Relative Button

A long time ago, Bob brutally murdered Alice's family while she was away at school. Now, Alice has finally found him.

A brutal fight ensues, and then he says the following:

Alice is incensed, and it gives her the Heroic Second Wind she needed to beat Bob to a pulp. That said, heroes should beware, as Genre Savvy villains often use this as a means of provoking heroes into making a crucial mistake, such as getting a hero to leave their hiding spot in order to attack the villain, only to find that doing so exposed them to a whole bunch of mooks the villain brought along who actually know how to shoot, since they weren't trained at the Stormtrooper Academy.

See also Mama Bear, Papa Wolf, You Killed My Father, Would You Like to Hear How They Died?, Post Rape Taunt, and Reminiscing About Your Victims. If this is invoked in a villain rather than by a villain, it usually overlaps with Even Evil Has Loved Ones and Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas.

Not to be confused with Relative Error, which is when two related people are mistaken for being a couple.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, when Edward Elric's brother sacrifices himself, the person who caused Al to do that has some serious problems. This is after many an Al-related violent encounter. Don't mess with Edward Elric's family. Don't.
  • In the Monster Rancher anime, Moo presses this for both Tiger and Holly at the end of the second season. With Tiger, he taunts him about having to fight and kill Gray Wolf, and for Holly, he says that her father is completely gone and he wishes she could have seen how pitiful he looked at the very end.
  • Kill la Kill: Nui Harime taunts Ryuko about killing her father in a completely nonchalant way, as she has shown to have fun killing him.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • The Emergency! fic "Revenge" is a good example with Roy. John isn't a blood brother, but Roy considers him family still. He gets into a full on fistfight with the guy who kidnapped and tortured Johnny when the guy follows him to the station after rescuing John. Shows up other times in the overall series as well, like when John's evil uncle tries to rape him.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Lion King: when Scar thinks that Simba is at his mercy he tries to twist the knife by whispering: "I killed Mufasa.".
  • In Epic, Mandrake does not take kindly to Dagda's death.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Subverted in the 2011 version of Fright Night. Jerry maliciously tells Peter "You have your mother's eyes. And your father's aim." Unfortunately Peter barely manages to get a couple of shots off at Jerry before things go to hell.
  • In James Bond movie Quantum of Solace, Camille does it after the general says "I knew your family, I must have been the last person to see them alive..."
  • Memorably used in Gladiator, except with less of the beatdown effect and instead just provoking Maximus' Implacable Man. Commodus cements his Moral Event Horizon by casually bringing up Maximus' wife's gang-rape and the crucifixion of his son while Maximus is surrounded by the Praetorian Guards. The facial expressions of the Praetorians don't budge, but they allow Maximus to leave without Commodus' permission and give him a small nod of respect as he goes. And then in the final Duel to the Death the Guards refuse to give Commodus a sword after he gets disarmed by Maximus.
  • In Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader attempts to threaten do something terrible to Luke Skywalker's sister Leia, either kill her or turn her to the Dark Side. Luke reaches the Rage Breaking Point before Vader can finish his sentence, flies into Unstoppable Rage, and defeats him. Cue What Have I Done and an internal If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him.
    • And with Anakin's motives for turning to the dark side in the first place explored in the prequels, it also counts as a Not So Different moment; it was the fear of losing his only remaining family (wife and child for Anakin, sister for Luke) that drove both of them.
      • Anakin slaughters to death an enitre Tusken village after seeing what they did to his mother.
  • When a young Bruce Wayne confronts mob boss Carmine Falcone in Batman Begins, he casually relates Joe Chill's highly untrue version of how Chill killed Wayne's parents for little purpose other than to Kick the Dog as his mooks are about to drag Bruce out of the building.
  • Done deliberately to try provoking Benjamin Martin in The Patriot. At a truce between Martin's rebels and the British, Dragon-in-Chief British Colonel Tavington, who is returning from other duties, recognizes Martin and realizes Martin must be the ruthless guerilla leader that has been giving Tavington trouble. Tavington immediately tries to order Martin killed, only for another British officer to furiously countermand the order, stating that under a truce they cannot kill a man who has attempted no violence there. Tavington then taunts Martin about shooting one of Martin's sons and asks if the boy died. Martin keeps himself from rising to the bait. Barely.
    Tavington: You know, it's an ugly business, doing one's duty. But just occasionally, it's a real pleasure.
  • In Se7en, Serial Killer John Doe does this to Detective Mills at the very end, reveling how he murdered Mlls' pregnant wife Tracy in order to get Mills to play his part in Doe's Thanatos Gambit.
  • Subverted in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. Freddy Krueger throws Alice into a Bad Future nightmare where she still works the same dead-end job until she's old and grey, before he shows her how delicious he finds teenagers' souls by serving up a "soul pizza". Freddy eats Alice's previously deceased brother Rick in front of her by devouring his soul purely to be a dick to Alice, but she's way too horrified to react with immediate rage.
  • Face/Off: As if Troy killing Archer's son during a botched hit wasn't bad enough, he then has to throw in a rape threat towards Archer's daughter Jamie during his arrest of Troy. Archer reacts as pissed off as you'd expect.
  • In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Guy of Gisbourne taunted Robin about his father's death so that Robin would leave the cover of Sherwood forest and try to fight Guy and all his mooks, something which would certainly get Robin killed. He might have succeeded had Azeem not stopped Robin and talked sense into him.
  • The Kurgan from the first Highlander movie does this twice, once intentionally, once unintentionally. The last time he runs into Connor before their final duel, he brags about killing Connor's mentor Ramirez, and, obviously pleased about himself, also gloats about raping Ramirez' woman. At the time that he said that, the Kurgan didn't know that that woman he raped was actually Connor's wife Heather, but once he saw the look on Connor's face and realized the truth, he quickly turned it into a Post Rape Taunt as another way to get under Connor's skin.

    Literature 
  • This occurs in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's / Sorcerer's Stone, when Harry, upon meeting Voldemort for the first time, is taunted that he will die like his parents, that they died "Begging Voldemort for mercy." Not quite the same, but it gives Harry strength.
  • In an unusually Genre Savvy moment from an animalistic sociopath, Gregor Clegane from A Song of Ice and Fire waits until the moment that he is about to kill someone before pushing their Relative Button.
    • Gregor is Sandor Clegane's Relative Button personified: don't directly compare the two as being quite similar to each other near the Hound. Just... don't.
    • In A Dance With Dragons, Stannis' army gets caught by an immense snow storm in the middle of marching. Bogged down for weeks, some soldiers resort to cannibalism to survive. When caught, they are sentenced to die by burning at the stake. One of the soldiers involved intentionally taunts the executioner about eating the executioner's cousin so that he will be killed quickly by the executioner (who slits his throat) instead of burning alive.

    Live Action TV 
  • One of the relatively rare cases of a hero doing this to a villain shows up in Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Mayor, the Arc Villain of that season, has basically adopted Buffy's Evil Counterpart Faith as a daughter, and shows true affection for her. Buffy has to fight with Faith and puts her into a coma during the course of the season. After the Mayor has turned himself into a giant snake demon in the season finale, Buffy taunts him about what she did to Faith in order to get him to chase her directly into a trap set by the good guys.

    Theatre 
  • In Cats, Munkustrap and Alonzo, two of Old Deuteronomy's sons (per Word of God), are the first Jellicles to go up against Macavity, who had kidnapped their father and even impersonated him.

    Video Games 
  • Arl Howe will taunt the Human Noble Warden this way in Dragon Age: Origins. Depending on whether you're playing as The Hero or a Villain Protagonist, it could be either played straight or subverted (he dies either way, but it could be you don't care about what he did to your family).
  • Star Wolf tends to do this with Fox in Star Fox 64, most notably Wolf saying, "You'll be seeing your dad soon, Fox!" and Pigma saying, "Daddy screamed REAL good before he DIED!"

    Webcomics 
  • Happens with pets instead of relatives in this Sluggy Freelance strip.
    Jane: Before you go, for the record? I ate your monkeys. Aw, I bet you wish you could smack me with your widdle magic now!
  • As part of Nale's backstory in The Order of the Stick, he once tried to usurp power from his father. During the conflict, Nale killed several children of his father's friend/adviser Malack. When the two run into each other again, Nale's first comment to Malack is "Malack. How's the family?" Malack goes berserk.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the revelation that Damien killed her father is what starts Grace down the path toward Unstoppable Rage toward Damien a few minutes later.

    Web Original 
  • In Mario Brothers, Mario was already sworn to protect the princess, but Luigi's death at King Koopa's hands made Mario even more determined to see Koopa's defeat.

    Real Life 
  • In Spain, a man on parole from his sentence for raping a young girl saw the girl's mother and taunted her by saying, "How's your daughter?" She went home, got a can of gasoline, and set him on fire.
  • Evidently, contract killer Richard Leonard Kulinski, also known as "The Iceman" was extremely protective of his family. Between this, and the fact that he was, yanno, a hitman, people who threatened said family tended to disappear. Violently.