"She had a corpse under her bedWhile it's not uncommon for some people skilled in a trade to pass it on to their children, sometimes the only thing a parent is skilled at that he can teach to his kids is murder, mayhem, and any other heartless criminal deeds you can think of. This will usually result in raising an evil clan, and when the kids are old enough, the family collectively and regularly adds to a rising body count and a growing criminal file. Usually, The Family That Slays Together consists of at least one parent (if it is only one parent, it's usually the father), and at least two children of blood relation to the parent. If a mother and father are both present in the story, it's possible for the family to have only one child join them on crime sprees. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, or cousins may be among the ranks as well from time to time, especially when family inbreeding is suggested. One common variation involves an Outlaw Couple kidnapping a child or a group of children for the duo to raise as they would their own kids (typically, this either results in Stockholm Syndrome, which is rare, to betraying or outright killing their own kidnappers, which would be more common). Very often, this trope might overlap with Cannibal Clan, especially in the horror genre. Sometimes, they are also Professional Killers. Compare Overlord Jr./Daddy's Little Villain, where a single descendant of a Big Bad seeks to follow in his footsteps, and Unholy Matrimony which involves two villains being in a loving relationship or marriage. Siblings in Crime can follow, naturally, if there's more than one child in the mix. In the Blood is related if the kids pick up on their parents' evil habits without having been directly exposed to any of their criminal behaviors and/or it's a persistent trend throughout the generations. May also be a Badass Family, though your mileage may vary, depending on how "badass" you think violent crime and other felonies are. Contrast Mama Didn't Raise No Criminal, which involves parents denying that their criminal offspring are really evil, and Evil Parents Want Good Kids, where villains take steps to actively keep their children away from all that. Compare and contrast the Badass Family, who can sometimes be this as well when villains but are usually more heroic, and all forms of the Generic Ethnic Crime Gang, particularly The Mafia and The Irish Mob.
She had her fun but now he's dead
Her momma said, 'Come feed desire'
Her brother said, 'Hey, throw him on the fire!'"
She had her fun but now he's dead
Her momma said, 'Come feed desire'
Her brother said, 'Hey, throw him on the fire!'"
— Rob Zombie, "House of 1000 Corpses"
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Anime & Manga
- The Zabi family from Mobile Suit Gundam are a family of militaristic fascist politicians, with father Degwin as Sovereign and Big Bad, eldest son Gihren as Dragon-in-Chief and CINC of the war effort, daughter Kycilia and son Dozle as fleet commanders, and youngest child Garma as the leader of the Earth Invasion Force. Since they are also a Big, Screwed-Up Family, the situation turns very messy for all of them, especially once Gihren makes his play for power.
- ...with Kycilia having intended to do the exact same thing (minus patricide); Gihren only moved first.
- If one subscribes to the school of thought that Glemy Toto is Gihren's clone/bastard, it only serves to reinforce this trope.
- Dozle's daughter Mineva, on the other hand, is very much the odd one out among the Zabis. While she can be every bit as cunning and manipulative as her elders, she's also a Badass Pacifist with no ambitions for personal gain.
- The Hückebein Family from Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force are the adopted variant. Apparently all of them are not blood-related since they adopt other Eclipse Drivers into the family. As infectees of the Eclipse, a virus that turns you into a crazy killing machine (or zombie), they have to kill people to survive or the Eclipse will kill them.
- In Hunter × Hunter, the Zoldyeck Family are a family of assassins. Even though they have some issues, they usually don't kill innocent or other people unrelated to their jobs. At one point, the Ten Mafia Dons hired Zeno (the grandfather) and Silva (the father) to kill Chrollo Lucilfer, but Chrollo hired the eldest son, Illumi, to kill the dons. Illumi killed them when Zeno and Silva were in the middle of the fight against Chrollo, and after Illumi informed his father, both of them went back to home without any regrets.
- Dragon Ball Z:
- Frieza's family. The father (King Cold) has been implicated to be a tyrant, probably responsible for multiple genocides throughout the universe, his son (Frieza) is a sadist who enjoys torturing his victims, and his brother (Cooler) and predecessor (Chilled) are very similar to him.
- Babidi's family as well. He and his father Bibidi are sociopathic Omnicidal Maniac that sowed destruction in planets, and probably entire galaxies, and the Bibidi's creation (Kid Buu) is a Psycho for Hire creature whose only skill is killing and destroying. note
- In One Piece, the Vinsmoke Family are a family of notorious assassins who used to rule the entire North Blue with an iron fist.
- Pa, Link, Fink, Mean Machine, and Junior Angel (a.k.a. The Angel Gang) from Judge Dredd. Pa Angel was apparently so committed to making sure that he raised his kids to be nothing short of monsters that when his son Mean turned out to actually be extremely gentle and nice, he got him surgically modified with cybernetic enhancements to give him a more bloodthirsty disposition. After the deaths of Pa, Link, and Junior, Fink and Mean Machine sought vengeance as Siblings in Crime. The movie adaptation with Sylvester Stallone saw The Angel Gang adapted as a Cannibal Clan.
- In X-Men, when The Brood attack New Orleans, they target the children of the local thief and assassin clans for assimilation, giving this trope as their reasoning: Since they are preparing an invasion they need soldiers, so hosts with the right instincts are very desirable.
- Mad Scientist Doctor Sivana and his children, Georgia and Thaddeus Jr., from Captain Marvel.
- The Kravinoffs in Spider-Man: The Gauntlet.
- The Roarks from Sin City.
- Evan Dorkin's The Murder Family. A not-so-wholesome sitcom family who do Exactly What It Says on the Tin. To a sitcom audience soundtrack, no less.
- The Daltons from Lucky Luke, with the family matriarch Ma Dalton who occasionally helps her sons escaping the Cardboard Prison du jour and planning some of their crimes. Given that they're in a very family-friendly title, nobody's really at risk of getting killed.
- Franco Belgian Comic Les Cranibales is about a Cannibal Clan living in a modern french city. It's actually an all-ages series where the situation is Played for Laughs.
- The Inheritors, of which Morlun is the eldest sibling, is this in Spider-Verse.
- The Paperinik New Adventures comic has a borderline case in the Deltas, a Badass Family of military officers and intelligence agents who sometimes hunt the hero. They're the nicest possible version of the trope, but they do work for a somewhat sinister Government Conspiracy, and have a propensity for both sneakiness and overwhelming force when it furthers their objectives.
- The Smurfs: Gargamel's family is made of evil wizards and witches. His good brother Gourmelin is considered the family's shame for not been evil.
- Frailty has this. However, two of the family members were legitimately called by God to destroy demons (seriously) while the other one becomes a straight-up Serial Killer, and his first victim is his own father (who was one of the ones called by God).
- The Fratellis from The Goonies are never actually seen killing anybody, but have stuffed a corpse in the freezer at their hideout, and Ma Fratelli has no qualms with forcing the kids to walk the plank.
- The Firefly family from House of 1000 Corpses and its sequel The Devil's Rejects is a strong contender. Also a Cannibal Clan.
- Subverted in Natural Born Killers where it's hinted that Micky and Mallory end their killing spree after they decide to settle down and have kids.
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is built on this; they're also a Cannibal Clan.
- Wedding Slashers involves a daughter trying to escape one of these and start her own life. Suffice to say, her relatives aren't pleased.
- Timber Falls had a family of backwoods religious fanatics who abduct couples and force them to concieve, due to the only female member of the group being infertile.
- Mother, and her sons Ike and Addley, from Mother's Day. There's also Queenie, Mother's woods dwelling sister who is just as murderously insane as the rest, but hates her relatives. The loose remake drops Queenie, adds a daughter, and upgrades the number of sons to three.
- The murderous family from Frontier(s) was headed by an insane Nazi war criminal. They are also cannibals, for some reason.
- Seed of Chucky, though Glen(da) isn't really into it like his/her parents are.
- The inbred killer cannibals in Wrong Turn films are tight-knit community. Especially the family in Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, whose members only known as Pa, Ma and the (incestous) Twins.
- The premise of the horror film The Hamiltons, and its sequel, The Thompsons.
- The Angel Family in Judge Dredd.
Dredd: Cursed Earth pirates, murderers, scavengers. And, of course, scumbags.Dredd: [Later, to Fergie] l forgot to mention it. Your new friends, they're cannibals.
- The Redneck Zombie Torture Family from The Cabin in the Woods.
- The aptly named The Family which is about a mafia don and his family, who have the same violent tendencies that he does.
- In Minions, on a trip to Orlando, Florida, the titular minions meet a family who are a group of dangerous criminals, and even the baby already wants to kill people with grenades.
- Troy and two sons in The Neighbor are complicit in a kidnapping for ransom operation, and are not against murder or rape as well.
- Zigzagged with the Klopeks in The 'Burbs. At first it seems that the movie wanted to teach An Aesop about tolerance. Then it turns out that, yes, they were a family of murderers.
Legends & Mythology
- While it turns out that Real Life Kate "Ma" Barker wasn't actually the leader of her sons' criminal gang, she still carries reputation in a lot of (fictional) stories about her life and serves as the popular inspiration for nearly every fictional portrayal of family gangs lead by the maternal figure. You can find more information about her at That Other Wiki.
- Sawny Bean, the leader of the Scottish Cannibal Clan of legend, who is believed by some to have been executed for the mass murder and cannibalization of over 1,000 people sometime around the 14/1500's.
- Loki's family in Norse Mythology, which includes Loki, god of mischief, chaos, and destruction; Fenrir and harbinger of the apocalypse; Jormungandr, the Midgard Serpent; Hel; and Fenrir's sons, Skoll and Hati.
- In A Brother's Price, families are so close-knit that this is the normal, expected case, which is why, if one sister is involved in a crime, the whole family will be punished. It is possible to get out of it if you can prove that you have nothing to do at all with that family member, but you have to prove innocence rather than it being assumed. The main villains who are behind all the problems are revealed to be a family.
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn includes a two Feuding Families who routinely kill members of the other family and teach their children to do so too.
- Invoked in the Discworld series in regard to the Agatean Empire royalty—one has to be a murderous bastard to survive the court intrigues and as a result, some features get reinforced every generation.
- In Hogfather, Medium Dave and Banjo were apparently brought up to be criminals by their mother, who is fondly remembered for her ruthlessness by other criminals.
- Although a bit more civilized about it than most examples, the Selachii noble family of Ankh-Morpork have a long-standing tradition as Assassins. The Boggis family is equally well-embedded in the Thieves' Guild, though Ankh-Morpork thieves generally avoid killing their victims (because the Assassins' Guild considers that to be trespassing on their bailiwick, and because it's hard to rob someone again in the future once they're dead).
- The Grissoms from Friday the 13th: Carnival Of Maniacs killed for fun, and sometimes food.
- The book series has Dexter training Cody and Astor in the ways of serial killer killing.
- An instance of this shows up in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with Gottfried and Martin Vanger.
- Tigerstar and his son Hawkfrost in Warrior Cats. For a while it looked like Tigerstar's other son Brambleclaw was going to join them, but he decided against it.
- The Hardy Boys Casefiles, Blood Relations: Frank Hardy says this verbatim as the phony detective is greeted as the father of the Rawley brothers (who in turn exposed themselves as the bad guys).
- A Song of Ice and Fire: Oberyn and his eldest four daughters. Other family members are also sometimes included. Oberyn and his brother Doran work together, and Ariane recounts a time her uncle took her and her cousins — the above mentioned daughters — and taught them about snake poison.
- Un grito en las tinieblas: La vida de Zárate Arkham has the Arkham family, with the exception of the protagonist Zarate and some few other relatives, her family is comprised of psychopathic satanists, including her sexually abusive father and cult leader, an uncle that sacrificed teen girls to the Devil, and the homicidal branch of the family living in the Eldritch Location of Hill Road.
Live Action TV
- The Family of Blood and the Family Slitheen from Doctor Who.
- In one episode of Supernatural Sam and Dean are investigating a murder, and they discover that it's a crazy redneck family that has been hunting people for the ultimate hunting experience. This extends to the little girl, and once the dead wife is mentioned there is a distinct note of 'this is you guys if you were evil cannibal rednecks who didn't know there were real monsters to hunt.'
- Also true for the Winchesters, and other hunter families, although less with the homicide. SA Henriksen, who spends a season and a half on a quest to catch Dean, thinks they are this, straight-out. A hunter mentions this phrase in episode 3x01, just before kissing his wife.
- Averted in Scoundrels, which is about a family of criminals who decide to go clean after the father gets a long prison sentence.
- The Criminal Minds episode "Bloodline" is about a family (a mother, father, and young son) who kill a family to abduct their daughter as a future mate for the son. Gets very creepy when it turns out that this is how the family continues; they've been doing this for generations. And then at the very end of the episode, it turns out that the family has other branches, and the last shot of the episode is another similar set (mother, father and young son) preparing to kill some other people.
- "Open Season" had brothers who hunted people for sport, having been taught to so by their uncle, a paranoid psychotic who had died some time before the events of the episode, leaving them continuing as Siblings in Crime.
- Another episode had an elderly father and former serial killer come out of retirement over 20 years later. His son assisted him by bringing home women for him to brutally torture and murder. Later in the episode, it's revealed that the first victim he helped his father kill was his mother, though he never realized it until this episode. Another episode has a young boy pretend to be lost in order to lure women into his home as victims for his father.
- In yet another, a couple facilitate their paraplegic war-veteran son's crimes, bringing him women to murder out of frustration that his injuries make sex impossible for him.
- The Torchwood episode "Countrycide" has an entire rural Welsh clan of vicious cannibals.
- The infamous The X-Files episode "Home".
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Rita Repulsa, her brother Rito Revolto, and their father Master Vile during part of the third season. Much campier than most examples on this page.
- The Luthors of Smallville. Patriarch Lionel Luthor is a Corrupt Corporate Executive version of the Rags to Riches story, and tries to raise his son, Lex, to be every bit as devious, cunning, and unethical. Lex in turn mentors his illegitimate sister, Tess Mercer, who he successfully transforms into The Baroness. And that's without taking into account their bastard brother, Lucas, who managed to become a sociopath even without daddy's involvement, or Lex's numerous clones, who cover the board from Enfante Terrible (Lx-15) to Axe Crazy Evil Old Folks (Lx-3). In the Alternate Universe of Earth-2, the family stayed together, and by adding adoptive son Clark "Ultraman" Luthor to the family, transformed LuthorCorp into a Mega Corp. version of The Empire.
- In one episode of The Unusuals, an extended family (all the way to third cousins) go on a crime spree together. It turns out they're raising money for the patriarch of the family to get a kidney transplant.
- Teen Wolf:
- The Argents are a large family of werewolf hunters. It's strongly implied that werewolf hunting is often a family trade, so there are probably many other hunter families out there as well.
- At the beginning of Season 4, Sean Walcott is distraught over the grisly deaths of his parents, who seem to have been completely normal people. By the end of the episode, Lydia has found a freezer full of dead bodies in the Walcott's house: they're all murderous man-eating wendigos.
- The Dershewitz family in iCarly
- Justified runs on this trope. The series sports several crime families, including the Crowders, Bennetts, Tonins, Reyes, Truths. and Crowes.
- An episode of the original Hawaii 5-0 had a killer family coming to Hawaii. They are generally presented as dumb, inbred Southern hillbilly types (Slim Pickens was the patriarch). When they are caught, the old lady of the group calmly explains they weren't thieves because they only took money and valuables from people they already killed, who didn't need it any more. It also wasn't murder because their victims "weren't kin".
- An episode of the reboot Hawaii Five-0 features a young man caring for his aging grandmother who kidnaps two people for a pair of sequential Satanic rituals. When the killer leaves the house, the remaining victim escapes his cage in the basement, only to be stabbed in the back with a knitting needle by the killer's grandmother.
Grandmother: I'm tired of cleaning up your messes. Take care of this.
Grandson: Yes, Nanna.
- The Jukes, a family of thieves and con artists, attempts to take the T&T Circus for everything they can in the Frontier Circus episode "Mighty Like Rogues".
- Peaky Blinders is all about a street gang lead by the Shelby family. To start out, you've got the Brothers in Crime, Tommy, Arthur, and John, and their consigliere aunt, Polly. Then add their long lost cousin Michael, their littlest bother, Finn, as he grows up, and the brothers' wives as they get married. They're quite The Clan. And it's not a new thing in their family either.
Tommy: I think you're the first Shelby in history to have a legal license for anything. What would our granddad say, eh? He'd turning in his grave—"Honest bloody money? Eh? In this house? Here?"
- The White Sheep of the Family, by L. du Garde Peach and Ian Hay, is a comic play about a family of master thieves (father, mother, daughter and son) whose life of crime is threatened when the son falls for a police chief's daughter and decides to reform his ways.
- In Grand Theft Auto games, the leadership structure for a number of the Generic Ethnic Crime Gangs are rooted in family ties, especially in GTA IV. Unsurprisingly, a lot of them murder people. The most notable example being the McReary Family, the backbone of Liberty City's Irish Mob. Both the family matriarch and patriarch have had ties in running the gangs criminal activities, and their sons Derrick, Gerry, and Packie are all violent criminals. It seems the only people serving as an exception to the family violence are Kate and Francis, and yet Francis is a Dirty Cop and asks the player to kill Derrick. Kate is the only one in the family without a criminal record.
- Ace Attorney came painfully close to having an unwilling version. Morgan Fey asks her daughter Pearl to channel a certain spirit at a certain time, trusting Pearl to obey without asking. The spirit was Dahlia Hawthorne, another of Morgan's daughters, who would have used Pearl's body to murder her cousin Maya Fey. Dahlia would be at fault... but legally, Pearl would still be a murderer. Did we mention Pearl is nine?
- The Ax-Crazy Hall clan from Dead Rising are a trio of zealous survivalist snipers, a father and two sons.
- The Fallout series contains a wide variety of examples. In the third installment, the Lone Wanderer can discover an inbred Cannibal Clan as well as an example of the Outlaw Couple variation, called "The Family" that gets their nourishment from human blood; they can be convinced to drink it only from blood packs and cease killing other people, if so desired.
- While Mr. Zurkon of the Ratchet & Clank series has been around since Tools of Destruction, this trope appears whenever Zurkon Jr. joins him in battle.
Mrs. Zurkon: The family that slays together, stays together!
- Zurkon Jr. first showed up in Into the Nexus after upgrading his father. At V5, Mrs. Zurkon joins them to complete the trio. Mrs. Zurkon even quotes the Trope directly:
- Juliet from Lollipop Chainsaw comes from a family of zombie hunters.
- A reoccurring theme in Lakeview Cabin Collection is that the Rogue Protagonist of the first game's family have become murderers and serve as the primary antagonists of the third and fifth installments.
- The Frummagem family in Unsounded have a monopoly on criminal enterprise in New Tawhoque and usually pass on leadership of the gang when one of the boss' kids manages to murder their father. Daddy's Little Villain Sette is fiercely loyal to her Da', though she's a bit thrown off by the experience of Duane caring for her without asking anything in return.
- The titular family in Strange Little Band are the protagonists of the story, but being very much antiheros this trope applies. Especially in the climax.
- The back story of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker involves The Joker and and Harley Quinn having kidnapped Tim Drake and having had him brainwashed and tortured for the sake of modeling him as their own son, dubbed "Joker, Jr.", and effectively becoming one of these families. It didn't work.
- Batman Beyond also has the Royal Flush Gang, a family that makes their living on crime; however, they prefer theft to murder, although they don't mind bloodying their hands when they have to. Their daughter, Melanie eventually walks away from the life.
- The Mayhems, another family of robbers, from "The Eggbaby".
- In one episode of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, "Adventures in Squirrelsitting", Fat Cat ponders the possibility of raising Tammy and Binky as his own criminal successors... but then decides it'd be too much trouble and tosses them into his Death Trap.
- This is what happens in The Simpsons with Sideshow Bob in "The Italian Bob", rather than shun him, his wife and toddler son help him kill the Simpsons. Exaggerated in "Funeral for a Fiend" when even Bob's brother and parents help him try to kill Bart, too.
Bob: Revenge is a dish best served family style.
- An episode of Martin Mystery featured a family (consisting of a father, mother and daughter) who made routine sacrifices to a dragon since 1962, and in exchange they received immortality and a comfy home in the being's realm.
- The Slaughters, a family of poachers, from Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
- Parodied in an episode of The Venture Bros., appropriately named "The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together."
- In The Powerpuff Girls episode Power Prof, Utonium joins the girls in crime fighting, and the narrator names this trope.
- The Smiths next door also become this after they collectively snap in sheer envy of the Utonium household's perceived flawlessness.
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog introduces Mama Robotnik, Robotnik's mother who is a far more effective and dangerous villain than her son, and constantly belittles him for NOT taking over the planet. It seems her major morals she tried to teach him are to never tell the truth, never play fair, steal, and try to destroy Sonic. She even beats Robotnik up when he admits he was kidnapped and forced to marry an intergalactic bounty hunter against his will. Her reason? He told the truth.
- The Beagle Boys in DuckTales, a family of criminals, mainly a parody of Ma Barker's gang. Several branches of the family are shown with different characteristics including Upper Class Twits, swamp rednecks, and one made only of women, all of them criminals.
- The Bloody Benders were a family of serial killers who murdered at least 11 people between 1872 and 1873 before going into hiding and never being seen again.
- While the Benders became subjects of legend, The McVees may never have existed at all.
- Gordon Stewart Northcott, his mother Sarah Louise Northcott, and his heavily abused nephew Sanford Clark, perpetrators of the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders. These murders were dramatized in the Clint Eastwood film Changeling.
- In medieval times of war, particularly bad ass families not only slay and stay together, they often manage to climb up the social ladder all the way to becoming Kings/Queens over the bodies of their fallen enemies and establishing empires. Empires they keep within their family's possession by slaying and staying together...
- The Loomis Gang was formed around the family unit of George Washington Loomis and his children, and managed to keep most of Central New York State in a state of fear for much of the first half of the nineteenth century.
- From August 1971 until February 1972, the McCrary family was responsible of several abductions, robberies, rapes and murders from Florida to California.