time that you get to see more than one generation at the same age or stage of life. Often it follows the pattern of Three Successful Generations:
- The first-generation protagonist is someone who has begun with a "fresh slate" (for instance, an immigrant to a new homeland).
- The second-generation protagonist builds on the first's foundations and establishes the family's position in the new world (The daughter who becomes entirely assimilated in the host culture and goes on to have a successful career).
- The third-generation protagonist reaps the benefits as a full-fledged member of society. (The grandson who ends up learning to appreciate their ancestral heritage).
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- Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure is probably one of the oldest and most notable examples of this trope in manga history. It follows generation after generation of the Joestar family starting all the way back in 1880 with nobleman Johnathan Joestar. Part II follows his grandson Joseph Joestar in 1938. Part III follows his grandson Jotaro Kujo in 1988, followed by Part IV with Joseph's illegitimate son Josuke Higashikata in 1999. Then Part V with Giorno Giovanna (who is related to the family through VERY complicated circumstances) in 2001. And finally Part VI with Jotaro's daughter Jolyne Cujoh in 2011. Then things get complicated...
- Dragon Ball starts off as the adventures of a very strong, monkey-tailed little boy named Goku. As the series goes on, he and his friends age and have children, and some of those children fight alongside them. The second half of the story puts a significant amount of focus on his son, Gohan, and his development as a hero, and by the end Goku is a grandfather.
- Kinnikuman and its sequel Ultimate Muscle, the latter of which focuses on the main character's son following in his father's footsteps as a wrestler and being trained by the same guy who trained him.
- Baccano!. Although the majority of the cast is immortal, some aren't, and since the story takes place over several decades some of them eventually pass away, and their children (or their children's children) make appearances and play important roles later on in the series.
- The story of Mobile Suit Gundam AGE takes place over the course of a century during a "One Hundred Year War" and follows Flit (grandfather), Asemu (son) and Kio (grandson) Asuno, as each of them participate in said war .
- Downplayed in Mnemosyne: members of the Maeno family are important, but not the main characters throughout the series. Koki is the most prominent male character in the first half, who establishes the family's long-term relationship with the immortals Rin and Mimi. Koki's son Teruki enjoys, unwittingly at first, the many benefits of having immortal friends and eventually goes on to become a successful businessman. Finally, Teruki's daughter Mishio enjoys all the upsides of having a rich dad and being friends with immortals, and ultimately fulfills the Maeno's destiny of saving Rin. In a subversion, it is revealed that the Maeno family goes way further back than Koki, being descended from Rin's millenia-old lover and protector.
- The entire DC Universe and Marvel Universe can be thought of as two great, big generational sagas (especially in regards to team titles like Teen Titans or Justice League of America for the former, and the many X-Men or Avengers titles for the latter).
- Most adaptations of the DCU, Post-Crisis (and even AFTER the New 52 - just to show how iconic the idea has become), make the DCU out to be a THREE Generational Saga: The First Age of Heroes, made up of WWII-era heroes like Jay Garrick (the FIRST Flash), Alan Scott (the first Green Lantern of Earth and the only magic-based GL), Dr. Fate, etc.; the Second Age, being the primary Age of the DCU and featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Barry Allen & then Wally West as the Flashes, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, and Guy Gardner as the Green Lanterns of Earth, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter etc.; and the Third Age, that being of the Nightwing & the Robins, the Titans in all their incarnations, Superboy, Supergirl, etc.
- Hulk comics. Interestingly, generation is a bit of a fluid thing here. The first generation is Bruce Banner, Jen Walters, and their supporting casts, then we get the second generation with Skaar and Lyra, the Hulk's son and daughter, as well as members of the first generation becoming Hulks themselves.
- In the saga of The Metabarons, the entire history of the Metabarons is told from the start of the dynasty to the last Metabaron.
- The french comic book series ''Le Décalogue" follows the history of the book "Nahik" in general, and of the Fleury-Nadal family in particular.
- Les maitres de l'orge follows the lives of a family of belgian brewers, from 1854 to 1997.
Film — Live Action
- The Godfather: The first film features Don Vito Corleone, his four children and several (mostly unnamed) grandchildren.
- The Godfather Part II takes this further with its flashback storyline. Not only do we see the same characters from the first film (including those who are dead), but we also see Vito's mother as well as know her and his father and brother's ultimate fates.
- Legends Of The Fall.
- Bicentennial Man.
- The movie Mi Familia, whose tagline is "Three generations of dreams."
- Star Wars:
- The movies have so far covered the adventures of two generations of the Skywalker family with Anakin/Vader and Luke and Leia (three, if you count the appearances of Shmi Skywalker). Whether The Force Awakens continues this with another generation or not remains to be seen.
- The Expanded Universe acts as a more definitive example. Not only do we have younger generations of the Skywalker bloodline, but also offspring or another sort of relation to many of the supporting characters from the films.
- The movie American Pop covers four generations and their relationship to popular music in America
- Thomas Mann's epic Buddenbrooks, which is also a Roman à Clef about his own family of North German merchants.
- Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides follows this pattern for a family of Greek immigrants to the Detroit area.
- Accelerando by Charles Stross; in this case, the "immigration" that occurs is into The Singularity.
- Roots by Alex Haley is an extended example, going through seven generations, starting in Africa and moving through slavery in America.
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez traces the history of the Buendia family over several generations, from the settlement of their home village to its destruction in a civil war.
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. It only covers the first two generations of four sets of mothers and daughters, but they all follow the pattern.
- The Edge Chronicles revolves primarily around generations of the Verginix family. Only two stories in the series aren't about members of the Verginix family; The Stone Pilot and The Blooding of Rufus Filatine.
- Older Than Print: This is the structure of various Icelandic sagas, which are the Trope Namers. Often these works will feature an extended prologue detailing the main character's Heroic Lineage and the accomplishments of those ancestors, with emphasis on the same sorts of themes and issues that the main character himself will have to work through in the main body of the saga itself. Good examples are Laxdoela Saga, Eyrbyggja Saga, Grettir's Saga and Egil's Saga. These works all date from the 13th century.
- Both London and Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd trace a few families' non-consecutive generations from Stone Age England through to modern times. He's also done it for Russia (Russka) and Ireland (The Dublin Saga), among others.
- James Michener's writing:
- Technically his novel Centennial covers residents going back essentially to the beginning of humanity, but the bulk of the narrative starts in the early nineteenth century. Such diverse characters as Mennonite farmers, French trappers, Arapaho natives, British nobility, and Scottish immigrants eventually combine into the main character set in the present day.
- The Source covers the events at one (fictional) site in the Middle East from 10,000 BCE to 1962.
- Hawaii and Alaska do this one better, the former going back to the creation of Hawaii via volcano over billions of years and the later going all the way back to the beginning of time.
- For The Other Wiki's list of novels like this, see here.
- Sidney Sheldon's Master of the Game follows four generations of one family in detail and also has appearances from an earlier and later one. The significant four generations are headed by, in order: A Scottish man who ventures to late-1800s South Africa to make his fortune in diamonds; his daughter, who devotes her life to making the resultant company even bigger and more powerful; her son, who wants to be an artist instead of her heir; and his Cain and Abel twin daughters. The first and second generations are similar, the third obviously different, and the twins split the difference — one isn't interested in the company, the other most certainly is.
- The Full Matilda discusses four generations of African-American servants living in Washington, DC and their interactions with Matilda. The first generation is Matilda's father Jacob (only partially covered) becoming a servant during the early 20th century, the second generation discusses the Sibling Rivalry between Matilda and her brother when they start a catering company from The Roaring Twenties to The Fifties, the third generation is Martin's sons David and Rodrick (who starts a food distribution company) growing up in The Sixties, and the fourth is Rodrick's biracial son who is Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life during the Turn of the Millennium.
- Warrior Cats. The first series follows Fireheart as he joins the Clan and eventually becomes leader. The second series is from his children's point of view; they consider themselves Clanborn and don't really think much about their non-Clan roots. The third and fourth series are from his grandchildren's point of view, and their kittypet heritage is rarely if ever mentioned.
- Tolkien's Legendarium:
- The Silmarillion traces the rise and fall of multiple families of both the Elves and Men. The one most central to the plot is that of Feanor, the Noldor who forged the Silmarils to hold the light of the Two Trees, and his sons' ultimately fruitless quest to avenge the Silmarils' theft and recover the jewels for themselves.
- Taken together, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are a tale of how a single hobbit family brought about the downfall of the Evil Overlord Sauron, with the first generation recovering the lost One Ring and the second generation proving instrumental in its destruction.
- A variation in Mikhail Akhmanov's Arrivals from the Dark series, whose main characters are descended from a Half-Human Hybrid (except for the first novel, where one of the secondary characters is the pregnant mother of said hybrid), but the novels frequently jump several generations. Each of the characters has Psychic Powers inherited from the hybrid, although it's stated that many other descendants have not inherited them (but may still pass on the genes). Another common factor is that all the main characters are Space Navy officers.
- Interestingly, another of Akhmanov's series called Trevelyan's Mission (set in the same universe centuries later) focuses on a single character, who in the last novel is revealed to be a distant descendant of the same line but himself did not know it.
- The novel Fall on Your Knees tells the story of the Piper family and the terrible secrets that shaped their lives. The narrative is focused mainly on James Piper and his three daughters (each of whom gets a turn as the Point-of-View-Character), but it includes segments which involve family members spanning at least four generations (if one includes James' immigrant father-in-law). It's difficult to be precise about how many generations are actually present without going into the squicky details of the plot.
- A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz is a satirical Black Comedy take on the genre.
- The Dollenganger Saga by V. C. Andrews (indeed, many of her series) is an example of this. The first series, which is the only one Andrews wrote herself before her death, begins with Cathy Dollenganger (Foxworth) and her brothers and sister. Woven into the first two novels are the back-stories of her parents and grandparents. The third novel in the series takes place from the point of view of her sons, Bart and Jory. The fourth novel continues the story of Cathy and her children, and the last novel fills in the gaps as a prequel which tells the story of Cathy's grandparents and how they came to disown their daughter. It's just about as complicated and soap opera-ish as it sounds.
- Timothy Zahn's The Cobra Trilogy follows three generations of the Moreau family as they first colonize, then defend, their new homeworld of Aventine.
Live Action TV
- There's an In-Universe example from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Garak lends Julian a Cardassian epic novel called The Never-Ending Sacrifice, about seven generations of a Cardassian family who all live selfless lives of service to the State. Julian finds it dull as ditchwater, while Garak calls it "the finest Cardassian novel ever written" and the definitive example of the "repetitive epic" genre.
- In a rather unique twist, the successive series of Blackadder follow (non-consecutive) generations of the Blackadder dynasty.
- Quantum Leap touches on this with the 3-parter Trilogy, where Sam helps a woman at three different points in her life: when she's a child, Sam leaps into her father; when she's a young adult, he leaps into her fiancé; and when she's a grown woman with her own daughter, he leaps into the lawyer defending her against murder charges.
- In Once Upon a Time Snow White loses her daughter, her husband, and her whole world as the evil queen sends them "someplace horrible," the real world. Emma, Snow White's long-lost daughter, is street smart and resents her biological parents for her abandonment. It takes her own long-lost son Henry to bring her back to the family that she never knew and the idea of the enchanted world they came from.
- Later, it gets complicated, dealing with at least four generations through Henry's father's line (Peter Pan, Rumplestiltskin, Baelfire, Henry), three through his mother (Snow White, Emma Swan, Henry), and four through his adoptive mother (King Xavier, Cora (and the elder Henry), Regina Mills, Henry)... unless you count the fact that Henry's adoptive mother is also Henry's grandmother's stepmother, in which case you can draw a straight line through six named characters (Xavier, Cora, Regina, Snow, Emma, Henry), of which five are major heroes or villains.
- The Philippine television drama Ikaw Lamang revolves around two generations of the Hidalgo family of sugar barons.
- The family from Rock 'n' Roll by Tom Stoppard aren't immigrants, but it does have the three generations of protagonists with the intermediate one being the odd one out.
- Castlevania is perhaps the oldest example in gaming, in which the descendant and close relatives of the Belmont clan battle Dracula through the centuries every time he's revived. The franchise has a few recurring characters (Most notably Alucard and Simon Belmont), but most games focus on a new character in a specific year, spanning from the early 1000s all the way to Twenty Minutes into the Future, reboot notwithstanding.
- Age of Empires III the original game's campaign mode is framed as Amelia Black telling the story of her great-great-grandfather Morgan Black in the first chapter, her grandfather John Black in the second, and her own story in the third. The Warchiefs expansion adds the tales of her father Nathaniel and her son Chayton.
- Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, which is divided into two halves which follow a different generation. The first half follows Sigurd and his attempts to save his friend only to be manipulated into a plot to revive an evil dragon. The second half deals with the children of the first half and their attempts to stop said evil dragon.
- Elemental - War of Magic: Start out with a sovereign, end up with an army fielded out of your pants.
- Romancing SaGa 2 chronicles a roughly 500-year lineage of emperors. SaGa Frontier 2 also lets players follow the multiple generations of the Knights family.
- Dragon Valor follows one of two paths, depending on whether the first Jerk Ass protagonist marries the common girl or the princess, and traces his lineage for four generations.
- Crusader Kings puts you in control of a medieval European dynasty and gives you 400 years to shape them according to your whims.
- Agarest Senki: At the beginning of the game, the player character swears a vow that he and his descendants will serve as Spirit Vessels to contain and ultimately defeat an ancient evil. You then get to play as these descendants as the game progresses.
- Massive Chalice has the generations of heroes as an actual gameplay mechanic. The game's driving conflict between humanity and the demons spans multiple generations, and it is up to the player to make sure the current heroes retire in time and have kids who're even stronger than their ancestors to ultimately win the war.
- A popular Self-Imposed Challenge for The Sims 2 or The Sims 3 is the "Legacy Challenge". The core rules are to play through 10 generations of Sims, with one child from each generation serving as the heir to the next, and to earn bonus points for factors like total net worth or lifetime achievements fulfilled. There are many variations, with additional challenges like limiting heirs to males or females, associating each generation with a certain color, or having each heir rise to the top of their career.
- Phantasy Star III starts with Prince Rhys and ends up following his son, and then his grandson. Depending on who each character marries, the plot can take some curious turns.
- This is a primary gameplay mechanic of Rogue Legacy. Whenever a player character dies, you can choose one of three randomly generated descendants to continue their ancestor's legacy. And the final boss is the very first of these ancestors, rendering the entire quest a Rogue's Legacy.
- In the Total War series, the player is ususally given control of the ruling family of a particular empire over a period of decades (Shogun, Empire) or centuries (Medieval, Rome) and dedicates that time to carving out an empire.
- Tekken follows the feuding Mishima family and the numerous iterations of the eponymous fighting tournament they sponsor, starting with father and son Heihachi and Kazuya, and later adding Kazuya's son Jin and Heihachi's dad Jinpachi to the already bubbling crucible. Step siblings, illegitimate children, in-laws and family pets get in on the fun too. Many of the side characters have children who end up competing too.
- Avatar The Last Airbender and it's Sequel Series The Legend of Korra. Both focus on the latest reincarnation of a God in Human Form, the Avatar, with flashbacks to events from the lives of prior incarnations. In Avatar The Last Airbender, Aang seeks the guidance of Avatars that came before him many times throughout the story and the setting of Korra sees a seventy-year Time Skip, where many of Avatar's main protagonists have had Spin Off Spring and have either aged considerably or passed away. The Legend of Korra focuses on the legacy the main characters left after the original series, as well as Korra being guided by Aang and Katara's middle-aged son Tenzin on her path to fulfill her role as the next Avatar.
- Possibly the world's shortest? ''Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, get your adverbs here!" in which the store is floundering until Lolly the Third calls in the media.
- When put together, The Lion King and The Lion King II: Simba's Pride are one. The first film is about a young lion cub named Simba going on a long journey of self-discovery and rising up to lead the serengeti after the murder of his father, King Mufasa. The sequel focuses on the forbidden romance between his daughter Kiara (the future queen) and the young, reluctant successor of his deceased Arch-Enemy.
- The entire animated series, Young Justice, is based around this very premise.
- Barry Allen, his nephew Wally West, and his grandson from the future Bart Allen
- Sportsmaster, his daughters Cheshire and Artemis, and Cheshire's infant daughter Lian.
- Superboy is the clone of Superman and Lex Luthor
- Icicle Senior and his son Icicle Junior
- Black Manta and his son Aqualad