Follow TV Tropes


The Clan

Go To

"And the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses: so they pitched by their standards, and so they set forward, every one after their families, according to the house of their fathers."
Numbers 2:34, The Bible

The transition from nuclear family to clan is gradual, but you know it when you have a clan at hand. These families often consist of many family branches and generations are, are called collectively "The Foobars", or, more pompously, "House (of) Foobar". They might have their own family mythos, and the members often resemble each other in looks and personality. Two such clans can engage in lengthy wars.

If there are several clans, each has a tendency to actually wear a hat. This is popular in a lot of fantasy works. For example, you'll generally run into at least some of the following: a Proud Warrior House, an Evil or Arrogant Aristocrat House, a Greedy Merchant House, and of course The Hero House.

Holding the clan members together is an official or unofficial head of the family. This person can be an ancestor, someone whose personality centers their family on them, or an actual post that gets passed on through one of the family lines. It could even be a mythological totem, a god, or some kind of spirit. There will also be rituals such as religious ceremonies, rites of passage, war dances, or whatever that are unique to a given clan.

The trope is at least Older Than Feudalism: The Greek pantheon is a sprawling family large and interconnected enough to count. They say blood is Thicker Than Water, and it is easy to empathize with the characters. Just like the real ones, the fictional clans can be the safe haven in the storms of life or a maelstrom on the high seas and everything in between. Sometimes alternating. If the clan is powerful and their name ancient they will often be as degenerated as they are proud. A good example of this comes from the culture which provides the term clan: The modern Irish word "clann" still means "family" and ancient Scots and Irish societies were organized around extended family structures.

Writers often use related characters to show variations on a theme: each character or generation can provide similarity and contrast to each other.

Upbringing and heredity mark one forever (often, Lamarck Was Right too). And relatives, as everybody knows, are impossible to eliminate. All this makes for a lot of characters, clashing personalities, drama, humour, mysteries, characterization and plot.

Two popular variations that might be given the word "clan":

  • The dynasty: This is a large extended family with many assets. Other than its power and the effort it expends on institutionalizing itself it is no different then any other extended family; that is its membership will probably include a grandfather and/or grandmother as head, their children, and their children plus some in-laws depending on how the matchmaker arranged the deal. Also included will be dead ancestors which will be honored, carefully recorded and used to make claims in convoluted inheritance disputes. This kind will be typical of aristocratic societies and is as likely to exist in a society with a strong state as one with a weak one. Real Life examples include most European royal and noble families. Also included are several famous mercantile and industrial families, some of whom have left their names on large corporations or other business concerns, as well as on philanthropic enterprises they patronised. These include Rothschild, Vanderbilt, Krupp, etc. Also included in this type of clan are typical Italian patronage webs as featured in The Godfather. These however are not all criminal enterprises but have been typical of commercial, political, and social life in Italy for hundreds of years.
  • The tribe: Though "tribe" is often used to mean "clan confederation" or "ethnicity" this term will do. It is basically like a small kingdom or principality, all of whose members are officially related. It will have far greater population than a dynasty but may have fewer assets. In some ways the difference is as much in how it uses its members rather then the actual numbers. A tribe is more likely to use the physical force provided by the concentration of its members while a dynasty is likely to use their capacity for gaining social connections. For instance emphasizing it's ability to provide a large warband (or a large workcrew in more stable times) of hundreds or thousands of cousins is typical of a "tribe" but emphasizing the hereditary estates it holds and the possible Arranged Marriages it can acquire is more typical of a "dynasty". The tribal arrangement will likely be found in nomadic or low-technology cultures but not exclusive to them. It will often arise where the central government is not strong enough to either repress or protect its subjects. This type was the original meaning of the word clan in its Celtic origin where it meant "children" (the original meaning of "tribe" by the way was "Roman voting district"; there were originally three of them and according to the other wiki they were ethnically based so there is a connection to the modern definition). When a more centralized system is instituted these clans often change into mutual assistance groups, business enterprises, political lobby groups, ceremonial associations or what not. Real Life examples include Scots clans, Native American tribes, Arab tribes, and, in origin, Jews as is indicated by the name "Israel", the name of an ancestral founder.

The difference can be told in the relation of the followers to the family head. If the followers are considered servants or clients of the family then it is the first type. If both the family head and most of his followers are considered members of the clan it is the second. Whatever form they take, they will inevitably care a lot about Family Honor.

Not to be confused with The Klan, nor with our useful notes page on the Ku Klux Klan. For the Argentine film, see El Clan.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

  • Akuma no Riddle: Haru's very existence is a problem to her very powerful extended family, meaning a lifetime of avoiding assassinations.
  • Berserk: The Bakiraka are a tribe of warriors and assassins who constitute a distinct ethnicity within the Kushan Empire. The loss of their homeland and autonomy as punishment for supporting the deposed former Kushan royal house has led to a diaspora of Kushan working in foreign lands as mercenaries, and Silat's motivation is to restore his clan to its former glory.
  • Bleach:
    • Outside of the Gotei 13 military organization, most of the "governmental" authority in Soul Society comes from the nobility, who have a strong feudal clan system with main and subordinate branches, sworn retainers, traditional territories, etc. Even Shinigami descended from minor nobility (like Ukitake and Oomaeda) have strong loyalty to their family lines. Seireitei is currently dominated by the Four Great Houses, three of which — Kuchiki, Shihouin, Tsunayashiro — have been revealed. The Shiba Clan was once the Fifth Great House, but was demoted due to dishonor.
    • The Quincy Clan was large enough at its height to function more like a tribe or ethnic group, but it has recently been confirmed that all Quincies are extended blood kin all descended from The Emperor Yhwach.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: The Li Clan, while not mentioned often in the series, is a large magical family directly descended from the sorcerer Clow Reed of which Syaoran and Meiling Li are members.
  • Fruits Basket: The Sohma family are a very large, dysfunctional, and (literally) cursed family who need someone to make their lives better. Despite often being referred to as a "family", they're actually a clan consisting of 150 people. While the Sohmas will sometimes refer to each other as "cousins" or "relatives", this is mainly out of kinship and formality, since it's often implied that many of them are only very distantly related or not related at all.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: The House of Armstrong has been playing this for laughs for generations. The Xingese characters, on the other hand, play it straight.
  • High School Star Musical: Itsuki Otori and Tsubasa Hiiragi are actually twin brothers - the Otori family is a branch of the Hiiragi family. But the main family needed an heir, so they adopted Tsubasa, and the two lived separately from then on, not allowed to acknowledge the time they spent together as children, or their relationship.
  • K:
    • (Not to be confused with what the series calls followers of the Seven Kings)
    • The Gold King, Daikaku Kokujouji, comes from a very powerful one - a clan of Onmyōdō practitioners, at that. His Old Retainer, the Usagi who gives Daikaku's possessions to the Silver Clan in season 2, came from a branch of the family and when he was young, he was sent to spy on Daikaku, but when he saw what Daikaku was doing with the Slates, he was amazed, and became Daikaku's most loyal follower. (So he is a member of Daikaku's "clan" in both senses).
    • It is implied that Saruhiko Fushimi and Izumo Kusanagi are both from branches of families like this, though it has not impacted the story yet. In Lost Small World, Saruhiko's cousin Aya tells Misaki how Saruhiko's father, Niki Fushimi, is something of an outcast in the family.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Most if not all of Kaguya's issues stem from her growing up as a member of the illustrious Shinomiya family. At least one branch family is also seen during the course of the series, and there is a lot of bad blood between as can be seen by Kaguya's interactions with her cousin Maki.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: The Scrya Clan that Yuuno is a part of. Examining history and the past is the clan's main occupation, and they possess quite a few specialty spells for those purposes such as one that lets them scan through several books at once.
  • Naruto: Many characters belong to shinobi clans, the more notable ones having their own symbol. Some clans have special abilities exclusive to them genetically (called "Kekkei Genkai" or "Bloodline Limit"), others pass down secret clan techniques or specialize in specific skills, and the rest just seem to be extended families whose members all happen to be ninjas. With the exception of the Uchiha (whose Hat is copying people and breathing fire) and the Senju (whose Hat is being good at multiple techniques), we hardly ever see any member of these clans using anything but their clan techniques. The page image is of the Hyuga clan, who are famed for their skill at close-ranged combat and their Byakugan eyes which have three-hundred-fifty-nine-degree telescopic x-ray vision.
    • While shinobi clans did constantly war against each other for most of recorded history, the successful unification of multiple clans into various "Hidden Villages" approximately a century before the start of the series means that most ninjas nowadays are primarily loyal to their village instead of their clan, though clan conflict still breaks out from time to time.
  • One Piece: The foundation and infrastructure of Big Mom's whole organization, from her pirate crew to Totto Land, revolves around her family with her as the overall ruling matriarch. Her 86 children serve either as a means to bring and unite other pirate crews under her fold via their marriages such as in the cases of Pudding, Chiffon, and Praline; or as high ranking executives in her empire in one form or another such as in the cases of Moscato, Brulee, Perospero, and the Sweet Commanders (Cracker, Smoothie, and Katakuri).
    • From there, the Charlotte family extends to Big Mom's grandchildren such as Pez; the spouses who married her children such as Pez's father Bege and Aladine; and unrelated parties who serve her either directly under her or through their relations to her children's spouses such as the Firetank and Sun Pirates.
    • In regards to Big Mom's 43 husbands, while Pudding during her explanation to Luffy and his friends claims that she considers them part of the immediate core Charlotte family, the sentiment, however, isn't shared by all. According to Cracker, Big Mom simply sees all her husbands as just a random group of "outsiders" with no blood relation whatsoever - she just sees them as sperm donors and couldn't care less what happened to them, a sentiment shared by others in the family such as Cracker.
  • The Story of Saiunkoku is set in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Imperial China with the ruling nobility consisting of eight clans, all named after a different colour. The most prominently featured is the Kou Clan, which the main character belongs to. Most of the plotlines involve some kind of politics between clans or within a specific clan.
  • Summer Wars: The Jinnouchi Clan, which goes back 16 generations.
  • Tsukihime:
    • The Nanaya clan were a clan of inbred demon-slaying super-assassins who had achieved the limitations of human reflexes/strengths on sheer willpower, training, and dedication. They had a special mutation in their blood which gave them various psychic perception abilities, but since psychic mutations can only usually last for one generation they were a completely incestuous clan in order to maintain that gene. They were wiped out by the Tohno Family before the events of the game, with only one member (the protagonist, Nanaya Shiki) surviving due to a whim of the Tohno Family head (Nanaya Shiki had the same-name-written-differently as his son, Tohno SHIKI); Nanaya Shiki is later brainwashed into believing he is Tohno Shiki to cover for the "accident".
    • The Tohno family is also a clan by the standards of this trope, probably moreso, particularly the branch family and head of the family aspects.
  • Tokyo Ghoul:
    • The CCG is headed by the Washuu Clan. They started out as a clan of professional Ghoul Hunters in Feudal Japan, prior to the Emperor giving them authority and making them a government agency. Since then, they have commanded the CCG for more than a century with Three Successful Generations representing the current Chairman, Chief, and one of the Division Commanders. While considered very good at what they do, the Washuu are noted for treating human lives like numbers and readily throwing away their forces for victory. There are hints of a power struggle brewing, with Chief Yoshitoki Washuu noted as an unusually kind superior while his son, Division II Commander Matsuri Washuu, is so ruthless that many in the organization are afraid of what could happen should he take over the Washuu Clan and CCG.
    • Over on the Ghoul side of things, the Dynasty version of the trope is represented by the Tsukiyama family. Distantly related to the mostly-exterminated German Rosewald family, they are a major financial, business, and political powerhouse that established themselves within the human world generations ago. Their influence allows them to exist among human society, while also taking active roles within the upper-class Ghoul society. Noted for their eccentric members and long history of cousin-marriages, they are considered strange by other Ghouls and seem to be able to get away with considerable bloodshed without authorities catching them.

    Comic Books 

  • Finder: The society of the city of Anvard is heavily based on clans. It's strongly implied that the similarity of their members is the result of past genetic engineering.
  • Scare Tactics (DC Comics) featured several: the Skorzenys (vampires), the Ketchems (werewolves) and the Knightbridges (ghouls).
  • Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons: In this series, instead of the usual "one nation under one queen" approach as in other WW comics, this comic reinvents the Amazons as a set of six tribes, each with their own queen and patron-goddess: Demeter's tribe led by Penthesilea, Hestia's tribe led by Io, Hecate's tribe led by Menalippe, Athena's tribe led by Hellene, Aphrodite's tribe led by Pythia and Artemis' tribe led by Antiope.

    Fan Works 

  • RWBY/The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings Fusion Fic Rise of a Star Knight, and its sequel Knights of Remnant: The Ring of Darkness, has the House of Valkyrie, Nora's extended family, who take the place of the dwarves, being famed for their stonework and Mithril. And their warhammers. They are also the ones who built Moria, which Nora at one point describes as an "ancient Valkyrie city", and even uses the dwarven name for it at times. Nora at one point mentions that her grandmother, Sif, is leading a tribe of Valkyries to retake Moria. It ends better for them than it did for the dwarves. A large number of them escape while Sif and her warriors make a Last Stand against the Grimm, unlike with the dwarves, where the entire expedition was killed.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines features some prominent examples:
    • In Kanto, there's the Fisher Clan, possibly the most important family of Crimson City. Their founder, Utsubotto Fisher, was a Victreebel Species Bloodliner, and won many battles centuries ago with his (at the time) unparalleled knowledge about the Bellsprout evolutionary line, such as the fact they were part Poison-types in addition to Grass-types.
    • In Johto, there's the Blackthorn Dragon Clan, master trainers of Dragon-type and dragon-like Pokémon for many generations. Clair and Lance are the current heirs, and the former is actually pressed by the clan's elders into marrying to secure the next generation.
  • The Alternate Tail Series has Clan Garten, an organization of researchers that appears in part 2, with the main family all being related. Most seem to use at least one form of letter magic, the grunts especially being fond of Solid Script and Rune Magic. They also use Automatons, animal based machines sent out to fight. Joseph Mcgarden, Levy's grandfather, was once a member of this clan.
  • Temporal Visitor depicts Celestia as having been born during a tribal period of pony history. She was originally named Sun the Honourable of Clan Flower (or "Sun Flower"/"Grian Flùr" for short).
  • In The Hunger Games stories by Seta Suzume, Luna Vetvier's grandfather is the hereditary leader of District 9 and she has a lot of siblings and cousins, at least two of whom die in the Games due to rigged reapings.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 

  • The Dark Crystal: At the time of Age of Resistance, Gelfling society is formed of seven clans, which are distrustful of one another before joining together to fight the Skeksis. They even look down on Pod People, considering them to be below even the Grottan Gelflings.


  • A Brother's Price: Families are expected to be this. All the sisters in a family share one husband, and their children grow up in the same household, with lots of mothers and sisters, and some brothers if the family is lucky. Aunts and cousins only happen if the family is able to afford two or more husbands, then they split up. But that's not traditional. The Whistlers did split up a generation ago, but visit each other frequently and have a clan mentality. It is not advisable to attack one of them.
  • The title's unlucky Buddenbrooks from Thomas Mann's book.
  • The Sacketts, a fictional clan from the backwoods of Tennessee. They all seem to be badasses too.
    "Pick a fight with one Sackett, and the rest of them come a runnin'"
  • Discworld: The Oggs, who manage to be both happy and a Dysfunction Junction. Also, the Lavish family in Making Money, without the happy bit. One of them, Cosmo, envies Lord Vetinari for having no family but an old aunt.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In the House of Black, members are vastly different from each other in about everything but the name.
    • The Weasleys, a family so big that Harry can pretend to be a nonexistent cousin under Polyjuice and no one would notice. Not even other Weasleys.
    • The Blacks and the Weasleys are, unsurprisingly, related, though the former would rather deny it. According to Sirius, all pure-blood wizard families are inter-related to some degree. If you're only going to let your kids marry other pure-bloods, your choice is increasingly limited - not that this stops people like the Malfoys from calling Category Traitor.
  • The Dune series opens with the end of the bitter rivalry between House Atreides and House Harkonnen. Great Houses control a significant part of the Galaxy's economy. The House Ix wears the Gadgeteer Genius hat, sometimes to their detriment in a technophobic Empire.
  • The noble houses of Westeros in A Song of Ice and Fire. House Targaryen is a house of beautiful mad geniuses. House Stark is stoic and honorable. House Frey is backbiting and greedy. House Bolton are Machiavellian bastards. House Greyjoy are grim raiders. House Lannister is vain. Some of the hats are strongly influenced by the current heads of the family, while other hats seem to go back generations. Houses also try to brand themselves with their particular hat through a house motto. In more wild parts of Westeros there are actual clans that fit the more tribal version of the trope, such as the semi-civilised Mountain Clans of the Vale and the civilised, but distant and very traditional Northern Mountain Clans (who essentially are to Northerners what Northerners are to the rest of Westeros).
  • The Shadowhunter families of The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. The secret society of Shadowhunters is made up of unique families, each with their own complicated and tangled histories. Some families are more famous than most. There's the complex and ancient Lightwood family. The wild and witty Herondale family. The fierce and stubborn Fairchild family. The large and rebellious Blackthorn family. The wise and loyal Carstairs family. Each of these families are connected to each other in some way or another. For example, the Herondales and Carstairs have an unwavering loyalty to one another that has lasted for generations. Some of these families also have Downworlder ties, especially the Herondales, who can see ghosts and have spawned half-Warlocks and secret half-faeries. While the Blackthorns have histories of dark magic and half-faeries as well.
  • The Phoenix Trilogy books by M. K. Wren (Sword of the Lamb, Shadow of the Swan, House of the Wolf) has as one of it's primary focuses the politics and backstabbing between a series of Houses, each with its own government-granted monopolies.
  • The House of Finwë from The Silmarillion. The Fëanorians wear the Ax-Crazy hat (but Maedhros and Maglor at least are shaded with rather more subtlety than that), whereas the Fingolfinians and Finarfinians are much easier to live with. J. R. R. Tolkien loves this trope. Most of his heroes are part of one clan or another. Hobbits have lots of clans like the Tooks, the Brandybucks, the Bagginses, and of course the Proudfootsnote .
  • Warrior Cats:
    • The four Clans normally get along. Of course, every once in a while, somebody gets cocky and decides to try taking some territory. Generally, RiverClan can swim, and tend to be a little smug, WindClan are fast and flighty, ShadowClan are proud, fierce, and a little mysterious, and ThunderClan are strong, brave, and compassionate. Later books seem determined to upend previous Clan stereotypes: WindClan, who ThunderClan was always rescuing earlier, now are aloof and independent. ShadowClan has more recently been downright sympathetic, even helpful. ThunderClan has been repeatedly called out on their interfering and rule-bending, and have also notably been rescued... by WindClan.
    • We have SkyClan, who left the other Clans a long time ago to seek a new life when their territory was destroyed. And they recently seem to have succeeded.
    • BloodClan, the vicious tribe of alley cats from the city who attempted to take over the forest (though they aren't a Clan in the same sense as ThunderClan and the rest). It's implied that very few of the cats from BloodClan are actually bad cats deep down inside; they only did what they did out of fear of their leader. Now, BloodClan is currently scattered across the city, with no clear leader, after being defeated by the four forest Clans and a few scuffles with Ravenpaw and Barley over some farmland territory.
    • And we also have the mythical TigerClan, LeopardClan, and LionClan, whose legends are known throughout all the Clans. But despite Word of God confirming that they didn't actually exist in-universe, this hasn't stopped the fans from trying to make them exist in the series... and it hasn't stopped the characters themselves either.
      • TigerClan and LionClan did briefly, but not the mythical ones. Tigerclaw combined ShadowClan and RiverClan into TigerClan, and WindClan and ThunderClan formed LionClan to oppose it, fulfilling the prophecy "Four will become two. Lion and Tiger will meet in battle and blood will rule the forest." (Blood was a BloodClan reference.)
    • There's also the Tribe of Rushing Water, a community of cats living in the mountains with different customs and a slightly different dialect from the Clans.
  • The Comyn of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series consist of seven Clans including The Hero Houses of Hastur and Alton; the Corrupt Aristocratic House of Ardais and the renegade House of Aldaran.
  • In Technic History the Ythrians live in what they call choths which are sort of like this (Poul Anderson says they only correspond vaguely to familiar human institutions but descriptions in writing sound more like clans then anything else). Stormgate Choth is the main one mentioned.
  • Most of the main characters in War and Peace are from, or vaguely related to, one of three aristocratic Russian families: the Bezukhovs, the Rostovs, and the Bolkonskys. Other clans are also mentioned often throughout the book.
  • The Aurënfaie in Nightrunner are divided up into clans. They include almost-literal hats in the form of headscarves with distinctive colors and styles.
  • Charles Stross's The Merchant Princes Series, centers around a clan whose members are distinguished by the inherited ability to travel to alternate timeline(s) by viewing a certain pattern. There's an unbelievable amount of internal scheming and politics, but they mostly use this power to manufacture drugs and smuggle them past national borders.
  • The Clayr in the Old Kingdom series are like this. Oddly enough, considering how many Clayr have non-Clayr fathers, Lirael is the only one who doesn't look like a Clayr.
  • Technically, the seventeen Houses in Steven Brust's Dragaera books are all descended from seventeen individuals. Well, sort of. They can trace the genetics, though, back to the original founders.
  • Amelia Peabody: Egyptologist Amelia Peabody and her husband Radcliffe Emerson are the founders of a clan, including their son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren, Emerson's brother and his wife (Amelia's best friend), and, through the marriage of a niece with the grandson of their Egyptian foreman, a large chunk of an Egyptian village. Oh, and there's the bastard half-brother and his liaisons.
  • Secret Histories: The Droods from the books by Simon R. Green.
  • The Vorkosigans and the other Vor families in Vorkosigan Saga.
  • Common in the Village Tales series, and generally Type I and not given to metaphorical hats. There is the "backwoods" peerage and gentry, largely the family of the Dukes of Taunton and such allied families as the Dukes of Trowbridge, the Marquesses of Badenoch and of Breckland, the Earls of Maynooth and of Freuchie, and the Barons Mallerstang and Swarthfell, and various gentry connexions; with at least one Taunton intermarriage, the allied family of the Nawabs of Hubli; the farming families and shopkeepers of the villages and market towns, who are all about sixteenth cousins at least; the servants, who, as duly lampshaded, have intermarried for yonks; and, nowadays, the Rector's family and that of his late wife, lured down by the Duke ostensibly to run the heritage steam railway and the community brewery, but in fact because he likes his friends (his Rector included) to have their families near.
  • The Woosters, Bertie's Big, Screwed-Up Family in Jeeves and Wooster. According to Bertie, they "did [their] bit in the Crusades".
  • Honor Harrington: The Harrington family is a good example (at least until most of them are killed in a Colony Drop).
  • In Courtship Rite, most of people of the Lost Colony of Geta are organized into clans, and the clans not only have particular specialties (hats), but are deliberately breeding themselves to be more effective at whatever their clan's specialty might be.
  • In The Sevenwaters Trilogy the "tuath"(clan) of Sevenwaters holds an easily defended forested zone in Ireland and engages in feuding with British, Viking, and other Irish tribes as well as interacting with The Fair Folk.
  • In Earth Unaware most free Asteroid Miners work as extended families. Ranging from a few dozen aboard the El Cavador to the Italians' hundreds of members and four ships. They periodically trade members to avoid endogamy.
  • The Goblin Emperor: Any of the elvish families are this, but especially the Drazhada, who also double as a Big, Screwed-Up Family.
  • The Vampire Academy books feature 12 royal clans: Houses Badica, Conta, Dashkov, Dragomir, Drozdov, Ivashkov, Lazar, Ozera, Szelsky, Tarus, Voda, and Zeklos.
  • Joe Pickett: The principal bad guys in Endangered are the Cates: a clan of murderous white trash.
  • The Silerian Trilogy: Silerian society is divided into these, with many swearing vendettas and fighting each other over many generations, to the point of them being nearly wiped out in some cases.
  • Dwarves in The War Gods take clan relationships very seriously and have a lot of words describing very specific relationships which none of the other races can keep track of. For example sanitharlahnahk is translated as a character's "wife's sister-in-law's second cousin on her father's side" (probably, the person doing the translation isn't certain).
  • The Spauldings in Dandelion Wine are a close-knit extended family that all live together under one roof.
  • In Tailchaser's Song, it's mentioned that cats refer to colonies/clowders as "clans". Tailchaser and Pouncequick are a part of the Meeting Wall Clan, while Roofshadow is of the Forest-Light Clan.
  • The Wicked Years: Clans are mentioned but not given much depth. For example, Shenshen is addressed as "Shenshen of the Minkos Clan" and Glinda is "of the Arduenna Clan on [her] mother's side". However, Clan name doesn't translate to surname, as Son of a Witch lists Glinda's surname as "Upland", which is taken from the musical (the "Upper Uplands" is the area Glinda hails from).
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: Hutt society is divided into these, which also double as crime families.
  • In Wolves of the Beyond, wolves form clans, which are then divided into packs. The MacDuncan Clan is the original wolf clan, with all other clans descending from it. It was originally known as the "Clan of Clans".
  • Hares in Frost Dancers have clans, though they're loosely built and have no hierarchy. Skeeter's clan is the Screesiders.
  • In Arrivals from the Dark, two of the Human Alien races are subdivided into clans:
    • The Kni'lina are divided into clans that are actually more like subspecies. Most clans are unable to interbreed due to genetic differences. This is a result of a pandemic that struck their home planet long ago, ravaging the world's only continent. The populated islands isolated themselves and separately worked on gene therapy that would grant them an immunity to the disease. Since they didn't communicate, the various genetic modifications turned them into subspecies, which grew into clans. The largest and most powerful clans are the technocratic and pragmatic Ni and the imperial and religious Poharas. They are pretty much separate nations with their own governments, although there is an overall interclan ruling body. During the war with the Earth Federation, only the Ni and their allied clans were engaged in active hostilities with the humans, with the Poharas and their allies remaining neutral. There is also a fairly sizable group called Zinto, who are actually descended from the surviving mainland population with no genetic modifications. Since the Zinto are the original Kni'lina species, they are able to interbreed with any of the clans, but this is forbidden under the pain of death as it would end the clan structure.
    • The warlike Haptors are likewise split into clans (also known as dynasties), but this is more cultural than genetic. The four largest and most powerful are the First Clans, which rule the Haptor homeworld and their entire star empire. There's no single ruler, with the four clan lords being equals and cooperating. There are also New Clans, created by those Haptors settling a new planet, but they are of a lower status than the First Clans. Each of the First Clans oversees one area: the Kshoo are involved with the interactions with the colonies and the New Clans, the Hochara handle industry, the Hshak are responsible for trade with the Lo'ona Aeo (the only race the Haptors are trading with), and the Ppoosh manage the armed forces.
    • The amphibian Dromi also have clans. In fact, the official name of their empire is "the Clans". All clans are ruled by Patriarchs, who are considered to be the progenitors of all the Dromi in their clan. Each successive generation is larger and sits lower on the pyramid of power. When a Patriarch dies, he selects one of his first-generation offspring to be his heir. The heir typically gets rid of the other potential heirs upon becoming Patriarch to avoid any complications. Clans typically have specializations: military, worker, ruler, etc.
  • InCryptid: The Price-Healy family can be considered a clan, though there's technically no leader calling the shots.note  They're a tight-knit Badass Family of cryptozoologists who protect a colony of mice that worship them and preserve their history with Photographic Memory. Not all the members are named Price; Jane Price married Theodore Harrington, but him and their children are still considered part of the Price family. Her brother Kevin married Angela Baker, and her nonhuman adoptive parents and adopted siblings are also considered part of the family, especially Sarah, who grew up with her own children. Verity Price's husband takes her last name when they get married, and her sister Antimony adopts her new friend James into the family after she sees how his father treats him.
  • In Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, everyone (except Torak) is a member of a clan named after an animal totem (though sometimes it's a species of tree, and a Kelp Clan also exists). Some are nomadic, like the Wolf Clan, while others are seasonal migrants, like the Raven Clan. The clans of the Seal Islands and the Otter Clan of Lake Axehead are sedentary, since they live in places rich enough in food that they don't have to migrate (and in the case of the islanders, there's nowhere to go except the other islands). Each clan has a leader and a mage, and there doesn't seem to be a bias towards intra- or inter-clan marriage (when inter-clan couples have children, they choose one of the clans for their child, and can choose the other for a different child).
  • ALL of The Icelandic Sagas features this in one way or another.

    Live-Action TV 

  • The 100: The Grounders are divided into 12 Clans, though given their size and the amount of ethnic diversity they display, "tribe" is probably the more accurate term.
  • The Addams Family: The Addams. Like the main family of the series, the Addams clan is weird but friendly and apparently goes back a very long way. They all seem to be generically freakish, although Addams Family Values showed at least one case of a Muggle marrying into the clan through Cousin It. Family unity is valued very, very highly.
  • Babylon 5: Both Minbari and Centauri society consider this important. The Centauri in particular, where practically everyone is part of a House of varying rank.
  • Doctor Who (and to a greater extent its EU): This appears to be how Time Lord society is structured, as sets of Houses forming larger Chapters, sometimes referred to as Colleges or Castes. For example, Romanadvoratrelundar is a member of House Heartshaven, which is part of the Prydon (sometimes called Prydonian) Chapter. Other Houses include Stillhaven, Lungbarrow (to which the Doctor belongs), Redlooms/Deeptree and the evocatively-named House of the Devouring Hounds (whose ranks included Morbius).
  • Game of Thrones: Each of the noble houses of Westeros, particularly the Great Houses, each with its own tangled history, its own sigils and mottoes, and its own genetic traits. House Targaryen is full of beautiful mad geniuses, the Starks are stoic and honourable, the Lannisters are vain rich blonds, and the Tyrells are obliging but grasping. Some of these traits are strongly influenced by the current head of the family, while others go back many generations.
  • Highlander: Had the Clan Macleod, based in real life Scottish history, though with a few Artistic License – History changes.
  • The Mandalorian: The title character is a member of a tribe of Mandalorian warriors that escaped the Purge of Mandalore by the Empire. While familial connections between members of the tribe aren't explicitly made, The Tribe is likely survivors of Clan Viszla (see the entry in Western Animation below), as indicated by the presence of Paz Viszla and the revelation that Din Djarin was adopted into Mandalorian culture by the Death Watch. The season finale also has The Mandalorian adopt The Child causing the Armorer to refer to them as "A clan of two."
  • North and South (U.S.): In this 80's mini-series and (as well as the books it was based on) had the Hazards of the North and the Mains of the South. However they were considered friends rather than enemies, and it was the American Civil War that pitted them against each other rather than themselves.
  • Revolution: First, you have the Mathesons. Then you have the Nevilles. Also, you get other clans like the O'Hallorans ("Sex and Drugs"), the Thompsons ("The Love Boat"), and the Blackmores ("The Longest Day").
  • Shameless (UK) has the Maguires, described as "a minor crime dynasty stretching back to the potato famine".
  • Star Trek: Klingon culture is largely based around clan-like houses, many of which are feuding with at least one other house. It's often stated that because of this, the Klingon Empire is typically on the verge of fragmenting.

    Mythology and Religion 

  • The Narts of the Caucasian Nart Sagas are an entire clan of warrior-heroes.
    • In the Ossetian epos, the Narts are divided into three rival clans, each defined by unique characteristics and skills: the Akshartagketta are distinguished as renowned warriors, the Alagata for their intelligence and cunning, and the Borata for their riches and cattle-breeding.


  • Dragon Ball After The End: Exile society is divided between two Clans — Vegeta and Goku, both ruled over by a Lord or Lady, and possessing their own internal culture. Each Clan is then divided between various Houses, all with their own internal structure and culture, each with a House Head. The Lord/Lady of a Clan and their immediate family belong to a House of the same name as a Clan, with the Lord/Lady acting as the House Head.
    • Clan Vegeta is highly formalized, with a rigid structure of nobility and an intricate system of behaviour. The Lord or Lady reigns as an absolute monarch.
    • Clan Goku is highly informal, with only minimal regard to nobility. The Lord or Lady acts primarily as a mediator, guide and if necessary, judge.

    Tabletop Games 

  • BattleTech:
    • In the Clans, the Bloodname Houses make up the warrior caste, each consisting of every warrior that has a direct matrilineal link to the House's founder, which is not difficult to determine. They would also engage in trials for ownership for genetic lineage. The Clans themselves are not examples, though given their eugenics program it's likely that every Trueborn warrior in a given Clan other than newly freed Bondsmen are related to one another, possibly even inbred.
    • Also, the Great Houses (Davion, Steiner, Kurita, Liao, and Marik), controlling families of the Successor States (the Federated Suns, Lyran Commonwealth, Draconis Combine, Capellan Confederation, and Free Worlds League, respectively).
  • Eberron: The Dragonmarked houses in this D&D setting, families with a hereditary tendency to spontaneously manifest magic tattoos, and economic dominance of an entire continent.
  • Exalted: The eleven Great Houses of the Realm are all Clans; five pairs of two houses each sharing a tendency towards producing Dragon-Blooded aspected to one of the five elements. And then there's House Nellens.
  • Fading Suns: The Great Houses, which include House Hawkwood (honourable and determined; based on the Atreides from Dune), House Decados (decadent, treacherous and cunning; obviously the Harkonnens), The Hazat (never House Hazat; Proud Warrior House Guys), House Li Halan (underwent an overnight conversion from "makes House Decados look restrained" to "zealous religiosity and a firmly Lawful Neutral philosophy"), and House al-Malik (philosophers whose belief in equality somehow never applies to them). There are other Houses, but those are the big five.
  • Forgotten Realms: In the dark elf houses from the franchise, most members hate each other but don't kill their relatives as long they still need them.
  • Ironclaw:
    • The nobles of the kingdom of Calabria are divided among four Great Houses (Rinaldi, Avoirdupois, Bisclavret, and Doloreaux) and a few dozen minor Houses. Each of the four Great Houses once ruled an independent kingdom, but over the course of 600 years the Rinaldi manged to vassalize the other three, though their power is waning.
    • The Phelan have five tribes or clans, both terms are used to describe them, House Bisclavret used to be the sixth. The tribes are further divided into matrilineal derbfine and septs.
  • Legend of the Five Rings: Used by name. Each clan has specific colors, teaches techniques of magic, fighting, and courtly etiquette (or lack thereof) that are rarely taught to outsiders, and have long histories of particular traditions (the Crane coloring their hair white, the nigh-omnipresence of horses and horsemanship and semi-nomadic lifestyle for the Unicorn, and the pacifism of the Phoenix).
  • Mutant Chronicles: The Imperial corporation was founded by fifty family-run companies which merged to be able to compete with Capitol and Bauhaus. An early corporate CEO referred to the former companies, now sub-divisions, as "clans" in a speech and the term stuck. At the time of the game, several hundred years later, Imperial is a full-fledged clan society, with separate clan traditions, tribal mentality and inter-clan wars coming out the wazoo. However, Imperial clans are much larger than the norm for the trope, with even small clans numbering in the millions.
  • Ravenloft, the supplement Legacy of the Blood provides details on several of the Core's most (in)famous clans, including unique family feats, spells, prestige classes and stat modifiers.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: Dwarfs and their belonging in society is defined by their clan, which may be a local clan native to one Dwarfhold (similar to a tribe) or a large one whose related families are spread out amongst multiple holds (a dynasty). All the clans come together and intermarry and interconnect in any number of myriad ways, and each dwarf has a keen knowledge and interest of his or her own place in the genealogy and their honoured ancestors (and ultimately their direct-line descent from the mythical first generation of dwarfs known as the Ancestor Gods). Each clan tends to specialize in one particular aspect of dwarf society, depending on its size and its circumstances. A local clan focused in a hold with a rich iron mine might specialize in mining and smelting iron ore, for example, while a big clan dispersed across the dwarf realms could focus on military, trade or lorekeeping matters with each branch providing its service to their native hold.


  • Romeo and Juliet: The Montague clan versus the Capulet clan. There is a decades-long feud, ending with the last legitimate heirs all dying. There's also a handful of vague implications that the Prince of Verona is himself the head of a third clan, which is also apparently decimated by the feud (Mercutio, his nephew and presumptive heir since no royal children are mentioned, dies moments before his own killer, the youngest male Capulet, Tybalt, and the prince's cousin Count Paris is killed by Romeo Montague only a little while before the deaths of Romeo and Juliet). In the end, the prince shares in the Montagues' and Capulets' grief by commenting that he has also lost "a brace of kinsmen".

    Video Games 

  • Castlevania: The Belmont clan from the series, dedicated to battling Dracula and his minions.
  • Crusader Kings: One of the big selling points that sets it apart from, say, Total War, is that you control and manage a dynasty and it's estates rather than an abstract nation or political faction. You have to manage family members, rewarding them with land and wealth to ensure their loyalty and trying to survive their cutthroat backstabbing and grabs for power - also possibly making a few betrayals and starting a few conflicts of your own. How much land you control isn't too relevant: you can lose a war and be forced to give up all your holdings and swear allegiance to a local lord, but as long as you still have at least one county and a suitable heir to continue the family line, you're still in the game and you can still restore your family's realm - or carve out an entirely new one.
    • You will most likely end up with a big dynasty if you use gavelkind succession over multiple generations.
    • Special mention should go to the Karlings, the descendants of Charlemagne, in the 867 start, who hold multiple big and strong kingdoms in Europe, including West, Middle and East Francia, Aquitaine, Italy and Bavaria. They all have claims on one another's lands, so there is constant infighting among them. However, should someone else attack them from outside, they will all quickly form a big aliance against the intruder and hold Europe under lockdown. No wonder Karling-killing became a popular sport among players.
    • Another example would be the Jimenez who hold the, rather small, kingdoms of Galicia, Leon, Castille, Navara and Aragon in the north of Spain in the 1066 start. Due to claims and inheritance, however, they are much more likely to get united in a single realm, than the Karlings.
    • In Merchant Republics the player is the head of a "Patrician house" of merchants, who compete with their city's other houses to be elected Doge.
    • Nomadic rulers create vassals by splitting their horde into subordinate clans. The "tribe" version of the trope.
    • The Holy Fury DLC adds "bloodlines" with specific game effects for particular families.
  • Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future: The Clan are a subspecies of evolved, hyper-aggressive dolphins sporting Red Eyes, Take Warning and Spikes of Villainy. They are the result of dolphins with Ambition and Intelligence, but no Compassion, Wisdom or Humility.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Most notably seen in Morrowind (and to a lesser extent, Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC) - the traditional Dunmer (Dark Elf) Great Houses are a combination of blood relatives and adopted members which have grown out of the original Chimeri tribes who settled Morrowind thousands of years ago. Each House has its own specialty: House Telvanni is led by ancient wizards, House Hlaalu is for merchants and thieves, and House Redoran is the warrior house. Two other Houses are mentioned but not (properly) seen, due to not having a Vvardenfell presence: House Indoril (tightly bound up with the Temple, so effectively a house for rulers, administrators, and priests) and House Dres (traditionalist slavers). The Big Bad of Morrowind is the titular head of "the sixth house," House Dagoth, which had been forcibly dissolved after his (perceived) treachery thousands of years ago.
    • The Direnni are an Altmeri (High Elven) aristocratic clan based on the Isle of Balfiera in the Iliac Bay. Originally a farming clan in the Summerset Isles (the Altmeri homeland), they became some of the first practitioners of Alchemy in Tamriel which allowed them to become very wealthy. They expanded their influence to High Rock, which the family ruled over for several centuries in the 1st Era, claiming nearly 1/3 of Tamriel's landmass as part of the Direnni Hegemony. At the hight of their power, they won a climatic war with the Alessian Order, but at the cost of expending most of their resources. Severely weakened, Hegemony was picked apart by the neighboring Bretons, Redguards, and Reachmen, reducing the clan's holdings to merely Balfiera itself by the 3rd Era, though members of the clan would continue to play influential roles in Tamriel.
  • Imperium Nova: This is the central mechanic, where each player plays as one dynastic House of a Feudal Future.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords features the Mandalorian Clan Ordo as allies to the player character, to the degree that Mandalore himself will join the Exile's party. Leads to a Captain Obvious Reveal, when it turns out that the masked Mandalore who sounds and acts the same as Mandalorian mercenary party member from the first game, Canderous Ordo, refers to himself as such towards the end of the game.
  • Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver has the six vampire clans. The five remaining clans we see in the game serve as distinct enemy classes for Raziel to fight.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Krogan society demonstrates the tribal version, and the importance of clan membership can be seen reflected in their name structure - all krogan names are formatted [clan] [first name]. When you visit their homeworld in 2, both of the loyalty missions you can take part in involve some kind of clan tension - Grunt's causes the tension between Clans Urdnot and Gatatog to boil over, admittedly briefly, and Mordin's involves a clan, Weyrlok, that wants to massively increase its numbers and wage war on first the other krogan clans, then the entire rest of the galaxy.
    • Quarian society has a clan structure that doesn't receive much detail - the "Zorah" in Tali's full name is her clan affiliation, and since her father shares it, it seems to be inherited - but they consider the ship you are serving on to be more important, to the point where a quarian's advocate in a trial isn't their clan leader, but their captain.
    • Volus identify everyone as "[homeworld]-clan"; they refer to themselves as Vol-clan, humans as Earth-clan, and presumably asari as Thessia-clan, krogan as Tuchanka-clan, etcetera. Quarians, having lost their homeworld, are referred to as either "clanless" or "Migrant-clan/star-clan" depending on the volus in question's level of Fantastic Racism.
  • Power Instinct: The Goketsuji Clan is absolutely massive and spread all around the world (it's based out of Japan, but confirmed members include an American, a Brit, an Arabian...). Almost literally every playable character in the series is a member of the Goketsuji, though some are more distant than others; the tournaments the series is based around are to determine the head of the clan, and as such blood kinship (no matter how remote) to the clan is a requirement to participate.
  • Rome: Total War: The Roman Empire (or, more properly, The Roman Republic) in this Real-Time Strategy game consists of three main factions, the Julii, Brutii, and Scipii, each one based around a single influential clan (there's also a fourth faction, the Senate, but that one isn't relevant to this trope).


  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: Cubi have clans with unique traits and tattoo-like markings that members cannot hide with Shapeshifting. Clans are founded by immortal tri-winged Cubi and largely consist of their founder's descendants (though tri-wings become sterile upon ascension).
  • Drowtales: The mega city state of Chel'el'sussoloth is made up of 9 Great Clans and countless smaller clans and guilds, and much of the conflict is between clans. Within the great clans only people directly related to the main house can carry the Val prefix on their names, and within clans there can be countless numbers of houses. And because drow'lath society is matriarchal, only females can become heads of these clans.
  • Girl Genius has the Fifty Families, the ruling families of Europa.
    • The most notable dynastic clan is the Valois family, with the known branches including Sturmvoraus, von Blitzengaard, Selnikov and Mondarev — and presumably a lot more. They all want each other dead, and are continually scheming and plotting against each other.
    • A former dynasty was the Heterodynes, complete with ancient rites of Mad Science to identify them by blood. In the time of the comic, however, the family has been reduced to only one Heterodyne heir, which the sentient Malevolent Architecture Castle Heterodyne isn't particularly pleased by.
  • Tower of God: The 10 Great Families, stemming from the 10 Great Warriors that accompanied King Jahad. There is a bit of rivalry between them, but in the Tower, where friend and enemy always change on an individual level, it holds no meaning.

    Web Original 

  • The Gamer's Alliance: Maar Sul and Scundia are full of various clans, for example the House of Aurelac and Clan Mallorein. Demons have clans too.
  • Whateley Universe: The incredibly wealthy, aristocratic, lese majeste oriented Goodkind family. If the Goodkinds didn't hate mutants with a passion, they might even be the good guys. Since the main characters are all mutants (including one kid who was a Goodkind and has been disowned after being kidnapped and tortured), the Goodkinds don't look so great.

    Western Animation 

  • Dragon Tales: Cassie has a huge family of seventy-two brothers and sisters!
  • Gargoyles: The protagonists are members of a gargoyle clan that was displaced from Medieval Scotland to New York City in the late 20th century.
  • Make Mine Music (from Disney) features the tale of the Martins and the Coys ("they were reckless mountain boys"), two feuding clans in Appalachia (almost certainly based on the real-life Hatfields and McCoys, though in real life the clans did not wipe each other out nearly so thoroughly).
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The Apple family's core group includes the main cast member Applejack, the secondary character Apple Bloom (her little sister) and regulars Big Macintosh (their older brother) and Granny Smith (their grandmother). However, during an Apple family reunion in the first episode, the family is shown to be much, much bigger, with most of them having apple-themed names/cutie marks. A subsequent episode confirms that most of them own and run their own apple farms spread out all across Equestria (one of which, a settlement town named Appleloosa, is the setting of an episode near the end of the first season).
      • Multiple episodes revolve around or mention the Apple family's enormous reunions or their various far-flung relatives. They even have a dedicated in-family historian, Goldie Delicious, who they call on when they have to deal with a particularly tangled knot in the family tree or some obscure bit of their family's long, long history, such as the cause of their feud with the Pear family.
      Goldie Delicious: "Now, let's see, I got a stack of books here someplace... Oh! Apple Family History, Volume 137!"
      • Even the Apples themselves can be surprised by how far their family extends. Just ask Pinkie Pie, who discovered in "Pinkie Apple Pie" that she and the Apples might be related.note 
    • In "The Hooffields and McColts", the plot resolves around trying to bring peace between the two longtime Feuding Families, the Hooffields, who are all brown-furred and excellent farmers but can't build to save their lives, and the McColts, who are all slate-colored and built great forts and houses but are hopeless farmers. The two families have parked themselves on hilltops on opposite sides of a valley and have been fighting each other for generations, ever since their families' founders arrived and parted ways on poor terms. The fighting has been going for so long by the present day that neither side even remembers why they're doing it anymore.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels: Mandalorian culture is divided into clans, which themselves are part of a larger house. The terroristic organization Death Watch is very closely affiliated with House Viszla, with Pre Viszla as its leader. Sabine Wren from Rebels and her family are members of Clan Wren, which is a part of House Viszla.

    Real Life 

  • Scots clans (the original) were a slightly different sort of thing than the small, tight-knit image the word "clan" conjures up today. They could have several thousand members and were almost small kingdoms. Even today some Scots and their far-flung descendants still try to keep at least an awareness of their original clan.
    • This has a lot to do with the Tannistry clan system the Scottish inherited from Ireland, which is effectively the large sprawling clan numbering in a hundred or more (divided in septs were you can have two different clans with two different loyalties yet share common ancestry and names) swearing loyalty to a Ri or King. It is one of the reasons pre-Norman Ireland had so many kingdoms, so many wars and so few Ard Ri who could command any degree of control over the nation
  • Southwestern Native Americans have clans, mostly exogamous and matrilineal. Clans determine who one can marry, marrying anyone from one's parents' or even grandparents' clans is considered incest. Clans also determine one's religious role, each Navajo or Apache clan has its own versions of all the myths and ceremonies, while each Hopi clan has specific ritual tasks, the most prominent being the Snake Clan, who perform the rain dances.
  • Many of the great dynasties in history. One of the most important things to remember about history is that monarchs often thought of themselves as head of The Clan first and head of the Kingdom only second.
  • Chinese Clans are among the most sophisticated examples of this with such abstractions as written customs and rules and careful recording of ancestry. They can keep in touch over long distances and provide each other Sacred Hospitality.
  • In the earliest days of the Wild West (1600 to 1800) in the Appalachians large families with cousins and cousins of cousins would live next to each other. This was necessary, because of the possibility that Indians, French, British, Tories, or simply the folks next door, or whoever they were fighting at the moment might make life uncomfortable. And therefore mutual protection was needed. Having large families together was one way of solving this problem. It was probably similar to the reason a lot of peoples would form into a clan.

    Another contributing factor was the fact that many of these settlers were themselves immigrants from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Grouping together into clans was a familiar way to deal with an unfamiliar and dangerous world.
  • The Japanese still have a clan system and wars between various clans have led to many of Japan's civil wars for example the Ōnin War was started between the Yamana clan and the Hosokawa clan. That war led to Sengoku jidai, "the Warring States Period" which was basically a very bloody free-for-all between the various houses for control of Japan.
  • Italians are famous for this, especially the most famous Italian clans of all. Older Than Feudalism: Roman families (a gens) were the forerunners to this. Famous ones include the Julii, the Junii, the Cornelii, and the Antonii. The vast webs of patron-client relationships held the Roman Republic together and operated in a fashion very similar to The Mafia.
    • Roman gentes were so large that they had branches called "stirpes" with their own surnames (cognomina). For instance, Caesar was originally a stirpes of the Julii, though it gradually evolved into a title after Gaius Julius Caesar transformed the Republic into a de facto monarchy.
  • In Charlemagne's Empire it was a royal edict that subjects have the right to formally break off clan ties by specific ceremonies(involving the breaking of a cluster of branches of wood).
  • As a picturesque example of clannishness, the Scottish clan Macpherson has a motto that translates into English as "touch not the cat without a glove" (an "ungloved" cat is one whose claws are unsheathed. The motto is essentially a warning in metaphor form to other clans that they should think twice before interfering with Macpherson business); a sentiment roughly equivalent to the American "Don't tread on me" rattlesnake, which perhaps not coincidently was borrowed from Scots-Irish immigrants.
  • The Kim Dynasty of North Korea.
  • Arabs in Israel, especially Bedouins, often associate with clans or tribes. Israel often has issues with adjusting its modern state customs to their clan customs, especially when it comes to clan leaders being seen as having a greater authority than the state. Some politicians have used this in their favour, though, striking deals with clan leaders for votes. This also tends to be a troublesome issue, as some clans get into feuds.
  • Truth be told, Arab societies in many countries have a habit of behaving as "clans." For instance, the "tribes" everyone talks about holding oh-so-much authority in Iraq are really more like clans—large, patrilineally-defined extended family groups that serve as one touchstone of identity (among several), with the clan "chief" serving as a living symbol of its unity. The ascent of the Iraqi "tribes" in recent years is largely attributable to the fall of Saddam Hussein and his centralized regime; with a unified Iraqi identity being damaged by the chaos of the post-Saddam period, Iraqis have increasingly turned to their tribes for support and identification where before many Iraqis, especially urban ones, wouldn't have given much thought to their tribe/clan.
  • The foundation of society in stateless Somalia, there are four "noble" clans (Darod, Dir, Hawiye and Isaaq) which each have several sub-clans, and a number of "mixed" clans. And they're frequently at each other's throats. We should note that, like the Iraqi clans, these identities had faded into the background during the period of the centralizing, nationalist regimes of the independent united Somalia starting in 1960 (if not earlier, under colonial and quasi-colonial UN "Trust Territory" rule), and only came back to the forefront when the regime of Siad Barre collapsed in 1991.
  • The Kennedy family is thought of by many as one of the few American clans.
    • One of the few famous ones, that is. In rural America, especially the Southeast, clans are quite common.
  • The Hatfields and McCoys were two clans in West Virginia and Kentucky who have become infamous due to a 25-year feud in the latter half of the 19th century.
  • The Earps of the American Old West might count. Many members were renowned lawmen. No fewer than three Earps (including the most famous of the family, Wyatt Earp) were in prominent local positions at Tombstone, Arizona at the time of the O.K. Corral incident.