RJ-19-CLOVIS-93 on Dec 5th 2018 at 9:29:16 PM
Last Edited By:
RJ-19-CLOVIS-93 on Dec 8th 2018 at 12:50:13 PM
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.
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.
- Blackest Night: To establish his position as The Dragon and herald to Nekron, Black Hand kills his brothers and parents, before committing suicide so he can rise as the Black Lantern's champion.
- The Punisher MAX: Nicky Cavella is established as a particularly depraved mafioso in "Up is Down And Black is White", where he guns down his sister, mother and father as a child, as part of a coup with his aunt. He later smothers his aunt after being molested by her.
- 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.
Films — Live-Action
- Star Wars occasionally uses killing family members to signify one has fallen to the dark side.
- Return of the Jedi: Emperor Palpatine tries to invoke this trope by goading Luke Skywalker to fight and kill his father, Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker. Luke manages to stop himself before he can finish him off, resulting in the Emperor becoming enraged and electrocute him with Force Lightning. Vader ends up killing Palpatine and sacrificing himself to stop him.
- The Force Awakens: In order to no longer be conflicted by the light side, Kylo Ren crosses his own personal Moral Event Horizon by impaling his father Han Solo with his lightsaber. This backfires as the enormity of his actions splits him in half. The next movie asks the question if he's even capable of redemption afterwards.
- The Usual Suspects: According to Verbal Kint, this was the event that solidified Keyser Soze as The Dreaded years ago. Soze, 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 is to kill his family, followed by all but one of the mobsters, whom he allowed to escape in order to spread the story.
- 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.
- 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.
- Both Randyll Tarly and Tywin Lannister have tried to get around the taboo so they can get rid of the son they hate the most, Samwell Tarly and Tyrion Lannister respectively. Randyll threatens Samwell by saying he'll be involved in a Hunting "Accident", while Tywin hopes Tyrion will get himself killed in battle. Tywin's hatred of Tyrion stems from being accused by him of kinslaying as his mother died giving birth to him. Eventually, he fingers Tyrion for King Joffrey's murder in hopes he'll get executed, leading to Tyrion becoming an actual kinslayer by shooting him with a crossbow in retribution.
- In addition to his brutal actions during war and Serial Killer nature, Gregor Clegane is established as a horrible person early on when Littlefinger reveals his brother Sandor's face is burned because Gregor tried to kill him by holding him in a fireplace for playing with his toy. It's also heavily implied he murdered his sister, and his father for the inheritance.
- Euron Greyjoy has contempt for the Ironborn traditions, including this trope. He killed his half-brothers Harlon and Robin, is heavily implied (and later outright confirmed) to be behind his full brother's death and wants to kill his brother Victarion. He uses the fact that the gods have yet to punish him for it as proof the taboo against kinslaying doesn't mean anything. His disregard to traditions and kinslaying are the main reasons the rest of his siblings despise him.
- 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. Two examples stick out:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
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