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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... yeah, he was just that kind of guy. But then one day he goes and kills us all!"
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.

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.


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. The occasional Real Life examples get massive attention in national news — these might be part of what gives this trope its resonance. The examples from Greek Mythology below make this Older Than Feudalism.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • In Naruto, Haku's father killed his mother and tried to kill him when he found out about their Superpowerful Genetics.
  • 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 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.

    Comic Books 
  • In Maus, Art's older brother and his cousins were poisoned by his aunt in order to avoid a crueler fate with the Nazis.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.

    Fan Works 

    Films — 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Downfall, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • For the title character in The Stepfather this got to be a habit, followed by changes of identity to start the process again.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 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.)
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • One of the other psychics in Dorothy Gilman's The Clairvoyant Countess is rescued from one of these.
  • One of the patients that Doctor Kreizler sees at the very beginning of The Alienist has killed his children to protect them from evil.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • CSI: Miami: The episode "Slaughterhouse" revolved 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!"
  • Supernatural:
    • There's a particular kind of ghost called a "Woman in White" that results from a woman killing her children 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • One of Dexter's victims was a cop who murdered her husband and daughter because she found them to be a burden.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Class, April's father tried to kill himself, her mother, and her 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • The "hopeless unemployment" version of this trope forms the plot of Bob Dylan's "Ballad of Hollis Brown."
  • 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".
  • 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.)
  • "Wave of Mutilation" by The Pixies was inspired by reports of Japanese families doing this (mentioned in the Real Life section below) by driving into the ocean.

    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 
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 Game 
  • 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 the first Fatal Frame game, 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 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.
  • In the mediocre 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The DeFeo Murders: On Wednesday, November 13th, 1974, around 3 AM, 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed both his parents, his two younger brothers and two younger sisters at their home in Amityville, New York. Reasons varied between "self-defense" as he thought his family was plotting to kill him for some reason to being possessed by a paranormal entity. The murders were popularized by the film The Amityville Horror (1979) which depicts the horrific and supposedly true story of the Lutz Family who moved into the DeFeo home a year after the killings and experienced traumatic supernatural activity that, to this day, they feel is not worth mentioning.
  • In Victorian England, Frederick Deeming murdered his wife and four children and buried them under the floor of his house, then married another woman, took her to Australia, and murdered her and buried her under the floor of his new house. Before being arrested, he seduced and swindled (but didn't kill) another woman in Australia, and was courting yet another woman when the two past crimes were discovered. The number and callousness of the killings led to speculation at the time that he was Jack the Ripper, although the major differences mean that few people nowadays take that seriously.
  • In 1905, Swiss farmer Jean Lanfray murdered his pregnant wife and their two daughters in a drunken rage after quarreling with his wife. The police soon discovered that Lanfray had drunk seven glasses of wine, six glasses of cognac, a coffee laced with brandy, two creme de menthes, and two glasses of absinthe after eating lunch and before killing his family. Despite the fact that Lanfray had consumed a very large amount of alcohol, moral panic cited his consumption of absinthe as the sole motivator for the crimes. Not only was Lanfray found guilty of the murders, but the sensationalism of the case fueled the then-fledgling temperance movement, resulting in eventually getting absinthe banned, first in Switzerland in 1908, then soon after in most of Europe and the United States. As of 2011, these bans have largely been repealed.
  • John List murdered his entire family rather than admit to them that he lost his job and that the family was in dire financial trouble. He went into hiding, adopted the alias "Bob Clark", re-married, and would have gotten away with his crime if not for America's Most Wanted doing a special on him featuring a strikingly accurate bust. In a real-life example of a a "Shaggy Dog" Story, when the abandoned List home burned down the year after the murders, investigators found an antique stained glass ceiling that was worth more than enough money to solve the family's financial problems, at least in the short term, making the deaths especially pointless.
  • Another real-life version was the tragedy surrounding professional wrestler Chris Benoit, who murdered his wife and son then hanged himself using his weights machine, and is still considered the darkest day in the history of WWE. Exactly why it happened is not known, but a history of steroid use and some pretty significant brain injuries were likely involved since the autopsy showed that "Benoit's brain was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient." Another reason would be the death of his best friend Eddie Guerrero, which was reportedly something he was never fully able to move on from.
  • The father of Judith Barsi, the young star of many a Don Bluth film, killed Judith and her mother, burned their house down, and shot himself. The Land Before Time and All Dogs Go to Heaven, in which she voiced Ducky and Anne-Marie, respectively, were actually released posthumously.
  • For a brief time in the fall/winter of '08/09 you couldn't watch TV for half an hour without hearing of some guy who lost everything due to the financial crisis and decided to off his family, random relatives, a few people at work, and finally himself.
  • Trey Sesler, an amateur anime reviewer on Youtube, who killed his parents and brother because he was planning a school shooting and didn't want them to live with the pain of knowing what he did.
  • The Korean general Ge Baek did this because he was going out into battle and knew he would lose. He killed his whole family before he left to prevent the enemy from capturing them. In fact, in Tae Kwon Do there is a pattern dedicated to him because of this.
  • It's suspected that now-deceased James Matory did this to his wife Earlene Williams and their children Ivy Matory, Violet Matory, and Yolanda Marie Williams, along with a small boy staying over at the Matory/Williams household the evening of Earlene's murder, named Sir-Krisopher Clay Marshall (unrelated to the Matory/Williams family). The last time any of the children were seen was with James at a Denny's in the early morning hours of July 19, 1977. Ivy's remains were discovered in 2014, but the remaining children have never been seen again. James was prosecuted twice for the children's murders, but both trials ended in hung juries and all charges were eventually dropped.
  • Ronald Gene Simmons killed fourteen members of his family, eight of them his own children (and one of them was also his grandchild).
  • Dozens of these occurred during the fall of Nazi Germany; the most notable one is the case of Magda and Joseph Goebbels, who killed their own children with poison while they slept, before killing themselves as Berlin fell in 1945.
  • A Japanese teacher commented (after 30 years of living there) that suicide numbers in Japan would be a lot higher were family members dying via familicide counted. According to him, the most usual way is to clean the house, get the family in the car, and have a fatal driving accident in steep mountains.
  • Jean-Claude Romand: a French drop-out from medical school, managed to make everyone in his family believe that he was a doctor working for the World Health Organization. The biggest irony is that he was knowledgeable enough in medicine so that genuine doctors would not realize that he was an impostor when they spoke to him, making you wonder why he just did not just pass his exams and become what he claimed he was. He killed his entire family when he was about to be exposed; his wife Florence, their two young children Caroline and Antoine, and his parents Aimé and Anne Marie, along with their dog. He also attempted to kill his mistress.
  • Cambodian immigrant Chhouy Harm, who had been struggling with schizophrenia and depression, killed her son-in-law and two of her granddaughters and injured her daughter in their West Seattle home, before taking her own life.
  • Bradford Bishop is believed to have murdered his wife, mother, and three sons after not getting a promotion at work. His story was profiled on the show Unsolved Mysteries. The world may never know for sure if he did it because he disappeared in 1976 long before the bodies were discovered and there hasn't been a sighting of him since 1994. If he is still alive, he'd be well into his seventies by now.
  • The Celts used to do this if they lost a battle. The father would escape from the battlefield, come home, murder his wife and children before killing himself to prevent his family from being captured by the enemy.
    • As did the Fenno-Ugric nations in the early Middle Ages. The Russian bylina stories are full of descriptions of mass murder-suicides by defeated Chuds.
  • In 2001, Crown Prince Dipendra of Nepal went berserk at a palace party, killing nine other royals (including his parents, the King and Queen, and two siblings) and wounding five more. He shot himself in the head but survived three days in a coma, during which Nepal's constitution mandated that he be declared King, regardless of his invocation of this trope.
  • Back in the early 20th century, Marty Bergen, a well-regarded catcher in Major League Baseball posthumously diagnosed as a schizophrenic with possible manic depression, murdered his entire family with an ax before slashing his own throat so forcefully that his body was found almost decapitated.
  • Dateline once had an episode about a family with a failed example of this (the father didn't have a chance to kill himself). Most of the children were found dead in the house after a police stand-off. The father of the children, Marcus Wesson, ran the family as a small cult and believed he was the Second Coming of Jesus. The survivors were interviewed and said that their father actually told them to kill all small children and then themselves if the police ever found them. Wesson lived and was sentenced to death row.
  • In early 2007, Thai businessman Boonchai Surawuthipong was in debt and worried that the mafia would abduct his children. So he shot his wife, his three children, and himself.
  • Another female instance: People's Temple member Sharon Amos killed her two younger children (ages 11 and 10), then convinced 21-year-old daughter Liane to assist her suicide before Liane's own death. Amos was convinced that she and her children would be murdered anyway as a result of the assassination of Congressman Leo Ryan and members of his party at a nearby airstrip by People's Temple members. That assassination also triggered the mass murder/suicide at Jonestown. Since leader Jim Jones was considered a parental figure by his followers, he may well also qualify for this trope, especially since his own wife and several of his own children also died there.
  • There was a rash of these in pre-Revolutionary America; in fact, it's from descriptions of the events that we get the term "family annihilator" to describe such scenarios.
  • Manling Williams suffocated her two young sons in their sleep and chopped her husband up with a Japanese sword because she had grown bored with her domesticated family life, but couldn't face the shame of divorce. She confessed to the crime when the police found evidence that was too overwhelming to get out of and sentenced to death on January 18th, 2012. She remains on death row to this day.
  • During China's Three Kingdoms Era, following Liu Shan's surrender of Shu to Wei, his son, Liu Chan, unwilling to live with the disgrace, is said to have killed his wife and children before killing himself.
  • In April 2011, Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès murdered his wife and their 4 children at their home in Nantes, France and buried their bodies in the backyard before disappearing. His primary motive is believed by authorities to be the significant debt he'd acquired (and hid from his wife and kids) due to failed business ventures and generally living way above and beyond his means. As of October 2019, he has yet to be found.
  • Another Gender Flip version paired this with If I Can't Have You…. Susie Newsom divorced her husband Tom Lynch and took up with her cousin Fritz Klenner. When Tom filed for custody of their two sons because of the incestuous relationship (and among other things, Klenner was a fraud practicing medicine though he'd never even been to college, as well as a virulent racist), Fritz and Susie began killing people who could support Tom either financially or personally—his mother and sister as well as her parents and grandmother. When the cops came to confront the pair, they grabbed the boys and took off in their SUV. After a 15-minute chase, Susie fatally shot her sonsnote , then detonated a bomb located under her seat, destroying the car and killing them both. The case was adapted into a book, Bitter Blood, which in turn was adapted as a Mini Series, In the Best of Families.
  • Overlapping with Music above: in 1929, North Carolina sharecropper Charles Lawson murdered his wife and six of his seven children before killing himself. The only child spared was his eldest son, whom he'd sent on an errand shortly before the crime. This crime and its suspected motivations (Lawson was rumored to have been sexually abusing one of his daughters, resulting in her pregnancy) have entered into local lore, inspiring a Murder Ballad.
  • Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and their two daughters in 1970. Police grew suspicious of his story that the murders were committed by drug-crazed home invaders when they noticed how minor his injuries were compared to the bludgeoning his wife and daughters received. It's believed his motive was simply he no longer wanted the responsibility of marriage and fatherhood. MacDonald maintains his innocence to this day. He claims there were four assailants but even though they were supposed to be as high as a kite they did the following: left no traces (be it hair, skin, prints or clothing fibers)note , wrote the word 'PIG' with something like latex glovesnote , stabbed the wife with one knife, but left another knife next to the body note , either stabbed the wife while she was wearing her husband's pajama top, undressed her, then put it on the husband or stabbed the wife, then stabbed the husband dozens of times, only wounding him once seriouslynote , and twice superficially note , found an ice-pick in the house without making a mess or leaving evidence to stab an already-dead woman withnote , and also sawed a piece of wood from a mattress slat of one of the beds to club everyone with. If you believe J.R. MacDonald, these are at the same time the most random and the most thorough murder-hippies of all time. Helena Stoeckley was most likely just manipulated into giving a confession, being a handy scapegoat because she was known as a drug-user.note 
  • Frances Elaine Newton fatally shot her husband Adrian (23), her son Alton (7), and daughter Farrah (21 months), after purchasing life insurance policies worth $50,000 on each of them. She was convicted in 1988 and subsequently executed by lethal injection in 2005.
  • Susan Eubanks shot all four of her sons (Brandon, 14, Austin, 7, Brigham, 6, Matthew, 4) in the head as revenge for her two husbands and boyfriend leaving her. She was sentenced to death on October 13, 1999, and is now on death row.
  • In December 2009, Susan Powell disappeared from her Salt Lake City home. Suspicion immediately fell on her husband Josh thanks to his flimsy alibi, Incriminating Indifference, and multiple actions that indicated that he knew she wasn't returning—canceling her appointments, giving away her belongings, etc. Unfortunately, there wasn't sufficient evidence to charge him. However, as their two sons got older as time passed, they both made several statements that hinted at their mother's fate—"Mommy was in the trunk", etc. During a court-ordered visitation in February 2012 (custody had been awarded to Susan's parents in light of the allegations surrounding him, as well as child porn being found in his and his father's possession), Powell grabbed the boys, locked the accompanying social worker out of the house, and set off an explosion, killing them all. Police officials have stated that they view his actions as a confession to his wife's murder.
  • The United States Supreme Court case Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales began with this. On June 22, 1999, Simon Gonzales kidnapped his three daughters from their mother's custody, took them to an amusement park for the day, and then killed them before committing Suicide by Cop. note 
  • There have been several documented cases of family murder in Australia.
    • In 1970, Elmer Crawford murdered his entire family, placed their bodies in a car and pushed it over a cliff to Make It Look Like an Accident. He remains a wanted fugitive today and has probably dodged justice.
    • In 2004, abusive father John Sharpe killed his pregnant wife and infant daughter with a spear gun because he didn't want to have another child; the murders were so shocking, that the victims were buried under the mother's maiden name. Sharpe was given two life sentences.
    • In 2018, western Australia was plagued with three familicides in under four months.
      • In May, Peter Miles killed his wife, daughter, and four grandchildren in a murder-suicide.
      • In July, teenager Teancum Petersen-Crofts killed his mother and two siblings. His motivation remains unknown.
      • In September, Anthony Harvey killed his wife, three daughters, and their maternal grandmother. He was found to be a sadist who hated his family, and had been planning their murders for some time. He also had full intents of embracing his "animal instincts" and becoming a serial killer. The death certificates for Charlotte, Beatrix, and Alice Quinn do not mention him as their father.
    • Also in 2018, in New South Wales, John Edwards shot his two teenage children in their home after almost a decade of Domestic Abuse, then shot himself and his dog to escape life imprisonment. His ex-wife killed herself in grief several months after the murders, completing this trope by proxy.
    • February 2020 saw the murders of Hannah Clarke and her three children though car bombing by her abusive ex-husband Rowan Baxter, in a murder-suicide that angered the entire nation and lead to laws pushing for further actions against domestic violence. The crime was so shocking, that the marriage was posthumously terminated, the children were buried under their mother's maiden name, and the Prime Minster attended their funeral.
  • On August 14, 2018, Christopher Watts reported his pregnant wife Shannan and their two daughters missing. By the next day, he was under arrest, having confessed to murdering all three, though he later changed his story to claim that she killed the girls and that he then killed her in a rage over her actions before admitting that his original statement was the truth.
  • Jennifer and Sarah Hart, who made a reputation on social media as the perfect blended family (Jennifer and Sarah were white, while the six children that they adopted, Markis, Hannah, Devonte, Abigail, Jeremiah, and Sierra, were black), drove their GMC Yukon off a cliff on the Mendocino coast of California with the six children in question tied up and drugged in the backseat on March 26, 2018, leaving no survivors. In the aftermath of the tragedy, it was revealed that Jennifer had been abusing the children for yearsnote  and that the family was evading child services by moving repeatedly; when it began to look like they would no longer be able to evade them, they killed the children and themselves rather than deal with the fallout.
  • In September of 1995, Eric Borel shot and bludgeoned his mother, step-father, and brother, before going on a killing spree, murdering 12 and wounding 4 others before shooting himself.
  • In a similar vein to the above, Mark O. Barton would beat his wife and two children to death on July 27, 1999 after losing large sums of money, then murder 9 more innocents and wound 13 in two separate locations before killing himself after a police manhunt caught up to him.
  • Alan Willett attempted to kill his family, succeeding at killing his eldest son and developmentally disabled brother. After his suicide failed, he was arrested, condemned, and executed.
  • Considering her entire family to be a burden (except her second daughter, who was her favorite child and accomplice), Diane Staudte murdered her husband and autistic son with antifreeze and was working on killing her oldest and youngest daughters when she was caught. The older daughter survived what should have been lethal doses of antifreeze, but was left with enough brain damage that she had to be put in a care home. The youngest daughter hadn't ingested enough antifreeze to be seriously ill, and was put in foster care. The middle daughter was sentenced to a minimum of 42 years and Diane herself received life without parole.
  • Menhaz Zaman killed his family after falsely getting them to believe he was graduating from university when he actually failed out of some classes. He did end up admitting to his crime, however.

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