Lineage Comes from the Father
Maybe it's because Most Writers Are Male
, or because a great deal of the time characters in the Heir Club for Men
on having a boy are men, that when a character has a legacy
it comes from the father. Even for female characters! The implicit assumption is that if a character is going to inherit something of relevance from their bloodline, it's going to be from their father's side, never their mother's
This is often paired with Single Line of Descent
, creating a long line of fathers and sons. Likewise, the prevalence of this trope is a contributor to Human Mom, Non-Human Dad
having the supernatural partner be the father. Compare the similar trope Never a Self-Made Woman
, where important female characters ultimately owe their positions or talents to men.
The prevalence of this trope is such that most examples will be subversions.
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Anime and Manga
- Code Geass: Emperor Charles Zi Britannia has fathered hundreds of children, all from a different wife. Every kid is a half brother or half sister to each other, and they all have only one father, and a bunch of them are line to take over as the ruler of Britannia. Most of them are backups, in case something happens to the first three or so "sets" of sons and daughters. Even Lelouch is nowhere near in position to inherit the throne (17th in line at the beginning).
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: Averted with Negi. The work focuses initially on his father, the Thousand Master, who he takes after and looks almost identical to comes up before then. But ultimately his character is much more similar to his mother, and his lineage from her is more important to the plot (although his lineage from his father is more important to him).
- Naruto: Subverted. It becomes really clear, really early on that Naruto's father is the village hero, the Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze. It then turns out that the one who Naruto got all the important stuff from was his mother, Kushina Uzumaki, and Naruto's being her child is emphasized far more by the characters and the story itself.
- Averted in Sailor Moon, especially in Chibi-Usa's case.
- InuYasha: Inuyasha's supernatural powers and youkai inheritance comes from his father. Even his compassion for humans is stated to be from, thus making him like, his father (later reinforced by his full-youkai brother's growing compassion also being stated as coming from, and making him like, their father). In fact, there are three half-breeds shown in this story and all three of them have a Human Mom, Non-Human Dad, gain all their abilities from their father's side and had a father whose compassion towards humans essentially overshadows any contribution any of the mothers could have made even on this front.
- Inverted in Cardcaptor Sakura with Syaoran Li, whose claim as Clow Reed's successor is is through his mother's family, the Li Clan.
- Played with in Noir. While Mireille Bouquet's life was undoubtedly affected by her father Laurent and his ties to The Mafia, her mother Odette arguably winds up having the biggest impact on the story because of the promise she extracted from her own killer, who was none other than Mireille's future partner Kirika, to take care of Mireille.
- In Bleach it initially seems like this is the case with Ichigo. The final story arc places greater emphasis on his mother's legacy.
- Hulkling of the Young Avengers is a complicated case. He's the biological son of the deceased Kree superhero Captain Marvel and the (also deceased) Skrull Princess Anelle. Both sides of the Kree-Skrull war claim that the parent of their race is more important in determining Hulkling's role in life. Kl'rt the Super Skrull goes to desperate lengths to convince Hulkling to make a play at reuniting the Skrull Empire. A Kree officer also tries to conscript Hulkling into the Kree army by saying that because his father was Kree, he is Kree. Hulkling eventually rejects both roles since he understandably doesn't want to have any part in the insane genocidal conflict and already has a life on Earth. Power-wise, his parents are equally important: the combination of Super Strength from his father and Shapeshifting from his mother is what helps him look like a Hulk Legacy Hero even though he's not really a Gamma mutate.
- Inverted by Billy Kaplan, as his powers explicitly come from and mirror the Scarlet Witch.
- Averted in the "X-Men" in the case of Ororo Munroe/ Storm. Her powers over magic and the weather are specifically said to be passed from mother to daughter every few generations, to the point where only women can rule her mother's native tribe and she is in fact its rightful heiress,causing some resentment by her uncle, who felt left out.
- Star Wars seems to play this straight, with the everpresent concern that Luke will end up like his father before him. But looking at the prequels and the Star Wars Expanded Universe, it becomes clear that in terms of personality, he's more like his mother. He has that same apparently unfounded belief in the goodness of Vader, and though he can certainly get dangerous when there's call for that, he tries diplomacy first. He handles things his own way, and that's almost never Anakin's way; late-set books actually voice the opinion that he's become passive and reactionary instead of proactive. How much of this can be attributed to genetics versus his upbringing is debatable, but he's more like his mother than he initially seems. Leia, on the other hand, takes after Anakin, though she isn't happy about it. She is way more proactive and stubborn than her brother, and she isn't nearly as forgiving of Vader's sins. The Noghri call her "Lady Vader" for a reason.
- In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth works (The Silmarillion, etc) both exists. Familial traits are often followed through the male line, but that is partly a side-effect of following a patriarchal dynasty over generations. But characters are nonetheless described as having traits inherited or instilled by their mothers. Also, Human Mom, Non-Human Dad is inverted in all cases of mixed-race couples, although that's a side effect of a different gender archetype.
- It is notable that there are no half-elves with a male elf/female human pairing in their ancestry, quite different from the usual Nephilim-type race where the supernatural parent is inevitably male.
- Also averted with the royal house of Númenor; Elendil, who led the Faithful and founded the realms in exile, was descended from the eldest child of one of the kings, who happened to be a daughter (Silmariën), and the succession law at the time instead favoured her younger brother. His descendants went on to oversee Númenor's fall to evil and destruction, while Elendil's line better represented the spirit of the original kings.
- It's overall averted with the Noldorin Elves in Middle-Earth, as all the direct-male heirs of both Fingolfin (King of Noldor in Middle-Earth) and Finarfin (King of Noldor in Aman) have been killed by the end of the Second Age, many without ever having had children. Fingolfin is succeeded by Elrond (grandson of his granddaughter Idril) and Finarfin by his daughter, Galadriel. Neither press their claim for King of the Noldor in Middle-Earth.
- Tristran in Stardust inverts several of these tropes. He gets his royal and supernatural parentage from his mother, and is raised by his muggle father, thinking that his stepmother is his biological mother. The fact that his sister is six months younger than him should have been a clue.
- Played with in The Bible with Jesus's lineage. Jewish society played this trope straight, so how could God have Jesus be both biological descendant and legal heir of King David when he has no biological human father? A popular interpretation is that the genealogy presented in Luke is actually through Mary (with the different fathers listed for Joseph being justified as Heli being his father-in-law), meaning both Joseph and Mary can claim to be descendants of the royal line of Judah, making Jesus both a biological descendant of the royal line via Mary and its legal heir via his adoptive father Joseph, who is a direct male descendant of the royal line.
- Same for the Jewish Bible: a lot of lineages are (in painful detail and length) detailed - but usually only on the male line. Sometimes the mothers along the way are also mentioned, but they're never recursed onto like the men. Interestingly, despite naming lineages by the men, one's "Jewishness" was passed through the mother. Hence a Shiksa Goddess is considered to be a more serious temptation than a non-Jewish man: if a woman marries outside the faith, her children are still Jewish by birth, but if a man does it, the children are not.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: King Robert Baratheon has fathered lots of bastard children, all of whom have inherited his appearance and dark hair. The fact that his legitimate children lack this resemblance is a pretty big clue that they aren't actually his.
- Averted in Dorne, where gender isn't important. The eldest child inherits, period. They took control of the female "heir" to the Baratheon line, and in their eyes she became heir after her elder brother died. The rest of Westeros considers her younger brother to be ahead of her, but given there's already a civil war going on that's not a big roadblock.
- If fan theories about Jon Snow's parentage are correct he takes strongly after his mother, Lyanna Stark, but not much at all after his father Rhaegar Targaryen
- Also played straight in Westerosi inheritance law, under which all legitimate male offspring must be dead before titles and property may be passed on to a daughter, and then only as caretaker for the rights of the male heirs she is assumed to be eager to pop out if she hasn't already (if she is found to be infertile or dies before giving birth to a son, everyone starts looking around for the nearest male cousin).
- One of the reaons Catelyn resented Jon Snow was because he resembled Ned more than any of the children she bore, most of whom inherited her Tully features.
- Inverted in the Trickster Books, the native Copper Islanders inherit through the maternal line.
- Mostly averted in Shades of Grey, where legacies follow the stronger or more important colour whether that's paternal or maternal. In a twist of some sort, Eddie's strong red perception doesn't come from his mother, as he believes.
- Kushiel's Legacy series: Played with; Terre d'Ange's monarchy passes patrilineally, but the king only has one daughter, who proceeds to have two daughters of her own. Meanwhile, in Alba, inheritance passes from uncle to nephew, although this is later revealed to be motivated by the male rulers not trusting that their wives' sons are actually theirs, and preserving the lineage through their sisters. Meanwhile Imriel's significant lineage comes from both sides of his family.
- The Wicked Years: Averted. The throne of Oz appears to be passed by matrilineal succession, and Liir ends up picking up where his mother left off with his father barely a passing mention. It may be strong enough to be an outright inversion, especially considering that Melena's Thropp's daughters were not fathered by her husband, and her son Shell might have been, but no one cared. In fact, the social standing of Elphaba, Nessarose, and (later) Shell was primarily due to their mother's family. Their legal father was an always-broke itinerant preacher. Even Baum's Oz has a tendency to run with this. Coo-Eh-Oh was descended from a line of "witches," and Ozma herself has the throne because she is the daughter (or matrilinial decendant) of Lurline, the first Fairy Queen of Oz.
- Only Elphaba was not Frexspar's child; Nessarose and Shell are confirmed to be his children in the family tree
- In Babylon 5 Expanded Universe Psi Corps trilogy, it is revealed that telepaths (especially females) track their lineage through their mothers and keep their mother's last name. This is due to the discovery that telepathy is passed on only through mitochondrial DNA. The notable lineage in the books is the Alexander line, of which only women are shown. This, however, begs the question of why it is important for the father to be a strong telepath if his genes for thr ability aren't passed on to the offspring.
- In Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned, Maharet tracks the Great Family of her human daughter only through females based on an ancient tradition. This is implied to be due to women in those days being highly promiscuous, and, therefore, no man knew for sure that his wife's children were his. These days, of course, we have reliable paternity tests. It is also implied that only women of that line can have Psychic Powers.
- Played straight in The Dresden Files. Pretty much all of the royal family of White Court vampires were born from human mothers and got the vampirism from Lord Raith. Inverted for the main character himself, whose mother has so far been more important to the story than his father. This is because magic is almost always passed along matrilineal lines (it has to do with exposure to magic prior to birth - a child whose father has a talent for magic might have the genes for it, but they'll probably be dormant). Though since Harry's mother died in childbirth, his father Malcolm's kind and naive nature was a major influence on Harry's personality.
- In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets people believe that Harry is the Heir of Slytherin through his pureblood father. He isn't. Voldemort is through his pureblood mother. His mother's maiden name was "Gaunt" instead of "Slytherin" so it probably passed through a daughter at least one other time.
- Also, Deathly Hallows reveals that Harry is descended from Ignotus Peverell, who created the Invisibility Cloak. It comes from his father's side, but since the family is "extinct in the male line" he still follows the trope.
- And of course, Dumbledore's protection spell only works because Harry has living family on his mother's side.
- On the other hand, read anything at all about Harry's mother and you'll realize that he inherited a heck of a lot of her personality, for all that he looks like his dad. People constantly note that he has Lily's eyes, as well.
- Subverted in the Knight and Rogue Series. While it's still a male dominant society, magic can only be inherited from women.
- Averted in Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus. Two of the most important characters, Annabeth Chase and Piper Mclean, are descended from Athena and Aphrodite, respectively.
- It is, however, played straight with the characters who inherit their Demigod status from their fathers.
- First played straight, then subverted with Frank Zhang: while his father is a god, his mom had powers of her own (and could count several heroes and demigods among her ancestors), and Frank has definitely inherited some things from her side of the family. Such as the power to transform into animals.
- Inverted in Septimus Heap, where the only relevant lineage for Princesses is the female one and the male line is not considered relevant.
- In The Firebringer Trilogy, Valedweller unicorn foals tend to resemble their fathers more than their mothers. This leads to Tek's first inkling that she's not Teki's biological daughter...and note also that the tendency is less pronounced in the direct line of Halla.
- In Jane Austen's Love and Freindship, Philander and Gustavus insist that their lineage comes from their mothers.
- A Brother's Price takes place in a world ruled by women. A court case involving inheritance comes up, and the three families jockeying for the title each have similarly dubious claims, one being that they're descended from one of the deceased family's men. Here's what's said on an unrelated character's birth certificate.
Kai Whistler, male child born to Bliss Whistler and fathered by husband Tullen Beadwater from Bowling Green. Grandchild of Nida Whistler and husband Alannon (ancestry documented but uncertified). Great-grandchild of Kei Whistler and Order of the Sword crib captive
Gerard, #458. Great-great grandchild of Allysen Whistler and Order of the Sword crib captive Kyle, number unknown. Alannon and his uncertified ancestry
do end up being important, but lineage does not pass down through him.
- Played with in the novellette "The Tailcutter's Curse", Felicia is initialy dismissive of the curse because she knows that the Tailcutter's bloodline ended centuries ago and that the supposedly cursed lord cannot be a true descendant. But it turns out they only recorded the male line of descent and the lord's wife is a descendant whom the curse still applies to.
- Bloodline: Elizabeth Roffe and her female cousins inherited their shares of Roffe and Sons Pharmaceuticals from their respective fathers and, in fact, the death of the last of those fathers ended the male line of Roffes. The trope is inverted with Elizabeth's male cousin Sir Alec Nichols, who inherited his shares of the company from his mother.
- The DeMarian royal line in Fiona Patton's Tales of the Branion Realm passes through the firstborn, regardless of gender. So do other noble families; the senior surname is invariably used.
- Somewhat justified for Preternaturals in The Parasol Protectorate. They are stated to breed true, but can only reproduce through male lines because the females cannot carry a child to term unless the father is a vampire or werewolf. This results in a Metanatural child with Power Copying abilities derived from both parents.
- Averted completely in Wicked, where patrilineal heritage means next to nothing. Elphaba and Glinda both inherited their surnames from their mothers, and Elphaba (and later, Nessarose) inherits the title of Eminent Thropp from her mother.
- Both played straight and averted in 's "Vorkosigan Saga." Inheritance among the Vor is passed along the male bloodline, i.e., father to son, or elder brother to younger brother if the elder had only daughters as of his death, or out to the closest male relatives. However.....Emperor Dorca Vorbarra claimed the throne of Barrayar through his mother's father's blood; and later on, [[Cincinnatus Aral Vorkosigan]] and his son Miles are considered prime candidates for the throne should anything happen to the current Emperor, due to the fact that Aral's mother was the granddaughter of Dorca.
Live Action TV
- Jekyll: The BBC miniseries subverts this. It's part of a one two punch reveal. Everyone assumes that since Dr. Jekyll had no descendants, Jackman is a clone. When it's revealed that he is a descendant via Mr. Hyde sleeping around in 1800's Scotland, the connection is through his mom, not his dad.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Averted by the Watchers. Giles' father was a Watcher before him, but he inherited the job from his mother. While it's not a family, the Slayer title always passes from one woman to another.
- Tin Man follows the Oz books in inverting the Trope, at least in regard to the royal family. The Queen holds the authority, and it's passed along to her daughters. Ahamo, the Queen's consort and girls' father, was a carny that lucked out and landed in Oz when his balloon went off course in a storm. It's unknown whether this extends to commoner families like the Cains.
- In the Forgotten Realms setting of Dungeons & Dragons, drow are matrilineal. Even their names are inherited this way.
- Averted in Exalted; the Realm traces descent through the line of the (Dragon Blooded) mother, and most of the Great Houses derive their legitimacy from their descent from the Scarlet Empress (often with the House founders being her daughters).
- In Ace Attorney, spirit channeling abilities are passed down through the female line and only to women. Men are basically just mechanisms to make more babies, which explains the high divorce rate in Kurain. Not to mention Apollo's Perceive abilities, which come from his mother, who got it from her father. Trucy, Apollo's half sister, also has the ability from their mother, but hers is weaker and she had to train herself as she doesn't have one of the bracelets (only two exist and are owned by her brother and mother.
- Played with in Blaze Union. Gulcasa and Emilia inherited their demon blood from their (dead and eternally offscreen) father, whose only other major contribution to anything was having been a terrible excuse for a human being. Gulcasa's inherent scythe skills and combat ability are implied to come from his mother. However, his gentle personality, sense of humanity, and all his other positive traits come from his childhood friend (and surrogate mama) Siskier.
- Averted in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, where Tetra's Orphan's Plot Trinket comes from her mother.
- Averted in Fable, where the Hero of Oakvale's mother is his claim to power. The hero of Bowerstone never knew his/her parents, and the hero of Brightwall is the former's child. If the hero of Bowerstone is a woman, there is no hero in the series stated to have inherited their powers from their father. Also of note is sister Hannah, whose father most certainly is not a hero.
- Played with in Mass Effect. The asari are a monogendered race, and though they can (and often do) reproduce with other species, the resulting child is always asari. However, many asari are also judged based on their father's species, with the lowest tier being those who were fathered by other asari. The game goes back and forth in general: Ashley Williams joined the military in part because of her grandfather's legacy though she also mentions a great-grandmother who was in the military; Commander Shepard, if the Spacer background is chosen, speaks with his/her mother, who is also a military officer; Miranda Lawson has no mother, being a genetically modified clone of her father with a few bits thrown in; and many krogan proudly claim descent from Shiagur, a female krogan warlord.
- In Farmville, patterns on sheep and pigs are passed from father to offspring.
- Numerous forms in Crusader Kings, depending on specific inheritance laws. For the purposes of continuing the game by bloodline, it's pure male-line. In vanilla, women cannot inherit but under Semisalic inheritance laws, the son of a king's first daughter will inherit over son of a younger son. The sequel takes some measures to avert this, introducing succession laws that allow females to inherit titles under specific circumstances as well as matrilineal marriages, in which the children are considered part of the mother's dynasty rather than the father's.
- In Imperium Nova players have the choice between making their house patrilineal or matrilineal at creation, this influences which dynastic characters can inherit house leadership and Arranged Marriages.
- Averted in Star Wars: The Old Republic: Satele Shan is the descendant of Bastila and Revan, but she mainly takes on the traits of her great-great-etc.-mother Bastila.
- Inverted in Pokémon, where species comes from the mother. Egg movesnote , on the other hand, are passed down from the father.
- Inverted and... uh... played straight in Dragon Age II? Considering Hawke's father sort of created his own legacy (and we don't even know his past too well before he ever met Leandra, which is implied to be not very pleasant) by aiding the Wardens, that's the straight part. The inversion would stem from Leandra's side of the family, the Amell lineage.
- Inverted in Talesof Xillia Jude's father is an Elympion, but he keeps the spirit channeling ability of his Rieze Maxian mother. Which is probably for the best, otherwise he may have had a very rough, very confusing time on his own planet.
- Inverted and somewhat averted in Fire Emblem Awakening - with the exception of Lucina and FEM!Morgann, all the Children depend on the 'mother', and inherit skills and stats from both parents.
- Played straighter with Validar. All of his ancestors known to carry Grima Blood were male.
- An aversion in Girl Genius, as Tarvek claims to be the Storm King's heir from his mother. Of course, "if the stories are true, half of Europa..." — the catch is that he's a descendant with traceable genealogy whom other royals will recognize as such. And indirectly confirmed by having more Mad Scientist talent than his father who himself was "a major player" in this department.
- And of course, there's Agatha herself, the last living descendant (so far as we know, anyway) of a powerful family of Sparks. Her family's castle wants her to set about producing some heirs, so we know that the line can proceed matrilineally.
- The drow of Drowtales are a complete inversion as Drow society is both matriarchal and matrilineal, and while some fathers do still live with the children, including Zala'ess' mate Sabbror, it seems that most noble kids have no contact with their fathers, and it's more common for fathers to live with the family in lower-class families. Noble titles especially are exclusively passed through the mother, as are inheritance. There is one known exception: the Tions Sarghress line is carried from Rosof (a male) through his son Ein, to his granddaughter Nei'kalsa. That's two generations where the male line is actually important, but this is a special case and it's likely that the Tions line will now be carried on by Nei'kalsa and her daughters. It's likewise implied that the Illhar'dro clan still officially only cares about the mother's line, but that they'll teach children who their fathers are for political purposes, since that's how the Illhar'dro do business.
- On Irregular Elis both parents are specials, but the powers of their sons come from Luk, the father.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Antimony Carver's father is missing by the start of the story and her mother has just passed away, and as the story unfolds and we learn more about her parents it becomes obvious that Antimony got the really important things from her mother, including, it turns out, her fire elemental ancestry and her Life Force, which is passed from mother to child.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: In general, Avatar and its successor The Legend of Korra do a lot to subvert this trope, with characters taking a lot of traits from both parents. An Inversion would be Chief Lin Bei Fong, who takes very strongly after her mother (and we don't even know who her father was).
- The Simpsons episode "Lisa The Simpson" reveals that the Simpson men have a "gene" that causes a large decrease in intelligence, while the women are smart and successful.
- In the episode "The Color Yellow" while making a family tree for school, Lisa is horrified that she can't find a single good ancestor, and that she comes from "a long line of horse thieves, deadbeats, horse beats, dead thieves." However she only looks at her father's side of the family. Despite her desperation to find a "decent ancestor" she doesn't seem to have looked at her mother's family at all.
- Inverted in W.I.T.C.H., where Elyon Brown's power as the Heart/Light of Meridian is said to be passed down to women only, and that same power makes her the rightful queen of her people rather than her older brother, Phobos.
- Surnames are usually inherited patrilineally (at least in Western countries). That fact, plus the prevalence of this trope and its relatives, may be why so many things about ancestry are counterintuitive — people think in terms of a Single Line of Descent.
- Following that, in European heraldry the right to use a particular coat of arms is passed from father to son. A woman can use the same coat of arms as her father, but her children can't (instead, they'll inherit the right to use their father's coat of arms). Subverted, however, with the creation of some mechanisms to come up with a new coat of arms based on the father's and the mother's ones (quartering, partitioning and dimidiating are the most common methods).
- Played horrifically, horrifically straight in The Yugoslav Wars. According to Balkan traditions, a child had the same ethnicity as the father, and the mother's was irrelevant. So, a son born to a Croat man and Serb woman would be a Croat. This meant that while all three major ethnic groups (Croats, Bosniaks, and Serbs) were all trying to wipe each other out, they were also setting up 'rape camps' for women of other ethnicities (the Bosnian Serbs were by far the worst perpetrators), where, for example, Serb soldiers would rape Bosniak women, with the intent of producing more 'Serbs,' and to physically and mentally destroy the women. For more information, see The Other Wiki.
- Inverted in Judaism: If a man wishes to join Judaism and has a Jewish mother, he's in. If he only has a Jewish father, he has to complete a battery of tests only slightly less extreme than somebody with no Jewish blood joining. In other words, lineage comes from the mother.
- Although a non-Jewish man with a Jewish Mother really doesn't need any barriers to converting as quickly as possible.
- It should also be noted that there are rather large sects of Judaism ( such as Reform Judaism, the largest Jewish denomination in the United States, and Liberal Judaism, its counterpart in the United Kingdom) that hold that either parent is sufficient to claim Jewish ancestry, making this trope not Inverted, but Averted completely
- Historically played straight, however, by the Jewish priestly Tribe of Levi (or Levites) and the notable subset thereof, the Kohanim (the descendents of Aaron). Since the Hebrew tribes were reckoned patrilineally, one's status as a Levite or Kohen was/is determined patrilineally as well. This has been preserved quite well, and is backed up by some actual genetic evidence.
- Also played straight in that in the lists of descendants listed in the Bible (most noticeably in the Book of Genesis) almost no women are mentioned, and it is a relatively new thing in Judaism to honor the Matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah) as well as the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) in prayers
- Preformationism, a defunct theory of reproductive science, held that one sex provided the child and the other only nurtured/triggered its development. Two rival preformationist schools of thought existed: one where Lineage Comes from the Father because men's sperm were actually miniature babies, and one where Lineage Comes From The Mother because women were born with miniature babies inside their uteri. Presumably, the miniature babies included ultra-miniature babies for the next generation....
- Mitochondrial genetic inheritance comes exclusively from females, whereas the Y chromosome of mammals is passed solely from father to son. This makes it extremely useful for tracking migrations of people over thousands of years: since the only way that the mitochondrial DNA or Y chromosome can change is through mutation, and mutations happen exactly once, men with the same mutation in the Y chromosome have a common male ancestor in direct paternal line (they share a father's father's father's father's...father), and people with the same mutation in the mitochondrial DNA have a common female ancestor in direct maternal line (they share a mother's mother's mother's...mother). By identifying major mutations, you identify groups of genetically related people, including where and when different groups split off from others. See The Other Wiki's articles on human Y-chromosome DNA and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups.
- For the Ijaws of southern Nigeria, membership of a War Canoe House (and thus land inheritance) is matrilineal. Only if the groom's family sponsors a second (and traditionally expensive and religiously ominous) Second Wedding ceremony can the children claim to belong to their father's House (which is usually of course their father's mother's House). It was not uncommon in the old days for very rich men to perform Second Wedding ceremonies for women married to other men. The Big Shot gained no sexual rights, but hey, if there was a war, all her sons would fight under his House's banner.
- Inverted in many West African cultures, which believed that all of a person's blood came from his or her mother.
- Inverted by the Iroquois, who were matrilinear.
- Downplayed by the Aztecs. Hereditary leadership was passed on via the mother (who the father was could often be uncertain). Upon a leader's death, the title would pass on to his brother, and then on to his sister's sons.
- Agnatic primogeniture, sometimes referred to as 'Salic Law' after the Salian Franks who codified it, excludes women from the line of succession and under the stricter interpretations prevents inheritance through a female relative. One example comes from the succession of The House Of Hanover, which held both the British throne and the throne of the Elector/King of Hanover. In 1837, William IV died with no legitimate descendants of his own. The British throne passed to the next available heir, his niece Victoria. But the Hannoverian succession was bound by Salic Law and passed to the senior male heir, William's young brother Ernest Augustus I.
- Inverted by the Egyptians, where descent was through the mother due to the potential for uncertainty about the father. However, unless there was no other option, only the sons (or the son of a second wife) would become pharaoh. To be sure, Pharaohs often combined the two types of lineage.
- Truth in Television: Patrilinear descent (Lineage Comes from the Father) is more common in traditional agricultural societies than matrilinear descent (Lineage Comes From The Mother). Meanwhile, modern industrial societies (as well as hunter-gatherer societies) have a tendency towards bilateral kinship, ie. they consider mother and father roughly equally important and are more concerned about kinship networks than about lineages. For more information, consult The Other Wiki or anthropological research on kinship and descent.