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In the Blood

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"I am the guilty one
Ball and chain around my leg
I am the cursed one
Black cloud hangin' overhead
Fill the heart that pumps bad blood
All inside of me."
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, "Killer Wolf"

Genealogy and ancestry are really popular tropes in fiction. It makes a great Secret Legacy, a source of fraternal conflict, adds drama with an unexpected family reunion, and can set up a host of different conflicts and relationships. Just like in real life, a person's ancestry can determine their genes and, to a lesser extent, their personality and even their talents; but in fiction, this extends to skills, superpowers, and even moral alignment.

Sometimes even the All-Loving Hero and the most valiant Knight in Shining Armor are at risk of going insane, or over to The Dark Side, if a parent or grandparent was a Villain by Default or member of an Evil Race. This inevitably leads them into a Wangsty existential crisis that comes completely out of left field, since they rarely ever struggled against villainous impulses before this revelation.


The reverse is not always true though. A Card-Carrying Villain with a good family is rarely compelled towards good — though it does inform a possible Heel–Face Turn later on thanks to The Power of Love from their family.

The hero's fear in this situation is that their "evil genes" will inevitably doom them to become as evil as their ancestors Because Destiny Says So, it's written in the blood — despite the fact that up to the point before The Reveal they had a solid reputation, moral compass, and personality, capable of using Heroic Willpower to resist just about any evil supernatural coercion. It might be that heroes are as insecure about their ancestry as their reputation, but there could be other reasons for a hero to worry about it. If he grew up in a society that places high value on ancestry or considers evil to be hereditary then it would be understandable if he worries.


The inevitable conclusion to all this navel gazing is either the character going "Screw Destiny!" or a friend slapping some sense into them; if he has been raised in ignorance so that he would not Turn Out Like His Father, it is quite likely to actually work. On the other hand, this can end up being a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, in that the angst leads to fear, then hate, then evil, as the character either does a full Face–Heel Turn or becomes Necessarily Evil. For a comparison, the Reluctant Monster bypasses this nonsense entirely and is simply "themselves", albeit with a healthy heaping of introspection.

Now, get an Evilutionary Biologist who thinks the same thing, and they'll try and splice together a clone Super Soldier of the hero using such donors as Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Scrappy Doo, under the logic that their creation will be "the most powerful and evil creature alive! Bwahahahaha!" Which, of course, should only produce a clone with a penchant for mustaches and Scooby snacks, but invariably is pretty evil.

A pretty common twist for heroes with Muggle Foster Parents is that they are the child of the Big Bad who has been spirited away and raised like an Ordinary High-School Student in the hopes that Nurture can beat out their inherently evil Nature. Amazingly, sometimes it's because Evil Parents Want Good Kids. In extreme cases, this "Nature" can manifest as an Enemy Within or a Super-Powered Evil Side. Again, this twist can lead to a Shower of Angst. For some reason, the parent they get the bad blood from is usually the dad. Another twist is the son of a mighty warrior becoming a mighty warrior themselves, even if they were orphaned as a baby.

Sub-trope of Not So Different. See Freudian Excuse for when the Nurture position applies. Compare Lamarck Was Right for children inheriting non-moral traits that shouldn't even be genetic. A big issue for anyone with a Mad Scientist Truly Single Parent. Creates numerous problems if the blood it is in is Royal Blood. The more light-hearted version is It Runs in the Family. Compare Raised by Orcs, where someone raised by evil people/races turns out good due to not actually being related to them. Compare Loser Son of Loser Dad, where everyone else thinks this will be the case. Contrast Sibling Yin-Yang, when the same blood give very different results.

The inverse trope is Heroic Lineage. It's also an inversion of, but not Mutually Exclusive with Nurture over Nature, in which the person chooses their nurturing over their nature.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The goddess Urd of Ah! My Goddess is a near expy of her mother, the demon and ruler of Hell, Hild. Even though she identifies as a goddess and it is her affiliation, people have told her more than once her temperament is closer to demon — or rather, nearly exactly like her mother, which is the same for all intents and purposes. This even though she was only raised by Hild for a few early years, and has been a goddess as long as she can remember. Her power is also in the leagues of her mother.
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch vi Britannia has become a rebel trying to overthrow his tyrannical father, Emperor Charles. However, his methods rely heavily on manipulation and devious plans ... just like his old man's own actions. Also, Charles himself seems to mirror his trope in regards to his twin brother, cult leader V.V. Marianne purposely hid herself from Lelouch and made Nunnally suffer just so they could use Lelouch to draw C.C. out for the Assimilation Plot and create the perfect world where their kids would "live in happiness". Receiving scheming blood from both his parents definitely helps.
    • Schneizel, too, shows a great deal of manipulation in his behaviour.
    • To summarize, many members of the Britannian royal family are this, one way or another. Not only do Lelouch and Charles have plans that they believe are for the good of the world, and yet (by the end of the series, for Lelouch) have a remarkable disregard for human life, Schneizel, too, believes that what he is doing will stop war, despite the fact that he wants to kill all world leaders and destroy every capital city, and Nunnally goes along with it, intending to use Schneizel's nukes on the two of them, and believing that will stop war, is mostly willing to throw nukes around to do it.
  • In Princess Tutu, Fakir is a descendant of Drosselmeyer. It follows that he has the same story-spinning powers as Drosselmeyer, and this ends up being crucial to the plot.
    • The blood of the Raven will turn people towards evil and give them dark magical powers if it's somehow absorbed by their body, even if they're not related to him.
  • Being connected to a criminal by blood seems to be quite a stigma in the One Piece world, mainly from the World Government who are afraid that it really is In the Blood. Nico Olvia separated herself as much as she could from her daughter Robin when she set off to be an illegal Adventurer Archaeologist to try and keep Robin from being the "child of a criminal." When the Franky Family are trying to convince the Straw Hats to take Franky with them, one of the reasons used is "he's the son of a pirate, anyway." Most recently, when Vice-Admiral Garp tells Ace that he'd wanted him and his brother Luffy to become great Marines, Ace tells Garp that their fathers' blood assured they could never be Marines. Ace himself was hunted by the Marines even before his birth because they wanted to nip the potential danger of his father's continuing bloodline in the bud. Only an extreme Mama Bear act by his mother prevented him from being found.
    • Averted in Whitebeard's beliefs, though. Upon being informed that Ace was the son of Gold Roger (a major rival of Whitebeard), the pirate captain didn't care in the least, saying it was an inconsequential detail. During the war with the World Government, he is stabbed by one of his allies, whose crew had previously been wiped out by Roger and felt betrayed upon finding out that they were going to such lengths to save Ace. Whitebeard simply tells him that Ace himself had done nothing to the guy, and that it was ridiculous to blame Ace for his father's actions.
      • Actually in spite of the rather crazy lineage of Luffy's family (The marine's hero, the most wanted man in the world, The future pirate king), one of the major themes of One Piece (confirmed by Word of God) is that heredity doesn't matter, and family is who you choose. Of the strawhats, only Usopp grew up with a parent related by blood, and she died when he was quite young. Of Sanji, Zoro, Nami, Chopper and Franky, none had significant blood relative parental figures, Robin only met her mother briefly, We don't know about Brook, and Luffy was raised by his grandfather until he was shipped off to stay with his grandfather's friend. Luffy also rather significantly had two brothers unrelated by blood.
      • The Family of Choice theme becomes much more evident in the Fishman/Mermaid heredity. Either species can give birth to an species each other with no qualms as it just means they must have had some ancestor to inherit it from.
    • The World Nobles rely on a heavily deluded take on this trope, as they firmly believe that being descendants of the people who founded the World Government makes them faultless gods. In reality, they're really just useless, over-decadent blights on society who take Aristocrats Are Evil to new lows, freely owning and abusing slaves and unhesitatingly murdering people for such petty things as daring to make eye contact with them.
  • The Uchiha Clan from Naruto is the embodiment of this trope with the clan founder, Madara, even saying that revenge is the destiny of each and every Uchiha.
    • However, there are a few subversions: first off, Itachi. He is easily one of the strongest Uchiha and possesses many typical Uchiha traits but, by all appearances, he is avoiding going too far overboard in the pursuit of his revenge, and seems indifferent to the idea of revenge. Instead, Itachi's primary motivation appears to be a weighted utilitarianism, trying to preserve the greatest possible amount of what he values, with slight adjustments made for innocence, as opposed to revenge.
    • Recently, it was revealed that Shisui was also a subversion. This is revealed through flashbacks, where he tries to prevent the coup from occurring, but Danzo being paranoid gets in the way.
    • And now that Real Madara has appeared in zombie form, he seems to be a fairly equal-opportunity asshole who cares more about himself than in getting revenge for anything.
    • Kakashi's long thought dead friend Obito was a subversion. Now he's an example that is horrifically played straight.
    • Chapter 619 reveals that the Uchiha Clan's tendencies of nihilism and self-destructive behavior are literally In The Blood. According to the revived Second Hokage, Uchiha experience love, friendship, and attachment more than any other clan, and are thus affected worse than anyone else at losing someone they care for. The Sharingan and its advanced forms are triggered by a change in brain chemistry caused by these negative emotions... a change that also triggers a shift in thought patterns that more often than not leads the Uchiha in question to nihilism, anguished rage, and madness. The entire Uchiha Clan is cursed by their core genetics to become monsters if they lose someone they love. And given the profession nearly all of them go into, losing a loved one is a near-certainty.
  • Somewhat arguably, Yusuke from Yu Yu Hakusho. Though it's not dwelt on much, partly because by the point in the series it comes up things have gotten to be semi-pure action, far far away from the series' roots as a chronicle of the reflective character-building experiences a delinquent can have while a ghost, probably because Togashi had gone mad with power by this point, a while after our hero has come back from the dead as a demon because of Mazoku ancestry, he has become relatively okay with the less uncivilized gradations of human-eating, and when Raizen is about to die due to self-imposed starvation offers insistently to go find him someone to eat right away. Earlier in the series he got incredibly angry about any cannibalistic tendencies, and drew huge lines between 'killing demons,' which he had done a good deal of, and 'killing humans,' which he really really did not want to have to do. Could just be an implicit redrawing of the Fantastic Racism lines, with demons no longer suffering from What Measure Is a Non-Human? because he wasn't human. So it might just be a really strange form of a perfectly reasonable Aesop, and/or Reverse Getting Crap Past the Radar due to not treating it like it's important. Intended to cause Fridge Logic, probably. Altogether weird.
    • Hiei, on the other hand, turns out to be the victim of the idea of this in his back story: being male shows he has outcross blood, which among the Ice Maidens means (precedents apparently show) that if they keep him around he will grow up to kill everyone. So they throw him over the side of their Floating City, the woman doing the throwing whispering that she expects him to come back and please kill her first. They may or may not have been correct: yes, he is a psychopath from childhood, and actually mellows out the more grown-up he gets, and yes, judging by his facial expressions he was one evil baby, but that could be a combination of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy (though come to think of it, it doesn't), the trauma, and the fact that all babies are extremely selfish little creatures and if they were, like Hiei, sapient they probably would be kind of evil. He understood everything. (The 'source of evil' here is either 'every race except our own' or 'the male sex,' or both, because they don't have males. They clone themselves every hundred years.)
      • Jury is out on Yukina. She may or may not share Hiei's father's blood, and has been known to express genocidal sentiments toward her own kind. Hiei told her that if she wanted them dead, she should do it herself, not rely on some imaginary brother who might be dead. Since he'd decided it was crueler to let them live, and all. She considered that movingly positive advice and smiled adorably. She did not, as far as we know, ever go home and kill anyone.
  • The Ant King Meruem of Hunter × Hunter was born full-grown, intelligent, utterly selfish, and with the mission to conquer the world. Most of his character development as he grew up just reinforced his Blue and Orange Morality Evil, but he eventually, after a few months and under the influence of a sweet little blind girl with a perpetually runny nose whom he couldn't beat at a strategy game, developed into an honorable adult being. Still very cruel and arrogant, but given he was possibly the most powerful thing on the planet it would be hard not to be. Given his mother's attitude and the fact that he presumably contains bits of the sentience of various humans she ate during his gestation, because that's a chimaera ant ability, it's hard to say what can be called In the Blood for him, but he seems to have risen above his nature.
    • He then died of an Expy of radiation poisoning. The reader is generally equal parts sad and relieved.
  • This is part of the reason why it was feared Soul Eater's Black Star would end up on the 'path of a Kishin'; his father ended up destroying himself and his clan. A comparison between father and son is made by Sid, who raised Black Star and played a part in killing the rest of the Star Clan.
  • In Eureka Seven, the Thurston family (especially the males) are all well-respected and loved people. Axel Thurston was respected by the military for his design and contributions for the LFOs, Adrock Thurston was remembered by the people for his Heroic Sacrifice to save the world, and Renton Thurston was also known by all for saving the world and became a hero (his name is displayed on the moon for all to see, as well as a street named after him in the ending).
  • Axis Powers Hetalia: insanity certainly seems to be In the Blood for the Soviet family. Also, North Italy and Romano are both weak when it comes to warfare and share their love of food and women with Grandpa Rome. Germany and Prussia both have ambition and a love of power. Ironically, it's never clear how countries reproduce or whether they are actually related, and it's implied that they might actually not be related in the traditional sense, but those who call themselves family do seem to have a lot of traits in common.
  • In the Detective Conan The Phantom of Baker Street Non-Serial Movie, it begins with a social commentary about Japan's hereditary culture but this trope comes around with the revelation that the bad guy is a descendant of Jack the Ripper and he feared the bad reputation it would cause if the public got word of it. At one point his panic overruled his common sense, leading him to murder. It could be about how concentrating on erasing mistakes of one's ancestors can make you repeat them.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, the protagonist of Part V, Giorno Giovanna, is the son of Dio Brando. However, since Dio conceived Giorno after he had stolen Jonathan Joestar's body, Giorno carries Jonathan's DNA and thus is part of the Joestar bloodline. Joseph and Jotaro are initially concerned that he'll turn out like Dio. Fortunately, Giorno is much better than his father, even though he takes over a massive criminal organization and carries on Dio's "WRRRRYYYY!" battle cry and gorgeous blond locks.
  • Lyrical Nanoha
  • Calling them outright "evil" would be incorrect, however, Jessie from Pokémon ended up involved in Team Rocket just like her mother, despite the fact Miyamoto wasn't in her life due to giving her up at a young age.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Being created from the DNA the Saiyans and Frieza, Cell shares many of their traits, such as Goku's love for a good fight and Vegeta and Frieza's massive egos.
    • Gohan plays with this. It's been stated that he has the potential to straight up be a superior version of Goku, because he inherited all of his father's talent for combat and tenacity. But his personality is about as far from a Saiyan's as you can get.
  • Not everyone in The Irregular at Magic High School's Yotsuba Clan is evil as such, but they all share a certain pragmatism. Heroic Yotsuba such as Miyuki 'only' torture their enemies to get information. Villainous Yotsuba Mind Rape children and make Tykebombs out of whatever is left over. This is the main reason the clan hasn't fractured yet; its members all recognize and fear their similarities.
  • In InuYasha, the naturally born hanyou invert it. Half-demons are usually avoided by both humans and youkai. While the demons believe that half-demons are too weak, humans believe that half-demons are just as vicious monsters as pure demons. But almost all naturally born hanyou in the series were benign. However, it should also be mentioned that there are many benign demons, and the half-demons in the series have a benign demon as a parent.
    • An exception is the tragic villain Gyu-oh. But he was not evil because of his demonic origins, but because he was an involuntary shapeshifter, and in this reason of this he went insane. The series shows human antagonists who were much more vicious than Gyu-oh.
    • Unnaturally created hanyou are playing it straight. Because "lower youkai" (who look like big bugs and worms) are always evil, and if they offer a pact to a human to turn him into a hanyou, he will always be evil.
  • Actively invoked by the criminal organization "Lucifer" in the Dirty Pair franchise: all of its members are blood relatives, some by an absurdly high degree. Regardless, a regular step in their recruitment drives is to invoke "I Am Your Father" on some poor guy and smooth-talk him into coming aboard while they're reeling from the surprise.
  • Played for Laughs in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Chika Fujiwara is a member of one of the most prominent families in the history of Japanese politics, and this often expresses itself with her less noble attributes.
    Kaguya: It runs in the family, doesn't it? She has the tainted blood of a politician in her veins.

  • Christopher Titus has made a career of 50% Dysfunction Junction and 50% this trope. A lot of his material comes from the fact that he can't escape the habits that he seems to have learned, or genetically inherited from his parents, including the nervous breakdown he had when he read so much as the title of a Life magazine article titled: "Mental Illness: Genetic?" His father had an extremely promiscuous and addictive personality and his mother was crazy.
    Titus: And when I say crazy, I don't mean, "My mom is insane!" I mean, "We, the people, find the defendant...."

    Comic Books 
  • Orion, son of Darkseid. Orion's a good guy, but he inherited Darkseid's inherent rage and bloodlust, and requires a Mother Box to keep his temper in check. However, he was also raised well by the Highfather and aided by his friends to channel that rage become a hero in defense of his adopted home.
    • In the DC Elseworld Kingdom Come, Orion has deposed Darkseid and taken over Apokolips. Apparently, he tried to institute a democracy and positive change, but the people just elected him dictator and didn't participate in changing anything, so he's ruling hell and says that "all men eventually become their fathers." He seems resigned to being Darkseid. Only without the universe-conquering ambitions, so that's something.
    • Scott Free, Mr. Miracle the escape artist superhero, is the son that the High Father who raised Orion traded to Darkseid in exchange. He was raised with the other children of Apokolips under Granny Goodness, but he and his Apokoliptan girlfriend, Big Barda, broke out. It's hard to say how much of a factor his New God blood was, but that he developed a coherent sense of morality under Granny's regime probably has to be attributed there.
      • Scott and Barda are working among the groundlings, trying to raise awareness and instill morality in Kingdom Come. Superman gets them to come build a superpower-proof gulag in the nuked remains of what used to be Kansas. In a nod to Orion, Scott now resembles a younger version of his birth father, only while Orion wears a white version of Darkseid's clothing, Scott dresses as High Father but in black.
  • In Teen Titans, the usually Fun Personified Superboy fears this after discovering Lex Luthor is one of his genetic fathers. It worsens to the point of a Heroic BSoD when it turns out that Luthor had implanted the ability to control him, and forced him to attack his friends.
    • Robin points out an even worse possibility than becoming evil: "You could go bald!"
  • Titans also has an actual example in Raven, who spends much of the 90s evil, due to her demonic heritage.
    • Even though she was supposed to have purged that after the very first story where it came up, apparently it's so cool and Evil Is Sexy Stripperiffic she just can't shake it. Made even worse by outside parties like her father (who can still cause problems even when dead), a cult that worships her father, and her own half-siblings who try to enforce this trope.
  • This is a legitimate worry for the Runaways at first, before they decide to Screw Destiny and stick it to their parents. Most of them, anyway.
  • The comic version of Wanted features the character Shithead (a Captain Ersatz of Batman villain Clayface), made of the feces of the 666 most evil people in history. Also, Wesley's father was an equally depraved supervillain.
  • Used in Spider-Man and Spider-Girl, with the "Osborn Legacy" ending up twisting three generations of Osborns. There's no evidence that any of them were evil before Norman, and if his formula affected his genes, Harry was already a teen at that point.
    • Harry's son Normie, however, turns out to be an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, and gets better real quick.
    • One story suggested Norman's father wasn't a terribly nice man; he may not have worn a funny costume, but he had the same obsession with "a strong heir" that Norm inflicted on Harry.
      • This link explains the whole story of Norman Osborn, and how he became the monster we all know and fear. And it proves just how evil Norman Osborn's father really was.
  • X-Men:
    • The Lensherr/Eisenhart/Maximoff/Dane family (Magneto's family) seems to have a lot of issues with this. The man himself tends to go mad fairly regularly, Scarlet Witch was responsible for Avengers Disassembled and House of M, Polaris also seems to spend half her time as an evil lunatic, and Quicksilver (getting off more lightly than the others) went kind of crazy after getting his powers back following the decimation (and all the times before).
    • Defied by Sunspot after learning that his father performed a Face–Heel Turn and joined with the villainous Hellfire Club. Despite the belief of multiple characters that he would end up like his father, and the attempt from some villains to corrupt him since they think him an easy target, Sunspot remains staunchly on the side of good, and in fact uses his father's fortune to buy out the villainous organisation A.I.M. and gear it towards heroic purposes.
  • For an example of someone who doesn't give a second thought to their villainous ancestry, look no further than Bart Allen — better known as Impulse/Kid Flash II/Flash IV. It's common knowledge that he's the grandson of the Silver Age Flash. What isn't common knowledge note  is that he's also descended from Barry's psychotic Evil Counterpart, Professor Zoom. He's long known this fact note , but doesn't really think about it, let alone talk about it, unless someone explicitly brings it up, and more-or-less laughs off Zoom's accusation of "bloodline betrayal":
    Professor Zoom: Your mother may be a Thawne, but your father was an Allen. Your blood is polluted.
    Bart: Look on the bright side, Professor Plum. We're only half related!
However, other than Bart and Meloni, the Thawne line plays this entirely straight. "Chain Lightning" showed that, for centuries, the Thawnes would be villains to the West and Allen families of Flashes.
  • Captain America has two examples. Helmut Zemo, son of Heinrich Zemo and Sin, daughter of the Red Skull.
    • Somewhat averted by the Red Skull himself, who takes to having had his mind transferred into a clone of Captain America's body by Arnim Zola like a fish takes to water and is never seen to worry about having his idealistic enemy's blood now somehow "weakening" him in any way.
    • Helmut's tended to avert the trope as well, especially since he founded the Thunderbolts. He's still a Manipulative Bastard with a serious mad on for Captain America, but he's not what his father was.
  • Vandal Savage's daughter, Scandal, usually seesaws between Anti-Villain and Anti-Hero, though that's a lot better than her father, who's a full-time villain. It's plausible that without her father's interference, she could have become a normal young woman or a heroine.
    • Doubtful; while she generally cleaves to a morally good (but hardly nice) path (as much as she hates to admit it), she still hates standard heroes and views them as stuck-up, self-righteous, hypocritical assholes sitting in an ivory tower.
  • In Hellboy, Hellboy himself is the son of a demon prince but is a good guy in spite of his pedigree. The various other demons he meets are all convinced that he should be allied with them, and will make a Face–Heel Turn eventually. Hellboy himself is initially dismissive of the idea, but has become increasingly worried that there may be some truth to this. It's also played rather more literally than most examples: in "The Island", a man drains HB's blood and uses it to reanimate himself, and the blood causes the man to transform into the demon Hellboy "should have been". He also steals his crown and his name, which Hellboy then uses as a weapon.
    • Apparently he is also, through his mother, the first male descendant of King Arthur since Mordred. Morgan Le Fay is backing him as King of England. Certain members of the English nobility heard about this before he did, were less than pleased, and lured him out on a giant hunt so they could stab him In the Back. They were then killed by giants.
    • This story is set around the turn of the 21st century; Hellboy was born on earth in 1945.
  • Stephanie Brown and, to a lesser extent, Cassandra Cain sometimes get this treatment from Batman because of their parents being supervillains. It depends on the writer. While Cassandra occasionally struggled with this thinking early on due to some issues she had, Stephanie never has, likely because the impetus for her superheroics was to spoil her father's criminal ambitions.
  • The New 52 version of Superboy's instinctual affection for farms in rural Kansas.
  • Legends of Baldur's Gate: Coran the thief has apparently reformed and ended up a member of parliament, but his son Krydle is a thief following in his footsteps. They both think they're the one who's right.
  • Sabretooth's family seems to have this going, at least with the men. Victor's father is noted in all recaps of Creed's past to be an abusive asshole, chaining Creed to the basement and ripping out his teeth. Victor himself, of course, is just as bad if not worse, delighting in every evil thing he does (and he once ate a baby!). Victor's brother Saul is basically Victor but without as much muscle to back him up. Victor's son Graydon despised his parents for abandoning him and became an anti-mutant activist who also had ties to murderous youth gangs. The only exceptions we've seen to the "Creed = asshole" law is Victor's brother Luther who we barely saw (and who was just a bratty kid when he was killed), his mother who we don't see much of, and Clara, Sabretooth's sister who doesn't demonstrate any of the evil tendencies of her family.
  • Nadia Van Dyne, the Unstoppable Wasp, has plenty in common with her biological father, Hank Pym, the Ant-Man. On the plus side, she has his knack for science. On the negative side, she has his bipolar disorder. Thankfully, that one is caught before she did any real damage like it did her father.

    Fan Works 
  • In fics set in the universe of Kingdom Hearts 3: Final Stand, several characters in Radiant Garden believe that bloodlines carry traits such as cruelty. The Insurgos were determined to wipe out the royal family of Radiant Garden because they believed that somewhere along the line, Ansem's descendants would become just as cruel and despotic as his tyrannical parents. On the flip side, which proves that the Insurgos are Not So Different from his parents, Ansem's Jerkass mother Hanako lambasted Ansem for allowing Rimi, his niece and Kairi's birth mother, for allowing her to become engaged to Kaname, explicitly stating that Kaname should be locked up simply for being the son of an Insurgo. As a whole, it's largely subverted, as it's repeatedly shown that Kaname and Ansem are nothing like their parents.
  • Mega Man Reawakened plays this straight with Quentin Emerald, whose father was a terrorist, but subverts it with Dr. Regal, who isn't evil despite his father being Dr. Wily.
  • Jen Black in Black Princess Ascendant might have this problem after she uses a magic ritual to make Bellatrix into her mother. When she starts acting differently than normal, she worries that her new mother's insanity really is hereditary.
  • This is one of Yang's main worries in RWBY: Cherish. She went looking for her deadbeat biological mother and found out that Raven is the most-wanted woman on the entire planet. Her younger half-sister Ruby has a Heroic Lineage through her mother, so Yang worries that she'll take after her own mother. This trope is subverted as Yang's heroic and nice, unlike Raven.
  • Gloria from Pokemon Light AU internalized this feeling. She was Driven to Suicide in part because she felt she was abusive like her father.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride used this with Nuka, the only son of Scar. He is evil, very ugly, and receives a Disney Villain Death. Ironic, as the film was supposed to be subverting this trope. The film was supposed to have Scar's son as a protagonist, but that wasn't possible for American social standards because it would've made its Romeo and Juliet cousins. Though Nuka is a lot more sympathetic than Scar, since he just wants his mother to be proud of him. A last crazed attempt to earn her pride even gets him killed.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars plays with this, Luke's Final Temptation to join The Dark Side hinges on him being his father's son and heir to his evil. Luckily, he inherited a few traits from his mom too.
    • It was also implied, in A New Hope, as being his aunt and uncle's reason for never discussing his father with him... or at the very least telling Blatant Lies. (Spice freighter navigator my ass!) They feared that Luke would become a Jedi, like his father before him, and go gallivanting across the galaxy to turn evil. That, or just get killed. It's never stated just how much Obi-Wan told them about Anakin. The two always told Luke he'd died offworld.
    • Dark Empire has him turn to The Dark Side when the Emperor returns, in an attempt to bring him down from within. It doesn't exactly work. The parallels with Anakin are made blindingly obvious, though the comic came long before the prequel trilogy. Luke guides a ship far too large and damaged to land into a survivable landing on Coruscant. He constantly ruminates on his father's legacy, wondering why he had turned - ultimately it's the threat to his family that gets him to claim "My father's destiny is my own." The Emperor proceeds to replace his mechanical right hand with a different prosthetic, a "better" one speculated by some fans to be of a model Vader used, and dresses Luke in outfits clearly inspired by his fathers', as can be seen in the page image. Ultimately it's the love of his sister, and his refusal to hurt her or allow her to be killed, that brings Luke back. And unlike his father, Luke manages to remain just good enough not to do anything actively evil; he merely spends time as Palpatine's slave, and indeed does succeed in sabotaging his plans on one occasion.
    • In the pre-Disney Expanded Universe books, his GRANDSON turns for this reason, more or less.
    • In The Force Awakens, we find out that just like in the novels, Anakin's grandson has fallen to the Dark Side. In a twist on the standard good versus evil arc that Anakin and Luke went through, he struggles against the pull of the Light Side of the Force, constantly fighting the heroic urges he inherited from his Skywalker heritage. He rejects an offer of redemption and cements his evil by killing Han.
      • His struggle continues after he forms a Force Bond with Rey in The Last Jedi, which allows them to share their deepest thoughts and conflicts with each other. Ultimately, in The Rise of Skywalker, this enables his mother to use the last of her life force to turn him back to the light, fully cemented when he sacrifices his own life force to bring Rey back to life and becomes one with the Force.
      • In The Rise of Skywalker, the trope is played straight with Rey, who discovers that she is the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine. While retrieving the Sith Wayfinder from the second Death Star's vault, she's attacked by a Sith version of herself in a vision, who urges her to embrace her heritage. In her final confrontation with Palpatine, she is tempted by the prospect of taking the Sith throne and ordering the fleet to spare the Resistance, but she ends up refusing him and calls on the spirits of all past Jedi to defeat him for good. Those spirits, regardless of Rey's true parentage, immediately come to her aide and lend their power through the Force. Going one step further, she ultimately adopts the name Skywalker as the spirits of Luke and Leia look on approvingly.
  • A History of Violence uses this when Tom's son, upon discovering his father was a brutal hitman, abandons his earlier pacifist stance and brutally beats up a bully (who he'd previously handled with wit), having "inherited" his father's violent fighting style.
  • Used for comedic effect in Children of the Revolution, a black comedy about the illegitimate son of Joseph Stalin, who ends up starting a totalitarian communist revolution in Australia without ever being informed of who his real father was — even going so far as to grow the "Stalin mustache."
  • In Young Frankenstein, the titular Dr. "Fronkensteen" tries to avoid following in the footsteps vootshtaps of his famous relative. He can't, if only because the servants won't let him.
  • The Doom movie uses Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke this way. The Precursors of humanity living on Mars developed a new chromosome that wiped out disease and made them super human... or super evil (You can guess what wiped them out). Apparently, the chromosome reacted to the something in the "unmapped 10% of the human genome" that unlocked a person's latent "evil" and mutated them into a monster; the best these genetically evil people can hope for is a Heroic Sacrifice before they fully mutate. So Rousseau was wrong, technically people are genetically evil, and all it takes is a little help from The Virus to bring it out.
  • The forever brutish Tannen bloodline in the Back to the Future movies. The line goes back to "Mad Dog" Tannen, a murderous Wild West outlaw who kills Doc Brown in one timeline. In 1955, Biff Tannen is a bully who tries to rape Marty's mother. In various timelines, Biff matures either into an abusive boss, a crime lord, or a bitter old man. Biff's grandson is a bully and a thug. However, it's implied that — absent all the time-travel anomalies — he does experience a Heel–Face Turn. Instead of making Biff heroic, it turns him into a pathetic weakling who is forever sucking up to the man he bullied in high school.
  • A different and literal take in the movie Twins. An experiment was conducted where a machine was used to filter positive and negative genetic traits from 10 different men and impregnate a woman. However the experiment failed: rather than making one genetically perfect baby they had twins— one who had the best traits of all his parents (Arnold Schwarzenegger) while his twin brother (Danny DeVito) got all the undesirable ones, literally being made of 'genetic garbage'.
  • Jack Sparrow tells Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl that, "Piracy is in your blood," since his father was also the pirate "Bootstrap Bill" Turner. Later on, it turns out to be an important plot point, and Will embraces his pirate heritage. No mention is made of whether Bootstrap Bill's father was a pirate. One pirate parent is apparently enough to turn his heirs into pirates as well.
  • Aragorn in the film version of The Lord of the Rings has deep-seated fear he will prove to have "the blood of Isildur" and choose to use the One Ring, which extends to him being fearful of taking up his mantle as king. Still, the Ring has a rather good track record on the whole evil tempting and corruption thing, so it's not like he's inheriting weakness so much as not inheriting super resistance to its influence.
  • From the 1999 movie Wing Commander, Pilgrims.
  • In Repo! The Genetic Opera, this is used in a more literal sense — Marni died from a rare blood disease, which her daughter, Shilo, inherited. 'Genetic Emancipation' is also based on this trope, Shilo sings it after realising that she hasn't inherited her mother's disease after all, but that her father was keeping her sick.
    • Also played with in a figurative sense when Rotti is trying to get Shilo to kill her father. She claims she's not a murderer to which Rotti responds, "But you share your dad's genetics. What if he passed this to you?" Making reference to his murderous occupation.
  • In The Bad Seed, Rhoda is the granddaughter of a serial killer and has genetically inherited the inability to feel guilt.
  • Serial Killer Mr. Brooks worries that his daughter has inherited his homicidal urges.
  • Parodied lots in Tongan Ninja, with the evil Mr Big and his long-lost son, Action Fighter:
    Mr Big: Make my coffee extra strong.
    Action Fighter: I also take my coffee...extra strong!
    Asian Sidekick: It is as foretold in the prophecy!
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy Krueger's paternal lineage, combined with his mother abandoning him, him facing mean orphans and an alcoholic asshole, helped make him the man he is today. Yup all 100 of his psychotic inmate fathers.
  • In Psycho IV: The Beginning, a reformed Norman Bates nearly murders his pregnant girlfriend Connie out of fear that the child will inherit his mental problems. Connie manages to talk him down by telling Norman that he isn't a monster anymore, and that together they can make sure their child won't become one either.

  • Played straight with Jerin in A Brother's Price, who resembles his grandfather who was a royal prince in looks and behaviour. Discussed with Neddie Whistler, who is adopted into the Whistler clan despite her family being villains. The Whistlers obviously don't believe in this trope.
  • H. P. Lovecraft:
    • The Shadow Over Innsmouth's Deep One-blooded protagonist.
    • The protagonist of "The Rats in the Walls" having a predisposition toward cannibalism and insanity.
    • "The Tomb"'s family links between the dead and living.
    • "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family". His family is interbred with an ape.
  • In his 20 novel long magnum opus examining the life of a coal mining family during the Second Empire, Emile Zola gave free rein to his simplistic personal theories on genetics, and included pie charts in his notes with each character's propensity for laziness, alcoholism, etc.
  • Imriel in the Kushiel's Legacy books is the son of the biggest traitors to his country, and despite him being a good-hearted person (and raised by other goodhearted people), everyone around him suspects that someday he might take after his mother. Later on, a group of people have a psychic prediction that Imriel's son would take after his mother and destroy their nation, and kill his pregnant wife to make sure this doesn't happen.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Targaryen royal family line is said to be "tainted" with madness; one character says that every time a new Targaryen was born, the country would hold its breath to see if the new Targaryen would be one of the good ones or one of the mad ones. This may be explained by the family becoming seriously inbred due to repeated Brother–Sister Incest and Kissing Cousins; the inbreeding results in a fair number of this line having physical problems (fewer than you'd think, though, all things considered) and/or serious mental and emotional instability, while the luckier ones inherit the family's strong points and best qualities, managing to miss the damaging recessives. Others of a less practical bent also point out that messing with dragons for centuries might have accounted for some of their... quirks.
    • The Starks are also known for having "wolf blood", denoting wildness and rebellion. Ned Stark reflects that his brother Brandon and sister Lyanna had it and, of his children, notes that his younger daughter Arya has inherited those traits.
    • Sansa and Jon in regard to their father, Ned Stark — Ned is one of the series' protagonists and beloved by his family and the North but depending on the character who likens them to their father, the comparison may or may not be meant as a compliment. After Ned is presented as a "traitor" by the crown when he must make a false confession to save Sansa's life, Sansa is told she has "traitor's blood" by her family's enemies in King's Landing. Meanwhile, Jon, who is already recognizable as Ned Stark's illegitimate son, is referred to as a "traitor's bastard" by other antagonist characters.
    • Whatever it is in the Bolton linage, you know it ain't good news when enough sadism of various descriptions has cropped up to get you a flayed man as a readily identifiable House sigil — as well as a broad collection of very nasty rumours piling up over centuries around your family name. Added to all that is a House seat called... The Dreadfort. You can't say you're not warned...
    • The Lannisters who appear in the books share the traits of snark (in various degrees) and (as an effect of the former) of complete inability to shut their mouths, even at sword-point or crossbow-point. Fire & Blood shows that Tywin and Cersei's fondness for looting, pillaging, burning their enemies to the ground and salting anything that remains goes back several generations - Jayne Lannister (nee Westerling) wanted to kill every man, woman and child on the Iron Islands after one raid too many by the Red Kraken. She settled for burning and pillaging, along with abducting one of the Greyjoys, gelding him and turning him into her fool.
    • Whether it's due to genetics or upbringing, most members of House Frey resemble their patriarch Walder Frey in looks and morality (not a good thing).
  • Averted in Good Omens. The Antichrist, through a variety of mix-ups, ends up being raised by a normal British family. He ends up like a normal kid with some special powers he's only partially aware of. Even his hell hound ends up being like a normal dog, though with some worry on its part.
    • They address this trope directly at one point, with Crowley pointing out that Lucifer was originally an angel, so the idea that Adam is destined to become evil due to demonic genetics is absurd. Incidentally, in this story demons and angels even have identical wings; falling from grace just changes what team you're playing for.
  • All over the place in The Kite Runner, as: Hassan's son is said to be very much like him, which plays this straight. Seemingly subverted with Amir and Baba, as Amir believes Baba hates him for not being the image of a man as he was, but played straight and noted by Amir when his hatred of him may have stemmed his guilt from how Baba was Hassan's actual father with an affair with Hassan's mother, and they both had past shames. Averted with Hassan, as he is a much more kindly person than his biological father, and said to be near-impossible to anger as opposed to Baba, which is much like Hassan's perceived father.
  • Played straight in the Redwall series, where certain species are always designated as "good" or "bad." Even when a ferret (one of the "vermin" species) named Veil is raised from infancy in the abbey, he ultimately turns out to be evil. "The goodies are good and the baddies are BAD, no grey areas." (Weirdly, cats are one of the few species that's an exception to this rule, being good or evil — in a series where mice are the standard heroes.) There are occasional exceptions, with good-aligned "vermin species" or evil-aligned "good species" but they are few and far between.
  • The entire plot of Wilkie Collins' 19th-century thriller Armadale revolves around this trope; a young man who has (for unrelated reasons) adopted a pseudonym meets another young man who shares his birth name of Allan Armadale. They become fast friends, until the first young man discovers that his father had murdered the father of the other Allan Armadale. He spends much of the rest of the novel haunted by his father's conviction that the sons are destined to repeat the fathers' fatal feud.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, Benedetto is a bad guy because of the evil inclinations of his father Vilefort. Like Oliver Twist (and likely many other orphans in 19th century novels), he is naturally educated and well-spoken, despite receiving little schooling, simply because his father is an aristocrat.
  • In Arthurian literature, Mordred, the born-by-incest, sometimes-tragic nephew-son of the King, is a villain because his parents consummated in sin. This is often the reason for the fall of Camelot as well. In the Vulgate and Mallory, Mordred is a conventionally noble knight of the Round Table, until he's hit with his illegitimate and incestuous birth and foredoomed treason by a prophetic hermit and suffers an instantaneous BSOD and Heel–Face Turn. Can you say 'Self Fulfilling Prophecy'?
  • In P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath series, Shanir (magic) powers are inherited genetically among the Highborn race. Incestuous breeding programs in the past to breed stronger Shanir have led to some very damaged bloodlines, exacerbated by dwindling numbers (and probably causing them, too, due to impacts on fertility). Heroine Jame and her twin brother Torisen are of the "royal" house of Knorth, inheriting both powerful abilities and the possibility of insanity; Torisen constantly worries that he carries the Knorth madness and worries he'll become his father. One of those abilities is also In the Blood; blood-binding. Anyone who consumes their blood will be bound to them mind, body and soul until death and beyond. Creepy stuff.
  • The Legend of Drizzt:
    • Drizzt Do'Urden seems to get a break from the drow characteristic of being Always Chaotic Evil because his father is an exception, too. This also affected his upbringing, but there's a sense a "biological" excuse is seen as necessary. Interestingly, some other drow are implied to have had the potential to be good, but to have lost it due to the lives they've lived. Drizzt's sister turned evil due to their mother's influence, and Jarlaxle (who isn't even from Drizzt's family!) demonstrates what Drizzt observes as an odd sort of sanity for a drow, despite being a ruthless mercenary. Given Mooshi's comment that the children of evil species often demonstrate "not-so-subtle differences" from good races, a mutation is looking more and more probable, albeit a mutation that's struck more than one family line.
    • In a later book, Catti-brie gives Drizzt a spiel about the inherent evil of goblinoids, who are apparently even more irredeemably evil than drow. When he points out that he's met a decent goblin before, she replies that he probably had something not-so-evil somewhere in his family tree.
  • In the Middle English Chivalric Romance Sir Gowther, the title character is the son of a devil (the same devil who begot Merlin). He kills several nursemaids by suckling them to death, then grows up as a naturally horrible person who eventually goes so far as to lead a gang rape of a convent full of nuns whom he then locks up and sets on fire. However, when someone actually tells him that he is the son of the devil, he repents immediately, goes to the Pope for penance, and eventually becomes more or less a saint.
  • Merlin himself is alternately an example and an aversion of this trope. In some medieval texts, he inherits his incubus-father's powers and his evil or amoral nature; in others, he inherits the powers but not the evil, and he receives some powers from God as well.
  • Played horribly straight in Gene Stratton-Porter's 1904 novel Freckles, in which it's accepted by everyone — including, too obviously, the author — that an abused child must be unworthy of compassion, because it is the offspring of Abusive Parents. The hero turns out to be a good and decent and upright man — precisely and specifically because his parents were all those things.
  • Sherlock Holmes speculates that the reason Colonel Moran from "The Adventure of the Empty House" started out as a fine, upstanding soldier of the Empire and then suddenly joined the Moriarty gang might be because "the individual represents in his development the whole procession of his ancestors, and that such a sudden turn to good or evil stands for some strong influence which came into the line of his pedigree. The person becomes, as it were, the epitome of the history of his own family." Watson calls this "rather fanciful", to which Holmes admits that he doesn't "insist" on it.
    • Holmes made similar allusions to Moriarty himself. ("A criminal strain ran through his blood...")
    • In another case, Holmes deduced that a nice-seeming man was a closet villain because his young son was cruel to animals. While this isn't an implausible deduction, Holmes attributed the boy's misbehavior to this trope rather than to the trauma of abuse at his father's hands.
  • Captain Pausert in The Witches of Karres had to listen to Councilor Onswud saying he'd known Pausert would go bad (as Onswud saw it), "Just like his great-uncle Threbus! It's in the blood, I always say!" And then Threbus' daughter told Pausert her father had predicted Pausert would break with his home planet — and he said it was in the blood.
  • Averted with the Sword of Truth. Richard Rahl spends several books explaining that he's nothing like Darken Rahl. It turns out that way back when, the Rahls were some of the champions of order and good, but were corrupted by several thousand years of uncontested rule. Richard takes after the parents who raised him, not his genetic ancestors. However, there are Rahl traits — like arrogance, determination, cleverness, and absolute ruthlessness, that the character in question develops over time.
  • An issue in the Wheel of Time: one of the protagonists was adopted, but was assured that he is considered the son of the one who raised him. His genetic family does still take him in, but that probably also has something to do with him being the Dragon Reborn.
    • Thoroughly averted by the end: he specifically credits his ability to pass through a particularly bleak existential crisis with the fact that he was so well-raised.
  • Inverted in Mark Billingham's novel "Bloodline", in which the descendants of a notorious serial killer's victims are being killed off one by one, then later played straight when it is revealed that the illegitimate son of the original killer is committing the murders, after discovering his father's identity.
  • In The Belgariad, Urgit, King of the Murgos, believes he will go insane like his father Taur Urgas did because the Urgas dynasty is plagued by hereditary insanity. His father, however, was not Taur Urgas but a Drasnian diplomat, making Urgit more a Drasnian than a Murgo.
  • Near the end of the North and South trilogy, the recurring villain (and increasingly Ax-Crazy Elkanah Bent is revealed to have been conceived when his mother's father raped her. Upon learning this, another character freaks out and ends an inner monologue with ".,his blood, his brain poisoned by his birth."
  • Older Than Feudalism: Played straight and averted in The Bible. All humans end up inheriting original sin and death from their ancestors Adam and Eve. Averted with Abraham and David, where God makes a covenant with them to set up a nation and monarchy, respectively, with their descendants hoping that they will be as faithful as their ancestors. Save for a few notable exceptions, he turns out to be dead wrong.
  • In After The Golden Age supervillainy seems to be hereditary, since, though Mayor Paulson never met his father (Dr. Simon Sito, a.k.a. The Destructor) or knew of their relationship, he still ends up emulating many of his megalomaniacal tendencies. Justified since Simon Sito became evil after some radiation messed up the wiring in his brain, and the condition appears to extend to the genetic level.
  • The blurb to each of the three Kaywana books goes on and on about how the tainted blood of the van Groenwegels drives them to evil.
  • Her Father's Daughter: Linda receives a direction to a letter when she turns eighteen. However, blood had told before then.
    Before I open this envelope I am going to tell you what I believe it contains. I have not the slightest evidence except personal conviction, but I believe that the paper inside this envelope is written by my father's hand and I believe it tells me that he was not Eileen's father and that I am not her sister. If it does not say this, then there is nothing in race and blood and inherited tendencies."
  • Madness seems to be a family trait for the Angelfields in The Thirteenth Tale. George, Charlie, Isabelle, and the twins are all off.
  • Invoked in the BattleTech novel Star Lord. The eponymous character, a distant descendant of Stephan Amaris (the man whose actions brought down the Star League), decides upon discovering his legacy that it must therefore be his destiny to step into his ancestor's footsteps, topple the Great Houses of the Inner Sphere, and take over himself. He's unambiguously crazy, but wholeheartedly embraces his belief and proves charismatic enough to attract a number of down-on-their-luck followers to stir up trouble for him.
  • In Nancy Freedman's political novel Joshua Son Of None, Joshua Francis Kellogg is a clone of John F. Kennedy raised to become the President of the United States. You can already guess how the story ends...
  • Helen's father and her husband were alcoholics in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, leading her and Frederick to fear for her son's susceptibility to the problem.
  • In Roger Zelazny's Changeling, the infant son of an infamous wizard from a fantasy world is swapped for a child from another world that might as well be ours. Growing up in each other's worlds, it's perhaps no great surprise that the former son still eventually turns out to be a wizard himself because magic, but what's interesting is that the "normal" child grows up to be a gifted (if not precisely well-adjusted) engineer — that's right, apparently an instinctive understanding of the technology of one's birth society is In the Blood here as well.
  • A recurrent theme frequently discussed in Murderess. Lu was warned not to reveal her heritage to anyone, for fear of people reacting based on this; some apparently do, others don’t. Lu herself struggles with this notion, wondering whether or not she is naturally inclined to kill, but seems to be too horrified when she has to kill even to save her own life.
  • Christian and Tasha Ozera from Vampire Academy, are thought to be tainted due to Lucas and Moira Ozera being Strigoi. They were respectively Christian's parents and Tasha's brother and sister-in-law. Tasha turns out to be a villain after all.
  • The Enchantment Emporium: Allison Gale is worried that her family may decided to 'eliminate' her brother David under the belief that any men in the family with 'too much' magical ability will certainly become Drunk on the Dark Side, and they believe in being preemptive. Not helped by the revelation that the Big Bad of the book, an actual sorcerer, is a member of the Gales that spent the last 15 years collecting power and artifacts
  • A Swiftly Tilting Planet: Played straight with Gwydyr's descendants and the Mortmain family.
    • All of the descendants of Gwydyr are bad news: Gwydyr arrogates himself to the position of king of the People Across the Lake; later, his descendant, Gedder, uses scheming and murder to gain prominence of Vespugia. Even Gedder's seemingly harmless sister, Zillie will, if she marries Bran, become the ancestor of the Omnicidal Maniac Mad Dog Branzillo, who plans to destroy the world in a nuclear war. Later, in the revised timeline, in Troubling A Star, another descendant, Guedder, is the dictator of Vespugia, whose scheming ensnares Vicky.
    • Similarly, anyone with the last name Mortmain is similarly tainted. During Colonial times, Pastor Mortmain and his son Duthbert attempt to railroad Zylle for witchcraft. Later, during Beezie's childhood, a descendant, Duthbert Mortmain (II?) is a competent businessman — who beats his wife and makes passes at his thirteen-year-old stepdaughter. His son inherits his criminality but none of his competence and dies in prison.
    • The Maddoxes, Llawcaes, and O'Keefes are an interesting example. The Maddoxes and Llawcaes are generally good families, but one person's intermarriage, as with Gwen and Gedder or Bran and Zillie, can spoil the entire family tree from that point forward. The O'Keefes are generally a degenerate family, including Jack, who flings homeless puppies to death against the wall of the barn, and Paddy, who schemes with Duthbert the Younger to have Chuck committed. However, when Paddy and Beezie marry, although most of their children take after their father, becoming bullies and thugs, Calvin inherits the Maddox traits and becomes one of the heroes of A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door Later, all of Calvin's children inherit the good Maddox traits rather than the bad O'Keefe traits.
  • A more mundane example of this (and some Nature vs. Nurture) is discussed in the poem In the Blood, as it's wondered if the subject had learned to be aggressive and cruel or if she would develop those traits because of her genetics.
  • Agatha Christie was a big fan of this trope, often referring to families having a "taint" in their bloodline. But as she was one of the first mystery authors to consider the impact of psychology on a person's mind, she gets something of a pass. It's also partly justified in that many of her novels feature the British upper class; marriage between relatives (ranging from distant to first/second cousins)in that class was somewhat common to keep the bloodline "pure," and mental instability/illness is a proven side effect of closely-related people marrying and having children, as there's simply not enough genetic diversity to defend against mutation.
  • There are several examples of this in The Mortal Instruments. Jace thinks he is evil because he is the son of Valentine, and because he believes that Valentine has been experimenting with demon blood on him and that it is corrupting him into evil. But Clary realizes early on in the plot that Jace is not half as bad as he thinks he is, even though he sometimes behaves like a jerk.
    • As it later turns out that he is not the son of Valentine, and was not even made by him partially demonic, his attitude changes. He is still the son of fanatical demon hunters.
    • Clary Fairchild is actually the daughter of Valentine. But she also inverts it, because she is not evil at all.
    • But it's playing straight with her brother Jonathan Morgenstern. He is a cruel and sadistic person. The reason for this is not that he is the son of Valentine, but that he was partly a demon due to the experiments with demon blood, and thus was corrupted into evil. Valentine hoped to create a stronger kind of nephilim, but he was horrified by his demonic leanings.
    • There has been a long history of racist reservations about warlocks who are born between demons and humans. Demons are always evil, but warlocks are not very different in their morale from humans.
    • Fairies are also considered evil. They are the descendants of angels and demons, and they are said to be as beautiful as angels, but as evil as demons. However, the books also show many benign (or at least neutral) fairies, and even the most vicious fairies are not as evil as demons.
    • Mark and Helen Blackthorn from The Dark Artifices are two half-fairies and they will be cast out of the community because the shadowhunters believe that the fairy-blood in them will lead them to evil and they will betray the nephilim. But actually it is nothing more than a racist reservation.
  • Many of the families in Edward Rutherfurd's multi-generational Historical Fiction Doorstoppers pass on not only telltale physical traits, like a Skunk Stripe or an embarrassingly-long nose, but also personality traits like loyalty, ferocious temper, stubbornness or scheming. These behavioral traits persist, or at least recur, in the same bloodlines for hundreds or even thousands of years.
  • Flawed: In-Universe, this is what The Guild believes. Children born to two Flawed parents are taken away and raised by the state, for fear that they'd be inherently Flawed otherwise.
  • Discussed in Shadow of the Conqueror. Lyrah initially believes a monstrous parent will create a monstrous child, insisting that the son of Dayless the Conqueror wouldn't even be capable of a Heroic Vow to fight evil, which is why she so intensely distrusts Daylen even with his cover story. Ahrek takes the opposite view, and frequently ends up defending Daylen when she or other characters attack Daylen based on his "parentage."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The Targaryen dynasty has always walked a fine line between brilliance and madness, a trait they cannot shake because of their three-hundred year old tradition of incest to keep the "blood of the dragon" pure, which is also believed to be important to their Royalty Superpower of connecting with dragons. Aerys Targaryen was insane and he passed this on to Viserys. As well as Daenerys.
    • Sansa Stark faces accusations of "traitor's blood" because of the actions of her father and brother.
    • As an armorer's apprentice, Gendry has inherited both his father's hair and his affinity for hammers.
    • The Boltons of the Dreadfort have had enough sadists and torture technicians in their bloodline to put a flayed man on their banners.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: A recurring fear for Olivia Benson is that deep inside her is a violent, sadistic criminal spawned by her rapist father. John Munch has also voiced concern at least once that he may end up committing suicide like his father. There was also an episode where a man who was violently molested by his father worries about becoming just like him and his felon brother — and does so.
    • Munch's fear isn't unreasonable: his uncle Andrew (played by Jerry Lewis in an episode) had mental problems, and that sort of thing, which can result in suicide, can be heritable. Goren on Law & Order: Criminal Intent has the same concerns due to a family history of schizophrenia.
    • Also, Olivia went through a very complicated situation where it seemed her fears were coming true... and not through her, but through her half-brother Simon, who was accused of raping a handicapped woman who later killed herself. He was framed by the victim's sister, though.
    • One episode has the defendant's lawyer claim he was genetically predisposed to rape. His father was also a rapist, and in fact conceived him this way. The jury didn't buy it though.
  • There's an episode of the original Law & Order ("Born Bad") where a teenager on trial for murder has his parents put this forward as a legal defense — due to a unique genetic condition, the teen is predisposed to a life of violence, and thus not wholly responsible for his actions. This backfires in the most spectacular way possible, as the teen himself decides to plead guilty after hearing his own defense talk about how he's destined to be a violent criminal.
  • Supernatural's Sam Winchester develops psychic powers slightly before the start of the show, which eventually turns out to come from their family's demonic nemesis having fed Sam his own demonic blood in the cradle. Fear about destiny and inevitability increase as more and more of the other children so marked go 'darkside,' or in one case kill their psychotic brother who had, and their father's final words to Dean are that if he can't save Sam, he may have to kill him. Sam resists the original 'destiny' associated with this status by not killing during the demon's little Deadly Game, but the other survivor opens the gate to Hell anyway.
    • Later, after he developed his powers further by drinking more demon blood to exorcise demons so he could prevent the Apocalypse and became addicted, it turned out that he'd been being prepped for years to open a different door, the one to Lucifer's cage.
    • This gets treated as In The Blood despite it just being a few drops of ingested liquid rather than actual heredity. Once it turned out their mother Mary sold Azazel the right to take 'something' from her house in ten years, and that in cases where he wasn't interrupted no one was killed or kidnapped, it seemed the demon did in fact have the rights of a parent over the kids he'd bought, and the blood thing was claiming that and preparing them to open the doors and enable the endgame. Presumably, he was only in charge of opening doors, given that Sam was the favorite but not necessary to his understanding of the endgame, and chance or destiny or Lilith arranged the rest.
    • Destiny also grabbed the Winchesters by the veins in that they are apparently descended on both sides from a line of archangel vessels, and were born to house Lucifer and Michael for their final apocalyptic battle on earth. Lucifer says, "It had to be you, Sam. It always had to be you." Presumably, the Campbell line was Lucifer's vessels and the Winchester was Michael's, and the reason they had to bring the two together in John and Mary was that the final vessels needed to be brothers. Lucifer's lack of interest in Adam and Michael's in Mary might point this way, but it's not conclusive. The idea of destiny is thrown about a lot here, but given how hard Heaven and Hell both had to work to make it happen, Destiny may just mean 'the plan.' See also, The Call Knows Where You Live.
    • There is an in-universe procedure for breeding actual half-demon children. The one who turns up in season five is apparently the Antichrist, a decent little kid named Jesse with enough power to hypothetically threaten the Heavenly Host. The Winchesters talk to him a bit, borrowing help from Spiderman, and the kid becomes an Anti Anti Christ by running away from home and vanishing so he couldn't be used in any war, despite the fact that he could have saved the world from many of its major threats since and might be a major resource against the Leviathan in the current storyline. In the Blood apparently defied here.
    • In season 10, Cain snaps and goes on a killing spree targeting his descendants, believing that they inherited his murderous taint and that the world would be better off without them. This is especially bad since Cain, being the son of Adam and Eve, is one of the first humans who ever existed. His descendants make up a good chunk of humanity.
  • Holling from Northern Exposure didn't feel he should ever have children because every Vincoeur from the cruel French aristocrats down to Holling's foul-tempered father had been some sort of sadistic monster. Holling himself was a perfectly sweet and kind person, and didn't seem to fear turning into a jerk himself — but at the same time was convinced that the vileness would carry over to his kids should he ever have any. (In fact, one child of his did turn out to be a money-grubbing con woman.)
  • Chou Sei Shin Gransazer has a lot of hand-wringing wangst near the end when it is revealed that some of the heroes, and possibly all humans, are descended from the Bosquito, an evil race of monsters that feed on the life force of others. But in the end it turns out that they aren't related to the Bosquito at all; it was just evil propaganda. A rather nasty Family-Unfriendly Aesop.
    • Also conveniently ignores the fact that humans are descended from creatures that feed on the "life force" of others, and still do. It's called "eating meat"...
    • That's just chemistry. When it gets to the metaphysical, people take the moral implications a lot more seriously. Which makes sense, since the metaphysical is generally a moralistic construct, so if it's real....
  • A more realistic version of this was done in Smallville, where Chloe is afraid she'll end up like her mother. But it's not evil, it's insanity, which often is genetic. Lex, on the other hand, has evil genes, although the nurture side isn't helping either.
    • Clark himself believed this of "Luthor blood", until the episode "Luthor" where he discovers that his alternate self, raised by Lionel Luthor, was monstrous as an actual Luthor even without the blood relation. This realization allows him to accept that Tess Mercer, the biological daughter of Lionel Luther, can be trusted to be a subversion of the trope.
  • One of the main sources of dramatic tension in American Gothic (1995) is the question of Caleb's parentage — not just whether he really is Buck's son, but whether he can actively resist becoming corrupt and evil just like his father. And it seems he and Merlyn are right to worry, since the more time he spends with Buck, and the more he learns from him, the more cruel, amoral, callous, and sadistic he becomes. This is likely helped along by his near-death experience, Buck's powers, and being possessed by Buck but the simple fact is after ten or so years of showing no signs of evil, once he learns of his (possible) heritage, Caleb's fall into darkness is somehow inevitable.
  • Towards the end of the epic miniseries Centennial, the evil Wendell clan comes along. Perhaps we can blame them for how the quality of the series really started to deteriorate around that point.
  • The Avatara in Carnivàle get their powers and Dark or Light natures genetically. Siblings of the Avatara, called Vectori, are said to have minor abilities of their own and tend toward insanity.
  • Criminal Minds
    • The profilers always debate the possibility of a Serial Killer's offspring growing up to be like their parent whenever one of them is revealed to have kids. Justifiable discussion, since psychopathy is suspected to have mainly genetic predispositions, whereas Sociopathy mainly environmental. Not all people predisposed to become Psychopaths become such, and not every Psychopath becomes a Serial Killer.
    • Spencer Reid worries a lot about becoming a paranoid schizophrenic- like his mother, as there is a higher chance of it occurring in him if a family member also has had it.
    • In "Birthright", a man who never knew his father found his journal detailing his killings and decided to become his copycat.
    • Averted by the wife of a serial killer who was on death row for killing her infant son to prevent him from growing up with the Awful Truth about his father except she secretly gave him up for adoption as a baby to a loving family and was willing to face execution because the truth would exonerate her but also burden her son with the knowledge of his parentage. Even the BAU decides she did the right thing in the end even if they wouldn't have made the same choice.
    • "In the Blood" was actually used as the title of an episode. In it, a man with a history of mental problems finds out he's the descendant of William Stoughton, chief justice in the Salem Witch Trials, and begins to imagine himself as The Witch Hunter; he kills his first two victims using Salem's actual methods, pressing and hanging, before deciding to Burn the Witch! for his final one.
  • Langston in CSI assures the adopted step-son of Serial Killer Paul Milander that In The Blood doesn't exist (especially since they aren't blood relatives and Milander never acted like a serial killer to his family) and that there is no record of a serial killer's children becoming killers themselves in Real Life. Meanwhile, Langston himself is worried that he might have inherited a violent streak from his father.
  • Bones
    • In the season one finale, "The Woman in Limbo", upon learning that his parents were bank robbers who were part of a strong-arm crew, Russ Brennan, a felon on parole, says "Guess a criminal nature runs in the family."
    • Booth is in a sensitive position; he's both a crack sniper for the government and related to Lincoln assassin John Wilkes-Booth. This is brought up when he (thinks he) proves that one person could've done the JFK assassination. When the others point out that A: he's a professional, B: the experiment was indoors and evidence suggests a cover-up, his confidence in himself and his government almost goes to pieces.
  • Inverted humorously on Top Gear, in an episode featuring the presenters' mothers. While some personality influences are obviously present, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond's mothers are slow, careful drivers, and James May's is remarkably aggressive and fast.
  • Justified does not state this trope but is highly influenced by it.
    • Raylan shares a lot of character traits with his father Arlo and does not want to be an angry, violent manipulative bastard like him. The show likes to show how much alike the two of them are even though one of them is a good guy and the other a bad guy.
    • This trope is twisted all around with the Crowder family. The patriarch Bo is a brutal career criminal. Boyd is a villain from the beginning but is revealed to operate on very different motives than his father and does an actual Heel–Face Turn after Raylan shoots him in the series premiere although it takes a season for the other main characters to believe that he changed. Bo Jr was a star football player and thought to have a great future but ended his life as a wife beating brute whose own family did not feel like avenging. Cousin Johnny is first shown to be the one who has gone straight but in the end is just as bad as his uncle Bo.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard has a number of examples in relation to the Dukes: They've been making moonshine ever since before their ancestors came to America. They've been "fighting the system" for as long as the Duke Clan and corrupt politics have coexisted. In the old west, the Duke's ancestors displayed an affection for fast horses; in modern times, they prefer fast cars. The Dukes' ancestors have also been allied with some other clans as far back as those clans have coexisted; this sometimes leads to Uncle Jesse recruiting the descendants of those clans as modern day allies by reminding them of that fact. Boss Hogg and Rosco's ancestors in the old west were also shown to be corrupt.
  • Knight Rider has this with the newer series being a continuation of the old series, and the new Michael Knight being the son of the old Michael Knight. The fact that "Knight" is an alias used after each was supposedly killed also qualifies.
    • The new KITT and KARR also qualify, having been built by the same man as the originals. They reprise the rolls of their namesakes, with KARR being psychopathic and having killed people before being deactivated and supposedly destroyed (but actually just put into storage).
  • In Flashpoint both Jules and Sam are examples of this. Jules' father is/was a cop and Sam used to be in the military before joining the SRU and his father is a General.
  • Plenty of contestants on cooking-competition shows like Chopped seem to have a colloquial belief in this trope, citing parents' or grandparents' culinary skills as evidence they were pre-destined by heredity to be chefs.
  • The ability to have powers is, obviously, inherited by all magical species in Charmed. Crossing that blood with mortals is very dangerous.
    • The series also has half-demons. Demons often have offspring with humans because they can inconspicuously reside in human society. For half-demons, the temptations of evil are very strong, but if they really want it, they can be good too, because they have human souls and can feel human emotions.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • This show has a somewhat more realistic example of this: Xander ends up cancelling his wedding because he fears turning out like his parents (his father, especially), who are abusive alcoholics.
    • Implied to be the source of Amy's raw magical power.
    • In Angel & Faith, Faith's own father tells her that, no matter how much she tries to change or how much she tries to be one of the good guys, she will always be in trouble simply because she is a Lehane, which drives Faith into a brief Heroic BSoD.
  • The Groosalugg from Angel also inverts it. He is a demon with human ancestors, and because of atavism he almost looks like a human being. And although most demons in his society are evil, he is really good.
    • Later it turns out that many half-demons invert it. Half-demons are more likely to choose goodness than evil, and the evil half-demons have almost always been motivated by human motives, making it questionable whether their demonic origins made them evil.
    • Not only half-demons, even pure demons are by no means always evil. Many demons in the series are more neutral than evil, and some are even good. Lorne is not only a good demon, but also more moral than most humans seen in the series.
  • Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. have numerous second-generation firefighters and cops, including Severide, Mills, Voight and Ruzek.
  • In the two parter "Insanity Genetic," Titus loses it after his mother dies and he finds out insanity may be hereditary.
  • A heartbreaking example of this on Party of Five; in the episode "Intervention", the entire family is staging an intervention for Bailey to get him to admit he's an alcoholic, which he refuses to do. Then Joe, the family friend who once owned the family restaurant with their late father, shows up. Bailey at first thinks Joe is going to talk about how disappointed Bailey's father would be if he were still alive, but Joe reveals he would say instead, "Not you, too." Bailey thinks this is just another ploy, until he sees how shocked Charlie, Julia and especially Claudia are at the news. What makes it worse is this (temporarily) convinces Bailey he's better off staying an alcoholic.
  • That '70s Show: Played for Laughs when it is discovered that Hyde's father is black. While everyone else is clearly trying not to freak out, Hyde is ecstatic, because it explains his otherwise bizarrely anti-authoritarian personality and overall mistrust of white people.
    Hyde: Hey, who do you think killed JFK?
    Hyde's Father: I don't know—because They don't want me to know.
  • Daredevil (2015): The fourth episode of season 1 is titled "In the Blood" and puts heavy focus on the Russian gangster brothers Vladimir and Anatoly Ranskahov as they deal with the problems the masked Devil of Hell's Kitchen is causing to their alliance with Wilson Fisk.
  • Chicago Justice: "Double Helix" has the defendant use a defense based on her genetics providing a propensity to kill because her father is a serial killer.
  • Once Upon a Time
    • Cora came to believe that love was a weakness that had to be removed, so she used her dark magic to take out her own heart, preventing her from making such attachments. She went on to force Regina to conform to a path that gave her power, leading to Regina asking Rumpelstiltskin for power, eventually turning her into the Evil Queen. This can also apply to Zelena too, as Cora abandoned her and favor Regina, fostering the envy that turned her into the Wicked Witch.
    • Rumpelstiltskin was a cowardly man whose parents both abandoned him just as his own father was abandoned, and as he did to his own son who ended up embracing the temptation of power via the curse of the Dark One and becoming one of the most powerful practitioners of dark magic in all the realms. His mother became the Black Fairy, a being so adept in dark magic that she claims to have "invented it" and nearly destroyed all of the realms of story by herself. His father Malcom who became Peter Pan was a sociopathic man-child who abandoned his own son so that he could gain immortality and power through Neverland's magic that and he unfairly blamed him for what his wife turned into. If anything, it would have been a miracle if he didn't turn evil.note  His son Baelfire almost went down the same path in "Ill Boding Patterns", but Rumpelstiltskin drugged him with a memory potion to prevent him from remembering the allure of Rumpel's dark magic.
  • In Happy!, the initially innocent-seeming pre-teen son of the deeply evil and sadistic Mr. Blue turns out to be slowly committing genocide upon the city's abandoned Not So Imaginary Friends.
  • The Orville: The Kaylon Primary argues, based on human history, that we are all evil like our slave-owning ancestors in spite of Isaac pointing that's no longer the case (and ironically citing his friend Ty, who's African-American, thus descended from the victims of slavery).

  • Jeff Buckley was raised as Scotty Moorhead by his mother and stepfather. He hardly knew his father Tim Buckley, only having met him once when he was eight. When Tim died in 1975, Jeff found out who he really was and decided to go by his real name. Not only do Jeff and Tim look similar, they both played folk music (to some degree) and died young. Although their music isn't really similar, Jeff's success has been enough to make Tim Buckley much more popular than he was when he was alive.
  • This is the whole point of Amanda Palmer's song "Runs In The Family."
  • The Fray's "Turn Me On".
    There's a sentence on my father,
    On my sister, on my brother
    There's a terror in the corner
    That will make your blood run cold
    And it goes back in my bloodline
    And we tried to walk away...
  • mothy: The Marlon family generally play antagonists, with two exceptions, and even then, one of them was possessed by a demon. As for the others...

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Just try to find a second- or third-generation wrestler whose gimmick doesn't center around wrestling being In the Blood, face or heel. Probably the best example is WWE's Randy Orton, a third-generation wrestler who believes that his lineage automatically makes him the greatest wrestler ever (never mind that dad, grandpa, and uncle Barry were all midcarders at best...). Orton went on to found a Power Stable called Legacy, where the biggest entrance requirement was that you must be at least a second-generation wrestler. Their motto? "Born better."
    • The Rock's first gimmick in the-then WWF was of Rocky Maivia, the name being a combination of his father, Rocky Johnson's name and his grandfather Peter Maivia's surname. Initially, he was pushed as a face but people hated him. After he joined The Nation of Domination and later became The Rock, he became one of the most popular wrestlers of all time, so popular that he was able to retire from wrestling and has had a successful movie career. His ancestry has paled in comparison to his success.
      • Though he is in the Real Life bloodline of the Anoa'i wrestling dynasty, which is a vastly sprawling family of Samoan-Americans known for their professional wrestling careers. This is actually a subversion, though, as many Anoa'i wrestlers rarely bring up their connections to the greater family (usually it's the commentators who discuss the heritages that they're descended from).
    • Though not directly descended from a professional wrestler, Rey Misterio started off as Rey Misterio Jr. He is a second-generation wrestler as his uncle (Rey Misterio Sr.) was a successful luchador. This is rarely brought up other than mentioning that Rey is a Mexican icon.
  • This example is a little more successful in Mexican Wrestling, where second generation wrestlers like Hijo del Santo and Perro Aguayo Jr. are huge idols in their own right. They do play this trope straight, with Santo always trying to be the "hero" his father was and Perro Aguayo having many of the same storylines as his father
  • Alberto Del Rio has recently taken this trope to absurd levels, even claiming to be descended from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.
  • Ohio Valley Wrestling had Smother's Twisted Daughters: "Second generation female sensation wild eyed southern girl Jessie Belle Smothers, beauty brawn bloodline breeding of a champion" and Isabella Smothers, the supposed spawn of Tracy Smothers.(also a supposed third in Christie Belle, but they don't talk about her much)

  • In Dino Attack RPG, this was the primary reason behind Rev Raptor's Heroic Suicide just after defeating his Mad Scientist father, Dr. Jecht "Landro" Raptor, in battle. Landro told Rev that it was in his destiny to follow in his footsteps, and Rev was so afraid of the possibility that, rather than risk letting it come true, he was willing to die to prevent it from happening.
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, every demon is essentially faced with this choice because their very nature compels them to act in destructive and manipulative ways. Half-demons suffer from this even more so as their demonic side often tries to goad them to act on impulse and self-gratification. The descendants of the infamous warlord Sydney Losstarot also have to live under the shadow of their ancestor, and every Losstarot is feared more or less.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Used extensively in Warhammer 40,000. The God-Emperor of Man created the twenty Primarchs, and when each wound up being raised on an alien planet by whoever happened to stumble across them, each become an immensely skilled warrior, and most of them ruled a planet or ten. The modern-day Space Marines are all genetically modified with gene-seed based on one of the Primarchs, and all exhibit behavior similar to that Primarch — the Blood Angels and their descendants, for example, all tend to be pious, noble, and prone to turning into bloodthirsty kamikaze maniacs intent on ripping the enemy limb from limb and drinking their blood.
    • The Tyranid genestealers use this trope as their means of infiltrating other races. They implant their victims with Tyranid genetic material which subverts the genes of the victims. The victim's children are born as hybrids and become genestealer cultists by default.
    • The Space Marines, however, are subjected to extreme hypnosis and mild brainwashing at the same time as they receive the gene-seed. This is mostly to make sure all their implants work, but the result is that they end up more like their Primarchs than when they started — and they were selected in the first place due to their similarity.
    • Somewhat subverted as well. The God Emperor was possibly the most powerful psyker to ever live, supposedly because he was the result of an entire generation of ancient psykers sacrificing themselves to become one combined soul. Out of all of the Primarchs, Magnus the Red, Sanguinius, Konrad Curze, and Lorgar were the only psykers. And only Magnus developed and trained his psyker abilities. The Primarchs' appearances were also radically different from each other: Magnus in particular was a red-skinned cyclops (though later editions claim that Magnus lost the eye as part of his deal with Tzeentch rather being born a cyclops).
  • The descendants of extra-planar creatures in Dungeons & Dragons tend towards the alignments of their forebears. Thus, half-celestials and half-fiends are almost guaranteed to be good and evil. Their descendants, aasimar/deva and tieflings, are also predisposed (though not guaranteed) to maintain their ancestors' alignment.
    • Half-orcs, no matter how civilized their upbringing, favor the barbarian class (especially in 3rd Edition), apparently inheriting the Orc's wild nature.
    • The offspring of a Generally Chaotic Good Nymph and a Always Lawful Evil Devil is a Neutral Evil, misshapen, goat legged midget called a Forlarren. They typically befriend the party with tales of their tragic past but the evil inherited from their Devil father(It's all but stated that they're a result of rape) causes them to murder a member of the party.
    • Played with in the race of tieflings, who are the descendant of humans and devils. The race itself is actually an aversion in that despite being descended from devils, tieflings are no more predisposed toward good or evil than their human cousins. But many people believe they are and treat them accordingly. Ironically, this does lead some to embrace their heritage, which then reinforces their evil reputation. Nonetheless, there are heroic tieflings who try and convince people that the tieflings are not evil by nature and many more who simply try and keep their heads down.
    • Half-drow are hated and avoided by other people because they are related to the drow. In addition, they have a great similarity with them on the outside. Most people can not distinguish a half-drow from a drow. However, half-drow more quickly recognize the lies in the doctrine of Lolth, and can better resist the evil than pure drow. Although there are still many wicked half-drow, most of them go to the surface to become an adventurer, and, to prove others, that they are not like the drow.
    • Always Chaotic Evil is at least slightly subverted however because "Always" doesn't actually mean "Always". Even a demon, who has pure Evil as part of their very substance, has a non-zero chance of not actually being evil. We're talking maybe 1% who are Neutral, and 0.1% who are good, but it does explicitly happen (though they are still made of Evil, and can be affected as such by spells). This has led to endless debate among players over whether or not this makes beings who the books say are "always evil" okay to kill on sight, even with the slight chance that they don't live up to their stat-blocks.
      • The Book of Exalted Deeds (a handbook for being Good) says that killing them is wrong, but also points out that if the DM pulls a bait-and-switch too often by having monsters the players have been merciful to betray them, its understandable that they will be upset and less trusting in the future.
    • Birthright all rotates around bloodlines (duh) carrying little portions of lost godly powers.
    • The Ravenloft supplement Legacy of the Blood uses this trope extensively.
  • Champions supplement The Blood and Dr. McQuark. The Blood have a hereditary tendency to both superpowers and insanity, the result of a bargain one of their ancestors made with a demon.
  • In Hunter: The Vigil, the Lucifuge all believe they are descended from Satan/Lucifer/Beelzebub/whatever name you want to tag the Devil with today. They've decided to Screw Destiny and fight against the creatures of the night... using the powers of Hell. Problem: the later World of Darkness book Inferno introduce their cousins, Les Enfants Diabloque, who also believe they're descended from the Devil and like it. The two groups are at odds.
  • The Shadows of Mexico setting for Vampire: The Requiem portray the Daeva native to that region, called Xoxocti, as priests of the gods. Thanks to centuries of foreign influence, their present day childer don't care about the old ways anymore. Instead, they use their vampiric powers to become sexy Latin pop stars, forcing their ancestors to view them as the children of kings who've been screwing whores. This Cultural Posturing is actually a large part of the setting's plot.
  • On the rare occasions in Promethean: The Created, the eponymous creatures have true children rather than reproduction through reanimation, they're likely to be immune to Disquiet and the illusion of humanity Prometheans automatically project. The kid may grow up somewhat skewed by a childhood of seeing reanimated corpses hanging around, but when word gets around that there's a human they can talk to who won't go Torches and Pitchforks, Junior will have plenty of protectors.
  • "Wolf-blooded" descendants of Werewolves and humans in Werewolf: The Forsaken are immune to the lunacy most mortals experience when they see a transformed Forsaken. They also have a good chance of producing werewolf children with another wolfblood or a full werewolf, making them prized as mates.
  • At least one branch of the Liao family ruling the Capellan Confederation in the BattleTech universe is all but canonically predisposed towards eventually going megalomaniacally, bat*** insane. This may or may not have started with Maximilian Liao, definitely affected his daughter Romano and her daughter Kali, and her son Sun-Tzu, who is otherwise a Magnificent Bastard, has had cause to worry about his own sanity. (Interestingly, Maximilian's other daughter Candace and her descendants aren't similarly afflicted, definitely suggesting an actual genetic component that she simply didn't inherit.)
  • Pathfinder often emphasizes the influence of the parent for half-human races. Tieflings, being descended or somehow infected by fiends, have a strong tendency towards evil while aasimar, the celestial equivalent, are predisposed towards good. Half-orcs suffer violent urges, and dhampirs may feel the urge to drink blood, even if they gain no particular benefit from it.

  • In Arsenic and Old Lace, one of the dramatic tension elements is the insanity suffered by every single member of the Brewster family. The protagonist worries that he will eventually succumb to the same hereditary madness, and tells his fiancée that "no Brewster should ever marry." Fortunately, it turns out in the end that he was adopted.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: Even when Cyrano reacts with shock at Roxane's intention to remain with them during the battle, and she responds, "Monsieur de Bergerac, I am your cousin." lampshades this in a positive context, Cyrano and Roxane's obsessions and denial of reality fit them better with the sinister implications of this trope.
  • In Dorothy L. Sayers' The Emperor Constantine, Livia, rejoicing in her husband's death, tells Constantine that her husband was evil, his father was evil, and his daughter, Constantine's wife, ought to be watched.
  • In The Rose Tattoo, Alvaro comically boasts that he is the grandson of the village idiot of Ribera.

    Video Games 
  • In the game D, the main character must find her father, a doctor at a sanitarium who has gained some kind of supernatural power, causing him to go batshit insane and slaughter apparently everyone in the hospital and reality warp the living shit out of it. It is eventually revealed that he is a descendant of Dracula, and has lost his mind thereby.
  • Rock Howard from Mark of the Wolves seems to suffer from this. He struggles with his "evil side" inherited from Geese Howard, despite being raised almost entirely by Terry.
    • The evil influence is not from his father but from his mother's side of the family.
  • This trope is played straight in the Baldur's Gate series in regards to the main character and several of the villains, who are Bhaalspawn; children of the now-dead god of murder.
    • This could just be selection bias, though; the evil Bhaalspawn have been busily killing off the good ones, and the good ones are less likely to appear on the PC's radar in any case. The PC him/herself can be a solidly Lawful Good Knight in Shining Armor if the player so chooses. In Throne of Bhaal you meet several "lesser Bhaalspawn", quite a few of whom seem to be just regular Joes, and one who is a bit of a Knight Templar, killing off all other Bhaalspawn because their great potential for evil and then planning to kill himself off.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Poor Sephiroth. His career in supervillainy was pretty much cut out for him. Sephiroth, who was directly infused with Jenova's cells in fetal stage, was not told of his origins. His biological father, Professor Hojo, told the young Sephiroth his mother's name was "Jenova" and that she died from giving birth to him. In reality, Jenova was the terminology for an excavated alien being who had tried to destroy the planet thousands of years earlier. Of course, Hojo is a few fries short of a happy meal, himself.
  • Agent 47 from the Hitman series is a genetically engineered assassin, created from the DNA of 5 of the world's most dangerous criminal masterminds. Except he's a cold-blooded assassin, not a power-hungry megalomaniac, so the analogy doesn't seem to quite work out.
  • The plot of the Assassin's Creed series run on this trope — the gameplay is In The DNA, a lineage going from Altaïr Ibn La'Ahad ("Eagle, Son of No One") to Ezio Auditore da Firenze (Ezio derived from a Greek word for Eagle) to Desmond Miles. Later implied to be literal, as Altaïr's bloodline may all be descendants of a past human-Those Who Came Before hybrid, partially since Altaïr's bloodline are the only Assassins known to use the ability of Eagle Vision in the games, though Project Legacy revealed that Giovanni Borgia — whose father was an Assassin also had it too.
    • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag reveals that although Desmond's family history is rather more full than others with traits from Those Who Came Before, the Eagle Vision isn't unique to his bloodline. Some people have enough TWCB DNA that they simply express Eagle Vision traits naturally, while others can learn to do so. Edward Kenway had innate, untrained Eagle Vision but was utterly unrelated to the Assassins before the events of this game. Desmond, with multiple Assassin lineages behind him (including Edward) had to go through Training from Hell to express it.
  • The Overlord's son in Overlord II has the same tendency towards magic and creepiness as his father even before the minions show up.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In Blazing Sword we have minor villain Erik, son of the corrupt Marquess Darin. In the next game in the continuity, Erik has grown up to be exact same tyrannical ruler his father was, and repeats his predecessors' mistakes step by step, even going so far as to kidnap a little girl (for different reasons, but still). This is bothersome as Darin wasn't truly evil until he met Ephidel and Erik seemed repentant after being defeated by Eliwood and Hector.
    • Very subtle in Radiant Dawn, but present nonetheless: One of the most amoral members of the Greil Mercenaries turned out to be the son of the Big Bad from the previous game. Possibly averted in that despite being amoral, he is also fiercely loyal (ahem) to Ike, and for lack of a conscience of his own, he often follows Ike's.
  • Gotha's family in Dragon Quest V starts from a masculine Pankraz, having a son who has as much masculinity as him when he grows up and suffers very similar fates as him when he's married. While this guy's not as strong as his father, he has an ability to use healing spells, which carries onto his son, who can even cast a better multi healing and revival spells while still being a hard hitter. Also in the game he wonders if he can catch and train monsters like his daddy does.
  • This is why the Medic in Team Fortress 2 is a Mad Scientist; this whole family is full of them, according to Word of God.
  • In the backstory of Nox, the world of Nox's Legendary Hero wipes out every member of the Always Chaotic Evil Necromancers, but spares the last Necromancer, a mere baby, sending her off to be raised by the primitive but morally neutral Trolls without any knowledge of her true heritage. She grows up to be the game's Big Bad, and inherits not only her ancestors' total evil, but also their raging Goth-ness. (Although the Wizard ending implies she was possessed by the evil spirits of all her evil ancestors, and without being indwelt by them she's actually a pretty decent lady).
  • Likewise, in the Divine Divinity series, the Hero spares The Antichrist because he's just a little baby, and tries to raise him as his own son and a champion of truth and justice. This does not work out, at all (although the failure was at least in part caused by external factors, namely the Religion of Evil sending an agent to tempt him to the Dark Side).
  • The priestess character in Duel Savior Destiny has an exhibitionist kleptomaniac split personality called Black Papillon, which claims that it exists because of a combination of stress and because all her family were thieves. However, it turns out she was adopted, making this rather dubious.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II's two protagonists Alex and David Mason are father and son. You see David as a young boy in a flashback to the mid-1980s when his father is called back to the military to save an old friend and then by the year 2025, he's serving as the Lt. Commander for SEAL Team Six.
  • Even in the good ending, something sinister happens in Mad Father. Despite getting away from her homicidal father, Aya takes after him in the future. She runs a clinic in the middle of the forest and turns unsuspecting innocent women and teenagers into dolls with Maria by her side. One of the reasons her father wanted to make her into a doll was to keep her from turning out like him when he discovered that she was mutilating small animals like he did in his youth. Her mother was arguably even crazier, since she admired her husband's madness and was happy that Aya was following in his footsteps.
  • Metal Gear Solid has the Emmerich family, who is all but cursed to be tied to nuclear weapons. Hal "Otacon" Emmerich was tricked into developing the Metal Gear REX under the pretense that it was made for intercepting and destroying nukes, when it was actually built to launch nukes. His father, Huey, was born on August 6, 1945: the exact same day as the bombing of Hiroshima. Huey was also involved in the development of the Metal Gear ZEKE and Metal Gear Sahalanthropus. Meanwhile, Otacon's grandfather was one of the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, which resulted in the aforementioned bombing of Hiroshima.
  • Played with in Resident Evil 6. After discovering his relationship to the series' previous Big Bad, Jake becomes moody and snappish, certain that he's destined to follow in his father's footsteps. There's some evidence to support it; Jake has an incredibly similar fighting style to his father, instinctively seeks out combat, doesn't really believe in anything bigger than himself, and even inherited Wesker's viral immunity. In the end it's subverted; despite his affinities, Jake ultimately uses them to pursue a completely different path.
  • This is how Heroic ability is passed down in the Fable series. The main series focuses on members of a particular bloodline who all have Heroic ability off the charts.
  • One of the biggest spoilers in Yandere Simulator is that Yandereness runs in the Aishi family. Yandere-chan's mother Ryoba murdered a rival and kidnapped her senpai, who becomes Yandere-chan's father. The Basement Tapes hint that Ryoba's mother did the same, and Word of God says this goes back many generations. Whether this continues or is averted is ultimately up to the player.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • It probably has as much to do with nurture (or lack thereof) as nature, but Dahlia Hawthorne is at least as petty and murderous as her mother Morgan Fey in Trials and Tribulations. Fortunately it seems to have passed over Pearl and Iris.
    • And in Investigations it's all over the place. Both Ernest Amano and his son Lance are no strangers to crime and for Kay Faraday it's noble thievery that runs in the blood. Granted it's also a Take Up My Sword situation, but Faraday was dead before Kay even found out he was the Yatagarasu.
      • The Big Bad of Investigations 2, Simon Keyes, is not only a killer just like his father, Dane Gustavia, but even uses the same method of freezing the body to throw off the time of death without knowing that Gustavia did the same thing in the past. This is despite him suffering from some memory loss which made him grow up mistakenly thinking that the man Gustavia had killed was his father, and despising Gustavia as a result of that.
  • Tohno Shiki of Tsukihime lived most of his life normally, yet can somehow instinctually remember all the assassination techniques of the Nanaya clan through his blood, which conveniently powers him up whenever something serious happens. Judging by appearance, you might as well call it his Superpowered Evil Side. Explained in Canon by the fact that the Nanaya were incestuous and grounded in tradition to hold onto their supernatural powers, which are only supposed to last one generation.
  • It's regularly noted in Umineko: When They Cry that Battler has more than a few similarities to his grandfather, Kinzo. Considering that Kinzo is certifiably batshit insane in every sense of the word, as well as the fact that crazy seems to run in the family in general, we can assume that this is not a good thing.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In the Whateley Universe, Whateley Academy has an official "club" known commonly as The Bad Seeds. Admission? One or both of your parents must be a supervillain. Some kids take to this like ducks to water, some resist, some don't know what to do, some are pretty clueless even for teenagers. Nacht has a supervillain mother who is constantly trying to get Nacht to use her powers to help mommy commit crimes; Nacht doesn't mind the crime part, but she really doesn't want to spend time with her mother. Jobe is a ruthless, amoral genius bio-devisor who even looks like his supervillain dad; his dad hates that junior doesn't have a flair for mechanical devises instead. Carmilla has Deep Ones in her mother's ancestry, and is the grandchild of Shub-Niggurath on her father's side; she's taking the Screw Destiny approach right now. And so on... It's worth noting that membership in the Bad Seeds does not in itself infer an intention to become a supervillain (some do, some don't, and the setting makes plain that either is no more likely than any other high school career ambition) they're just more-or-less stuck together for mutual protection because everyone else fears that evil is in their blood.

    Western Animation 
  • Kim Possible: "Anything is possible for a Possible!" And the show more or less follows that idea. The entire Possible family has some sort of badassness in them.
  • Teen Titans: Robin actually told Raven he admired her Screw Destiny response to the prophecy she would help her demon father destroy the world.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero's Serpentor, made with the DNA of Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Attila the Hun, Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Vlad the Impaler, Hannibal, Genghis Khan, and Grigori Rasputin to be the world's most evil and effective military leader. So naturally, his plans fail.
    • They didn't manage to get Sun Tzu's DNA (who was targeted specifically to give Serpentor wisdom and prudence), so they replaced it with Sergeant Slaughter's, whose strategic abilities can be summed up as punching people in the face while insulting them. Hilarity (and failure) Ensues.
  • Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender is a painfully complicated (as usual) case — according to Iroh, his inner conflict and confusion in Season 3 is revealed to be due to inheriting the blemish on his soul from Fire Lord Sozin through his father and a purity of soul from Avatar Roku through his mother: "...[U]nderstanding the struggle between your two great-grandfathers can help you better understand the battle within yourself. Evil and good are always at war inside you, Zuko. It is your nature, your legacy."
    • Azula also shares this trope with her brother, but adopts the more merciless (I.E. Azulon and Ozai) traits of the previous Fire Lords. Whereas Zuko's banishment from the Fire Nation led him to grow and develop and learn more of the world beyond the Fire Nation, Azula pretty much absorbed all of the propaganda from the past, lies and all and is essentially the fourth generation of the Fire Nation's toxic mentality and bloody history. By "Smoke and Shadow", one can see a theme between past and future changes for the Fire Nation between them: With Zuko representing the change for the Fire Nation whereas Azula wants it to stay the same as it was during Sozin's, Azulon's and Ozai's reigns. However, it's worth noting a potential underlying of fear of change in her as well; as it seems like Azula had never fathomed a different path the world would take.
  • The Legend of Korra gives us Tarrlok and Noatak, who inherited Yakone's insanely powerful bloodbending, and, in spite of originally good intentions, his lust for power.
  • Played for Laughs in Young Justice, as Lian giggles while watching her parents beat up ninjas.
    Red Arrow: Should I be concerned over the obvious delight our daughter takes in the ultra-violence?
    Cheshire: It's genetic.
    Red Arrow: Great.
  • Played with in W.I.T.C.H. when Caleb finds out that Nerissa is his mother. She tries to convince him of this and he flat-out denies it.
  • Yogi's Space Race: Phantom Phink was described in a Space Race Biography as a descendant of Dr. Jekyll. The narrator said it explains about Phink being a bad guy. (And that's because he doesn't know (or knows but refuses to believe) Captain Good and Phantom Phink are one and the same)
  • Superman: The Animated Series: After Bizarro stays behind so that Superman and Lois can escape:
    Lois: You think he survived?
    Superman: I hope so, he had a good heart.
    Lois: Of course, he came from good stock.
  • The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries: One episode features a distant cousin of Pepé Le Pew. That cousin behaves like Pepe and has a car that hops around the same way Pepe does while chasing female skunks or whatever Pepe and his cousin mistake for them. Pepe's cousin even mentioned the kinship to explain the behavior similarity.
  • In BoJack Horseman, the title characters is given a call from his mother, who after reading the tell-all book about him has come to regret her poor treatment of him. She states that having been the child of two broken and miserable people, he is by nature a miserable wretch and there's nothing he can do about it.
    Beatrice Horseman: You were born broken, it's your birthright.
  • Played for Laughs in Wacky Races (2017), Dick Dastardly's caveman ancestor invented the concept of cheating, while in an episode set in the far future, his distant descendant announces, "I plan to cheat a lot," at the start of the race.
  • In Gargoyles, Goliath initially feared that his daughter would be affected by Demona's hatred and paranoia, but Angela subverts this.

    Real Life 
  • Psychological research shows that a lot of our personality traits are partly inherited from our relatives. For example, a child born from parents with deficient levels of Monoamine oxidase A (a neurotransmitter that helps to control aggression and impulsivity) is likely to be more aggressive than a child with normal levels of the "warrior gene". However environmental factors are just as likely to inhibit those chances they will be exhibited in behavior if the child was born in a supportive household rather than an abusive one, the latter which makes the likelihood of them exhibiting aggression 10 times more likely.
    • The factors of environment on actually changing bloodlines is the basis of a field of study called epigenetics. Twins with similar diets and lifestyle turned out exactly as planned (so to speak), while those who were separated at birth would have some similarities due to genetics but other traits would change or form differently due to lifestyle, including appearance.
    • The latest thinking is the 50-0-50 rule. In terms of Genetics/Parenting/Environment, Parenting doesn't matter... sort of. The reason you and your siblings turn out so different despite having the same parents is that everything about your parents is already accounted for in either genetics (the ways you're alike) or environment (the ways you're different).
  • This is a common subject of debate concerning "dangerous" dog breeds such as pitbulls.
  • Recent research indicates that some animals have a so-called "domestication gene," and some do not. It's the reason why horses have been domesticated for thousands of years, but zebras have not despite efforts and despite their otherwise being closely related. Interestingly, foxes that are bred to select for the domestication gene not only become more docile and friendly to humans, they also begin to take on physical characteristics and behaviors of domesticated dogs, such as tail-wagging when happy.
    • It's the other way round. Animals that are selected for domestic traits (eg being less fearful of humans, or less aggressive) tend to have a similar suite of genes across species. Also, some physical traits that aren't deliberately selected for (eg white markings, lop ears) seem to be linked to desirable behavioral traits, so turn up in a lot of domestic species. It probably should be possible to domesticate zebras, but they reproduce fairly slowly and it takes many generations.
  • Former American Idol contestant Creigthon Fraker, an adopted son, says he understood why he has singing in his blood when he met his biological father, Flotsam And Jetsam's frontman Eric A.K.
  • Not so recently, people born with deformities or severe physical abnormalities had no opportunities besides joining circuses or freak attractions, and would have a social circle composed solely of other "performers" and a few "normal" individuals, which would often lead to family lines of "freaks" with similar conditions.
  • Attainder, also known as "corruption of blood", was a nasty legal concept that originated in medieval England; it allowed nobles convicted of capital crimes and their descendants to be stripped of property and titles, effectively reducing them to commoners.note  It was used by whichever family held the kingship at the time to keep the lesser nobles in line, and to punish people whose guilt could not be proven in court (or did not exist at all). It was explicitly forbidden in Sections 9 (for the federal government) and 10 (for the states) of Article One of the United States Constitution, and was forbidden in the England and Wales by an Act of Parliament in 1870 (although it hadn't been used since 1798).


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