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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, Double In-Law Marriage, Retroactive Stepsibling Relationship, Extra Parent Conception, Related in the Adaptation, Crossover Relatives, 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.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & 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.
  • EDENS ZERO: At the start of the series, Shiki's family tree was rather simple with his adoptive robot grandfather Ziggy that passed away before the series. Then, after Ziggy returned from the dead and declaring war against all humans, we find out that he is an Alternate Self of Shiki from the future who, along with Rebecca, was propelled twenty-thousand years into the future and rebuilt into a robot. He tried to go back in time to save Mother, but instead was taken over by the AI of his ship, the Edens One. The final arc only further complicates the family tree: Shiki's birth parents were humans from Earth thousands of years ago during The End of the World as We Know It, whose corpse data were used by Ziggy to construct Witch, the Edens Zero's Team Mom, and Wizard, her Evil Counterpart who serves the series final villain O.N.E. Void. And the final Big Bad of the series? The unborn son of Ziggy and his world's Rebecca, who use Mental Time Travel to fuse into the Edens One and become its malicious and genocidal AI.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), 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.
  • World's End Harem: Fantasia: The four counties where most of the story takes place, of which protagonist Arc's County of Nargala is one, are vestiges of the Kingdom of Fafnir, which balkanized long ago, and their four ruling houses are all descended from Fafnir's royal family and variously interrelated. The Patriarch Arges Isteshia is Arc's maternal great-uncle, though Arc refers to him as his grandfather, and Arc's Love Interest Aurelia is Arges's direct granddaughter, which in turn makes Arc and Aurelia second cousins.
  • 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 Big Bad 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.
    • The whole thing also gets referenced in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links as Yuzu and Serena argue over who is the older sister between the two, and Serena declares that she is Reiji's older sister despite her being technically younger than him. Reiji disputes the claim.

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

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • Wolves: The three Wills Brothers and Cayden are second cousins, but it is unclear whether they are related to him through his father (Connor), his maternal grandmother (the sister of John Tollerman) or his paternal grandfather. Neither Connor nor John indicates any closeness or kinship with them, but they could just be estranged.
  • You've Got Mail: Thanks to his father and grandfather shacking up 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."

    Music 
  • "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 
  • Classical Mythology: Most named figures can be placed somewhere on one massive and convoluted family tree. This is partly due to the "long-running continuity" being 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).
    • 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... and then there were some complicated relationships brought about by the trope of Pair the Spares. For instance, in The Telegony, after Odysseus 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, and in the Italian tradition had sons called Italus and Latinus respectively. As such, 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.
    • 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!
  • Arthurian Legend: King 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. Additionally, if you believe Jesus is God (as orthodox Trinitarians as well as "Oneness" Pentecostals do), then that would mean the pre-incarnate Jesus created Adam.
    • 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.

    Puzzles 
  • 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. The answer given is one guest. Although it's possible to create a family tree with zero guests, meaning that the governor is his father’s brother-in-law et al, that wouldn't be much of a party!

    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).

    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.
    • Also, due to the way the time machine works, Phi is her own adoptive mother. Sigma and Diana sent Phi and Delta back to 1904, when a team of German scientists were in possession of the machine. As part of their experiments, they sent Phi to 2008 by herself. However, since the machine only transmits data and makes a copy at the other end, there was still a Phi left in 1904. That Phi became a scientist and got a job at the American facility that purchased the time machine from the Germans, adopting "our" Phi when she came out of the machine in 2008.

    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. The two have so many relatives that it's hard to tell who is related to which. There's also the fact that they are so numerous they are scattered throughout the world, with some of them all being 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.
  • Behold the Sparklez Family Tree, an attempt by one Tumblr user to record the romances and honorary family relations between numerous Minecraft content creators (centered on CaptainSparklez, hence the name) using information gathered from numerous SMPs (e.g. Dream SMP, Empires SMP, and Life SMP, to name a few) as well as the general dynamics between said content creators. The results are definitely something, considering there are at least 56 content creators listed in the diagram, and due to the tendency of Minecraft YouTubers to spontaneously generate new "relationships" and "family dynamics" between each other, it is still far from complete.
    OP of the post in question: welcome to the extended sparklez family tree, aka for the love of god someone stop the mcyts from creating more family dynamics before this becomes a circle
    (Seven updates later)
    i re-made the entire thing. i hate minecraft youtubers.
    (The next update)
    version fuck if i know at this point. adding in hermitempires shenanigans is probably going to be my downfall but also. i didn’t name myself icarus for nothing
    (Two updates later)
    expanding to empires was a mistake.
  • 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 kick-starts the whole bloodline. Also, one of them is green (as in 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.

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

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