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Pater Familicide

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"Dad was such a drag. Every day he'd eat the same kind of food, dress the same, sit in front of the same kind of games... oh yeah, he was just that kind of guy. But then one day he goes and kills us all! He couldn't even be original about the way he did it. I'm not complaining, I was dying of boredom anyway."
The Radio Voice, Silent Hills

The family annihilator is a type of murderer that, in recent decades, has gained prominence in the media and pop culture in the world of Murder Tropes. Unfortunately, this situation is common enough that psychology has a phrase for it, "family annihilator".

The murderer, almost always a man, kills his wife and children (and in rare cases, his in-laws or parents) as a means to "protect" the family from discovering the killer's own failures at life (e.g., Unconfessed Unemployment, financial ruin, or the disintegration of the family unit for some other reason). Often has shades of Put Them All Out of My Misery. After killing his entire family, the killer will usually then turn his weapon upon himself. If he can't bring himself to kill himself, he will either flee town to escape his crimes or blame it on an outside party.

The trope gained fame mainly through the murderous antics of John List, arguably the Trope Codifier. Having lost his job and become deeply in debt, List's Insane Troll Logic was that poverty was an affront to God, so it would be better for his family to go straight to heaven than on welfare. List then went into hiding and successfully stayed hidden for nearly 18 years until America's Most Wanted featured him on the show, bringing about his arrest as a result.

Current social mores play a big part in how sympathetic the murderer remains to the audience — while few would suggest that debt is a good reason to kill your family, fantasy situations involving the threat of a Fate Worse than Death will leave many people arguing that the act was justified, or at least sympathetic. However, the variant where the killer doesn't follow through and end his own life is almost always portrayed as unforgivable. Unfortunately, this kind of mass murder is common enough that psychology developed the phrase "family annihilator" for it.

While Offing the Offspring describes premeditated filicide, this trope involves the head of the household unilaterally killing their kids and their spouse. A subtrope of Murder in the Family and Family Extermination. Compare Where I Was Born and Razed. Some Real Life examples get massive attention in national news; these might be part of what gives this trope its resonance. However Real Life examples are not allowed here, and they have their own page on The Other Wiki). Examples from Greek Mythology below make this trope Older Than Feudalism.

Note: this trope's name comes from "pater familias", a term originating in Ancient Rome for a man who was the head of the household.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Shou Tucker, on the verge of losing his State Alchemist certification and unable to support his family without it, transforms his daughter and pet dog into a Chimera to pass the re-certification evaluation. He did the same thing to his wife two years before, for the same reason. In the Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) anime, he goes so far as to claim he was screwed either way, since he'd either have to use Nina in a transmutation or watch her starve to death, so he picked the transmutation just to see if it could be done.
  • Gender-inverted in The Garden of Sinners. Tomoe Enjou’s mother, after killing her husband, killed her son and then herself. The Tomoe that Shiki meets is an Artificial Human made from his preserved brain.
  • Kurosagi: This serves as the basis of Kurosaki's motivation to become the titular "Black Swindler". His father got caught up in a fraud and fell into a debt. He killed himself after murdering the rest of his family. Kurosaki was the Sole Survivor of the incident, and since then, he devotes his life to defraud other swindlers.
  • In Naruto, Haku's father killed his mother and tried to kill him when he found out about their Superpowerful Genetics.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, it's eventually revealed that Kyouko Sakura's father killed the rest of her family and then himself after he realized that the increased number of followers at his church was not due to people actually believing him, but because of Kyouko's powers as a Puella Magi (born from her wish for him to be more successful) making them listen.

    Comic Books 
  • In the graphic novel Batman: EGO, one of The Joker's henchmen (who Batman had convinced to betray him) did this upon learning that his former boss was going to get out (again) and come after him and his family. Considering the Joker's idea of "fun", it can be argued this actually was mercy. Batman doesn't take it well.
  • Enigma has a group called the Interior League who break into peoples homes and rearrange their furniture in such a way that when the owner enters the room, seeing the new furniture pattern triggers some response in their brain that causes them to go stark raving mad and murder their whole family.
  • In Maus, Art's older brother and his cousins were poisoned by his aunt in order to avoid a crueler fate with the Nazis.
  • There's an issue of The Punisher about Frank hunting down an old war buddy who murdered his family after his business failed, his wife left him, and he lost custody of the kids. The guy is clearly having a prolonged, severe psychotic breakdown and doesn't even know what he's done; Frank delivers the kill with mercy rather than hatred.
  • The NYC cops in Watchmen arrested a father who admitted to murdering his kids, because he feared that the possibility of nuclear war would make their lives miserable. Of course, the irony of this situation comes twofold: the war never happened, though that's because NYC was blown up by Veidt and made to look like an interstellar attack. So they would've all died, anyway. Threefold, if you considered that Adrian Veidt's plan might be doomed to failure.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Deputy Billy in the horror film 30 Days of Night, in order to save them from what would be (at least for them) a far more horrific death.
  • In Art of the Dead, Douglas Winter becomes this after being corrupted by the Wrath painting: moving through the house with a knife and killing every member of his family.
  • Nicholas Ray's Bigger Than Life made in The '50s of all decades, provided an Older Than They Think example. The finale has Ed Avery (James Mason) the patriarch, strung out on prescription drugs, decide to murder his son. His wife tries desperately to talk him out of this by reminding him of the guilt with which they would have to live with, to which Ed asks her, "You don't expect either of us to live after this, do you?". More or less stating that after he kills his son, he will kill her and then himself.
  • This is Billy Bedlam's rap sheet introduction in Con Air after finding his wife had cheated on him. He drove four towns over to his wife's family house; killed her parents, her brothers, her sisters...and even the dog.
  • Death on Demand has a black and white opening which depicts the then-living killer butchering his wife, his mother-in-law, and his and his wife's two daughters during Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Discussed in Dobermann. Mosquito asks the Abbot why he is painting the inside of the villa the gang is using as a hideout. The Abbot explains that the previous owner was a businessman who shot his wife, his children, and then himself, and he is painting over the bloodstains. Mosquito is squicked as he realises what the stains on his bedroom ceiling are.
  • Downfall (2004):
    • Ernst-Robert Grawitz commits suicide in his apartment during dinner with his wife and three children — by detonating a grenade and killing his family along with himself. It's believed he did it in Real Life as well (a grenade exploded inside his house, killing him and his family), although there were (obviously) no witnesses around to prove it.
    • The film also shows Magda Goebbels's murder of her children, which is mentioned in the Real Life section. Afterwards, she and her husband carry out a Suicide Pact in the courtyard and have their bodies burned by soldiers.
  • In The Dry, Federal Police agent Aaron Falk returns to his home town after an absence of over twenty years to attend the funeral of his childhood friend, Luke, who allegedly killed his wife and child before taking his own life - a victim of the madness that has ravaged this community after more than a decade of drought.
  • In Falling Down, it's heavily implied that Bill Foster intends to do this to his wife and daughter, even though he refuses to admit it when Prendergast draws this conclusion when they finally meet face to face. Drawing a gun on his family while tearfully saying that he's sorry says it all.
  • For Colored Girls has the alcoholic, PTSD-suffering war vet toss his kids out of the window when he suspected his wife of cheating (which she did, years earlier), and thought her lover pulled up in a limo one afternoon, saying that it's time to return the kids to their rightful father (the limo actually housed her female boss). The wife tries to save her kids by grabbing them before they fell, but her grip couldn't hold for too long, and no one else managed to get into the room in time.
  • Gender-inverted in From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter.
    The Hangman: You killed your mother and father? Why?
    Catherine Reece: They were starvin', there was no food, so I sent 'em to a better place.
    The Hangman: What about your aunt, your uncle, and all your cousins?
    Catherine Reece: I never liked them.
  • In God Told Me To, one of the killers shoots his seven-year-old son, then his wife. His young daughter locks herself in the bathroom, so he tells her the gun is a toy and the others aren't really dead, then shoots her as soon as she comes out.
  • Alec Trevelyan's backstory in Goldeneye had his father kill his mother and himself so that they wouldn't have to live with the shame of having survived the Soviet purge of the Lienz Cossacks. The Lienz Cossacks were betrayed by the British government, who turned them over to Stalin for working with the Nazis, leaving Trevelyan with a severe mad-on for the British government in question.
  • Haunter: This was and is the Pale Man's favorite way of killing families as a ghost, by possessing the father to kill his wife and children, then himself.
  • A particularly disturbing variation occurs in the 1999 remake of The Haunting: Hugh Crain, the Eccentric Millionaire who built Hill House, not only seems to have killed or driven his wife to her death, but the children from the mills whom he 'adopted' were also slain by him, or else allowed to waste away due to neglect. So even though, presumably, the mitigation of what ruined his life (no offspring) should have made him happy and fulfilled, the industrialist instead destroys the very thing he'd been seeking for so long.
  • This is what kick-starts the curse of the Ju-on series of films, as well as the remake series, The Grudge: In the Japanese series, Takeo Saeki reads his wife Kayako's diary, discovers that she harbors an obsessive crush on her old college friend, Kobayashi, and becomes so jealous, paranoid and outright crazy that he starts to believe that a) Kayako is having an affair, and b) that he is not the natural father of their son, Toshio (none of which are true). He then snaps Kayako's neck, leaving her paralyzed but not quite dead until he slashes her with a utility knife, drowns Toshio, and even slaughters Toshio's beloved cat. Takeo himself is later killed when Kayako, now a seriously angry spirit, takes her revenge. In the American series, the murders and his motives are very similar, except in this continuity, the object of Kayako's desire is instead a university professor named Peter, and there is no suspicion with regards to Toshio's parentage.
  • In the backstory of Madman, the eponymous villain murdered his sleeping family with an ax. A mob tried to hang him for it, but he survived, and he now kills anyone who gets his attention.
  • Mama: Distraught after losing his fortunes, Jeffrey Desange kills his wife, then attempts to do the same to their children, Victoria and Lily, at a cabin in the woods. Unknown to him, the cabin is home of the titular Mama, who snaps Jeffrey's neck before he can kill the children. Victoria and Lily subsequently become feral children, under the "care" of Mama.
  • The Mist, but tragically, the protagonist knows he's one bullet short for their group, but "takes care of" everyone else (including his son), before turning the empty gun on himself and pointlessly pulling the trigger in shock over and over. The real kicker is that the ominous pounding that prompted their giving up draws closer and is revealed to be the Big Damn Heroes clearing out the mist and killing the monsters, making for a harrowing Shoot the Shaggy Dog ending.
  • The Others (2001) has a Gender Flipped version: a mother, delirious with isolation and worried sick over her husband's fate in World War II, uses a Vorpal Pillow on her children, and then, in remorse, a shotgun on herself. The Twist Ending is that the main characters are this family, and "the others" they've been dealing with are the still-living people who have since moved into the house.
  • A Serbian Film: The whole family got involved in the sexual horrors into which Milos was forced after being drugged. Thus, after the evildoers have been all killed, Milos's wife agrees that they should die together, and the couple plus their son embrace before Milos shoots a bullet through all three.
  • For the title character in The Stepfather (and the 2009 remake) this got to be a habit, followed by changes of identity to start the process again.
  • In These Final Hours, an extremely sympathetic variant is occurring. An asteroid impact has caused The End of the World as We Know It and the global firestorm caused by the impact will annihilate Australia, the last bastion of life on Earth. Many parents, including the protagonist James’s sister and her husband kill their children and then commit suicide to avoid burning to death with everyone else.
  • The backstory of in-universe Memetic Badass Keyser Soze in The Usual Suspects involves a unique take on this; his family had been taken hostage, and he killed them simply to show the hostage-takers how not-to-be-fucked-with he was.
  • In Walkabout, the father drives himself and his two children into the desert, where he pulls a gun and attempts to shoot the kids. When they escape, he sets fire to the car and then shoots himself. By destroying the car, he probably believed he was killing them anyway, as they would have been stranded in the desert with no way out.
  • In When a Killer Calls, Richard Hewitt kills his wife, son, and daughter. No motive is given for his actions beyond the implication that he was a closeted psychopath whose sexual assault of his former babysitter Trisha prompted him to finally snap and embark on a sadistic rampage that left himself and a dozen other people dead (He also killed his and his family's friends the Walkers, their daughter (his children's friend), a neighbor of the Walkers, two police officers, Trisha's boyfriend and two other friends of Trisha's before Richard himself was killed by Trisha who shot him with a gun).
  • The Wolfman: Given that John is the one who killed his wife and Ben and probably would have succeeded in killing Larry if the hunters hadn't come along...

  • One of the patients that Doctor Kreizler sees at the very beginning of The Alienist has killed his children to protect them from evil.
  • Sethe tries to do this in Toni Morrison's Beloved to keep her children from being sent back into slavery, although she only succeeds on one count out of four.
  • In Brave Story, Mitsuru's father killed his wife and daughter before killing himself. (Mitsuru escaped by not being home at the time, but was left with... a few issues.)
  • One of the other psychics in Dorothy Gilman's The Clairvoyant Countess is rescued from one of these.
  • Gerald Tarrant of the Coldfire Trilogy became the immortal being known as the Hunter by vivisecting his wife and children - except for one who was out of town that night. In later centuries, he would repeat this feat on his descendants whenever any of them dared to declare themselves to be the second Count of Merentha - always leaving behind one survivor to carry on the family name.
  • The Dry by Jane Harper starts with an apparent one - wife and son dead, father found some way away having apparently killed himself. There are just enough confusing details for the protagonist to wonder, and he has to piece together whether or not it was staged by someone else.
  • Tana French's Broken Harbor in Dublin Murder Squad raises the possibility that this is what happened to the family whose murder kicks off the plot. As the detectives find out more about the father, the evidence against him mounts: he'd just lost his job, it was possible he might have thought his wife was cheating on him with an old friend of theirs, and he'd become convinced there was an animal in the house and was obsessively pursuing it, clearly undergoing massive Sanity Slippage. It was actually the mother.
  • The Executioner series is kicked off by Mack Bolan's father going insane and murdering his wife, daughter, younger son (the Sole Survivor, besides Mack who's serving in The Vietnam War), then shooting himself. He was being squeezed by Mafia loan sharks and snapped after discovering his daughter had turned to prostitution to cover the debt. Mack Bolan decides that a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against The Mafia is a more appropriate response.
  • The short story "A Family Supper" has this happening in the background, and one of the central questions is whether it's happening in the main story as well. The story begins with a discussion of fugu, a type of fish that can be lethally poisonous if prepared incorrectly, and the titular meal is described only as "fish".
  • It's mentioned that a main character's father in the novel Final Destination Looks Could Kill went insane at a reunion and killed most of his family, and a number of other random people, before committing Suicide by Cop.
  • Invoked in A Head Full of Ghosts, where Marjorie convinces Merry that their increasingly religious father is planning to kill them, using the stories of hundreds of other fathers who did the same. It's probably either Marjorie or the possessed Merry who ultimately poisons the spaghetti sauce.
  • Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure has a frater familicide. Jude's family is poor, he is ill and another child is on its way; his eldest son, deciding that his parents would be better off without their children, kills his siblings and then himself - which also drives his mother to a miscarriage.
  • In Euripides's Medea, Medea kills her children (along with Jason's new wife and father-in-law) as revenge against Jason for leaving her. (In the original legend, she also killed and dismembered her brother during her initial escape with Jason.)
  • In Project Nemesis, Maigo was killed when she walked in on her father shooting her mother for adultery. Her father then shoots her to eliminate any witnesses. When Nemesis escapes, she makes her way to Boston to exact vengeance on her human side's murderer.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms depicts Liu Chan's killing of his wife and children before committing suicide, following the surrender of Shu to Wei. In the story, Liu Chan is portrayed in heroic terms, comparable to his grandfather Liu Bei.
  • Jack in Stephen King's The Shining is driven to do this and fails, unlike his predecessor who previously stayed in the cursed hotel.
  • In Shutter Island, it's strongly hinted near the end that Daniels was the one to kill his family. It turns out it was his wife was the one to kill the kids, while suffering severe depression; Daniels killed her when he found them, then went insane over the whole situation. The film has the same ending.
  • The Wheel of Time features the Posthumous Character Lews Therin Telamon, The Chosen One—also known as "Kinslayer," because, after after going insane as all male wizards do, he killed every friend and family member he could get his hands on. Since he was The Archmage, this was all of them. It Sucks to Be the Chosen One.
  • Charles Brockden Brown's Wieland, an early American novel, has a small, tight-knit circle of friends and family haunted by voices that appear to know more than human knowledge can tell. And then the most staunchly religious member — the eponymous Wieland — hears voices from God telling him to kill all his family. He complies. The results aren't pretty.
  • In the backstory of Wings of Fire, the SeaWing prince Albatross killed almost his entire family when he was driven insane by the overuse of animus powers required to build the Summer Palace, in what was known as the Royal SeaWing Massacre.

    Live-Action TV 
  • At the climax of the first season of Ashes to Ashes, Alex discovers that the car bomb that killed her parents and that she's been trying to avert all season was actually a Murder-Suicide by her father, who also intended it to kill her.
  • Senator Bracken (Beckett's mother's murderer) gives this as his political backstory on Castle. He was bringing an absent classmate some homework and found the entire family dead. The mother had drugged the children and then shot herself because she had lost her job. Bracken claims this inspired him to help build a better society where no one would ever feel that hopeless again. However, we don't know whether this is true or just made up to garner sympathy.
  • In Class, April's father tried to kill himself, her mother, and her during a depressive episode when she was a small child by deliberately crashing the family car. All of them survived, but her mother was left paralyzed from the waist down and her father served a jail sentence for attempted murder.
  • A Cold Case case was thought to be this but was reopened when the sole survivor, the daughter, began to regain her memory and realized that it wasn't her father who shot everyone.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • In the episode "Normal", the BAU predict that since the killer is murdering women resembling his wife, eventually he will kill his real family. The Reveal is that he'd done it before the episode even began, and was hallucinating that they were still alive. In the end, he gets told that he killed them and breaks down.
    • Another episode, "The Fox," has a serial killer who stages his crimes to look like this in order to keep the police from looking for a murderer outside the family.
  • CSI has an aversion in "Blood Drops," where the murder looks like the father killed everyone except for the youngest daughter (who was hiding) and the eldest daughter (who was out with her boyfriend). It turns out the eldest daughter and her boyfriend killed them all, as her father had been raping her for years, no one would speak out against him, and he was moving on to the youngest girl — who was actually the eldest's own daughter by him.
  • CSI: Miami: The episode "Slaughterhouse" revolves around an entire family being massacred except the husband (who was at work) and the youngest daughter, who had been hidden by the oldest son. It first seems like the wife had committed the murders, due to a nervous breakdown from post-partum depression, only for the evidence to reveal that not only did she not suffer from depression, the killer was the husband the whole time. Why? Because he grew resentful of his family, claiming that their constant demands drove him over the edge, capped off by the kids getting the flu! Horatio dismisses his whining as him trying to set up an Insanity Defense.
    Horatio: "I didn't know what I was doing and I definitely didn't know it was wrong!"
  • One of Dexter's victims was a cop who murdered her husband and daughter because she found them to be a burden.
  • In the 4th season finale of ER, the bickering doctors must put aside their differences to save the wife and children of a depressed man who finally snapped and shot them all. He tearfully admits that the only reason he isn't dead himself is that "There weren't any bullets left". The episode ends with all three still being tended to, so it's not clear who, if any survived.
  • FBI: Most Wanted: In "Lovesick", the task force hunt down a family annihilator who wishes to continue his own killing spree.
  • Homicide Hunter:
    • In one episode, Joe Kenda (the titular character), is very upset to realize that a man murdered his wife, daughter, and grandson before turning the gun on himself (he was upset about his daughter's impending divorce and somehow convinced that it reflected badly on him as a father). Ironically, Kenda was already suspecting this trope; he just assumed that the woman's ex was the one responsible.
    • In another episode, he's equally horrified to realize that a cancer-stricken and mentally ill woman shot her husband and children before shooting herself.
    • The finale was a classic domestic violence situation in which an abusive husband tracked down his wife after she left him and shot her and their son before killing himself.
  • Law & Order:
    • Law & Order: Subverted in one episode in which the father seems to fit the profile, but actually it's the daughter's druggie boyfriend.
    • Law & Order: SVU: In one episode, the wife seems to be unstable; later, the detectives (who had just been to the house that day) find the husband injured, the children murdered, and the wife apparently dead by suicide. Elliot is initially sympathetic to the husband, only to learn from the Crime Scene Unit that the only way the husband could've sustained the injury he had is if he was aiming the gun at himself.
    • Law & Order: Criminal Intent:
      • One case has a father who lied about having a job with the UN — in fact, he didn't have a job at all. Fortunately, the wife was unharmed and the detectives were able to save the kids. The episode is somewhat based on the case of Jean-Claude Romand, listed below.
      • Subverted in an episode in which a man has apparently been cheating on his wife online, only for his family to be killed after this is discovered, with the father apparently committing suicide after killing the others. Turns out he was framed on both counts; the whole thing was an elaborate ploy to kill the father and cover up the murder.
      • Narrowly averted in another episode in which a boy's accidental death drives his mother insane and the detectives reach the apartment just in time to stop her from murdering her daughter. Unfortunately, the daughter later dies in the same way as her brother.
      • Played mostly straight in yet another episode, in which a religious father (clearly based on John List) decides the world is too sinful and he needs to kill his entire family to save them from sin and send them to Heaven. He succeeds in killing his wife, his (pregnant) sister-in-law, her husband, and two other people he blamed for the family's supposed downfall, but Goren is able to convince him that he's wrong in time to save the killer's teenage daughter.
  • Oz gives us Aryan inmate Mark Miles who executed this trope twice. The first series of murders sent him to an insane asylum. The second sent him to death row.
  • In the series finale of The Shield, Shane's last play to keep his pregnant wife out of jail has failed, and they're faced with the prospect of having their children go into the foster care system. Seeing no other way out, he slips fatal doses of painkillers to his wife and son, and then simply waits for the cops. When they break down his door, he puts a bullet in his head.
  • Stranger Things: Victor Creel is in an insane asylum for killing his wife and children decades prior to the series' start. It later turns out it was his son who killed his wife and daughter, and then passed out from overusing his powers. When the government abducted him for experimentation they covered it up as him dying from his injuries and helped pin the whole thing on Victor.
  • Supernatural:
    • There's a particular kind of ghost called a "Woman in White" that results from a woman killing her children after discovering her husband's adultery and then committing suicide. The idea seems to have come from South American legends of La Llorona.
    • The 'family murderer' scenario also appears in an episode in which a house is haunted by the ghost of a farmer who murdered his family so they wouldn't starve, and pops up again with the father in a haunted family portrait who killed his family, and now murders whoever owns the picture. It's subverted both times. The farmer ghost isn't real (long story), and it was the adopted daughter that killed everyone and then framed the father.
  • In the Torchwood: Children of Earth miniseries, civil servant John Frobisher is told that his two daughters are going to be sacrificed to the invading aliens along with the kids from disadvantaged neighborhoods (leaving the children to a Fate Worse than Death) in order for the government to have Plausible Deniability and that there's nothing he can do to prevent it. He returns home, sends his wife and daughters to one of the bedrooms, takes a gun and follows them up. The door closes and three gunshots are heard, then a pause followed by a fourth. The final kicker comes from the fact that Torchwood defeats the alien threat a mere few hours later, which means Frobisher did it for nothing.
    • In the episode "Greeks Bearing Gifts" in the first season of Torchwood, where Torchwood's tech expert Toshiko has gained telepathy from an alien amulet, she overhears the thoughts of a man on the street who is planning to do this to his ex-wife, his son and himself, discretely follows him to the house and knocks him out with a golf club before he can go through with it.

  • The "hopeless unemployment" version of this trope forms the plot of Bob Dylan's "Ballad of Hollis Brown."
  • "Old Enough 2 Die" by Heart Attack Man combines this with If I Can't Have You…; the father of the family throws a birthday party for his ten year old daughter, but his wife, who he believes wants to leave him and take their daughter, puts a damper on it in an unspecified way — the father, refusing to lose his daughter and too scared to commit suicide alone, decides to kill both her and his wife with a gun along with himself so they can be Together in Death.
  • The Metallica song "Harvester of Sorrow", in madness and drug related form.
  • Voted in top 10 for "the most depressive song ever" in Finland, Pimeä tie, mukavaa matkaa ("Lightless road, have a pleasant journey") is the voice of a young couple, who have failed to get a loan for buying a home, are disappointed in the society ("suppose they'll soon put a price tag on breathing air"), and are in a car with their children to end it all. In the chorus the other parent urges the driving one to "close your eyes, now we're leaving at full throttle" as the children sleep in the back seat, and tells the audience "it's okay to forget us in case we paid too little".
    • Another example from Finnish music is Murheellisten laulujen maa ("Land of sorrowful songs", a play on the country's nickname of "Land of a thousand lakes"), which tells of a man who doesn't want to be like his fathers before him, refusing to drink alcohol and beat his family. However, he is unable to get a job to support his family, which eventually leads him to hit the bottle after all, and the song ends with him murdering his family on their snowy yard with an ax. The last verse then hangs a lampshade on how many popular Finnish songs are based on depressing subject matters like this (and before you ask, yes, Murheellisten laulujen maa is indeed rather popular in Finland).
  • "Wave of Mutilation" by The Pixies was inspired by reports of Japanese families doing this by driving into the ocean.
  • Suicide's "Frankie Teardrop" is about a desperate underpaid factory worker doing this.
  • Heavily implied in the song "River Below" by Billy Talent. Made more explicit in the music video. (He kills the band too.)

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: Heracles, the archetype of testosterone-overdose, was cursed by Hera with a fit of madness, and he killed his wife Megara and all their children. As an indirect result, he ended up undertaking his famed Twelve Labors.

  • Sick Sad World:
    • "Fathers in Crime" defines the term family annihilators (people who kill their entire families, usually in one rampage), and the episode’s two cases focus on such murderers.
    • "Who You Gonna Call?" talks about The Amityville Horror. The evil supernatural forces supposedly started with a young man murdered his parents and siblings.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the New World of Darkness book Ghost Stories, one of the stories centers its background around the death of Thomas Moth's family. Supposedly, they were killed by the gardener Henry Creed. In truth, Moth killed his wife and children on discovering they were Henry Creed's children, not his. He then lynched Creed and spent the rest of his life as a broken recluse. The ghosts of Creed and Moth's slain family possessed the tree on which Creed was lynched, the primary antagonist of the story.
  • Ravenloft
    • Lord Wilfred Godefroy killed his wife in a rage for not giving him a son, then killed his young daughter when she tried to intervene. Now a ghost, his curse as darklord of Mordent is that their ghosts come to tear into his incorporeal flesh every night.
    • In a variant, Tristan ApBlanc caused the deaths of almost his entire immediate family: his sons by accident, and his foster mother and wife on purpose. He also sealed his daughter up in prison, although whether she dies there or not depends on the outcome of an adventure.

  • Many versions of old-school Punch and Judy puppet shows feature Punch beginning his career of mayhem by throwing his baby out a window and beating his wife to death.

    Video Games 
  • The award-winning atmospheric H. P. Lovecraft pastiche Interactive Fiction game Anchorhead has this happen in Back Story to a distant relative of the player's husband. And he was doing them all a favor.
  • Captain Brage in Baldur's Gate gets his hands on a cursed bastard sword, goes berserk and kills his family, along with several of his fellow officers.
  • In Dark Tales: The Pit and the Pendulum, the question of whether or not this happened is the focus of the bonus chapter. The man believed to have murdered his wife and daughter is, in the main game, suspected of killing again in the present day, as details of the murders are nearly identical. The game does not actually tell the player if he is guilty of any of the crimes.
  • Dead by Daylight: Rin Yamaoka's backstory reveals that she was a victim of this. Once a normal Japanese girl attending University, she came home one day to find that her father snapped under the financial strain his family was in, dismembering his wife with a katana before turning it on his own daughter. After getting slashed and thrown through a glass partition, Rin's rage and hatred towards her father caught the attention of The Entity, who offered her the chance for revenge as she died...and thus, The Spirit was born.
  • In Dead Space 2, Nolan Stross killed his wife and child in a fit of madness induced by contact with the Aegis VII Marker.
  • In the sequel to the flash game Exmortis, you find the bodies of three children, a woman, and their father/husband. A revolver lays next to him with but one bullet remaining, and the blood splatter suggests he took his life. Oh, he also spells it out in a journal you find.
  • In Fatal Frame, the Master of the Himuro Mansion goes insane when the Rope Maiden ritual fails, and he proceeds to kill not only his family, but the priests, the attendants, and everyone in the household not previously killed by the Dark. Then he becomes a ghost that continues to slay anyone who enters the Mansion.
  • Ghost of Tsushima: In the sidequest "The Family Man", Jin and Lady Masako confront a fisherman named Kajiwara, who confesses to having murdered his wife and daughter, but claims to have done so because it was that or see them killed by the Mongols. Given he has a history of Domestic Abuse, Jin doesn't buy it for a second.
    Jin: You sick-note 
  • God of War's Kratos killed his wife and child in a fit of battle rage induced by Ares. The subsequent nightmares drive him through the game's story and eventually cause him to leap off a tall cliff.
  • The House, an online flash game, have this happening in the backstory as you investigate the titular Haunted House, where the previous family of four died horribly. As it turns out, the wife realized she's inflicted with a disease that drives her insane, causing her to shoot her husband, decapitate her son and hang her daughter before succumbing.
  • The page quote comes from the playable teaser P.T. for Silent Hills, where it is part of the backstory that after a long period of unemployment, a father learns that his wife is now pregnant with her boss' child, and murders her and their two existing children. What that has to do with the gameplay or characters involved is still debated.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: Huey murdered his wife by inaction when she objected to using their infant son as a Metal Gear test pilot. Years later, he committed what appeared to be a Murder-Suicide when he drowned himself and almost drowned his stepdaughter in his pool when he found out that his second wife was an ephebophile who cheated on him with his 14-year-old son. In the latter case, though, it's not clear if he intended to murder Emma or if it was an accident.
  • The Sakabashira Game: Before the game's events, Marjorie murdered her abusive husband. Upon finding out that her kids witnessed it and denouncing her, she killed them as well.
  • In the game Spy Fiction, the villain, Scarface, married a female terrorist and had a son by her. Then he discovered she was a Double Agent, killed her and shot his son in the head. The kid survived to become the other villain.
  • In the video game The Suffering, main character Torque is sent to Abbott State Penitentiary on being convicted of killing his family. Of course, he doesn't remember doing it. The Multiple Endings reveal different circumstances of how his family really died, depending on your Karma Meter.
    • Good: Blackmore hired thugs to do it after Torque stopped working for him. It wouldn't count normally but Blackmore is his Split Personality. Though killing them was the thugs' idea, which angered Blackmore because he never told them to do so.
    • Neutral: Torque accidentally killed his wife in an argument; his child, whom he beat, killed the other one and then committed suicide.
    • Evil: Torque killed them all himself, as in Torque and not Blackmore.
  • The 2012 reboot of Twisted Metal has Sweet Tooth murdering his alternate identities' family after pulling a Split-Personality Takeover, and his wish is to find his daughter who was the sole survivor. At least until it's revealed that he also spared one of the sons to take up his mantle after his own demise.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines had a quest in which the main character had to help exorcize a haunted hotel. The ghosts are from a family that was killed by the father in the 1940s when he became convinced a gift his wife received from her mother must have really been from someone with whom she was cheating on him. It's pure Nightmare Fuel.
  • We Happy Few: Sally Boyle's mother refused to surrender her two youngest children for experimentation by the invading Germans during WWII. She decided to kill everyone but Sally instead.

    Visual Novels 
  • In The Sad Story Of Emmeline Burns, this is the sad story in question. Emmeline's father killed the family and himself because of debts and failures he couldn't face. Despite the title, the game itself isn't that sad overall, as all that happened more than a hundred years in the past.
  • In Saya no Uta Yousuke Suzumi kills his family after Saya operates with his brain, resulting in that he can see the world as the protagonist does and that makes him insane. He believes that he kills two Eldritch Abominations.
  • Umineko: When They Cry. Hey, my successors are unworthy and I'm about to die. What is my choice of action? Gee, let's try slaughtering them all for a magic ritual to revive my dead witch lover. Good plan, Kinzo. Subverted when it is revealed that Kinzo was actually dead before any of the games started (and that only an Unreliable Narrator made him appear to be alive) and that he therefore never killed his family. Double subverted as it turns out the killer is Sayo Yasuda who is Kinzo's grandchild and planned to kill the whole family. And then it turns out the killer in the real world is Kyrie, another family member.


    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Family Annihilator, Family Murder Father Suicide, Dad Kills Family