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Kinslaying Is A Special Kind Of Evil

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When killing one's own relatives is considered a Moral Event Horizon.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
RJ-19-CLOVIS-93 on Dec 5th 2018 at 9:29:16 PM
Last Edited By:
RJ-19-CLOVIS-93 on Dec 29th 2018 at 12:52:59 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Want to show how evil your villain is? Have them kill members of their own family! Even Evil Has Loved Ones after all, so killing those loved ones would be considered a special kind of evil. The motive can vary from trying to benefit from it, some sort of grievance with the relative, envy or simply for its own sake, but the point is that it's meant to be a Moral Event Horizon for the character, instead of simply stating the fact that a killing of kin has taken place (that is what Murder in the Family, Offing the Offspring, Self-Made Orphan and related tropes are for). Often part of a villain backstory if used.

A sub-trope of Murder in the Family. Matricide and Offing the Offspring are the most likely familicide types to use this trope because of how love for one's mother is often used as a redeeming trait for a bad guy, and the fact that killing children is seen as especially heinous, though some examples manage to avoid this trope by giving the killer a justified reason for it.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk: As people become Apostles by sacrificing someone they care about, occasionally one will become an Apostle by sacrificing someone in their family. Emperor Ganishka, one of the vilest Apostles in the series, became an Apostle by sacrificing his own son.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Darth Plagueis: A young Palpatine ends up killing his entire family to ensure he can train and eventually usurp Darth Plagueis. It's also stated that Palpatine has wanted to kill his father as long as he could remember, in order to establish that he was born evil.
  • Judge Dee: "The Chinese Maze Murders" has the judge in full Tranquil Fury mode when speaking to an (attempted) patricide, a young man who tried to poison his father and frame another man for it because he was having an affair with one of his father's concubines (to Tang dynasty values, this is basically Parental Incest despite them being the same age and unrelated by blood). Even the fact that the father was an Asshole Victim (a general who'd deliberately sent his troops to be massacred as part of a deal with the enemy) and killed by someone else (a court official who'd learned of the crime and presented the general with a spring-loaded poison dart pen to kill him once the official was dead) is not enough to get the son off the hook. The son takes the hint and commits suicide shortly after, along with the concubine.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Kinslaying is seen as one of the two worst crimes someone in Westeros can commit, the other being violating guest right. Even Roose Bolton, who participates in the Red Wedding , refuses to kill off his psychopath of a son despite the trouble his open sadism causes because of this taboo.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow: In an attempt to stop Adrian Chase's deadly crusade to destroy Oliver's life, Adrian's wife, Doris Chase is brought in hoping she could be a Morality Pet. Adrian is furious at his wife becoming involved and visibly saddened, but to prove his dedication to his revenge over his loved one, he stabs Doris while hugging her and effectively cut off his one final tie to humanity.
  • Game of Thrones: Ramsay Bolton hits the point of no return when he kills his father, his stepmother, and his newborn brother.

    Mythology And Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: Greco-Roman myth considers the slaying of one's offspring or that of one's parents to be a Moral Event Horizon alongside cannibalism and violating Sacred Hospitality.
    • Theogony: Cronus, King of the Titans, ends up consuming his children out of fear that they would overthrow him, like he and his siblings did to their own father. This ends up being a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy when the youngest child, Zeus, manages to escape and free his siblings from their father's belly. Cronus ends up torn into pieces and unceremoniously scattered throughout Tartarus.
    • Ixion, a king of the Lapith people, became the first kinslayer after murdering his father-in-law, and was consigned to eternal torment in Tartarus for that and certain other blasphemies.
    • Tantalus, in an effort to prove the gods are fools due to his hubris, murders and cooks his son Pelops and serves him to them, showing they aren't even wise enough to know what they're having for dinner. The gods' reaction is to resurrect his son and banish Tantalus to Tartarus where he'll be eternally thirsty and hungry, out of disgust for his indulging in kinslaying, cannibalism and betraying his guests.
    • Other examples include Lycaon (the first werewolf, punished for making a stew of an infant who may have been his own grandson depending on the version), several instances of the House of Atreus (descendants of Tantalus above), Medea and the story of Philomela and Procne (the two women served up the son of Procne to the boy's father and Procne's husband because the husband raped Philomela, Procne's sister, then tore out her tongue so she won't be able to tell. When he found out and tried to kill them, they all got turned into birds).
    • The hero Orestes becomes a matricide when he slays his mother Clytemnestra; although he did this in revenge for Clytemnestra slaying his father and on the direct instructions of the god Apollo, his act of kinslaying still drove the Furies — supernatural spirits of vengeance and pursuers of criminals — to hound and torment him for many years as punishment for his deed. He was only able to get the Furies off his back after defending himself in a trial presided over by Athena and with Apollo as his defense attorney, which also more or less redefined the universal laws governing vengeance, justice and retribution as it did so.
    • This trope is also the reason why many children (either unwanted or prophecized to be the downfalls of their families/fathers/grandfathers) are left exposed in the wilderness - the justification being that even a baby may be saved from being exposed if it is found by a human or animals, whereas kinslaying is a big taboo, and indeed all exposed children do survive these myths in various ways.

    Video Games 
  • Crusader Kings II: Executing or being caught murdering one of your relatives or dynasty members causes your character to get the trait "Kinslayer" (subdivided in the 2.8 update into degrees of severity depending on how closely related you were). This inflicts significant penalties to the Diplomacy stat and other characters' opinions of you, and getting rid of the trait is very difficult. There are exceptions, though:
    • Muslims are exempted because succession and decadence mechanics often require kinslaying. This is a loose adaption of Ottoman history: historically the sultanate went to whichever prince could get back to the capital first, meaning fratricide was somewhat common.
    • Using a close relative as a Human Sacrifice in pagan rituals (e.g. Norse blots) doesn't count as kinslaying, nor does simply locking them up in a dungeon until they die of natural causes.

    Web Original 
  • Tribe Twelve: The big thing that marked Mary Asher as "The Selfish" was her lack of concern for her family. Not only did she kill her most recent husband during the course of the story, but her son Milo's journals feature her not only lying to, brainwashing and using him, but also imply she not only tried to kill Milo's father, but also attempted to burn down her sister's, brother-in-law's, and young nephew's house to kill them as well.


Feedback: 35 replies

Dec 5th 2018 at 9:33:50 PM

Who else do you think would fit this trope?

Dec 5th 2018 at 10:16:03 PM

  • The Usual Suspects: According to Verbal Kint, this was the event that solidified Keyser Sze as The Dreaded years ago. Sze, merely a petty drug dealer at the time, came home one night to find his family being held hostage by Hungarian gangsters, who had already raped his wife and killed one of his sons. His solution? Shoot the Hostages, followed by all but one of the mobsters, whom he allowed to escape in order to spread the story.

Dec 6th 2018 at 1:49:18 AM

  • Examples section
    • Added the word "Examples".
    • Changed a lot of words and phrases to proper English (have -> become, since -> as long as, accusing him -> being accused by him, under a fireplace -> in a fireplace)
    • Corrected illegal chained sinkholes as per Sinkhole - Chained Sinkhole.
    • Corrected punctuation (added periods at the ends of sentences, added commas).
    • Replaced garbage text (caused by non-standard text characters) with standard text characters.
    • Changed verbs from past tense to present tense as per How To Write An Example - Write in Historical Present Tense.
    • Added a space between a word and open parenthesis.
    • Added "and serves him" and "his" to an example.
    • Deleted "After finding out" from an example.

Dec 6th 2018 at 3:56:10 AM

We have a TLP draft called "Love Sacrificed for Power". It's too close to this, maybe the two should merge?

Dec 6th 2018 at 3:05:00 PM

I don't think they are the same trope, even if they can overlap.

Love Sacrificed for Power - necessitates some magic/ritual component, and can involve non-related close relationships like friends or lovers.

This trope - no magic involved, it's just that someone killing a blood relative is considered especially evil or shunned by their society.

Dec 7th 2018 at 2:10:57 AM

@ Astaroth: While related, I wouldn't say its a Missing Supertrope as they are morally neutral while the idea of this trope is that killing family members is truly immoral. The supertrope of this and what you're talking about would be Murder In The Family

Speaking of which, should the supertrope of this be both Murder In The Family (for obvious reasons) and Moral Event Horizon (where the other "x is a special kind of evil" can be found)?

Anyone got some video game and western animation examples?

Dec 7th 2018 at 8:50:57 AM

An addendum to the Greek myths. This is why in certain myths when someone's child is prophesized to kill/ruin their parents, said child is abandoned/exiled instead of murdered.

Dec 7th 2018 at 9:08:42 AM

Warrior Cats: Brokenstar, the first major villain in the series, murders his father Raggedstar to take his place as leader of Shadow Clan.

Dec 7th 2018 at 10:42:05 AM

The Witcher 2 Assassins Of Kings: In Dark Mode, there are three cursed armors that are among the most powerful sets in each chapter, as long as you wear the full set. Missing just one piece causes massive debuffs and are what killed the previous owners. They are the Blasphemer, Oathbreaker, and Kinslayer armors.

I forget the exact details and haven't been able find the glossary entries online, but I know they are based on three brothers that vowed to kill a dragon. I forget what the blasphemer did, but the oathbreaker considered the cause lost without the blasphemer and left. The kinslayer killed him for that and was killed by the dragon when he faced it alone. They each lost a single piece of their armor before they died. I think their armors were blessed before their quest and their sins caused the curses.

Dec 7th 2018 at 11:55:16 AM

From the Harry Potter Series we have Voldemort, who killed his father and paternal grandparents then framed his uncle for it.

Dec 7th 2018 at 1:19:58 PM

Added more examples to the mythology, fixed a spoiler tag, then added an explanation to the mythology section on how this relates to the practice of exposing babies in myths.

Dec 7th 2018 at 4:16:00 PM

@ Lady Evil: I'm not sure whether that's meant to be an example of showing how evil Voldemort is because the Riddles were treated as asshole victims

Dec 7th 2018 at 4:29:24 PM

You should at least mention that the other "family-killing" tropes (you should list them in the description, too) aren't specifically portraying the killer as good or bad.

Dec 7th 2018 at 10:45:08 PM

Stressed the fact this is a Moral Event Horizon unlike other family killing tropes, as per suggestion of 4tell0life4

Dec 7th 2018 at 11:17:06 PM

Here is the sandbox: Kinslaying Is A Special Kind Of Evil

Should this be foldered, or is it not big enough?

Dec 8th 2018 at 7:25:14 AM

Video Games:

  • Crusader Kings II: Executing or being caught murdering one of your relatives or dynasty members causes your character to get the trait "Kinslayer" (subdivided in the 2.8 update into degrees of severity depending on how closely related you were). This inflicts significant penalties to the Diplomacy stat and other characters' opinions of you, and getting rid of the trait is very difficult. There are exceptions, though:
    • Muslims are exempted because succession and decadence mechanics often require kinslaying. This is a loose adaption of Ottoman history: historically the sultanate went to whichever prince could get back to the capital first, meaning fratricide was somewhat common.
    • Using a close relative as a Human Sacrifice in pagan rituals (e.g. Norse blots) doesn't count as kinslaying, nor does simply locking them up in a dungeon until they die of natural causes.

Dec 8th 2018 at 7:56:54 AM

In The Sandman, the Furies are feared by everyone from supernatural beings to gods to The Endless themselves. Once loosed on a target, the Furies will hound them and destroy everything they care about until either they kill their target at the end of their rampage or their target hits the Despair Event Horizon and kills themselves. However, the Furies only hunt those who committed an act of kinslaying. Unfortunately for Dream, even a Mercy Kill can be used to invoke them.

Dec 8th 2018 at 8:07:53 AM

Real Life

Dec 8th 2018 at 12:50:13 PM

Should I folder this bad boy?

Dec 16th 2018 at 8:00:53 PM

Religion and Mythology

  • In ancient Greece, kinslaying was seen as the worst possible crime, bar none. This was so even when the slain relative was guilty of another crime or sin, in part because any wrong they may have committed would be seen as less heinous than the act of kinslaying itself. Classical Mythology is full of stories of people who slew their relatives and suffered horribly for it.
    • Ixion, a king of the Lapith people, became the first kinslayer after murdering his father-in-law, and was consigned to eternal torment in Tartarus for that and certain other blasphemies.
    • Medea, a Tragic Villain of the Argonaut saga, slew her own children for revenge against their father.
    • The hero Orestes becomes a matricide when he slays his mother Clytemnestra; although he did this in revenge for Clytemnestra slaying his father and on the direct instructions of the god Apollo, his act of kinslaying still drove the Furies — supernatural spirits of vengeance and pursuers of criminals — to hound and torment him for many years as punishment for his deed. He was only able to get the Furies off his back after defending himself in a trial presided over by Athena and with Apollo as his defense attorney, which also more or less redefined the universal laws governing vengeance, justice and retribution as it did so.

Dec 16th 2018 at 10:16:17 PM

Judge Dee: "The Chinese Maze Murders" has the judge in full Tranquil Fury mode when speaking to an (attempted) patricide, a young man who tried to poison his father and frame another man for it because he was having an affair with one of his father's concubines (to Tang dynasty values, this is basically Parental Incest despite them being the same age and unrelated by blood). Even the fact that the father was an Asshole Victim (a general who'd deliberately sent his troops to be massacred as part of a deal with the enemy) and killed by someone else (a court official who'd learned of the crime and presented the general with a spring-loaded poison dart pen to kill him once the official was dead) is not enough to get the son off the hook. The son takes the hint and commits suicide shortly after, along with the concubine.

Dec 28th 2018 at 9:59:10 PM

Alright, you guys think this bad boy is ready to go up?

Dec 28th 2018 at 11:38:12 PM

This is gonna be indexed on Murder In The Family, right? What else would this be indexed on?

Dec 28th 2018 at 11:49:38 PM

Moral Event Horizon as are the other "a special kind of evil" tropes

Dec 29th 2018 at 12:41:28 AM

  • In Arrow, in an attempt to stop Adrian Chase's deadly crusade to destroy Oliver's life, Adrian's wife, Doris Chase is brought in hoping she could be a Morality Pet. Adrian is furious at his wife becoming involved and visibly saddened, but to prove his dedication to his revenge over his loved one, he stabs Doris while hugging her and effectively cut off his one final tie to humanity.

Dec 29th 2018 at 6:48:36 AM

  • Death from Darksiders is guilty of this. He murdered his brothers, the Nephilim, long before the series started to stop them from destroying the balance in the universe in a rampage of violence across the realms. All four of the Horsement of the Apocalypse were responsible, but Death was particularly infamous for it and imprisoned their souls in an amulet to prevent them from returning to the balance. One of his numerous titles is "Kinslayer" for this reason.

Dec 29th 2018 at 7:18:28 AM

  • Warriors: It is hinted, and later confirmed, that Scourge is Firestar's younger half-brother. One of the signs that Scourge is pure Ax Crazy is that he kills Firestar and tries to kill their mutual nephew Cloudtail. Firestar revives due to his nine lives and kills Scourge in self-defense.
  • The earliest sign that Blade from Survivors is worse than the other Fierce Dogs is when Lucky finds a dead puppy with the same fur marking as Blade. Blade killed her own won because she thinks all pups born after the "Big Growl" earthquake are ominous.
  • In his backstory, the Complete Monster antagonist Hearteater from Tailchasers Song tried to murder his two litterbrothers in jealousy. He only succeeded in killing one.

Dec 29th 2018 at 8:43:38 AM

Idk if Scourge counts, nobody knew he was related to Firestar, including himself.

Dec 29th 2018 at 9:43:53 AM

Anyway:

  • Tribe Twelve: The big thing that marked Mary Asher as "The Selfish" was her lack of concern for her family. Not only did she kill her most recent husband during the course of the story, but her son Milo's journals feature her not only lying to, brainwashing and using him, but also imply she not only tried to kill Milo's father, but also attempted to burn down her sister's, brother-in-law's, and young nephew's house to kill them as well.

Dec 29th 2018 at 10:34:40 AM

^^^ Hinted and later confirmed? Are you sure? I read Warrior Cats and I don't remember any mention of Scourge and Firestar being related.

Dec 29th 2018 at 11:21:45 AM

^ I think that was revealed by Word Of God — one of the Erins said they share their father — but I don't believe it turns up in the books themselves, no.

Dec 29th 2018 at 12:56:01 PM

It's mentioned in Warriors: The Ultimate Field guide that Scourge and Firestar share a father, Jake. In "Rise of Scourge" Scourge's mother talks about how none of her kits have their father's ginger fur, and how he explored the forest, which is shown in some of the prequel books. Nutmeg is Scourge's mom, Princess is Firestar's mom.

However, I have to agree that it is in no way shown as a special kind of evil since neither know. Scourge is just a foil to Firestar's arc there.

    Webcomics 
  • In Girl Genius, Aaronev's attempt to destroy his daughter's mind in order to get his old lover back, which ultimately kills her, is another thing that casts him as more evil than the rest of the mad scientists around him.
    Western Animation 
  • Ducktales 2017 has Magica de Spell kill her niece, and that alongside her ambivalence about her safety earlier and general abuse helps sell her Adaptional Villainy.

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