"Bare is the back without a brother to it."…blood, that is. About six times thicker, in fact. Blood relations have a claim on each other. In fiction, as in Real Life, characters will put up with a lot from relatives that they would never endure from unrelated people. Even when the blood relation comes out of the blue (Luke, I Am Your Father, Long-Lost Relative, Luke, You Are My Father), even when the characters were Separated at Birth. And they will leap to each other's defense. Indeed, the Big, Screwed-Up Family may object to any of its members being mistreated in a far more mild manner than they routinely subject this relative to. And other characters will expect this of them, too. Failure to acknowledge the bond is a serious flaw, even if it can be outweighed by other moral considerations. Youngsters may learn this in An Aesop. Pushed too far, this results in Moral Myopia. A character who must sacrifice blood ties to other responsibilities may find his relative shocked that he would do such a thing, no matter how flagrantly in the wrong the relative is. Pushed as far in the inverse, characters will use it to justify their love. Also frequently invoked ironically, by taking the Stock Phrase literally. And other — substances can substitute. Often countered by the add-on "but not as refreshing". Avoiding this trope is a major factor in Conveniently an Orphan. Relatively Flimsy Excuse draws on this to make the (false) excuse. When the blood ties are pushed to their farthest limit, Species Loyalty. Opposite of No Blood Ties. Some people may think that Friends Are Chosen, Family Aren't is also an opposite trope, but actually, sometimes, the two go together — the reason that a character can't walk away from annoying family entirely in favor of well-loved friends is because they can't deny the bonds of blood. Compare Nepotism, In the Blood, Family Honor. Somewhat Truth in Television. Ironically, the full proverb from which this trope's name is derived means the exact opposite — being that its full version reads "The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb."
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- The Osomatsu-san sextuplets may fight a lot, but they care for each other deep down inside (yes, even Todomatsu). This was even more prominent in the prequel series Osomatsu-kun, where the rest of the brothers would go after the attacker if one brother got hit.
- In a way this is the initial premise of Sakende Yaruze! but ends up not holding true. Because Shino is his father Nakaya (at seventeen) seeks him out hoping to form a familial relationship, and they do begin to grow close, but they're often at odds with one another and how they are supposed to act. In the end Nakaya decides that though he has a claim to Shino because of their blood relationship, it would go against his dad's happiness to force Shino to reject his Love Interest Tenryuu, so Nakaya gives up his stake in the affair and moves out, not wanting to be in the way. Their familial bond is important, but not overriding.
- Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist.
- Subverted in Blood+. One may expect Saya to abandon her adopted brothers after discovering she's a Chiropteran and live with them. Instead, she decides to stay and fight as she feels the former are more important to her.
- Dragon Ball Z is a notable aversion. Goku and Raditz never show any affection for one another. Goku was willing to spare Raditz as an act of mercy, but it turned out to be a trick, almost costing him the fight. After Raditz is killed, he is rarely ever mentioned again.
- Fist of the North Star, Kenshiro having been on the rare receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle with Souther, finds himself on the desert and loses consciousness only to be rescued by Raoh, his elder brother and the Big Bad (who himself was in the middle of a recovery from his last fight with Kenshiro), nursed back to health. Raoh, alongside Toki later follows Kenshiro for his rematch with Souther, slaughtering any of Souther's men that happens to be in the way. Toki sums it up perfectly:
Toki: We elder brothers of Hokuto will not forgive those who block Kenshiro's path.
- This is one of the reasons why Gil never abandoned his younger brother Vincent in Pandora Hearts, even though he was constantly maltreated because of Vincent's birth condition.
- In Soul Eater, Crona uses hir madness to prevent Maka and Black★Star from matching soul wavelengths with their weapons, but Maka still manages to wield Spirit. Spirit explains to confused Crona that the bond between a parent and child can never be broken. However, it is also stated that while parent-child resonance is stable it may not be as powerful as resonance between individuals with different backgrounds and characters.
- Blue Exorcist: In any other circumstances, Rin (demon) and Yukio (exorcist) would be at each other's throats, but in these circumstances they are twins. Fraternal instincts keep them friendly.
- Maho from Wandering Son near always bullies her little sister. There are rare moments where she shows familial affections though. Such as when she stood up for her when Nitori was being mobbed by girls when she began modeling (though maybe that was out of jealousy), when Maho freaked out over the thought that she kidnapped, when she felt guilty after making fun of her when she was dumped, or (anime-only) when she gave her some extra food at dinner when they had an argument.
- Mirai from Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is a cynical thirteen year old girl who finds her Cheerful Child brother Yuuki to be an Annoying Younger Sibling. Despite her often acting distant or aggressive towards him, during the events after the earthquake she displays her Big Sister Instinct frequently. When it turns out Yuuki died near the end of the series her mind blocked it out and she hallucinated he was alive. It wasn't until an episode later that he was confirmed dead. After being reunited with her parents, Mirai spirals into depression and has Survivor Guilt but the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue shows she's taking strides forward after Yuuki's death.
- Robin Hood comes to his death when he trusts a prioress because she is his cousin.
- When Connor Hawke showed up in Green Arrow, that Oliver Queen did not want to deal with him was regarded as a grievous flaw; Connor was a stranger, but also his son.
- Connor wasn't really a stranger at that point, though. Ollie's anger and refusal to want to deal with Connor at that point stemmed from the fact that Connor had concealed the fact that he was Ollie's long-lost son. He had introduced himself to Ollie as a fan of Green Arrow and Oliver had no clue that his new sidekick was his long-lost son until the fact was accidentally dropped by a Parallax-possessed Hal Jordan. Given that Ollie was a wanted fugitive at the time, his paranoia about Connor lying to him because he wanted something or was working with the people hunting him is understandable if not particularly justified.
- In the Astro City story "Ellie's Friends," Ellie easily forgives her nephew Fred for all the trouble he put her through — including getting her framed for robbery, assault, and terrorism.
- Cain and Abel from The Sandman. Cain regularly murders his brother (he gets better). Abel never makes much of a fuss, until he gets killed by someone else; both brothers are extremely upset about this, to the point that Cain tries to legally threaten Dream to get Abel remade.
- Thor and Loki from The Mighty Thor. Beneath the centuries of Sibling Rivalry and Cain and Abel behavior, they truly do see each other as brothers.
- In the Donald Duck story So Dear To His Heart, Scrooge is forced to give the thing he treasures the most to Magica De Spell in order to lift a freezing spell placed on Huey, Dewey and Louie. Scrooge is in despair that Magica is going to obtain his #1 Dime, but it is the so abused Donald who is teleported to her arms instead! Scrooge remains a tsundere about it all, but Donald now knows better.
- In RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse, Night Light refuses to believe that Twilight could have done anything wrong. He sees his daughter's fugitive status as being entirely Trixie's fault — it's actually both of theirs — and is entirely willing to let Ponyville remain in ruins to get back at the latter. At the Grand Galloping Gala, Ditzy calls him out on it by using her own motherhood to give herself the high ground and deflect his attempts to use this.
- In The Masks We Wear, Zuko refuses to betray his father despite the fact that he (Ozai) burned him.
- In Blood Is Thicker Than Bone, Kimimaro is torn between staying loyal to Orochimaru, his master who gave his life purpose again only if it meant being his next body and the last remaining relative and family he has, his cousin who both recently discovered that the other existed. During the attack on Konoha, he makes his decision and chooses to aid and fight with his cousin Naruto
- Defied epically by Corrin in A Brighter Dark.
Corrin: Look little girl, I've seen enough blood to know that it all looks the same. It's all red, and you only ever see it when things have gone horribly wrong for the person holding it. It keeps the body pumping and makes a big mess when it gets spilled, and beyond that I don't see any reason to attach any sentimental value to it. True family is the people who have been there with you through thick and thin. They're the ones who make you feel warm when the world seems cold; the people you grow with, train with, eat with, you fight with and laugh with over the stupidest little things. That's family to me.
- In Panzer und uni, even though Isla Sato is an extreme Jerkass, an incompetent commander, a bully toward those she doesn't like, and responsible for shooting at an enemy flag tank while its commander is rescuing a member of Sato's team, thereby endangering rescuer and rescued, her younger sister Megan still cares for her. When Isla's actions catch up to her and she gets kicked off the team, expelled and disowned, Megan asks Miho to serve as a reference for Isla so she can get a job more easily- Miho accepts, knowing she'd do the same for her own sister, Maho.
- In Frozen Princess Anna makes a choice to sacrifice her life to save Queen Elsa despite the fact the she (accidentally) struck her in the heart and continually shut her out (in an attempt to protect Anna from the magical power Elsa couldn't fully control). This trope is even stronger because she could have gotten a kiss from Kristoff, which would save Anna at the cost of Elsa's life. However, the Power of Love saved Anna from her Disney Death because her sacrifice was an Act of True Love.
- In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride Zira exhibits heavy Parental Favoritism over her youngest (and possibly adopted) son, Kovu, due to him being chosen by Scar to be his successor. While Kovu grows to be a strong, healthy lion his older brother Nuka is scrawny and mangy in comparison. Nuka is shown to be a mild bully towards his siblings Kovu and Vitani in the first part of the film, and Vitani has spats with Nuka. Nuka deeply craves his mothers affectionate and approval but she focuses on Kovu. Despite this, Zira and Vitani are both horrified and sympathetic after Nuka dies trying to get to Simba. Zira disowns Kovu after the event due to believing he ultimately lead to his brothers death.
- From Dinosaur, in spite of following Aladar over Kron, Neera still tries to save her older brother when Kron is alone and chased by a Carnotaurus. She's too late to save him, but Neera trying to stop the Carnotaurus from munching on his body is the last thing he ever sees.
- Big Jake. Do not mess with the McCandles family; they are tougher than the Texas Rangers. And they are led by a "rough and unpleasant person".
- Played for drama by The Kids Are All Right. Joni and Laser meet the sperm donor who is their biological father, but the sperm donor's attempts to build a relationship with them and their mothers cause serious family friction and nearly break up the mothers' relationship with each other.
- The Princess Bride: "Hello!. My Name Is Inigo Montoya. You Killed My Father. Prepare to Die."
- Star Wars: Luke doesn't have to join Darth Vader, but knowing that he's his father puts anguish in what would be a simple decision — and then he wants to pull him back. This trope is also what saved Luke from an agonizing death from force lightning at the hands of the Emperor. Watching his son being tortured was the final straw that motivated Vader to toss the Emperor down the chasm.
- Referenced and subverted in The Players Club. When Diana finds her cousin, Ebony, in bed with her boyfriend, she tries to attack Ebony, who hides in the bathroom. Diana then gives a heartfelt speech about how much she loved her cousin and how she thought blood was thicker than water but was apparently wrong. She then pretends to leave… and punches Ebony in the face when she finally comes out of the bathroom.
- Lockout: A prisoner asks the riot leader Alex why he doesn't get rid of the bloodthirsty Hydell, who is clearly a liability to their escape plan because of his unpredictable homicidal urges. Alex responds that it's because Hydell is his brother. This tragically ensures his downfall, as Hydell kills Alex himself when he refuses to put up with Hydell's lunacy anymore.
- In From Dusk Till Dawn Seth Gecko, a ruthless criminal himself, is quite aware that his brother Richie is a psychotic rapist and serial killer. When Seth discovers Richie's latest crime of killing their only hostage he's incredibly disturbed but forgives him nevertheless, promising that they'll have a better life together in Mexico.
- In The Raid one of Tama's mooks switches sides after he realizes that a member of the opposite side is his brother.
- John Wick: Iosef may be a useless layabout who started the whole mess, but he is still Viggo's son, which is why Viggo can't just give him up to John without a fight.
- In A Brother's Price, this is the expected societal norm. (Which didn't stop the royal family from executing their own cousins after a civil war, but royals are always a special case) Corelle Whistler constantly tells her brother Jerin that his clothes are not nice enough, his accent is too posh, and his hands are too rough, but if he's under attack from outsiders, she'll come to his rescue instantly. His eldest sister tells him at one point that he's a Whistler, and need not be worried about anything, because his family will always be there for him.
- In Johannes Cabal the Necromancer Horst Cabal is a far nicer and better man than his brother, the amoral Johannes. The book's plot concerns Cabal tricking people into signing their souls over to him (to then be given to the Devil) which Horst goes along with, since most everyone who signs would go to hell anyway. But eventually Johannes goes too far and Horst objects strongly-but can't bring himself to physically stop Johannes-probably because he'd have to kill him as nothing else would stop the Determinator. This is ultimately subverted as Horst reveals he'd tricked Johannes.
- This is discussed as Barrowman, investigating Cabal asks Horst why he doesn't stop him himself and he names this trope. Cabal brings it up, but the narration makes a joke that Cabal has the actual liquid density of blood and water written down somewhere.
- In Cold Comfort Farm Flora explains this trope thusly when explaining her plan to live off her relatives: 'I am only nineteen, but I have already observed that whereas there still lingers some absurd prejudice against living on one's friends, no limits are set, either by society or by one's own conscience, to the amount one may impose upon one's relatives'.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's Gods Of Mars, when Carthoris learns that the man he had met only days before is his father, and John Carter convinces him of it by asking after his mother, Carthoris jumps to embrace him and weep Manly Tears. Then, by his own account, he had long wanted to be worthy of his father.
- In The Chessman Of Mars, on learning that A-Tor is the son of Haja of Gathol and so his cousin, Gahan of Gathol is immediately interested in him, and assures him that if he had made it to Gathol, being her son would have assured him a welcome.
- In L. M. Montgomery's A Tangled Web, we are told, in the Back Story, a mere family feud that keeps relatives from speaking to each other does not keep one of them from punching a man for insulting the other side of the family.
- In The Blue Castle, Valancy is appealed to on these grounds and refuses.
- Horus Heresy, being as it is about civil war between brothers, has a few examples:
- Horus and Sanguinus spend quite some time trying to convince each other to switch sides, unwilling to kill one another. Additionally, when Horus learns that Erebus tried to possess Sanguinus with a daemon, he rips his face off.
- When Angron is buried under tonnes of rubble, Lorgar teleports in the thick of the battle and starts digging him out, ignoring the enemies and fight he's in center of.
- This is the reason Magnus gives when Numeon asks why a traitor Primarch would intervene to save a loyalist one — he claims that with galaxy driven to madness, some values should still be honoured and he wants to be able to do something for Vulkan one last time.
- Defied by Leman Russ, who's perfectly willing to kill his brothers if the Emperor orders him so. It's implied that he executed two before the series begins, and by the start of the story, he's off to kill Magnus.
- In The Dresden Files, Thomas Raith takes this seriously, partly because Daddy Raith raised his children that way to control them, but partly because he truly believes it. After he reveals their connection to Harry, to explain why he looks out for him, Harry returns it. Which is interesting because the rest of the Raiths do not act on it.
- Harry himself goes to great lengths to protect and help people he considers family as well as the few people who are truly his blood relations. He also often goes out on a limb to protect other families, especially the Carpenters. Having grown up as an orphan has something to do with it.
- Lara Raith is shown to be very protective of her family, especially her youngest siblings Inari and Thomas. The one exception being Papa Raith after Harry Dresden tricks him into revealing his true feelings for his children while she was listening…
- In the Discworld books the Oggs are constantly feuding with one another but woe to any hapless interloper who insults an Ogg in front of another Ogg, in which event every single Ogg will turn on them.
- In Dragon Bones, there's Garranon, himself a rather nice guy, who would, as he freely admits, torture puppies if he needed to in order to keep his brother Landislaw safe. Landislaw is a jerk who constantly gets himself into trouble. And the high king Jakoven is a chronic backstabber, who sent his younger brother to prison, and when confronted with the fact that Ward's cousins actually like Ward, and want him to have castle Hurog, immediately suspects a conspiracy against himself, as, clearly, it is impossible that someone wouldn't be happy to have their cousin locked up in an asylum for insanes. It highly depends on whom you ask whether blood is thicker than water — the heroic characters are much more firm believers in this trope.
- In Rick Riordan's The Last Olympian, Nico's argument to Hades: whatever the Olympians had done to each other, they were family. (Though, technically, that's Ichor Is Thicker. But candy is dandy.)
- Earlier, Percy and Tyson deepen their bond by finding out they are half-brothers. (Not that they get along with all of Poseidon's other sons.)
- It's played with, though. Tyson and Percy were already friends, it's just that finding out that one of your best friends is your brother and a cyclops makes things a bit… awkward between them. It doesn't help that Percy is teased relentlessly about it. Subverted when the Big Bad of that very book is Polyphemus, a fellow son of Poseidon, who Tyson and Percy open a can of whup-ass upon.
- Earlier, Percy and Tyson deepen their bond by finding out they are half-brothers. (Not that they get along with all of Poseidon's other sons.)
- In Lois McMaster Bujold's Brothers In Arms, Miles Vorkosigan's immediate interest in his brother/clone Mark is tempered by the events of the novel. But later in the series, both Miles and his parents evince interest in Mark based solely on the blood connection, and he does end up on Barrayar among the Vorkosigans.
- In Dante's Divine Comedy, the next to last circle of Hell holds those who betrayed their own kin.
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Gaunt's Ghosts novels, Dorden was the only Tanith with a living relative, his son, also in the regiment. Making the son's death in Necropolis all the more tragic.
- Even his noble motive — not disrupting their lives with their new parents — does not protect Kolea from criticism for not letting his two children know that he is their father.
- In Blood Pact, Eyl tells the witch that she is his sister and he does not want to have to force her to do something.
- In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Deus Encarmine'' and ''Deus Sanguinius, Rafen looks for Arkio among the other Blood Angels who have arrived, because they are siblings, despite Sachiel's rebuke that all Blood Angels are brothers. When Arkio appears to be Sagninius reborn, Rafen feels bitter Conflicting Loyalty, others seek out Rafen because he is his brother, and he is allowed more leyway for his doubts. It also makes the threat, and reality, of their Cain and Abel clash all the more bitter.
- Patricia A. McKillip:
- In The Book of Atrix Wolfe, Burne can not bear the thought of losing Tanis, his only living relative.
- In The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, the sorceress Sybel, who has no interest in the company of other humans, agrees to keep the baby Tam safe from those hunting him only because he's related to her mother.
- In The Riddle Master Trilogy, when Morgon disappears on his quest to solve the riddle of stars, his timid younger sister Tristan decides she has no choice but to set off to find him, to the dismay of everyone. Also, one of the shapeshifters from beneath the sea declines to attack Raederle when he recognizes shifter blood in her.
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Miranda is anxious about her brothers and sister, becuase they are immortal; Mab points out they are immortal because of the Water of Life she gives them; Miranda justifies it because they are her family. To put it another way: if Miranda didn't believe this, the books would be a lot shorter.
- Rob Thurman quite likes this trope.
- In the Cal Leandros series, Cal and his older brother Niko would do anything to protect each other. Threatening either one of them in the presence of his brother is likely to be met with a swift, painful, and possibly lethal response.
- In her novel Chimera, Stefan Korsak would move Heaven and Earth to find his kidnapped little brother, Lukas.
- The Stainless Steel Rat: Jim's sons override his scruples on leading them into a life of crime on the grounds that saving their mother from the income tax people is a good cause.
- In Tanith Lee's The Dragon Hoard, Onga points out that Jasleth lied to them not on his own behalf but because of his family, and everyone agrees it's a good reason.
- In Adrian Tchaikovsky's Empire in Black And Gold, Stenwold is outraged when his niece is betrayed to the empire by another relative of hers. He still doesn't want to be a kinslayer, though. Fortunately, Tisamon's willing to kill the man for him.
- In John Hemry's The Lost Fleet, Geary looks up another man in the fleet named Geary to find whether they are related. Other characters also base acts on blood relations.
- A Murder Is Announced features twin sisters who have been Separated at Birth, don't know they're sisters, and one of them actually dislikes the other. However, once they realize the relationship, they develop a sense of family solidarity and one of them (the one who disliked the other) goes so far as to lie to the police for her sister's sake. Emma, one twin, dislikes the other because she sees her as competition for the favor — and money — of Miss Blacklock. The realization that Philippa is in fact her twin sister changes her from rival to ally in Emma's mind making her sudden protectiveness perfectly reasonable.
- In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, Catarina criticizes Lucian for protecting a stranger from her, his own sister.
- In Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom book Magic to the Bone, Mama tells one of her Boys he's bringing trouble on his family, he argues that he could get them money and power, and Mama counters he should not be ashamed of his real family.
- In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol story "Delenda Est", both Scipios die in an early battle in the Punic Wars, because the son came to the rescue of his father.
- In Poul Anderson's "Say It With Flowers", Ulstead, asking for news of a battle, tells Flowers that his nephew was on one of the ships.
- In P. G. Wodehouse's Jill The Reckless, Wally tells Jill that her father had gotten him a job — he couldn't have taken better care of him had he been a blood relation.
- Trapped on Draconica: Zarracka invokes this whenever she's at Daniar's mercy but inverts when their positions are reversed. Interestingly when Daniar has had enough with Zarracka and the third sister stops her, it's not out of blood loyalty to Zarracka but because she doesn't want Daniar to kill someone in anger.
- Seen in Harry Potter, and evident primarily with the Blacks, although occurs in several other families as well. Overlaps with Family Honor in many cases, but not always. The term "blood traitor" is often applied to wizards (primarily purebloods, but not necessarily) who "betray the family" by going against their ideals. It is considered a highly derogatory term, and is comparable to disownment. It's also worth noting that this "obedience to family" is a driving force for many of the Death Eaters (e.g. Regulus, the Malfoys), and seems to be a major factor in pureblood culture. "Blood traitor" is also used in a more general sense, to denote those who have gone against the perceived "societal principles of wizardkind" as well, presumably, as a derivative of the above.
- In Seanan McGuire's InCryptid novel Discount Armageddon, Verity recounts how cryptids are either loners or passionate adherents of this trope.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, it's notable that being a blood-relative is just about the only way you can rely on loyalty from anyone, as "kinslaying" is seen as the worst crime there is (even above regicide and betrayals of Sacred Hospitality). Even the Lannisters and Freys, the two most untrustworthy Big Screwed Up Families in the setting, tend to baulk at killing their own (and so far at least, the Freys have avoided doing so).
- Rickard Karstark evokes his family's centuries-old common ancestry with the Starks to warn Robb of the evil of kinslaying when he threatens to execute him for treason. It doesn't work.
- Tyrion has to flee the realm after being falsely accused of murdering his nephew Joffrey, and later actually murdering his father Tywin (partly in revenge for the false accusation).
- Roose Bolton strongly suspects that his legitimate son was killed by his bastard son Ramsay Snow, and that any future legitimate children will meet the same fate, but refuses to do anything about it since the only possible punishment for such a crime would be death, and then he'd be guilty of the same crime (not to mention childless).
- In Seanan McGuire's October Daye novel Ashes of Honor, Chelsea is, by the end of the book, calling for her father for help, even though he had only learned of her existence days before, and she had never met him until after. (True, he does help her with her out-of-control magic in those days.)
- In Poul Anderson's "Time Lag", Elva's rescuers, realizing she's a Fish Out of Temporal Water, quickly assure her that her son is alive, though old; that one of her rescuers is her grandson; and that he has a son of his own, before going on to say that her people are eager to welcome her home. Her grandson takes her hands as soon as she is told.
- In Andre Norton's Ice Crown, there is a blood connection between the princess and Nilas Imfray, which the princess thinks important.
- In Andre Norton's The Zero Stone, Jern's mother reveals after his father's death that he was a duty child, an embryo sent to be adopted and raised in their family, and therefore everything must go to his brother because he's not this. Jern himself is infuriated by it because it means he's not his father's blood; later, he consoles himself with the thought that in mind, he inherited more than his father's blood son and daughter.
- In Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things, Jenny goes to rescue her brother. Even after seven years, after finding him very changed, she is shocked when he hits her — because of this trope and not so much Would Hit a Girl
- In Julie Kagawa's The Iron Daughter, Meghan finds a photo of herself with her putative father. She recognizes what happened to him. Despite having lost her memories of him, and knowing there was actually no blood connection, she thinks she should rescue him.
- In Stephanie Burgis's A Most Improper Magick, Elissa's motive in submitting to an Arranged Marriage. Angeline is less willing to marry out of pure family loyalty.
- In Pact, Blake and Rose Thorburn struggle with this trope as children of a Big, Screwed-Up Family, coping with the dysfunctionality in different ways. Blake runs away, while Rose joins in with efforts by her parents to discredit or otherwise harm her cousins, finding herself friendless and without allies as the family rips itself apart. Blake, meanwhile, finds himself unable to disconnect himself from the family and returns when his grandmother is dying to hear her verdict on the inheritance and tell her what he thinks of her.
- Gabriel Lightwood from The Infernal Devices, puts strong emphasis on staying loyal to family. At the end of The Clockwork Prince, Gabriel chooses to stay with his father while his older brother Gideon deserts him for the Institute. In The Clockwork Princess, he finally understands that he was wrong to trust his father so much.
- In The Other Boleyn Girl Mary's love for her sister always overcomes their rivalry. The only people Anne can trust is her siblings Anne and George.
- In The Initiate Brother, certain (perceived) betrayals cause characters particular grief because they violate this principle. Notably, Emperor Akantsu takes it pretty badly when his son, Prince Wakaro, joins forces with Lord Shonto rather than arresting him. As is silently noted by the other character present, however, it's a bit rich for Akantsu to gripe about familial betrayal when his main reason for sending Wakaro in the first place was the hope that he'd get killed shortly after accomplishing his task.
- In Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society novel Fall of Heroes, Lone Star contacts someone in the city for help after the Cloak Society has persuaded the public that he's an imposter and they are the true Rangers. It's his sister. (That he could prove his identify to her no doubt helped.)
- Journey to Chaos: When a sapient becomes a monster, they will forget everything about their life as a sapient because their mind has been scrambled by the mutation. However, they will still recognize at least one person and be docile around that person. This person is typically a family member with whom they were extremely close. The Mana Mutation Summit features the bond between siblings, parent-child and uncle-nephew as well.
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "Wet Saturday"
Alfred Hitchcock: I presume that story was intended to illustrate that blood is thicker than water. I always find it heartwarming to see a family standing shoulder to shoulder in the face of adversity. Unfortunately, the authorities were not thrilled by this sight, and were seen tossing about such phrases as, "obstructing justice," "accessory after the fact," "murder in the first degree."
- Knight Rider
Michael Knight: Kitt, she's Charlie's daughter. Blood's thicker than water.
- Star Trek
Ferengi Rule of Acquisition 171.: Blood is thicker than water, and Latinum is thicker than both. — an example of using another substance, also an inversion.
- Star Trek: Voyager
Captain Kathryn Janeway: There's an old saying: "Blood is thicker than water". It means that the ties of family run deeper than any other kind of relationship. We'll often do things for members of our family we'd never dream of doing for anyone else.
- Blood Over Water interprets this a little differently: Are you more loyal to the friends that treat you like family, or to the water bottling company that will pay you hundreds of thousands of dollars to shoot them dead so they don't rat the company out? Also, that blood is shed over water.
- The Waltons
Narrator: [narration as John 'John Boy' Walton, Jr. reading from his journal] In those grey and grinding days of the Depression we often found comfort in the old familiar proverbs. We knew that in unity there was strength, that blood was thicker than water, that to err was human, and to forgive, divine. Usually we never examined these truths too closely, but in the autumn of 1934 I discovered, through pain and remorse, just how profoundly true they were.
- The Wire: Avon Barksdale will do anything for kin. Stringer Bell… Not so much.
Stringer Bell: "But there go a life that had to be snatched, Avon (…) Twenty years above his fucking head. He'd flip, man! They got you, me, and Brianna! No fucking way, man! Hell, no! Now, I know you family, you loved that nigga, but you wanna talk that 'Blood is thicker than water' bullshit, you take that shit somewhere else, nigga! That motherfucker would've taken down the whole fucking show, starting with you, killer!"
- Comes up frequently in The Sopranos, during Tony's confrontations with his mother, uncle, and nephew at various points. A particularly notable story arc finds him agonising over giving up his cousin Tony Blundetto (guest star Steve Buscemi) to be killed by fellow crime boss Johnny Sack. Blundetto has provoked this by killing one of Sack's men, but Tony (S) knows his cousin would have a drawn out, torturous death. In the end he compromises by shooting Blundetto himself, quickly and painlessly.
- Firefly: Picking on either Tam sibling when the other is around is not good for one's health. "Not madness… something far more dangerous."
- Their parents, on the other hand, tend to advocate a rather different policy.
- Doctor Who:
- In the episode "Planet of Fire", Turlough is immediately interested in Malkon, and when Malkon is injured, Turlough's ready to kill. The Doctor says it would do no good, whereupon Turlough reveals that they are brothers. And this when they were parted so young that Malkon has no memories of Turlough. Later, Turlough, on seeing the healing gases from the volcano, carries his brother into them when everyone else is afraid of being burned.
- In "The Mutants", Varan choses his own son for the assassin, which he cites as proof of his absolute reliability.
- In "The Face of Evil", Leela's father takes the test for her.
- In "The King's Demons", Ranulf's cousin does something because Ranulf had asked for it.
- The Dukes of Hazzard: Boss Hogg's Catch Phrase to his local relatives was that "Blood is thicker than water, but money is thicker than blood."
- His nephew Hughie gives it an Ironic Echo in "The Return of Hughie Hogg", in which Boss Hogg signs over all his possessions to Hughie (as a tax dodge or something) and Hughie then refuses to give them back.
- On Dallas, whenever a group of non-Ewings was ready to give JR what he had coming, Bobby would usually stand up to them and talk them down, despite the fact the JR messed with Bobby's personal and professional life more than everyone else combined.
- The trailers for the new series also have this gem from (who else?) JR: "Blood may be thicker than water, but oil is thicker than both."
- Angel: Subverted with Angel and Connor. Later played straight in the Season Four finale when Angel agrees to mind wipe his team (and, in fact, the world) in exchange for saving Connor's life. Wesley is rightly steamed when he uncovers this. And like it or not, Darla is the closest thing to family Angel has. Even his team comes second.
- On Buffy, Tara has this attempted on her by her family after it's proven that she is not a demon. It fails spectacularly.
- On soaps, it's common for characters to quickly bond with their newly discovered family and completely forget about the non-blood relatives they grew up with.
- Sanford and Son: Lamont is very patient with Fred's plots and schemes due to the father son relationship. During Season 3, Redd Foxx goes on strike and its written that Fred is visiting relatives in St. Louis. Grady goes to watch the house for Fred. Lamont doesn't extend his tolerance to Grady and is much more openly angered by Grady's plots than he is with Fred's.
- Really the entire premise of Supernatural, especially the main characters. However, as the seasons progress, their Undying Loyalty is taken to the point of unhealthy codependency. Toyed with in places, as one of the defining lines of the series is "Family don't end with blood, boy," showing that it's your family, not your blood relations that are most important. Sam and Dean have their spats but love each other nevertheless, and Bobby shares no blood with them but loves them as if they were his own kids, even referring to them as his kids to a memory of his abusive father. For example, the season two episode "Tall Tales" has the two sniping at each other all episode Like an Old Married Couple. But at the end of the episode, we get this:
Sam: Look, Dean, um, I just wanna say that I'm, uh...um...Dean: Hey. Me too.
- Subverted in The West Wing. The senior staff are not related, but are so tight-knit that when it comes to defending one of their own, even at political cost, they explicitly invoke this trope by comparing their friendships to flesh-and-blood family ties in order to explain why throwing a co-worker under the bus is not an option. (Bartlet has actually point-blank declared that the senior staff are part of his family, and shall be treated as such).
- In Merlin, the reason for Arthur's trust in his Obviously Evil Uncle Agravaine is handwaved by the show with this excuse; that he is Arthur's mother's brother, and therefore trustworthy.
- In season three of Justified, Detroit mob boss Theo Tonin raised Robert Quarles as an adopted son. However, when Quarles pointed a gun at Theo's biological son Sammy, Theo did not hesitate to put a bounty on Quarles' head and send mooks to kill him.
- Days of Our Lives is fond of this one. In addition to all the myriad ways characters are related due to marriage and divorce and remarriage and all the half-/step-siblings running around and the ways in which they use those ties to take advantage of one another, it's often a good test of paternity: when a man is unable to comfort the infant he's raised from birth, but another, seemingly random man is able to stop the baby from crying in an instant, you can bet dollars to donuts the second man is secretly the biological father. It's as if being blood relatives gives you magic powers over fussy children.
- Although the titular character's family in Malcolm in the Middle are dysfunctional, obnoxious, fight constantly, and make each other miserable, it is by far the most important thing in their lives, which is a recurring theme of the series. Despite their dysfunctionality, the characters can always count on one member of their family or another to pick up the pieces of their failures. In the finale, it is revealed that they have all been scheming to make sure Malcolm fulfills his potential and becomes successful for years, because they know he is the only one of them who has the capacity to do great things. Malcolm in turn, dedicates his valedictorian speech to them and dedicates his life to making them proud, even though his mother brutally screwed him over in order to force him to go to Harvard and aim to change the world rather than waste his genius on a high-paying corporate job.
- Subverted in the story Dewey tells his brother Jamie. In the story, Dewey and Jamie decide to defeat their evil parents and free their brother Francis from their clutches. At the end of the story, Dewey abandons Jamie and leaves him to be captured. The story ends with Dewey's moral: everyone in this family would turn on you at the drop of a hat.
- The family from Married... with Children fight and crap on each other all the time. But God help the outsiders who come after, mess with, or screw over one of them, for they shall invite the full white-trash wrath of the Bundys upon them.
- In Battlestar Galactica (2003), John's mother is extremely disappointed in her Cylon son and how many terrible things he has done out of pettiness and rage at his parents for giving him a human body. She calls her petulant son out on his jealousy and sadism, but despite all of John's crimes like fratricide, genocide, and even raping her, says that he isn't broken and could still be redeemed if he accepted what he was. She states she still loves him because she made him.
- This trope probably appears in any Disney Channel sitcom where a character has a sibling. Taken Up to Eleven in Wizards of Waverly Place, to the point of a Relationship Writing Fumble with siblings Justin and Alex. Consequently, they are the shows Fan-Preferred Couple.
- In the TV adaptation of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Caroline Shepphard found her brother's journal confessing the crime, along with a gun which he initially planned to use to murder Roger Ackroyd. When Dr Shepphard was left in the police interrogation, she came along with both items to help the killer escape.
- The Bee Gees: In the early 1970s, the three elder Gibb brothers temporarily disbanded due to creative and personal differences. Realizing they had a good thing going — and the fact they were brothers — they realized they had to shore up their relationship. They did, and by the end of the decade, music was never the same again.
- For Barry, Robin and Maurice's little bro', Andy, literally — as he had a No. 1 pop smash in March 1978 with "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water."
- Kagamine Len's character Allen in the "Daughter of Evil" series and both Rin and Len in "Synchronicity."
- Dream Theater's song "Honor Thy Father" is all about the narrator being frustrated at his father for not thinking of his family. It's discussed below:
We're thought unconditional love/That blood is thicker than water/That a parent's world should revolve always around their son or their daughter.
- In the final song of The Simpsons Sing the Blues, "Sibling Rivalry," after it ends with a quiet a capella refrain about their fractious relationship, you hear softly afterward Bart say "Let go of my hand, Lisa."
- "Hey Brother" by Avicii is a song all about sibling relationships. The phrase gets paraphrased in the lyrics:
Hey brother, there's an endless road to re-discover.
Hey sister, know the water's sweet but blood is thicker.
Oh, if the sky comes coming down for you, there's nothing in the world I wouldn't do.
Mythology & Legend
- Classical Mythology:
- When Theseus comes to Athens, his step-mother, Medea, tries to poison him, but Aegeus recognized the Orphans Plot Trinkets he had left for Theseus, saves him, and exiles Medea — although he had never even seen his son before.
- King Midas finally learns his lesson not when he can't eat for turning food to gold, but when he turns his daughter to gold.
- Subverted by Ariadne, who betrays her father, King Minos, and helpes Theseus kill the Minotaur, who is her half-brother.
- Once again subverted by Medea, who helps Jason steal the Golden Fleece from her father. She also kills her own brother and scatters his remnants to make it easier for her and Jason to escape.
- One of the central tropes in Greek theater, especially the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles. Often dramatized as a conflict between "familial piety" (upheld by the Furies) and devotion to the gods (particularly Apollo in these texts). Does morality mean staying loyal to your family or doing what the gods (or reason) dictate?
- The reason Antigone cites for burying her brother though it is against the law is precisely that he's her brother; "filial piety" demands that one put the just claims of one's relations above the law.
- Aeschylus' Oresteian trilogy pretty much fits the above description to a tee. It chronicles Orestes' attempts to rid his family of a longstanding curse on the orders of Apollo. Unfortunately for him, getting rid of the curse involves killing his mother (who had killed his father who had killed his sister… yeah, it's that kind of story); which of course brings the Furies down on him in full force.
- This serves as a rather hilarious Deus ex Machina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. After Pseudolus' attempt to save Philia from an unhappy Arranged Marriage to Miles ends in an Epic Fail and it looks like he's in big trouble, Erronius shows up and notices that Miles and Philia are wearing rings which mark them as his long-lost children. Philia's betrothal to Miles is obviously nullified by the unexpected revelation that they're siblings, and she is able to marry Hero, resulting in Pseudolus being granted his freedom.
- In Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, the title character will willingly kill his own son for disrespecting the emperor - not even an emperor that Titus likes, but because he respects the position. However, when this same emperor later condemns two of his sons to death (they were framed, though he didn't know that), Titus is very shaken. Titus doesn't enjoy killing the son who disrespected the emperor, but he saw it as his duty. In total contrast, Aaron the Moor is the conniving villain of the play who is masterminding Titus's downfall - and also banging the new empress. When the midwife comes to show that the empress's newborn son is blatantly fathered by Aaron (because he's black), the empress's sons Chiron and Demetrius (from a previous marriage) intend to kill the baby so the emperor won't find out and have their mother executed. Despite his utter ruthlessness in engineering Titus's downfall, Aaron is genuinely stunned that they would kill their own half-brother, and says he will take on the risk of raising the boy in secret on his own - because he is his son.
- Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is ALL about this trope (hint: the title is a clue). The whole story is basically about the three McCall brothers dealing with their differences in all the wrong ways until the very end. In fact, the tagline of the game could be "We are a family".
- The loyalty missions in Mass Effect 2 are supposed to resolve the deepest internal conflicts and motivations of their respective characters. Not surprisingly, half of them revolves around family matters: Grunt finds a tribe for himself; Jacob deals with his Disappeared Dad; Miranda rescues her twin sister; Samara tracks down her daughter; Tali has to deal with the blowback of her father's covert misdeeds; and Thane tries to return to his paternal duties.
- Then there's Legion, who may not necessarily have blood, but in a weird way his loyalty mission does involve his family.
- And it was hardly the first time BioWare played that card. The "messenger" quests in Knights of the Old Republic serve much the same function. Carth's Dark Jedi son, Bastila's mother, Mission's deadbeat brother, the utter clusterfuck on Kashyyyk regarding Zaalbar's family...And while it probably isn't blood related, the Mandalorian concept of "family" would put the Jagi and Canderous on this, too.
- The original Dragon Age: Origins has a sidequest which subverts this. Alistair knows he has a half-sister and he's always wanted to visit her, but when he does, she wants nothing to do with him and denounces him for trying to intrude on her life without giving her financial support.
- Especially nastily averted with Morrigan and Flemeth. Blood ties are fine and dandy but they're not going to dissuade Flemeth from stealing Morrigan's body or Morrigan from having Flemeth killed. (It's not clear even to Morrigan whether Flemeth is Morrigan's biological or adoptive mother, but Morrigan considers this detail irrelevant.)
- The City Elf Origin has got an example, with slight variations depending on the Warden's gender. In either case it consists of an elf and the Warden's cousin breaking into the Arl of Denerim's estate to rescue the kidnapped female wedding guests, and then the Warden teaming up with the aforementioned cousin to rescue a third cousin from the heart of the estate.
- Dragon Age II plays this trope straight sometimes. You can be a complete ass to Carver, drive him to join the Templars, and at the end he will still step between Merideth and Hawke and say "I will not kill my own brother/sister".
- It is however averted in the case of Bartrand and Varric, as well as with Merrill and her clan.
- Gamlen comes close to referencing this trope by name while averting it, actually.
- It's also possible to avert it by joining the Templars and killing Bethany.
- In Radiant Historia, the Big Bad's familial love for his nephew Stocke eventually drives him to sacrifice himself in Stocke's place in the Golden Ending.
- Archibald Ironfist is not a good man (for starters, his scheme to get the crown involves arranging for the murder of the Royal Seer, and then continuing to murder the successors until he can put the blame on his brother Roland). He also clearly feels a familial connection to Roland (note that he could just have arranged for his brother's murder to get the throne, but doesn't; and even if you side with Archibald and defeat Roland, he still merely locks Roland up rather than execute him), culminating in Archibald risking his neck to save Roland from a horrible fate in Might and Magic VII.
- In Shellshock 2, Nate's main motive throughout the game is not the orders he has been given or even a desire to stop The Virus. He just wants to find and help his brother Cal. In the end, he has to choose between a) saving Cal; and b) saving the villain so as to make him provide a cure. It's up to the player, but if players do choose to stick to this trope, the epilogue tells them that Cal dies a few weeks after his rescue anyway, while the zombie plague rages on.
- In Lost Horizon, Lord Weston, governor of Hong Kong, takes this approach towards his missing son. He initially pretends otherwise, making a show out of downplaying his personal investment in the disappearance — he says he can't let the identity of the missing officer affect his duties. In reality, though, he has been secretly cooperating with the Nazis as a backup plan in case Fenton can't (or won't) rescue Richard. He eventually betrays Fenton to the Nazis for this reason.
- A non-blood related child and father version plays out in Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon with the partner and Carracosta. The partner is a mischievous trouble maker who's also a starry-eyed idealist about joining the Expedition Society despite being only a child, both of which grate on Carracosta, leading to a lot of yelling between the two and chores as punishment. But at the end of the day, he cares deeply about his adopted child and by the end of the first half, encourages them instead of stopping them from joining the Expedition Society. And as for the partner's feelings towards him, when visiting their village after everyone was turned into stone, they didn't want to see their father if he was alright or not, because they imagined that they couldn't go on if they found their father (technically) dead.
- At the end of Devil May Cry 3, the twin sons of Sparda Dante and Vergil have just fought a vicious duel over the artifacts containing Sparda's power (Vergil wants to use that power to take over the world and Dante wants to stop him), a duel that Vergil loses. The defeated Vergil has barely enough strength to reclaim his half of their mother's amulet and warn his brother to leave before the portal between the human world and Demon world closes. He then allows himself to fall over a cliff. Despite everything that has just happened, Dante instinctively reaches out for Vergil's hand to save him. Vergil slashes his brother's hand in response since he wants to stay in the Demon world. It may also have been the only way Vergil knew how to show concern for Dante.
- Fire Emblem Fates: The Nohr Siblings Xander, Camilla, Leo and Elise knew that their father Garon lately has been acting really evil and not exactly being a man to be cheered at. Even so, they still stuck with him as he's still their father and they swore not to betray their families after the Deadly Decadent Court that they have faced since childhood that costed the majority of their other siblings. When Garon is revealed to be a slime monster impersonating their father, all bets are off and they're more than glad to rip the impostor a new one, finally accepting that the real Garon has been dead for a long time.
- Overwatch: Hanzo is a honorable person overall, but his honor lies within his family loyalty. Therefore, he was being The Dutiful Son to his criminal empire family, never minding their unsavory business because it's still his family, and wishing that his brother Genji would feel the same. Unfortunately, his brother has a different idea about valuing honor, it should be on actions. When Hanzo ended up obeying the order that would look like it killed Genji, he was so distraught that he spilled the blood of his family member, he left the clan in shame. But when Genji came Back from the Dead and was actively shutting down his family business and being a Cyber Ninja, Hanzo viewed it as a violation of honor and ended up acting bitter against him.
- Uncharted 4: A Thief's End features this in the relationship between Nate and Sam. Sam forgive Nate leaving him in jail given the circumstances of the botched escape. More dramatically, Nate, Sully and Elena, whilst obviously upset, are completely forgiving of Sam having made up a motivation to get Nate into an adventure again and risking his life many times over the course of the game, and at one point Nate's marriage to Elena as well.
- This is a major theme of the Heaven's Feel route of Fate/stay night, as one of the plotlines explores Rin's conflicted feelings over her sister Sakura. On the one hand, she is prepared to take any measure to fight against evil, and as Sakura's shadow form gradually gains control, she becomes a major threat to the city. On the other hand, she cares about her sibling at heart, and she feels guilty over having had her sister taken from her as a child and subject to horrifying abuse at the hands of her foster family. She goes back and forth between these feelings over the course of the route, and only resolves it when, as she has a surefire killing shot on Sakura in the final battle, she realizes she loves her sister too much to harm her, and instead embraces her telling her how much she cares about her, all the while bleeding from Sakura's dagger which she was unable to avoid. This, however, gives Sakura the confidence to fight against her dark side again.
- Yukari from Liar Liar is an Ax-Crazy murderer but loves her younger sister Minami. Part of the reason she killed her ex boyfriend was because she didn't want her sister dating boy who cheats (Yukari's boyfriend was still dating her when he began flirting with Minami). In the sequel, the Good End has Minami attempting to kill Yukari as revenge for her boyfriend. Yukari's girlfriend Miho kills Minami to save Yukari however this pisses Yukari off so badly that she kills her girlfriend Miho afterwards.
- Zigzagged with Weiss Schnee, of RWBY. She dislikes the pressure her father puts on her to be perfect, and tries to avoid talking to him and her sister. But she doesn't tell her friends this, and always acts the dignified heiress in public — presumably because of this trope. During the first volume, fans often argued whether Weiss was a proud snob acting like a nice person, or it was the other way around. Canon has not yet settled the debate, but it implies that both aspects of Weiss' personality are important to her.
- A Day With Bowser Jr: Junior doesn't hesitate to save Ludwig from falling into lava after he tried multiple times to kill him, and still loves his adopted brother enough to try to fend away an intruder when Bowser's ship is attacked.
- Tales of the Questor: Turns out two fae are sisters. One concedes it was not her sole motivation — but a big one.
- The Dreamland Chronicles:
- Bob and George:
- The Order of the Stick:
Vaarsuvius: One's family must be defended when need arises.
- Vaarsuvius objects to saving Julia on the ground they are on a world-saving quest, but when Roy points out how quickly they can do it, V agrees to help.
- Haley's motive for the gold is to rescue her father. And she insists on Roy rescuing him against his wishes.
- When they learn of a different Draketooth, they realize that Girard Draketooth was so paranoid that he would have to use his family -- since he would trust no-one else.
- Elan has conflicted feelings about his Evil Twin Nale and his Archnemesis Dad Tarquin. Too bad for him that Nale is pretty set on killing him and even believes that this is how siblings should behave. His dad meanwhile thinks it would be awesome if Elan defeats him in an epic struggle someday. His eventual realization that his dreams are childish is a major piece of Character Development.
- Nale clearly believes that either this trope or Evil Is One Big, Happy Family will protect him from any insult to Tarquin. He's wrong. After Nale gloats about killing his father's friend and confidante Malack, Tarquin gives him one chance to fall into line, and when he refuses said olive branch, Tarquin unceremoniously kills him.
- Footloose: The final touch on the Wounded Gazelle Gambit.
- In Thistil Mistil Kistil: Loki thinks this means Coal's mother won't mind -- and learns that Coal does mind.
- In Squid Row, Grace lacks it, and it's lampshaded.
- In Wapsi Square, Jin's mother starts her defense with the observation that Jin is her daughter.
- In The Specialists, why Hartmann is willing to betray the Nazis: to protect his brother.
- In Our Little Adventure,
- In No Rest for the Wicked,
Always my father this and my family that… if you loved them that much, why didn't you just stay home in the first place.
- Anna goes to rescue Klaus. (Their father, not so much.)
- In Dork Tower, Igor recommends ignoring genetic bonds of guilt and unfriending or unfollowing relatives.
- In Blue Yonder, Jared's driving motivation is to find and rescue his family.
- In Urban Underbrush, an attempt to invoke this — by pointing out he's been asked to side with a total stranger to make his own cousin uncomfortable — actually results in his enthusiatic cooperation.
- The official comics for Team Fortress 2 reveal that the Sniper was actually adopted, and his real parents live in New Zealand. When he finally meets them as an adult, he's thrilled to reconnect with them, completely ignoring that his parents are clearly selfish idiots that never cared for him even when he was still with them. The poor guy is still trying to help them even after they abandon him and his friends to their deaths twice.
- El Goonish Shive:
- Played straight with Elliot, whose first thought upon seeing his newly-created Opposite-Sex Clone was "She's family; help her." Ellen later echoes this sentiment.
- Defied by Susan, whose sour experiences with her family have lead her to declare "There is more to family than blood. No one is obligated to another by genetics alone!" She still agrees to meet with Diane, who may or may not be her half-sister, but makes it clear that she's not doing it just because they might be related.
- Averted in Avatar: The Last Airbender: Even after she's tried to kill him, Zuko believes Iroh subscribes to this in regards to Azula. Iroh corrects him on that part.
Iroh: No, she's crazy, and she needs to go down.
- By the time of the comics, Zuko himself decides to follow this belief. Most notably in The Search, he still pays occasional visits to his imprisoned father and institutionalized sister and have tea with them. His friends and allies think he's being too sentimental towards those who made his life completely miserable.
Fry: Sorry, everyone, but need I remind you? Blood is thicker than water.Zoidberg: Really? [writing] Blood… thicker… water.
- And in the "Beast with a Billion Backs" we find out Fry's is as thick as pancake syrup
- Gravity Falls: Grunkle Stan would do anything for his family, sometimes heroically fighting a pterodactyl so his grandniece would be happy and sometimes risking the apocalypse to bring back his brother.
- Hey Arnold!:
Big Bob: "It'll make me a ton money, and what's good for me is good for all the Pataki's, if you catch my drift, Helga."Helga: (to herself) "Alas, I ran again, torn between two forces. Arnold's foolish idealism… and my father's unbridled greed. And this time, I fear blood is thicker than water. Oh, curse the day I was born a Pataki!"
- Helga's parents are several shades of neglectful to her but aren't straight up physically abusive or (intentionally) emotionally abusive, despite what many fans think. Bob is outright horrified with himself when he almost kills Helga in the Halloween Episode, due to believing her and her friends were actual aliens.
- Helga overall has a very bad relationship with her big sister Olga, who receives most of the praise and affectionation by her parents due to being so talented and a perfectionist. It's an one-sided Sibling Rivalry as Olga is very much into her sister. When Helga changes one of Olga's grades to a B- Olga spirals into a sobbing, horrible depression. Helga is pleased at first however once she talks to Arnold about the issue she realizes what a terrible thing she did was and confesses.
- Kim Possible:
Wade: Boy, it sounds like it got ugly. Do you really think Shego would have gone through with it?Kim: We're talking about Shego? (thoughtful) But I've got to say it was pretty easy to get that power staff from her…(cut to Drakken and Shego)Drakken: Now that I know the whole story, I think you secretly wanted to lose.Shego: What?Drakken: That's right. You wanted your brothers to get their powers back. You don't really have it in you to betray them.Drakken: As a marshmallow![A Gilligan Cut later, Drakken is holding to the reactors of the still flying mecha]Drakken: Shego, I take it back! You re not a softy! SHEGO!!!!!
- In "Go Team Go", Shego gets hold of a staff that contains all of Team Go's powers, and then loses it rather easily:
- Averted in "Car Alarm", where Drakken's cousin Motor Ed breaks Shego out of prison but leaves Drakken behind to rot.
- My Life as a Teenage Robot
Jenny: After all the bad stuff I said…XJ8: That's what sisters are for.XJ6: Oil is thicker than water.XJ4: But so much harder to get out of a carpet.XJ5: A few harsh words aren't going to break up the XJs.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle:
- Static Shock: Averted in one episode when a hero faces down his evil brother.
Ebon: "Hey, this ain't no way to treat a brother, brother."Rubber-Band Man: "Don't hand me that 'brother' stuff. You played me, Ivan."Ebon: "Come on, blood is thicker than water."Rubber-Band Man: And right and wrong are thicker than blood. * cue Curbstomp Battle*
- Young Justice:
Aqualad: "Blood is thicker than salt water."
- Aqualad comment on this.
- Subverted with Aqualad himself. In season 2 it seemed he had switched sides to be with his villainous father, however in reality he is an inside agent on a mission. Only his teammates Wally, Dick, Artemis, and Zatanna know this. Miss Martian believing he was really a villain led to her temporarily destroying his mind, and her subsequently falling into a Heroic B.S.O.D. after realizing her error.
- Artemis is a superhero while her older sister Jade is a supervillain (Cheshire). Despite them getting along poorly they do care for each other. When Jade believes Artemis has been killed by Aqualad she tries to get revenge.
- In one episode of Action League Now, The Flesh meets a couple who claim to be his long-lost parents; actually, they're a pair of crooks who want his Super Strength to rob a house. When the rest of the League comes to tell him this, Flesh is forced to choose between his friends or the parents he's always wanted. The Lemony Narrator asks at the Dramatic Cliffhanger, "Is action blood thicker than action water? And what exactly does that mean?" In the end, Flesh chooses his faux-parents, but by this time they're so fed up with his destructive bungling that they confess to the ruse anyway.
- The Legend of Korra:
- After a failed assassination attempt on Unalaq, Tonraq (his brother and the accused for being part of the rebellion) says that even though he and his brother have their differences, he would never harm him in any way. Unalaq, however… doesn't feel the same way. In keeping with the trope, Tonraq chooses to comply with whatever decisions his brother has made in order to prevent conflict, but once he finds out Unalaq was behind his banishment all along, all compromises are off.
- Notably averted between Asami and her father, Hiroshi Sato. Even after Asami found out her father was one of Amon's right-hand men, he didn't want to hurt her. If anything, he still cared for her enough. However, his hatred got the best of him, and Asami could not return the sentiment after he tried to harm her friends. Hiroshi's betrayal scarred Asami really badly to the point where she flat out wanted nothing to do with him.
- Angelica is as close to a villain as a three year old can get. Her baby cousin Tommy and his friends are the main target of her manipulation and teasing. Angelica does display her softer side occasionally, increasingly as the series goes on (though whether it's Villain Decay or character development depends on the fan).
- In the first movie Tommy does not take lightly to having a new brother. He feels Dil is overshadowing him and thinks he's annoying. At one point Tommy even tries to abandon Dil to be with the monkeys however by the end of the film he realizes how important Dil is to him. Afterwards he is depicted as a caring, protective sibling in Rugrats itself and in the Sequel Series All Grown Up!.
- Frequently done between cousins Ben and Gwen in the original Ben 10. They often argue but when push comes to shove they have their heartwarming moments:
Gwen: [the alien hunter] can't torture Ben like that, only I can torture Ben like that!
- In an episode of Ben 10 where Ben is stuck as an alien and kidnapped by an "alien hunter", Gwen sees him trapped in a glass jar and says:
- Another one takes place in the movie, Secret of The Omnitrix, when Ben thinks that Gwen is dead. He breaks down crying (something he never did in the entire series), and runs to hug her when it turns out she wasn't.
- Max from Max and Ruby can be bratty and he doesn't always listen to Ruby but he's shown to care for her nevertheless.
- The Simpsons:
- Lisa and Bart sometimes have these moments, though it's also obvious that the only thing fragmenting their relationship is just Sibling Rivalry. Still, you find moments where something a significant fallout happens between them then they make up and realize they're still family. The episode "Barthood", a parody of Boyhood, has Bart feel like an inferior shadow to Lisa his entire life yet as an adult he made a mural dedicated to his love for her.
- The best episode has to be "Lisa on Ice", where despite all their rivalries all episode in hockey, they hold hands and skate together at the end, ignoring the big game and just enjoying each other. Another contender is "'Round Springfield", where Bart spends his entire lawsuit settlement to buy Lisa Bleeding Gums Murphy's album because she was the only one who believed he was actually sick.
- Subverted with Mr. Burns and his long lost son, Larry. When they meet, Burns is happy to have a son, but is frustrated by his boorish behavior. To regain his dad's love, Larry and Homer stage a fake kidnapping. When it all falls apart, Larry confesses to his stunt. Ultimately, Burns does love Larry, and forgives him for his hoax, but can't accept him as a human being, so he leaves Springfield.
- Lisa and Bart sometimes have these moments, though it's also obvious that the only thing fragmenting their relationship is just Sibling Rivalry. Still, you find moments where something a significant fallout happens between them then they make up and realize they're still family. The episode "Barthood", a parody of Boyhood, has Bart feel like an inferior shadow to Lisa his entire life yet as an adult he made a mural dedicated to his love for her.
- Rocket Power:
- The episode "Twisting Places." After Twister snapped Lars back into Big Brother Bully mode, his cronies insulted Twister with him, and then Lars tells them "Only I can pick on Twister! It's a brother thing."
- In the episode "Escape From Lars Mountain" when Lars and his crew attempt to leave Twister and his crew lost in the woods, and Twister turns the prank back on him by making him think he fell off a cliff and died. At that moment Lars confesses that "Just because it's more fun to be mean to him than it is to be nice, that doesn't mean I don't care about him."
- Candace has moments like this towards her brothers (though Ferb is unrelated by blood) on Phineas and Ferb. In this case, though, the rivalry is only ever one-sided; Phineas and Ferb always have an upbeat and helpful attitude toward her.
- Cree and Abigail Lincoln from Codename: Kids Next Door have several of these moments. They might be arch-enemies, but they're also sisters. (In fact, in "Operation: M.A.U.R.I.C.E.", where Abby almost considered giving up, convinced that she was getting older and was certain to end up like Cree eventually, Cree was almost overjoyed, suggesting that she is very willing to reconcile, so long as it's on her terms. However, a pep talk from a Fake Defector told Abby that she could take a different route.
- Dexter's Laboratory:
- Word of God says that deep down, Dexter really does love his sister even though he'll never admit it. He has, on a couple of occasions successfully gotten Dee Dee out of his lab. Only to find that while the peace and quiet may be nice at first, in the long run, he's absolutely miserable with out her. One point, when she was taken away by aliens, he was reduced to tears begging for her return.
- In another episode where Dexter thought he was going to die, his parting gift to Dee Dee was to let her happily run wild in his lab.
- When the two were auditioning to be Major Glory's sidekick, Dee Dee insulted Dexter and laughed at him for thinking he could ever win the title. When Dee Dee gets hurt by a gang of Glory's villains ambushing the audition Dexter went into a berserker rage and took out the whole gang single-handedly. At the end of that same episode, Dee Dee turns down Major Glory's offer of being his side.
- Cat sometimes has these moments toward Dog, despite all the trouble Dog gets him in. One good example is in "CatDog 3001," where CatDog is sent to the future so Dog can help the fight against a giant descendant of Winslow (It Makes Sense in Context). They end up separated so Dog can fight alone. Dog ends up defeated, and when Cat sees what happened to his brother, he puts them back together and defeats the bad guy. Now that is brotherly love.
- In "Full Moon Fever," Dog turns into a werewolf due to the full moon. Cat decides to let him get it out of his system, and he ends up wanting to join the Greasers. He passes their test - putting Cat in a LOT of pain - and becomes a member. They even give him a "tail" by putting a plunger on Cat's head. Dog then looks at his brother, sees how completely miserable he is - and turns back to his normal form, completely out of love for Cat.
- Sure, Trina and Corey may have developed a bad sibling relationship in Grojband, but he admits that he feels guilty for putting his sister in a nightmare-induced coma in the "Dreamrever" two parter to beigin with, and upon meeting Katrina (Trina's nice side that loves him inside her brain) he feels a lot more guilty.
- D.W. and the titular character of Arthur often argue but it's still shown they care for one another.
- At the end of Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show, Sarah hugs Ed. She spent most of Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy being a brat towards him.
- Adolf Hitler had a younger sister, Paula. After the war, she was interrogated by US intelligence officers, where she said this about Adolf: "The personal fate of my brother affected me very much. He was still my brother, no matter what happened. His end brought unspeakable sorrow to me, as his sister" Contrast the rest of his family. Several joined the U.S. military, and most changed their names. See the other wiki for more info.
- The phrase entered the popular lexicon in America when Commodore Josiah Tattnall uttered the phrase when he found his squadron accidentally engaged in the attack on Taku Forts when Anglo-French allies had attempted to breach a Chinese position. Tattnall made the split decision to aid the British (mostly by helping to evacuate the wounded and did not perform in a combat capacity) despite American neutrality. When superiors demanded to know what he had been thinking in violating America's strict neutrality, Tattnall simply uttered the phrase and thus it entered the common consciousness.
- Invoked and defied in an apocryphal exchange between Czar Nicholas I and Napoleon III. It was customary for European monarchs to refer to each other as "brothers" (mon frere). When Napoleon III declared himself emperor, the Russian Czar addressed him as a "friend" (mon ami) rather than a "brother," to show his displeasure. Napoleon III, however, replied by declaring “God gives us our brothers, we choose our friends.”
- The original phrase implies the inverse however. The phrase being "the blood of the battlefieldnote is thicker than the water of the womb". So the person who you fought with should be treated better then your own family, or, friends are the family you choose, and therefore take priority. It originally came from a German proverb in the year 1180.