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Hereditary Twinhood

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There are long-running beliefs that twinhood is hereditary and twins skip a generation, and these beliefs bleed into fiction. A family that has a previously-introduced set of twins (or triplets, or so on) can expect to have at least one more set waiting in the wings—even when this is nearly impossible according to real-life genetics.

The presence of established twin relatives, identical or fraternal, can often set up the birth of more twins or a long-lost twin showing up. If one of the parents is a twin, having twin children is often used to bring their story full circle (especially if the children are a male/female pair). Often, the newer or younger set of twins parallels the older one in some way: they bear strong similarities to the previous set, take different life paths, or have an entirely different sibling relationship.

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"Twins run in the family" will be used to explain all sorts of improbable twinning, such as a family having both fraternal and identical twins or multiple sets of identical twins, male fraternal twins going on to father twins, or sets of twins many generations removed from each other. A fictional species may even go as far as having a majority of births be multiples as a type of Bizarre Alien Reproduction.

In real life, there is no scientific proof that twins skip a generation, and as far as scientists know, identical twins are a spontaneous occurrence. Fraternal twins can run in the family through the mother: some women are genetically predisposed to hyperovulationnote . Artificial insemination and a previous birth can also increase the chances of a multiple birth. Fiction, however, will often treat identical twins and fraternal twins similarly.

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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • I'm Sekirei, the twins Hikari and Hibiki are both in a relationship with their Ashikabi Kaoru, and the epilogue reveals that the two give birth to two sets of twin boys.

    Art 
  • "Baby's First Baby", a fake baby doll by artist Darren Cullen, satirises the idea of kids roleplaying as parents by depicting a pregnant baby doll whose fetus is also pregnant. It also comes with a fake ad for twin baby dolls who are both carrying pregnant twins.

    Comic Books 
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Dr. Ilene Chen, Monarch's chief mythologist and resident Ms. Exposition, not only has a twin sister, but also twin daughters, her mother and aunt are twins and her grandmother and great-aunt are twins. The novelization takes this even further, confirming that twins run in Ilene's family. Word of God reveals that this is meant to settle Ilene and her sister Ling into the roles of the Shobijin, Mothra's twin priestesses.
  • Twins: At the end, the twin brothers have married twin sisters, and each couple has twin babies.

    Literature 
  • The Belgariad: At the end of the Malloreon, Polgara (who had a twin sister) has twins; Belgarath says it's a family trait.
  • Dragonriders of Pern: In Dragonsdawn, Barr meets up with Sallah after years apart. Barr tells Sallah that she now has five children, including a set of twins; after she gave birth to the twins, her husband informed her that he was a twin.
  • The Fall of the House of Usher: Madeline and Roderick are Half-Identical Twins. One interpretation is that this sets up the twist that the Ushers are "all one line"; they were all born from Brother–Sister Incest between twins and the "taint" upon their house is as a result of this.
  • Secret Histories: Justified in the climax of the first book as the Awful Truth behind the Drood family. Their deal with an Eldritch Abomination causes all Droods to be born with an identical twin, who is sacrificed to the entity in exchange for magical power.
  • In The Thirteenth Tale, Isabelle Angelfield, who is the fraternal twin sister of the violent possessive Charlie, has identical twins, Emmeline and Adeline. A heavy amount of Incest Subtext exists between Charlie and Isabelle, and the twins are noted to behave a lot like Charlie, so the townsfolk speculate heavily that Emmeline and Adelaide are twins born of Twincest.
  • The Thrawn Trilogy: Leia is Luke's fraternal twin sister. In The Last Command, she births twins: Jacen and Jaina.
  • The Trebond family in the Tortall Universe displays this, starting with Alanna and Thom in Song of the Lioness and later on with Alanna's own children Alianne (protagonist of Trickster's Duet) and Thom. Alianne herself ends up with triplets.
  • Wolves of the Calla: in Calla Bryn Sturgis, the main setting of the story, this is taken Up to Eleven as almost all births are twins, with having just one child being a rarity. It is lampshaded however that this is not a natural phenomenon, and the abundance of twins is what makes Calla a target for the Wolves, who want 1 child of each pair of twins every 23 years in order to drain them from the innate material responsible for Twin Telepathy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Michael and Lindsey from Arrested Development are established as being twins when they're introduced. It's later revealed that their father has a twin brother himself. Later subverted when it's revealed that Lindsey is actually adopted.
  • Desperate Housewives: Lynette and Tom have twins Porter and Preston at the beginning of the series. So when Lynette has a Surprise Pregnancy in Season 5, she gets pregnant with twins again, although one of them dies in utero.
  • Eerie, Indiana: This is invoked in the "Foreverware" episode. The plot involves a family whose members have been sleeping in giant tupperware boxes to stunt their aging for three decades. The episode ends with the family accelerating the "spoiling" process instead slowing/stopping it, aging the twin sons thirty years overnight. When found doing work outside their house by someone unaware of the family secret, they pull a Pretending to Be One's Own Relative and claim that twins run in the family.
  • Friends: The final two-parter sees Erica, the woman whose baby Chandler and Monica are set to adopt, go into labour. The three of them are shocked during the birth to discover that it's twins, and as they discuss it, Erica notes that, "Twins actually run in my family!"
  • Jane the Virgin: Petra gives birth to identical twin daughters, which sets up the reveal later in the season that she herself is an identical twin. And the finale pulls one last twist by revealing she is actually a triplet.
  • Helena and Sarah on Orphan Black are revealed to be identical twins in a group of identical clones—their embryo split into two. Helena then carries twin boys of her own later in the show.
  • The Drake family on Pretty Little Liars. Mary Drake was revealed to be Jessica DiLaurentis's twin sister, which sets up the reveal that Spencer, since revealed to be a Drake, has an Evil Twin.
  • On Riverdale, Cheryl is the Angsty Surviving Twin to Jason. In hindsight, Cheryl and Jason being twins is a hint that twins run in their family.
    • Their father Clifford is revealed to have a long-lost twin brother in season 2.
    • Jason himself fathers fraternal twins with Polly—Juniper and Dagwood. Cheryl attributes this to twins running in the Blossom genes, even though this would be dependent on the mother's genes, not Jason's.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: The "Family Secret" that Sabrina has to learn to earn her Witch's License is that every member of the Spellman family is born with a twin, and one of them is inevitably the Evil Twin.
  • WandaVision uses "twins begetting twins" for a different kind of plot twist. Wanda is a twin and gives birth to twin sons when she had just been expecting one child. But seeing her sons reminds her of her brother, who had gone unmentioned since his death — which in turn causes the fragmented sitcom reality to unravel.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • The World of David the Gnome: While explaining the idiosyncrasies of gnomish biology, David points out that gnomes only have children once in their lives and they're always twins.
  • Gravity Falls: Dipper and Mabel are Half-Identical Twins, which foreshadows the reveal that their Great-Uncle Stan is an identical twin.
  • Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.: In "Days of Future Smash: The Tomorrow Smashers", the Hulk is sent into the future, and encounters a new team of Smashers. Among them are two red gamma mutate twins named "Thad" and "Betsy", who are heavily implied to be Red Hulk's descendants. After he returns to the present, Hulk nonchalantly suggests that twins run in Red's family, which Red confirms (then confusedly asks how Hulk knew that).
  • The Simpsons:


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