Omitted: Wanda (top left, framed in red)'s robot husband and their own Tangled Family Tree. Or Cable's adopted daughter who may or may not be his mother reincarnated. Let's leave it at that for your sanity's sake. (See full table with annotated names here)
Tropes like Luke, I Am Your Father, Family Relationship Switcheroo, Separated at Birth, Everyone Is Related, My Own Grampa, Cain and Abel and Seth and the Evil Twin make for drama, and they're an easy way of shaking up the dynamics of a long-running series. Sometimes a little too easy. Layer too many of those tropes onto the same group of characters, and what you end up with is a Tangled Family Tree.
This isn't just a Dysfunctional Family, this is a family with members so numerous, relationships so tangled, and circumstances so bizarre that it's impossible to keep track of them without a flow chart.
Tangled Family Trees are commonly seen in comics and soap operas, both of which have long-running continuities focusing on one group of characters through decades of changing hands from writer to writer. It is also a common phenomenon in mythology, folklore, and oral traditions for much the same reasons (with "long running continuities" being measured in centuries, and different "writers", including oral retellings by people who may or may not have been literate). Indeed, tropes like Continuity Snarl and the Tangled Family Tree happening in modern works of fiction can help us understand exactly how ancient mythology evolved.
Incest, time travel, cloning and genetic engineering, reincarnation, and Alternate Universes can all contribute to creating a Tangled Family Tree. For obvious reasons, any family with a Tangled Family Tree is likely to be a Big Screwed-Up Family as well. If it's a case of Royal Inbreeding, this probably overlaps with Royally Screwed Up. Often this is a Continuity Snarl looking for a place to happen, as sometimes a single geneology can become so complex that even the writers can't keep it straight. This is the kind of family that you want to in-breed just to consolidate the branches.
Compare One Degree of Separation, Everyone Is Related, Love Dodecahedron (which this trope can result from). Contrast Single Line of Descent.
SPOILER WARNING. These convoluted relationships tend to be tied in with every event in the plot, especially the family secrets.
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Bleach: In the final arc, Ichigo's heritage is starting to look this way. Ichigo and his two younger sisters are first cousins of Kaien, Kuukaku, and Ganju via their father Isshin, the Shibas' uncle. The Kurosaki siblings are also second cousins of Uryuu Ishida through their mother, Masaki, first cousin of Uryuu's father, Ryuuken. Since all Quincies descend from the villainous Quincy progenitor king, Ichigo (and Uryuu and both their families) is even related to the Big Bad. And that's not even getting into the fact that at one point the Ishidas wanted to marryRyuuken off to Masaki as the heirs to the last remaining Blue Blood families. Or the fact that Kanae Katagiri, the woman Ryuuken married instead, was a mixed-blood Quincy and thus also a relative, if a very distant one.
Boys Empire: The Tamura family tree looks a little like a tumbleweed by the end.
In the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed and Al "give birth to" their own mother, only it's not their mother anymore, it's Sloth. Ed lost his arm and leg to the process, and Al lost his entire body. Wrath's arm is Ed's so Wrath is in a way Ed. Wrath views Sloth as his mother, but Wrath's real mother was the woman who taught Ed and Al alchemy.
There's also Envy who is a homunculus created from their half brother by their father Hohenheim and whose mother was Dante, the Big Bad, who created Greed and Pride and tried to commit Grand Theft Me on Rose so that Ed would fall in love with her.
Actually, Sloth may very well be their real mother and Envy may very well be their real half-brother as it is implied that Homunculi are in fact the magical resurrection of the deceased, not just merely their magical clones. Lust certainly believed this to actually be the case.
In the Brotherhood version, it's a little bit less tangled, but we still have Father being created by an unnamed alchemist using Hohenheim's blood, making him either Hohenheim's "child" or his clone and the half-brother of Ed and Al, and the other Homunculi their nephews... and, among the Homunculi themselves, there's the fact that the youngest "brother" has adopted the oldest as his "son". Only for a cover, but it's still strange.
Let's map the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha family tree, which can be quite a doozy due to all the clones, adoptions, and miscellaneous Artificial Human-related goodness. First there's the Takamachi family with Nanoha, who's now the adoptive mother of Vivio, who's now also the adoptive daughter of Fate, who in addition to being the creation-daughter of Precia (who was seeking to remake her own daughter Alicia, who would have been Fate's older sister if she were still alive), is also the adoptive daughter of Lindy, connecting her to the Harlaown family which includes Chrono, Amy, Erio, and Caro. Vivio was cloned from Olivie Segbrecht, who has romantic ties with Klaus Ingvalt, the person Einhart was reincarnated from. Vivio's creator-father is Jail Scaglietti, who is also the creator-father of the Numbers, four of which are now a part of the Nakajima family, and is also the creator-father of Zest's clone, who was the father figure of both Lutecia and Agito. He was also the co-creator of Fate herself. Agito has since been adopted into the Yagami family, which includes Hayate, Reinforce Zwei, and the Wolkenritter. Speaking of the Wolkenritter, it includes Signum, who is implied to be Agito's original Master and thus the person she was born from. Incidentally, Reinforce Zwei was born from the Linker Core organ of both Hayate and Reinforce Eins (which had been merged). Back to the Nakajimas, Subaru and Teana seems to have romantic ties, and Subaru was going to adopt Tohma, who is currently in a sort of Love Triangle with Lily and Isis, and is also being sought out by the Huckebein family since they plan to adopt him into their family. All clear? Good.
Mahou Sensei Negima! has one of these, once you bring all the relationships between the characters into it. A rough chart of these relationships looks like this.◊ Even if one would remove everything but the romantic and family ties, it would still be a mess.
Naturally, time travel and the creation of sentient robots factor into this. If you think about it hard enough, you can actually make a case that Negi is Chachamaru's great-great-etc grandfather. Chachamaru's "mother", Chao, is actually Negi's Kid from the Future.
The Kamina family in RahXephon. Explaining it would spoil the show so you've been warned. The short version of it is that half the cast is related to Ayato in one way or another.
Maya, Ayato's adoptive mother is actually his aunt. She was married to Watari who is Ayato's father. Ayato's real mother is Quon, Maya's twin sister. Quon lived with Itsuki who claimed to be her brother. He is actually her son and Ayato's twin brother. For further confusion let us take a look at how the Shitow family factors into this. Rikudou was Maya's adoptive father and is the uncle to Haruka and Megumi Shitow, who are sisters. Ayato met Haruka earlier but her name was Mishima before her mother remarried so he didn't know it was her when he met her the second time. This lead to Ixtli the soul of the titular RahXephon taking her form to try to guide Ayato.
Tenchi Muyo!: This says it all, really....◊ Words do not exist to refer to most of those familial ties. Most likely, if the people involved didn't all live so damn long (or possess magical symbiotic trees), the extended Juraian royal family would have traits that make the Habsburg Chin look positively normal.
That doesn't even get into the alternate universes, including one featuring Tenchi's half-brother.
And when we add the fact that he gets a harem, that tree implodes and reshapes into something only understandable by Abdul Alhazred.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle has a family loop- the main character is the son of his own clone and his girlfriend's clone. To be exact, his father is the reincarnation of his clone and his mother is the reincarnation of Sakura's clone. Explaining the complicatedness further would require a massive wall of text and an intimate understanding of both Cardcaptor Sakura and cross-multiversal genetics.
This doesn't even take into account that said parents got magically paradoxed both into AND out of existence.
The Joestar family in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure was a relatively straightforward family tree... then the eighties hit. Thanks to such incidents as Joseph sleeping around at the age 63 and a 122-year-old vampire running around with the Joestar progenitor's body from the neck down, the family now has such oddities as (great, great grand-)uncles half the age of their nephews and at least four family members with two biological fathers.
Frozen Teardrop, the novel-only continuation of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, adds several new characters in the series backstory and giving them complicated relationships with the other established characters.
The Summers family of the Marvel Universe is a massive Continuity Snarl to itself, and is so convoluted that at this point Scott Summers may in fact be his own grandfather. No fewer than four characters in the main continuity of the X-Men comics can be said to be the child of Scott Summers, only one of whom (Cable) was actually born during the timeline of the main Marvel Universe, and none of whom are more than about ten years younger than their parents (including Cable, who is, due to the massive amount of Time Travel in his backstory, at least ten years older than his parents). Add to that Scott's brother Alex, their long-lost father (the space pirate Corsair), and the supervillain-ruler-of-a-galactic-empire Third Summers Brother (Vulcan), and the whole thing is just one big mess. Ironically, Scott started out as an orphan with no known family.
And it was implied that minor character Adam X the X-Treme was the son of Catherine Summers and Shi'Ar Emperor D'Ken. While this origin was never confirmed in the comics themselves, Adam is half-human, and Katherine was the only known human woman in Shi'ar space at the time, and the writer has confirmed that intended Adam X to be the half-brother of Cyclops and Havok.
Add to that the comic book X-Men: The End, which tried to wrap up every single plot that Chris Claremont never got to resolve, and all of a sudden Gambit is a Summers due to being a genetic combo of Mr. Sinister and Scott Summer's DNA. Add to that the fact that the panel that started this whole mess◊ only says "brothers" and doesn't imply a specific number, which means there may be more Summers men coming...
It could be argued that Cyclops is Galactus' father-in-law, although you do have to go through two different alternate timelines to get to that point.
This is not an exaggeration, by the way. In the Earth X trilogy, it's revealed at the end of the first series that Franklin Richards is destined to take Galactus' place. And more than one timeline shows that he and Rachel would have fallen in love as young adults had she grown up in her own time.
This is an incomplete version of the actual family tree. Tremble with fear, puny mortals.
This◊ is another version of the Summers family tree with fewer ancestors you've never heard of and more pretty colors.
Still another◊ which, via tracking minor hookups, encompasses nearly all Marvel's marquee players.
It's even acknowledged in the comics how ridiculous the tree is. In one issue, Storm is explaining it to Joseph (a clone of the X-Men's arch-enemy Magneto), who thinks he's finally figured it out and understands how Cable can be older than his own father. Then Storm tells him about Cable's not yet born sister Rachel. Not yet born. Where she comes from, Rachel is an only child as well. At this point in the explanation, Joseph appears that he's going to have a mental breakdown.
Stryfe, Cable's evil clone and possible father to his son Tyler aka Genesis (not like they could do a paternity test since Stryfe and Cable have identical DNA). There's Nate Grey, Cable's alternate self from the Age of Apocalypse created by Mr. Sinister. Then there is Hyperstorm, the son of an alternate Franklin Richards and Rachel Summers. Oh and then there's Hope, Cable's adopted daughter he's raising in the future who may or may not be Jean reborn.
It just keeps growing, with the addition of Ruby Summers, the child of Scott and Emma Frost.
As a result of Vulcan's marriage to Deathbird, we can also add her former brother-in-law Charles Xavier to the list.
And there's also Hope Summers aka the mutant messiah who Cable adopted.
Possibly making Jean Gray her own granddaughter. Via cloning, reincarnation, time travel, and a few alternate universes. Not really clear yet.
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning made fun of how messed up the Summers family tree is in their New Mutants run, when Dani Moonstar gets her friend to be Nate Grey's therapist and he notices Hope acting weird around his patient. Dani tries to explain to him that Nate is a younger alternate counterpart of her adoptive father from the future, before realizing how ridiculous it sounds. There was also a bit about Steve Rogers changing his mind and letting the X-Men take care of Nate once he heard he was Summers' relative, implying he doesn't want to even touch anything related to this mess.
Magneto's family tree has also been fairly snarled. One of his original two children married into the Inhuman Royal Family, the other married a robot (which began a tangled tree with its own complexity, see below). Both their marriages have been dissolved, but he's picked up another daughter. Who's dating a Summers. Magneto's eldest daughter died as part of his Start of Darkness.
He has an alternate reality granddaughter in Nocturne, daughter of Nightcrawler, who has an adopted family as well as numerous half brothers and his mother, Mystique, adopted Rogue. Magneto's ex-daughter-in-law just married Ronan the Accuser, while his son-in-law, the second Vision, also provides him with family in Victor Mancha, the third Vision, the first Human Torch (not Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four), Toro, Doctor Nemesis, Frankie Raye, Jocasta, Henry Pym, the Wasp and Hawkeye, to name but a few. The third Vision is "brother" to Kang the Conqueror, who is a descendant of Doctor Doom and Nathaniel Richards , the father of Mr Fantastic and great-grandfather to Hyperstorm providing him with another link to the Summers Family.
If you include Nathaniel then that means his other 3 children Huntara, Kristoff and his unnamed son with his second wife Cassandra get included. Plus if Kang/Immortus/Scarlet Centurion/Iron Lad gets included so do Kang and Immortus's litany of sons named Marcus and Kang's lady friend Ravonna who posed as Nebula for a while. Once you add Marcus you may have to add Ms. Marvel/Binary/Warbird because she gave birth to Marcus Immortus. Carol Danvers ties back in several ways...Rogue stole Carol's powers and personality and Rogue is Mystique and Destiny's adoptive daughter, the adoptive sister of Graydon Creed and Nightcrawler and is the mother in two timelines of Magneto's children. Ms. Marvel's powers tie back to Captain Marvel...one of whose sons Hulkling (also heir to the Skrull royality) is dating the Scarlet Witch's son Wiccan.
Magneto has children with Rogue in at least two realities, Charles in the Age of Apocalypse, as well as Magnus, a member of the original Exiles team, in another timeline. In the Age of Apocalypse the marriage of Rogue and Magneto also created some interesting relationships, for not only are Mystique and Destiny Magneto's mothers-in-law, but Rogue also became the (step-)mother of Quicksilver (who is lovers with Storm in this reality), who is older than her (the AoA Scarlet Witch was killed before Rogue and Magneto became lovers). Oh, and in this reality, Rogue permanently absorbed roughly half the powers and personality of Polaris, Magneto's long-lost daughter who was on the side of the enemy (but neither of them know it in this reality).
Mystique is Sabertooth's ex, mother of his son, and the Wolverine Origins comic hinted that Sabertooth is Wolverine's half brother. Not to mention it was originally planned that Mystique was going to be revealed to be Nightcrawler's father and that Destiny was really his mother.
Apparently, thanks to time travel and genetic engineering, Longshot and Shatterstar are each other's fathers.
Wiccan's main squeeze Hulkling himself adds another branch to the already twisted Vell family tree. Hulking (Teddy Altman) is the son of the original Captain Mar-Vell and the Skrull princess Anelle. Mar-Vell also had an artifically conceived and force-aged son, Genis-Vell, with his lover Elysius (herself an artifically-created being based on the DNA of the Eternals of Titan). Genis-Vell, with his vast cosmic powers, did a Universal Retcon and also retroactively created a sister for himself, Phyla-Vell. Genis is currently MIA, but Phyla was a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy and also in a romantic relationship with Moondragon, who is herself the daughter of Mar-Vell's old ally, Drax the Destroyer.
Genis-Vell also had a son and a daughter, Ely and Mimi, in an alternate future with Songbird of the Thunderbolts.
In X-Force, Eli Bard modified himself using material taken from the Technarch Magus (father of Warlock) and use it to resurrect several deceased characters. As these include Graydon Creed (son of Mystique) and members of the Trask family (whose DNA was copied by Xavier's sister Casandra Nova), everyone resurrected in this way can be, at least tenuously, linked to the family tree. Given Trask's involvement, and the inclusion of robots elsewhere in the tree, this could even be extended to the Sentinels!
And to Warlock's own son Torgo.
Scott and Magneto's trees are already connected twice. One way (via the Richards family tree) is listed above. The second is that Vulcan Summers' sister-in-law Lilandra was married to Charles Xavier. Parts of Xavier and Magneto's consciousnesses merged to form Onslaught.
The Scarlet Witch is the link of the X-Men to another nightmarish tangled family tree, but this one is usually worked in The Avengers and related titles. Basically, she had a Robosexual relation with the Vision, a robot built by the evil robot Ultron, who was built by Henry Pym. Ultron has an Oedipus Complex with both Pym and the Wasp, considering them his "parents", and bent on killing them. The Vision was also built using the brain patterns of Wonder Man, who was dead at the time, but returned later (and if the Vision, with his brain patterns, falled in love with Wanda, guess with whom did Wonder Man had a crush when he returned). Even more, Wonder Man had a brother trying to avenge his death, the Grim Reaper, who deemed the Vision as his "brother" when he discovered all this. The Vision was also built (or not) from the body of the WWII Human Torch; that's a Continuity Snarl of its own. Ultron did not stop with the Vision: he created as well Jocasta, with the brain patterns of the Wasp, Alkema, with the brain patterns of Mockingbird, and Victor Mancha (who joined the Runaways). In keeping with the Oedipus theme, Alkhema also has a "daughter" named Antigone. And when the Wasp died, Pym began a relation with Jocasta. The Vision and the Scarlet Witch had two sons, using magic. Those were erased from existence, and then reincarnated into Wiccan and Speed of the Young Avengers. Speaking of them, they had the Vision in their team, but not quite the same one: the Visison was destroyed some months earlier, and Iron Lad (a younger persona of the time-traveller Kang the Conqueror) rebuilt him, but with his own brain patterns. Following the pattern, this led to a love triangle between Stature, Iron Lad and the Vision with Iron Lad's brain patterns.
The prevalence of this trope in Marvel Comics was lampshaded by the Scarlet Witch in an issue of West Coast Avengers, shortly after the Vision met Wonder Man's mother.
Wanda: I think our family trees must be the most convoluted in history, Vision!
In Marvel Comics, the Olympian gods are just as twisted as their Mythological counter-parts. It gets worse however, when you factor in that the Asgardian god Thor is the son of Gaia. That would make him the (half) uncle and grand-uncle of Zeus and his siblings (Gaea being mother and grandmother of Kronos).
It was revealed that the Elder Goddess Gaia was actually the single earth-mother goddess (in different guises) in ALL of Earth's pantheons, who mated with all the different sky-father gods, even those who were her own descendants, making virtually all of Earth's gods related to each other through her. This was Lampshaded during the Chaos War (apparently incest is okay when gods do it with each other; this is consistent with the mythological depictions).
The second Ghost Rider Danny Ketch and his late sister Barbara turned out to be Separated at Birth siblings of the first (if you don't count a wild west character later renamed Phantom Rider) one Johnny Blaze and the spirit who inhabited Ketch's body Noble Kale is their ancestor by mother.
As of Avengers Academy, the abomination that is the Pym family tree has another new branch in William Nelson, the son of Tigra, who is Hank's biological son via a Skrull infiltrator who was using his DNA at the time. From a certain point of view, this makes him Ultron's half-brother.
A fancomic poking fun at William's family tree showed Wiccan playing with baby William. Hulkling asks how they're related and after doing some math, Wiccan concludes that the toddler is his great-uncle.
Perhaps the only character able to give Summers a run for his money is Knuckles the Echidna in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog. Due to the fact that Echidna society has, apparently, been fairly intensely inter-married he's related (sometimes closely, sometimes distantly) to god knows how many members of the supporting cast. One of whom is a crazy head in a jar working for Robotnik. And that's not even getting into the fact he has THREE daughters from three alternate time lines, all of whom lead different lives. Or the fact he has a (Sort of) evil twin in Dr Finitevus and a REAL evil twin in the form of Anti Knuckles.
His family tree◊ was printed once. Bear in mind that this is the incomplete version.
It's also printed upside-down, with the latest generations at the top.
In The DCU, meanwhile, there's the Allen/West/Thawne family, especially Inertia, genetically engineered from Bart Allen and some of Bart's grandfather's DNA, making him possibly the most inbred character in the DCU, especially when you consider said grandfather was descended from the Evil Twin of Bart's other grandfather.
Captain Boomerang Jr., who turned out to be Bart's half brother with a parent from the future and ties in Boomerang Sr. loosely to the tree too.
Add to that the general familial nature of the Rogues, and the fact that Iris Allen is, well, was raising Weather Wizard's son and the ties begin to bind a little more. Oh, and since time travel's involved, there's a good possibility that Boomer (who's aged normally into his early twenties) is actually Bart'slittle brother.
And Superman, both in his past (the House of El) and present and several alternate futures: the Superman Dynasty, various clones and half-clones, the Goo Goo Godlike Ariella Kent (the child of Alt!Superman and one of the Supergirls— no, NOT the cousin!), an adopted son who is the biochild of General Zod, and dead-then-retconned-out-of-existence/thefamily-then-back-again Power Girl and the other Supergirl (the one who is the cousin). Incidentally, Power Girl and the current Supergirl are essentially the same person, except from different universes. And Power Girl is...ahem...bigger.
And to make matters worse/better, both the Earth-2 (The original Golden Age 1930s version, and Power Girl's cousin) and Earth-22 (The Kingdom Come version) Supermen stopped by the Main DCU durring the 2000s. One of whom died, and came back as a Black Lantern.
Them and half a dozen more: Superboy-Prime (A teenage Face-Heel Turn-ed Superman from 'our' Earth), Ultraman, Overman, some future Superman who could be from an alternate timeline...
The Hawkman family tree is almost as bad as the Flashes; no time travel but lots of Reincarnation. The short version is: Prince Khufu of Egypt and his wife Chay-Ara are continually reincarnated. They become Brian Kent and Lady Penbrook, Nighthawk and Cinnamon etc. etc. etc. until,In the 1940s, they become Carter Hall and Shiera Saunders who were Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl. They get married and have a son, Hector, who grows up to be the Silver Scarab. Hec marries Lyta Trevor, aka the Fury, daughter of the Golden Age Fury and adopted daughter of Miss America (a Retcon; Pre Crisis Lyta was the daughter of the Golden AgeWonder Woman). Then he dies and ends up in The Dreaming, taking on the legacy of Garret "The Sandman" Sanford. He temporarily takes Lyta to live there, but when the Lord of that realm returns, he's banished to the afterlife and Lyta is sent back to Earth. She then has a son, Daniel, who goes on to become the new Dream (and is therefore in some sense a sibling to the rest of the Endlessnote And therefore a spiritual uncle to Superman, since Despair is ultimately responsible for Superman's birth and therefore a mother in spirit, tying in the House of El tangle above). Here's where it gets really complicated. Immediately Post-Crisis, there were 2 separate Hawkmen in continuity. The original Golden Age version, and the Silver Age version both surviving Crisis on Infinite Earths. A third new version was created in a book called Hawkworld, with the intent of making a fresh Continuity Reboot like the Batman: Year One, or Superman Man Of Steel limited series. However, nobody bothered to tell the guy making it that both other versions of Hawkman had already been introduced Post-Crisis. This snarl was one of many Post-Crisis continuity problems DC tried (and failed) to "fix" in Zero Hour, so they came up with the idea of merging all three into one single being, which eventually lead to the creation of the "Hawkgod" as well. Meanwhile, Sheira's cousin Speed has a granddaughter, Kendra, who tries to kill herself at the same time as anyone named "Hawk-" is getting written out by Zero Hour because of the Continuity Snarl, and Shiera takes her over as a walk-in spirit without realising. She eventually becomes the new Hawkgirl in Justice Society of America. Hector (remember him?) is also reincarnated in JSA as the son of Hank "Hawk" Hall (no relation!) and Dawn "Dove" Grainger and becomes the new Doctor Fate, but still thinks of Carter Hall (who was resurrected, rather than reincarnated) as his father. Since Hector's second death (along with Lyta; they were taken back into the Dreaming), Dawn has turned out to have a sister, Holly, who became the new Hawk, and is technically the second Hector Hall's aunt.
It's been suggested in The Brave and the Bold that Brian Kent (the Silent Knight and one of Hawkman's previous incarnations) may be the ancestor of Jonathan Kent...
The genealogy of ElfQuest is a nightmare, thanks to the elves' millennia-long lifespans, promiscuous mating habits, and tendency to forget who their relatives are after a few centuries or so. Almost every named character in the comic's 30-year run (to date) can be linked to every other named character through a complex chain of offspring, siblings, and significant others.
Which did, inevitably, eventually lead to two related characters having a child together: Scouter and Tyleet. Although they're only second cousins.
Family trees turn out to be even more complicated than the books would suggest. Particularly Rain's primary family tree, which includes main characters Pike, Rainsong, Mender, Wing, Newstar, Kimo and Sust, and about twice as many secondary characters.
The Bat-Family is a (relatively) mild version of this. To sum up, Bruce Wayne has four adopted children: his adopted sons being Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake (the first three Robins) and his adopted daughter being Cassandra Cain (the third Batgirl). Cassandra's biological parents are David Cain and Lady Shiva, two of the most infamous assassins in the world and former teachers of Bruce. Bruce also has a biological son in the form of Damian Wayne (the fifth Robin), whose mother is Talia al Ghul, daughter of one of Batman's greatest enemies, Ra's al Ghul; in the DCAU (and possibly in the mainstream universe) Bruce will also have two other biological sons in the form of Terry (Batman Beyond) and Matt McGinnis via genetic manipulation and use of a surrogate father. Additionally, the Wayne and al Ghul family trees are even more tangled in the Kingdom Cometimeline where Damian's alternate universe counterpart, Ibn Al Xu'ffasch, is romantically involved with Nightfire, who is none other than the daughter of Dick Grayson and Starfire. One can only imagine the sort of Freak Out Dick had when he found out the man his daughter was seeing (and doing other things with) is his brother by adoption and effectively her uncle .
Batman also had a biological daughter Helena Wayne, aka the Huntress, in Earth-2 continuity (and courtesy of the DCnU reboot, she ended up stranded on the main DC Earth).
All of which raises the question: are Damian and Helena counterparts? Because oy...
In an out of continuity prose story, The Joker was revealed to be the son of Batman's confidante and adoptive mother figure Dr. Leslie Thompkins. Given the nature of the Joker's history (even he doesn't actually know what his real, pre-Joker past was like), it's entirely possible that this could be true in the main continuity.
Swamp Thing's supporting character Tefe Holland: The character is the daughter of Swamp Thing and Abby Arcane Holland. Tefe was originally a floating spirit called Sprout, who tried to find a body from a recently deceased person, was eventually given a body through Abby Holland having a baby, which was conceived through the Swamp Thing possessing John Constantine and having sex with her. Due to Constantine having the demon Nergal's blood in his veins at this time, Tefe is also part demon. She eventually became an Earth elemental like her father, beginning a line of human Earth elementals as a new Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing vol. 3, having all of her father's powers, but retaining a human appearance.
Draco: If you think that, you haven't seen the Malfoy family tree. *shuddering* That really isn't a pretty sight.
A series of short Vampire Knight fanfics (Irit’s Daughter, Gertrude’s Closet, Jocasta at the Crossroads, and Vashti’s Feast) written by Ms Izzy takes the already messed up Kuran family, and tangles it further. The fact that Yuuki’s parents are canonly brother and sister seems tame compared to Ms. Izzy’s version. While the family itself is pretty small, it is impressively tangled, with their unnamed mother being the product of another brother and sister pair, and upon her mother’s death took it upon herself the continue the family line with her own father, giving birth to Rido and Haruka with him. It is further implied that she had conceived Juri with her brother/son Rido, rather than her father/husband. Not bad for a series that’s under 2300 words.
The Lion King fandom practically revolves around this trope. There are full on wars just on who Nala and Kovu's fathers are. Plus, there's a full series of books that fill in some of the gaps and leave more for fans to speculate on, but just try stuffing them all in along with the Outsiders and you get somethingthat looks◊like these. Warning: The last one may result in an Archive Binge.
In the Transformers fanfic Things We Don’t Tell Humans, Cybertronian families are generally huge and complicated. Not only is adoption common among the main characters, it is also possible to independently adopt someone as a sibling without them being necessarily considered related to anyone else in your family (except any other siblings you share a brother-bond with).
Though, note that many characters only receive passing mentions, or don't appear at all, in MarrissaTheWriter fanfics.
Deceptive Reality probably takes the cake for shocking Luke, I Am Your Father plot twists—Snape is revealed to be Harry's father but it gets even more complex with the revelations that Snape is actually a Potter by birth and was James' twin brother but he was blood-adopted out to the Potter's family friend Eileen Prince and her husband. Also Lily isn't a muggleborn but she was adopted out to her squib relatives because her parents feared she would be targeted seeing as she is the daughter of McGonagall and Voldemort.
In the Transformers movie, Sam's family tree◊ apparently suggests two generations of inbreeding. It's more likely however that Sam just did a very poor job on his school assignment.
In The Devils Rejects, how the members of the Firefly clan are related to one another is complicated and never fully explained. Otis and Baby refer to each other as brother and sister throughout the movie; Captain Spaulding is Baby's father but doesn't appear to be related to Otis; Mama Firefly is presumably the mother of Baby, Otis (in House of 1000 Corpses they say she adopted him into the family) as well as Tiny, the deformed giant, and Rufus (from the beginning of the movie). Then we meet a black pimp named Charlie who Captain Spaulding says is his brother (presumably his half-brother).
Really, this goes for almost all Hillbilly Horrors-type films, due to presumed inbreeding, rape and forced "adoption".
House Frey's elderly patriarch Lord Walder Frey is on his eighth wife and has over a hundred living descendants. For added confusion, a large chunk of them are also named Walder or Walda.
Tracing the descent of the Heir to the Eyrie requires a lot of work as the Arryn family has had trouble producing surviving sons for a couple generations now and the female-line claims have to be sorted out. This becomes important to the plot in later books.
Craster marries his daughters — of which he has many — and sacrifices his sons to the White Walkers. By the time we meet him, he's got granddaughters old enough that he's now marrying them.
The Targaryen dynasty had a tradition of brother-sister marriage — repeated dozens of times throughout the generations — to reduce the number of rival claims to the throne and maintain their pure Valyrian blood. An unfortunate side effect of this was their own special brand of Royally Screwed Up: at least one character comments that with the Targaryens you have a 50% chance of Crazy Awesome and a 50% chance of Ax-Crazy. Just see this (its in French but you'll understand it).
The Flowers in the Attic novels by V. C. Andrews (really, almost any series by Andrews) has a famously incestuous cast, further confused by multiple marriages, adoption, half-siblings, and fake siblings (how does one address the son you have by your mother's second husband when your mother is also your aunt?)
Robert A. Heinlein tends to have extremely meshed up family trees. Probably owing to the fact that most of his novels are set in a time where sexual stigma is all but gone and advances in genetics has erased the physical consequences of incest.
Lazarus Long did NOT make his mother pregnant with himself (as implied), but in the later books, he is the ancestor of about 99% of all humans. And he did have children with at least 2 of his female clones.
—All You Zombies— has a uniquely tangled family tree, considering that there's only one person in it.
Nanny Ogg is said to be matriarch of a family tree that makes a mangrove swamp look straightforward.
Whereas her cat Greebo's family tree is more like a single mangrove, considering he's managed to be the sole male ancestor of most of Lancre's cat population for at least seven generations.
The Nobbs family is described as being less of a tree than a briar patch. In Feet of Clay, Nobby is actually revealed to be descended from the Earl of Ankh. Of course, the source of this information is an obsessive-compulsive vampire whose hobby involves editing the Morporkian royal line for desirable genetic traits and was making a power play against the current non-royal government, so grain of salt recommended. Add to this the sheer number of artifacts the family has "acquired" over the years through compulsive thievery and Sam Vimes believed you could probably prove Nobby to be the Dowager Duchess of Quirm if you really wanted to.
Pyramids has Pteppic from the royal family of Djelibeybi. Because the "divine blood" must never be diluted, they had a long history of inbreeding and outright incest: Pteppic's marriage prospects are limited to his aunt and his sister. Also, anything spoken by a ruling monarch at any point in the last seven thousand years is automatically law and treated as such unless repealed… and Pteppic's grandmother declared herself to be a man in order to keep the throne. So at this point, Pteppic could easily be his own grandpa...or his own grandma...or anything really. And the prohibition on official out-marriage didn't prevent a lot of bastards over the millennia. Pteppic remarks that most of the country's population is probably related to the royal family in some degree, so just find someone who dreams about the seven cows to get a new heir. When Pteppic abdicates, he easily finds a successor. As a matter of fact, it's the person he's explaining this to: Ptraci, a courtesan he (rightly) suspects to be his half-sister.
Harry Potter: The "pureblood" movement believes that only those whose ancestors are all witches and wizards are "true" members of the wizarding population. They therefore refuse to marry any squibs, muggles, muggleborns, or magical non-humans (like giants or veelas), or anyone with an ancestor from one of those groups. By the time of the novels ALL the pureblood families in Britain are very closely interrelated, especially those aligned with the Death Eaters (who have even more insanely narrow standards for marriage partners).
The Peverell family tree◊, which reaches about as far back into wizarding family history as can be reliably traced, includes almost all the main characters in one way or another. Voldemort and Harry are even related as direct descendants of the middle and youngest Peverell brothers, respectively.
The Peverell tree includes as a sub-set The Ancient and Most Noble House of Black. Their family tree◊ makes them officially blood relatives of most of the other major Death Eater families. Through their disinherited descendants, they're also blood cousins to many muggle-friendly families. The "Charlus Potter" and "Dorea Black" listed on the tree are likely Harry's paternal grandparents, so Harry's wife Ginny is probably also his third cousin, and his godfather Sirius is also his third cousin once removed. He's probably second cousin to Draco and Tonks. If the "Harfang Longbottom" of the tree is Neville's direct ancestor, he's also probably Harry's third cousin. Molly and Arthur Weasley were third cousins through the Black family even before they married.
Given how small the general wizarding community is, all non-muggleborns are also probably related, if more distantly. Even then, some wizards born into what seem to be all-Muggle families are likely the descendants of squibs from pureblood families and part of the extended kindred. Ron calls the opposition to halfbloods and muggleborns completely illogical given that the wizard population has hit bottlenecks in the past that could have destroyed it if they hadn't married outside the community. Arthur Weasley suggests that purebloods by the current definition are headed to extinction because soon they'll all be first cousins and within the incest taboo. In the movies, Hagrid is skeptical that any modern wizard truly fits the pureblood definition...it's just a matter of how recently they had muggle or non-human ancestors.
In the Incarnations of Immortality, the woman Orlene has a very tangled relationship with almost all of the other Incarnations. Mars and Gaea are her father and mother, while Satan is Gaea's current lover. Chronos was Orlene's lover until Orlene's suicide, while an aspect of Fate was Orlene's grandmother. In the book "And Eternity", we find Orlene becomes God.
The Atreides family in the later Dune novels. Having the same genes reintroduced every few generations in the form of Duncan Idaho probably led to some strange folk...
The Kashpaw-Nanapush-Lamartine-Morrissey family from Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine. Lulu Napapush is responsible for at least half of the tangledness.
Looking at the Star Wars Expanded Universe, try working through Soontir Fel's family tree. The Fel family is pretty large even before it gets to him, and then it practically explodes; he marries the sister of Wedge Antilles, trying the Antilles family in, and has a lot of children with her. Presumably several of the ones who don't get killed off end up married. One of his sons ends up in a relationship with Jaina Solo, daughter of Leia and Han, tying in the Skywalker and Solo lines. It's implied by the Legacy comics that his son and Jaina got married. Soontir Fel's great-grandson is The Emperor. Oh, and in the Hand of Thrawn duology we found that Fel had clones. A lot of clones. Many of them in sleeper cells, with families of their own. For some reason, they almost never show up on family tree charts.
Add to that the insanity of the Skywalker family. Virgin birth gives rise to Anakin, his son marries the former Emperor's Hand, his daughter marries Han Solo... Who just so happened to be the last in line of the house of Solo, a dynasty of Kings who used to rule Corellia before it became a democracy. And so on. Then we get to Cade Skywalker. Cade's father was Kol Skywalker. His mother, really got around. She lived a double life as Nyna Calixte, an Imperial Grand Moff, and Morrigan Corde, an Imperial Spy. As Nyna, she'd sleep with anyone who would advance her career, (Moff Rulf Yage, Moff Morlish Veed) as Morrigan, she'd sleep with whoever she thought would help her mission (This includes Cade's father, and Cade's best friend Jariah Syn, whom he considers a surrogate brother), and at least one of her past relationships (Moff Rulf Yage) gave Cade a half sister, Gunn Yage, who Cade almost slept with as well. Cade must've inhereted his mother's sluttiness, as he's slept with a Sith, an Imperial Knight, Delliah Blue (whom he for a time shared with Jariah Syn in a little 3-way relationship), countless Twi'lek, Human, and Zeltron one night stands in sleazy bars, and Princess Marasiah Fel, who, if the above statement about Sontir Fel's son marrying Jaina Solo is correct, is actually related to him with their most recent common ancestor being Anakin Skywalker.
The family tree of Ciri in Andrzej Sapkowski's The Witcher cycle is a major plot point, as her ancestry is intricately tied to The Prophecy predicting The End of the World as We Know It, and it gets discussed a lot at a certain point in the story, but... Well, just abandon any hope to get it without pen, paper and nice two-page wide flowchart, because with the number of mages, elves, Kissing Cousins, Brother-Sister Incest and whatever else (though, thank you, without Time Travel at least until Ciri herself saw to it) it is as convoluted as it gets.
Margit Sandemo's Sagaen om Isfolket has this. The 47 book long story begins in 1581, and ends sometime in the 1960's, and it follows a family/clan. The family branches all over Scandinavia, and the family tree rivals that of the European royal houses. Just about everyone can trace themselves back to the founders of the modern Isfolk in several ways, and the older, pre 1581, Isfolk were even worse with their inbreeding, though not willingly all the time. For more convolution throw in Lucifer, Lilith and Typhon as ancestors to some of the modern ones.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy plays this for laughs by combining it with My Own Grampa. While the family tree of Zaphod Beeblebrox (who calls himself "the First") isn't fully revealed in detail, his father is Zaphod Beeblebrox the Second, his grandfather is Zaphod Beeblebrox the Third, and his great-grandfather is Zaphod Beeblebrox the Fourth. In addition, Zaphod the Fourth says Zaphod the First is actually Zaphod the Nothingth. (Confused yet?) According to Zaphod the First/Nothingth, this was all caused by "an accident with a contraceptive and a time machine."
It's also known that Ford is his semi-cousin because they share two mothers.
The Vangers in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy are an incredibly screwed-up family with lots of members.
Due to their obsession with blood purity and the resulting intermarriages and incest, ALL Masters in The Stone Dance of the Chameleon are somehow related, although tracing the exact kinships can be a nightmare. The author's website helpfully provides some (complicated) family trees. (Beware of a spoiler in the House of Masks.)
The Pollard family in Dean Koontz's The Bad Place. The present generation (co-protagonist Frank, villain "Candy", and their sisters Violet and Verbena) have two great-grandparents instead of the usual eight, two grandparents (who were brother and sister) instead of the usual four, and one genetic parent (a hermaphrodite who self-impregnated).
Koontz seems to be fairly fond of this trope. In addition to the non-consensual Parental Incest that results in the births of major characters in Whispers and Life Expectancy, in What the Night Knows, a major character is the product of three generations of line-breeding in his family, starting with a brother-sister pairing, then the father/uncle impregnating his daughter/niece, then impregnating his twin granddaughters/grandnieces, one of whom is the mother of the character in question. The other twin and her daughter (also fathered by the family patriarch) state in their last documented conversation with their relative that they're both about a month pregnant. Guess who by?
In The Wheel of Time, the Damodred/Mantear/Mandragoran/Trakand/Al'Thor family tree. Rand is the half-brother of Galad by the same mother, Tigraine Mantear, although Rand and Luc/Isam are the only characters who actually know this. Galad is the half-brother of Elayne and Gawyn by the same father, Taringail Damodred. (Probably.) Rand is in a relationship with Elayne and as of the latest book, she's pregnant, expecting twins. Gawyn wants to kill Rand in revenge because he believes Rand killed Gawyn's mother Morgase, although she isn't actually dead. Gawyn is in love with Egwene. Egwene is a friend of Elayne's and used to be betrothed to Rand. Morgase is now working for Rand's childhood friend Perrin as a servant. Moiraine Damodred, Rand's Obi-Wan, is Taringail's younger half-sister, and so Galad, Gawyn, and Elayne's aunt; her Love Interest, Thom, is one of Morgase's ex-lovers, and another Morgase ex, Gareth Bryne, is, as of book twelve, engaged to Moiraine's formerlover Siuan. Tigraine's brother, Luc Mantear, is also alive and merged some way or other with Isam Mandragoran, first cousin of Lan Mandragoran, another mentor figure of Rand's and Moiraine's Warder. No characters know anything at all about Luc/Isam being alive or connected except for himself.
Lampshaded when Rand asks a particular noblewoman about how closely Tigraine and Morgase would be considered related. He is relieved when after being given the suggestion to compare them like farmers, the noblewoman says nobody would even bother thinking about it. Even better is that he was specifically asking about Elayne, though in an obfuscated way. As a messianic character, he may lack knowledge of lots of things a prince or general would know, but a farmer knows what interbreeding does to a herd.
Oberon from The Chronicles of Amber has so many children from different marriages that his family tree is too convoluted for anyone to decide who is the rightfull heir to the throne. And he apparently did it on purpose to mess with his children. And then his bastard children starts pooping out in Merlin books. And if what Pattern Wraith based on Oberon says it's true, he has at last forty seven illegitimate children running around, that he knows about. It doesn't help that Corwin has a son with a woman from Courts Of Chaos Royal Family the same might be possible with Brand, which is exactly as much messed up, because their Oberon's equivalent, Swayvil, has the same damn idea how to mess with his kids. Not to mention that Oberon is son of Unicorn, avatar of Pattern (or vice versa) personification of order in The Multiverse, and Pattern's creator Dworkin, who comes from Courts Of Chaos. Luckily Oberon has forbidden incestous relationships or this would be even more messed up. And it wents that road pretty quickly in Merlin books, when Pattern forces Merlin to have sex with and possibly impregnating Coral, who is Oberon's illegitimate daughter and later gets in arranged marriage with Luke, who is Brand's son and therefore her newphew. And of course if Dara's words are true and she is Benedict's descedant, then the mess gets even bigger, as she gave a birth to her own uncle's son. Not to mention possibility that Jasra, Luke's mother, might be Dara's relative, which means he and Merlin are related from both sides... Thinking too much about it will make your head hurt.
The Count of Monte Cristo does have a handy chart. However, it also chronicles how characters interacted with each other throughout the novel. Hell if you can make heads or tails of it.
In Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, Cal/Calliope's family tree is like this. His parents, Tessie and Milton, are 2nd cousins. His grandparents, Lefty and Desdemona, are actually brother and sister. Then there's the offhand mention early in the book that Lefty and Desdemona are also 3rd cousins...
In Richard Powell's Pioneer Go Home! the protagonists were from a New Jersey family so inbred that the narrator's father wasn't sure whether his relation to grade school-age twins Eddie and Teddy was grandfather or uncle. When a judge later commented that there was no real proof that he was directly related to the two of them, he replied that there was no real proof that he wasn't.
The Lord of the Rings: Arwen and her brothers have an extremely tangled family tree◊. Mostly due to the fact that their father Elrond is descended from all the important Elven and human families of the First age. Their maternal grandparents Galadriel and Celeborn are also related.
Arwen herself getting married to Aragorn, a descendant of her uncle Elros, arguably adds another knot to the tangle, but there are many, many generations between them.
Clary is raised by her mother Jocelyn, and thinks of her mother's devoted, if platonic, boyfriend Luke who is really a Shadowhunter named Lucian Graymark that was turned into a werewolf as her stepfather. He later gets a Relationship Upgrade with Jocelyn. She believes her biological father was a soldier killed in action, but he is really the Big Bad Valentine Morgenstern.
Jace is supposedly the son of Michael Wayland. But then it turns out that Michael was murdered and the man who supposedly fathered him was really Valentine Morgenstern, leading to a Brother-Sister Incest problem with Clary. It later turns out that his actual biological father was Valentine's right-hand man Stephen Herondale. Needless to say, Jace goes through a great many surname changes, although he often uses Lightwood after his adoptive parents and siblings.
Valentine did in fact have an actual son with Jocelyn, Jonathan, whom he raised in secret. Jonathan disguises himself as Sebastian Verlac, a cousin of the prominent Penhallow family. Later he magically coerces Jace into regarding him as a brother. Jonathan also has a Brother-Sister Incest vibe with Clary.
Live Action TV
True to its comic book roots, the Petrelli family tree on Heroes is slowly but surely getting its way there. It started with mom Angela, sons Peter and Nathan, and Nathan's wife and kids. Then Claire was revealed as a Secret Petrelli Child (by Nathan), tying in her adopted family the Bennets and biological mother Meredith. Later we found out that Flint is Meredith's brother, and that Angela's husband Arthur and sister Alice were still alive.
For a while, it was teased that Sylar was a third Petrelli brother, but this turned out to be a big fat lie. But Sylar has his own problems, as his relationships with his parents and their siblings are kind of screwed up. Then he joined the Petrelli tree for real by becoming Nathan's Replacement Goldfish. However, the brainwashing and mindrape eventually wore off mid-way through season four.
Soap Operas are notorious for this trope, to give a few examples:
All My Children - Bianca's first child is the result of rape by Zack's brother. Her second is the result of artificial insemenation using Zack's sperm. Zack is/was married to Kendall, Bianca's sister, and they have a child. Kendall also had a child by Ryan who one donated sperm and was suspected to be the father of Bianca's second child, but was actually the father of another child entirely.
That doesn't even cover the half of it. Let's just consider the Chandler family for a moment. Adam Chandler has been married thirteen times, and had two affairs. Between those marriages he had five children (Hayley, J.R, Anna, Colby, and Miguel) and raised Skye as his own before discovering they weren't related. And he adopted his nephew Scott. J.R had an affair with Annie (wife #13) to break them up, and now they've fallen in love. But Annie is engaged to Scott, and used to be married to Ryan, who she had a daughter Emma with. Ryan was engaged to Greenlee (who's also Emma's godmother), but she died and then came back and married David out of spite because Ryan had started a relationship with Madison. He also had a child with Kendall, Erica's daughter (and by the way, Erica married Greenlee's dad Jackson). But wait! Because Erica's been married just as many times (including to Adam) and almost fell in love with Caleb, who's the nephew to Palmer Cortland. And his ex-wife had an affair with Adam. Plus there's the situation with Tad. He lives in a house with two daughters, each from different previous marriages, has a grown up son who was also from a previous marriage, adopted Damon (who turned out to be his biological son anyways) and had a fling with Liza, who's Colby's mother, who's dating Damon. And then there's the fact Liza's mother married Adam's twin brother while Adam and she were married. It's like one giant loop-de-loop!
As the World Turns - The Snyder Family tree. Started out with salt of the earth Emma Snyder and her six children, which included Holden and Iva. Holden fell in love with Lily Walsh while working as a stable boy for her rich family. He later learns that that Lily is biologically Iva's daughter from a rape. By her cousin. But it's ok you see, Iva was adopted. Holden and Lily then become a supercouple and the family tree only gets more complicated from there.
The Bold And The Beautiful - The way that the Forrester and Logan families have intermingled over the years, made even worse by the fact that Brooke Logan has had children by Eric Forrester, Eric's stepson Ridge, and Ridge's half brother Nick Marone, while the rest of the characters don't seem to mind marrying and having children with their step relatives or the former spouses of their siblings/parents/children.
Days of Our Lives - The Hortons and the Bradys have also intermingled several times (to the point where they may as well be one family, even though the writers don't quite see it that way), not to mention several connections with the Kiriakis and DiMera families. (The latter apparently leading to John Black being his own uncle... somehow.)
Eastenders - The Fowler-Beale clan was once quite extensive but has largely been supplanted by the extensive Branning-Jackson clan. In fact one character, Liam Butcher, is the blood relative of half the cast due to the fact that his mother Bianca Jackson belongs to both of the aforementioned clans, while his father Ricky Butcher has a few connections of his own.
How about the Mitchells? More just seem to be coming out the woodwork and creating more havoc for Walford Street. There was even a plot about The Secret Mitchell with Ronnie having a long-lost daughter she thought was dead, only for herreally die once she finds out the truth.
The McQueens from Hollyoaks are an egregious example despite only appearing on-screen for three years (with Retcons of course saying they've lived there for over a decade and some members to have actually been McQueens but with different surnames), even having multiracial members and a vengeful son.
Graduados. In the begining, Martín was the son of Loli Falsini and Pablo Catáneo, and everybody was happy. Then the telenovela began, and Loli realized that Martín's true father was Andy Goddzer, who had a one-night relation with her during the high-school graduation night in 1989. It was confirmed with a DNA test. This gave Martin a whole new family, and a total of 2 parents and 3 grandparents. Pablo has a brother, Augusto. Clemente Falsini, Loli's parent, got married with the younger Patricia, who in fact attended high school with Loli. And then... Pablo and Patricia had a secret romance, and Pablo left Patricia pregnant, but they told everybody that it was Clemente's son.
Angel has some issues with this as well. Considering that the show treats siring like family, you have Angel's sire Darla, her sire The Master, Drusilla, who Angel sired, and Spike, who Drusilla sired. Then Darla was brought back to life as a human when Angel killed her. Then Drusilla sired Darla again, making her-as Dru puts it-both Darla's granddaughter and mother. By extension, this makes Darla Angel's mother and granddaughter and Spike her brother and Great-Grandchild. Then Angel and Darla screw like bunnies, defy the laws of the natural universe and conceive Connor, Angel's son, who by the whole siring thing is also Angel's brother and great-grandson. Then Connor sleeps with Cordy (who Angel is in love with) and conceives Jasmine, Angel's completely evil granddaughter/niece/great-great-granddaughter. And this isn't taking into account that Angel probably sired even more vampires than Dru and Spike, including Penn from Somnabulist and, possibly, James and Elizabeth from Heartthrob. So, theoretically, any on-screen vampire younger than Angel is theoretically "related" to him. Plus, there's the fact that in Buffy Season 7 Spike sired a whole bunch of vamps under the First's control, who may have sired others. Angel also sired at least two other vamps in his past, who may have turned others as well.
Cordelia also had at least one other pregnancy that didn't go to term (a good thing, since it would have killed her in being born). And considering Buffy's romantic involvements with both Angel and Spike, it's something of a relief that Buffy Summers and Scott Summers aren't related...
In many a fanfic, they are, adding a hitherto unmanaged dimension of supernatural weirdness to the whole mess.
Fanfic nothing, according to Word OfJoss, in one of the two times he got a chance to write Cyclops, he tried to fit in a bit of dialogue where he references a 'third cousin who thinks she spends her time fighting demons'.
In The Pretender you have Jarod who is the son of Charles and Margaret and has a brother Kyle and a sister Emily. He also has a half-brother Ethan who is the son of Charles and Catherine Parker. Catherine also being the mother of Ms. Parker and her long lost twin brother Mr. Lyle. The twins thought their father was Mr. Parker but in reality his long lost brother Mr. Raines is their true biological father and Mr. Raines also had another child Annie with his wife Edna. Oh and Brigitte's son may be the son of Mr. Lyle or his uncle/father Mr. Parker.
Have you ever tried to draw out the family trees on The O.C.? It's upsetting. At one point Ryan was dating his long-lost illegitimate adoptive aunt. Then got back together with his Marissa, his step-adoptive aunt who later became his biological stepsister.
It should be noted that by the time the spoilered development occurred, Marissa was already dead.
Big Love: Thanks to the multiple marriages and multiple wives in the polygamist compound of Juniper Creek—"Prophet" Roman Grant alone has 31 children and 187 grandchildren— figuring out who's related to whom can be an impossibly ardous task. As expressed by (one of) Roman's wife('s), Adaleen: "I'm my own grandmother."
On The New Adventures Of Old Christine this didn't end up happening, but was played with a lot when Old Christine was dating New Christine's father, and New Christine was dating Old Christine's ex, Richard, with whom Old Christine had a son. There was one scene where Old Christine was trying to diagram their family tree if both of these relationships ended in marriage.
On the Australian comedy-drama Offspring, the Proudman family seems to be getting like this. The father Darcy has two girls (Main Character Nina and Billie, who couldn't bear a child with her partner so she got sperm donated from his brother instead, but that went down the gurgler) and a boy (Jimmy) by his estranged wife Geraldine and a son (Ray) from a one night stand from Nina's work mate Cherie. And now Jimmy has impregnanted Nina's other work mate Zara. That's nothing right? It gets more complicated at the end of Season 2 when it's revealed that Darcy isn't Nina's father. Which makes her not related to baby Ray at all.
On One Tree Hill Karen had a baby, Lucas, with Dan Scott who had another son, Nathan, with his wife Deb six months later. Years later Karen ends up getting pregnant by Dan's brother Keith. Her daughter, Lily, is technically both Lucas's half-sister and his cousin.
Lister from Red Dwarf, who gave birth to twins via impregnation with his parallel universe female selfnote You read that right, and is also his own father by an alternate universe Kochanski. Which means his children have only 50% genetic material they should have.
On American Horror Story: Murder House Constance has four kids (three of whom we meet). Her son Tate ends up impregnating Vivien, who also gets pregnant by her husband Ben on the same day, meaning her twins have different fathers. Meanwhile, Tate falls in love with Vivien and Ben's daughter Violet. And all of this crazy happens before we bring up the fact that Tate is also a freaking ghost.
Doctor Who gets into this with the Ponds, properly starting from new series late season 4 onwards. Amy and Rory are together and have a daughter, Melody, who was named after their childhood best friend, Melody. Amy, however, fancies the Doctor and forces him into a kiss early on. Melody turns out to be River Song, who eventually marries the Doctor and is also Amy's and Rory's best friend Melody, accidentally named after herself. On top of that, Melody's second mother is the TARDIS, who considers herself married to the Doctor and has a rather romantic (as well as biologically symbiotic) relationship with him. Things get more complicated when Amy accidentally marries Henry VIII in a throwaway gag — because the Doctor, rather briefly, married Queen Elizabeth I, who happens to be Henry VIII's daughter, making her simultaneously his biological mother-in-law and his step-mother-in-law. And in the middle of all that, the Doctor starts fancying Rory a bit and snogs him for no reason.
Once Upon a Time has this in spades with Henry. His mom is Emma. His dad is Baelfire, Rumpelstiltskin's son. His grandparents are Snow White, Prince Charming, and Rumpelstiltskin. His great-grandparents are Charming's parents and his adoptive dad, King George, and Snow White's mother and dad, King Leopold.
On his grandfather's side, his great grandfather is Peter Pan ...and his step-great-grandmother is Regina, who is also his adoptive mother. Thus making Henry his own great-uncle. Throw in the fact that due to time travel and curses, Henry's parents, grandparents, step-grandfather, step-great-grandmother, and possible future step-grandmother are all approximately the same age (late twenties to mid-thirties).
Also, the immortal Rumpelstiltskin apparently had a mentor with benefits relationship with Regina's mother, Cora, leading to some speculation that he is Regina's father...Charming hangs a big, fat lampshade on the mess by saying it's a good thing the Fairy Tale culture doesn't have Thanksgiving—because that dinner would be awkward as hell.
And now it's been revealed that the Wicked Witch of Oz, Zelena, is Regina's long lost half-sister, making her Henry's great aunt.
Lady Olenna Tyrell gives a speech about this on Game of Thrones. Her granddaughter Margaery is getting married to the current king, Joffrey, and her grandson Loras is betrothed to the king's mother, which would make him the king's stepfather and brother-in-law. Then she goes on to explain how any children would fit in.
In the History Bites episode "The Filthy Stinking Rich", the penchant of the Rothschild family (see Real Life section) for marrying within the family to keep their wealth from being scattered among countless sons-in-law and daughters-in-law is depicted in a sketch in which Charlotte Rothschildnote daughter of Nathan Rothschild, patriarch of the London Rothschilds shows her family album to her fiance and first cousin Anselm Rothschildnote son of Nathan's brother Salomon, who took over from his father as patriarch of the Vienna Rothschilds - while he rolls his eyes and repeatedly points out that they're also his family.
Played for a quick joke in Modern Family, as everyone struggles to figure out how Jay and Gloria's new baby is related to each of them.
"I'm My Own Grandpa", which manages to create the titular situation with neither Incest nor Time Travel, just a couple of unlikely marriages* which technically make the singer his own step-grandpa-in-law, but who's counting?.
Pretty much every named character in Classical Mythology can be placed somewhere on one massive and convoluted family tree. This is partly because the "long-running continuity" we're talking about here stretched over centuries of oral tradition and scores of different storytellers, and partly because... well... Zeusslept arounda lot. Seriously, on any given family tree he's everyone's ancestor in at least two different places.
It really doesn't help that the Olympian gods, who via traditional and less-than-traditional means birthed the majority of the gods, were children of the Titans, who were themselves the children of Gaia and Ouranos (see a pattern?), and that Zeus was far from the only one who considered monogamy beneath him.
Things got off to a great start as Ouranos already was Gaia's son - she gave birth to him unassisted by any male - so 'his' children, the Titans, the Furies, the Gigantes, the Hekatonchieres, the Cyclopes etc., were also his siblings.
Family trees became especially convoluted due to Zeus' recurring habit of sleeping with descendants of his — for instance, he fathered the little-known god Zagreus with Persephone, his daughter by his sister Demeter, and Herakles with Alcmene, the granddaughter of his son Perseus. To add extra complications, there were several instances of mortal women having children by both their divine lover and mortal husband, often as fraternal twins (in at least one case one mother was simultaneously pregnant by Hermes and Apollo in this way). The most well known example is Leda, whose children were Castor and Clytaimnestra (fathered by her husband Tyndareus) and Polydeuces and Helen (fathered by Zeus) (Yes, all at once. Leda laid two eggs, as Zeus had mated with her in the form of a swan).
And then there were some complicated relationships brought about by the trope of Pair the Spares. For instance according to an Italian tradition, after Odysseus (Ulysses to the Italians) was killed by Telegonus, his son by Circe, Circe granted immortality to Ulysses' widow Penelope and her son Telemachus. Circe married Telemachus and Penelope Telegonus, having sons called Italus and Latinus respectively. So Circe and Penelope both became each other's mother and daughter-in-law, and Telemachus and Telegonus each got a nephew who was also their half-brother.
Every mythological hero, and everybody who fought at Troy, needed to have the dignity of coming from a line descended from the gods, and so pretty much every mortal lineage was shoehorned into the Olympian clan by some author (or by multiple authors, using different genealogies, for added confusion!) Then there's the ancient Greek habit of marrying one's nieces...
Authors also disagree about the genealogy of some of the deities, for instance according to Hesiod Aphrodite was born from the foam spilled from Ouranos' cut-off genitals (making her Zeus' aunt), while according to Homer she is the daugther of Zeus and the minor earth-goddess Dione. According to some traditions Hephaistos is a son of Zeus and Hera, while according to Hesiod Hera had him without a sperm-donor. According to the most popular myth, Eros is the son of Aphrodite and Ares, but Hesiod's "Theogony" makes him one of the oldest of gods, a brother of Gaia brought forth by Chaos.
Any mythology that includes a distinct pantheon can fall into this trope harder than... something really heavy. For a single example, see Loki (Norse Mythology) and his various children, of some of whom he is the father and others the mother.
In the modern religion of Wicca, even limiting the pantheon to only two deities does not stop the Tangled Family Tree from cropping up. According to the generally-accepted "Wheel of the Year" symbology, the God is his own father, by the Goddess, who is also his sister. If you want to keep yourself up for the next few nights, try working out all the relationships that imples—or worse, try to figure out where the God would get his heavenly genes from!
How about King Arthur? Arthur is the son of Uther and Ygraine, and Ygraine's children from her first husband are Morguase (wife of Lot and mother of Gawaine and his brothers) Morgana La Fey (mother of Mordred, unless that's Morgana again) and Elaine. But Ygraine's first husband was the Duke of Cornwall, which implies some sort of relationship between this family and Mark, who's the Duke of Cornwall when Arthur is king, and is the uncle of Tristram. (And then there's Constantine of Cornwall, who succeeds Arthur as King. Don't ask where he fits in.) Meanwhile, Lancelot is raised by the Lady of the Lake, and fathers Galahad on Elaine of Carbonek, the daugher of the Fisher King, who's the brother of King Pellinore, whose son Lamorak goes on to have an affair with ... Morgause.
The Bible. Some people have literally spent decades trying to wrap their heads around that mess.
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke each give a genealogy for Joseph (who is Jesus' stepfather, no biological relation at all, but never mind that...) reaching back through King David. However, Matthew claims the descent was through David and then Solomon, while Luke traces it through another son of David, Nathan. Matthew only traces the descent back to Abraham, but Luke goes all the way back to Adam - who, in some translations, is listed as the son of God, which would make him the (half-?)brother of Jesus.
The Solomon/Nathan issue can be somewhat sorted out if one was a maternal ancestor before swinging back into the main paternal line. The Bible counts some of the maternal ancestors as important as their paternal counterparts.
I think the genealogy in Luke was supposed to be for Mary, not Joseph. The Greek wording can be a bit headache inducing. The two lists use different formats, X begat Y and Y the son of X, respectively for Matthew and Luke, so its easy to miss that Joseph was included as part of the line due to inheritance laws.
Note that Matthew and Luke already disagree about the names of Joseph's father, paternal grandfather, and his father - Matthew names them as Jacob, Matthan and Eleazar, Luke as Eli, Matthat and Levi.
Adam is technically Christ's ancestor, and depending on your religion, his son, since Christ, being the Son of God, is also God in his own right, again, depending upon which religion you follow. So Adam could be Christ's great x10000 grandfather and his son and half-brother all at once. But that's a bit of a stretch on the norm...
Made worse when you realize that he had to be a biological heir via Mary to fulfill the prophecy, and also a legal heir under Jewish law to be legitimate. The biology alone is tangled, but the fact that it had to conform to Jewish inheritance law made things even more complicated.
The 'mess' might be less of one if you consider that the genetics involving Jesus works on two levels, one pertaining to his God-heritage and one to his human heritage. Note also that Adam was a creation of God's (with Jesus present, just unmentioned), and so was not God's son on quite the same level as Jesus. As a final note, the Davidic genealogies might be divided such that Joseph comes from the line of Solomon and Mary from the line of Nathan through Eli, making Joseph Eli's son-in-law.
One of Jeff Foxworthy's indications of being a redneck:
"If your family tree does not fork, you might be a redneck."
The Scarlet Dynasty from Exalted. Thirteen Houses, each descended from a particular child or consort of the 700-year-old Empress, all of whom are mostly marrying with each other in all shades of Kissing Cousins. And since they live to be 300 and are physically in the prime of their lives until a few years before their deaths, there's a lot of 200-year-olds marrying young 20-year-olds, making for kinship relations more convoluted than almost anywhere else.
Try living in Malfeas, the Demon City, where a significant portion of the local vocabulary is devoted to describing such phenomena as being related to someone's twenty-seventh soul, being the whole-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts of hundreds of demon lords, or living in a portion of the landscape that happens to also be your father.
The original Black Box edition of the Ravenloft setting included a series of family trees for such prominent bloodlines as the Boritsis, d'Honaires, Weathermays and Von Zaroviches. As the purpose of these was to seed people's Ravenloft campaigns with story ideas, each tree had several built-in plot hooks, and a few were connected to others through intermarriage or the like.
Scion being a game about the modern children of the gods of myth, it's entirely possible that any given PC is part of this (as seen under Religion & Mythology).
The Great Houses and their vassal lords in the Inner Sphere in the hex-based tactical game BattleTech is a tangled mess. One particular knot revolves around one Victor Steiner-Davion and his progeny. Born to Melissa of House Steiner, the ruling family of the Lyran Commonwealth, and First Prince Hanse of House Davion, rulers of the Federated Suns. His mother was daughter to one of the greatest Archons in recent Lyran history, and his father was theMagnificent Bastard of the story. Victor would later sire a son with Omiko Kurita, daughter of the ruling family of the Draconis Combine and ancestral enemy of the Davions (and he would only learn of this son long after he had grown to adulthood and Omi had been assassinated). He would also wed Isis Marik, illegitimate daughter of the "Real" Thomas Marik, of the ruling family of the Free Worlds League, the ancestral enemies of his mother's family. He then fathered three children with her.
Pirate101 has perhaps one of the most massive cases of this - all of Monquistia is at least a third cousin of some former king. Their marriages are so twisted and tangled that the family trees look like cobwebs made by drunken spiders.
For a fairly short game, Jade Empire packs in a lot of secret relatives of the Emperor. Every single one is introduced well before their particular Reveal. It's a fairly simple tree (three brothers, two of whom have daughters), but by time you learn who the third brother is, you'd be forgiven for thinking everybody's related to the Emperor somehow.
There's a massive, full-game sidequest in Baten Kaitos where you have to get every member of a dying old man's family to sign their name on their place on his family tree. The man had five wives and had children with all but one (who he adopted a single child with), many of whom had more children. There's around 120 NPCs on the tree.
Marle is part of the Guardia royal family. During her travels she meets Doan, her descendant from the Bad Future, and Ayla and Kino, her ancestors from Sixty-Five Million BC. She also has a pendant identical to Schala's, which implies a connection to the Zeal royal family, making Schala and Janus possible relatives as well.
And at least one ending suggests that Frog/Glenn may be her ancestor as well.
Lucca helped revive Robo, and her research eventually culminates in the supercomputer FATE a.k.a. Lynx, making her their mother in a figurative sense. She also adopted Kid, Schala's daughter-clone created while Schala was merged with Lavos in the form of the Time Devourer.
To top everything off, all humans are descended from Lavos in multiple senses, as the parasite's planetfall wiped out humanity's competition in prehistory, and contact with the Frozen Flame accelerated human evolution and imbued the magical powers that led to Zeal.
The Sims 2 premade neighborhood Strangetown comes with a rather complex family tree. A dead Sim, Glarn Curious, was originally married to Glabe Curious (another theory is that she is his sister). He was abducted by aliens and impregnated by Pollination Technician 9. After giving birth to twins, Glarn left Glabe and married Kitty Hogleg. They had four kids, and the oldest (Jenny) ended up marrying and having children with Pollination Technician 9 when he crash landed on Earth...
It gets worse with the sequels. In The Sims 2 for PSP, Jenny and the Curious brothers get a new cousin out of nowhere named Sinjin Balani and Pascal Curious gave birth to his alien child, Tycho. In The Sims 3: Ambitions, the family tree is expanded again with Notzo Curious and Zo Curious' parents being revealed. Here is the family tree for those interested◊.
Thanks to Story Progression, it can even happen randomly to players. The mechanic will pair up any sims Young Adult or older as long as they're not directly related. Since the game is only able to keep track of so many relationship taboos, which often leads to second cousin marriages and the like. Sims can also marry their ex-aunts and uncles (since the game only counts them as related if they're married to a relative) and become their cousins' step-parent. Their new child will be the cousin/stepchild's half-sibling/nephew/niece. To further convolute things, the cousin/stepchild can go on to marry the step-parent/cousins nephew or niece. To complete the circle of fuckery, their child can marry and have kids with the ghost of one of their ancestors. Does your head hurt yet?
Although one might not count it as a "family" tree, the sheer number of people in the Kingdom Hearts series who are, were, pretended to be, or were semi-kinda-possessed-by-fake Ansem is staggering. Master Xehanort took over Terra's body, becoming the character known as "Xehanort." He pretended to be Ansem, and the Ansem in the first game ("Ansem, Seeker of Darkness") is Xehanort's Heartless. The antagonist of KHII (Xemnas, an anagram of Ansem with an X added in) is Xehanort's Nobody. Also, Riku (who was possessed for a time and even had his body stolen by ASOD in the first game), using ASOD's powers, took on the form and name of that Ansem. The actual real Ansem (Ansem the Wise, the former ruler of Radiant Garden) is first introduced in Chain of Memories as "DiZ" (short for "Darkness in Zero") and his true identity is discovered near the end of II.
Not to mention all the many Soras.
To clarify, aside of Roxas (Sora's Nobody), there's Xion from Days, a Replica of Roxas made from Sora's memories created by Xemnas to use as a fail-safe in case Sora and Roxas proved to be useless to Organization XIII's goals; in essence, she's an Opposite-Sex Clone of Sora/Roxas.Birth by Sleep gives us Ventus, who not only looks like Roxas (or rather, Roxas resembles him), but whose heart dwells inside of Sora's due to certain circumstances taking place at the end of the game. Additionally, Vanitas, his Enemy Without, shares Sora's face due to the heart of a newborn Sora offering to connect his heart to Ven's after the forcible creation of Vanitas (thanks to Master Xehanort) left Ven temporarily comatose.
3D has taken this trope and ran with it to extreme levels of litigiousness. Master Xehanort, Back from the Dead, is gathering together a new Organization XIII. Who are among its ranks? Thirteen Xehanorts brought together across various timelines. A younger incarnation Master Xehanort (known better to players as the Unknown/Mysterious Figure from BBS and co-existing alongside his older self) was tasked by Ansem, Seeker of Darkness (who was able to time travel due to his lack of a body) with gathering thirteen incarnations of Xehanort. Aside of Master Xehanort, Young Xehanort, Xemnas, and Ansem, Xigbar and Saïx (and not their original personas, Braig and Isa, strangely enough) are revealed to be Xehanorts as well, having been infused with a part of Master Xehanort's heart and gradually turning into Xehanort (slowly adopting features of his such as golden eyes and pointed ears). Additionally, the plan was to turn Sora into the final member of this group (luckily, it was thwarted by a Big Damn Heroes moment from Lea, Axel's original identity), and the original plan for the first Organization XIII was to use the other Nobodies as vessels for Xehanort's heart.
Dynasty Warriors (taking after the novel and history) has as playable characters: The Sun family (father Jian, sons Ce and Quan, daughter Shangxiang), Quan's concubine Lianshi, and Ce's wife Da Qiao, whose sister Xiao Qiao is married to Sun Ce's sworn brother Zhou Yu, making them brothers-in-law. Sun Shangxiang is married (at least briefly) to Shu's leader Liu Bei, who has a son from another marriage Liu Shan, who is married to Xingcai, the daughter of one of Liu Bei's sworn brothers Zhang Fei.
Mercifully the direct playable character family link ends there for the game; in the novel and history it continues with Xingcai's mother being the niece of Xiahou Ba, whose father Xiahou Yuan is cousins with Xiahou Dun and Wei leader Cao Cao. Cao Cao in turn has his own cousin, Cao Ren, and a son Cao Pi whose wife Zhen Ji was originally married to one of Yuan Shao's sons. Cao Ren has a daughter who marries another one of Sun Jian's sons bringing us full circle.
Princess Waltz. It's hard to get into too much detail without major spoilers, but let's give it a shot. A man and a woman (let's call them Bob and Alice) got married, and had a son, Charlie. Alice's sister Denise had two daughters, Emily and Faye. When the second generation grew up, Emily married Charlie (her cousin), and had a son, Greg. However, Faye seduced Charlie as well, and had a daughter, Hannah. When Greg and Hannah grew up, they became the protagonist of the game and his primary love interest, Arata and Chris. Interestingly, no one ever mentions this.
In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Kinzo and Beatrice I had a daughter, Beatrice II. Kinzo then had another childwith Beatrice II: Yasu/Shannon/Kanon/Beatrice III. Now realize that Yasushkannontrice is a relationship with two or three of Kinzo's grandchildren, and how those guys are actually connected in the family tree. Yep.
In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Bob's adopted daughter Molly is a pink furry monster who was spontaneously generated in a lab accident. Molly shares a tiny bit of genetic material with Bob's girlfriend Jean, making Jean her biological mother "just a little bit." Molly lived for a time with Jean's Uncle Cestus Poole, whom Molly addresses as Uncle Cess. Molly built a sentient robot named Roofus, who regards her as his mother, which makes Bob and Jean his grandparents. Roofus now lives on another planet, being raised by Bob's alien friend Voluptua, whom Molly addresses as "Auntie Voluptua." Molly also has a genetically identical cloned "sister" named Galatea, grown by Dean Martin (no, no that Dean Martin), who is her de facto father. She is also Jean's biological daughter "just a little bit" just as Molly is. Galatea addresses Bob as "Uncle." Molly regards Roofus as Galatea's nephew.
Molly now also has a second clone sister named Djali ("Jolly"), short for Djaliana, who was grown by Galatea. Jolly looks like her sisters except for being a couple of hundred feet tall. Despite being grown by Galatea, she still considers Jean her mother.
Kevin & Kell stars a wolf and a rabbit, so if you get to thinking about family trees you'd probably figure on the rabbit being the cause of the giant, twisted family tree. But the growing family tree was explicitly pointed out prior to any major revelation about the rabbit's side of things. At that point there was Kevin (the rabbit) and his wife Kell (the wolf), each of whom had a kid from a previous marriage, plus Kell's brother who got married to a major supporting character and turned out to be the father of another major supporting character, not to mention some budding romances and cloning going around, and... maybe you should look for yourself.
Note that's out of date, currently we have George Fennec married to a human-turned-rabbit (who is an alternate reality of Kevin's sister) who has a human son, Lindesfarne married her batty fiance, plus add in Kevin's Mother marrying their world's version of DB Cooper (Yes, really), who's a squirrel.
AND Fiona Fenec is dating Rudy Dewclaw, and since wolves mate for life...
Also, there's cloning.
Ellen Dunkel from El Goonish Shive is either an Opposite-Sex Clone of Elliot or a magical curse given human form, depending on how you think about it. This leads to confusion◊ as to who can be considered her parents.
Ellen has three fathers (none adoptive) and four mothers (two adoptive), and one of her mothers is her brother. That's not including the crazy immortal and an alternate version of her brother, which would put her at four fathers and five mothers. Beat that.
Grace on the subject of Ellen: "Elliot's the mommy, the diamond was the doctor who delivered Ellen, and Tedd's the daddy! Wait a minute... If Tedd's the daddy... Oh my gosh! I'm a mommy!"
Grace is a hybrid clone (with 4 sources of DNA), and considers the other hybrid clones from the same lab her siblings. Her "grandfather" replaced some of the DNA she was supposed to be cloned from with that of his dead daughter—Grace's "mother" (and namesake).
It gets even worse. John and Jade are the son and daughter of their (adoptive) Grandma and Grandpa, respectively, who were raised as brother and sister despite not actually being related. Fortunately incest is averted by the whole cloning thing.
Honestly, it's even worse than that. Since John's the one responsible for creating them all, he could technically be said to be his own father (as well as the father of Rose, Dave, and Jade) AND his own great-grandfather, and his adoptive father is really his half-brother. Dave's Bro is also Dave's father, and Jade's Grandfather is really her father as well. Rose's mother is the only one who really IS what she seems to be, though Rose herself could theoretically be said to be the mother of Bec (Jade's demon dog), since she's the one who provided half the DNA code (via her journal) to create him. And the person who actually created Bec from that code was Draconian Dignitary. Has your head exploded yet?
The entire family tree seen so far can be found here◊. Note that John's Dad is the only person in that family tree who is the result of his parents having sex. And the tree doesn't even mention the growing romance between John's Dad and Rose's Mom...)
Vriska sums it up best:
Not that she has any reason to talk, since the trolls are technically all part of one Tangled Family Tree as a natural result of their Bizarre Alien Biology. Not to mention that the troll players also fall under My Own Grampa.
Speaking of trolls, it gets worse. Although it hasn't been outright stated yet, it is very heavily implied that Betty Crocker is actually the Troll Empress, who is Feferi's Ancestor. Although there is still Bizarre Alien Biology and My Own Grampa going around, it's very likely that Feferi can be considered John and Jade's great-aunt by adoption.
We can even add Lil' Cal, Doc Scratch, and Lord English into this. Lil' Cal was created in Dave's dreamspace by Gamzee. He later ends up in the Troll's universe and is used to create Doc Scratch (who also had genetic code provided by Gamzee, Vriska, Terezi, Tavros, and Aradia) by the Black Queen/Snowman. Finally, Lord English bursts from Doc Scratch's corpse at the end of the universe because he was already there. Wanna make things worse? Doc Scratch can be considered the adoptive father to Aradia's Ancestor, and acted as a guardian for Kanaya. This tree loops on itself.
And now as of Act 6 we have an Alternate Universe where the human ectobiological parents are now the children, and vice versa. Just to make things more confusing.
Though it is (so far) without time travel, the Val'Sarghress family tree in Drowtales is quickly becoming this with recent revelations about Kalki Nidraa'chal, who turns out to be the child of Snadhya'rune Vel'Sharen and Mel'arnach Val'Sarghress (who is Ariel's real mother) who are both women, and technically makes Kalki Ariel's half-sister. And that doesn't even touch on the fact that Ariel's father is a dark-elf turned giant spider or how Diva'ratrika is technically Ariel's step-grandmother.
Creative (ab)use of the relationship settings on Face Book can result in these.
In 'Souls RPG, the Lykoi and de le Poer families are quite tangled and intricate.
Scooby-Doo, over various spinoffs, has introduced enough cousins, uncles, aunts, nephews, and even siblings of Shaggy, Scooby, Fred, Daphne, and Velma (most of them appearing only once and then never to be seen again) that they probably fall under this trope.
In The Oblongs, we are given a glimpse of the Oblong family tree. Given that nearly the entire current generation is made up of people with deformities and/or missing limbs, it is understandably messed up, but the fact that some of the family members were in Hiroshima around the time of the A-Bomb's detonation, and were originally traced back to carny folk is quickly eclipsed by the presence of uncle Kiki, A MONKEY.
"As far back as I can trace, my relatives were carnival folk, Who were touring a place called "Hiroshima" in the summer of 1945. After that because of their lack of hair and skin they mostly married each other. And here I am!"
The family tree of the Julio-Claudian dynasty of the early Roman Empire is just about the closest thing to a real life Tangled Family Tree as you're going to find, as many very confused first-time viewers of The BBC miniseries I, Claudius have discovered. Here's a rendering of that family tree. (Some people have discovered that having a copy of the Julio-Claudian family tree at one's side greatly helps a viewer grasp who's who and what's what while watching I, Claudius. Others avoid looking at the family tree at all, as it contains spoilers.)
For example: Caligula Caesar's paternal grandfather, Drusus, was the son of Augustus's second wife Livia by her first marriage. His paternal grandmother, Antonia, was the daughter of Mark Antony and Augustus's sister Octavia. His maternal grandmother was Augustus's daughter of his first marriage, Julia, who married Augustus's friend, General Agrippa.
Agrippina the Younger, Was the lover of Emperor Caligula, despite being his sister, the wife of Emperor Claudius, despite being his niece, and the mother of Emperor Nero, and was also rumored to have had Parental Incest with him, before the two had a falling out over a woman and he had her killed. Big Screwed-Up Family doesn't even begin to cover it.
The Julio-Claudians were pikers compared to a lot of European dynasties a few hundred years ago. The number of times people married their first cousins to reaffirm long-standing alliances or some such was absolutely unbelievable. Even in the modern day, it still happens - Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are both second cousins once removed and third cousins via different paths.
The worst example historically is probably Alfonso XII of Spain whose grandfathers were brothers who each married their own nieces.note As the Wikipedia article notes, though, it is speculated that Alfonso XII's father was not his mother's husband/second cousin. Instead of the usual 24 great- and great-great-grandparents, he had 10. Admittedly, that's not directly a Tangled Family Tree, but when it carries on for a while (and it did, for centuries) it can get ludicrously tangled.
All that that is before you consider that these people were often all rulers in different nations. Just because he's your brother and your cousin doesn't mean that you can't go to war with him, right? Which makes the Thirty Years' War (aka, the bloodiest European war pre-WWI) the second-biggest family feud of all time.
The family tree◊ of Charles II of Spain is also incredibly tangled. In case you don't want to work it out, that means a grand total of eight separate genomes introduced over the course of seven generations and at least three cases of men marrying their nieces. Not only that, but Joanna of Castile, a.k.a. "Crazy Jane", is most of his great^5 and 6 grandmothers, when it'd be normal to have 16 and 32, respectively. Hence him being a literal deformed moron, hence him being unable to produce children (they actually tried, with two wives that were merely second cousins, but the man was literally too malformed to breed), hence the Succession Crisis, hence the War of the Spanish Succession, or the third-biggest family feud of all time. Louis XIV of France and Leopold I of Austria both had claims to the Spanish throne through Charles II's grandfather, by way of their mothers and their wives. Problem was, one had a mother who was the other's mother's older sister, the other had a wife who was the other's wife's older sister, and nobody could figure out which trumped which. When the third candidate (six year old Joseph Ferdinand/José Fernando of Bavaria) died, the French king moved to have his grandson crowned, and the Austrian emperor moved to have his son crowned. The rest of Europe was terrified of either power gaining control of the Spanish empire, and moved to stop them both. Hence, The War Of Spanish Succession.
Philip of Castillenote (died 1506) and Joanna of Castillenote (died 1555) together provided about 40.6% of Charles II'snote (born 1661) genes. That shouldn't work! And frankly didn't!
Charles II also had congenital syphilis (his father was infected through sex with prostitutes, then transmitted it to his wife, who in turn passed the disease on to her unborn son), which is known to cause severe birth defects and genetic mutation. This may well have been the first new genetic information introduced in generations. Think of it as adding a little raw sewage to a gene pool filled with stagnant swamp water.
And Charles II is just the most severe case in his dynasty. Pick a Habsburg. Any Habsburg. There's a reason there's a Wikipedia article on the Habsburg chin. The Hapsburg case is one of wanting to keep it "all in the family." Unlike many of Europe's dynasties, they came by the vast majority of their titles through lucky inheritances (having come to power after the black plague devastated most of the noble houses of Europe) rather than war, and they didn't want to lose any of them the same way they had earned them. As has been noted, this ultimately produced a literal genetic recipe for disaster.
Older Than Dirt: Any given Ancient Egyptian dynasty, whose Royal Blood was traditionally "preserved" via so much incest that it gave Pharoah Tutankhamun a club foot and a cleft palate, and was probably the reason he had no surviving offspring.
The Greek Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt (founded by Ptolemy, who was one of Alexander the Great's Generals) is so knotted and twisted that it almost defies description. This website makes a brave effort.Ptolemy VIII Tryphon and his wife (and double-niece) Cleopatra III produced five children: Cleopatra IV, Ptolemy IX, Tryphaena, Cleopatra Selene, and Ptolemy X Alexander I. Ptolemy IX secretly married his sister Cleopatra IV, but their mother forced them to divorce (they'd already produced two sons, Ptolemy XII Auletes and Ptolemy of Cyprus). Cleopatra IV then married their cousin Antiochos IX of Syria, and had another son with him, Antiochos X. She was then murdered on the orders of her sister Tryphaena (who was in turn executed by Antiochos IX). Her brother/ex-husband Ptolemy IX meanwhile married his other sister, Cleopatra Selene, by whom he had a daughter, Berenike III. He was expelled by Egypt by their brother, Ptolemy X Alexander I, who then married Cleopatra Selene himself (they had a son named Ptolemy XI Alexander II). After they divorced, Cleopatra Selene married three successive kings of Syria, becoming history's only known quintuple queen: Antiochos VIII (widower of her sister Tryphaena), Antiochos IX (widower of her other sister, Cleopatra IV) and finally Antiochos X, her own nephew, by whom she had two sons. Ptolemy X Alexander I married his niece/stepdaughter, Berenike III, and had a daughter by her, Cleopatra V. After his death, Berenike married her half-brother/cousin/stepson, Ptolemy XI Alexander II, who had her murdered and was subsequently murdered himself. Ptolemy XII Auletes, the son of Ptolemy IX and Cleopatra IV, became king and married his niece, Cleopatra V, by whom he was father of the famous Cleopatra VII (she of Caesar and Mark Antony fame). This tangled web is not at all helped by the fact that all the principal players shared only about four names and have to be distinguished by Roman numeral.
If Mark Antony had won the war, it would have gotten a lot worse. For example, the Donations of Alexandria would have divided the Roman holdings in the Eastern Mediterranean (and parts of Armenia and Persia conquered by Mark Antony in the name of Egypt) into various kingdoms, each with one of Mark and Cleo's children as King or Queen. In Alexandria, Cleo would have been crowned "High Queen and Queen of Egypt". Her son by Caesar, Ptolemy Caesar (better known by his Latin nickname Ceasarion, meaning "Little Caesar"), would be crowned "High King, King of Egypt, heir to Caesar (who was by that point raised to the status of living god), Dictator of Rome". You just know the various lesser kings and queens would get into all kinds of family feuds and incestuous marriages like later day European royalty. Potentially even Twincest since Alexander Helios (Alexander Sun) and Cleopatra Selene II (Cleopatra Moon II) were twins, and both included in the land grab. However it gets really interesting when you consider that the King and Queen of Egypt, traditionally ruled together, were related, and married. So Cleo's relationship record would've gone "Brother, other Brother, Caesar, Mark Antony, Son."
Both Queen Victoria of Britain, and Christian IX of Denmark had a lot of children that were married off to the royalty of Europe according to custom. During World War One, every monarch in Europe, even the rulers of minor nations like Romania, and Greece, were the grandchild of Vicky on one side, and Chris on the other, making them both maternal and paternal cousins. (Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary being among the only exceptions, although the latter, as a Habsburg, had a tangled family tree of his own.) Both the Russian Tsar and the German Kaiser spoke English as their first language, and the Swiss press at the time called it "the cousins' war". Surreal.
Here◊ is a photo of British King George V, and his double cousin Tsar Nicholas II of Russia both wearing German military uniforms together in Berlin before the war. Good luck figuring out which is which. They look enough alike to be twins and have the same taste in facial hair.
Even more surreal when you realise that through Imperialism, they controlled anywhere between 75% and 90% of the world's landmass, making them also the most successful family in human history.
Despite the close relationships and often being in close communication, they quite frequently hated each other. To a substantial degree, World War One started because the English royals sneered down their noses at Kaiser Wilhelm, and he was desperate to be loved while also resenting them. Yes, World War One takes the title for "biggest family feud of all time," even if you discount the Americans and the French.
There was also the fact that Wilhelm really didn't grasp that his cousin George didn't control the British government. He was convinced that King George V wouldn't allow the dispute to come to war, not understanding that George didn't have a say in the matter.
And then there's the fact that Franz Joseph's great-great-grandfather was Charles III of Spain, and Victor Emmanuel's great-great-grandfather was brother to Franz Joseph's grandfather. For extra fun, the families of Christian IX and Victoria married several times; most notably, a Danish prince and his wife (Victoria's granddaughter), who became the first King and Queen of Norway.
The Rothschild banking family, said to be so rich they financed both sides of every war in the 19th century, practiced incestuous marriage, motivated by the fact that marrying outside the family would mean the family fortune would be split in between different lines through inheritance, dowries and the like. Several generations of Cousin/Cousin, and in one case, Uncle/Niece marriages followed. They have since abandoned this practice (doctor's orders). Also, they were right. The family fortune dried up after they stopped the incest.
Not only that, but one of the original branches of the family died out, and several descendant branches have been in feuds with each other. While still wealthy, the Rothschilds' fortunes suffered greatly in both world wars, and they are far less wealthy than they used to be.
Duke William of Normandy (also called William the Bastard, because he was illegitimate) invaded England and killed King Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon King. William was motivated by the fact that he was Edward the Confessor's cousin, and was supposedly promised it by Harold Godwinson on a stack of holy relics (Edward the Confessor was the King of England before Harold Godwinson for those paying attention). King Harold Godwinson's daughter married Prince Vladimir Monomakh of Kiev (whose own mother was the daughter of Constantine IX Monomachus of Byzantium). The Russians, assisted by large numbers of Scandanavians, invaded Byzantium in 1043. Harald Hadrada ("the Ruthless"), who later became king of Norway, joined the Byzantine army with a large following of northmen ("Varanger"), campaigned widely, and ripped out the eyes of the Byzantine emperor Michael V Kalaphates in 1042. King Harald Hadrada of Norway invaded England in 1066, on the pretext that it was promissed to his family by Harthacnut who's father was Cnut The Great, Viking King of Norway, Denmark, and England (also parts of Scotland, Sweden, Ireland, and Poland) from 1018-1035. Harthacnut's mother was also Emma of Normandy, William of Normandy's grandmother. Harald Hadrada was killed by King Harold Godwinson, who was himself killed by Duke William at the Battle of Hastings, thus ending the Saxon period, and leading to centuries of French rulers on the English throne. All at a time when most people never got further than 3 miles from their birth place.
Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord. Not only was he a Magnificent Bastard, but he had several literal bastards (probably including the artist Eugene Delacroix), most of them with a very unsure paternity. Charles de Morny a politician, stated: "In our family, we are bastards from mother to son since three generations, I am a great-grand-son of a king, grand-son of a bishop, son of a queen and brother of an emperor". Specifically, he was great-grandson to King Louis XV of France, whose illegitimate daughter Adelaide Filleul bore a son to Talleyrand, the bishop. Said son, Joseph, Comte de Flahaut, had an affair with Hortense de Beauharnais, stepdaughter of Napoleon Bonaparte and Queen of the Netherlands, an affair which produced de Morny; de Beauharnais' legitimate son later became Emperor Napoleon III. And Charles de Morny himself had an illegitimate son: writer George Feydeau. Talleyrand's legitimate family was also quite complicated, his brothers and cousins breeding prodigiously. And Talleyrand's daughter married one of his cousins.
Genghis Khan's Y-Chromosome is found in 0.5% of all men on earth. Makes for roughly 35,000,000 people. Guy got around.
Genghis Khan was a piker compared to Charlemagne. Some 30% of all Europeans descend from Charlemagne, making for roughly 220,000,000 people. The main difference between those two was that Genghis aimed for quantity while Charlemagne aimed for quality. While Genghis had perhaps hundreds of children, only a few of them survived to adulthood. All Charlemagne's total of ten legitimate and illegitimate children survived, married, and procreated.
In the above two examples of Genghis Khan and Charlemagne, however, it should be noted that Genghis Khan lived from about 1162-1227, whilst Charlemagne lived from 742-814. Being born over 4 centuries earlier, it is logical that Charlemagne's descendants would very probably account for a much higher proportion of people alive today.
Some scientists theorize that around the same time as humans first left Africa, we were on the brink of extinction with fewer than 500 individuals making up the entire human race, all of them living along the straits of Aden. Sometime after making the crossing into Arabia, they would splinter into two groups. One group would return to Africa, the other would go on to colonize the rest of the world. They cite signs of a genetic bottle-neck in the human genome as evidence, geological evidence of expanding African deserts at around the same time as a cause, and fishing tools found in fossil reefs in the region from around this time gives them the place. Also of note, Mitochondrial Eve, the last common female ancestor of all humans lived around 150,000 B.C., whereas Y-Chromosome Adam, the last common male ancestor of all humans lived around 30,000 B.C..
It is a common misconception that Y-Chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve reproduced with each other, and were the only people around at the time, or were the only people around at the time with descendants in the present day. Y-Chromosome Adam is unique because he passed his genes down through an unbroken line of male offspring. Many of his male contemporaries also are ancestors of people living today, but through lines that contain daughters, so their Y-chromosomes were not passed on (although other genes of theirs certainly were). Similarly, Mitochondrial Eve is unique because she passed her genes down through an unbroken line of female offspring. Other women were alive when she lived, but somewhere in your ancestry between you and them is a male. There is no requirement that these two people reproduced with each other, or even lived at the same time, for this to be true.
It should further be noted that "Adam" and "Eve" are titles, not individuals. They refer only to the last common ancestor of every living human. If some isolated tribe in the Amazon or Indonesia was completely wiped out by a sudden natural disaster, "Eve" could suddenly switch to someone who lived 20,000 years later than the previous Eve.
Also of note, Y-Chromosome Adam lived around the same time as the "Great Leap Foward", the time when humans began developing more complex tools (bow and arrow, rafts and canoes, animal traps, etc), and making art for the first time. Therefore, it's entirely reasonable to suggest that Y-Chromosome Adam's line was more successful because they were more intelligent, and therefore either A: reacted better to dangerous situations then competing males (natural selection), or B: had more successful tribes that attracted more ladies and had more surviving children (social selection). Or both.
The biggest cause of the difference in time periods is simply because men can have dramatically more offspring than woman, even more so with Polygamy being much more common then Monogamy for much of human history.
Japan, with a caste system as strong as medieval Europe, is no exception. Until the marriage between who by the time was the Prince Akihito to Empress Michiko in 1958, for the past millennium members of the Japanese Imperial House can only marry another Imperial House member, a descendant of a Heian-era nobility, or, after the Meiji Restoration, the descendants of one of the former daimyos.
The Japanese Emperors have all been drawn from the same patrilineal dynasty (their claim to legitimacy has always been that the first emperor was the grandson of Amaterasu, the sun goddess.) There have however, been a few matrilineal dynasties. That is to say, the clan who had the most power ruled by having the Crown Prince marry the daughter of the most powerful man in that clan generation after generation, therefore ensuring that the next generation counts that clan as family, and is thus loyal to them. This goes on until the ruling clan gets overthrown by another clan. So first it's the Soga clan, then the Fujiwara, then the Taira, then the Minamoto...
Carrie Fisher went so far as to make a flow chart◊ called "Hollywood Inbreeding 101" explaining her family tree in her one woman show Wishful Drinking. This was prompted by her daughter asking Fisher if she was related to her boyfriend, a grandson of Elizabeth Taylor. note She's still not entirely sure. Thanks to numerous marriages, she's been related to several Hollywood stars including Taylor, Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Paul Simon, and Marie McDonald.
Zachary Taylor (12th president of The United States) was second cousins wih James Madison (4th President of The United States) who was himself first half-cousin to George Washington (1st President of The United States), James Madison's wife Dolly Madison had a sister who married George S Washington, who was George Washington's nephew. Zachary Taylor's fourth cousin was Robert E. Leenote Lee married Mary Anna Randolph Custis, step-great-granddaughter of George Washington.(A famous Confederate General during The American Civil War), and Jefferson Davis (1st and only President of The Confederate States) was his son in Law. When he was president, Taylor once remarked "I'll hang every secessionist there is, starting with that son-in-law of mine." Referring of course, to Jefferson Davis.
Inbreeding (and the related genetic hilarity that ensues) is a common riff in redneck humor, as noted by Jeff Foxworthy. Some examples:
If your family tree does not fork, you might be a redneck.
If you've ever gone to a family reunion to pick up women, you might be a redneck.
Even without incest, there can be some seriously weird relations if certain people marry other certain people. For example, if you're a guy and you just married your long-time girlfriend (making her your wife), but your divorced mother just married your wife's father, that would make your wife also your (step)sister! And then if your older sister decided to marry your wife's uncle, he'd be your uncle too, but he'd also be your brother (in-law). It's almost the opposite of Jeff Foxworthy's "redneck jokes": Your family tree does fork, it just forks so dang much it resembles a bush more than a tree!
Homer: And then our kids would look all weird and mutated!
In some cultures where polygamy is legal, some husbands try to minimize strife between co-wives by marrying women who are sisters, hence used to getting along with one another. The co-wives' respective offspring are therefore each others' half-siblings and cousins at the same time.
According to The Other Wiki, such individuals are called three-quarter siblings.
In secluded societies, people were prone to marry close because it was easier that way. Before modern communication and roads, many remote areas in Norway had this problem; in the valley of Setesdal, certain inherital diseases spread because of this, and in nearby Telemark, some families were as tangled as any. In one case, a farmer married his cousin because she was close. One of his daughters married her second cousin, and so on. After getting all those details straight, one family member actually mused: "it is a wonder we didn`t end up morons all of us". The family tree in question looks something like this, and is only one example of many.
Not only are Franklin D. Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt related, but Franklin happens to be the fifth cousin to his wife Eleanor's father. Furthermore, Eleanor happens to be the niece of Teddy Roosevelt. Let's just say that the Roosevelt family tree is complicated enough that they distinguish themselves as the Hyde Park branch (Franklin's side) and the Oyster Bay branch (Teddy's side). With Eleanor's marriage to Franklin serving as a bridge between the two. Here is the family tree.