1 Days Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

It Runs in the Family

"You see, insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops."
Mortimer Brewster, Arsenic and Old Lace

A family full of eccentric, weird and sometimes insane relatives. Preferably all of them, but as long as it's the majority of them then it's okay. Commonly it's all of them except one perfectly normal one.

Someone may observe their..."activities," but when they confront the family about this, the said family will often have no idea that they are considered to be out of the ordinary.

See also Big Screwed-Up Family. In the Blood is the darker version of this, while Heroic Lineage is the more... well, heroic version. Contrast Turn Out Like His Father. Compare Shared Family Quirks.


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    Anime & Manga 

  • The House of M, currently made up of Magneto, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Polaris (probably), All of them pretty much known for periodically leaving their sanity at home. The third-generation kids may or may not be affected, but so far they're... mostly doing well.
    • Except for the ones who may or may not have just been a physical manifestation of Wanda's psychosis.
    • Oh, and the one who's currently being treated for an addiction to the Inhumans' Terrigen Mists.
      • Which her father got her hooked on after taking a few hits himself.
  • In All Fall Down, IQ and IQ Squared are both lonely, brilliant, irritable men who find it impossible to talk to each other.
  • In certain stories, we learn that Archie Andrews' ancestors were just as girl-obsessed and clumsy as he is.

  • In Chapter 14 of the Superjail! fanfic Extended Stay, it is revealed that the Warden and the Mistress's children Matilda and Ethan have grown up to be sadists like them. Combined with Troubling Unchildlike Behavior.
    • Actually, they're 4 years old, but still...
  • This is an assumption if Sayu knew if Light was Kira and continued his work. A couple have Ryuk be her Shinigami, only one or two have Light reincarnated as a Shinigami himself.

  • Loz, Yazoo, and Kadaj from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Like their Father, they all want to help their Mother Jenova in whatever they can. If that includes threatening Formerly Corrupt Corporate Executives, Kidnapping Children, and summoning a Dragon to destroy a City, all the better!
  • The Family Firefly from House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects.
  • The Merrye clan of Spider Baby or, the Maddest Story Ever Told, who suffer from a degenerative disease that causes them to become murderous, insane cannibals. Played for nervous, squicky laughs.
  • The Portokaloses of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
  • The House of Yes only shows four members of the Pascal family but they all have some severe issues. Not to mention that it is hinted that Mrs. Pascal killed her husband, which echos the climax of the film.
  • Averted in Big Game. Oskari wishes that he was as good a hunter as his father and rest of his family is.
  • The Sanchez family from The Book of Life boasts three main traits.
    • The first is bullfighting. And, as Carmen points out, it is why there are so many Sanchezes in the Land of the Remembered, as they were all killed in the ring.
    • The second is music. Manolo has an ancestor several generations back who wanted to be an opera singer but was pushed into bullfighting. As such, he sympathizes with Manolo, and even gets one heck of a solo in the big final battle. (Fittingly, he is voiced by Placido Domingo!)
    • The third is a certain unflinching courage. It could be argued that Manolo got his due to La Muerta's blessing. But his mother, Carmen, on meeting Xibalba, bitchslapped him.
  • Bill's family in it's such a beautiful day is a very good contender for the Most Triumphant Example, with examples of mental illness and insanity going back for at least four generations before him. To recapitulate:
    • His great-great-great uncle was a Wild Child who once beat a church organist with a shovel.
    • His great-grandmother had hallucinations of phantoms.
    • His grandmother rubbed severed cat heads on her skull because "the fish are smothering her brain"
    • His great-aunt beat imaginary animals with a hammer.
    • His great uncle was a preacher who grew his mole hairs "to cleanse is soul" and believed a sea monster stole the sherrif's cow.
    • His mother shaved the cat on weekends and forced Bill to wear a heavy coat year-round in order to protect him from "walking pneumonia".
    • His brother Randall suffers from mental retardation and eventually runs into the sea and drowns.
    • Bill himself is the victim of psychotic episodes and eventually suffers from acute amnesia.

  • Inverted in A Series of Unfortunate Events: the Baudelaire siblings are the only people who aren't insane, evil, or completely oblivious.
  • The Bagthorpes, in the children's novels by Helen Cresswell (they start with Ordinary Jack). Tess, Rosie and William are all somewhat eccentric, and their parents and grandparents might edge into mildly deranged, as might their cousin Daisy... They all (well, except Daisy) believe wholeheartedly in their genius as a family and individually, and take themselves very seriously. In one of the books in the sequence, they try to break as many Guinness World Records in a summer as they can...
    • And in keeping with the trope, Jack and his ally Uncle Parker are the only sane ones people can bear to have anywhere near them. Also Grandpa (though he's less developed as a character).
  • Harry Potter
    • The Weasleys are one big kooky red-headed family who are implied to be quite old and presumably extensive, as females are very rare in their line. There's only one Squib, who Ron reveals to be an accountant.
    • The Black family? Many are completely insane. Sirius claims that if they turned out anybody half-decent they were blasted of the Family Tree.
  • The Vorkosigans:
    Cordelia: Counts Vorkosigan have come to horrible ends throughout your history. You've been blown up, shot, starved, drowned, burned alive, beheaded, diseased, and demented. The only thing you've never done is die in bed.
    • Count Piotr, the guy Cordelia was talking to and the 10th Count Vorkosigan, was the first to actually accomplish that last one: dying in bed at an advanced age. Miles Vorkosigan (whom his mother explicitly does not think is sane) has also got a lot of other crazy people in his family tree, especially from the Vorrutyer and Vorbarra branches of the family.
  • Subverted in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Taint: Fitz's maternal relatives are mostly more or less insane. It turns out it's due to alien brain slugs, which the Doctor deals with. It seems, however, that Fitz has a slightly different view of matters, as in one or two later stories, he thinks he's hallucinating and blames it on the craziness that runs in his family, even though he hasn't got a brain slug any more. Naturally, he's not hallucinating.
  • The Pendergasts, in the thrillers of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, have a strong streak of insanity in the family. Sometimes this takes the form of a brilliant, unorthodox approach to investigating crime. More often, it takes the form of finding novel ways to wipe out humanity.
  • The Smedry family of the Alcatraz Series, in addition to having hereditary magical talents, have a reputation for extreme eccentricity.
  • In G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, it's mentioned in passing that Syme grew up in an extremely odd family and eventually got so Bored With Insanity that he rebelled by being as sane as humanly possible. In fact, he's so sane that he's almost too sane, and therefore, in his own way, just as crazy as the rest of them.
  • The Woosters in Jeeves and Wooster are a pretty eccentric bunch in general, and at least one (Henry Wooster) spent his last days "in some sort of a home". For this reason, the "nerve specialist" Roderick Glossop has latched onto Cloudcuckoolander Bertie Wooster as insane and potentially dangerous.
  • Mary Poppins and her relatives each have at least one mystical quirk.
  • Dresden Files, magic runs in the family. It's a hereditary trait. But getting in trouble with vampires runs in Harry's family. Harry accidentally started a war between the vampires and the UN of Wizards, and his mother bore the bastard child of one. Also, generally getting in trouble with werewolves, wizards, demons, angels, and fae.
  • The Igors (and Igorinas) in the Discworldseries are not so much insane as differently sane. They're definitely eccentric, but they're competent enough surgeons that when an Igor says of another Igor "He has his grandfather's eyes" he's not speaking metaphorically.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Addams Family.
  • Angel: Connor seems to take after his father Angel in one respect. "A weakness for Slayers. You're definitely his son."
  • Arrested Development is about a family that has no idea how to live conservatively and act like decent human beings....except for Michael Bluth, who the family both counts on to keep them afloat and takes for granted.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A gift for banter and sarcasm runs deep in Summers women, as shown by Buffy, her sister Dawn and their mother Joyce.
  • The Munsters are all members of the Monster Mash and are considered weird...except for human-looking Marilyn—who was considered ugly by the rest of her family (though she shares some of the other members' inhumanness like her very low body temperature).
  • Pretty much any reality show that involves some sort of family member swap. The shows will always show families that have weird quirks and the person who is swapping into that family usually finds it disturbing.
  • The Winchester-Campbells in Supernatural. Hunting, making deals with demons, coming back from the dead...
  • LazyTown's Stephanie is the only character in the show who has bright pink hair. But according to her uncle, it's a trait that runs in the family.
  • Kenny's family in Kenny vs. Spenny are all pure evil. At one point the entire clan comes together to fake Kenny's mom's death and hold a fake funeral and going in mourning just to keep Spenny from winning a footrace.
  • Malcolm's family from Malcolm in the Middle fits this perfectly, in a beautifully dysfunctional manner.
  • The Pond family from Doctor Who is smaller than most examples, but has more wackiness than most small planets. Poor Rory seems to be the Only Sane Mannote , as his wife spent her childhood biting psychiatrists, his daughter is a self-proclaimed psychopath, and his son-in-law puts the "crazy" in Crazy Awesome.
    • In the Big Finish Doctor Who and Gallifrey audios, the Doctor's relatives Brax, Susan, and Alexnote , have a habit of being reckless, independent, highly intelligent, and self-sacrificial. The latter costs poor Alex his life when he is only twenty years old. Special mention goes to Brax for also having a tendency to lie to his friends to keep them safe. Sound familiar?
  • This trope was the name of an episode of Murder, She Wrote featuring Jessica's British cousin Emma (also played by Angela Lansbury); she's just as much a Doom Magnet (and just as much a sleuth) as her cousin.

  • Amanda Palmer's "Runs in the Family" describes people who have inherited various complications from their bloodlines (My friend has maladies/ Ricketts and allergies/ That she dates back to/ The seventeenth century) and goes on to talk about her own family.
  • The Who, The Real Me:
    I went back to my mother
    I said I'm crazy ma, help me
    She said I know how it feels, son
    'Cause it runs in the family

  • A fairly minor case Played for Laughs in Dino Attack RPG. Sarah Bishop gained a particular infamy among the cast when she became the first known person to hate the Brickolinis' pizza (though Pierce might also count, or he may just have eaten a particularly hot one). Sure enough, a few posts later, it turns out her daughter Kate can't stand the taste of Brickolinis' pizza either.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The d'Ambrevilles of Glantri in the Mystara D&D setting are a large and fractious family of wealthy, self-indulgent, scheming and often magically-gifted weirdos. They were even stranger in the adventure (Chateau d'Ambreville) that introduced them, having been trapped in a bizarre Pocket Dimension for years; many had turned single rooms or suites within their cursed mansion into their own private gardens/laboratories/banquets/whatever, and had been physically transformed by curses to have the heads of animals.

  • The Sycamore family from You Can't Take It with You.
  • The Brewster family in Arsenic and Old Lace. The one family member who's not insane, murderous or both is Mortimer. He eventually learns, to his relief, that he's not a blood relative.

    Video games 
  • Caulder/Stolos's "children" in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin/Dark Conflict. Cyrus is fairly levelheaded, but Penny/Lili and Tabitha/Larissa... notsomuch.
  • The Magus Sisters from Final Fantasy IV.
  • The Royal Family and all their Cousins/Second Cousins/Distant Cousins in Katamari Damacy.
  • The Sasaki family of the Metal Gear series have always been some Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains who had some toilet problem of some sort.
  • The von Karma family. It's subtle, but if you pay attention, Franziska von Karma from the second game onward shares the same poses for her sprites as her father Manfred from the first game. Less subtly, both are prosecutors with obsessions for absolute perfection (and although Franziska eventually gets over it, she does maintain the no-nonsense sense of authority that had come with it).
    • Edgeworth is a good example of this as well in the fourth case. The outfit is very similar to Manfred's, and the fingerwag is shared by both.

  • The River family from Irregular Elis. A Spanish webcomic about a Badass Family of Superheroes with a lot of Hanna-Barbera influences.
  • In The Fancy Adventures of Jack Cannon, we have seen three members of Jack's family so far: Him, his Mum, and his Dad. Each of them is a Badass.
    • Jack can dodge flying knives, grab them from the air, and throw them back at whoever threw them in the first place. He can also punch his way out of the ground.
    • Mom is an ex-agent who beat up Jack's dad when they first met and tried to take him hostage. She randomly throws knives at her son and puts poison in his cereal (among other things) to teach him how to defend himself from attacks both subtle and direct.
    • Dad is an ex-agent who almost beat up Jack's mom when they first met and she tried to take him hostage. He wears Kiss The Cook aprons, yet likes to single-handedly grab foes by the head and throw them at one another.
  • In Girl Genius Spark, which might be better known as Science-Related Memetic Disorder, tends to run in families. It's probably the most apparent in Heterodynes, a house full of powerful Sparks and vicious warlords, who terrorized Europa for centuries.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • Poopeye, Peepeye, Pipeye and Pupeye, Popeye's nephews.
    • Plus Junior from Popeye and Son. He has his father's strength, "tumor arms", and speech impediment.
  • The eponymous family from the film Meet the Robinsons is all eccentric verging on insane.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the royal family of the Fire Nation have a tendency to be sociopathic nutjobs. For some odd reason it only seems to happen to one family member per generation.
  • Total Drama Island implies Izzy's family may be like this:
    Izzy: Genius runs in my family. AND psychotherapy!
  • South Park. If "Butterballs" is anything to go by, child abuse runs in Butters' family.
    • In "Merry Christmas, Charlie Manson", the boys spend the holidays with Cartman's relatives. Not only are they all as fat as he is, they also have the same whiny voice and jerkass tendencies. (The only exception being Cartman's own mother, who is of average weight and generally nice, whatever her other faults.)

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television. Families often have quirks others find weird.
  • A possible explanation for Michael Jackson's extensive plastic surgery is because he didn't want to look like his abusive father.
  • The Durrell family, if youngest son Gerald is to be believed, were all amiably eccentric, with a few downright barmy older relatives. See My Family and Other Animals.

  • A recent rage comic meme had an extremely overweight lady visiting the doctor. The doc tells her "Ma'am, I'm afraid you're morbidly obese." The lady says "I'm sorry, but obesity runs in our family." The doc comes back with "Lady, nobody runs in your family!"