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Elan: I thought it was tough to figure out how to feel about Nale, you know?
Roy: What's so tough? He's a villainous jackass!
Elan: But he's still my brother!!

…blood, that is. About three-and-a-half times thicker, in fact.note 

Blood relations have a claim on each other. In fiction, as in Real Life, characters will put up with a lot from relatives that they would never endure from unrelated people. Even when the blood relation comes out of the blue (Luke, I Am Your Father, Long-Lost Relative, Luke, You Are My Father), even when the characters were Separated at Birth. And they will leap to each other's defense. Indeed, the Big, Screwed-Up Family may object to any of its members being mistreated in a far milder manner than they routinely subject this relative to.

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And other characters will expect this of them, too. Failure to acknowledge the bond is a serious flaw, even if it can be outweighed by other moral considerations. Youngsters may learn this in An Aesop.

Pushed too far, this results in Moral Myopia. A character who must sacrifice blood ties to other responsibilities may find his relative shocked that he would do such a thing, no matter how flagrantly in the wrong the relative is. Pushed as far in the inverse, characters will use it to justify their love.

Also frequently invoked ironically, by taking the Stock Phrase literally. And other — substances can substitute. Often countered by the add-on "but not as refreshing".

Avoiding this trope is a major factor in Conveniently an Orphan. Relatively Flimsy Excuse draws on this to make the (false) excuse. When the blood ties are pushed to their farthest limit, Species Loyalty. Family of Choice can invoke this trope with people not related by blood.

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Opposite of No Blood Ties. Some people may think that Friends Are Chosen, Family Aren't is also an opposite trope, but actually, sometimes, the two go together — the reason that a character can't walk away from annoying family entirely in favor of well-loved friends is because they can't deny the bonds of blood. Compare Nepotism, In the Blood, Family Honor.

Somewhat Truth in Television.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Osomatsu-san sextuplets may fight a lot, but they care for each other deep down inside (yes, even Todomatsu). This was even more prominent in the prequel series Osomatsu-kun, where the rest of the brothers would go after the attacker if one brother got hit.
  • In a way this is the initial premise of Sakende Yaruze! but ends up not holding true. Because Shino is his father Nakaya (at seventeen) seeks him out hoping to form a familial relationship, and they do begin to grow close, but they're often at odds with one another and how they are supposed to act. In the end Nakaya decides that though he has a claim to Shino because of their blood relationship, it would go against his dad's happiness to force Shino to reject his Love Interest Tenryuu, so Nakaya gives up his stake in the affair and moves out, not wanting to be in the way. Their familial bond is important, but not overriding.
  • Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist. After their attempt to bring back their mother resulted in Ed losing his leg and Al losing his body (which resulted in Ed sacrificing his arm in order to bind Al's soul to a suit of armor), they set out to find the Philosopher's Stone in order to restore their bodies to normal. In both versions of the story, Al performs a Heroic Sacrifice at the climax to save Ed's life, whereupon Ed makes a sacrifice of his own to return Al's body to the world.
  • Subverted in Blood+. One may expect Saya to abandon her adopted brothers after discovering she's a Chiropteran and live with them. Instead, she decides to stay and fight as she feels the former are more important to her.
  • Dragon Ball Z is a notable aversion. Goku and Raditz never show any affection for one another. Goku was willing to spare Raditz as an act of mercy, but it turned out to be a trick, almost costing him the fight. After Raditz is killed, he is rarely ever mentioned again.
  • Fist of the North Star, Kenshiro having been on the rare receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle with Souther, finds himself on the desert and loses consciousness only to be rescued by Raoh, his elder brother and the Big Bad (who himself was in the middle of a recovery from his last fight with Kenshiro), nursed back to health. Raoh, alongside Toki later follows Kenshiro for his rematch with Souther, slaughtering any of Souther's men that happens to be in the way. Toki sums it up perfectly:
    Toki: We elder brothers of Hokuto will not forgive those who block Kenshiro's path.
  • This is one of the reasons why Gil never abandoned his younger brother Vincent in Pandora Hearts, even though he was constantly maltreated because of Vincent's birth condition.
  • In Soul Eater, Crona uses hir madness to prevent Maka and Black★Star from matching soul wavelengths with their weapons, but Maka still manages to wield Spirit. Spirit explains to the confused Crona that the bond between a parent and child can never be broken. This display of parental care causes Crona to go madder and lose control of the Kishin.
    • However, it is also stated that while parent-child resonance is stable, it may not be as powerful as resonance between individuals with different backgrounds and characters.
  • Blue Exorcist: In any other circumstances, Rin (demon) and Yukio (exorcist) would be at each other's throats, but in these circumstances they are twins. Fraternal instincts keep them friendly.
  • Maho from Wandering Son near always bullies her little sister. There are rare moments where she shows familial affections though. Such as when she stood up for her when Nitori was being mobbed by girls when she began modeling (though maybe that was out of jealousy), when Maho freaked out over the thought that she kidnapped, when she felt guilty after making fun of her when she was dumped, or (anime-only) when she gave her some extra food at dinner when they had an argument.
  • Mirai from Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is a cynical thirteen year old girl who finds her Cheerful Child brother Yuuki to be an Annoying Younger Sibling. Despite her often acting distant or aggressive towards him, during the events after the earthquake she displays her Big Sister Instinct frequently. When it turns out Yuuki died near the end of the series her mind blocked it out and she hallucinated that he was alive. It wasn't until an episode later that he was confirmed dead. After being reunited with her parents, Mirai spirals into depression and has Survivor Guilt, but the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue shows she's taking strides forward after Yuuki's death.

    Comic Books 
  • When Connor Hawke showed up in Green Arrow, that Oliver Queen did not want to deal with him was regarded as a grievous flaw; Connor was a stranger, but also his son.
    • Connor wasn't really a stranger at that point, though. Ollie's anger and refusal to want to deal with Connor at that point stemmed from the fact that Connor had concealed the fact that he was Ollie's long-lost son. He had introduced himself to Ollie as a fan of Green Arrow and Oliver had no clue that his new sidekick was his long-lost son until the fact was accidentally dropped by a Parallax-possessed Hal Jordan. Given that Ollie was a wanted fugitive at the time, his paranoia about Connor lying to him because he wanted something or was working with the people hunting him is understandable if not particularly justified.
  • In the Astro City story "Ellie's Friends," Ellie easily forgives her nephew Fred for all the trouble he put her through — including getting her framed for robbery, assault, and terrorism.
  • Cain and Abel from The Sandman. Cain regularly murders his brother (he gets better). Abel never makes much of a fuss, until he gets killed by someone else; both brothers are extremely upset about this, to the point that Cain tries to legally threaten Dream to get Abel remade.
  • Thor and Loki from The Mighty Thor, despite being brothers through adoption. Beneath the centuries of Sibling Rivalry and Cain and Abel behavior, they truly do see each other as brothers. Thor is more open about it and at times, the only person willing to still give Loke a chance. Meanwhile, while Loki indulges in screwing with Thor, Loki tends to become pretty unstable when something happens to his brother (and in fact, when Thor had his existence magically replaced, Loki was the only one to be suspicious of the Not-Thor, even if he didn't know why.)
  • In the Donald Duck story So Dear To His Heart, Scrooge is forced to give the thing he treasures the most to Magica De Spell in order to lift a freezing spell placed on Huey, Dewey and Louie. Scrooge is in despair that Magica is going to obtain his #1 Dime, but it is the so abused Donald who is teleported to her arms instead! Scrooge remains a tsundere about it all, but Donald now knows better.
  • In Runaways, this is Alex's utterly self-serving excuse for betraying the team, that he had to do it because even though his parents were supervillains, they were still his parents, and thus he was obligated to try and save them by any means necessary. Considering that his machinations resulted in everyone losing their parents, the other Runaways are not at all sympathetic.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Frozen Princess Anna makes a choice to sacrifice her life to save Queen Elsa despite the fact the she accidentally struck her in the heart and continually shut her out (in an attempt to protect Anna from the magical power Elsa couldn't fully control). This trope is even stronger because she could have gotten a kiss from Kristoff, which would save Anna at the cost of Elsa's life. However, the Power of Love saved Anna from her Disney Death because her sacrifice was an Act of True Love.
  • In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride Zira exhibits heavy Parental Favoritism over her youngest (and possibly adopted) son, Kovu, due to him being chosen by Scar to be his successor. While Kovu grows to be a strong, healthy lion his older brother Nuka is scrawny and mangy in comparison. Nuka is shown to be a mild bully towards his siblings Kovu and Vitani in the first part of the film, and Vitani has spats with Nuka. Nuka deeply craves his mother's affection and approval, but she focuses on Kovu. Despite this, Zira and Vitani are both horrified and sympathetic after Nuka dies trying to get to Simba. Zira disowns Kovu after the event due to believing he ultimately led to his brothers death.
  • From Dinosaur, in spite of following Aladar over Kron, Neera still tries to save her older brother when Kron is alone and chased by a Carnotaurus. She's too late to save him, but Neera trying to stop the Carnotaurus from munching on his body is the last thing he ever sees.
  • In Coco, after Miguel runs away following an intense argument with his family over him wanting to be a musician, they go out to search for him all night and into the next day, showing that, as much as they hate music, they love Miguel a lot more.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played for drama by The Kids Are All Right. Joni and Laser meet the sperm donor who is their biological father, but the sperm donor's attempts to build a relationship with them and their mothers cause serious family friction and nearly break up the mothers' relationship with each other.
  • The Princess Bride: "Hello!. My Name Is Inigo Montoya. You Killed My Father. Prepare to Die."
  • Star Wars: Luke doesn't have to join Darth Vader, but knowing that he's his father puts anguish in what would be a simple decision — and then he wants to pull him back. This trope is also what saved Luke from an agonizing death from force lightning at the hands of the Emperor. Watching his son being tortured was the final straw that motivated Vader to toss the Emperor down the chasm.
  • Referenced and subverted in The Players Club. When Diana finds her cousin, Ebony, in bed with her boyfriend, she tries to attack Ebony, who hides in the bathroom. Diana then gives a heartfelt speech about how much she loved her cousin and how she thought blood was thicker than water but was apparently wrong. She then pretends to leave... and punches Ebony in the face when she finally comes out of the bathroom.
  • Lockout: A prisoner asks the riot leader Alex why he doesn't get rid of the bloodthirsty Hydell, who is clearly a liability to their escape plan because of his unpredictable homicidal urges. Alex responds that it's because Hydell is his brother. This tragically ensures his downfall, as Hydell kills Alex himself when he refuses to put up with Hydell's lunacy anymore.
  • In From Dusk Till Dawn Seth Gecko, a ruthless criminal himself, is quite aware that his brother Richie is a psychotic rapist and serial killer. When Seth discovers Richie's latest crime of killing their only hostage he's incredibly disturbed but forgives him nevertheless, promising that they'll have a better life together in Mexico.
  • In The Raid one of Tama's mooks switches sides after he realizes that a member of the opposite side is his brother.
  • John Wick: Iosef may be a useless layabout who started the whole mess, but he is still Viggo's son, which is why Viggo can't just give him up to John without a fight.
  • Played with in The Avengers (2012):
    Bruce Banner: I don't think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy's brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.
    Thor: Have care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard, and he is my brother.
    Natasha Romanoff: He killed 80 people in two days.
    Thor: (beat) He's adopted.
  • Inverted by the North Koreans with Nodongs in Operation Chromite, as they value their communist values and country well above family ties. Several important characters make their Heel–Face Turn when they found their loved ones on the chopping block. Protagonist Hak-Soo was a former North Korean officer who hesitated to shoot his own father when the latter was outed as part of the bourgeois class. As a result, Hak-Soo's former best friend shot his father in cold blood, which prompted the former to massacre all those involved before defecting. Nurse Cheon-Seon helps the protagonists after failing to convince the communists from executing her uncle who was a spy, then faced unjust alienation from her colleagues.

    Music 
  • The Bee Gees: In the early 1970s, the three elder Gibb brothers temporarily disbanded due to creative and personal differences. Realizing they had a good thing going — and the fact they were brothers — they realized they had to shore up their relationship. They did, and by the end of the decade, music was never the same again.
    • For Barry, Robin and Maurice's little bro', Andy, literally — as he had a No. 1 pop smash in March 1978 with "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water."
  • Kagamine Len's character Allen in the "Daughter of Evil" series and both Rin and Len in "Synchronicity."
  • Dream Theater's song "Honor Thy Father" is all about the narrator being frustrated at his father for not thinking of his family. It's discussed below:
    We're thought unconditional love/That blood is thicker than water/That a parent's world should revolve always around their son or their daughter.
  • In the final song of The Simpsons Sing the Blues, "Sibling Rivalry," after it ends with a quiet a capella refrain about their fractious relationship, you hear softly afterward Bart say "Let go of my hand, Lisa."
  • "Hey Brother" by Avicii is a song all about sibling relationships. The phrase gets paraphrased in the lyrics:
    Hey brother, there's an endless road to re-discover.
    Hey sister, know the water's sweet but blood is thicker.
    Oh, if the sky comes coming down for you, there's nothing in the world I wouldn't do.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In some ballads, Robin Hood comes to his death when he trusts a prioress because she is his cousin.
  • Classical Mythology:
    • When Theseus comes to Athens, his step-mother, Medea, tries to poison him, but Aegeus recognized the Orphans Plot Trinkets he had left for Theseus, saves him, and exiles Medea — although he had never even seen his son before.
    • King Midas finally learns his lesson not when he can't eat for turning food to gold, but when he turns his daughter to gold.
    • Subverted by Ariadne, who betrays her father, King Minos, and helps Theseus kill the Minotaur, who is her half-brother.
    • Once again subverted by Medea, who helps Jason steal the Golden Fleece from her father. She also kills her own brother and scatters his remains to make it easier for her and Jason to escape (since her father will have to find every last piece of his son's body to give him a proper burial, he had to stop his pursuit to gather up the remains).

    Tabletop Games 

    Theater 
  • One of the central tropes in Greek theater, especially the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles. Often dramatized as a conflict between "familial piety" (upheld by the Furies) and devotion to the gods (particularly Apollo in these texts). Does morality mean staying loyal to your family or doing what the gods (or reason) dictate?
  • The reason Antigone cites for burying her brother though it is against the law is precisely that he's her brother; "filial piety" demands that one put the just claims of one's relations above the law.
  • Aeschylus' Oresteian trilogy pretty much fits the above description to a tee. It chronicles Orestes' attempts to rid his family of a longstanding curse on the orders of Apollo. Unfortunately for him, getting rid of the curse involves killing his mother (who had killed his father who had killed his sister… yeah, it's that kind of story); which of course brings the Furies down on him in full force.
  • This serves as a rather hilarious Deus ex Machina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. After Pseudolus' attempt to save Philia from an unhappy Arranged Marriage to Miles ends in an Epic Fail and it looks like he's in big trouble, Erronius shows up and notices that Miles and Philia are wearing rings which mark them as his long-lost children. Philia's betrothal to Miles is obviously nullified by the unexpected revelation that they're siblings, and she is able to marry Hero, resulting in Pseudolus being granted his freedom.
  • In Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, the title character will willingly kill his own son for disrespecting the emperor - not even an emperor that Titus likes, but because he respects the position. However, when this same emperor later condemns two of his sons to death (they were framed, though he didn't know that), Titus is very shaken. Titus doesn't enjoy killing the son who disrespected the emperor, but he saw it as his duty. In total contrast, Aaron the Moor is the conniving villain of the play who is masterminding Titus's downfall - and also banging the new empress. When the midwife comes to show that the empress's newborn son is blatantly fathered by Aaron (because he's black), the empress's sons Chiron and Demetrius (from a previous marriage) intend to kill the baby so the emperor won't find out and have their mother executed. Despite his utter ruthlessness in engineering Titus's downfall, Aaron is genuinely stunned that they would kill their own half-brother, and says he will take on the risk of raising the boy in secret on his own - because he is his son.

    Visual Novels 
  • This is a major theme of the Heaven's Feel route of Fate/stay night, as one of the plotlines explores Rin's conflicted feelings over her sister Sakura. On the one hand, she is prepared to take any measure to fight against evil, and as Sakura's shadow form gradually gains control, she becomes a major threat to the city. On the other hand, she cares about her sibling at heart, and she feels guilty over having had her sister taken from her as a child and subject to horrifying abuse at the hands of her foster family. She goes back and forth between these feelings over the course of the route, and only resolves it when, as she has a surefire killing shot on Sakura in the final battle, she realizes she loves her sister too much to harm her, and instead embraces her telling her how much she cares about her, all the while bleeding from Sakura's dagger which she was unable to avoid. This, however, gives Sakura the confidence to fight against her dark side again.
  • Yukari from Liar Liar is an Ax-Crazy murderer but loves her younger sister Minami. Part of the reason she killed her ex boyfriend was because she didn't want her sister dating boy who cheats (Yukari's boyfriend was still dating her when he began flirting with Minami). In the sequel, the Good End has Minami attempting to kill Yukari as revenge for her boyfriend. Yukari's girlfriend Miho kills Minami to save Yukari; however, this pisses Yukari off so badly that she kills her girlfriend Miho afterwards.

    Web Animation 
  • Zigzagged with Weiss Schnee, of RWBY. She dislikes the pressure her father puts on her to be perfect, and tries to avoid talking to him and her sister. But she doesn't tell her friends this, and always acts the dignified heiress in public — presumably because of this trope. During the first volume, fans often argued whether Weiss was a proud snob acting like a nice person, or it was the other way around. Canon has not yet settled the debate, but it implies that both aspects of Weiss' personality are important to her.
    • Subverted in the case of Raven, regarding Qrow and Yang. She abandoned her bloodkin to return to the Bandit Clan that raised her (leaving so quickly Yang didn't even know she had a separate birth mother until later in life) viewing them as her true family. In exchange for loan of the Spring Maiden to retrieve the Relic of Knowledge, Raven demands that Cinder's group kill her brother and his companions. Qrow's group consisting mostly of young teenagers, including Raven's own daughter, Yang.
  • A Day With Bowser Jr: Junior doesn't hesitate to save Ludwig from falling into lava after he tried multiple times to kill him, and still loves his adopted brother enough to try to fend away an intruder when Bowser's ship is attacked.

    Web Videos 
  • There's Mario and Luigi from There Will Be Brawl. They start out violently arguing quite a bit especially when Peach is involved, but start working together again when things get really serious.
    Mario: Alone? Luigi... there are two Mario Brothers.

    Real Life 
  • Adolf Hitler had a younger sister, Paula. After the war, she was interrogated by US intelligence officers, where she said this about Adolf: "The personal fate of my brother affected me very much. He was still my brother, no matter what happened. His end brought unspeakable sorrow to me, as his sister." Contrast the rest of his family. Several joined the U.S. military, and most changed their names. See the other wiki for more info.
  • The phrase entered the popular lexicon in America during the Second Opium War when Commodore Josiah Tattnall uttered the phrase when he found his squadron accidentally engaged in the attack on Taku Forts when Anglo-French allies had attempted to breach a Chinese position. Tattnall made the split decision to aid the British (mostly by helping to evacuate the wounded and did not perform in a combat capacity) despite American neutrality. When superiors demanded to know what he had been thinking in violating America's strict neutrality, Tattnall simply uttered the phrase and thus it entered the common consciousness.
  • Invoked and defied in an apocryphal exchange between Czar Nicholas I and Napoleon III. It was customary for European monarchs to refer to each other as "brothers" (mon frère). When Napoleon III declared himself emperor, the Russian Czar addressed him as a "friend" (mon ami) rather than a "brother", to show his displeasure. Napoleon III, however, replied by declaring "God gives us our brothers, we choose our friends."
  • There is a common belief that the original quote was actually "The blood of the covenant [or battlefield] is thicker than the water of the womb," which would have been an inversion; however, this is actually an Urban Legend and the earliest known versions of the quote (dating back to 12th century Germany) are played straight.

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