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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 work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
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
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

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

Live-Action TV

  • 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.

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.

Feedback: 21 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 Söze as The Dreaded years ago. Söze, 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?

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