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Sins of Our Fathers

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Peter Petrelli: They're responsible for this…
Adam Monroe: Parents sin, children suffer.
Heroes, "Truth and Consequences"

The act of exacting revenge upon the descendants of the one who originally did the wrong.

Why someone would target the descendants rather than the one who originally did the wrong tends to vary: the original offender may not be alive for the victim to go after and make suffer, their descendant benefitted (or still benefits) from his ancestors' crimes; the money grandfather stole allowed the father to go to medical school, which allowed the son to grow up in comfortable circumstances; therefore, son deserves to be punished for grandfather's theft, or they are physically incapable of going after the prime target due to other circumstances that prevent their revenge in their eyes (at least not without extreme consequences), so they choose to go with a more possible approach. This is especially true of villains who are immortal or undead, or many a Sealed Evil in a Can, whose hatreds can take years if not decades or centuries to fester and grow. More often than not, this form of revenge is pursued by villains rather than heroes, since targeting someone other than the person who actually committed the wrong, and who may not have anything to do with it aside from being descended from the person who did is a good way to wind up on the wrong side of the Rule of Empathy.

Frequently a Bewildering Punishment for the victim, though this trope is more likely than most to have the villain explain the offense to the victim. The villain may justify it on the grounds that the children profited by the original crime, particularly when they own something that belonged to the villain. Repeated instances of this occurring between two families in a tit-for-tat fashion may lead to a full-blown blood feud between them.

May overlap with Affair? Blame the Bastard or with particularly hostile examples of Unbalanced By Rival's Kid. Compare and contrast with Revenge by Proxy, where the target is the child or other associates in preference to the character who actually wronged them, even though that character is available, in order to make that character suffer more. The trope name comes from the ancient saying: "The sins of the fathers shall be visited upon their children." If this continues on for generations, it can overlap with Familial Foe. Also see Doesn't Trust Those Guys. Could be defied via Acquaintance Denial.

Example subpages:

Other examples

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    Comic Books 
  • When Dr. Manhattan revives Eobard Thawne in The Button, he remembers being killed in Flashpoint by Batman/Thomas Wayne — and immediately goes to brutally attack his son Bruce in retaliation.
  • The backstory of the Batman foe Bane uses the 'hereditary prison' variant. The child of a foreigner who aided a failed revolution in a South American country, the as-yet-unborn Bane was sentenced to life in prison for his father's crimes. He was born and raised in the inescapable prison. Bane would get the chance to meet his father, who was revealed to be King Snake, and finally pay him back years down the line.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • A Carl Barks story featured a man named Foola Zoola, who wanted revenge against Scrooge McDuck. Unable to reach the old miser, Foola Zoola decided to settle for Donald under the belief a wrongdoer's sins can be atoned by his next of kin.
    • In the fourteenth chapter of The Amazing Adventures of Fantomius-Gentleman Thief Howard Drake, descendant of Francis Drake, frames the Count of Bad Luck for kidnapping and theft and tries to frame lord Quackett as an accomplice because lord Quackett's ancestor Richard Quackett, the Mad Duke of Duckburg, made a fool of Francis Drake with the help of the count's ancestor.
  • Grimm Fairy Tales: Deconstructed. A woman named Mercy Dante witnessed the death of her parents by a contract killer and became a contract killer herself just to track him down. She has him and his daughter kidnapped and then kills her in front of him to make him know how she felt. Seven months later we learn that she is haunted by the ghost of the girl she killed ever since her father committed suicide in grief, who constantly reminds her about what she's done. It eventually drives Mercy to insanity. However, she is offered a shot at redemption...
  • Runaways:
    • The first arc of Volume 3 used this. A group of Majesdanians come looking for Karolina, hoping to prosecute her for her parents' role in starting a war between their species and the Skrulls that devastated both. The fact that Karolina had no control over any of that, and went through with an Arranged Marriage to try and bring peace, doesn't stop them — their species is almost extinct, and they need someone to blame.
    • In Volume 1, Alex invokes this trope when threatening to kill Karolina, due to her and Molly's parents planning on betraying the others at the ceremony the team interrupted.
  • In the first issue of the first volume of DC's Star Trek series, the USS Gallant is destroyed by a Klingon ambush. William Bearclaw, the son of the captain, and Nancy Bryce, the daughter of the science officer, are serving as trainees aboard the Enterprise at the time. Bearclaw immediately blames Bryce's father for his father's death and gets into a fight with Bryce that Kirk is forced to break up. The Enterprise later discovers that there was nothing that could've been done by the Gallant, as the Klingons were using artificial wormholes to appear out of nowhere. Still, Bearclaw never really gets over his resentment of Bryce, especially after she begins a romance with Konom, a pacifistic Klingon defector who had been the navigator on one of the ships that destroyed the Gallant.
  • One Star Wars comic had Luke Skywalker dispatched to Jabiim to aid the Loyalists to stop the Empire. Unfortunately, when he arrived, he was almost lynched by said Loyalists when it was revealed to be the son of Anakin Skywalker. Due to how back in the Clone Wars, Anakin and the Republic was unable to drive the Separatists out of the planet and forced to abandon the Loyalists.
  • Superman:
    • General Zod is very clear that his thirst for revenge against Jor-El for thwarting and imprisoning him and his followers extends to his son as well: "You will bow down before me, Jor-El! Both you and one day, your heirs!"
    • In The Trial of Superman saga, Superman is put on trial by an alien tribunal because one of his ancestors inadvertently caused the virtual extinction of the Kryptonian race by making them biologically bound to Krypton and thus unable to leave the planet.
    • In one Superboy comic, it is revealed that one of Pa Kent's ancestors was a Hanging Judge. One of the prisoners he sentenced to death swore vengeance. Every hundred years, on the anniversary of the prisoner's execution, a male descendant of the judge suffers death by strangulation. The anniversary rolls round and this time it is Pa Kent in the firing line, and it is up to Superboy to save him.
  • While many of her fellow Teen Titans assure her otherwise, Raven has often had this problem herself. Though when your father is a demon lord, it's not so surprising if you think about that every now and then.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): After Mavis is freed from Paula she goes to get revenge by abducting Paula's toddler daughter Gerta to hand her over to the Nazis for them to kill to punish Paula for defecting. Mavis doesn't even try to attack Paula or the Nazis who blackmailed Paula into abducting and torturing her.
  • Professor Power once quoted the Trope Namer directly while explaining why he had such a mad-on for X-Factor, which at the time was composed of the original X-Men; it was far more about his feud with Xavier than it was with them.

    Films — Animation 
  • One really nasty example of a one-man vendetta is Rasputin in Anastasia who obsesses over murdering the title character, despite her having done nothing to earn his ire. Unlike other cases, he wasn't even victimised and there was no justification for his hatred. He took his anger at her father the Czar for offending him and denying him power, to an extent where he wanted to end his bloodline and annihilate the Romanov dynasty. Disproportionate Retribution at its finest.
  • A Bug's Life: Invoked. Flik comments that his children's children will be eternally ridiculed if the colony finds out he accidentally hired circus bugs.
    Flik: I will be branded with this mistake for the rest of my life! My children's children will walk down the street and people will point and say, "Look! There goes the spawn of Flik, the loser!"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Phibes takes revenge on the 10 people he blames for his wife's death. He uses the Ten Plagues of Egypt as his theme, meaning that the last murder will be death of the first born, aimed at the surgeon's son rather than the surgeon.
  • Bandslam: Will was called "Dewey" back in Ohio because his father is in jail for accidentally killing a child driving while intoxicated (DWI). Ben eventually finds out about this and uses it against Will.
  • The Batman (2022): Edward Nashton/The Riddler hates Thomas Wayne for not keeping his promise to fix Gotham's problems and fund the orphanage Edward was growing up in, causing Edward to grow up in poor conditions (because Thomas was murdered), and for being a hypocrite after Edward found out Thomas projected the image of a morally upstanding citizen but had dealings with the mob boss Carmine Falcone to cover up his wife Martha's scandalous past. Since Thomas is long dead, Riddler takes his anger out on his son Bruce, even directly saying Bruce will pay for the sins of his father.
  • Up to Eleven in Bright, where Orcs are still hated for siding with The Dark Lord 2,000 years in the past. "Once with the Dark Lord, always with the Dark Lord" is cited by one character. Subverted by the fact that the Dark Lord himself was an Elf, and Elves are wealthy and run the world, while everyone conveniently ignores that it was a heroic Orc who killed the Dark Lord.
  • In Cherry Falls, Loralee's rape at the hands of seniors 27 years ago is the reason for the bloodbath taking place now.
  • In Deewaar, the main characters, especially Vijay, are subjected to poor treatment by miners who blame their father for betraying them to the mine owner.
  • Descendants takes this to an egregious level with the children of the Disney Villains banished to an island without magic, technology, or decent food because of the actions of their parents. Before Ben became of age, and afterwards, the population of Auradon mistreat them and never give them a chance for anything, treating them as Always Chaotic Evil while viewing themselves as Always Lawful Good.
  • A classic media portrayal of Hollywood Satanism, The Devil's Rain features an evil Satanic cult leader who is burned at the stake, but casts a spell that allows him to return centuries later to take vengeance upon the descendants of his executioners.
  • In Flowers in the Attic, the children of their newly widowed and bankrupt mother are subject to this by their hateful grandmother.
  • In The Fog, vengeful ghosts of lepers from 100 years earlier do this to the present-day descendants of their murderers.
  • In Freaky Friday (2003), Anna's teacher subjects her to unfair treatment — simply because when the teacher was younger, Anna's mother turned down a date with him.
  • GoldenEye: The crux of Janus/Alec Trevelyan/006's revenge plot against England: he seeks revenge for the betrayal of the Lienz Cossacks, a group that supported the Nazis against the Soviets during WWII. The Cossacks, believing they were under British protection near the end of the war, were instead deported to Russia, where they were executed. Trevelyan, needless to say, is pissed about this and seeks to make England pay, as these events caused his parents to kill themselves out of survivor's guilt.
  • The controversial 2016 movie Hillarys America contains quite a few accusations towards the Democratic Party (as in, the modern one) supporting slavery, hate groups, and Jim Crow laws, among other things, due to the stated and/or actual political affiliations of historic figures who did.
  • In Hook, the eponymous villain tries to get revenge against Peter Pan by corrupting his children into recognizing him as their father. In the climax, in order to goad Peter Pan into fighting him, Hook threatens to hound Peter's children and their children's children for eternity.
  • In House on Haunted Hill (1999), the vengeful ghosts arranged the guestlist for the party specifically to include the descendants of five members of Vannacutt's staff who didn't die in the long-ago fire so they could kill the descendants of the staff who tortured them decades ago. It's subverted when the last survivor in the house reveals that he's adopted, so is therefore spared this by the ghosts, although why someone who was adopted by a descendant is any less eligible to become a proxy-victim than someone who's genetically related raises still more issues about the injustice of this trope.
  • In Into the Woods, the Baker's problems all stem from his father stealing the Witch's beans. It's implied that if the Baker had gone through with abandoning his son, he would have set the stage for his son to have to go through similar circumstances.
  • Let's Go to Prison is about a guy getting the son of the judge who sent him to prison incarcerated, since the judge is dead and the guy can't exact revenge on him.
  • In Maleficent, this is why the title character curses Princess Aurora; King Stefan had betrayed her and cut off her wings in order to claim the throne.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Although most of Tony Stark's enemies are of his own making, Ivan Vanko seeks him out in Iron Man 2 to exact vengeance for Howard Stark having ruined his own father's life and by extension his own.
    • In Black Panther, this is one of the driving forces behind Killmonger's rampage. Killmonger wants to kill T'Challa and his family since T'Challa's father T'Chaka killed Killmonger's father N'Jobu. Likewise, he wants to murder and subjugate non-blacks as retribution for their historical crimes against black Africans.
      • The latter was just a strawman cover for his desire for power and control. He was perfectly willing to murder and subjugate blacks and other people of color, too.
    • Subverted in Avengers: Infinity War. Upon being told Gamora is Thanos's daughter, Thor angrily exclaims that Thanos killed his brother and moves to attack her. However, once Star-Lord quickly explains to him that Gamora was forcibly adopted by Thanos and she hates him just as much as Thor does, Thor immediately calms down and sympathizes with her instead.
    • In Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home, Tony Stark himself is the "father" whose sins Spider-Man (a close friend of Tony's in this adaptation) has to deal with. Both the Vulture and Mysterio turned to villainy after Tony Stark's actions (intentionally or otherwise) screwed them over.
  • In Nicholas and Alexandra, the ending is art imitating real life from the last Tsarist family's bloody death in 1918.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): Freddy Krueger is targeting the children of those responsible for his murder through their dreams.
  • Scream:
    • Poor Sidney Prescott has a bad case of this. Every single Big Bad of the movies are involved with or at least connected to her mother. In the first three movies, the main Ghostface is motivated by something that Maureen Prescott did. The fourth one is an exception, but the Big Bad still comes from her mother's side of the family.
      • In the first film, Billy Loomis's motive for wanting to kill Sidney Prescott is that her mother Maureen had an affair with Billy's father, which caused his parents to divorce and his own mother to run away. Which, obviously, is hardly something that Sidney can be held personally responsible for.
      • In the second film, Mrs. Loomis targets Sidney both to avenge her son and to get back at Maureen Prescott, with whom her husband cheated on her.
      • In the third film, Roman Bridger is Maureen's illegitimate son, born before she married Neil Prescott, who felt abandoned by her, driving him to kill her and destroy her legacy.
      • In the fourth film, Jill Roberts is Sidney's maternal cousin, the daughter of Maureen's sister, Kate.
    • Played with by poor Sam Carpenter in Scream (2022) and Scream VI. While the villains don't have a specific grudge against her biological father Billy Loomis, they are more than happy to exploit the connection for their own gain to make her their Fall Guy.
  • In "Sharpe's Peril", Sharpe discovers that Barabbas is actually the son of the man that killed Sharpe's wife. Sharpe then tries to kill him for the sins of his father, but he is stopped by Harper. Later, Sharpe asks Barabbas for his forgiveness, which is given, and at the end, Barabbas saves Sharpe's life.
  • The Ten Commandments (1956): Although it is his grandfather Pharoah Rameses I who orders the massacre of all Hebrew babies at the beginning of the film, it is his grandson and namesake Pharoah Rameses II that his grandfather's sin is visited through the Plague of the Death of the Firstborn, which includes the pharaoh's only son.
  • Alluded to in Thirteen Days — one of the several things that dog President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert as they try to navigate the Cuban Missile Crisis is the fact that their father, Joseph P. Kennedy, was a major advocate of appeasement towards Adolf Hitler on the eve of World War II. Several officials (both military and civilian) push for a stronger response, despite the risk that it could start a nuclear war.
    Dean Atcheson: Let us hope appeasement doesn't run in families. I fear weakness does.

  • The young man in Creedence Clearwater Revivial's "Porterville" is liable to be lynched because he is his no-good father's son. Although he has a chip on his shoulder about this, it's hinted in the song that he's not as bad as his father.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Christian doctrine of original sin. Thanks a lot, Adam and Eve. Arguably depicts God as the arch practitioner of this concept. Among the Christian denominations, the views of the Fall go from the doctrine of actual sin and Total Depravity to the mere corruption of the human nature.
  • In The Bible, the penalty of breaking #2 of the Ten Commandments (worshiping an idol or a false god), is that God will descend His punishment unto you, and your descendants up until the fourth generation. However, on the flip side, glorifying Him in a manner God finds acceptable, means blessings for a thousand generations. This was later overturned in the Book of Jeremiah since it was no longer having the intended effect (people thought only descendants would be punished).
    • In stereo with Jeremiah, Ezekiel (Ezekiel, Chapter 18) also got an oracle from God condemning Israelites for saying "The fathers eat sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge," and stating that God is going to put a stop to that nonsense and make individuals take responsibility for all of their own infractions.
    • God did prohibit the execution of the wrong generation for the sins of a member of one generation, decreeing that each is to die only for their own sins. King Amaziah of Judah lays down this law when dealing with the two men that murdered his father (who had in his later years morally degenerated, but still).
    • Once, Noah...overindulged a little on the wine made from the first grapes produced after the Deluge. He got naked...and passed out. His son, Ham, noticed and decided to point and laugh before informing his brothers (who covered him up, averting their eyes all the while). When he woke up and found out, Noah blessed his two other sons...and cursed Ham's grandson, saying that those descended from him would be destined to serve those of Ham's brothers.
    • And we have David's son in 2 Samuel, conceived by Bathsheba, the wife of one of his soldiers, and pulling a Murder the Hypotenuse in the bargain. God opts to make the newborn infant waste away over 7 days to teach David a lesson. In His mercy, though, He then allowed them to have a legitimate son — Solomon, who would eventually succeed David on the throne.
    • In the Book of Exodus, if a man died with no heirs, and he had a brother, his widow was to be married off to his brother (whether she wanted to be or not), and the first son they had together would be counted as her original husband's heir, and the family line would continue. All others would be considered to belong to her new husband. This levirate marriage custom was considered to be an honor and a privilege, as well as a duty. And if a man's brother refused to marry the widow, she was permitted to spit in his face and remove his sandal in front of the community. He would face financial ruin and social ostracism, and all his descendants would be known as "the sons/daughters of The Unsandaled". No word on what would happen if the widow tried to refuse the levirate marriage, but since women were typically uneducated and economically dependent on the men in their lives, and besides, this was a matter of Family Honor, it most likely would not have been in her best interests to do so, either. Interestingly, when the practice is played out in the Book of Ruth, it's far more formal and polite. Ruth isn't even present, and the man takes off his sandal himself and hands it to Boaz.
  • Classical Mythology: A common ancient Greek moral concept, as exhibited in several myths.
    • Tantalus was a vile murderer and cannibal, but his cursed descendants included innocent people forced to suffer for their ancestor's crimes.
    • Zeus' illegitimate children tend to suffer from this because, as he is too powerful for her to take vengeance on, Hera has to resort to making the lives of his love children and paramours a living hell to the best of her abilities.
    • The story of Pandora's Box is even more this. Pandora was sent to punish all humanity, forever, because the generation alive at the time accepted fire from Prometheus. The gods introduced old age, disease, and a variety of other nasty curses to humans, which their innocent descendants would have to suffer. Hesiod includes among those curses the existence of females, and rants about why women are an unmitigated curse to men. The last of the curses was Hope, which as all that was left inside when the box was closed.
    • After Heracles died, King Eurystheus, who was still angry about Heracles being more popular than him and humiliating him with the Twelve Labors, attempted to get revenge by ordering Heracles' children wiped out. He and his men were soundly defeated. In most versions of the story, he was killed by Heracles' son Hyllus.
  • In Norse Mythology, when Loki's mischief finally crosses the line, the gods can't just kill him because of an oath of fellowship he swore with Odin in younger and happier days. There's nothing stopping them from killing his family, though, and part of his doom is that one of his sons is driven out of his mind and kills his brother, whose entrails are then used to forge the unbreakable fetters the gods use to imprison Loki.

  • Ilias has to deal with the possibility of this in Shadowhunter Peril. He is the bastard child of Oblivion (a Physical God Hero Killer who killed Kyle's father and Puriel's friend, as well as torturing and severely wounding other characters before finally being killed), and Anahita, Nicholas's mother and Bezaliel's lover. When Ilias arrives nearly everyone hates him on sight, and it doesn't help he looks exactly like his father. Then it turns out that Oblivion is Not Quite Dead after all, and wants to kill Ilias too. So he's alone because everyone he knows either hates his guts because of his father's crimes or wants him dead. But most of them have both feelings.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: Clan Wolverine, AKA The Not-Named Clan was annihilated by the other Clans early on due to a betrayal (the novel Betrayal of Ideals depicts it as being largely a case of jealousy for them being better in nearly every way than the other Clans, but that novel's actual canon status is dubious because it contradicts a lot of other game lore and is considered in-universe propaganda). In the present, even being suspected of being someone who's descended from Clan Wolverine is enough to trigger an attack by the Clans to wipe the person out. This was exploited during the Word of Blake Jihad, when rumors that the Word of Blake had Clan Wolverine descendents among their numbers were spread in order to convince Clan Ghost Bear to start attacking them.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade background lore has a variation on this, so much as vampire "sires" can be considered parents. In Masquerade, the Biblical Cain was punished for killing his brother Able by being turned into the first vampire. Every vampire he or his children sires both bears this curse regardless if they want it or not. As SsethTzeentach points out, the real punishment for Cain was not getting super powers, but watching generations of his own children killing each other.
    • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines starts off with the player character almost getting executed for the crime of being turned into a vampire by your sire when the sire didn't get permission to do so.
  • Possibly subverted by the Necrons of Warhammer 40,000. Their original enemies, the Old Ones, are now more-or-less absent from the galaxy, but the Necrons don't seem to go out of their way to kill the creations of the Old Ones, and indeed seem to mostly ignore the Eldar and Orks except when they happen to run into each other.
    • It's not so much ignoring as equal-opportunity-slaughtering. The Imperium of Man is just a few thousand times bigger than the handful of Eldar craftworlds, and no one cares or likely even hears of it when they do it to the Orks.
      • It's not like the Orks to complain about an inexhaustible source of fresh battle, and they also avert this trope for the same reason, and more so: killing Orks makes them release a lot of spores, that might otherwise come out only much later, if ever. Don't expect them to thank you, though, except with More Dakka.
    • Played straight with the Eldar. By default, the soul of any Eldar who dies without their soulstone on them (or if their soulstone gets destroyed — which can happen quite easily) is automatically consumed and tortured for all eternity by Slaanesh. Why? Because their ancestors were hedonists who squicked him (her?) into existence. Although Slaanesh isn't targeting Eldar souls to punish them so much as because they taste good.
    • Played straight, and self-inflicted, on the Death Korps of Krieg. Every member of this Imperial Guard regiment is brainwashed from childhood so that their ultimate goal is to fight and die for the Imperium to atone for the crimes of their ancestors, who attempted to rebel against the Imperium over five hundred years ago.
      • Played painfully straight along with Revenge before Reason by the Dwarfs of Warhammer Fantasy, who hold grudges for as long as it takes to settle them, no matter if everyone related to the grudge is long dead. A great example being when an Empire noble hired a group of Dwarf masons to build a massive castle, and after all that hard work, paid them. The problem? He shorted them, by how much you ask...2 & 1/2 coins(which is hinted to be accidental). The grudge was written down in the Great Book, and decades later, a massive throng of dwarfs marched down to demand retribution from the Noble's descendant, who to him just seemed like a massive army that had appeared on his doorsteps demanding blood. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, players can choose a flaw for their characters that has them hunted for the misdeeds of an ancestor, either by one extremely long-lived being (which are a dime a dozen in the WoD) or by a line of hunters passing down the hunt over the generations. It makes a little more sense in the WoD, as werewolves can channel their ancestors' spirits.
    • Werewolf: The Forsaken has the Pure doing this to the Uratha. According to their creation myths, six of Father Wolf's children took out their aged, weakened ancestor. Three of them held back, and when everything went to pot, blamed the six for it. The Forsaken's tribes have the spirits that killed Father Wolf as their totem spirits, while the Pure have those that stayed out of it for theirs, and the Pure are very interested in holding that grudge.

  • In Carousel, Louise is bullied by the town because of her father's reputation for Domestic Abuse, his scandalous suicide, and the fact that her family is poor.
  • The Witch from Into the Woods laid a curse on the Baker's family forever so that they could never bear children, just because the Baker's father stole her rampion without asking. What makes it even worse is that she had originally only wanted their child, but then laid the barrenness curse on them just because she wasn't entirely satisfied.
  • Romeo and Juliet implies something like this, as the Montagues and the Capulets have been feuding because of some past event not said (some scholars tend to think it was about land), though, whatever it was took place so long ago that no one knows why anyway, though the generations still feud, which makes the titular couple Star-Crossed Lovers.
  • In the backstory of Ruddigore, the witch cursed not only Sir Rupert Murgatroyd but all his successors as Baronet of Ruddigore for his burning her.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Manfred von Karma. Whoo boy. Gregory Edgeworth made him receive a penalty in court, the tiniest blot on his perfect record, and von Karma murdered him while he was trapped in an elevator. He then adopted Edgeworth's ten-year-old son Miles and raised him to be a ruthless prosecutor who cared only for finding defendants guilty, letting Miles believe that he was the one who'd accidentally shot Gregory Edgeworth. A few days before the statute of limitations ran out von Karma framed him for a related murder, waited until Miles was cleared, and then reaccused him of his own father's murder. And he would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for you meddling defense attorneys.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations: In case 5, Dahlia Hawthorne tries to get revenge on the dead Mia Fey for getting Dahlia the death penalty by killing her little sister Maya. It didn't go too well.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice: The concept of the sins of the father being passed down to his children is said to be deeply ingrained in Khura'inese culture. Being related to a criminal is enough to completely destroy someone's reputation. This is how Queen Ga'ran bends both the previous queen Amara and her son Nahyuta to her will, by threatening to reveal Princess Rayfa's true parentage as the youngest daughter of Amara and the reviled rebel leader Dhurke. Nahyuta himself was stripped of his royal status after Dhurke was falsely accused of Amara's (fake) assassination, and struggled desperately to become a prosecutor with the stigma of having a murderer for a father hanging over him; thus, neither he nor his mother is willing to risk Rayfa's life being ruined. The trope is name-dropped in Case 5 when Apollo asks if Nahyuta suffered "Because of the whole 'the sins of the father are visited upon his children' thing?" (emphasis included in game).
    • Case 2 from the same game: Roger Retinz was a member of Troupe Gramarye under the stage name of Mr. Reus until he was ousted by the group founder Magnifi over Retinz' reckless and irresponsible attitude toward magic. For years, Retinz nursed a grudge against the troupe. This culminated in the events of the case, where an understudy of his masquerading as the original Mr. Reus, was killed during a rehearsal and Trucy Wright was arrested for the murder. Retinz targeted Trucy, who had nothing to do with his ousting being 8 years old at the time, solely because she was the only Gramarye active since the rest of the troupe are either dead (Magnifi and Zak), missing (Thalassa) or in jail (Valant).
    • Tahrust Inmee from Case 3 faces a similar debacle thanks to a) he and his wife's affiliation with the Defiant Dragons and b) the fact that there wouldn't be any way to claim his wife committing a self-defense killing of a murderous Secret Police operative out to get her would stand up at trial with the Divination Seance showing the victim's final moments. If either one of these facts would come to light, then any scorn that they would face would also be heaped onto their unborn child. So Tahrust is Driven to Suicide in a complex gambit to bury all of this the best he can, unfortunately framing Maya Fey in the process (causing the very Miscarriage of Justice he hates so much to work in his favor).
  • In Fate/stay night, Illya von Einzbern hates Shirou and wishes to brutally kill him out of the belief that her father (Shirou's adopted father), Kiritsugu, abandoned her with her maternal family, the Einzberns, and replaced her with Shirou. Not helped that Angra Mainyu has been impersonating her mother, Irisviel, in Illya's dreams, as revenge against Kiritsugu for rejecting the power of the Holy Grail. Even after she learns that Kiritsugu has died, she vows to make up for her lost chance at revenge by making Shirou suffer in his place. In the Fate and Heaven's Feel routes, she learns that the Einzberns separated her and Kiritsugu as punishment for the latter for failing to win the previous Holy Grail War and that Kiritsugu had been attempting to return to Illya until he eventually died. As a result, she ends up forgiving the both of them and becomes a cooperative ally to Shirou, to the point of potentially heroically sacrificing herself to revive Shirou in the True End of Heaven's Feel.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, this concept is attacked, possibly as an act of social commentary and cultural criticism by the author. The reason why Satako and Satoshi Houjou are shunned and rejected are due to things their parents did. This trope becomes a major plot point in Meakashi-hen and Minagoroshi-hen.
  • In Long Live the Queen, if you discover Lucille's plot, Elodie can choose to murder her and her husband — or EVERYONE in the family, banish everyone, or feed Charlotte to a kraken. The dialogue in the latter choice makes it clear she thinks she was in on the plot. Properly Paranoid has a role in this as well since this is a very cut-throat setting with nobles and royals plotting against each other, so Elodie might just try to prevent any future retribution. Alternatively, she might have become just that evil.

  • In Ask White Pearl and Steven (almost!) anything, neither Rose nor any of the Crystal Gems understand that Steven is not actually White Diamond and thus presume that he is her and tries to poof her when they discover this. After Steven breaks his connection to her and allowing her to be free, "Pink" Pearl's first reaction after more than five thousand years of being trapped in her own body is to carry her "tormentor" who is coming down with a fever to safety, thus averting the trope in her case.
  • Bethellium: Due to Zoana looking like an infamous assassin, princess Katherine thinks that Zoana is the assassin's daughter and starts making her life miserable.
  • The Fourth: Skärva's great-grandfather committed a crime so terrible the Gods of Idenau punished him, his associates and their descendants for it. The Skärva family line suffers from a Hereditary Curse because of this.
  • Tarvek of Girl Genius gets hit with this hard. He may be far from innocent himself, but his family's actions are regularly held against him and have been since his childhood. Despite the fact that he is very much the White Sheep of the whole murderous backstabbing lot of them, he loses his childhood best friend after that friend is made aware of his father's reputation and was expelled from the Wulfenbach school where he would have been able to learn to be a much more ethical individual, in large part due to his lineage. (He was also spying — but all the kids were spying for their families.)
    Gil: I'm going to see to it that you are publicly flogged for a week before your execution.
    Tarvek: Fine. That's just what I'd expect from a despot's spoiled brat. After all, it doesn't matter that it was my father and his friends who did all that. I was what? Three maybe?
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: the children living in the protection of a spell bought by her suffering are fair game.
  • Kaiten Mutenmaru: As a human, Sick had nothing to do with the tyranny of his aristocratic parents over the town of Throne. However, the poverty-ridden rebels didn't care and still targeted him during their burning and loot of his house, even killing his commoner girlfriend for getting in their way beforehand.
  • There's a big ceremony in the offing in Lumias Kingdom and Lumia needs a dress. So some brain genius goes and hires the best seamstress in all the land to make it for her. Unfortunately, this was an incredibly stupid idea because the best seamstress around is a psychotic cannibal who has a blood grudge against Lumia's mother and any descendants thereof (oh shit) because Lumia's mother is the only person to have ever survived a fight with her. As long as she doesn't know who Lumia is, she's safe. So naturally, no one bothers to take the time to explain why she shouldn't bring up her parentage, and Lumia accidentally lets the cat outta the bag.

    Web Animation 
  • ATTACK on MIKA: Keika and her mother had been ostracized by Ren's father after Keika's father killed his wife in a DUI. The abuse got so bad that Keika's mom was Driven to Suicide. He soon realizes the error of his ways by the end though.
  • Manga Angel Neko Oka: Aoi became homeless after her parents were sent to jail for their crimes. She tried to get a job but her parents' reputation preceded her and she was soon forced to shoplift to survive.
  • PRIVATE DIARY: Mrs. Rojas deliberately made Adele the prom queen so she can use her son Diego to humiliate her by dropping goo on her. She did to get back at Adele's father who did the same thing to her in high school. Luckily he came to the school just in time and revealed everything. Even when he begged her for forgiveness and even doused himself with the goo, she refused to forgive him.

    Web Original 
  • In Chrysalis (Beaver Fur), the Terran — the last remaining human consciousness — cares little that the people of Xunvir who had any hand in the scouring of Earth are now long-dead and that their empire has been replaced by a republic. In his view, since the Xunvirians robbed Earth and humanity of its future, it is only fair that he repay them in kind.
  • Discussed in Overly Sarcastic Productions' Trope Talk on the subject. Red observes that vengeance isn't so much about justice as it as about people having anger (justifiable or not) and wanting an acceptable target to vent it at. If the person who actually did them wrong is unavailable and they turn their wrath onto the next best thing, or if hurting them would cause harm to an innocent party (e.g., killing them would orphan their child, who is completely blameless), this trope comes into play. This can easily cause a nasty Cycle of Vengeance, as revenge almost always ultimately hurts someone who didn't deserve it, directly or indirectly, giving them some anger they now want to vent. If it goes on long enough or is taken to an absolute extreme, this can lead to people being punished for the actions of someone who just happened to be from the same country or of the same ethnicity as them, with Red specifically citing the "Curse of Ham" from the Book of Genesis as an example.
    Red: This curse is vague and not described in further detail, but someone decided the exact nature of the curse was that Canaan's skin got darker, and furthermore that the curse of Ham was a really convenient way to morally justify slavery. "No guys, it's not morally abhorrent for a good Christian to own a living breathing human being with a soul, it's just a bloodline curse! Sure, you didn't do anything to deserve this, but because one guy did thousands of years ago, you get a lifetime of agony and humiliation and I'm totally morally cool." So in short, this approach gets used to passively justify a lot of really fun atrocities because it's a lot easier to feel good about yourself as a person if you can blame a bunch of dead guys for everyone you go out of your way to hurt.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Sins Of The Father


Lloyd Garmadon

Despite not having done anything to warrant it, everyone within Ninjago that isn't his family or friends hates Lloyd simply because his father is Lord Garmadon who regularly attacks the city.

How well does it match the trope?

4.92 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / SinsOfOurFathers

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