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Tangled Family Tree

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Omitted: Wanda (top left, framed in red)'s robot husband and their own Tangled Family Tree. Or Cable's adopted daughter who may or may not be his mother reincarnated. Or the various retcons that have happened since this graph's creation. Let's leave it at that for your sanity's sake. (See full table with annotated names here)

"If you wannabe a Summers
You have got to live
Through time travel, death, and cloning,
But that's the way it is."
X-Men filk, to the tune of "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls

Tropes like Luke, I Am Your Father, Family Relationship Switcheroo, Separated at Birth, Everyone Is Related, My Own Grampa, Cain and Abel and Seth, and the Evil Twin make for drama, and they're an easy way of shaking up the dynamics of a long-running series. Sometimes a little too easy. Layer too many of those tropes onto the same group of characters, and what you end up with is a Tangled Family Tree.

This isn't just a Dysfunctional Family; this is a family with members so numerous, relationships so tangled, and circumstances so bizarre that it's impossible to keep track of them without a flow chart.

Tangled Family Trees are commonly seen in comics and soap operas, both of which have long-running continuities focusing on one group of characters through decades of changing hands from writer to writer. It is also a common phenomenon in mythology, folklore, and oral traditions for much the same reasons (with "long running continuities" being measured in centuries, and different "writers", including oral retellings by people who may or may not have been literate). Indeed, tropes like Continuity Snarl and the Tangled Family Tree happening in modern works of fiction can help us understand exactly how ancient mythology evolved.


Incest, Time Travel, cloning and genetic engineering, reincarnation, Practically Different Generations, Extra Parent Conception, Related in the Adaptation, and Alternate Universes can all contribute to creating a Tangled Family Tree. For obvious reasons, any family with a Tangled Family Tree is likely to be a Big, Screwed-Up Family as well. If it's a case of Royal Inbreeding, this probably overlaps with Royally Screwed Up. Often this is a Continuity Snarl looking for a place to happen, as sometimes a single genealogy can become so complex that even the writers can't keep it straight. This is the kind of family that you want to in-breed just to consolidate the branches.

Compare One Degree of Separation, Everyone Is Related and Love Dodecahedron (which this trope can result from). Contrast Single Line of Descent.


SPOILER WARNING. These convoluted relationships tend to be tied in with every event in the plot, especially the family secrets.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach: As of the final arc, Ichigo's heritage is starting to look this way. Ichigo and his two younger sisters are first cousins of Kaien, Kuukaku, and Ganju via their father Isshin, the Shibas' uncle. The Kurosaki siblings are also second cousins of Uryuu Ishida through their mother, Masaki, first cousin of Uryuu Ishida's father, Ryuuken. Since all Quincies descend from the villainous Quincy progenitor king, Ichigo (and Ishida and both their families) is even related to the Big Bad. And that's not even getting into the fact that at one point the Ishida Family wanted to marry Ryuuken off to Masaki as the heirs to the last remaining Blue Blood families. Or the fact that Kanae Katagiri, the woman Ryuuken married instead, was a mixed-blood Quincy and thus also a relative, if a very distant one.
  • Boys Empire: The Tamura family tree looks a little like a tumbleweed by the end.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • In the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed and Al "give birth to" their own mother, only it's not their mother anymore, it's Sloth. Ed lost his arm and leg to the process, and Al lost his entire body. Wrath's arm is Ed's so Wrath is in a way Ed. Wrath views Sloth as his mother, but Wrath's real mother was the woman who taught Ed and Al alchemy.
    • There's also Envy who is a homunculus created from their half-brother by their father Hohenheim and whose mother was Dante, the Big Bad, who created Greed and Pride and tried to commit Grand Theft Me on Rose so that Ed would fall in love with her.
      • Actually, Sloth may very well be their real mother and Envy may very well be their real half-brother as it is implied that Homunculi—at least so far as the 2003 anime's continuity is concerned—are in fact the magical resurrection of the deceased, not just merely their magical clones. Lust certainly believed this to actually be the case.
    • In the Brotherhood version, it's a little bit less tangled, but we still have Father being created by an unnamed alchemist using Hohenheim's blood, making him either Hohenheim's "child" or his clone and the half-brother of Ed and Al, and the other Homunculi their nephews... and, among the Homunculi themselves, there's the fact that the youngest "brother" has adopted the oldest as his "son". Only for a cover, but it's still strange.
  • The Joestar family in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure was a relatively straightforward family tree... then the eighties hit. Thanks to such incidents as Joseph sleeping around at the age of 63 and a 122-year-old vampire really getting around with the Joestar progenitor's body from the neck down, the family now has such oddities as (great, great grand-)uncles half the age of their nephews and at least four family members with two biological fathers.
  • Let's map the Lyrical Nanoha family tree, which can be quite a doozy due to all the clones, adoptions, and miscellaneous Artificial Human-related goodness. First there's the Takamachi family with Nanoha, who's now the adoptive mother of Vivio, who's now also the adoptive daughter of Fate, who in addition to being the creation-daughter of Precia (who was seeking to remake her own daughter Alicia, who would have been Fate's older sister if she were still alive), is also the adoptive daughter of Lindy, connecting her to the Harlaown family which includes Chrono, Amy, Erio, and Caro. Vivio was cloned from Olivie Segbrecht, who has romantic ties with Klaus Ingvalt, the person Einhart was reincarnated from. Vivio's creator-father is Jail Scaglietti, who is also the creator-father of the Numbers, four of which are now a part of the Nakajima family, and is also the creator-father of Zest's clone, who was the father figure of both Lutecia and Agito. He was also the co-creator of Fate herself. Agito has since been adopted into the Yagami family, which includes Hayate, Reinforce Zwei, and the Wolkenritter. Speaking of the Wolkenritter, it includes Signum, who is implied to be Agito's original Master and thus the person she was born from. Incidentally, Reinforce Zwei was born from the Linker Core organ of both Hayate and Reinforce Eins (which had been merged). Back to the Nakajimas, Subaru and Teana seem to have romantic ties, and Subaru was going to have her father adopt Tohma, who is currently in a sort of Love Triangle with Lily and Isis, and is also being sought out by the Huckebein family since they plan to adopt him into their family. All clear? Good.
  • In Magi: Labyrinth of Magic, there's the Ren family, which rules the Kou Empire. We start with two brothers: one has four kids, and the other has about ten, with multiple women. Then the first brother and two of his sons die, and the other marries his widow and adopts his surviving children, with the cousin/stepsiblings generally referring to themselves as "siblings." It's easy to get confused. (Pro-tip: in that second generation, biological (half-)siblings share hair colors and the first letter of their names.)
    Aladdin: Let's see now...Hakuryu and Hakuei are brother and sister, but they both have a different mother than Kouha and Kougyoku.note  Wait, huh?! They don't have the same father, either?! But they're still siblings?! This is really getting confusing.
  • Frozen Teardrop, the novel-only continuation of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, adds several new characters in the series backstory and giving them complicated relationships with the other established characters.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi has one of these, once you bring all the relationships between the characters into it. A rough chart of these relationships looks like this. Even if one would remove everything but the romantic and family ties, it would still be a mess. Naturally, time travel and the creation of sentient robots factor into this. If you think about it hard enough, you can actually make a case that Negi is Chachamaru's great-great-etc grandfather. Chachamaru's "mother", Chao, is actually Negi's Kid from the Future.
  • The Kamina family in RahXephon. Explaining it would spoil the show so you've been warned. The short version of it is that half the cast is related to Ayato in one way or another. As for the long version: Maya, Ayato's adoptive mother is actually his aunt. She was married to Watari who is Ayato's father. Ayato's real mother is Quon, Maya's twin sister. Quon lived with Itsuki who claimed to be her brother. He is actually her son and Ayato's twin brother. For further confusion let us take a look at how the Shitow family factors into this. Rikudou was Maya's adoptive father and is the uncle to Haruka and Megumi Shitow, who are sisters. Ayato met Haruka earlier but her name was Mishima before her mother remarried so he didn't know it was her when he met her the second time. This led to Ixtli the soul of the titular RahXephon taking her form to try to guide Ayato.
  • Tenchi Muyo!:
    • This says it all, really.... Words do not exist to refer to most of those familial ties. Most likely, if the people involved didn't all live so damn long (or possess magical symbiotic trees), the extended Juraian royal family would have traits that make the Habsburg Chin look positively normal.
    • That doesn't even get into the alternate universes, including one featuring Tenchi's half-brother.
    • And when we add the fact that he gets a harem, that tree implodes and reshapes into something only understandable by Abdul Alhazred or Old Man Whateley.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- has a family loop- the main character is the son of his own clone and his girlfriend's clone. To be exact, his father is the reincarnation of his clone and his mother is the reincarnation of Sakura's clone. Explaining the complicatedness further would require a massive wall of text and an intimate understanding of both Cardcaptor Sakura and cross-multiversal genetics. This doesn't even take into account that said parents got magically paradoxed both into AND out of existence.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V combines this with Luke, I Am Your Father. Yuzu and her three extra-dimensional counterparts (Serena, Rin and Ruri) are reincarnations of Ray, the daughter of The Dragon Professor Leo Akaba, who was split into four when the original world was split into four dimensions. The Professor is also the father of Reiji, who has an adopted sibling (Reira) through his mother, Himika. Yuzu also has another father, Shuzou (who may or may not be biologically related to her, though it's implied that he was merely given Fake Memories of being her father), and Ruri has unknown parents and an older brother, Shun Kurosaki. That makes Yuzu one-fourth of Reiji's older sister (despite being younger than him post-reincarnation) one-fourth of the Professor's daughter and the whole daughter of her adoptive father, and simultaneously is and isn't Kurosaki's sister. Reiji is somehow Kurosaki's half-brother, despite not being related. Shuzou has four daughters, despite only having one daughter. Reira, being adopted by Himika independently from the Professor, is only related to his mother and Reiji. Yuzu and her counterparts are biologically the Professor's kids, despite not fathering any of them.

    Fairy Tales 
  • Tatterhood has a rather odd ending, where the title character marries a prince while her twin sister marries the prince's father.

  • Ashes of the Past: Ash's Ivysaur claims this is the reason he knows such a large and varied number of moves.
    "I know of a Charmeleon, a Sableye and a Skarmory in there somewhere. It's more of a family Kudzu..."
  • In Massive Multiplayer Crossover fic Blood and Revolution, Bakura's family tree manages the impressive feat of getting snarled despite the fact that he's not supposed to be able to have children at all.
    • Bakura magically fathers a child with an unnamed yuki-onna. This is Yukito.
    • Yukito, who is also a Gender Bender incubus/succubus, becomes mother to a child, Ryou, who is fathered by a human... who is possessed by a ghost. They say that technically Ryou's father is the ghost in a human body.
    • Yukito later has triplets, with three different fathers — one from his own boyfriend Jounouchi (who turns out to be a long lost descendant of vampire Kenshin; one from Kenshin, who is the head of his own vampire/youkai clan; and one from both Kenshin and Saitou.
    • Bakura "marries" into the Kaiba family, thus bringing in that small clan, who are actually already related to Saitou.
    • To top it all off, due to some magic Yuki's fifth child, Yue, is actually both Bakura and Ryou's son.
  • Pretty much all the main characters of the Blooming Moon Chronicles are related in some way, whether it is by blood, marriage, or adoption.
  • Deceptive Reality probably takes the cake for shocking Luke, I Am Your Father plot twists—Snape is revealed to be Harry's father but it gets even more complex with the revelations that Snape is actually a Potter by birth and was James' twin brother but he was blood-adopted out to the Potter's family friend Eileen Prince and her husband. Also Lily isn't a muggleborn but she was adopted out to her squib relatives because her parents feared she would be targeted seeing as she is the daughter of McGonagall and Voldemort.
  • In Déjà vu no Jutsu, orphan shinobi are considered the ward of their jounin sensei. This makes Jiraya Minato and Natsumi's 'father,' although she sees him more like an uncle, and the Sandaime Hokage their 'sort of' grandfather, since Jiraya was an orphan while learning under Hiruzen. Since Natsumi was also Hatake Sakumo's kenjutsu apprentice, this makes her Eri's daughter, and Kakashi and Midori's sister. We also have all the honorary relationships between the clans that practically make them family. There is a complete explanation in story.
  • Several of the Original Characters introduced in the Freedom City fan expansion "World of Freedom 2.5" turn out to be related, and the bios generally only tell you what the characters themselves know, which is generally very little, so it all needs to be pieced together. However, it appears that the Extremist is the daughter of Miss Murder and Mark Hazard, which makes her the half-sister of Kent Hazard, who fathered a child on Ebony Sin (which ties the family into many canon Freedomverse characters, including the Raven dynasty), who became Trouble/Concrete Angel. As of the beginning of the story "The Gathering", all surviving characters are in one place, Kent and Trouble have formed a close connection, and none of them know they're related. (Also, Kent rescued Trouble many years earlier, but neither of them has made that connection either.)
  • Incorrect Smash Bros Quotes has the family tree created as a result of the Palutena Party (a polyamorous relationship between Palutena, Ganondorf, Bayonetta, and Dracula). Let's see... Palutena and Dracula sired Sothis (making them Seiros/Rhea's grandparents) and the latter has a kid from another relationship (Alucard), Ganondorf sired Captain Falcon with Palutena, Joker with Bayonetta, Hapi with an unknown woman, and adopted Chara as his heir, and that's without getting into if you consider Pit (and possibly Dark Pit, by extension) Palutena's adopted son.
    • In general, the Smashers' family tree is a convoluted mess of Crack Pairings, Crossover familial ties, and interdimensional adoption. It's so bad that an attempt to actually make a family tree drove Galeem completely insane.
    Tabuu: Well...good thing none of us have any strange crossover relations... *sudden realization* ...that we’re aware of...note 
  • In The Institute Saga, Clark gets teased by Alex Masters over whether his adopted sister Rogue will remain so or become his daughter due to her once being Mystique's adopted daughter. Of course, he then claims to be glad that his family tree isn't as tangled — when it's even more convoluted.
  • Jonathan Joestar, The First Jojo: Jotaro lampshades this regarding his own relationship to Josuke and Giorno, the former due to being his uncle in spite of the age gap, and the latter due to the overall generational gap in being Jonathan's son.
  • Khaos Omega has implemented this in a few cases, usually in the form of massive harems caused by the acquisition of a particularly devastating superweapon called the Rainbow Omega Cannon. Self-based OC Jet Brazie is the first to get this when Galaxy Angel II's Anise Azeat gains the weapon.
    • Then Anise, along with three other high-ranking Rainbow Angelsnote  (namely Anise's homeworld teammates Lily and Natsume, plus unrelated-outside-of-the-harem Kandyce), become the leaders of lesbian harems that serve as sub-divisions of the Rainbow Angels. Anise's harem, the Amethysts, extends the sub-division chain two levels further with the Echo Hornets, co-led by Amethyst members Fontina Evans and Michaela Martin, which has its own sub-division for their realm-jumping agent Io Martinez.
    • Further complicating matters is the revelation that Jet's eldest sister Hollie can only develop romantic feelings for married women; the sheer size of Jet's harem gives her a convenient group to prioritize first. Among the Rainbow Angels she's gone all the way to official marriage with are Anise (Hollie replicated the spell that officially married Anise to Jet), Lily (Hollie also picked up a delayed-activation variant that didn't deploy until 2304), and Kandyce (Hollie had nothing to do with this 2197 delayed-activation case, as Violetta Narimiya is the actual caster here; Violetta chose Hollie so Kandyce could have her dream bride-with-male-bride wedding with Jet). When Jet learned of this condition of Hollie's, his first reaction was to ask Hollie's BFF Maeve (one of the rare few Rainbow Angels to give up her maiden name entirely) why she hadn't added herself to the equation.
  • The Death Note Troll Fic Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami is an impressive continuity snarl that features Dark Yagami, Light Yagami's long-lost sibling who is shagging Light's mom (who is also his mom). But it gets more twisted he apparently went back in time and fathered himself and later became Light's dad.
  • The Lion King fandom practically revolves around this trope. There are full-on wars just on who Nala and Kovu's fathers are. Plus, there's a full series of books that fill in some of the gaps and leave more for fans to speculate on, but just try stuffing them all in along with the Outsiders and you get something that lookslike these. Warning: The last one may result in an Archive Binge.
  • The MarrissaTheWriter stories are certainly infamous for many family-connecting plot twists, and this is even before you consider the involved Time Travel, cloning, body sharing, aliens, robots, {{Alternate Universe}=], and animals. There even used to be a MarrissaTheWriter Family Tree drawn by ASBusinessMagnet; now, though, there are only various wiki pages.
  • In No Featherbed For Me, Arya Stark escapes marriage to Renly Baratheon to run away with Aegon Targaryen, with whom she has three children. After Aegon takes the Iron Throne, he sets Arya aside to marry a Tyrell and has children with her. Meanwhile, Arya has an affair with Gendry Baratheon, who is married to Sansa, and they have a son. Then Aegon remarries Arya while his Tyrell wife is still alive, because Targaryens, and they have two more kids. Arya's older son then marries both his sisters, because Targaryens, but one of his wives secretly gets pregnant by her half-brother (Arya and Gendry's kid) because that's less weird.
  • By the end of Pizzapoon III: The Threequel, all of the characters (including Uncle Grandpa, The Barney Bunch, and some characters from other shows) proceed to have an orgy with each other and then some, resulting in a wildly snarled family tree that involves Uncle Grandpa (who's already everybody's uncle and grandpa) and friends, his son with Pizza Steve, and the main cast of Voltron: Legendary Defender.
  • In A Potted Black Rose one Rosa Rosier had three daughters. The eldest, Olivia, was a squib who married Muggle Henry Evans and gave birth to squib Petunia Evans. The middle daughter, Druella, was mother to Narcissa, Andromeda, and Bellatrix Black, while the youngest, Lillian, was Harry's mother.
  • The RWBY Loops gives us the Extended Remnant Looper Family Tree, which spans nine universes and has between forty and fifty members. As noted above, it has its own page.
  • The So Bad, It's Good Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic SONIC HIGH SCHOOL has Knuckles the Echidna be reincarnated as Rouge the Bat and Espio the Chameleon's son due to some magic in Chapter 10. Thus, he is simultaneously Knuckles Jr.'s father and half-brother.
  • When James and Lily in Scion of Sorcery got into a fight, Lily wound up in a one-night stand with Stephen Strange. James and Lily got back together and they had Harry, James accepting him as his own son and even going through an adoption ritual, making Harry James's heir magically as far as anybody is concerned. Because of all of this, Harry has the legal rights, magical power, and perks of Houses Potter, Evans and Strange as their heir.
  • The Harry Potter example (see the Literature page) is implied in That Malfoy Family (a Harry/Lucius Mpreg fanfic), in which Harry thinks it's very crazy that he's carrying Draco's sibling when they're the same age.
    Harry: This will be the weirdest family.
    Draco: If you think that, you haven't seen the Malfoy family tree. [shuddering] That really isn't a pretty sight.
  • In the Transformers fanfic Things We Don't Tell Humans, Cybertronian families are generally huge and complicated. Not only is adoption common among the main characters, it is also possible to independently adopt someone as a sibling without them being necessarily considered related to anyone else in your family (except any other siblings you share a brother-bond with).
  • A series of short Vampire Knight fanfics (Irit's Daughter, Gertrude's Closet, Jocasta at the Crossroads, and Vashti's Feast) written by Ms. Izzy takes the already messed up Kuran family and tangles it further. The fact that Yuuki's parents are canonically brother and sister seems tame compared to Ms. Izzy's version. While the family itself is pretty small, it is impressively tangled, with their unnamed mother being the product of another brother and sister pair, and upon her mother's death took it upon herself the continue the family line with her own father, giving birth to Rido and Haruka with him. It is further implied that she had conceived Juri with her brother/son Rido, rather than her father/husband. Not bad for a series that's under 2300 words.
  • Voltalia gives us the Voltalian Cartoon Universe Family Tree. This family tree certainly is tangled AND huge. And that's just a work-in-progress. Rumor has it there's more she's added already.
  • Played for Laughs in the Animorphs Alternate Universe Fic "What if Peter and Naomi got married?". The premise already makes Marco related to two of the other Animorphs — he and Rachel are stepsiblings, which also makes him Jake's step-cousin — then at the end, Eva (Marco's biological mother) gets together with Loren (Tobias' mother, Ax's sister-in-law), meaning all of the Animorphs are technically related except Cassie.
  • In A Student Out of Time, not only do we have the parents of Class 77-B, but Hajime and his partners get a glimpse of the future where they learn they have eight children, seven biological and Kotoko, who is adopted by Mikan on October 13th, 2012. In addition, as a consequence of saving Natsumi Kuzuryu, Word of God confirms that she later has a son named Haruto, who goes on to marry Hajime and Hibiki's daughter Sayuri, and the two of them have twin daughters named Kaede and Erika. The result is a rather complex family tree that spans five generations.

  • In The Devil's Rejects, how the members of the Firefly clan are related to one another is complicated and never fully explained. Otis and Baby refer to each other as brother and sister throughout the movie; Captain Spaulding is Baby's father but doesn't appear to be related to Otis; Mama Firefly is presumably the mother of Baby, Otis (in House of 1000 Corpses they say she adopted him into the family) as well as Tiny, the deformed giant, and Rufus (from the beginning of the movie). Then we meet a black pimp named Charlie who Captain Spaulding says is his brother (presumably his adopted or half-brother). Really, this goes for almost all Hillbilly Horrors-type films, due to presumed inbreeding, rape, and forced "adoption".
  • In Transformers, Sam's family tree apparently suggests two generations of inbreeding. It's more likely, however, that Sam just did a very poor job on his school assignment. Partially justified, since he likely used the assignment to advertise his stuff from eBay. However, the fifth movie reveals Sam's family is part of an ancient clan known as the Witwiccans, going back to Arthurian times. In an attempt to keep the family alive, inbreeding might have happened.
  • You've Got Mail: Thanks to his father and grandfather taking up with and having children with younger women, 40-something Joe has an 11-year-old half-aunt and a 4-year-old half-brother, both of whom are naturally mistaken for his children when he takes them out for the day.
    "She's my grandfather's daughter, he's my father's son. We're an American family."

    Live-Action TV 
  • On American Horror Story: Murder House, Constance has four kids (three of whom we meet). Her son Tate ends up impregnating Vivien, who also gets pregnant by her husband Ben on the same day, meaning her twins have different fathers. Meanwhile, Tate falls in love with Vivien and Ben's daughter Violet. And all of this crazy happens before we bring up the fact that Tate is also a freaking ghost.
  • Angel has some issues with this as well. Considering that the show treats siring like family, you have The Master siring Darla, Darla siring Angel, Angel siring Drusilla, and Drusilla siring Spike. Then Angel killed Darla, who was brought back to life as a human. Then Drusilla sired Darla again, making her—as Dru puts it—both Darla's granddaughter and mother. By extension, this makes Darla Angel's mother and granddaughter and Spike her brother and great-grandchild. Then Angel and Darla screw like bunnies, defy the laws of the natural universe and conceive Connor, Angel's son, who, by the whole siring thing, is also Angel's brother and great-grandson. Then Connor sleeps with Cordelia (who Angel is in love with) and conceives Jasmine, Angel's completely evil granddaughter/niece/great-great-granddaughter. And this isn't taking into account that Angel probably sired even more vampires than Dru and Spike, including Penn from the episode "Somnabulist" and, possibly, James and Elizabeth from "Heartthrob". So, theoretically, any on-screen vampire younger than Angel is theoretically "related" to him. Plus, there's the fact that in Buffy Season 7 Spike sired a whole bunch of vamps under the First's control, who may have sired others. Angel also sired at least two other vamps in his past, who may have turned others as well.
    • Cordelia also had at least one other pregnancy that didn't go to term (a good thing, since it would have killed her in being born). And considering Buffy's romantic involvements with both Angel and Spike, it's something of a relief that Buffy Summers and Scott Summers aren't related...
      • In many a fanfic, they are, adding a hitherto unmanaged dimension of supernatural weirdness to the whole mess.
      • Fanfic nothing; according to Word Of Joss, in one of the two times he got a chance to write Cyclops, he tried to fit in a bit of dialogue where he references a "third cousin who thinks she spends her time fighting demons."
  • Arrested Development becomes this after several family revelations over its run. Among them:
    • Buster was actually fathered by Oscar Bluth, who he believed to be his uncle.
    • Lindsay was revealed to be adopted in the third season finale, then in the fifth season revealed to also be Lucille's half-sister, sharing the same mother.
      • Which makes George Michael and Maeby initially believe they are Kissing Cousins until the third season finale, after the revelation that Lindsay was adopted, meaning they are not blood relatives, then backtracked in the fifth season after the revelation that Lindsay is Lucille's half-sister, meaning they are second cousins once removed by blood.
      • Steve Holt is revealed to be Gob's illegitimate son, making another kissing cousin for Maeby, then similarly stated to not be blood-related, then revealed to actually be second cousins once removed.
  • Big Love: Thanks to the multiple marriages and multiple wives in the polygamist compound of Juniper Creek — "Prophet" Roman Grant alone has 31 children and 187 grandchildren — figuring out who's related to whom can be an impossibly arduous task. As expressed by (one of) Roman's wife('s), Adaleen: "I'm my own grandmother."
  • Dark (2017) has this in spades, due to a combination of Time Travel and incest. The family tree, which involves four families (Nielens, Kahnwalds, Dopplers, Tiedermanns) intertwined across three generations, gets progressively more tangled with each season.
    • To begin with, Season 1 reveals that the protagonist Jonas Kahnwald's father, Michael Kahnwald, is in fact Mikkel Nielsen, who traveled back in time over thirty years and was Trapped in the Past. The problem? Mikkel is the sibling of Martha Nielsen, Jonas' ex, which means that he's unwittingly been in an incestuous relationship with his aunt. Also, Mikkel/Michael's wife Hannah is having an affair with Ulrich Nielsen, who unknown to both of them is her father-in-law.
    • Then in Season 2, we learn that Noah, a character who previously seemed to be separate from the four families, is the brother of Agnes Nielsen, tying him in with the Nielsen family. Noah is also revealed to be the father of Charlotte Doppler, which ties the Nielsen and Doppler families together. To make matters even more complicated, turns out that Charlotte's mother is in fact Elizabeth Doppler... who's also her daughter, resulting in a convoluted case of My Own Grampa.
    • By Season 3, this is taken Up to Eleven. Jonas and an Alternate Universe Martha conceive a child who in turn has a child with Agnes Nielsen in both realities - starting the Nielsen line. This means that the entire Nielsen family, including Jonas, is part of a causal loop with no beginning or end. Moreover, Jonas is revealed to have a half-sister named Silja (the product of an affair between his mother Hannah and Egon Tiedermann), who eventually marries Bartosz Tiedermann. Their children - Agnes and Noah. This ties together the Nielsen, Tiedermann, and Doppler families by blood (the Kahnwalds as well, through Mikkel/Michael's adoption by Ines Kahnwald).
    • The convoluted nature of the show's family tree becomes a plot point in Season 3, with opposing characters trying to uphold or destroy the Stable Time Loop that holds it all together, in order to either preserve their family lines or spare their families from the misery of their existence. This is indeed what fuels the central conflict of the series.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The show gets into this with the Ponds, properly starting from new series late Season 4 onwards. Amy and Rory are together and have a daughter, Melody, who was named after their childhood best friend, Melody. Amy, however, fancies the Doctor and forces him into a kiss early on. Melody turns out to be River Song, who eventually marries the Doctor and is also Amy's and Rory's best friend Melody, accidentally named after herself. On top of that, Melody's second mother is the TARDIS, who considers herself married to the Doctor and has a rather romantic (as well as biologically symbiotic) relationship with him. Things get more complicated when Amy accidentally marries Henry VIII in a throwaway gag — because the Doctor, rather briefly, married Queen Elizabeth I, who happens to be Henry VIII's daughter, making her simultaneously his biological mother-in-law and his stepmother-in-law. And in the middle of all that, the Doctor seems to start fancying Rory a bit and snogs him for no reason.
    • Gets even more twisted in "The Husbands of River Song", the Doctor and River have both at different points in time been married to Cleopatra.
    • And that's just in-character before one gets into the Cast Incest implications of Georgia Moffett's appearance as "The Doctor's Daughter"...
  • This trope is discussed in the Frasier episode "Lilith Needs A Favour" in a conversation between Martin and the titular character regarding the consequences of Lilith and Martin conceiving a child together (however unlikely such a scenario would be). This is how Martin's train of thought runs.
  • Friends: Phoebe's family tree is rather convoluted. Her parents were originally part of a polygamous relationship, with her biological mother, also called Phoebe, stepping out after the twins were born. Frank, the father, soon after abandoned Lily (his other partner), leaving her to raise two children that biologically weren’t even hers; this fact was kept from Phoebe (the daughter) until much later in life. Lily would then go on to marry someone else (who strangely goes completely unnamed in the series), but when the girls were teenagers, he was sent to prison and Lily killed herself. Meanwhile, Frank started another family with another woman and had a son, only to abandon that family not long after too. Years later, when trying to track down her biological father, Phoebe discovers her half-brother and becomes close with him to the point that she ends up being a surrogate to triplets he has with a much older woman.
  • Game of Thrones: It's not touched on much, but the Lannister family's inbreeding produced such a situation. Joffrey, Tommen, and Myrcella are Cersei's and Jaime's sons/daughter and nephews/niece, Tyrion's double nephews/niece, Tywin's double grandsons/granddaughter, and each others' brother/sister and cousin... and it only gets more complicated when marriages are arranged with the Tyrells. Lady Olenna Tyrell gives a speech about the complications of these arranged marriages. Her granddaughter Margaery is getting married to the current (inbred) king Joffrey, and her grandson Loras is betrothed to the king's mother, which would make him the king's stepfather and brother-in-law. Cersei will be Joffrey's mother (as well as aunt) and sister-in-law, though this depends on definition. A lot of people nowadays don't count the spouses of your siblings-in-law as additional siblings-in-law, but in this society they seemingly do. Loras will be Margaery's brother and father-in-law. Then she goes on to explain how any children would fit in, specifically that Margaery's and Joffrey's son will be Loras's nephew and step-grandson. Furthermore, Tywin's marriage to his first cousin Joanna makes him both father and cousin to Jaime, Cersei, and Tyrion. Later, Tommen was married to the same woman as Joffrey.
  • Heroes:
    • True to the show's comic book roots, the Petrelli family tree is like this. It started with mom Angela, sons Peter and Nathan, and Nathan's wife and sons. Then Claire is also revealed to be part of the Petrelli family as Nathan's daughter, tying in Claire's adopted family, the Bennets, and her biological mother Meredith. It is later revealed Meredith has a brother, Flint, and Angela has a long-lost sister, Alice.
    • For a while, it was teased that Sylar was a third Petrelli brother, but this turned out to be a big fat lie. But Sylar has his own problems, as his relationships with his parents and their siblings are kind of screwed up. Then he joined the Petrelli tree for real by becoming Nathan's Replacement Goldfish. However, the brainwashing and mind-rape eventually wore off midway through Season 4.
  • In the History Bites episode "The Filthy Stinking Rich", the penchant of the Rothschild family (see Real Life section) for marrying within the family to keep their wealth from being scattered among countless sons-in-law and daughters-in-law is depicted in a sketch in which Charlotte Rothschildnote  shows her family album to her fiance and first cousin Anselm Rothschildnote  - while he rolls his eyes and repeatedly points out that they're also his family.
  • Knots Landing: Steve Brewer's parents were Claudia and Paul Galveston. As such, he is both Greg's maternal nephew and paternal half-brother.
  • Parodied in Lab Rats, when Adam tries to figure out how exactly he and his biological siblings are related to his long-lost sibling Daniel. He somehow ends up making Chase his wife and finding out he died years ago.
  • The Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Playing Dead" has a family with a two parents, a stepdaughter from the wife's previous marriage, a son that the parents share together and a daughter that the stepfather shares with his stepdaughter.
  • Married... with Children: "In Wanker County, nobody's really outside the family."
  • Modern Family:
    • In an early episode, Luke (Claire's son) gets in a fight with Manny (Claire's father Jay's step-son) at school because Manny wouldn't stop referring to Luke as his nephew. Manny has also been known to refer to Claire and Mitchell (Jay's son) as his brother and sister, and at one point Haley (Claire's daughter) tried to have an unsupervised party by telling her mother "my uncle agreed to chaperone," without mentioning that she meant Manny. The fact that Manny actually made a pretty good chaperone just meant the joke was on her.
      Principal: I gather that you're all related... somehow.
    • Played for a quick joke, as everyone struggles to figure out how Jay and Gloria's new baby is related to each of them:
      • Joe is the half-brother to Claire, Mitchell, and Manny, despite being young enough to be the former two's son.
      • He is also the uncle to Alex, Haley, Luke, and Lily, despite being much younger than all of them.
      • And at the ripe old age of six, is the grand-uncle to Hayley and Dylan's twins.
  • On The New Adventures of Old Christine, this didn't end up happening, but was played with a lot when Old Christine was dating New Christine's father, and New Christine was dating Old Christine's ex, Richard, with whom Old Christine had a son. There was one scene where Old Christine was trying to diagram their family tree if both of these relationships ended in marriage.
  • NUMB3RS:
    • In one episode that deals with an Expy of the FLDS, a family tree diagram found in a suspect's trailer is so convoluted (due to the massive number of marriages each man has, as well as the prevalence of incest within the cult) that Charlie and Amita don't even recognize it as being a family tree, and Millie initially mistakes it for a cattle-breeding chart (which is close enough to "family tree" for Charlie and Amita to finally realize what it actually is).
    Millie: (following a particular line) For example, this guy married his brother's third wife's second daughter. Ugh!
    • A mother and daughter at the center of the episode are revealed to also be half-sisters; the father married one of his older daughters and had a child with her.
  • Have you ever tried to draw out the family trees on The O.C.? It's upsetting. At one point, Ryan was dating his long-lost illegitimate adoptive aunt. Then he got back together with his ex-girlfriend Marissa, his step-adoptive aunt who later became his biological stepsister. It should be noted that by the time the spoilered development occurred, Marissa was already dead.
  • On the Australian comedy-drama Offspring, the Proudman family seems to be getting like this. The father Darcy has two girls (protagonist Nina and her sister Billie, who couldn't bear a child with her partner so she got sperm donated from his brother instead, but that went down the gurgler) and a boy (Jimmy) by his estranged wife Geraldine, as well as a son (Ray) from a one night stand with Nina's work mate Cherie. Jimmy himself goes on to impregnate Nina's other work mate Zara. That's nothing, right? It gets more complicated at the end of Season 2 when it's revealed that Darcy isn't Nina's father, which makes her not related to baby Ray at all.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Henry, in spades. His mom is Emma. His dad is Baelfire, Rumpelstiltskin's son. His grandparents are Snow White, Prince Charming, and Rumpelstiltskin and his late wife Milah. He has five sets of great-grandparents: two from Charming (his birth mother Ruth and her husband, Robert; and his adoptive father King George and his wife), one and a half from Snow White (her birth parents are King Leopold and Queen Eva, and Leopold's second wife, Henry's step-great-grandmother: Regina, who is also his adoptive mother, thus making Henry his own great-uncle), Rumpel's parents (Malcom/Peter Pan and the Black Fairy), and Milah's unidentified parents.
    • There's also Charming's late twin brother James, Regina's mother Cora (the Queen of Hearts) and father Henry; and Henry's adopted aunt, Regina's long-lost half-sister Zelena, AKA the Wicked Witch of the West. And since the immortal Rumpelstiltskin apparently had a mentor with benefits relationship with Regina's mother, Cora, leading to some speculation that he is Regina's father... Charming hangs a big, fat lampshade on the mess by saying it's a good thing the Fairy Tale culture doesn't have Thanksgiving—because that dinner would be awkward as hell.
    • The end of Season 3 adds Henry's newborn uncle Neal, the son of Charming and Snow White, and Rumpel's second wife Belle and HER parents, Sir Maurice/Moe French and Collette, to the mix.
    • Season 4 adds Zelena, Regina's half-sister, being pregnant via rape by fraud with Robin (Regina's love interest). Regina is going to be the step-mother of her niece!. Season 5 reveals Belle's pregnancy, adding another uncle, named Gideon in season 6, who's younger than Henry.
    • Then, a few episodes later, along comes Rumplestiltskin's mother! And guess what? She is a fairy — the Black Fairy, to be precise — and is, exactly as expected, complete with evilness. Rumple had no chance at all!
    • Season 7 adds the New Enchanted Forest's Cinderella (not the same one from previous seasons), who becomes the mother of Henry's daughter Lucy, and has her own stepmom and stepsisters. Plus the Wish Realm version of Hook (who was tricked into sleeping with Mother Gothel and became the father of Alice of an alternate Wonderland) and Henry's own Wish Realm counterpart (who ends up adopted by Regina). Plus, Wish!Hook's Alice gets engaged to Zelena's daughter Robin. Also, Emma and Hook have a daughter named Hope, Henry's baby half-sister.
    • Throw in the fact that due to time travel and curses, Henry's parents, grandparents, step-grandfather, step-great-grandmother, and new paternal step-grandmother are all approximately the same age (late twenties to mid-thirties).
    • Lampshaded in the episode "Family Business", when Elsa learns the Snow Queen (who, incidentally, was also Emma's foster mother for a year, and views her as a surrogate sister) is her aunt:
      Elsa: Her name is Ingrid. I didn't even know my mother had any sisters. I'm as surprised as you are.
      Hook: Spend a little more time in this town, love, and you'll realise just about everyone's related.
    • When Rumple and Emma encounter Milah, Rumple's ex-wife in the Underworld, he recounts to her the whole tangled mess of their family, especially since Hook is the man Milah left Rumple for. Milah's dumbfounded reaction is priceless.
      Milah: You've been with my former lover...and my son?
  • On One Tree Hill, Karen had a baby, Lucas, with Dan Scott who had another son, Nathan, with his wife Deb six months later. Years later Karen ends up getting pregnant by Dan's brother Keith. Her daughter, Lily, is technically both Lucas's half-sister and his cousin.
  • Power Rangers Ninja Storm: Marah and Kapri are Lothor's nieces by marriage, but it's unclear whether their aunt/uncle used to be married to Lothor, married an unmentioned Watanabe sibling, or was Lothar's sister-in-law (Cam's mother).
  • In The Pretender you have Jarod who is the son of Charles and Margaret and has a brother Kyle and a sister Emily. He also has a half-brother Ethan who is the son of Charles and Catherine Parker. Catherine also being the mother of Ms. Parker and her long-lost twin brother Mr. Lyle. The twins thought their father was Mr. Parker but in reality his long-lost brother Mr. Raines is their true biological father and Mr. Raines also had another child Annie with his wife Edna. Oh, and Brigitte's son may be the son of Mr. Lyle or his uncle/father Mr. Parker.
  • Pretty Little Liars starts off with the DiLaurentis-Hastings lineages. Jason is actually the result of an extramarital affair between Jessica DiLaurentis and Peter Hastings. Thus, he's actually Melissa and Spencer's older half-brother. Jessica also has a secret Evil Twin named Mary, who is actually Spencer's biological mother, making Spencer and Alison first cousins. With Jessica and Mary being identical twins, that technically makes Spencer, Alison, and Jason full-blown siblings, and Charlotte the latter two's half-sister (which is what they initially believed).
  • Lister from Red Dwarf, who gave birth to twins via impregnation with his parallel universe female self note , and is also his own father by an alternate universe Kochanski. Which means his children have only 50% of the genetic material they should have.
  • Sisters: Teddy's ex-husband marries her younger sister Frankie, making Frankie simultaneously an aunt and stepmother to Teddy and Mitch's daughter Cat. When Frankie and Mitch have a child of their own, the child is both Cat's cousin and her half-brother. Adding yet another twist, because Frankie had fertility problems, middle sister Georgie had to serve as her surrogate, meaning she gave birth to her own nephew. And because of this, Georgie had considerable problems acknowledging that the child was Frankie's, not hers.
  • Soap operas are notorious for using this trope. To give a few examples:
    • All My Children: Bianca's first child is the result of rape by Zach's brother. Her second is the result of artificial insemination using Zack's sperm. Zach is/was married to Kendall, Bianca's sister, and they have a child. Kendall also had a child by Ryan who once donated sperm and was suspected to be the father of Bianca's second child, but was actually the father of another child entirely.
      • What it boils down to is that Miranda, the elder daughter of Bianca and Gabrielle, the younger daughter are half-sisters as well as first cousins. Sharing the same mother, but their fathers are brothers. Gabrielle and Ian, Zack and Kendall's son are first cousins and half-brother and sister. Sharing the same father, but their mothers are sisters. Miranda and Ian are double first cousins since their fathers are brothers and mothers are sisters. Making this even more complicated is that Kendall and Bianca are half-sisters also, sharing the same mother in Erica Kane meaning that Gabrielle and Miranda only share one grandparent with Ian.
      • That doesn't even cover the half of it. Let's just consider the Chandler family for a moment. Adam Chandler has been married thirteen times, and had two affairs. Between those marriages, he had five children (Hayley, J.R, Anna, Colby, and Miguel) and raised Skye as his own before discovering they weren't related. And he adopted his nephew Scott. J.R had an affair with Annie (wife #13) to break them up, and now they've fallen in love. But Annie is engaged to Scott, and used to be married to Ryan, who she had a daughter Emma with. Ryan was engaged to Greenlee (who's also Emma's godmother), but she died and then came back and married David out of spite because Ryan had started a relationship with Madison. He also had a child with Kendall, Erica's daughter (and by the way, Erica married Greenlee's dad Jackson). But wait! Because Erica's been married just as many times (including to Adam) and almost fell in love with Caleb, who's the nephew to Palmer Cortland. And his ex-wife had an affair with Adam. Plus there's the situation with Tad. He lives in a house with two daughters, each from different previous marriages, has a grown-up son who was also from a previous marriage, adopted Damon (who turned out to be his biological son anyways) and had a fling with Liza, who's Colby's mother, who's dating Damon. And then there's the fact Liza's mother married Adam's twin brother while Adam and she were married. It's like one giant loop-de-loop!
    • As the World Turns: The Snyder Family tree. Started out with salt of the earth Emma Snyder and her six children, which included Holden and Iva. Holden fell in love with Lily Walsh while working as a stable boy for her rich family. He later learns that that Lily is biologically Iva's daughter from a rape. By her cousin. But it's ok you see, Iva was adopted. Holden and Lily then become a supercouple and the family tree only gets more complicated from there.
    • The Bold and the Beautiful: The way that the Forrester and Logan families have intermingled over the years, made even worse by the fact that Brooke Logan has had children by Eric Forrester, Eric's stepson Ridge, and Ridge's half brother Nick Marone, while the rest of the characters don't seem to mind marrying and having children with their step-relatives or the former spouses of their siblings/parents/children.
    • Days of Our Lives: The Hortons and the Bradys have also intermingled several times (to the point where they may as well be one family, even though the writers don't quite see it that way), not to mention several connections with the Kiriakis and DiMera families. (The latter apparently leading to John Black being his own uncle... somehow.)
    • Eastenders: The Fowler-Beale clan was once quite extensive but has largely been supplanted by the extensive Branning-Jackson clan. In fact one character, Liam Butcher, is the blood relative of half the cast due to the fact that his mother Bianca Jackson belongs to both of the aforementioned clans, while his father Ricky Butcher has a few connections of his own.
      • How about the Mitchells? More just seem to be coming out the woodwork and creating more havoc for Walford. There was even a plot about the Secret Mitchell with Ronnie having a long-lost daughter she thought was dead, only for her to really die once she found out the truth.
    • The McQueens from Hollyoaks are an egregious example despite only appearing on-screen for three years (with Retcons of course saying they've lived there for over a decade and some members to have actually been McQueens but with different surnames), even having multiracial members and a vengeful son.
    • Graduados: In the beginning, Martín was the son of Loli Falsini and Pablo Catáneo, and everybody was happy. Then the telenovela began, and Loli realized that Martín's true father was Andy Goddzer, who had a one-night relation with her during the high-school graduation night in 1989. It was confirmed with a DNA test. This gave Martin a whole new family, and a total of 2 parents and 3 grandparents. Pablo has a brother, Augusto. Clemente Falsini, Loli's parent, got married to the younger Patricia, who in fact attended high school with Loli. And then... Pablo and Patricia had a secret romance, and Pablo left Patricia pregnant, but they told everybody that it was Clemente's son.
    • One Life to Live: Among the usual twists and turns, Jessica Buchanan is related to CJ and Sarah Roberts through both their father Cord (she is Cord's half-sister, making her their half-aunt) and their mother Tina (who is her half-aunt, making them her half-cousins as well).
      • Oh, it's a lot more complicated than just that. Originally within the show, Jessica was believed to be the only biological child of series heroine Viki Lord and her then-husband Clint Buchanan. When she was a teenager, a woman named Natalie Balsom came to town as she grew up believing that she was the daughter of Roxy Balsom and her husband Walter and the older sister to their son Rex. She revealed that she and Jessica had been switched at birth and SHE was Viki and Clint's daughter. Of course, later on, it was revealed that they BOTH were half-twins as Jessica was conceived when Viki was raped by series villain Mitch Laurence and Natalie was the biological daughter of Clint and Viki. Then the story gets even MORE twisted as it is revealed that Rex was the result of a one-night stand that Roxy had with Mitch, making him Jessica's biological half-brother. Before people can come to terms with that, it is THEN revealed that Rex was taken from his biological mother and switched with another baby Schuyler Joplin making HIM Jessica's half-brother instead. Rex was revealed to be the product of an affair that Clint had with Echo DiSavoy, making him Natalie's biological half-brother after all, though at first, everybody thought that Viki's husband at the time Charlie was his father. By the end of the show, it was revealed that Mitch WASN'T Jessica's father after all, making Jessica and Natalie full siblings and Rex their half-brother.
    • Guiding Light: Two women were married to each other's fathers, making them simultaneously each other's stepdaughters and stepmothers.

  • "I'm My Own Grandpa", which manages to create the eponymous situation with neither Incest nor Time Travel, just a couple of unlikely marriages. If you marry a widow, and your father marries that widow's daughter, you become your own grandpa... in-law. Most of the song is working out the relationships when both families start having children.
    • Also, though this isn't pointed out in the song, the two children that are born are simultaneously each other's uncle and nephew, biological both ways, again, without incest.
  • "None but the Lonely Heart" — A Spike Jones Soaperetta.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Pretty much every named character in Classical Mythology can be placed somewhere on one massive and convoluted family tree. This is partly because the "long-running continuity" we're talking about here stretched over centuries of oral tradition and scores of different storytellers, and partly because... well... Zeus slept around a lot, including his sisters. Seriously, on any given family tree he's everyone's ancestor in at least two different places.
    • It really doesn't help that the Olympian gods, who via traditional and less-than-traditional means birthed the majority of the gods, were children of the Titans, who were themselves the children of Gaia and Ouranos (see a pattern?), and that Zeus was far from the only one who considered monogamy beneath him.
      • Things got off to a great start as Ouranos already was Gaia's son - she gave birth to him unassisted by any male - so 'his' children, the Titans, the Furies, the Gigantes, the Hekatonchieres, the Cyclopes, etc., were also his siblings.
    • Family trees became especially convoluted due to Zeus' recurring habit of sleeping with descendants of his — for instance, he fathered the little-known god Zagreus with Persephone, his daughter by his sister Demeter, and Herakles with Alcmene, the granddaughter of his son Perseus. To add extra complications, there were several instances of mortal women having children by both their divine lover and mortal husband, often as fraternal twins (in at least one case one mother was simultaneously pregnant by Hermes and Apollo in this way), although in one case, it happened with a single child (Theseus, who was the son both of the god Poseidon and the mortal King of Athens Aegus, whom his mother Aethra had bedded in the same night). The most well-known example is Leda, whose children were Castor and Clytaimnestra (fathered by her husband Tyndareus) and Polydeuces and Helen (fathered by Zeus) (Yes, all at once. Leda laid two eggs, as Zeus had mated with her in the form of a swan).
      • And then there were some complicated relationships brought about by the trope of Pair the Spares. For instance according to an Italian tradition, after Odysseus (Ulysses to the Italians) was killed by Telegonus, his son by Circe, Circe granted immortality to Ulysses' widow Penelope and her son Telemachus. Circe married Telemachus and Penelope Telegonus, having sons called Italus and Latinus respectively. So Circe and Penelope both became each other's mother and daughter-in-law, and Telemachus and Telegonus each got a nephew who was also their half-brother.
    • Every mythological hero, and everybody who fought at Troy, needed to have the dignity of coming from a line descended from the gods, and so pretty much every mortal lineage was shoehorned into the Olympian clan by some author (or by multiple authors, using different genealogies, for added confusion!) Then there's the ancient Greek habit of marrying one's nieces...
      • Authors also disagree about the genealogy of some of the deities; for instance, according to Hesiod Aphrodite was born from the foam spilled from Ouranos' cut-off genitals (making her Zeus' aunt), while according to Homer she is the daughter of Zeus and the minor earth-goddess Dionenote . According to some traditions, Hephaistos is a son of Zeus and Hera, while according to Hesiod Hera had him without a sperm-donor. According to the most popular myth, Eros is the son of Aphrodite and Ares, another son of Zeus, but Hesiod's "Theogony" makes him one of the oldest of gods, a brother of Gaia brought forth by Chaos.
    • To make things even worse, the genealogies don't always make sense. For example, Perseus was the great-great-great-great grandson of Belus, whose granddaughter was Andromeda, the wife of Perseus.
  • Any mythology that includes a distinct pantheon can fall into this trope harder than... something really heavy. For a single example, see Loki (Norse Mythology) and his various children, of some of whom he is the father and others the mother.
  • In the modern religion of Wicca, even limiting the pantheon to only two deities does not stop the Tangled Family Tree from cropping up. According to the generally-accepted "Wheel of the Year" symbology, the God is his own father, by the Goddess, who is also his sister. If you want to keep yourself up for the next few nights, try working out all the relationships that implies—or worse, try to figure out where the God would get his heavenly genes from!
  • How about King Arthur? Arthur is the son of Uther and Ygraine, and Ygraine's children from her first husband are Morgause (wife of Lot and mother of Gawaine and his brothers, including Mordred, who may or may not be Arthur's son), Morgan/Morganna/Morgaine La Fay (wife of Urien and mother of Yvain/Owain, who marries Laudine, who's the ex-wife of one of several Red Knights), and Elaine of Garlot (who is the mother of Elaine the Younger). But Ygraine's first husband was the Duke of Cornwall, which implies some sort of relationship between this family and Mark, who's the Duke of Cornwall when Arthur is king, and is the uncle of Tristram. And then there's Constantine of Cornwall, who succeeds Arthur as King, and is the son of a different Duke of Cornwall, Cador, who is Arthur's half-brother or cousin and who also raised Arthur's wife Guinevere as his ward. (And who may or may not be the same as Cador the father of Kay's wife Andrivete, or Cador the brother of Caradoc the Younger's wife Guinier, both Arthur's knights and the former his foster-brother.) Meanwhile, Lancelot is the son of King Ban and his wife Elaine of Benoic, is raised by the Lady of the Lake (who could be the one who gave Arthur Excalibur, the one who had a relationship with Merlin, or both), is loved by a woman named Elaine of Astolat, and fathers Galahad on Elaine of Carbonek, who's the daughter of the Fisher King, who's the brother of King Pellinore (Percival's father or uncle, and the father of Elaine of Listenoise), whose son Lamorak goes on to have an affair with ... Morgause. Arthur, King of Time and Space lampshades how confusing this gets here.
  • The Bible. Some people have literally spent decades trying to wrap their heads around that mess.
    • The Gospels of Matthew and Luke each give a genealogy for Joseph (who is Jesus' stepfather, no biological relation at all, but never mind that...) reaching back through King David. However, Matthew claims the descent was through David and then Solomon, while Luke traces it through another son of David, Nathan. Matthew only traces the descent back to Abraham, but Luke goes all the way back to Adam - who, in some translations, is listed as the son of God, which would make him the (half-?)brother of Jesus.
      • The Solomon/Nathan issue can be somewhat sorted out if one was a maternal ancestor before swinging back into the main paternal line. The Bible counts some of the maternal ancestors as important as their paternal counterparts.
    • Note that Matthew and Luke already disagree about the names of Joseph's father, paternal grandfather, and his father - Matthew names them as Jacob, Matthan and Eleazar, Luke as Eli, Matthat and Levi.
    • Adam is technically Christ's ancestor, and depending on your religion, his son, since Christ, being the Son of God, is also God in his own right, again, depending upon which religion you follow. So Adam could be Christ's great x10000 grandfather and his son and half-brother all at once. But that's a bit of a stretch on the norm...
    • Made worse when you realize that he had to be a biological heir via Mary to fulfill the prophecy, and also a legal heir under Jewish law to be legitimate. The biology alone is tangled, but the fact that it had to conform to Jewish inheritance law made things even more complicated.
      • The 'mess' might be less of one if you consider that the genetics involving Jesus works on two levels, one pertaining to his God-heritage and one to his human heritage. Note also that Adam was a creation of God's (with Jesus present, just unmentioned), and so was not God's son on quite the same level as Jesus. As a final note, the Davidic genealogies might be divided such that Joseph comes from the line of Solomon and Mary from the line of Nathan through Eli, making Joseph Eli's son-in-law.
  • Mahabharata: First of all, we have Dhritarashtra and Pandu conceived in a levirate marriage, along with their half-brother Vidura. Dhritarashtra has 101 kids with his wife, plus an extra with the maid. Pandu makes things even more complicated, however. He Can't Have Sex, Ever, so his two wives compensate by sleeping with a bunch of gods—Kunti with three, Madri with a pair of twins. Each coupling produces a son, resulting in the five Pandava brothers, all of whom are legally considered Pandu's sons (a fact which fuels the epic's conflict) despite none being biologically related to him, and some not even being biologically related to each other. The five also all marry the same woman, to make things simpler but also weirder. Oh, plus Kunti secretly has an older son, Karna, with yet another god.

  • In a collection of puzzles called A Tangled Tale, Lewis Carroll poses a problem: The Governor of Kgovjni wants to give a very small dinner party, and invites his father’s brother-in-law, his brother’s father-in-law, his father-in-law’s brother, and his brother-in-law’s father. Find the number [minimum possible number] of guests. The optimal family tree is, of course, very tangled.


    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • One of Jeff Foxworthy's indications of being a redneck:
    "If your family tree does not fork, you might be a redneck."

    Tabletop Gaming 
  • The Great Houses and their vassal lords in the Inner Sphere in the hex-based tactical game BattleTech is a tangled mess. One particular knot revolves around one Victor Steiner-Davion and his progeny. Born to Melissa of House Steiner, the ruling family of the Lyran Commonwealth, and First Prince Hanse of House Davion, ruler of the Federated Suns. His mother was daughter to one of the greatest Archons in recent Lyran history, and his father was the Magnificent Bastard of the story. Victor would later sire a son with Omiko Kurita, daughter of the ruling family of the Draconis Combine and ancestral enemy of the Davions (and he would only learn of this son long after he had grown to adulthood and Omi had been assassinated). He would also wed Isis Marik, illegitimate daughter of the "Real" Thomas Marik, of the ruling family of the Free Worlds League, the ancestral enemies of his mother's family. He then fathered three children with her. Did we mention Victor's sister Katherine stole his DNA and mixed it with her own to create Alaric Wolf?
  • Deadlands has the Whateley family. Not only is it absurdly incestuous, gnarling the whole family tree into something of a shrub, but due to all the manners of messed-up magic and romances with Things it also has plenty of non-euclidean branches to make it worse. Seeing an accurate portrayal of this family tree drawn out in the Whateley Family Bible can actually dent your sanity pretty severely.
  • Exalted:
    • The Scarlet Dynasty. Eleven Houses, most descended from a particular child or consort of the 700-year-old Empress, all of whom are mostly marrying with each other in all shades of Kissing Cousins. And since they live to be 300 and are physically in the prime of their lives until a few years before their deaths, there's a lot of 200-year-olds marrying young 20-year-olds, making for kinship relations more convoluted than almost anywhere else.
    • Try living in Malfeas, the Demon City, where a significant portion of the local vocabulary is devoted to describing such phenomena as being related to someone's twenty-seventh soul, being the whole-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts of hundreds of demon lords, or living in a portion of the landscape that happens to also be your father.
  • The original Black Box edition of the Ravenloft setting included a series of family trees for such prominent bloodlines as the Boritsis, d'Honaires, Weathermays, and Von Zaroviches. As the purpose of these was to seed people's Ravenloft campaigns with story ideas, each tree had several built-in plot hooks, and a few were connected to others through intermarriage or the like.
  • Scion being a game about the modern children of the gods of myth, it's entirely possible that any given PC is part of this (as seen under Religion & Mythology).
  • Enforced with the Navigator houses of Warhammer 40,000: the gene that allows Navigators to "see" into the Warp and lets them guide ships through it isn't expressed when a Navigator breeds with a normal human, resulting in massively inbred families (and the results aren't pretty: freakishly elongated, blind, and growing a third eye that has to be blindfolded otherwise it instakills anything looking at it).

    Video Games 
  • There's a massive, full-game sidequest in Baten Kaitos where you have to get every member of a dying old man's family to sign their name on their place on his family tree. The man had five wives and had children with all but one (who he adopted a single child with), many of whom had more children. There's around 50 NPCs on the tree.
  • Chrono Trigger has this, and is only exacerbated by Chrono Cross:
    • Marle is part of the Guardia royal family. During her travels she meets Doan, her descendant from the Bad Future, and Ayla and Kino, her ancestors from Sixty-Five Million BC. She also has a pendant identical to Schala's, which implies a connection to the Zeal royal family, making Schala and Janus possible relatives as well.
      • And at least one ending suggests that Frog/Glenn may be her ancestor as well.
    • Lucca helped revive Robo, and her research eventually culminates in the supercomputer FATE a.k.a. Lynx, making her their mother in a figurative sense. She also adopted Kid, Schala's daughter-clone created while Schala was merged with Lavos in the form of the Time Devourer.
    • To top everything off, all humans are descended from Lavos in multiple senses, as the parasite's planetfall wiped out humanity's competition in prehistory, and contact with the Frozen Flame accelerated human evolution and imbued the magical powers that led to Zeal.
  • Crusader Kings. In a game about feudal Europe and its dynasties where alliances are sealed by marriage, this trope naturally follows. In the sequel, Zoroastrian rulers add in dynastic inbreeding to the mix, just to mess things up more.
  • Seen quite a bit in the Dark Parables, where many of the characters from classic fairy tales are either Composite Characters or else related to one another in ways that their original stories did not include. The absolute epicenter of the family tree earthquake is The Frog Prince, owing to the fact that he was married five times in this universe. The longer the series goes on, the more connections are found between the characters. Among the highlights: His first wife, Ivy, was the sister of Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty). Another wife was Naida, who was the sister of The Little Mermaid. His fifth wife is Snow White, who is also The Snow Queen, and whose twin brother Ross Red is engaged to Rapunzel. Snow White is also the mother of the Frog Prince's only child, Prince Gwyn, who is good friends with Kai and Gerda, and Gerda is a direct descendant of Hansel. Meanwhile, Briar Rose belongs to a badass group of warrior women called the Red Riding Hood Sisters; its members also include Teresa, who is another sister of the Little Mermaid, and Brianne, who turns out to be Beauty, and Emma, who is engaged to Jack (the beanstalk guy). Emma is also a descendant of the girl who became queen because Rumpelstiltskin helped her spin straw into gold. Players may wish to draw up a chart... especially since the series is nowhere near finished.
  • Dead or Alive has one regarding the main family of ninjas. You have the leader of the Mugen Tenshin clan Shiden, his wife Ayame, and two kids in Hayate and series mainstay Kasumi. Then add Shiden's brother Raidou into the mix and bam, there's the youngest of the main trio in rape-conceived Ayane. The main storyline of 6 adds another wrinkle in that Ayane isn't Raidou's only child; somewhere before Ayane's conception Raidou impregnated another woman with Honoka.
  • Dynasty Warriors:
    • Taking after the novel and history, the series has as playable characters: The Sun family (father Jian, sons Ce and Quan, daughter Shangxiang), Quan's concubine Lianshi, and Ce's wife Daqiao, whose sister Xiaoqiao is married to Sun Ce's sworn brother Zhou Yu, making them brothers-in-law. Sun Shangxiang is married (at least briefly) to Shu's leader Liu Bei, who has a son from another marriage Liu Shan, who is (presumably) married to Xingcai, the daughter of one of Liu Bei's sworn brothers Zhang Fei. (Xingcai is actually a Composite Character of Zhang Fei's two daughters, both of which were married to Liu Shan.)
    • Mercifully, the direct playable character family link mostly ends there for the games; in the novel and history, it continues with Xingcai's mother being the niece of Xiahou Ba, whose father Xiahou Yuan is cousins with Xiahou Dun and Wei leader Cao Cao. Cao Cao in turn has his own cousin, Cao Ren, and a son Cao Pi whose wife Zhenji was originally married to one of Yuan Shao's sons. Cao Ren has a daughter who marries another one of Sun Jian's sons bringing us full circle. Of the aforementioned characters, Xingcai's mother was eventually turned into a playable character in DW9 under the name Xiahou Ji. Xiahou Ji is also noted to be the mother of Zhang Fei's son Zhang Bao, whereas it was never indicated if Zhang Bao and Xingcai shared the same mother.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Due to Heroic Lineage and Relationship Values being major hallmarks of the game, Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War features rather tangled relationships between both the heroes and the villains, moreso once the second generation hits. Even just going by the fixed canon pairings and the ones acknowledged in Thracia 776: Seliph is maternal half-brother through Deirdre to both Julia and Julius, who happen to be the result of half-Brother–Sister Incest via their father Arvis. Through his father Sigurd, Seliph is also the nephew of Ethlyn and Quan, cousins with Leif and Altena, and distantly related to his guardian Oifey, while through his mother, he's third cousins with Saias and distantly related to Linoan. Leif himself is the brother-in-law of Arion through Altena, who is the son of Leif's nemesis Travant, and according to Thracia, marries Nanna, who is sister to Diarmuid (who may be the half-brother of Fergus) and niece of Eldigan through her mother Lachesis, and by extension, Ares's cousin and distantly related to Chagall. Since Julius is married to Ishtar, that makes her Seliph's half-sister-in-law, and Ishtar was herself distantly related to Julius and Azel on her mother Hilda's side, and on her father Blume's side, niece to Tailtiu, and cousins with Arthur, Amid, Tine, and Linda. And this is before the player has the option to start pairing people up; by the end of a second-generation playthrough, you do not have to go far to connect the dots between any given kid.
    • Fire Emblem Fates features also rather tangled family relation. The parents of the main character Corrin (Kamui) are Anankos and Mikoto, the Hoshidan Queen. On the Nohr side, he/she is the younger adoptive sibling of Xander and Camilla and older adoptive sibling to Leo and Elise. On Hoshido side, he is the younger step-sibling of Ryoma and Hinoka and older step-sibling of Takumi and Sakura. He is also the paternal half-sibling of Lilith and cousin of Azura as their mothers Arete, the Queen of Valla, and Mikoto were sisters—which makes Arete his aunt. Azura, in turn, is the stepsister of the Nohr siblings and adoptive sister of the Hoshidan siblings and that's not even going into the children they can have with one another or other people which tangle the tree even more.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses eventually reveals that Byleth's family relation is quite complicated. Their father Jeralt doesn't mention any blood-relatives but due to Rhea giving him her blood, he's in a way related to her as mother/son or at least a blood-kin. Then Rhea is the mother/creator of Byleth's mother, Sitri, who was supposed to be the vessel for Sothis, which making Rhea Byleth's grandmother on both sides of the family. That also makes Seteth/Cichol, Macuil, and Indech their granduncles while Flayn/Cethleann is a cousin. Then, because Sothis merged with Byleth into a single being, that would make our protagonist their own great-grandmother, "mother" to their grandmother Rhea and "grandmother" to their parents, Jeralt and Sitri. And if you believe that Sitri is a clone of Sothis and not just Rhea's child, then Byleth can also be counted as Rhea's sibling and their parents' uncle/aunt.
      • In addition to the above, all crest-bearers are descended from the 10 Elites and with the nature of dragon blood in this setting, those 10 warriors are related to the dragons whose blood they consumed. That means all characters with crests are (very) distantly related to Byleth/Sothis. With the Cindered Shadow DLC, it's implied that Aubin, one of the Four Apostles and a first-generation Crest-bearer, was the one who gave Yuri his crest which makes Yuri another cousin with a closer relation to Byleth.
  • Guilty Gear:
    • While the family tree in question is relatively straightforward, the reveal that Sol Badguy and Justice/Aria are Dizzy's parents (and Sin's grandparents) is still shocking enough that the Valentine sisters Ramlethal and Elphelt (who are Aria's clones) ruminate on whether they now need to be refer to Sol as "father" or "brother." As for Ky, he's more aghast that Sol somehow became his father-in-law; Sol's own Skyward Scream shows that the feeling is mutual.
    • This is lampshaded twice in -REVELATOR-, first during the above reveal and again during the final battle. Jack-O' Valentine, a Valentine made in Aria's likeness who holds the half of her soul not contained within Justice along with Aria's memories (and thus is effectively Aria herself), comes to save Elphelt from her "mother" (read: creator) Ariels/the Universal Will. Elphelt asks Jack-O' if she's her mother instead of Ariels and gets a "It's complicated" in response.
  • For a fairly short game, Jade Empire packs in a lot of secret relatives of the Emperor. Every single one is introduced well before their particular Reveal. It's a fairly simple tree (three brothers, two of whom have daughters), but by the time you learn who the third brother is, you'd be forgiven for thinking everybody is related to the Emperor somehow.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Although one might not count it as a "family" tree, the sheer number of people in the series who are, were, pretended to be, or were semi-kinda-possessed-by-fake Ansem is staggering. Master Xehanort took over Terra's body, becoming the character known as "Xehanort." He pretended to be Ansem, and the Ansem in the first game ("Ansem, Seeker of Darkness") is Xehanort's Heartless. The antagonist of Kingdom Hearts II (Xemnas, an anagram of Ansem with an X added in) is Xehanort's Nobody. Also, Riku (who was possessed for a time and even had his body stolen by ASOD in the first game), using ASOD's powers, took on the form and name of that Ansem. The actual real Ansem (Ansem the Wise, the former ruler of Radiant Garden) is first introduced in Chain of Memories as "DiZ" (short for "Darkness in Zero") and his true identity is discovered near the end of II.
    • Not to mention all the many Soras. Alongside Roxas (Sora's Nobody), there's Xion from 358/2 Days, a Replica of Sora made from his memories created by Xemnas to use as a fail-safe in case Sora and Roxas proved to be useless to Organization XIII's goals; in essence, she's an Opposite-Sex Clone of Sora/Roxas. Birth by Sleep gives us Ventus, who not only looks like Roxas (or rather, Roxas resembles him), but whose heart dwells inside of Sora's due to certain circumstances taking place at the end of the game. Additionally, Vanitas, his Enemy Without, shares Sora's face due to the heart of a newborn Sora offering to connect his heart to Ven's after the forcible creation of Vanitas (thanks to Master Xehanort) left Ven temporarily comatose.
    • Due to the circumstances that led to Sora becoming a Heartless (and the creation of Roxas by proxy) in the first game, as well as Kairi's nature as one of the Seven Princesses of Heart, Naminé (Kairi's Nobody) is peculiar among her kind, as she was born of Kairi's heart but Sora's body and soul. This is why Naminé can manipulate Sora's memories in Chain of Memories, as well as why she possesses none of Kairi's memories.
    • Dream Drop Distance took trope and ran with it to extreme levels of litigiousness. Master Xehanort, Back from the Dead, is gathering together a new Organization XIII. Who are among its ranks? Thirteen Xehanorts assembled from across various timelines. A younger incarnation of Master Xehanort (known better to players as the Unknown/Mysterious Figure from BBS and co-existing alongside his older self) was tasked by Ansem, Seeker of Darkness (who was able to time travel due to his lack of a body) with gathering thirteen incarnations of Xehanort. Aside of Master Xehanort, Young Xehanort, Xemnas, and Ansem, Xigbar and Saïx (and not their original personas, Braig and Isa, strangely enough) are revealed to be Xehanorts as well, having been infused with a part of Master Xehanort's heart and gradually turning into Xehanort, slowly adopting features of his such as golden eyes and pointed ears in the process. Additionally, the plan was to turn Sora into the final member of this group (luckily, it was thwarted by a Big Damn Heroes moment from Lea, Axel's original identity), and the original plan for Organization XIII was to use the other Nobodies as vessels for Xehanort's heart. Kingdom Hearts III reveals the remainder of the True Organization to consist of previous members of the first Organization (Marluxia, Larxene, and Luxord, with Vexen and Demyx as "reserve members"—though Vexen's actually a mole for the heroes alongside Saïx and convinces Demyx to defect to their side), Terra-Xehanort, Vanitas, "Dark Riku" (a time-displaced version of the brainwashed-to-believe-he-was-the-original Riku Replica from Castle Oblivion in direct opposition to his present-day, post-Heel–Face Turn incarnation who cooperates with the real Riku), and Xion (once again filling in for Sora). And while not officially a Xehanort, Aqua is forcibly corrupted when Ansem imbues her with darkness, causing her to undergo a somewhat similar transformation into Anti-Aqua.
  • Trying to detail the relationships of every character in the Metal Gear series forms an incomprehensible mess which ultimately connects every named character in the series.
  • Monster Girl Quest! has a major tangle already, and it gets worse when you add in its sequel Monster Girl Quest! Paradox RPG:
    • Luka and Alice XVI get together and have two kids, Nero and Neris. The latter shows an interest in the Luka of a parallel world.
    • Luka's father, Marcellus, killed Alice's mother Alice XV, with the help of his companions. Luka's mother was the angel Lucifina, and through her Luka is nephew to the angels Micaela and Eden and grandson to Ilias, the creator of humanity.
    • Luka's more distant ancestor (and Marcellus' ancestor as well) is Heinrich, who killed Alice VIII. But Alice VIII isn't actually Alice XVI's ancestor, as the family line was continued by her younger sister Alice IX. And Heinrich got together with Edina, the princess of Remina, meaning that Luka and Marcellus technically have Royal Blood.
    • Alice XVI's earliest ancestor is Alice I, the first monster and the one who created the monsters that gave rise to all other monsters. Also, one of Alice I's first creations is Tamamo, the ancestor of kitsunes and other beast monsters, who acted as mentor to Alice XVI, to several previous Monster Lords and to Nero.
    • In the parallel world that's the focus of Paradox, Karen (one of Marcellus' companions) got together with some unnamed doctor and had a daughter, Sonya. When she and her husband died, Sonya was cared for by Lazarus, another of Marcellus' companions.
    • Finally, these games are H-games in which Luka can end up as the unwilling husband/sex slave to almost any of the named female characters, including the ones who are related to him.
  • Pirate 101 has perhaps one of the most massive cases of this — all of Monquistia is at least a third cousin of some former king. Their marriages are so twisted and tangled that the family trees look like cobwebs made by drunken spiders.
  • The Sims:
    • The Sims 2's premade neighborhood Strangetown comes with a rather complex family tree. A dead Sim, Glarn Curious, was originally married to Glabe Curious (another theory is that she is his sister). He was abducted by aliens and impregnated by Pollination Technician 9. After giving birth to twins, Glarn left Glabe and married Kitty Hogleg. They had four kids, and the oldest (Jenny) ended up marrying and having children with Pollination Technician 9 when he crash-landed on Earth...
    • It gets worse with the sequels. In The Sims 2 for PSP, Jenny and the Curious brothers get a new cousin out of nowhere named Sinjin Balani and Pascal Curious gave birth to his alien child, Tycho. In The Sims 3: Ambitions, the family tree is expanded again with Notzo Curious and Zo Curious' parents being revealed. There's a theory that Sinjin Balani may be the grandson of Notzo's sister (also introduced in The Sims 3), Bunny Curious, but nothing is officially confirmed. Here is the family tree for those interested.
    • Thanks to Story Progression, it can even happen randomly to players. The mechanic will pair up any sims Young Adult or older as long as they're not directly related. Since the game is only able to keep track of so many relationship taboos, which often leads to second cousin marriages and the like. Sims can also marry their ex-aunts and uncles (since the game only counts them as related if they're married to a relative) and become their cousins' step-parent. Their new child will be the cousin/stepchild's half-sibling. To further convolute things, the cousin/stepchild can go on to marry the step-parent/cousins nephew or niece. To complete the circle of fuckery, their child can marry and have kids with the ghost of one of their ancestors. Does your head hurt yet?
    • What makes this even worse is that, thanks to mods, you can even make Sims have children with their siblings or their parents.

    Visual Novels 
  • Princess Waltz. It's hard to get into too much detail without major spoilers, but let's give it a shot. A man and a woman (let's call them Bob and Alice) got married and had a son, Charlie. Alice's sister Denise had two daughters, Emily and Faye. When the second generation grew up, Emily married Charlie (her cousin) and had a son, Greg. However, Faye seduced Charlie as well, and had a daughter, Hannah. When Greg and Hannah grew up, they became the protagonist of the game and his primary love interest, Arata and Chris. Interestingly, no one ever mentions this.
  • In the backstory of School Days, thanks to the exploits of Makoto's father Tomaru, practically all the characters in the expanded universe are related to one another. As shown by this page, Tomaru has someone who is his daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, great-great-granddaughter, great-great-great-granddaughter, half-great-great-great grandniece and lover (and, thanks to drugs, pregnant with his son at the age of five).
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Kinzo and Beatrice I had a daughter, Beatrice II. Kinzo then had another child with Beatrice II: Sayo Yasuda, also known as Shannon/Kanon/Beatrice III. Now realize that Sayo Yasuda is in a relationship with three of Kinzo's grandchildren, and how those guys are actually connected in the family tree. Yep.
  • In the Zero Escape series, you have to literally account the fourth dimension to draw Sigma's family tree: Sigma himself exists as both his 22-year-old self and 67-year-old self during Virtue's Last Reward. They switch consciousnesses, so you have 67yo Sigma in his 22yo body participating in the Decision Game shown in the sequel Zero Time Dilemma while his 22yo self takes part in the third Nonary Game during VLR in his 67yo body. During the Decision Game, 67yo Sigma falls in love and impregnates Diana with their twins, Phi and Delta, who are then sent back in time, grow up separately, and later both participate in the Decision Game (as participant and mastermind respectively) by the time it happens. Between ZTD and VLR, Sigma and Akane start making plans to save the world from Radical-6, and Sigma creates a clone of himself that he came to see as his son, Kyle. When Kyle wants a mother, Sigma creates a robot called Luna, made in the likeness of Diana, who falls in love with Sigma, while he sees her as another daughter that was meant to be a mother to Kyle, who goes on to see Akane as his real mother. So yeah, things are complex.

  • Buildingverse:
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: Thanks to U16 Vegetto, the Son and Briefs families are now one.
  • The clan in Far to the North features the main character's mother, her older siblings, their respective spouses, and their many children all living together under the same roof. Keeping track of how everyone is related almost requires a chart.
  • Though it is (so far) without time travel, the Val'Sarghress family tree in Drowtales is quickly becoming this with revelations about Kalki Nidraa'chal, who turns out to be the child of Snadhya'rune Vel'Sharen and Mel'arnach Val'Sarghress (who is Ariel's real mother) who are both women, and technically makes Kalki Ariel's half-sister. And that doesn't even touch on the fact that Ariel's father is a dark-elf turned giant spider named Zhor who's been hinted to have some connection to Diva'ratika and the Sharen, possibly making another connection between the two families or how Diva'ratrika is technically Ariel's step-grandmother or the equivalent thereof, since drow do not get married but her daughter Snadhya'rune is the lover of Ariel's mother Mel'arnach.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Ellen Dunkel is either an Opposite-Sex Clone of Elliot or a magical curse given human form, depending on how you think about it. This leads to confusion as to who can be considered her parents.
      • Ellen has two fathers (one adoptive) and four mothers (three adoptive), and one of her mothers is her brother. That's not including the crazy Immortal and an alternate version of her brother, which would put her at three fathers and five mothers. Beat that.
      • Grace on the subject of Ellen: "Elliot's the mommy, the diamond was the doctor who delivered Ellen, and Tedd's the daddy! Wait a minute... If Tedd's the daddy... Oh my gosh! I'm a mommy!"
    • Grace is a hybrid clone (with 4 sources of DNA), and considers the other hybrid clones from the same lab her siblings though only one of them actually shares a source of DNA with her. Her "grandfather" replaced some of the DNA she was supposed to be cloned from with that of his dead daughter—Grace's "mother" (and namesake). Grace also considers Mr. Verres to be her adoptive father which would make Tedd her brother/boyfriend (or sister/girlfriend depending on Tedd's current gender).
    • Speaking of Tedd, in addition to everything mentioned above he's also the cousin of Ellen's girlfriend Nanase (and her little sister Akiko), has a maternal half-sibling Van he's met even though he doesn't know his mom had another kid, and is the godson of Adrian Raven (Grace and Ellen's history teacher) even though he didn't know it until his fairy god(grand)mother arrived.
    • Raven himself is the son of the centuries-old immortal Pandora, and was until recently unaware that he fathered (a) the lineage that would eventually produce Tedd's friend Susan and (b) much more directly fathered Susan's mysterious doppelganger Diane—who is literally twenty minutes older than Susan and happily adopted with a sister Rhea. That's one tangled knot of relationships there.
  • In Grrl Power, Sydney has a crush on Tony, a guy who frequents the comic shop she owns. She's initially disheartened when he comes into the shop with an extremely attractive woman... who turns out to be Olivia, his sister/cousin. Apparently, their father scored with a pair of twins at a college party (or something). Sydney is thus very pleased to find out that Olivia won't be competition.
  • Several characters (specifically, most of the human characters introduced) in Homestuck belong to a ridiculously mind-screwy family tree, thanks to a combination of cloning, Stable Time Loops, and more than one Temporal Paradox, all of which in turn contribute one of the most convoluted cases of My Own Grampa ever.
    • It gets even worse. John and Jade are the son and daughter of their (adoptive) Grandma and Grandpa, respectively, who were raised as brother and sister despite not actually being related. Fortunately, incest is averted by the whole cloning thing.
      • Honestly, it's even worse than that. Since John's the one responsible for creating them all, he could technically be said to be his own father (as well as the father of Rose, Dave, and Jade) AND his own great-grandfather, and his adoptive father is really his half-brother. Dave's Bro is also Dave's father, and Jade's Grandfather is really her father as well. Rose's mother is the only one who really IS what she seems to be, though Rose herself could theoretically be said to be the mother of Bec (Jade's demon dog), since she's the one who provided half the DNA code (via her journal) to create him. And the person who actually created Bec from that code was Draconian Dignitary. Has your head exploded yet?
    • A family tree for the humans can be found here, although it does not include everything mentioned so far in the comic, and it leaves out the entire Post-Scratch Universe. Note that John's Dad is the only person in that family tree who is the result of his parents having sex. And the tree doesn't even mention the growing romance between John's Dad and Rose's Mom...)
    • Vriska sums it up best:
      AG: ::::/
    • Not that she has any reason to talk, since the trolls are technically all part of one Tangled Family Tree as a natural result of their Bizarre Alien Biology. Not to mention that the troll players also fall under My Own Grampa.
      • Speaking of trolls, it gets worse. Although it hasn't been outright stated yet, it is very heavily implied that Betty Crocker is actually the Troll Empress, who is Feferi's Ancestor. Although there is still Bizarre Alien Biology and My Own Grampa going around, it's very likely that Feferi can be considered John and Jade's great-aunt by adoption.
      • We can even add Lil' Cal, Doc Scratch, and Lord English into this. Lil' Cal was created in Dave's dreamspace by Gamzee. He later ends up in the Troll's universe and is used to create Doc Scratch (who also had genetic code provided by Gamzee, Vriska, Terezi, Tavros, and Aradia) by the Black Queen/Snowman. Finally, Lord English bursts from Doc Scratch's corpse at the end of the universe because he was already there. Wanna make things worse? Doc Scratch can be considered the adoptive father to Aradia's Ancestor, and acted as a guardian for Kanaya. This tree loops on itself.
    • As of Act 6, we have an Alternate Universe where the human ectobiological parents are now the children, and vice versa. Just to make things more confusing.
    • Then we find out that Gamzee was the adoptive parent of Calliope/Caliborn, the cherub that would become Lord English. Basically, everyone with a name is related.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!:
    • Bob's adopted daughter Molly is a pink furry monster who was spontaneously generated in a lab accident. Molly shares a tiny bit of genetic material with Bob's girlfriend Jean, making Jean her biological mother "just a little bit." Molly lived for a time with Jean's Uncle Cestus Poole, whom Molly addresses as Uncle Cess. Molly built a sentient robot named Roofus, who regards her as his mother, which makes Bob and Jean his grandparents. Roofus now lives on another planet, being raised by Bob's alien friend Voluptua, whom Molly addresses as "Auntie Voluptua." Molly also has a genetically identical cloned "sister" named Galatea, grown by Dean Martin (no, no that Dean Martin), who is her de facto father. She is also Jean's biological daughter "just a little bit" just as Molly is. Galatea addresses Bob as "Uncle." Molly regards Roofus as Galatea's nephew.
    • Molly now also has a second clone sister named Djali ("Jolly"), short for Djaliana, who was grown by Galatea. Jolly looks like her sisters except for being a couple of hundred feet tall. Despite being grown by Galatea, she still considers Jean her mother.
  • Kevin & Kell
    • The comic stars a wolf and a rabbit, so if you get to thinking about family trees you'd probably figure on the rabbit being the cause of the giant, twisted family tree. But the growing family tree was explicitly pointed out prior to any major revelation about the rabbit's side of things. At that point there was Kevin (the rabbit) and his wife Kell (the wolf), each of whom had a kid from a previous marriage, plus Kell's brother Ralph who got married to Martha and turned out to be the father of Corrie, not to mention some budding romances and cloning going around, and... maybe you should look for yourself.
    • Note that's out of date, currently we have George Fennec married to Danielle, a human-turned-rabbit (who is an alternate version of Kevin's sister) who has a human son, Lindesfarne married the bat Fenton and now has a half-hedgehog, half-bat daughter, Corrie and Bruno have adopted a chameleon, plus add in Kevin's Mother marrying their world's version of DB Cooper (Yes, really), who's a squirrel.
  • Off-White: The wolves Raigho, Hati, and Iki/Sköll relationships with each other are very complicated. Hati, Sköll's brother since the dawn of time, was reincarnated into Raigho's mother's litter, making Raigho Hati's blood brother. When Raigho became an adult, he adopted Iki/Sköll. So Hati is both Iki/Sköll's brother and uncle. It's weird, but no actual incest is involved.
  • In Tales to Behold and Section P, the Jones family tree includes sisters Kim and Kate, Kate's longtime lover Centennia, Kim's on-again-off-again boyfriend Merv the Griffin, Kate and Centennia's future daughter Claire, Centennia's other lover Gary (AKA Mr. Perfect), Gary's other lover Jeannette, and Cery (AKA Ms. Perfect), Centennia and Gary's future daughter, who would technically be Claire's half-sister.

    Web Original 
  • Creative (ab)use of the relationship settings on Facebook can result in these.
  • Found (obviously) in the Charles II of Spain episode of Fat, French and Fabulous, but this goes for both hosts as well. Jessica's family is apparently two families that "got Brady-Bunched" in three different places, making her related to several people multiple times. Janel, on the other hand, has a grandmother who was adopted after the family lost a daughter and decided to simply replace her with their servants' child who was around the same age.
  • Madgie, what did you do?: It's hard to explain Bunny and Madgie's family tree but it is clear it is this trope, seeing that the two have so many relatives, it is hard to tell who is related to which, as well as the fact that they are so numerous they are scattered throughout the world, coupled with the fact that some of them are all younger than Madgie.
  • After the Tinker Family of The Mad Scientist Wars discovered that The Tinker Twins had adopted Desius and that Vladimir was the long-lost father of Chic Geek, Wallace Cane set out to create a complete family tree. By the time he was done, it took up most of a table.
  • The Bright family from the SCP Foundation is... complicated. Even by SCP standards. One of the five main siblings, TJ, hasn't physically aged since he was 16 and has a daughter who's a fully grown adult. Pretty much all spouses of the family members are only vaguely mentioned in passing on account of the fact that they don't have Bright blood, with the exception being Adam and Evelyn (which, yes, means what you think it means). The family also holds very little standards in concern to sexual partners, resulting in there being dozens of bastard children all over the place. One of whom eventually leads to Joey Tamlin, who travels back in time and kickstarts the whole bloodline. Also, one of them is green. No, not a guy with green skin. The actual color green. There's a reason the family often uses the term "family wreath" instead of "family tree."
  • In 'Souls RPG, the Lykoi and de le Poer families are quite tangled and intricate.
  • The majority of the cast in Thalia's Musings. It's the Greek Pantheon.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time isn't that bad. For starters, Jake the dog is the son of Joshua impregnated by an alien and has a half twin brother. Jake himself is a grandfather thanks to his children getting Rapid Aging. Meanwhile his adopted brother Finn has a "son" with Princess Bubblegum and might have a family in a parallel world and a clone "Fern". As for Princess Bubblegum, she's technically the mother of the entire Candy Kingdom including her "uncle" Gumbald.
  • In the The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Signature," Richard adopts his grandmother's (Granny Jojo) seventy-two-year-old fiance, Louie, in order to stop them from getting married. This makes Louie the brother of Gumball, Darwin, and Anais (Richard's children), and it gets weirder when Louie adopts Richard's wife Nicole. This means Nicole is married to her own grandfather, and Granny Jojo is engaged to hers. It also means that Nicole's the niece to her own children. They end up sorting it out by finding Richard's estranged father.
  • The Cleveland Show is about a fairly typical blended family (mother of two marries a father of one), but in the final episode, Donna's ex-husband Robert hooks up with her mother Dee Dee and the pair adopt a Chinese child, greatly upsetting the family. Rollo is especially frustrated because he's supposed to make a family tree for school, and now he has to figure out a way to make his grandma his stepmom, his dad a grandparent, and add an uncle his own age who's also his half-brother. Eventually he gets so annoyed that he rips it up.
  • DuckTales (2017) brings this back to the Duck family, by virtue of doing its best to follow the original Carl Barks and Don Rosa comics. Lampshaded in the episode "Last Christmas" where a time-displaced Dewey tells a young Donald that he's "your fifteenth step-cousin on your great-grandmother's niece's side from... Canada."
    Donald: Ugggh, this is the most confusing family.
  • Family Guy:
    • The Griffin family itself. Besides the standard nuclear family of Peter, his wife Lois, and their three children, countless relatives of his (his brother Thaddeus, sister Karen, broster, and vestigial twin Chip included) have come and gone over the years, especially ancestors who only appear in cutaway gags. One of his ancestors, Nate Griffin, even had children with one of Lois's ancestors, Lois Laura Bush Lynne Cheney Pewterschmidt, which somehow makes Peter and Lois Kissing Cousins. There have also been mentions of them having other children that either died in infancy, were stillborn, or miscarried (albeit mostly in cutaway gags). We're not even getting into the puppies Stewie had with Brian (who, by the way, is a dog) in "Stewie is Enceinte" (which makes their offspring half-siblings to Brian's son Dylan), his clones, his half-brother Bertram, his other half-siblings in "A House Full of Peters" (and God knows how many other half-siblings he might have out there after Peter's mishap at the sperm bank), or his ancestor Leonardo da Vinci. (To top it all off, after Bertram killed Leonardo, Stewie had to become his own ancestor in "The Big Bang Theory" in order to salvage his chances of being born and save the universe, which he inadvertently created in that same episode.) Did we mention Peter's biological father is Mickey McFinnigan?
    • How about Peter and Lois being reincarnations of Quahog's founder Griffin Peterson and his true love, Lady Redbush? Yeah, well, it should also be noted that they each married a (possible) previous incarnation of Meg and Stewie before finding each other again. Oh, and don't forget the kids Lois had with Quagmire in an alternate timeline... or the many different versions of the Griffin family that live in alternate universes as seen in "Road to the Multiverse."
    • It should also be noted that in one episode, when Tom Tucker was dating Peter's mother Thelma, he was technically Peter's stepfather (which made his son, Jake, Peter's stepbrother). Another episode saw Tricia Takanawa as the stepmother of Lois, her sister Carol, and her brother Patrick during the brief time she dated Carter Pewterschmidt. Carol herself had been married to Mayor West, who was her tenth husband and the stepfather of her son who made his only appearance in "Emission Impossible". Brian married and later divorced Lois in "The Perfect Castaway," which temporarily made him the stepfather of Meg, Chris, and Stewie; this also made Dylan their stepbrother. At one point, in "Peterotica", Babs Pewterschmidt divorced her husband Carter and married Ted Turner, the same man who'd impregnated Seabreeze (who, like Brian, is also a dog) with his puppies in an earlier episode.
  • Infinity Train presents a literal family tree in the second season, wherein the families are in constant argument over their descendants marrying a century ago.
  • In The Oblongs, we are given a glimpse of the Oblong family tree. Given that nearly the entire current generation is made up of people with deformities and/or missing limbs, it is understandably messed up, but the fact that some of the family members were in Hiroshima around the time of the A-Bomb's detonation, and were originally traced back to carny folk is quickly eclipsed by the presence of uncle Kiki, A MONKEY.
    "As far back as I can trace, my relatives were carnival folk, Who were touring a place called "Hiroshima" in the summer of 1945. After that because of their lack of hair and skin they mostly married each other. And here I am!"
  • Scooby-Doo, over various spin-offs, has introduced enough cousins, uncles, aunts, nephews, and even siblings of Shaggy, Scooby, Fred, Daphne, and Velma (most of them appearing only once and then never to be seen again) that they probably fall under this trope.
  • The Venture Bros. is far from the most egregious example, as Jonas Venture currently has only six known descendants. That said, exactly half of those relationships were plot-twists JJ's existence was a plot twist, and the Monarch and Dermott being Jonas Sr. and Doc's bastards, respectively, were major twists. Although, in Dermott's case, the plot was not so much that Dermott was a Venture, which had minimal plot relevance, but that Doc had slept with an underaged girl.
  • WordGirl: In the final season episode "The Ordinary, Extraordinary Botsfords," Todd and Violet's family trees apparently suggest that their parents are brother and sister. This is the only time incest has been implied in the whole series. Here's Todd's tree and here's Violet's tree.

    Real Life 
  • The family tree of the Julio-Claudian dynasty of the early Roman Empire is just about the closest thing to a real-life Tangled Family Tree as you're going to find, as many very confused first-time viewers of The BBC miniseries I, Claudius have discovered. Here's a rendering of that family tree. (Some people have discovered that having a copy of the Julio-Claudian family tree at one's side greatly helps a viewer grasp who's who and what's what while watching I, Claudius. Others avoid looking at the family tree at all, as it contains spoilers.)
    • For example: Caligula Caesar's paternal grandfather, Drusus, was the son of Augustus's second wife Livia by her first marriage. His paternal grandmother, Antonia, was the daughter of Mark Antony and Augustus's sister Octavia. His maternal grandmother was Augustus's daughter of his first marriage, Julia, who married Augustus's friend, General Agrippa.
    • Agrippina the Younger, was (allegedly) the lover of Emperor Caligula, despite being his sister, the wife of Emperor Claudius, despite being his niece, and the mother of Emperor Nero, and was also rumored to have had Parental Incest with him before the two had a falling out over a woman and he had her killed. Big, Screwed-Up Family doesn't even begin to cover it.
    • Also not helped by the Romans' love of adopting nephews as sons, sleeping around as much as the Gods, and giving all of their daughters the same name.
    • Even further complicated by Roman naming traditions (in which Julius Caesar was more like a family name), there are 9 other Julius Caesars before and concurrent with the one you're thinking of in the family tree. The dictator was actually named Gaius Julius Caesar (of which there were only three, not including himself).
  • The Julio-Claudians were pikers compared to a lot of European dynasties a few hundred years ago. The number of times people married their first cousins to reaffirm long-standing alliances or some such was absolutely unbelievable. Even in the modern day, it still happens — Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are both second cousins once removed and third cousins via different paths.
    • The worst example historically is probably Alfonso XII of Spain whose grandfathers were brothers who each married their own nieces.note  Instead of the usual 24 great- and great-great-grandparents, he had 10. Admittedly, that's not directly a Tangled Family Tree, but when it carries on for a while (and it did, for centuries) it can get ludicrously tangled.
    • All that is before you consider that these people were often all rulers in different nations. Just because he's your brother and your cousin doesn't mean that you can't go to war with him, right? Which makes the Thirty Years' War (aka, the bloodiest European war pre-WWI) the second-biggest family feud of all time.
    • The family tree of Charles II of Spain is also incredibly tangled. In case you don't want to work it out, that means a grand total of eight separate genomes introduced over the course of seven generations and at least three cases of men marrying their nieces. Not only that, but Joanna of Castile, a.k.a. "Crazy Jane", is most of his great^5 and 6 grandmothers, when it'd be normal to have 16 and 32, respectively. Hence him being a literal deformed moron, hence him being unable to produce children (they actually tried, with two wives that were "merely" second cousins, but the man was literally too malformed to breed), hence the Succession Crisis, hence the War of the Spanish Succession, or the third-biggest family feud of all time.
      Louis XIV of France and Leopold I of Austria both had claims to the Spanish throne through Charles II's grandfather, by way of their mothers and their wives. Problem was, one had a mother who was the other's mother's older sister, the other had a wife who was the other's wife's older sister, and nobody could figure out which trumped which. When the third candidate (six-year-old Joseph Ferdinand/José Fernando of Bavaria) died, the French king moved to have his grandson crowned, and the Austrian emperor moved to have his son crowned. The rest of Europe was terrified of either power gaining control of the Spanish empire and moved to stop them both. Hence, The War Of Spanish Succession.
      • Philip of Castillenote  and Joanna of Castillenote  together were both 3x-Great grandparents and 5x-Great-grandparents to Charles II, and provided about 40.6% of hisnote  genes. That shouldn't work! And frankly didn't!
      • Charles II also had congenital syphilis (his father was infected through sex with prostitutes, then transmitted it to his wife, who in turn passed the disease on to her unborn son), which is known to cause severe birth defects and genetic mutation. This may well have been the first new genetic information introduced in generations. Think of it as adding a little raw sewage to a gene pool filled with stagnant swamp water.
    • And Charles II is just the most severe case in his dynasty. Pick a Habsburg. Any Habsburg. There's a reason there's a Wikipedia article on the Habsburg chin. The Habsburg case is one of wanting to keep it "all in the family." Unlike many of Europe's dynasties, they came by the vast majority of their titles through lucky inheritances (having come to power after the black plague devastated most of the noble houses of Europe) rather than war, and they didn't want to lose any of them the same way they had earned them. As has been noted, this ultimately produced a literal genetic recipe for disaster. The Habsburg Chin (or Lip) went from a family trait of a larger than normal lower jaw to a facial deformity so severe that Charles II could barely speak and couldn't chew.
    • You would think that if you had a grandmother called Juana The Mad you would know better than to marry your double first cousin and later your own niece (daughter of your sister by another first cousin!) but not if you are Philip II of Spain. And that of course was why Philip was the LAST sane and intelligent King of the Spanish Habsburg line.
      • His daughters by the French Elisabeth de Valois were beautiful, sane, and highly intelligent - in contrast to the two sons he had bred with the above-mentioned cousin and niece. But did he notice and draw the obvious lesson? Heck no!
      • And as if that wasn't enough, Philip II himself was also the product of a cousin marriage! His mother Isabella of Portugal was the daughter of Juana's sister Maria of Aragon, who then married Charles I, Juana's son. As if the family tree wasn't inbred enough.
    • The Austrian Habsburgs fared better than their Spanish counterparts, but not by much. Less than a century after the inbreeding-fueled War of Spanish Succession, double-first-cousins (as in, the offspring of a brother and sister marrying their first cousins, who were also brother and sister) Holy Roman Emperor Francis II and his wife, Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily, had 12 children, the majority of whom died in infancy or childhood, suffered disfigurement or mental health issues, or were cognitively delayed (though the eldest child, Marie Louise, went on to marry Napoleon Bonaparte). Their eldest son, Emperor Ferdinand I, was nearly in as poor shape as Charles II of Spain: He was epileptic, suffered from hydrocephalus and a speech impediment, had cognitive delays and was rumoured to be "feeble-minded", and, similar to Charles, was unable to consummate his marriage, and therefore unable to produce an heir. This unfortunate luck with their children makes more sense when one considers not only the long traditions of cousin-marriage and uncle-niece marriage of the Habsburgs, but that as double-first cousins, Francis and Maria Theresa would have been genetically similar to half-siblings.
  • Older Than Dirt: Any given Ancient Egyptian dynasty, whose Royal Blood was traditionally "preserved" via so much incest that it gave Tutankhamun a club foot and a cleft palate, and was probably the reason he had no surviving offspring.
    • According to recent DNA studies, Tut was the offspring of a full brother/sister marriage, with said brother and sister being children of Amenhotep III and his non-royal chief wife, Queen Tiye. Ironically, this suggests that exogamy may have actually been the source of his problems, as the antecedent Thutmosids' only genetic problem seemed to have been a bad overbite.
    • The 12th Dynasty seemed to consistently practice brother/sister marriage, and it lasted nearly two hundred years, producing seven extremely able and successful kings and finally ending due to a lack of sons. It all depends on how sound the genetic inheritance is to start with.
  • The Greek Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt (founded by Ptolemy, who was one of Alexander the Great's Generals) is so knotted and twisted that it almost defies description. This website makes a brave effort. Ptolemy VIII Tryphon and his wife (and double-niece) Cleopatra III produced five children: Cleopatra IV, Ptolemy IX, Tryphaena, Cleopatra Selene, and Ptolemy X Alexander I. Ptolemy IX secretly married his sister Cleopatra IV, but their mother forced them to divorce (they'd already produced two sons, Ptolemy XII Auletes and Ptolemy of Cyprus). Cleopatra IV then married their cousin Antiochos IX of Syria and had another son with him, Antiochos X. She was then murdered on the orders of her sister Tryphaena (who was in turn executed by Antiochos IX). Her brother/ex-husband Ptolemy IX meanwhile married his other sister, Cleopatra Selene, by whom he had a daughter, Berenike III. He was expelled by Egypt by their brother, Ptolemy X Alexander I, who then married Cleopatra Selene himself (they had a son named Ptolemy XI Alexander II). After they divorced, Cleopatra Selene married three successive kings of Syria, becoming history's only known quintuple queen: Antiochos VIII (widower of her sister Tryphaena), Antiochos IX (widower of her other sister, Cleopatra IV) and finally Antiochos X, her own nephew, by whom she had two sons. Ptolemy X Alexander I married his niece/stepdaughter, Berenike III, and had a daughter with her, Cleopatra V. After his death, Berenike married her half-brother/cousin/stepson, Ptolemy XI Alexander II, who had her murdered and was subsequently murdered himself. Ptolemy XII Auletes, the son of Ptolemy IX and Cleopatra IV, became king and married his niece, Cleopatra V, by whom he was father of the famous Cleopatra VII (she of Caesar and Mark Antony fame). This tangled web is not at all helped by the fact that all the principal players shared only about four names and have to be distinguished by Roman numeral.

    If Mark Antony had won the war, it would have gotten a lot worse. For example, the Donations of Alexandria would have divided the Roman holdings in the Eastern Mediterranean (and parts of Armenia and Persia conquered by Mark Antony in the name of Egypt) into various kingdoms, each with one of Mark and Cleo's children as King or Queen. In Alexandria, Cleo would have been crowned "High Queen and Queen of Egypt." Her son by Caesar, Ptolemy Caesar (better known by his Latin nickname Ceasarion, meaning "Little Caesar"), would be crowned "High King, King of Egypt, heir to Caesar (who was by that point raised to the status of living god), Dictator of Rome". You just know the various lesser kings and queens would get into all kinds of family feuds and incestuous marriages like later day European royalty. Potentially even Twincest since Alexander Helios (Alexander Sun) and Cleopatra Selene II (Cleopatra Moon II) were twins, and both included in the land grab. However it gets really interesting when you consider that the King and Queen of Egypt, traditionally ruled together, were related, and married. So Cleo's relationship record would've gone "Brother, other Brother, Caesar, Mark Antony, Son."
  • Both Queen Victoria of Britain and Christian IX of Denmark had a lot of children that were married off to the royalty of Europe according to custom. During World War I, every monarch in Europe, even the rulers of minor nations like Romania, and Greece, were the grandchild of Vicky on one side, and Chris on the other, making them both maternal and paternal cousins. (Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary being among the only exceptions, although the latter, as a Habsburg, had a tangled family tree of his own.) Both the Russian Tsar and the German Kaiser spoke English as their first language, and the Swiss press at the time called it "the cousins' war". Surreal.
    • Here is a photo of British King George V, and his double cousin Tsar Nicholas II of Russia both wearing German military uniforms together in Berlin before the war. Good luck figuring out which is which. They look enough alike to be twins and have the same taste in facial hair.
    • Even more surreal when you realise that through Imperialism, they controlled anywhere between 75% and 90% of the world's landmass, making them also the most successful family in human history.
    • Despite the close relationships and often being in close communication, they quite frequently hated each other. To a substantial degree, World War One started because the English royals sneered down their noses at Kaiser Wilhelm, and he was desperate to be loved while also resenting them. Yes, World War One takes the title for "biggest family feud of all time," even if you discount the Americans and the French.
      • There was also the fact that Wilhelm really didn't grasp that his cousin George didn't control the British government. He was convinced that King George V wouldn't allow the dispute to come to war, not understanding that George didn't have a say in the matter.
    • King George V actually quietly did away with the "royal" requirement for his children's marriage partners altogether, as after World War One, there were few European royal families still standing, and all that remained were closely related. Queen Elizabeth did happen to marry another royal, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (themselves distant cousins), in 1947, but they were a love match who happened to both be royals, rather than either of them specifically seeking to marry another royal.
    • And then there's the fact that Franz Joseph's great-great-grandfather was Charles III of Spain, and Victor Emmanuel's great-great-grandfather was brother to Franz Joseph's grandfather. For extra fun, the families of Christian IX and Victoria married several times; most notably, a Danish prince and his wife (Victoria's granddaughter), who became the first King and Queen of Norway.
  • The Rothschild banking family, said to be so rich they financed both sides of every war in the 19th century, practiced incestuous marriage, motivated by the fact that marrying outside the family would mean the family fortune would be split in between different lines through inheritance, dowries and the like. Several generations of Cousin/Cousin, and in one case, Uncle/Niece marriages followed. They have since abandoned this practice (doctor's orders). Also, they were right. The family fortune dried up after they stopped the incest.
    • Not only that, but one of the original branches of the family died out, and several descendant branches have been in feuds with each other. While still wealthy, the Rothschilds' fortunes suffered greatly in both world wars (with several members of the family perishing in concentration camps), and they are far less wealthy than they used to be.
  • Duke William of Normandy (also called William the Bastard, because he was illegitimate) invaded England and killed King Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon King. William was motivated by the fact that he was Edward the Confessor's cousin, and was supposedly promised it by Harold Godwinson on a stack of holy relics (Edward the Confessor was the King of England before Harold Godwinson for those paying attention). King Harold Godwinson's daughter married Prince Vladimir Monomakh of Kiev (whose own mother was the daughter of Constantine IX Monomachus of Byzantium). The Russians, assisted by large numbers of Scandinavians, invaded Byzantium in 1043. Harald Hadrada ("the Ruthless"), who later became king of Norway, joined the Byzantine army with a large following of northmen ("Varanger"), campaigned widely, and ripped out the eyes of the Byzantine emperor Michael V Kalaphates in 1042. King Harald Hadrada of Norway invaded England in 1066, on the pretext that it was promised to his family by Harthacnut whose father was Cnut The Great, Viking King of Norway, Denmark, and England (also parts of Scotland, Sweden, Ireland, and Poland) from 1018-1035. Harthacnut's mother was also Emma of Normandy, William of Normandy's great aunt. Harald Hadrada was killed by King Harold Godwinson, who was himself killed by Duke William at the Battle of Hastings, thus ending the Saxon period, and leading to centuries of French rulers on the English throne. All at a time when most people never got further than 3 miles from their birthplace.
    • Prior to marrying Cnut, Emma had been wife to Aethelred the Unready, and bore him two sons. She was second wife to both men as well, meaning that at different points the throne was contested by sons of Aethelred and his first wife, sons of Aethelred and Emma, sons of Cnut and his first wife, and sons of Cnut and Emma. Not making the whole thing any less confusing was the fact Aethelred and Cnut's first wives both happened to be named Aelgifu. note 
    • Speaking of the two Aelgifus, one oft-overlooked detail is that they too would be distant relatives through marriage, as Aelgifu of York's son with Aelthelred, Edmund Ironside, married a cousin of Aelgifu of Northampton named Ealdgyth. The reasons for this are complicated: when Sweyn Forkbeard first invaded England, he married his son Cnut to Aelgifu of Northampton to secure a political alliance with the Mercians. Seemingly behind this alliance were Sigeferth, husband of Aelgifu's cousin Ealdgyth, and his brother Morcarnote . Then when Sweyn died and Aethelred retook the country, Sigeferth and Morcar were executed and Ealdgyth imprisoned. However, Aethelred's son Edmund then ran away with Ealdgyth and married her, securing her northern allies for himself. Meaning when Cnut re-invaded and he and Edmund fought for the English throne, they were both married to women of the same family, and after Cnut defeated Edmund and Edmund then died under mysterious circumstances, Cnut (possibly) put aside Edmund's wife's cousin to marry his stepmother. Yeah.
    • And that's before we get into the whole issue of what the legal status of Cnut and Aelgifu's relationship actually was. It's unclear if she had a lesser legal status than a wife, meaning Emma was his only legitimate wife, and her children his legal heirs, or if his marriage to Aelgifu was a full-fledged marriage, meaning his marriage to Emma would have been bigamous and hence, illegitimate. This is significant given the Succession Crisis that ensued between Aelgifu and Emma's respective sons by Cnut after his death.
  • Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord. Not only was he a Magnificent Bastard, but he had several literal bastards (probably including the artist Eugene Delacroix), most of them with a very unsure paternity. Charles de Morny a politician, stated: "In our family, we are bastards from mother to son since three generations, I am a great-grand-son of a king, grand-son of a bishop, son of a queen and brother of an emperor". Specifically, he was great-grandson to King Louis XV of France, whose illegitimate daughter Adelaide Filleul bore a son to Talleyrand, the bishop. Said son, Joseph, Comte de Flahaut, had an affair with Hortense de Beauharnais, stepdaughter of Napoléon Bonaparte and Queen of the Netherlands, an affair which produced de Morny; de Beauharnais' legitimate son later became Emperor Napoleon III. And Charles de Morny himself had an illegitimate son: writer George Feydeau. Talleyrand's legitimate family was also quite complicated, his brothers and cousins breeding prodigiously. And Talleyrand's daughter married one of his cousins.
  • Genghis Khan's Y-Chromosome is found in 0.5% of all men on earth. Makes for roughly 35,000,000 people. Guy got around.
  • Some 30% of all Europeans descend from Charlemagne, making for roughly 220,000,000 people descended from a total of ten legitimate and illegitimate children who survived, married, and procreated.
  • Some scientists theorize that around the time humans first left Africa, we were on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 500 individuals making up the entire human race, all of them living along the straits of Aden. Sometime after making the crossing into Arabia, they would splinter into two groups. One group would return to Africa, the other would go on to colonize the rest of the world. They cite signs of a genetic bottleneck in the human genome as evidence, geological evidence of expanding African deserts at around the same time as a cause, and fishing tools found in fossil reefs in the region from around this time gives them the place. Also of note, Mitochondrial Eve, the last common female ancestor of all humans, lived around 150,000 B.C., whereas Y-Chromosome Adam, the last common male ancestor of all humans, lived around 30,000 B.C..
    • It is a common misconception that Y-chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve reproduced with each other, and were the only people around at the time, or were the only people around at the time with descendants in the present day. Y-Chromosome Adam is unique because he passed his genes down through an unbroken line of male offspring. Many of his male contemporaries also are ancestors of people living today, but through lines that contain daughters, so their Y-chromosomes were not passed on (although other genes of theirs certainly were). Similarly, Mitochondrial Eve is unique because she passed her genes down through an unbroken line of female offspring. Other women were alive when she lived, but somewhere in your ancestry between you and them is a male. There is no requirement that these two people reproduced with each other, or even lived at the same time, for this to be true.
      • It should further be noted that "Adam" and "Eve" are titles, not individuals. They refer only to the last common ancestor of every living human. If some isolated tribe in the Amazon or Indonesia was completely wiped out by a sudden natural disaster, "Eve" could suddenly switch to someone who lived 20,000 years later than the previous Eve.
    • Also of note, Y-Chromosome Adam lived around the same time as the "Great Leap Forward", the time when humans began developing more complex tools (bow and arrow, rafts and canoes, animal traps, etc.), and making art for the first time. Therefore, it's entirely reasonable to suggest that Y-Chromosome Adam's line was more successful because they were more intelligent, and therefore either (A) reacted better to dangerous situations then competing males (natural selection), or (B) had more successful tribes that attracted more ladies and had more surviving children (social selection). Or both.
      • The biggest cause of the difference in time periods is simply because men can have dramatically more offspring than women, even moreso with polygamy being much more common than Monogamy for much of human history.
  • Japan, with a caste system as strong as medieval Europe, is no exception. Until the marriage between then Prince Akihito to Empress Michiko in 1958, for the past millennium, members of the Japanese Imperial House could only marry another Imperial House member, a descendant of a Heian-era nobility, or, after the Meiji Restoration, the descendants of one of the former daimyos.
    • The Japanese Emperors have all been drawn from the same patrilineal dynasty. (Their claim to legitimacy has always been that the first emperor was the grandson of Amaterasu, the sun goddess.) There have, however, been a few matrilineal dynasties. That is to say, the clan who had the most power ruled by having the Crown Prince marry the daughter of the most powerful man in that clan generation after generation, therefore ensuring that the next generation counts that clan as family, and is thus loyal to them. This goes on until the ruling clan gets overthrown by another clan. So first it's the Soga clan, then the Fujiwara, then the Taira, then the Minamoto...
  • Carrie Fisher (daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds) actually went so far as to make a flow chart called "Hollywood Inbreeding 101" explaining her family tree in her one-woman show Wishful Drinking. This was prompted by her daughter asking Fisher if she was related to her boyfriend, a grandson of Elizabeth Taylor. Thanks to numerous marriages, she'd been related to several Hollywood stars including Taylor, Paul Simon, and Marie McDonald.
  • Zachary Taylor (12th president of The United States) was second cousins with James Madison (4th President of The United States) who was himself first half-cousin to George Washington (1st President of The United States), James Madison's wife Dolly Madison had a sister who married George S Washington, who was George Washington's nephew. Zachary Taylor's fourth cousin was Robert E. Lee note (A famous Confederate General during The American Civil War), and Jefferson Davis (1st and only President of The Confederate States) was his son-in-law. When he was president, Taylor once remarked "I'll hang every secessionist there is, starting with that son-in-law of mine." Referring of course, to Jefferson Davis.
  • Inbreeding (and the related genetic hilarity that ensues) is a common riff in redneck humor, as noted by Jeff Foxworthy. Some examples:
    If your family tree does not fork, you might be a redneck.
    If you've ever gone to a family reunion to pick up women, you might be a redneck.
  • Even without incest, there can be some seriously weird relations if certain people marry other certain people. For example, if you're a guy and you just married your long-time girlfriend (making her your wife), but your divorced mother just married your wife's father, that would make your wife also your (step)sister! And then if your older sister decided to marry your wife's uncle, he'd be your uncle too, but he'd also be your brother (in-law). It's almost the opposite of Jeff Foxworthy's "redneck jokes": Your family tree does fork, it just forks so dang much it resembles a bush more than a tree!
    Homer: And then our kids would look all weird and mutated!
  • In some cultures where polygamy is legal, some husbands try to minimize strife between co-wives by marrying women who are sisters, hence used to getting along with one another. The co-wives' respective offspring are therefore each others' half-siblings and cousins at the same time. According to The Other Wiki, such individuals are called three-quarter siblings.
    • The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a fundamentalist Mormon offshoot, does practice plural marriage, including men marrying sisters for this very reason. However, as the sect is rather small to start with, and families generally end up with many children - who then all intermarry with other families in the same relatively limited pool - the genealogies and relations get quite complex. As the FLDS has a few offshoots and breakaway sects of its own that are even smaller, this has quickly veered into Everyone Is Related territory, including some increased genetic risk factors.
  • In secluded societies, people were prone to marry close because it was easier that way. Before modern communication and roads, many remote areas in Norway had this problem; in the valley of Setesdal, certain inherital diseases spread because of this, and in nearby Telemark, some families were as tangled as any. In one case, a farmer married his cousin because she was close. One of his daughters married her second cousin, and so on. After getting all those details straight, one family member actually mused: "it is a wonder we didn't end up morons all of us". The family tree in question looks something like this, and is only one example of many.
  • Not only are Franklin D. Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt related, but Franklin happens to be the fifth cousin to his wife Eleanor's father. Furthermore, Eleanor happens to be the niece of Teddy Roosevelt. Let's just say that the Roosevelt family tree is complicated enough that they distinguish themselves as the Hyde Park branch (Franklin's side) and the Oyster Bay branch (Teddy's side). With Eleanor's marriage to Franklin serving as a bridge between the two. Here is the family tree.
  • In 2012, a California student named BridgeAnne D'Avignon completed a genealogical project that, by tracing both paternal and maternal lines, proved that almost every man to become President of the United States is a descendant of King John of England. The only exception is Martin Van Buren, who is of Dutch ancestry instead. Yes, Barack Obama does descend from King John through his white mother. Donald Trump, who obviously was not included in D'Avignon's project, turns out to be a distant cousin of Obama (again, through his white mom) and a 19th cousin of Hillary Rodham Clinton, on top of being another King John descendant.
  • While we're on the topic of Hillary Rodham Clinton, she is a distant cousin of singers Madonna, Celine Dion, and Alanis Morissette. To elaborate, she and Angelina Jolie are ninth cousins twice removed. Meanwhile, her rival during the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama, is a distant cousin of Brad Pitt.
  • The Kardashian family has enough drama to go around as is, but with the birth of Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna's daughter Dream... well, we'll just let this guy explain it.
    • To clarify: Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna have a daughter together named Dream. Dream's half-brother King Cairo is the son of Tyga, a rapper who used to date Dream's half-aunt Kylie Jenner while she was underage. Had Tyga and Kylie stayed together and gotten married, Kylie would've also been King Cairo's stepmother and Tyga would've been Dream's half-uncle, which would also make King Cairo Dream's cousin. (Kylie Jenner, by the way, would go on to have a daughter with Travis Scott named Stormi.)
      • Meanwhile, you have Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, who have four children overall. Kanye once dated Amber Rose, who went on to have Sebastian with her ex Wiz Khalifa.
      • Khloe Kardashian has a daughter of her own named True, whose father is Khloe's ex-boyfriend Tristan Thompson. The latter also has a son named Prince with another woman.
  • Your own family tree may prove to be this when you try researching more than several generations back. Tracing your ancestry can prove complex and costly. With similar surnames, similar families in similar households all born the same year in the same place AND with the same occupations, it's very easy to accidentally follow the wrong line back (or hit a brick wall). Humans are very messy and disorganized creatures, so the census and church records may either be wrong, missing, or not correctly show who married who (or who didn't marry who). Joining genealogy sites and doing DNA tests may help somewhat, but be prepared to have many 3rd-4th cousins contact you with trees that look nothing like yours and no apparent connection as to how you're belonging.

Alternative Title(s): Summers Family Tree, Family Thicket


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