troperville

tools

toys

Wiki Headlines
It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.

main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Oedipus Complex
You murdered your father,
You married your mother.
You rascal!
You're my kind of guy!
Madame Peep, Oedipus Tex by P.D.Q Bach

The Oedipal archetype deals with any conflict between father and son, particularly where the son must supplant the patriarch or must extricate himself from his father's shadow and find his own place in the world.

Much of the time this presents as the son's aim of removing his father to further himself in the eyes of his mother, not necessarily into her bed. This archetype shares some themes with both the Messianic Archetype (rebirth and renewal) and Tricksters (out with the old, in with the new).

The female equivalent, of wanting to kill the mother and sleep with the father, was called the Electra complex by Carl Jung, but this term was rejected by Freud, saying that 'feminine Oedipus complex' sufficednote . This makes sense, since the character of Electra in the plays of both Sophocles (who wrote Oedipus the King) and Euripides saw her more in filial love and deep mourning for her father and in need of some good revenge against her murderous mother. The story of this family is another trope altogether, anyway.

It's fairly difficult to use this trope explicitly, since the psychological aspects of the mother figure involved are usually lost to cruder imaginations.

Compare "Well Done, Son" Guy, Calling the Old Man Out, and "Atonement With The Father" from The Hero's Journey. If murder seems to be a viable solution, it's probably Patricide. If there's an explicitly sexual relationship, see Parental Incest. See also Archnemesis Dad, which makes the father figures into outright villains while leaving out the Freudian implications.

Oedipus the King, the Greek Tragedy dramatized in BC 429 by Sophocles, is the Trope Namer, and Sigmund Freud is the Trope Codifier. Oedipus, however, is not a true example of the trope because Oedipus never knew who his mother and father were until it was too late. He does not discover until long after the fact that he has killed his father, or that he has married his mother, and is horrified on both counts. Not that you'd ever know any of this beyond "slept with his mother" without reading the original tragedy or a transcription of it.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion is an interesting example. His mother is dead and he wants approval from his father, Gendo Ikari, and resents him for not giving said approval. It would be a lot healthier for Shinji if he just straight up hated his father since he's an abusive asshole. And while he doesn't directly want to sleep with his mother, Yui Ikari, Shinji is piloting her, which is all sorts of intimate. Furthermore, there is a significant amount of Ship Tease between him and Rei Ayanami, who is heavily implied to be the result of a semi-successful cloning experiment using Yui's DNA.
  • Ayato Kamina from RahXephon. Although he only gave vibes to this (considering another trope comes into effect later), while it was more explicit with Itsuki Kisaragi, his brother, towards Quon Kisaragi, their mother. It's weirder than Shinji and Rei, because neither of these two guys have the benefit of the girl in question being just a clone.
  • Baki from Baki the Grappler starts off wanting to beat his father to make his mother happy, then because he figures out his father is out of his damn mind after he does crap like getting one step from killing an important governmental figure just to prove he can and killing his mother.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, although Ed and Al both have crushes on mother figures, Ed is the one who seems afflicted with the full Oedipal syndrome complete with a love-hate relationship with his father, whom he emulated to become an alchemist (originally to please his mom) but also repeatedly insults and beats up (the fact that he also suffers from a bad case of Parental Abandonment only makes matters worse for him... and for Hohenheim).
    • Greed also has issues with his dad and seems complacent about his role as 'daddy's rebellious son', even going as far as to tell him something along the lines of "Father should be the one who understands best, ain't I the manifestation of his greed?". To be honest, though, Father is one hell of a tyrannical father.
    • Plus, of course, there's the fact that the Big Bad is named "Father", looks exactly like Ed's Father, and is defeated by Ed.
    • In the 2003 anime version, the homunculus Envy's goal in life is killing Hohenheim. At the same time, he's immensely jealous of Edward because he is Hohenheim's real son -and, presumably, because he is the most similar to Hohenheim and Hoju in appearance and personality. In the movie, he even succeeds not only in killing Hohenheim before Ed's very shocked eyes, but also in not crying "Daddy, why don't you love me?". Interestingly, Ed looks absolutely shell-shocked for about two minutes and he later doesn't seem to care much, which might or might not mean a lot about how he really feels towards his old man. Then again, he doesn't seem to care much about Alfons's death either and maybe the movie never happened.
  • Seishiro Sakurazuka of X/1999 had an... interesting relationship with his mother, Setsuka, who was one disturbed woman. Setsuka implies that her soulmate was her own son. The relationship, however, was one-sided, as Seishiro's soulmate was very obviously (and reciprocally) Subaru. The non-reciprocated soulmate theme also appears with Tomoyo and Sakura in Cardcaptor Sakura. Oh, and he killed her. At her request.
  • Dr. Black Jack has some issues to work out concerning his parents. For example: when his estranged father contacts and hires him to conduct reconstructive plastic surgery on his second wife Renka to make her the "most beautiful woman in the world," Black Jack decides to makes her look exactly like his mother — Half because he wanted to constantly torment his father with the face of the woman he ran out on, and half because he actually did think his mother the was most beautiful woman in the world.
  • "Syaoran" of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle has been recently revealed to have this, being in love with what appears to be an alternate universe clone of his mother. Played with a bit in that instead of wanting to kill his father, he wants to be him. To the point that he's been going by his father's name since he was seven his real name is Tsubasa and for several years (until it was revealed that he was the son of Syaoran) he was thought to be his father by most of the fandom, as he looks exactly like him, acts similarly, has identical abilities, etc.
    • The problem has later been justified or muddled, its hard to tell, by the fact that his father is apparently his clone, and his mother is a clone of his own Sakura.
      • At precisely which point in the either 4-man or 2-man loop (which one it is depends on perspective) this trope sets in is a matter best left to philosophers on illegal substances with mental disorders. The philosophers have the mental disorders. Probably.
    • Note that the revelation about his father being his clone also means that he did try to kill his father, although to be fair he didn't know the clone was his father at the time and had quite good reasons to do so.
  • The Lancer of Digimon Savers, Touma, is very cool to his father, Franz Norstein, but is endlessly devoted to Relena, his younger half-sister, and clearly adores his deceased mother. This is both made obvious and foreshadowed by his almost instant "crush" on Masaru's mother and younger sister. While it's never stated outright, it is heavily implied that Touma was born out of wedlock, and his mother was a foreign exchange student who had an affair with his father. Touma's hatred of his father stems from Franz's weakness of character: his inability to defend his son from his judgmental mother, and to do what is right to save his daughter, rather than what is there and easy.
  • Chibiusa of Sailor Moon is attracted to a literal younger version of her father and is usually in conflict with the younger version of her mother. Thus the perils of time traveling family members.
  • Wolfwood from Trigun has one big, big problem with his adopted dad / tyrannical father figure. Interestingly, he has a different father figure in the anime and in the manga. Also note that there are indications that unlike his manga equivalent, anime Chapel has genuine affection for his young 'charge', albeit in a completely twisted way.
  • I can think of two of these from Pocket Monsters. In the manga Pokémon Special, Ruby runs away from home to escape his father Norman and prove to him that he can live his dreams. In the end, he sees that everything Norman did was really out of love for Ruby. Later, Silver finds out that his father is Giovanni. He refuses to accept this at first, but Blue talks him out of it eventually. In the games, the implication of Giovanni being Silver's dad remains.
    • And it went from implied to outright confirmed in HeartGold / SoulSilver.
    • No mention of Falkner and Janine? Those kids have got some very apparent daddy issues, not only in the games (in which they're the new gym leaders to their respective gym, overshadowed by their fathers, who were the previous gym leaders), but also in the manga (same issue as above, but both fathers are currently missing, which adds frustration to both of them at one point in the manga). A call from Janine on the Pokegear in HGSS even lampshades this:
    Janine: This is Janine. How are you doing? Falkner in Violet City... he’s talking about his dad all the time! Seriously, he’s such a daddy’s boy, he needs to become his own person sometime, you know? What do you mean, I should talk? Ha ha—mind your own business! -click-
  • Lelouch Lamperouge, the protagonist of Code Geass, has the ultimate goal of learning who killed his mother, and then killing his father the Emperor, whether or not he's responsible. Of course, since momma Marianne is portrayed as only two steps short of sainthood, and poppa Charles is a Social Darwinist Jerkass, his attitude may be justified.
    • Episode 21 of R2 plays it straight: His mother Marianne, who wasn't really dead, doesn't give a damn about either Lelouch or his sister, who in turn was actually crippled by their dad Charles, all because she was Charles' co-conspirator the whole time. In fact she spins around giddily while talking about their shared plans, not even greeting Lelouch. Talk about Abusive Parents.
      • Somewhat twisted in that Marianne and Charles did love their children. Said love, however, turned both of them into horrendously extreme Knight Templar Parents: their plans were about bringing Instrumentality to create a new world free from lies, where Lelouch and Nunnally would be "happy". Only they were willing to destroy the world as they did so and never ever bothered to ask their kids what they thought of, even going as far as doing... well, what they did to Nunners and Lulu.
      • Especially ironic since the whole plan was based on lying to and tormenting the children they loved, with Charles altering his daughter's memories and crippling her as well as traumatizing them for life in an attempt to keep V.V. from going after them and killing them too. Lelouch also calls them out for abandoning him and Nunnally in Japan and not bothering to look for them, instead focusing on finding C.C. and going forward with the plan, on the basis Lulu and Nunners didn't need to be ALIVE to be reunited with their parents in Instrumentality. Big Screwed-Up Family, indeed.
  • The main theme of the manga Kamisama Kazoku, as main character Samataro wants to prove that he doesn't need his father, a god, doing everything in his omnipotent (and bumbling) power to make Samataro's life easier. Samataro's goddess mother self-admittedly adores her son like a lover, and repeatedly shocks and embarrasses him with her Innocent Fanservice Girl ways.
  • Female example from Iono the Fanatics, the titular character's love of black hair was because of her mother. Made rarer by the fact that there is no father in the equation. And even weirder since Iono has black hair herself.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! may very well have this is the basis for lead Negi's need to chase his father (or it could just be a traumatic need for love). Also if you want to take the hints seriously, Negi may very well be getting paired with all of his mother/big sister figures.
    • And on the subject of people who love their parents, almost disturbingly, we have Yuuna and her feelings for her father. This is taken to a disturbing level when Haruna brings up the subject of "deep, passionate kissing" (supposedly for Pactio purposes), Yuuna remarks that she wouldn't mind if it were her dad. The other girls are quite Squicked by this revelation.
  • Gundam 00: Andrei Smirnov utterly loathes his father, who he blames for the death of his mother.
  • Nataku of Houshin Engi has some serious daddy-issues surrounding the nature of his existence, and his mother is more or less his Morality Chain.
  • Seto Kaiba's competition with his adopted father forms his Back Story in the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and is given its own arc in the anime version.
  • Kaiba's third Expy on Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Edo Phoenix, also undergoes this when he duels his adopted father in revenge for killing his biological father.
  • Gankutsuou: The manga implies that Albert is looking for a father figure in the Count because he has issues with his authoritarian real father. He also has an interesting relationship with his mother.
    • There's also Andrea who takes this to the logical extreme: although he doesn't kill his father, "only" gives him a poison that destroys his mind, he has sex with his mother and tries to rape his half-sister.
  • Cygnus Hyoga from Saint Seiya with his dead frozen mother Natasha.
  • Hare of Hare+Guu has a bit of an implied crush on his mom. His father isn't likely to be on the best terms with him either.
    • Guu even says that he has this in one episode.
  • Gender Flipped in Fruits Basket with Tohru Honda. Her love for her mother reached near-worshipful levels, but she resents her father, blaming him for her mother's near-suicidal depression after his death. Also present with Akito, who loved her father but hated her mother, although it's partly Ren's fault for taking certain precautions against an Oedipus Complex before Akito was even born.
  • In FLCL, Naota's father Kamon is constantly making passes at Haruko and Naota keeps catching them in Not What It Looks Like situations. Meanwhile Haruko is aggressively flirting with Naota. In the fourth episode, Naota snaps and accidentally kills Kamon, but it turns out to be a robotic duplicate of him, and his actual father is a decaying corpse in the closet. He comes Back from the Dead later in the episode and they make up.
  • In GUN×SWORD, we have William Will Woo, who ended up killing his own mother when he tried to kill his father while he was a kid (She jumped in the way of the blade). Because of this, he seeks redemption by blindly following his father ( Who is The Claw) to to atone for what he did, telling Van he did it all 'for his sake'. Is of the 'worships his mother to extreme levels' type, which allows him to use The Power of Love in his battle against Van, although it's debatable whether it's lust or love, as he is seen naked around her portrait most of the time.
  • In Free Soul, an Electra complex is what drives a good deal of Nikki's behavior.
  • Eric in The Heart Of Thomas has an unhealthy attachment to his mother, to the point that he freaks out when his mother is affectionate to her lovers. He eventually grows out of it, albeit under tragic circumstances.
  • In Naruto, Gaara's conflict with his father, the Fourth Kazekage, is perhaps the main reason why he went insane and stayed that way until he met Naruto. The man sealed a well-known psychotic demon into his pregnant wife, killing her in the process, in order to make Gaara into a weapon. To say nothing of when he ordered Gaara's maternal uncle and caretaker to make an assassination attempt on his nephew in order to judge his worth as a weapon for the village. His treatment of his son was so bad that it was enough to get an entry on the Archnemesis Dad page. Ironically, though, Gaara's not the one who kills him — Orochimaru is. At the same time, Gaara's mother loved her son enough to be the driving force of his automatic sand defense, even though she had long since passed from the world.
  • Prince Sincline from Go Lion absolutely despised his father and sought to overthrow him, while his obsessive love for Fala seemed to be based on the fact she looks and acts like his deceased mother, whom he's been having dreams of.

    Comic Books 
  • The 2000 Comic Book run of Captain Marvel has said hero destroy the universe at the behest of Entropy and Epiphany, actually Anthropomorphic Personification children of the Anthropomorphic Personification of the universe. Later he dies and beats up his own dad on the other side.
  • Ultron, the killer robot nemesis of The Avengers, hates his 'father' Hank Pym, and loves his 'mother' Janet Van Dyne.
    • Ultron at one point created a sexy fem-bot using Janet Van Dyne's psyche as the template for her robotic intelligence. As a shout-out to the Trope Namer, he named this fem-bot Jocasta, which is the name of Oedipus' mother.
      • The obsession has gone far enough that in a more recent appearance, Ultron made himself into a herself,using Tony Stark's body/armor in order to form a biomechanical clone body of Janet.
  • The DCU is full of this also it is strictly subtext.There are Batman-Dick Grayson-Catwoman, Batman-Jason Todd-Talia, Batman-Dick-Batgirl, Aquaman-Tempest-Dolphin, Green Arrow-Arsenal-Black Canary, Superman-Superboy-Lana/Lois.
    • To simplify it somewhat, anyone who's A: a sidekick or B: a younger/alternate version of a hero has had iffy subtext with someone they shouldn't have had it with. This goes double (triple?) for Batman and the Robins (even after they've stopped being Robin).
      • And you thought Ultron was sick.
    • In The Dark Knight Returns Carrie Kelly's parents are neglectful to the point of not even remembering they have a kid, so she latches onto Batman. She makes no bones about loving him before she comes out and says it in the sequel.
  • AGAIN with DC Comics: Each Brother Blood, the leader of the Church of Blood, has ascended to his position by killing his father (the previous "Brother Blood") and making his mother the new High Priestess.
  • Marvel provide a strange example with Nate Grey, who had a close - it is never outright stated whether it was platonic or not, but the general implication is not - relationship with the psionic ghost (made physical by his vast psychic power) Madelyne Pryor, who became physical when he reached out for his mother.

    Film 
  • Amusingly mentioned in Analyze This:
    Dr. Ben Sobel: Oedipus was a Greek king who killed his father and married his mother.
    Boss Paul Vitti: Fuckin' Greeks.
  • Back to the Future has a lot of fun with this, but most obviously comes down on the side of inversion; neither Lorraine or George are aware that 'Calvin Klein' is their future son Marty, but Lorraine wants to get very close to Marty (much to his horror), and rather than supplanting his father Marty has to do the exact opposite and build him up to make sure that his family fortunes end up okay.
  • In Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Sigmund Freud analyzes Ted onstage, explaining about Ted's father's resentment to him. As Ted gets up, Sig motions to Bill to take the "couch." Bill, whose father married a girl Bill & Ted went to high school with, merely shrugs him off with "Nah, I'm good. Just a minor Oedipus Complex, dude."
  • Junior, also known as Engine Trouble, featured a bizarre version where the protagonist attempts to seduce the mentally disabled title murderer, by dressing as his mother and then proceeding to grab his crotch to get him to drop his weapon. She then sets him on fire. This works.
  • This seems to be at play in Psycho. Norman Bates' mother deliberately isolated her five-year-old son from the outside world and made him utterly dependent on her after Mr Bates' death. Naturally enough, the twelve-year-old, completely co-dependent Norman then reacts rather badly to her remarriage. One of the sequels outright shows in flashback that Mrs. Bates was sexually abusing Norman until she remarried.
  • In the German-Italian movie The Damned this is taken Up to Eleven by the love-hate relationship between Martin von Essenbeck and his mother.
  • While Lilli never knew her birth mother in Snow White: A Tale of Terror, her initial hatred of her stepmother is sparked by jealousy that someone else was taking her father's attention away. This leads to one interesting scene, where Lilli wears one of her mother's dresses to a party, in the hopes of impressing her father.
  • Star Wars: Anakin Skywalker was very obsessed with his mother. He marries an older woman who looks like his mother. His mother's death is one of the things that drives him to the Dark Side. He supposedly doesn't have a biological father, but Palpatine is hinted to have used the Force to create him and acts as a father figure. Obi Wan is also a father figure to Anakin. Guess what happens to both of them. Perhaps this is In the Blood, since in the Star Wars Expanded Universe (Fate of the Jedi: Allies onward), Luke's son Ben likes a girl who's similar to his (dead) mother, and sides with her over his father in every argument...
  • In Thor: The Dark World, Loki genuinely loves his mother Frigga, and overthrows his father Odin—whom he now loathes after being disowned and nearly executed—usurping the Asgardian throne in the process.
  • In the war drama Conspiracy, Dr. Kritzinger relates a story to Reinhard Heydrich about an old friend of Kritzinger who hated his abusive father but loved his doting mother. To the friend's surprise his mother's death didn't affect him all that much, but his father's death made him cry uncontrollably. The tragedy was that the son's hatred for his father became more important to him than his mother's love, turning him into an empty shell after the man's death.
  • Wicked (1998). Julia Stiles has an Electra Complex that proves deadly to anyone who shows more than a passing interest in her father.
  • The Terminator and its sequels is chock-full of this. It's even lampshaded in Rise Of The Machines, when Kate (Claire Danes) shoots one of the machines. John admiringly says "You remind me of my mother."

    Literature 
  • Hesiod made a plot of this in his Theogony, in which the god Cronos overthrows his abusive father Ouranos, then (as a result of a prophecy that he'd meet a similar fate) abuses his own children until his son Zeus (with the help of Cronos' wife Gaia) overthrows him in turn.
  • A recurring theme in Dennis Lehane's Kenzie and Gennaro Series. The Hero, Patrick Kenzie, hates his abusive father more than anybody else on Earth. Also, the first book features gang leader Roland Angeline and his father Marion Socia, who end up waging a brutal gang war against each other. And the third book subverts it by featuring Corrupt Corporate Executive Trevor Stone waging a war for control against his psychopathic daughter Desiree.
  • Brave New World: John the Savage really likes his mother.
  • In Harry Potter, Voldemort killed his Disappeared Muggle Dad. Barty Crouch was also killed by his son, although you'd never figure it by watching the Goblet of Fire movie.
    • Adding to this, it is also apparent in his later years that Voldemort at least respected his mother for giving birth to him, while still despising his father. Even more interesting is that Severus Snape also hated his father enough for fans to speculate that's where his muggle prejudice stemmed from while attaching himself the name "Prince", taken from his mother, and being fond of Lily Evans because he saw her as having maternal attributes.
    • Interestingly, in the case of Voldemort, we see that it starts out as an inversion. He excitedly figures that he inherited his magical powers from his father, because in his mind, his mother was too weak to have them because she died. (Not exactly love, but it's as close as the Creepy Child ever got)
  • William de Worde from The Truth hates his father, but his mother is a complete nonentity.
  • The Oedipal conflict between King Arthur and his son Mordred is what brings down the Round Table.
    • This is taken Up to Eleven in The Once and Future King, when Mordred decides to get as close as he can to re-enacting the complex by pretending that Arthur was dead so that he could marry Guenevere (the first thing noted when word of this gets out, is how the queen is old enough to be Mordred's mother).
  • The main character's son in Boris Johnson's Seventy Two Virgins is referred to as having an Oedipus complex; the book opens with a number of examples of his sinister behaviour towards the protagonist.
  • Nicholas Harpole and Alec Checkerfield from The Company Novels have a real doozy of a situation: Once upon a time three guys were cloned, two died and became virtually undead, sharing the third body. Deciding to (a) claim their mutual girlfriend for himself, and (b) make sure that the two extra guys got bodies of their own, Edward takes over the body and arranges for Mendoza to bear twin sons and sticks digital Nick and Alec inside them. They grow up, again, with Edward and Mendoza as their parents. Remembering the whole time that "Mommy" is really their girlfriend. Yeah, issues much?
  • An inversion occurs in Washington Square—Lavinia Penniman and Morris Townsend correspond heavily throughout the story (she fancies herself a match maker for her niece), and while she finds him attractive and charming, she also loves him like the son she never had with her late husband. Morris, on the other hand, despises her.
  • In John C. Wright's The Golden Age, the amnesiac Phaethon learns that he is suing to have his father Helion declared dead. Later he offers Helion the information he needs to restore a lost hour to his memory and so be the same person — at a price. Only in The Golden Transcedence does Daphne reveal to Helion that in that hour, he had promised Phaethon the price that Phaethon had set for the memory.
  • Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore has this...plus 1.Kafka's father prophesied that he would murder him, sleep with his mom and sleep with his sister. He does all three, if that's the way you interpret it (Murakami purposefully made the father and sister part something that you had to interpret yourself, as there's evidence for sleeping with and killing his sister/dad and not sleeping with and killing is sister/dad
  • Older Than Dirt: The ancient Hittite story called "The Kingship of Heaven" tells the myth that may have inspired Hesiod's Theogony: The god Alalu is overthrown by his son Anu, he's then overthrown by his son Kumarbi, and he in turn gets overthrown by his son Teshub. Teshub is a thunder god like Zeus, and Kumarbi bites off sky-god Anu's genitals, just as Cronos later castrated the sky-god Ouranos. Like Cronos, Kumarbi produces some of his children from his own body, though in this case it's male pregnancy resulting from said castration.
  • In the Twilight series, Bella constantly refers to Edward as a father figure and is cared for by him in a parental fashion (he holds her in his lap, carries her around, sings her to sleep, etc). Interestingly, Bella doesn't interact in any of those ways with her actual father.
  • In-story example: in Tender Is the Night, a group watches the aptly-named movie Daddy's Girl at the end of which a young woman comes back to her father. Although most of the audience is overjoyed by the ending, the psychanalist Dick Diver is described as wincing because of the obvious implications of Oedipus complex. Yes: somewhere, a psychanalist is wincing.
  • In Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom novel Magic to the Bone, Allie fought quite hard to extricate herself from her father.
  • In Jane Austen's Love and Freindship, Augustus and Sophia to their parents.
    Convinced as you must be from what I have already told you concerning Augustus and Sophia, that there never were a happier Couple, I need not, I imagine, inform you that their union had been contrary to the inclinations of their Cruel and Mercenary Parents; who had vainly endeavoured with obstinate Perseverance to force them into a Marriage with those whom they had ever abhorred; but with an Heroic Fortitude worthy to be related and admired, they had both constantly refused to submit to such despotic Power.
    After having so nobly disentangled themselves from the shackles of Parental Authority, by a Clandestine Marriage, they were determined never to forfeit the good opinion they had gained in the World, in so doing, by accepting any proposals of reconciliation that might be offered them by their Fathers — to this farther tryal of their noble independance, however, they never were exposed.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 spin-off Horus Heresy novels tend to present the eponymous rebellion of Warmaster Horus against the Emperor in very oedipal terms. The Primarchs, and Horus in particular, constantly refer to the Emperor as their father (and since he created them all with genetic manipulation and arcane science, he is the closest thing to a biological father any of them have). Horus becomes disillusioned with the Emperor's plans for humanity and the galaxy in the aftermath of his near-death experience on Davin, and ever after determines to overthrow his father and rule humanity in his stead. His brother Primarchs are split down the middle, some staying loyal to their father, others having nursed similar hatreds and disillusionments and siding with Horus against him. The maternal aspects of the trope do not apply, however, as the Primarchs were vat-grown from synthetic genetic material and thus do not have a mother.
  • In Dangerous Spirits, Konstantine's conflict with his son had a significant impact on him and greatly colors his interactions with Alexei.
  • Sylvia Plath had a couple of poems dealing with her father issues, primarily "Daddy."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played for laughs in Sos Mi Vida, were Quique shoo out all the pretenders of his mother and acts as a possesive boyfriend. They do not have sex on screen, but it is heavily implied.
  • Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined):
    • Lee Adama is presented as forever looking for a way out from under his father's influence. As Lee is a fighter pilot and his father is his commanding officer, this is more than a little difficult. He gets a bit closer to actually doing so in Season Four when he resigns from the military to become a politician.
    • And John Cavil on the Cylon side, complete with frakking his humanoid Cylon "mother".
  • LOST is chock-full of this. Nearly every character has some sort of paternal baggage, and Ben kills his father; Kate kills her father; Locke gets Sawyer to kill his father for him
  • Jim Profit, on Profit, takes this archetype to the logical extreme —by murdering his father and having sex with his (step)mother.
  • Connor on Angel, paralleling Oedipus to an unusually large extent — to many viewers' disgust. No, Cordelia wasn't Connor's mother, but she did change his diapers. The previous year. It's lampshaded by the captured Angelus: "Doing your mom and trying to kill your dad. Hmm. There should be a play." Of course this taunt is clearly meant for viewers; Connor was raised in another dimension and has no idea what he's referencing, and in any case from his perspective has no reason to see Cordelia as someone maternal.
  • In a rare maternal case, in Two and a Half Men Charlie and Alan loathe their mother, Evelyn. Although not shown or implied to hate their father(s), considering how many husbands she went through (at least four) during their childhood, it's not likely that they'd actually care about him/them, either.
    • In one episode, Charlie dates a woman who dresses and acts eerily similar to Evelyn.
  • Merlin - Arthur in "Sins of the Father" borders on this. He meets a (young and beautiful) ghost of his mother, who tells him that his father is to blame for her death. So he tries to kill Uther.
  • In The X-Files, Scully once admitted to being turned on by men who reminded her of her father.
  • Referenced in Community, where Britta (presumably correctly) surmises that Jeff's Calling the Old Man Out speech to Pierce's father is a manifestation of his unresolved animosity towards his own dad.
  • Inverted with Francis in Malcolm in the Middle, he absolutely hates his mother, yet doesn't seem to mind his dad too much. He does, however, end up dating and marrying an Eskimo lady who had a very similar demeanor as his mother, though.
  • The Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Three Julies" had the Red Herring suspect, a schizophrenic man named Matthew Teeger, being almost completely obsessed with his mother, almost to Norman Bates levels, once even severely injuring his stepdad under the belief that the stepdad was hurting her, and even taxyderming his mother after she died in order to keep people thinking that she was still alive, including himself apparently. However, despite these facts, it turns out that he's completely harmless, or at least not the person targeting the various Julie Teegers.
  • Boardwalk Empire features James Darmody, who is extremely close to his (thirteen years older) mother, Gillian. Eventually, we learn that Jimmy once slept with his mother while both were drunk. He then kills his father, the Commodore, in the same episode where this is revealed, and had earlier tried to have his father figure Nucky killed as well.
  • Frasier dates a woman who is the spitting image of his mother. He even manages to blind himself once he figures it out.

    Music 
  • There are Electra overtones in Lady Gaga's music, most notably:
    • The line "Daddy, I'm so sorry, I'm so s-s-sorry, yeah" in "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich";
    • The line "Her boyfriend's like a dad, just like a dad" in "Alejandro";
    • The line "Papa-Paparazzi" in, well, Paparazzi, always spelled "Papa" and not "Pa-Pa".
    • Speechless is apparently about her father.
  • Also, Regina Spektor's song "Oedipus".
  • The Doors' "The End".
    • The line in question is "father, I want to kill you. Mother, I want to...(incoherent scream)". According to one biographer, when singer Jim Morrison's mother attended a concert by her son's band, he replaced the incoherent scream with the implied "fuck you".
  • "Momma's Boy", by Chromeo.
  • Erika Shevon in Twista's "Wetter":
    I'm callin ya Daddy
    Can you be my daddy
    I need a daddy
    Won't you be my daddy
  • Tom Lehrer's Oedipus Rex.
    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...
  • Lana Del Rey loves to use the word "Daddy".

    Theater 
  • Though Oedipus the King is not a true example, the story of Phaedra is more Oedipal. Kinda. Phaedra, wife of Theseus, is in love with her stepson, Hippolytus. He is appropriately squicked out, and this drives her crazy so she tells Theseus that Hippolytus raped her. It all ends with Hippolytus being eaten by a sea monster in the middle of the grassland, and Phaedra drinks some poison to kill herself.
    • Euripides's tragedy Hippolytus recounts this myth, though with the monster sent from Poseidon causing Hippolytus's chariot to crash and Phaedra hanging herself.
  • Harold Pinter's plays. Though, to be honest, everybody hates everybody in the Pinter verse.
  • Hamlet. Although the title character ostensibly wants to kill his stepfather/uncle in order to avenge his father, generations of William Shakespeare scholars, directors and actors have seen a deeper, less conscious motive. Let's just say that Hamlet may have more than the normal filial affection for Gertrude. Mel Gibson's 1990 film version especially plays up this aspect of their relationship.
  • Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra adapts a classic Greek tragic trilogy, the Orestia, relocating it to New England after the end of the Civil War. Incestuous undertones are a major motivation of the murderous actions of the characters—at the least, both of the children display unhealthy obsession with the parent of the opposite gender, and deep-seated dislike of the parent of the same gender.
  • In Peter Pan, Wendy had subtle undertones of an electra complex.
  • Pointed out in The Producers song "Keep It Gay"
    Oedipus won't bomb
    if he winds up with mom

    Video Games 
  • Persona 2: Innocent Sin is the most Oedipal game ever. Ten years ago, the shrine where the main characters played as kids was burnt down (with two of them inside, no less) and Tatsuya's father was put on the case. He nearly found the culprit, Tatsuya Sudou (a different Tatsuya), and was kicked off the police force because Sudou's father is the foreign minister. Tatsuya became ashamed with his father for losing his job (and not looking for another one), and tried to break away from his family and become independent. Eikichi has had a bad relationship with his father since the 1989 Tanabata Festival, at least, who wants him to inherit the family business, a sushi shop. However, Eikichi hates sushi, and wants to become a Visual Kei star (because of some other issues), and Visual Kei is probably the least traditional thing in Japan, so Eikichi is stuck as the non-traditional son of a very traditional man note . Lisa's father wants her to be a "traditional Japanese lady", only he's a Japanophile who hasn't done much research, so "traditional Japanese lady" means "Yamato Nadeshiko in a kimono" to him. She rebels by speaking Cantonese, doing more modern things, and dating older men and experimenting with drugs for money. Maya's father was a war photographer who had to leave a lot, and was eventually killed in action. She decided to become a journalist who balances her family and her work. Yukino's father walked out on her family, so she's a total tomboy, turned into a gangster (but she gets better before the start of Persona and has a thing for her boss, a slightly older man. Jun's father was an occultist who believed that aliens lived beneath Sumaru City and Hitler was a Mayan sorcerer, annoying his mother (a model). She spread nasty rumours about him until he killed himself (or was possibly killed by Hitler's minions), and Nyarlathotep, the Big Bad, disguised himself as the "cool dad" Jun told his friends about. Jun's mother abandoned him and he ran away from home to live with Nyarlathotep, eventually becoming the Disc One Final Boss, The Joker, and believing that Lisa, Tatsuya, and Eikichi killed Maya, his Cool Big Sis. Oh, and the Sudous we mentioned earlier? Tatsuzou shut his son up in a mental asylum due to his schizophrenia and pyromania and forgot about him. Tatsuya Sudou is pretty pissed off by the time Eternal Punishment starts.
  • Final Fantasy X has tons of this. Tidus, The Hero, hates his father, Jecht, with a passion. Not only has his entire blitzball career played out in the shadow of his famous father, as a child he was also constantly competing with him for the mother's attention. The fact that his father was basically an insensitive, alcoholic bastard might also have had something to do with it, though... and of course, Tidus ends up killing his father in the semi-final boss-fight — in the very best Oedipal tradition. Compounding the Freudian subtext is one of the game's primary antagonists, Maester Seymour Guado. To sum up: He loved his mother deeply, but she out of misguided love for him felt that the only way for him to be accepted in a xenophobic world would be for him to become a High Summoner and use her as his Final Aeon. The end result was Mommy dearest becoming this. As for his father, Jyscal, Seymour kills him before the game even starts to gain his position as Maester (think fantasy!Cardinal) as part of a long and convoluted Evil Plan to Mercy Kill the entire planet, and presumably as revenge for his father exiling him. In addition to the practical gains made by removing Jyscal, the backstory hints at how Jyscal was not a loving parent—nor even a presence in his life, really, as he spent his childhood in seclusion with his mother—hence Seymour grew to resent and hate him. And none of this is going into Yuna's ...relationship with her father. Truly, the issues of the characters in this Final Fantasy iteration are staggering.
    • Of course, by the end Tidus' mother is long since dead and he does manage to reconcile with his father, who in turn genuinely repented of his actions before becoming Sin. It's more explicit in Dissidia, where Tidus is explicit about his feelings. "I'd always thought I'd prefer if you weren't there, but honestly... I only became strong so you would approve of me. ... That's all I ever wanted."
  • Hinted at with Sephiroth of Final Fantasy VII but completely exaggerated in the fandom. That said, he is obsessed with what he perceives as his "mother" and he absolutely hates his father, (even if he doesn't know who his father is) Professor Hojo...
    • Funnily enough, he doesn't seem to pay much attention to his birth-mother (well, of the regular kind), Lucrecia, most likely not even knowing she existed.
  • Dissidia: Final Fantasy (as noted above) not only features a streamlined (but ultimately less hostile) version of the Tidus/Jecht conflict, but has another example that you need to read inbetween the lines to uncover. Cosmos and Chaos have a substantial amount of Foe Yay going on between the scenes. It is later on revealed that despite their status as the Goddess of Harmony and God of Discord, the two once benevolently ruled the world together in bliss, apparently as lovers. Now here comes the Squick: It is heavily implied that Cosmos is some permutation of Cid of the Lufaine's wife, her memories transferred into a construct made in her image. This was done to soothe the soul of Garland, Chaos' Dragon and a former Tykebomb Kid Soldier who was Happily Adopted by Cid and his wife. For those not in the know, Garland and Chaos (via a Stable Time Loop plan) are one in the same. In other words, Chaos' partner is also his adoptive mother. When he kills her, his act throws the multiverse into whack and shocks him into a Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum, as he didn't want to live with the atrocities he committed. Without the presence of Cosmos, he saw no more meaning in his existence, actively seeking for the heroes to kill him, not only as a way to restore the balance, but to ease his torment, and perhaps allow him to reunite with his beloved once more. There are so many Freudian and Oedipal overtones just oozing from this.
    • There's also the narrator, Cid of the Lufaine, who is Cosmos's husband and Chaos's adoptive father. While Chaos can't kill him, he does the next best thing and turns him into a Moogle before locking him away.
  • Lloyd Irving from Tales of Symphonia
  • Devil May Cry bleeds Oedipal subtext, no shortness of thanks going to Dante's love interest who looks exactly like his mother. The new game looks poised to continue this tradition with the new main character's non-blood mother-figure.
  • Disgaea: Hour of Darkness: Laharl has shown signs of this, claiming that he wanted to kill his father. (How much of that is just bluster is unknown). His Implied Love Interest, Flonne, is also stated to be very much like his dead mother, and this trope is brought up when Thursday and Captain Gordon, Defender of Earth! find a picture of the late Queen in Laharl's bedroom in Disgaea Infinite.
    • Mao spends almost all of Disgaea 3 training to kill his father. Subverted when it turns out that his hatred for his father came from Aurum's brainwashing, he actually admired Daddy very much.
  • Sasha Nein of Psychonauts has no mother, as the player finds out when accessing his memories. He remembers her death, and as a child practised his unfamiliar psychic abilities on his father, who was tight-lipped about his mother. His father unknowingly supplies many of his own memories of Sasha's mother via psychic means, including one nearly-explicit memory that makes Sasha retreat like a bat out of hell.
    • Raz himself also has this going on, since he states that his father has him train constantly as an acrobat and rejects his attempts to use his psychic powers, as well as psychic gypsies cursing his family with Super Drowning Skills, which leads to Raz's mental image of his father as a psychic-hating sadist. Turns out at the end that his father is actually a psychic himself and was merely trying to help train Raz to control his powers, even helping him combat his Freudian Excuse incarnate.
    • Coach Oleander, as a child was traumatized by the fact that his father was a butcher who chopped up any bunnies that he kept as pets, which along with the fact that he's never been able to get into the military leads him to try and Take Over the World. The final boss in fact is a monstrous combination of both Raz and Oleander's mental images of their fathers.
  • Basically deconstructed as Raziel's entire character arc in Legacy of Kain. His entire motivation initially seems to be to exact revenge on his father Kain after an apparently very Oedipal preventive attempted infanticide. However, it turns out that the entire chain of events was set into motion by Kain himself as a very complex Gambit Roulette involving Time Travel to induce a Screw Destiny to actually, in the end, save Nosgoth from corruption and Raziel himself from becoming a soul attached to a sword, meaning that Kain more or less killed Raziel out of love to prevent him from suffering a Fate Worse than Death.
  • In Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Rock Howard is pretty much defined by his hate of his Disappeared Dad, Geese.
  • The simplest way of describing the entire plot of the Metal Gear saga is this trope. For every major character in it. Yes, all of them.
    • Bonus points to Naked Snake for having an Oedipus complex plot with a woman who is, biologically, unrelated to him.
    • The members of the Cobra Unit all regard The Boss as a mother figure... including The Sorrow who would go on to become her Love Interest and the father of her child. This is, unsurprisingly, made fun of in this strip of The Last Daysof Foxhound.
  • Present as a strong subtext, if not text, in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. "I love my Daddy" is used as a Madness Mantra in the game, and depending on how you see the Raw Shocks, it can be argued that Cheryl has feelings for her father that are not appropriate.
  • A good part of the reason why Lord Alvis of Velthomer from Fire Emblem Jugdral is so fucked up comes from this, since his father Viktor was a philandering asshole who killed himself once he found out his wife Cigyun cheated on him with Kurth Prince of Grandbell, and said mother ran away in shame afterwards and never returned (She was pregnant with Kurth's child, and ultimately fell victim to Death by Childbirth). All of this happened when Alvis was seven years old: he grew up into a conflicted Magnificent Bastard with serious issues with almost every female (except for his aidé Aida and his half-brother Azel's mother) to the point of killing whoever mentioned his idealised Missing Mom in a bad light in front of him.
  • In Double Switch, Eddie gives off very strong vibes of this, because he apparently wishes that his father was dead, and he loves his mother. In fact, he did say something like "Why don't you just get out of our lives?!" to his father.
  • In Dishonored, Emily's feelings for Corvo range from treating him as a Parental Substitute to having a crush on him, though she doesn't bear her mother any ill-will. (In fact, she seems to believe that Corvo would like to marry her mother but can't, and offers her own hand in substitute. She is only a child.) It's implied that Corvo may be her father.

    Visual Novels 
  • It's not explicitly stated in the story itself, but Akai Ito can be approximately summarized as Oedipus Complex meets Girls Love. Of the girls that the main character (a girl named Kei) can end-up living together with, two of them are as if mother to her. Another one come from a family of her mother. Kei has the memory of killing her own father. The memory is real... just not hers.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The South Park episode "201" retcons "Scott Tenorman Must Die" into this: Eric Cartman kills his father without realizing it's his father.
  • While not biologically his dad, this is pretty much textbook example of this trope between Danny Phantom and Vlad Masters/Plasmius. The fandom couldn't be happier.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula is Daddy's Little Villain and felt like she was the Un Favorite of her mother compared to Zuko. As things fall apart in the end, she hallucinates her mother saying "I love you." This drives her into full Villainous Breakdown.
  • Thailog of Gargoyles is an Evil Twin of Goliath, cloned by Doctor Sevarius and trained by Xanatos; his goal in life is to upstage all three fathers (or at least Goliath and Xanatos, Sevarius not so much). Taken to unsettling extremes concerning the women in Goliath's clan, as he has seduced Goliath's ex-mate Demona and made a pass at his daughter. At one point, he cloned Evil Twins of the rest of the clan, and while he was at it he cloned a concubine, Delilah, for himself, made from a combination of DNA from both Goliath's previous and current love interests. Creepy...
    • The latter was one of Thailog's major Kick the Dog moments, since Demona had no idea he would create Delilah (she was involved with the cloning of the others), and he more or less stated outright that Delilah was her replacement.
  • Tai Lung and Shifu of Kung Fu Panda. Though never explicitly stated in the film (par for the course for this trope), both the Subtext and information revealed elsewhere imply that by naming Tai Lung "Dragon" and filling the snow leopard's head with dreams and fantasies about becoming the Dragon Warrior, Shifu was living vicariously through his son — trying to turn the foundling into what he was not and could never be. By the same token, it's fairly clear that aside from wanting to earn the red panda's pride and approval, Tai Lung fully intended to prove himself Shifu's better and replace him, both at the Jade Palace and as the ultimate kung fu warrior in the valley.
  • Clay from Moral Orel, largely courtesy of the fact his mother spoiled him rotten and ignored his father to the point of leaving him to eat Clay's leftovers. His Oedipus Complex is played quite disgustingly in the episode Nesting, in which he has a High Octane Nausea Fuel moment in which he imagines himself naked climbing the legs of a chicken - representing his mother - and bathing in the egg fluids. Also Miss Censordoll takes advantage of him, only adding more Squick. Clay's antagonism towards his father is also very intense.
    • It's briefly implied that Bloberta might have had an Electra Complex herself. Her mother was very strict with her and showed Parental Favoritism towards her siblings. When her much more understanding father tried to "try" to help her, she says "I love you Daddy," then he looks notably uncomfortable and leaves.
  • Walt from Futurama. It's supposedly what keeps him in line, although he's not especially bright in any case. Most worryingly, when he shamelessly admits it, his brothers actually smile in a manner that suggests they agree with him.
    Walt: (right after being insulted and slapped by Mom) "Some day I want to marry a girl like her."
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer fears that Marge and Bart have fallen in love. Lisa brings up this term when talking to Homer.
  • In an episode of American Dad!, appropriately titled "Oedipal Panties", Stan is shown to have Yandere tendencies towards his mother, having kidnapped her boyfriends and dumped them on a deserted island so she can depend on him. Includes a scene with the two naked in the tub with Stan singing a song about scrubbing her vagina. Be right back, throwing up!
    Stan: YOU STAY AWAY FROM MY MOMMA!
  • In Adventure Time, Marceline has issues with her dad and fond memories of her mom. At one point, she gets in a scrap with her father that he takes to be Marceline "finally trying to take down [her] old man", although she's rather upset by the suggestion.


Obstructive BureaucratArchetypal CharacterOld Soldier
No Sympathy Between MooksDiscord TropesOpposites Attract Revenge
New Parent Nomenclature ProblemParental IssuesOedipus Rex
Nurture Over NaturePsychology TropesOnly Child Syndrome
Obnoxious In-LawsOlder Than DirtOffing the Offspring
Obvious JudasThis Index Is Not an ExampleOfficer and a Gentleman

alternative title(s): Electra Complex
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
126083
2