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Your Tradition Is Not Mine

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Orm: Mercy is not our way.
Aquaman: Maybe you haven't noticed, but I'm not one of you.

Tradition is Serious Business. Our family expects us to keep our tradition going, but we want to run our own life, by our own rules. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with this sentiment, and will view us as a pariah. Either way, drama ensues.

A character's situation where either a White Sheep or the Black Sheep of the family or race does not intend to uphold their traditions, and simply wants to start a new life for themselves or form their own traditions. Their parents and friends will scorn them for this, and try to get them to change their mind for the better.

A White Sheep will have a perfect reason why he or she does not want to partake in any of their family traditions, whether they are assassins, thieves, or so forth, and in some cases, wants some normalcy in their life. A Black Sheep is likely to not be a religious devotee, a teen rebel, and feels they don't fit in, or in a worst-case scenario, pulls a Face–Heel Turn. This is also a case if a character wants to do something they wanted in their life, but their Fantasy-Forbidding Father wants them to do the opposite, and is strongly opposed to their personal goals. If a character wants to romance someone of a different race, the relationship in question with someone their family or race utterly despise will cause a lot of problems. This is very common with royalty the prince or princess who will definitely have issues with their higher-authority parent. And sometimes, those parents will force them to go along against their will or cut them off.

It can be race-related, with a My Species Doth Protest Too Much, as a character who originally belonged to a Proud Warrior Race dislikes the Blood Knight tendencies of their brethren.

This is also, tragically, one of the primary reasons an evil apprentice will have this viewpoint when they question the old traditions of their old masters, as it conflicts with their own. Or if the pupil is a good guy, but finds the traditions of his master's laws as outdated. In any case, it can cause a case of Deliberate Values Dissonance.

This is often the source of drama and the conflict surrounding the characters that know them.

Compare Screw the Rules, They're Not Real!.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Yosho Masaki Jurai (also known as Katsuhito Masaki) of Tenchi Muyo! is half-human and half-Jurain, and is the son of the king of Jurai and his human mother Funaho. Yosho is the crown prince of Jurai and was to take the throne. The Jurain nobles took issues with this, and so he was betrothed with his half-sister Ayeka. However he had no intention of doing so. Further complications reveal that he was in a relationship with Airi, who was a native of Airai, and pregnant with his child. Eventually, he used Ryoko's attack on Jurai as an excuse to disappear off the radar with few people knowing where he is.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • At the beginning of Dragon Ball Z, Son Goku finds out he belongs to a race of warrior Blood Knights called Saiyans. He also found out he was sent to Earth to destroy all life on it. The reason he didn't was because of a head injury as a baby. Initially, he rejected his heritage as a Saiyan but eventually embraces it during the Frieza Saga facing the titular Big Bad.
    • In Dragon Ball Z's sequel Dragon Ball Super, Zamasu is an apprentice Supreme Kai who would take his master's place as the Supreme Kai of Universe 10. However his black and white views on mortals caused him to see the beings he's supposed to protect as unworthy of the gods' knowledge. Meeting Goku and going to Planet Babari only solidified his bias, and concludes that all mortals need to be wiped out for universal peace. To that end, Zamasu tries to murder Gowasu and steal his Time Ring. When Gowasu learns this, he is not pleased. The Zamasu who would become Black not only killed his master for the earrings but also killed Future Gowasu.
  • Raoh of Fist of the North Star is the eldest brother of the protagonist Kenshiro, along with Toki, his biological brother, and the other adopted brother Jagi. After Kenshiro is named the 64th successor of Hokuto Shinken, a legendary martial art of assassination, Raoh chooses to defy those laws, which requires those who are not named successor to have their fists sealed or memories of it erased, for his own ends and ambition. Both Toki and Kenshiro, who both take the traditions of Hokuto Shinken very seriously, would fight him in the course of the manga.

    Films — Animation 
  • The main crux of the Pixar film Brave starts when Elinor invites the other Clans to compete in a series of games in deciding which heir marries Princess Merida. Not liking the idea of marrying a boy she just met, Merida forsakes tradition and outdoes all three heirs in an archery contest. This eventually leads to Merida cursing her mother into the form of a bear with a cursed cake (It Makes Sense in Context) and potentially the collapse of her father's kingdom when the Clan's bickering over who wins Merida's hand escalates. After getting to know her daughter better, Elinor leads Merida into a speech where they can stay strong and together as a Kingdom while also allowing their heirs to find love on their own, breaking tradition for the better.
  • Coco: The Riveras are a clan of shoemakers, a tradition passed down from Imelda to Coco onwards. Miguel doesn't want to be another shoemaker though after his time with Héctor and Ernesto, he's okay about it as he learns to put family above his ambitions. Luckily Imelda and the other matriarchs relent about their disdain for music and let him pursue his dream.
  • In Turning Red, the long-standing tradition among the Lee family is to seal their red panda spirits into talismans during a red moon, as everyone sees it as a curse with no upside. By the end of the movie, Mei, having come to appreciate the benefits her new form brought her, breaks this tradition by opting to permanently bond with her red panda spirit instead, meaning she can never seal it away.
  • The titular Bao was created by an old Chinese woman, and she begins to raise it like it was her own child. At first she begins to spoil him with Chinese buns until he took an interest in western culture. However, he starts to gradually turn away from traditional Chinese things and becomes more westernized as a result. The final straw that broke the camel's back was when he introduces his mother his non-Asian fiancée, and she clearly does not approve with the idea. They get into a fight and she eats him. Then it turns out that It Was All Just A Dream, and her husband went out of his way to reconcile their son with each other, with his fiancée showing she can make bao perfectly. The film eventually contextualizes this as the son clearly loves his mother, but he doesn't want her to control his life.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars: Anakin Skywalker has this issue in the prequel trilogy since, as a Jedi, he cannot be in a relationship with the love of his life, Padmé Amidala. In Revenge of the Sith he completely solidifies his Face–Heel Turn after being convinced by the Big Bad that turning to the Dark Side would save his wife from dying, which he'd been having visions of.
  • This is Batman's origin story in Batman Begins. Recruited by the League of Shadows, Bruce Wayne quickly becomes their star pupil, believing he's finally found a group of people who share his passion for fighting crime and can give him the training and tools to do so effectively. However, he abandons them when he rejects their final exam, which required him to execute a captured and imprisoned thief. The eventual discovery that they're a fundamentalist cult who may claim to fight crime, but whose real purpose is to burn down any civilization they view as having become too corrupt and decadent, didn't help either.
  • Godmothered: Near the climax, Eleanor complains to Moira about the fact that there's only one way to be a fairy godmother and help people find true love. She thinks that, in addition, fairy godmothers should help people love their children and their parents.

  • In the Warrior Cats prequel Tallstar's Revenge, Tallpaw's family has always been tunnelers, and he knows that his father is eager to train him and patrol with him. Tallpaw dreams of being a moor-runner, however - which Heatherstar senses, and assigns him as - but Tallpaw can't help but feel bad for disappointing his parents.
  • Very common in Star Wars Legends:
    • The list of people to whom this applies is far too long to post here, but suffice it to say that the most common origin story for the Sith (especially for main characters) is that they're Jedi who rejected the order at some point when they fell to the dark side. Most of the time, these fallen Jedi will be recruited by existing Sith, or flee to join their ranks. Occasionally, however, this happens even when the Sith Order is extinct, and the fallen Jedi will effectively resurrect it all by himself. Finally, there are also the Jedi who have fallen to the dark side without becoming Sith Lords.
    • Played with in I, Jedi. The Jensaarai Order started out like this: a Jedi found a text purporting to contain hidden history and Force techniques, fell to the dark side, and started his own order (the text was actually left behind by now-dead Sith Lords to induce this exact result). However, once the Jedi had killed him and his most accomplished supporters, the remaining ones were too new to the order to have really committed to the dark side, and without anybody to guide them, were left to advance on their own as best they knew how... which they did by setting themselves up as an order of protectors for the population of their planet, effectively becoming a localized Jedi Order. Both the founder of the Jensaarai and his followers were effectively rejecting their tradition, but the latter did so unknowingly, and the former under false pretenses.
    • In a less drastic sense, Luke Skywalker's new Jedi Order can be seen this way. It doesn't follow the dark side, and it mostly tries to honor the Jedi tradition, but Luke did do away with the former order's prohibition on attachments, allowing his members to marry and have families. (Then again, the prohibition on attachments wasn't always the norm; it existed during the late Republic era, but earlier Jedi had no such rule, and even in more recent times there were some exceptions).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cheers plays it for laughs in "Honor thy Mother". Carla refuses to uphold her family's child naming tradition: combining her grandfather's given name and grandmother's maiden name. That's because in this case, her son's name would end up as "Benito Mussolini". Nonetheless, Carla's family is very insistent and guilt trips her over it. (For his part, Carla's kid actually likes the idea...)
  • The Mandalorian: Inversion, when the titular character meets Mandalorians who aren't part of his fundamentalist tribe in "The Heiress" it turns out that they don't follow the tradition of keeping their helmets on in the presence of anyone outside their immediate family. They ridicule him in fact.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Redemption, Part II", Chancellor Gowron offers Worf the right to kill the (teenaged) son of the man responsible for disgracing House Mogh. Worf refuses, saying "It is not my way."

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible: the Israelites frequently corrupt or turn their backs on God to embrace the traditions and gods of their neighbors. God responds by giving Israel over to the other nations to Rape, Pillage, and Burn until Israel repents and returns to worshipping Him, though eventually the Israelites fall too far and God has the Assyrians and Babylonians conquer them and destroy Jerusalem.
  • In The Book of Mormon, there are far more examples than you'd expect.
    • In 1st Nephi, Nephi's brothers, Laman and Lamuel, are rebellious sons of their prophet father Lehi. They are willing to kill Nephi just because he follows his father's visions. When they went to the Americas, they try to kill him. Nephi at that point was warned ahead of time and formed his own nation, while Laman and Lamuel become the Lamanites who abandoned everything for which their father stood.
    • In Mosiah, we have Alma and the four sons of Mosiah. Alma openly opposes the church his father worships and convinces his friends, who are the sons of King Mosiah, to join him. However, he eventually subverts this after going into a coma and had a Heel–Face Turn.

    Puppet Shows 
  • There are many episodes of Dinosaurs where Robbie eschewed traditions like hunting, Howling Day, and leaving Grandma to die.

  • Fiddler on the Roof is a Maligned Mixed Marriage example. Tevye's daughter Chava wanted to marry a non-Jew out of love, but he was highly against it. The drama eventually resulted in him disowning her as a result.

    Video Games 
  • This is the backstory of Genji of Overwatch. Genji enjoyed his life in Hanamura with his brother Hanzo, but the Yakuza forced them into a situation where one of them had to be the family successor. Genji was heavily injured and was rescued and cyberized by Overwatch agents. He eventually decides to take down his family's criminal activities. Hanzo, while involved, is deeply affected by what happened to his brother. When the two face off again, Genji reveals himself and hopes Hanzo would change his path.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: Darth Thanaton sees himself as the self-appointed guardian of Sith traditions, citing it to justify his actions constantly. The Sith Inquisitor PC often replies with the last line of the Sith Code: "Through victory, my chains are broken / The Force shall free me," essentially arguing that the whole point of being a Sith is not having to follow arbitrary rules and traditions. This attitude gains them allies, notably Moff Valion Pyron, who chafes at Sith politics in general and Darth Thanaton's obsession with tradition in particular interfering with the Imperial armed forces and Imperial Intelligence.
  • Bigvir and Beyla from God of War Ragnarök are a video game Maligned Mixed Marriage example. They both are elves who are in love with each other (Bigvir is a light elf and Beyla is a dark elf). They are deeply in love with each other and wanted to know their genealogy, but both elves are in a Forever War, and Bigvir was jailed just for having different thoughts.
  • Harvest Moon One World: Malika left the town in the Pastilla desert and set herself up in a little tent near the burned-down forest the townspeople had held important for generations. She still holds the forest dear and the tradition that come with it, but she thinks her father's insistence on following them to the letter is wrong because it led to him and the townspeople to completely misinterpret what not allowing outsiders into the forest meant. Even after the protagonist has helped Pastilla with its problems, Malika refuses to move back into town — she says she's happy where she is, and that she made friends with the wild animals and the mole brothers, so she's not alone.

    Visual Novels