Big Screwed-Up Family

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"Never trust a relative. It is far worse than trusting strangers. With a stranger there is a possibility that you might be safe."
Corwin, Book of Amber.

This is the family with issues, from which many, many kinds of Freudian Excuse can be taken. It's often very wealthy and powerful, when it's not royalty, and has many traditions. They have secrets, skeletons in their cupboards (sometimes literally) and are overly proud of their long (and bloody) history. Abusive behaviors of some kind are almost certain to have occurred. While they may display affectionate behaviors as well, to them Cain and Abel is a way of life—though if you piss off one of them, the rest will instantly band together to destroy you.

They're very likely to feature at least one Magnificent Bastard, Evil Matriarch, Manipulative Bastard, "Well Done, Son" Guy, Unfavorite or Black Sheep. There may be a Lady Drunk. While not frequent, Brother-Sister Incest and other kinds of canonical incest are most likely to be featured within this family. They also like to wage war with other families. Deadly Decadent Courts typically feature several of them. If they've been screwed up for a while, they're likely to have a Tangled Family Tree.

This family is often contrasted by the existence of a more traditional, if poorer, family, where everyone loves and supports each other despite occasional bickering.

A subtrope of The Clan. See also Royally Screwed-Up, It Runs in The Family, Dysfunctional Family and Dysfunction Junction. Contrast Thicker Than Water. May form a Super Family Team.

Examples of Big Screwed-Up Family include:

Anime and Manga

  • The Sohma clan in Fruits Basket has many instances of Domestic Abuse, some perpetrated by the head of the family, Akito Sohma, and some by various Abusive Parents. It has a deep dark secret- 13 of its members are cursed to turn into animals if hugged by members of the opposite sex, which has been protected by memory manipulation. Family tradition states that the one cursed as 'the cat' must be imprisoned in an isolated room for life. Also, plenty of Kissing Cousins here, although in Japan, this is not considered incestuous.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • The Ishtar family, judging by what we see in flashbacks.
    • The Kaibas. Each member is an egomaniac and megalomaniac except for Mokuba, who was neglected by the father and ironically this is why he is the only normal one in the family aside from a sadistic streak in the manga.
  • Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo: The titular character's family revolves around an incredibly violent war between him and his older siblings. The oldest and second oldest (the latter being the last Big Bad of the original manga) are trying to rule the world, the middle daughter is a Cloudcuckoolander, and the second youngest was brainwashed by another Big Bad, before his defeat at Bo-bobo's hands. And the parents? Dad's a hair follicle and mom's absent. Sweet lord.
  • Nothing is ever seen in the series proper, but Word of God stated that Gourry Gabriev the swordsman of Slayers has one. Owning a Forgotten Superweapon from another world, the Sword of Light, that can kill nearly anything mundane and even inflict damage to the equivalent of Satan in the show/novel's universe has more or less caused the entire family to go bonkers over who would own it, hence, a multitude of family civil wars occured through the Gabriev family's generations. The author of the novels stated that Gourry's only family left are a grandmother and a dead older brother. Gourry himself finally decided to steal the Sword of Light and leave the family once and for all.
    • Princess Amelia Saillune's uncles and cousin tried to kill her father many times via questionable methods, her mother was murdered, and her sister ran off to become a manic sorceress. Said sorceress, Naga the Serpent, journeyed with Lina for some time. Since Saillune is a rather prosperous kingdom, constant murder scares are not uncommon.
  • Naruto:
    • The Hyuugas, where the main family rules the branch family through a curse.
    • The Uchihas, whose eye powers are activated by killing friends and by taking the eyes of other family members. Fugako, the head of the family put a lot of pressure on Itachi and ignored the Sasuke, making Sasuke desprate for his father's attention. Yet this is nothing compared to the Itachi murdering the rest of the family, torturing Sasuke, and telling him to cling to hatred because he would come back to kill him someday. Not to mention telling Sasuke to kill his closest friend It's eventually revealed that Itachi murdered the family on orders from Konoha, because the Uchiha were planning a coup d'etat because they were being maltreated by the village. And Itachi left Sasuke alive because he wanted to be killed by one of his own clan.
    • The Sand Siblings family was like this, with their father trying to assassinate the youngest sibling, mother dying giving birth to and cursing the birth of the youngest sibling, and an uncle dying after trying to kill the youngest sibling. Oh yeah, and the sand demon possessed the youngest sibling. After an encounter with the titular character, the siblings themselves get better, moving safely into plain old Dysfunctional Family territory. It's eventually revealed that the mother did not curse Gaara, but the father had ordered the uncle to tell him she did in order to test him. But in fact both the mother and uncle had loved Gaara.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist is...complicated. Father is a clone of Hohenheim and the homunculi are clones of Father. The relationship between Father and Hoenheim can be liked to a combination of sibling and father-son, while the relationship Ed and Al have with the seven Homunculi can be likened to that of siblings, cousins, and mutual nephews/nieces.
    • The Xingese royal family is a pretty spectacular case. The traditional modus operandi of Xingese Emperors is taking fifty wives, one from each clan, and basically expecting the resulting children to fight each other for the throne.
    • In the 2003 anime adaptation, there's a whole other bucket of fish. Hohenheim's "immortality", his little thing with Dante, the demonic homunculus son that resulted from Hohenheim and Dante's little thing, and then of course the whole deal with Trisha dying and the two sons' subsequent screw-up, followed by various angst and suffering.
  • The Britannia royal family in Code Geass are certainly the embodiment of this trope. In particular their actions can only be explained by nearly the entire family being insane.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam has the Zabis. Patriarch Degwin is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who sought to bring his political philosophy to Earth, but has since been cut off from all power by his eldest son's scheming. Youngest son Garma is a "Well Done, Son" Guy who proved too optimistic for the Universal Century; second son Dozle has his head screwed on for the most part, but becomes an Axe Crazy berserker and One-Man Army when turned loose on the enemy. Kycilia, his daughter, loves her father, but is otherwise a cold-blooded, Manipulative Bastard who firmly believes that We Have Reserves. And then there's the oldest son, Gihren. Good god, there is Gihren. He's a manipulative, ruthless, scheming bastard who isolates his father so he can usurp his position, feels no sorrow when his brother dies and eventually commits Patricide. He and Kycilia hate each other.
  • The Yagamis in Death Note. Near the end of the series, Soichiro and Light are dead, Sachiko is pretty much despairing, and Sayu is still horribly traumatized (although she is recovering slightly). Even Ryuk is aware of this.

Ryuk: A heartwarming scene from the most unfortunate family in the world.

  • The Kuhoin family in Kure-nai is seriously messed up, as they lock away their daughters to give birth to the children of their brothers.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has the Ikari family, with Shinji Ikari, Yui Ikari, and Gendo Ikari, The Soryu Family, The Katsuragis, The Akagis... and all that is just the tip of a far more messed-up iceberg. Which has mass added to as the series goes by. One simply does not know where to start.
  • The Kunos from Ranma ½, they make the Saotome/Tendo household look positively normal.
  • The Vongola family in Katekyo Hitman Reborn is the biggest Mafia family in the story and has its share of Cain and Abel killings and freakish traditions. This is initially played for laughs but following the manga's Genre Shift, it means that the Unexpected Successor Tsuna receives daily death threats to the point that he claims he'll destroy the family if he has to carry on its bloody legacy.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia:
  • The Nanjous from Zetsuai And Bronze. Between the old man, his wives/mistresses, the three brothers (Hirose, Akihito and Kouji) and the sister (Nadeshiko)... hard to see who is the most fucked up.
  • The Itoshiki family of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei is apparently a zaibatsu, and are quite wealthy, and the paterfamilias is a member of parliament, but they are really messed up. They essentially control the entire area on which their estate is, and one of their traditions is to have a ceremony where they force people to marry whoever they first make eye contact with. All of the members of the family seen in the show are nice enough, but they are either eccentric (Rin and Matoko) or downright crazy (Nozomu, the protagonist, is the most neurotic person imaginable, and his brother Kei is an insane artist married to a stain on the wall). Majiru is a fairly normal young boy, but he was abandoned by his apparently disinherited father Enishi. Finally, all of the Itoshikis have embarrassing names formed by reading their names horizontally, and "Itoshiki family" itself can be read as "dying family".
  • The Zaoldyeck family from Hunter X Hunter fits this perfectly. The family profession is assassination, and from birth until death, you assassinate people or train to assassinate people. Instead of timeout, you get whips to the face. Older brothers Illumi and Milluki and little brother Kalluto are the good sons, faithfully obeying orders, Killua is the Black Sheep, running away from home, etc. Just a generally screwed up family.
  • The Cain Saga/Godchild. There's incest of all types, child abuse, pedophilia thrown in there (and thrown in remarkably casually), poisons, angst (Jesus there's a lot of angst), Foe Yay, Ho Yay, Incest Subtext, Cannibalism Yay, and some fucking gorgeous art. Also, many many Tear Jerker scenes. Plus a ton of death in general.
  • Saint Seiya: The Kido Family. Saori Kido turns out to be the Goddess Athena, Mitsumasa Kido in the manga has 100 kids and then sends them to go become Saints. The anime has to soften this up by making them orphans taken into the Kido clan and then sent off to train. Let's not forget Hyoga and his Oedipus Complex with his dead mother.
  • The Hatamoto, Yabuchi and Nagato families from Detective Conan. In each case, a member of the family (two, in the case of the Hatamotos) is very messily murdered... by another. (Though the Yabuchis also subvert the last part.)
  • The Lightsphere family of Ciel: The Last Autumn Story. They're a notorious evil line of aristocrats, and their political connection to the royal family allows them to get away with committing many heinous crimes, usually against one another. The head of the family actually raised two of his own children apart, just so they could be married off when they became adults, and hopefully produce a child with a very specific magic power. Then the siblings died, and when it was made clear that their son, January, was going to one day lead the family and inherit the title of duke, every relative instantly turned on him and started making attempts on his life. There have been a few examples of decent people, but with the exception of January and his cousin Socie, they've all ended up dead.
  • Pretty much the entire Shuzen family in Rosario + Vampire, sans Akasha, has some issues. To make things clearer, among the four children of the family, Moka is the most stable among them, followed by Kokoa.
  • The royal family of Pheliosta in Vampire Game. Incest is the law of the land, power struggles abound, people everyone thinks are related aren't, surprise relatives show up at the drop of a hat, half the family's evil and the other half's just plain nuts.
  • Loveless:
    • The Kaidou family, which Kio comes from. He has a daughter, who appears to be around ten (Kio himself is only 21) and doesn't have cat ears, who was apparantly born "without his knowledge" (which given the closeness in age, suggests that Kio's backstory contains either sexual abuse or a Stalker with a Test Tube). Said daughter is also the head of the family. Oh, and his twin sister has connections to Septimal Moon and works for Seimei and Nisei.
    • The Aoyagi famiy isn't much better, between the mentally unstable Misaki who abuses her son, and the psycopath older brother who faked his own death and has some creepy Incest Subtext with the main character.
  • The Huckebein of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force also become this one. On the one hand, they're seem to care each other, even share dinner together in one table. But on the other hand, they seem don't care about anyone but themselves.

Comic Books

  • The Batman Family. Almost all of them are orphans brought together by tragedy. First Dick was raised by Bruce and suffered tension to the point that they seemed ready to break. Then Bruce took in Jason, who was ultimately killed (and brought back to become a wayward son). Barbara was crippled and had to rebuild her life as a paraplegic superheroine. Tim volunteered and his family fell apart for it, Cassandra was drugged into becoming the very thing she feared most, Stephanie was tortured half to death, it took Helena years before she gained acceptance and started to trust the others, and Damian's problems start with being raised in a clan of assassins... they're all waifs, misfits and strays that would belong nowhere if not together.
  • The Wilsons. Slade "Deathstroke" Wilson may actually be the only sane one left. His wife, Addie, was ostensibly on the side of angels, but her methods weren't. They only seemed to get worse with time. Eldest son Grant was a Psycho for Hire who ended up killing himself when going up against the Teen Titans. Middle child Joseph "Jericho" Wilson was the White Sheep; a genuinely nice, artistic sort and a Titan in good standing...until he made contact with Raven's demonic side and the corrupted remnants of Azarath and went nuts as a result. Rose, the youngest, and the product of Slade's affair with a brothel keeper/mercenary, gouged her own eye out in an attempt to be just like daddy (that, before her Heel Face Turn). So Yeah.
  • The Endless from The Sandman portray this trope very well. They argue, they're petty and some of them are downright bastards.
  • The Roark family from Sin City. While we don't see a lot of politics among them, the members that we do meet (Cardinal Roark, Senator Roark and Roark Junior) are evil to the core, and John Hartigan states that the bad shit that they get up to on the Farm on North Cross and Lennox has been going on for generations.
  • Venom's family from Spider-Man; most of them want to kill each other.
  • The Pyms over at the Marvel Universe. Hank Pym and The Wasp, their robot son Ultron who later marries Jocasta who has the brainwave patterns of his mother... Yeah.
  • From Preacher (Comic Book), Jesse Custer's family will literally send chills up and down your spine. Trying to describe the revulsion that they inspire does not do the book justice.
  • I think we can officially list Bruce Banner's family at this point. It would take a long while, a lot of space on this page, and several spoiler blocks to list all the issues he, his kids, his cousin, and his ex-wife have. And let's not even get started on his father.
  • Fantastic Four, Marvel's original dysfunctional family. Famous for operating so brilliantly as a team in the face of danger that they are the stuff of cosmic legends, but immediately falling apart into all kinds of internal strife from passive-aggressive warfare to spontaneous fistfights to stewing in bottled self-pity/resentment, all with a big helping of Poor Communication Kills, whenever the action abates.
  • The Nu'um family in the Star Wars comic book miniseries Jabba the Hutt: The Art of the Deal.


  • The Skywalkers (expanded universe). Marrying into said family has caused this to extend to the Solos as well. In the Bantam Era, the Solos and Skywalkers were relatively normal, well adjusted. It wasn't until Del Rey decided to inject massive amounts of Wangst, killed off many popular child characters starting with Anakin Solo, as well as turning Jacen Solo into Jacen In Name Only that everything became messed up.
  • The Godfather: Corleones, to some extent. They are a mafia family after all. And there's murders, assassinations, assassination of in-laws, fratricide...
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has the Largo family. It has Rotti, Pavi, Luigi, and Amber. They're constantly bickering, and Luigi and Amber are eerily close.
  • The Royal Tenenbaums. They'd probably be happier if it weren't for dad.
    • Many elements of the film—particularly child prodigies' unfulfilled potential—are lifted from J.D. Salinger's Glass family stories (which include more short stories and novellas than it would be sensible to list; let's just say everything except Catcher in the Rye: almost correct, if we exclude approximately two thirds of the Nine Stories). Though the Glass' Freudian Excuse is their eldest son's suicide, not Sibling Incest. But...does it count? Considering Margot is adopted (as Royal mentions at every possible opportunity).
  • The titular family in The Magnificent Ambersons, in Orson Welles' movie as well as the original book.
  • The Lion in Winter, film and play. Henry II of England, his estranged wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, three sons, and one French king (who's also the boyfriend of one of the princes). Each plots against most or all of the others, over the course of the story. Lampshaded by Eleanor: "All families have their little ups and downs."
  • The Pascals from The House of Yes. Insanity, incest, murder... all at one Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Winter's Bone: Nearly everyone in the area is related to one another, and almost all of them are meth-addicted and unhelpful in Ree's quest to find her father
  • The family from the The Texas Chainsaw Massacre film series.
  • Asgard's royal family in Thor, especially Odin and Loki. Thor and Loki go without saying.
  • The Prescotts in the Scream series. Sidney's mother was the village bicycle who was murdered for breaking up a marriage, her father was in jail after being wrongly accused of killing her, she had a long-lost half-brother who became a film director and then tried to kill her because "she got all the attention", her little cousin was a narcissistic, fame-hungry psychopath who engaged in mass murder to try and make herself a celebrity like Sidney, and of course, Sidney herself is frequently stalked by serial killers.
  • Madea's family in Madea's Family Reunion. Her niece Lisa is in an abusive relationship with a man she doesn't love. Meanwhile her sister Vanessa was allowed to be raped by her stepfather so that he wouldn't leave her mother, Victoria, who was sold by her junkie mother for 10 dollars and a fix.
  • Billy's family from the Black Christmas remake. Billy himself was born with a liver condition that caused his skin to turn yellow, but that's the least of it—his birth father (the only one who cared for him) was killed by his mother, who then locked him in the attic for most of his life. When her new husband was impotent she had sex with Billy resulting in the birth of his sister/daughter Agnes and making Billy even more The Unfavorite. Eventually Billy snaps and murders the parents but spares Agnes (mutilating her in the process). Years later he and Agnes reunite for a killing spree.
  • The Browns from Buffalo '66 fit this trope. The mom is a sports nut that ignores anything that doesn't have to do with the Buffalo Bills, the father is a basket case who lip synchs to old records and accuses his son of trying to stab him (a knife was on the dinner table), and Billy is a Man Child who resorted to a life of crime.
  • Melancholia: The only issue-free person is Clair's little boy, who's also the only person who can make severely depressed his aunt smile. And then a planet falls on top of them.


  • The royal family from the Book of Amber kind of define this trope. So much backstabbery your brain will give up and go Xanatos.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The House of Black. Their house elf servants are traditionally beheaded once they're too old to fetch and carry, and anyone who shows signs of not being a Fantastic Racist is kicked out and has their name blasted off the family tapestry (Sirius's uncle got blasted off just for giving him some money after he left the house). Sirius's brother Regulus was considered The Dutiful Son for joining a terrorist group, though he eventually got a dose of reality.
    • The Dumbledores may also count. Percival maims a group of Muggle boys and goes to Azkaban, Kendra is thought to have imprisoned Ariana for being a Squib though it was common knowledge that she herself was Muggle-born, Ariana is driven insane by the Muggle boys (which is why Percival maimed them) and hidden by her mother. Albus develops a big gay crush on Gellert Grindelwald, who later gets into a fight with him and Aberforth, and one of the three winds up killing Ariana. Then Albus and Aberforth get into a fight at Ariana's funeral, and they have a very strained relationship for years. Whew.
  • The Mayfair family in Anne Rice's trilogy The Lives of the Mayfair Witches fits this trope to a T.
  • Played surprisingly straight in Discworld by the Lavish family.
    • Nanny Ogg's ginormous family. It's noted that the only way the various branches will stop fighting each other is if some outside party insults any family member.
  • Several noble families in A Song of Ice and Fire fit the bill, Deadly Decadent Court oblige. Our main protagonist Stark family however seems immune at the start of the series which didn't save them at all.
    • The Lannisters are pretty much a textbook example. Not only are they wealthy, powerful and ambitious, but scheming and snarking seem to run the family. Not to mention incest, father-son conflicts and horrendous parenting.
    • The Targaryens are not very far behind, and Royally Screwed-Up to boot.
    • The Freys are the biggest of the screwed up families present. Their current patriarch has fathered over 25 legitimate sons, to say nothing of his many daughters and bastards (plus grandchildren, great grand children, grand bastards etc.), and if half of what is said of the machinations of his progeny is true (particularly those surrounding Black Walder) they have already begun clandestine murderous maneuvering against one another in addition to the constant complex political moves to curry favor, and need only the death of the head of the family (currently over 90) to erupt into open struggling.
    • Craster's family. It doesn't exactly fit the description (though they are relatively well-set for wildlings), but "big and screwed up" doesn't begin to describe it. Craster has nineteen wives, most of whom are his daughters and it's understood that his grand-daughters of the right age are/would also be his wives. He rules the family with an iron first, makes the women do all the work and forbids them to speak to strangers as well as the strangers - to them. Oh, and the skeleton in his cupboard? His wives sometimes bear him sons, which he then sacrifices to the Others.
  • The Raith Family of The Dresden Files, technically, the McCoys and Raiths are related thorugh Margaret, mother to Thomas and Harry. Thus making it all one Big Screwed-Up Family.
  • Gormenghast: The House of Groan is the epitome of this trope.
  • The Do'Urden family from The Dark Elf Trilogy and pretty much every dark elf family from Menzoberranzan in the Forgotten Realms universe; comes with the territory.
  • Redwall: The Marlfoxes. The Pure Ferrets of Riftgard in the same series would probably count if there were more than three of them. Verdauga Greeneyes and his two offspring don't count because the only truly screwed-up member was Tsarmina.
  • Any family in William Faulkner's novels is, in all likelihood, quite large and quite screwed-up. The Compsons, the Bundrens, the Sutpens ... implied incest, murder, cruelty, bad luck, you name it.
  • Any family the heroine is a member of in any V. C. Andrews novel is screwed up by default.
  • Agatha Christie used this trope to maximize the pool of suspects in Death Comes as the End, Crooked House, and A Pocket Full of Rye.
  • The House of Finwë from The Silmarillion. Finwë, king of the Noldor, remarried; his elder son was very, very bitter: the Big Bad, a Manipulative Bastard, stirred things up: numerous feuds ensued. Brother tried to kill brother, brother forgave brother, brother did it again; cousin saved cousin, cousin tried to kill cousin, there was a bit of incest, etc. Galadriel, Elrond, and his children are the last (mostly elven) members of that family in Middle-Earth in the Third Age, by the way, but by this time the craziness has mostly run out.
  • The Buchanons, from the Maggody mysteries. No, they're not even close to rich, but they're screwed up enough to qualify for this trope several times over.
  • Iain Banks likes these, occasionally when writing as Iain M Banks too. Probably the best example is Prentice McHoan's family in The Crow Road, but The Business, Whit and The Steep Approach To Garbadale also centre around similar families.
  • The Vangers in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy are big and they're definitely screwed up.
    • Zalachenko's children, for that matter.
  • The Wildesterns from Oisin McGann's Ancient Appetites heartily approve of the use of murder to improve one's standing in the family.
  • At the beginning of Flora Segunda, Flora describes how messed up her family is, what with her mother being Married To Her Job as Commanding General of the Califan Army (and being away from home for long stretches of time), while her father is a drunk prone to fits of violence as a result of having spent three years in their world's equivalent of the Hanoi Hilton. Though in the next book, we learn they're practically the Cleavers when compared to the extinct Hadraada family.
  • The Breedlove family in The Bluest Eye. The parents are always fighting, the father is an alcoholic who rapes his 12-year-old daughter, and said daughter is Driven to Madness.
  • Jonathan Franzen loves this trope. The Lamberts in The Corrections are a prime example, as are the Hollands in Strong Motion (for a given definition of big).
  • The Marsh Family from The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
  • The Malagash family in Chronicles of Magravandias. They are constantly plotting the downfall of other family members and shifting allies in their Deadly Decadent Court.
  • PG Wodehouse's Woosters are this trope Played for Laughs. "Family rows" are nasty and complicated, there's more than one instance of diagnosed insanity, a lot of things are kept hushed up, and Evil Matriarch Aunt Agatha frequently resorts to bribery and trickery to stop members of the family from marrying into common blood. According to Bertie, the Woosters can trace their ancestry all the way back to the Crusades.
  • The 39 Clues has the Cahill family. Nearly every influential historical figure born in or after the 16th century is related to them (by blood or marriage), and quite a few of the family members are extremely rich and powerful. The family is big enough to be divided into four rival branches, which formed from the descendants of the four original Cahill children, as well as the Madrigal branch, which is made up of people descended from Madeline Cahill, the fifth sibling, and members of other branches who wish for peace. Most of the time, the four branches are spying on or trying to kill each other, and even individual family branches experience internal conflicts a good deal of the time.
  • Most of the Israeli author Meir Shalev's books contain examples of this; examples appear in, among others, Esau, A Russian Novel, and A Pigeon and a Boy.

Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Harrises. Xander's the only good one out of them, his parents are such drunken jerks that Xander would rather sleep outside, at night, in vampire-infested Sunnydale.
    • Tara's family - or, at least, the men. Women in her family tend to have a gift for magic, so the males created a story that there was something demonic about them to keep them in line. Thankfully, by the time we actually see them, Tara's found a real family.
  • Arguably, the Barones from Everybody Loves Raymond.
  • The Bluths in Arrested Development.
  • The Maguire family in Shameless embodied this trope, being aggressive Irish drugdealers, and as such were the feared family in their area. Paddy the Papa Wolf, Mimi the Mama Bear, Micky, who is tough but gay, Jamie the ex-con, Shane the violent but clumsy stoner, Mandy, the only nice member of the family, who later dies.
  • While most of the families on Coronation Street are screwed up the Barlows are the only ones really large enough to meet the "Big" qualifier. Being in the third and fourth generation helps, along with serial philanderer Ken having five children. The Barlows have fought with each other and everybody else over the years. They've also stood together through bigamy, alcoholism, cold blooded murder, and more adultery than most can count.
  • The Petrellis in Heroes
  • The Pucketts in iCarly.
  • The Gavins in Rescue Me. Doubly so if you included Sheila Keefe, the window of Tommy's cousin.
  • Jack Bauer is revealed to come from this type of family in season six of 24.
  • The whole family in Titus is severely screwed up, where mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse are common affairs. And they were based off of his actual family, so guess what that makes this.
    • Erin's family also qualifies, as it seems to consist mainly of thieves, gamblers and drug dealers/addicts.
  • The Ewings of Dallas.
    • And of course their counterparts from Dynasty, the Carringtons and Colbys, and the Channings from Falcon Crest
  • The Lopez family of The George Lopez Show. Max is dyslexic, but there's nothing wrong with that. However, later, he gets mixed up with a gang, gets in a knife fight, frenches behind a dumpster until he gets hungry, then shoplifts, and launched a bottle rocket that destroyed the garage and put the family in horrible debt, and tore up a perfectly good pillow. Carmen got featured in a rap video, having a pillow fight, if you know what I mean, then went to a party with beer, then drank beer (elsewhere from the beer party), then planned her pregnancy with a boy she was dating (and she was very Crazy Prepared for it, too), and insulted her father in her diary. Their GRANDMA, even, is alcoholic, addicted to smoking, and hit a guy in the nuts this one time. George Lopez... nothing too wrong with him. He lies. A lot. Then Angie, who... actually, she's the sole refugee from this trope in the family, even though she does tend to scold George for things he can't help at all.
  • Half of the Midsomer Murders episodes feature a feud between two Big Screwed Up Families.
  • The Nichol/Cohen family in The OC. The patriarch, Caleb Nichol, is a Magnificent Bastard par excellence. His daughter Kirsten married Sandy Cohen, had Seth, and adopted Ryan, so that's four of the main characters. But Nichol went on to marry Kirsten's best friend Julie; this added her ex-husband Jimmy and daughters Marissa and Kaitlin to the clan (and gave Ryan's relationship with Marissa a vaguely incestuous quality). It gets worse: Caleb's illegitimate daughter Lindsay was also at the kids' school and she also dated Ryan. Then after Caleb is gone, Julie marries Summer's father. And Summer marries Seth in the finale. End result, thanks to Caleb's industriousness willingness to marry a woman his daughter's age, ten of the 12 characters who were cast members are eventually related by marriage—only Luke and Taylor escape. (And Taylor lived with the Cooper side of the family for a while at one point anyway, to the point of almost becoming an adoptive member.)
  • The Wilkerson Family in Malcolm in the Middle, as part of an effort to make the worlds worst dysfunctional family.
  • Blanche's family in The Golden Girls is a comical example. In the episode "Adult Education", Rose is quizzing Blanche in psychology and asks, "Who said that the son wishes to extract revenge on the father by having sex with the mother?" Blanche responds, "I don't know who said it, but my cousin did it!"
  • Supernatural features the delightful blend of the Winchesters and the Campbells. Between manipulations, impossible orders, and the possibility that the family patriarch might have once set his nine and five year old sons up as bait for a child eating monster, there's a bunch that's screwed up in this family. What's best is that the reasons why things are so messed up weren't known for years and some of them we're still learning about.
    • The entire Heavenly Host, full stop.
  • The Bristow family from Alias. Jack, Irina, Sydney, Nadia, Katya, and Arvin, by various connections. Six people, of whom 2 are actually Bristows by blood and 1 by marriage (depending on whether you count Jack and Irina's marriage as valid).
  • The Collins family on Dark Shadows. In the original series, it was intended that Victoria Winters be Elizabeth Stoddard's illegitimate daughter. Roger Collins let another man take the fall for vehicular homicide (and is a cowardly, arrogant, jerk into the bargain); Elizabeth Stoddard confined herself to the estate for 20 years because she thought she'd killed her husband (and she didn't even like him that much); David Collins, besides having his own problems, was the son of a supernatural being who would kill her child as part of her rebirth; Carolyn Stoddard deliberately dated a biker to piss off her mother (and was supposed to be wed to a demon before he underwent a Heel Face Turn) -- and then there are the sins of Collinses past, which regularly come back to haunt the modern family. Barnabas was supposed to be one of those, until the character proved too popular to get rid of. On the other hand, at times most of the Collins' can display sudden and surprising impulses toward genuine goodness. It's complicated. Most of them would actually prefer behave fairly decently, if circumstances were not so weirdly freakish.
  • Gossip Girl:
    • The van der Bilts (including Archibalds).
    • The van der Basses (now also known as the Bass der Humphreys) could also count, if you consider all of them truly related at this point. Screwed-up is really putting it mildly, Dan and Serena have an on-and-off romance while their parents are married and they share a half-brother. Chuck tried to rape both Serena and Jenny before he became adoptive brother to the former and stepbrother to the latter, though after they became stepsiblings Jenny decided to lose her virginity to him. Oh, and Dan and Chuck have both slept with Vanessa who also bedded their half-brother Scott. Throw Uncle Jack into the mix and it gets even crazier...
  • Two and A Half Men: Every family on the show is screwed up one way or another.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys arguably tops them all: on that show, Hercules came (via a human mother, Alcamene) from a family of screwed-up gods! "I really hate my family," Herc complained in one episode. And who can blame him? His father (Zeus) is a dried-up old adulterer; his stepmother (Hera) is a homicidal bitch; his uncle (Hades) is a borderline rapist; his aunt (Demeter) is an embittered hag; his cousin (Persephone) proves herself to be a total slut; his half-brother (Ares) is a psychopathic Blood Knight; his half-sister (Aphrodite) is a Brainless Beauty (with a touch of Alpha Bitch); and his nephew (Cupid) is a moody delinquent who changes from an angel-winged hunk to a literal monster whenever he gets jealous, due to a curse put on him by Hera. His other half-brother Apollo is a Smug Super Jerkass who treats mortals like garbage. The only halfway decent members of the pantheon are Athena and Hephaestus who each only appear once in the series.
  • The Borgias, of course. Affably Evil Rodrigo buys the Papacy, makes his son a cardinal, and installs his mistress Giulia into his dead rival's apartments. Cesare follows it up by being a Magnificent Bastard, acquiring a personal assassin, dispatching a rival for insulting his mother, and having a worryingly close relationship with his sister Lucrezia. Said sister is turning into quite the manipulative seductress and plots against her Domestic Abuser husband while having an affair with his servant. Meanwhile Juan is a dim-witted, socipoathic Spoiled Brat who has sex with his brother Gioffre's wife on a table surrounded by stuffed corpses. And Vannozza, former Spanish courtesan and mother to Rodrigo's children, while not as overtly homicidal and violent as the rest, still manages the balls to storm into the Vatican, slap the Pope across the face, and call Giulia a whore in front of most of the college of cardinals. Gioffre has a twenty-something-year-old wife at thirteen. And the marriage was consummated. Less than five minutes after she had sex with Juan. Again.
  • The Lannisters from Game of Thrones fit the above description perfectly, which isn't surprising, since the series centres around a Deadly Decadent Court and Feuding Families. They will indeed instantly band together to destroy you if you attack one of them, despite not liking each other. They have a Tangled Family Tree, as being one of the great families, they have studiously married into all of the other noble families, to form alliances. Tywin is the Magnificent Bastard and "Well Done, Son" Guy, Tyrion is the The Unfavourite, and you don't want to know what's up with Jaimie and Cercei. All that's missing is an Evil Matriarch, as Mummy Lannister died giving birth to Tyrion.
  • The Pendragons on Merlin, composed of a tyrannical king, his emotionally-damaged son, their illegitimate daughter/sister who keeps trying to kill them both, and an Evil Uncle (who seems to have a thing for the earlier-mentioned niece).
  • The Closer's "The Butler Did It" featured a family of three that is the combination of Big Screwed-Up Family and Rich Bitch. The eldest member, Dennis Dutton, is a psychotic guy who sees women frequently, and whenever one of the women he sees denies him, he cuts her up. The sole daughter, Deanna Dutton, was a woman who is on-and-off on drugs, frequently going through detox. What is presumably either the youngest or middle child, Devlin Dutton, is a Depraved Homosexual who often sleeps around with guys and hustles around. Surprisingly, none of them committed the murder against the only sane member of the family: The Butler did.
  • Once Upon a Time has Emma Swan's family. Emma is twenty eight and is roughly the same age as her mother Snow White, her father Prince Charming, and her mother's step mother Regina the Evil Queen, and because of a curse they are under none of them know they are related to each other and from another world. And then there's her fight with Regina over who's her son Henry's real mother, the one who gave him up at birth or the one who adopted him. this also being a story with Snow White, you know there's already a few murder attempts and entire kindoms hanging in the balance, not to mention the way the writer's take liberties with the original story lines, particularly Charming's.


  • The Tom Waits song "Cemetary Polka" runs through a list of aunts and uncles, each of whom is screwed up in their own unique way.
  • Most Anti Christmas Carols at least give a mention of having one of these that makes the holidays a special kind of hell.


  • Greek mythology. Just about anyone with any relation to the gods falls under this, not to mention the gods themselves. And a lot of people were related to the gods.
    • The House of Atreus is the best example. Menelaus is the only adult member who doesn't commit some sort of unforgivable crime.
      • Except for that time in Andromache when he threatened to murder her child if she didn't come out and admit she was bewitching his daughter Hermione, who was no bag of sunshine herself, so that she would be barren; the plan was, naturally, to kill both Andromache and her little boy. Of course, that characterization can be attributed to Euripides' dislike of Sparta at the time.
    • The House of Thebes is another cursed dynasty. While the founder of the House Cadmus did quite well for himself and married Harmonia, the daughter of Ares, all of their descendants fared poorly. The most famous ones are of course Oedipus and company mentioned in the Theater folder.

Professional Wrestling

  • The McMahon family. At any given second during the heyday of the Attitude Era, you can count on a ton of dysfunction going on with this family, usually as a result of Vince McMahon. Even when it seems like they're all one big happy family, it's usually the result of one of them pulling a complicated Xanatos Gambit. Just to give you an idea of how screwed up this family is, The Undertaker kidnapped daughter Stephanie in order to convince Vince to hand over the company to him...and then it was revealed that Vince was Undertaker's "Higher Power" and the person telling him to pull off this scheme in the first place, which means that Vince McMahon basically had his own daughter kidnapped. And I'm not even going to get into all of the crap from 2000. This quote sums them up nicely:

Triple H: What the hell kind of family did I marry myself into?!

Tabletop Games

  • In the White Wolf RPG Vampire: The Masquerade, the Giovanni Vampire clan fits the description (incestuous, power-grubbing necromancers) to a tee.
    • The new version, Vampire: The Requiem, brought them back as the Sangiovanni bloodline of the Mekhet in the Sourcebook Bloodlines: The Chosen. They're still one big, happy, inbred, necrophiliac family. You don't want to know how they got into the vampire business.
    • Likewise the inbred, insanely wealthy Crassus family is the Ghoul equivalent. Their masters use them not as servants or proxies, but as playthings.
    • Really, any ghoul family is this (VTM calls them "revenant families"). The Crassus just have the advantage of wealth.
  • The Whateleys from Deadlands. Brother-Sister Incest, worship of evil spirits, locking less "viable" family members in the attic, and allowing their patron demon to consume the newest, youngest member of the family corporeally to become a god on Earth. Also, the entire family has incredibly weird genetics from swimming around in a shallow gene pool for so damn long. C'mon. Admit it. You're dying to create one of your very own (who is of course a nice guy). Bear in mind if you do make one, however, that yours is going to be from a fairly distant branch. That's the only way to make them playable.
  • The Ravenloft setting was born from this trope. It's got enough of these families to write a book about how screwed up they are ... and Arthaus did so, with Legacy of the Blood: Great Families of the Core.
  • An epic case of this resulting in betrayal, a bloodbath and the shattering for an empire is the main Backstory of the unimaginably brutal setting of Warhammer 40,000. It involves The Emperor and his twenty cloned sons, and various cases of Parental Favoritism, Cain and Abel, The Unfavourite and others, culminating in the great betrayal known as the Horus Heresy.


  • The Hubbard family in The Little Foxes. The planned first-cousin marriage between Alexandra and Leo would not have been the first in the family.
  • The Brewster family Arsenic and Old Lace, to the extent the only sane one in the family turns out not to be blood related.
  • The Duke's family of The Revenger's Tragedy. Brothers and stepbrothers conspire to have each other executed and actually end up stabbing each other later in the play, the mother sleeps with her step-son, the youngest brother is a rapist, and the Duke himself has a history of having women who reject him poisoned.
    • The 2002 film adaptation just makes matters worse by styling the brothers as camp cyber-punk/glam-rock types and ramping up the incestuous subtext (e.g. the Duchess and Junior after Junior is arrested, not to mention Ambitioso and Supervacuo's somewhat excessive hand holding and pawing at each other)
  • The Capulets in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Juliet's father decides to marry her off against her wishes a day after her cousin gets killed, to "cheer her up", and when Juliet protests he threatens to let her "beg, starve, die on the streets!" He also hits his wife, but when Juliet goes to her mother for sympathy, she's equally nasty.
    • The musical went ahead and added incest into the mix by presenting Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, as also being in love with her. The Hungarian adaptation of the musical took this even further by making him epileptic (probably as a result of an injury incurred as part of his harsh, almost military upbringing as a designated champion for his family in their feud with the Montagues- who interestingly don't seem to fit this trope) and having a pervasive level of sexual tension with Lady Capulet, who at least knows well enough to firmly turn him down when he tries to lunge at her and kiss her. For that matter, Lady Capulet is cheating on her husband with a servant and ends up a Lady Drunk after Tybalt's death.
  • Laius, Jocasta and Oedipus, Polyneices and Eteocles, Antigone, Ismene and Creon, Eurydice and one in the entire family catches a break throughout Sophocles' Theban plays Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, and The Progeny.

Video Games

  • While not especially powerful, the generational family that forms the core of the Myst games fits this trope far better than any mere dysfunctional family:
    • Ti'ana (great-grandmother) managed to cause a civil war in an ancient civilization (granted, not her fault).
    • Aitrus (great-grandfather) got vengeance on the man who killed his family by trapping him in Another World and destroying it.
    • Gehn (grandfather) set himself up to be worshiped as the god of multiple private universes, keeping his subjects in check by feeding dissidents to his pet beasties.
    • Atrus (father) is a little too concerned with his research and not concerned enough with raising his family, and ultimately relies on other people to solve most of his problems.
    • Katran (mother) was (and presumably still is) worshiped by rebels against Gehn, and represses a few things about her sons that she'd really be better off concerning herself with.
    • Achenar (elder brother) is an Ax Crazy psychopath with a macabre taste in decoration and a penchant for Electric Torture.
    • Sirrus (younger brother) is a narcotics abuser and Mad Scientist with serious sibling rivalry issues. He and Achenar plundered the dozens of populated worlds, massacring their inhabitants and wrecking their ecosystems, then imprisoned their father and trapped their mother in a universe with Gehn, who wants her dead.
    • Yeesha (younger sister) is a bit of a creepy but naive Cloudcuckoolander who helps her brothers escape their prisons by mistake, is briefly imprisoned in Dream and possessed by her older brother and comes out of the whole mess with a Messiah complex and an inability to communication clearly.
      • Oh, yeah. And just about all of them are capable of carefully Rewriting Reality. Especially Yeesha, who is apparently right about being the Messiah. This bodes not well.
  • In Haunting Ground—the Belli family. Ugo was the only normal child and he escaped as when he met Fiona's mother.
  • In F.E.A.R. you're a mute supersoldier known as the Point Man. The man you've been sent to kill, Paxton Fettel (who is your brother) is a cannibalistic, psychic psychopath who is going on a violent rampage with his army of telepathic soldiers and merely gets pissed when you kill him. Alma Wade (who is your mother) is a homicidal ghost out for revenge (and to protect her children). Harlan Wade (your grandfather) is the person who caused this mess by working with an evil corporation to experiment on his own daughter who happens to be the aforementioned ghost that is your mother. Note that this is just the first game. In the second one, Alma decides to add Michael Becket to your relations by using him to father another child, but this is after a gene-splicing operation that directly links him to your bloodline. By the third game, Alma is expecting again. On top of that, while grandpa is still dead, the worst parts of him are back and want you dead too. And at the very end, the Point Man and Fettel face off, and one of them gets killed/consumed, leaving the other to raise the newborn as their own.
  • Most families in Crusader Kings ends up this way after a while. Favorite gameplay example when playing as the Sverkers: Son gets "You have fallen in love with a girl in your court." event... With his SISTER. A week later sister gets "Death By Suicide". A generation later the son-and-heir assassinated his father...
  • The Covenant family, even before the last members were horribly cursed.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The Fey Family has a long history of in fighting, in murder, and dysfunction. The Kurain Master position is usually held by the oldest daughter of the Master, but Misty Fey turned out to be more powerful than her sister Morgan and stole the position out from under her, dooming Morgan Fey to become the "branch family". Her rage at this and her desire to make her daughter Pearl the next master leads her to try and get rid of Maya twice. The first by framing her for murder, the second by getting Pearl to channel her other daughter Dahlia, who would then murder Maya in Pearl's body. Did we mention Pearl is nine?And her father divorced because, in Kurain village, men are pretty much useless since only women inherit psychic powers.
    • Surprisingly subverted with the von Karmas. While von Karma himself is an Amoral Attorney of the highest caliber and murdered Miles Edgeworth's father before adopting him with intention of raising him to be another Amoral Attorney before having him convicted of his own father's murder fifteen years later, he seems to have treated both Miles and Fransiska with no more unkindness than your average demanding parent. The murder thing is still sort of messed up, though.
    • Although not all of them are actually related, the Gramarye Troupe from Apollo Justice certainly fit this trope. Accidental shootings, blackmail, suicide, frame-ups...Trucy's lucky that she's not being raised by them, really.
  • To summarize BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger's story: 3 Orphan Siblings + Time Travel + Cloning Blues + Ax Crazy = Big Screwed-Up Family + The End of the World as We Know It Repeatedly. To specify, the younger brother is driven to insanity by the Big Bad, so he cuts off his big brother's arm, then later supervises a clone of his sister, whom he hates, who is a main piece in the Big Bad's plan to destroy the world, and is then driven to hunt his thought-to-be-dead big brother, who will also destroy the world, and it turns out the sister who disappeared is the villain behind the main antagonist. In the original timeline, the big brother was turned into a monster and sent back in time, while his younger brother turned himself into a hero to atone for everything he had done before. Even as a reformed hero, he is still intent on killing his big brother, though now he wants to do it for the sake of the world and not because of Yandere tendencies. Speaking of Yandere tendencies, there's also another clone of their sister who has some serious hots for Ragna, and when he rejects her she decides to kill him so that they can fuse and become the earlier mentioned world destroying monster together... Yes, this game is very confusing... Credit where credit is due, though: The family have become a little less dysfunctional by the end of the second game. Well, except that sister-turned-villain.
    • The Clover family. The father, Relius, is a sociopathic Complete Monster who turned his daughter into a machine and then used the experience to turn his wife into a superior version... For Science!! All while, his abandoned son, Carl, who was forced to finish the experiment that his father begun, because Relius couldn't be bothered to finish the job on Carl's sister, was understandably deeply traumatized by these events. He now greatly distrusts adults and will do anything to return his sister to normal and get revenge. When they eventually reunite? Relius brags about how he has "ACHIEVED PER-FEC-TION" with his wife and promptly tries to demonstrate her power on his children.
  • The Mishima family from Tekken. It's badass... and it's also ridiculously shattered. By Tag Tournament 2, there are certifiably five family members competing (Jinpachi, Heihachi, Kazuya, Jin, and Lars), spanning four generations (plus Lee, the adopted son of Heihachi), and you can basically draw a web of who wants to kill who and why. The only one who is 'good' in the general sense of the term is Jinpachi (he has a good heart but is unable to fight the engulfing evil force that has possessed his mind and body; Lars is heroic but is still willing to kill Heihachi unprovoked when the two encounter each other).
  • Honorable mention goes to Kasumi, Hayate and Ayane from Dead or Alive. Kasumi was sentenced to death because she was trying to find the (at the time) missing Hayate. Regardless of the reason, leaving the clan is punishable by death. And her own half-sister Ayane is the one trying to kill her. And you thought Sub-Zero had it rough...
  • Xenosaga has a good example of this in the form of the Yurievs. You have father Dimitri, who is Really Seven Hundred Years Old, a Body-surfer, a Complete Monster, and a Well-Intentioned Extremist (on the surface), among other things. Next, we have the mother(s) who, for all we know, could have been used as The Pawn. Then there's big brother Jr (Rubedo), who's older than he looks, being raised by his younger brother as his son (at least, to the public eye), and the "Link Master" in an experiment to control and defeat the existence known as U-DO (later revealed to be God itself). After that, there's Rubedo's conjoined twin, Albedo Piazzola, who gets less and less mentally stable as he grows up. As a child, he was the Creepy Child and generally shows traits of Undying Loyalty towards Jr. However, after finding out he was immortal and his sibilings weren't, he went off the deep end, winding up to be a Large Ham, Psycho for Hire, Nietzsche Wannabe, and Wicked Cultured as an adult. Following up is Gaignun (Nigredo), who seems to be mostly normal, even hinted at being wise beyond his years. However, it's revealed that he was responsible for killing Rubedo, should his special power, Red Dragon, ever get out of control. Also, he killed Dimitri in an attempt to free himself from this, as well as his other purpose, which was to serve as a body should Dimitri ever have to Body Surf. Also, he dies near the end of the third game, eliminating Dimitri in the process as well. Which leaves Citrine, the only woman actually shown in the family. Put simply, she's a Chekhov's Gunman whose only purpose was to also kill Rubedo in case his power went out of control. Also, she's the only one of the family who still sees Dimitri on a regular basis. Last are the other 665 other siblings, who were created to be standard URTVs (basically the counter to the existence, U-DO), with Rubedo, Albedo, Nigredo, and Citrine as the variants (who get more attention, stronger abilities, and a bad case of Theme Naming). Also, all of the standard units are all dead. And, quite honestly, this doesn't even begin to explain everything...
  • No More Heroes features the Touchdown family, which in the last 10% of the game is revealed to be incredibly expansive. There's Travis Touchdown, otaku assassin; his mother, murdered; his father, who cheated on Travis's mother with another woman, who committed suicide, resulting in resulting in the murder of himself and his wife at the hands of his mistress's daughter Jeane (who Travis was dating, unaware that she was his half-sister); this is all revealed after Jeane kills Dark Star, the number 1 ranked assassin who also claims to be Travis's father. In an unrelated plot, Travis discovers that his rival, Henry, is actually his twin brother, and is married to Sylvia, the woman Travis was pursuing. And they have a daughter, also named Jeane. You might as well count Travis's cat, Jeane, as part of the family to round out the hat-trick.
  • The Ryans....and The Lambs
  • In The Sims 2, the Curious/Smith/Singles family sprawls diagonally over Strangetown, dominating the town's drama. Apparently it all started when Glarn Curious was abducted by an alien pollination technician, twice. Sick of caring for his alien daughter, wife #1 Glabe took off and he remarried to Kitty, proceeded to have four children with her the old-fashioned way, one of whom proceeded to marry the alien who inseminated him and have two kids of her own. Then the younger son Pascal, err, followed in his father's footsteps, and is "expecting" at the beginning of the game. If you play your cards right, brother Vidcund can reach the same happy state shortly thereafter, by the same alien daddy—leaving you with two adorable green brats who are both cousins and siblings. Not to mention the special relationship between the Singles sisters and the Smith kids. Check out this fancy family tree [dead link] including the antecedents from The Sims 3.
  • Metal Gear Solid loves this trope. First off we have Big Boss who is the most gifted soldier of the 20th century and would be recognized by America as their greatest asset, but after many hardships, betrayals, and tragedies were thrown his way by the government he swore his life to, he became disillusioned and drifted the world as a mercenary. Eventually his disillusionment reached such a point that he sought revolution, overthrowing America and the corrupt forces behind it, the Patriots, who controlled everything in secret, thus bringing a new birth of freedom to the country. Meanwhile the Patriots cloned Big Boss so as to have copies of the greatest living soldier in the world to use at their disposal, and the sons of Big Boss would go on to agree with their father's stance (Liquid and Solidus both try making their own Outer Heavens) and have feuds (Snake and Liquid fought their father) with their genetic father, and the protagonist of the series Solid Snake would eventually defeat his father in single combat, being the lapdog of America that Big Boss had once been. Liquid Snake, failing in his feud with Big Boss, took up his cause in order to prove he was better than his father by succeeding in the dream of defeating the Patriots where his father had failed, and Solidus the third son takes up his father's cause as well, but both brothers are stopped in part by their brother Solid Snake just as he had stopped their father. The Snake family only knows how to fight one another, which comes off as sad as all of them have noble causes but they all get manipulated so that they have to fight each other, and even when this is brought to their attention their differences are never settled.
    • Don't forget Ocelot, who's The Boss's son, but comes to admire Big Boss as a father figure, too, in his own way. Or the Emmerich family, as elaborated upon in Peace Walker. Hell, it's even suggested that Otacon's mother is Strangelove!
  • The Fact Family of Ys takes this trope Up to Eleven.
  • The Borgias of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, albeit this is just an adaptation of their own, also-screwed-up Real Life selves mentioned below. Even Lucrezia's son Giovanni Borgia the Younger is not spared due to being warped by the Shroud of Eden, though he ends up leaving them to join the Assassins.
  • As badass as they may be, we see some serious family issues between Younger Sub-Zero and Noob Saibot and Kitana and Sindel in Mortal Kombat 9. Both involve extensive amounts of puppy-kicking from Person B, and the latter example actually culminates with the death of Person A.

Visual Novels

  • The Matou/Makiri in Fate/stay night. Not the best family to give your extra daughter away to. Also the Einzberns. Chasing after the Holy Grail and nothing but the Holy Grail for a thousand years? Turning your girl children into homunculi? Trying to summon the devil to win the Grail War? They must be so pissed when the Grail is destroyed in every route without Ilya ever even getting to the finals.
    • The Tohno's of Tsukihime are kind of this trope as well. Luckily, it seems they've been killing themselves and each other for so long that by the end there's only Akiha and the relatively normal branch families left. Yay!
  • Little Busters has the Saigusa family, once fairly powerful but gradually lost it, and got a little screwed up as a result, mandatating all daugters have TWO husbunds from other powerful families, somehow this managed to work out for a while. Things get complicated when one of the husbands doesn't stand for it,[1] and breaks into and kills some of the higher ups in the family, and then twins are born of both him and the second husband. The familiy doesn't want the daugter of 'that' man to drag the name of the family down, so the familiy, unaware of which is the daughter of which, decides that the twins should compete at everything, and the 'worse' twin is declared the 'bad' daughter and gets to enjoy redicule and beatings for things as little as using her left, her dominant hand, because its different, and gets beaten for screwing up when she uses her right. To make things even more fun, the 'good' twin was raised by a branch family while they were 'competing', a branch family that believes belts are a good motivator, just ask the scars on her back. She's also told to hate and pick on her sister, lest she wants to take her place.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni features the Ushiromiya family, starting with the family head, Kinzo, who is completely insane, obsessed with black magic and with the Golden Witch, Beatrice, who happens to be a Legacy Character, and in fact is based on two people: his mistress Beatrice Castiliogni, and his daughter Beatrice II, with whom he had a child with. He's also hostile to his own children and is, in fact, dead. Oddly enough, though, they also qualify as a Badass Family.
    • His eldest son, Krauss, is a failure as an investor and doesn't get along with his siblings for being a Manipulative Bastard. This causes much stress for his wife Natsuhi, who in turn puts a lot of pressure on their daughter Jessica to be a suitable heiress to the family. In fact, poor Natsuhi is so seriously Maternally Challenged that it wound up leading to her first child falling off a cliff. Said child later starts making creepy calls to Natsuhi and possibly attempted to frame her for murder.
      • Said child is actually a result of Kinzo's Parental Incest with his mistress's daughter. Said child grows up in an orphanage and brought as a servant to the family, and orchestrates the murders that occur on the island.
    • His eldest daughter Eva has some major issues with her older brother and treats Natsuhi poorly, not to mention they pretty much had a "competition" to see who'd first give birth to a child who could be appointed as succesor. She also dislikes Shannon, and is against her relationship with Eva's son, George. When she finds the gold in Episode Three, she becomes a witch and basically goes insane. Beyond that, in Episode 6, when George tells her he's going to marry Shannon, she basically goes insane again, and George kills her. Not to mention how Kinzo denied her the right to be the succesor despite her intelligence and investing talent, solely for her gender. Except in one timeline.
    • His other son, Rudolf, is a known philanderer. This philandering, in fact, caused his own son Battler (the main protagonist) to leave for six years when he remarried following the death of his first wife. It has also caused a lot of Epileptic Trees since the fourth arc regarding Battler's parentage. As for that remarriage? The woman he married and with whom he had Ange, Kyrie, is a Yandere Runaway Fiance who leaves her younger sister Kasumi to be forced into her own Arranged Marriage with the ditched fiance. She goes insane, abuses poor Ange and tries to get revenge years later. In fact, it's implied that Kyrie goaded Rudolf into trying to murder everyone on the island except Battler in an attempt to gain the inheritance money. It blows up in their face. Literally.
    • The youngest daughter, Rosa, is a horribly abusive mother towards her daughter, Maria. This is because she is incredibly stressed out as a young, single mother whose husband left her, and even now, she's trying to convince to come back by cosigning a loan for him that threw her deep into debt. He, of course, has no intention of returning, and Rosa knows that even as she tries to do this. Some of the abuse also comes from her own frustration at having been bullied by her siblings when she was a kid, which Rudolf comes to aknowledge at some point.
  • The Sonozaki clan in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni qualifies.

Web Comics

  • In the webcomic God Mode Marceline's family seems really screwed up. But what can you expect when red eyes run in a family?
  • Girl Genius takes a mostly-feudal society with Real Life amount of grand scheming and backstabbing and adds an equal amount of mad scientists, so it's an entirely expectable result for many nobles.
    • Storm Lords/Valois/Sturmvoraus/Other-Last-Names-in-the-Line clan look like this. At least, Tarvek called it "a bunch of evil-minded, cynical, backstabbing old fools" and mentioned that "the only caretaker who showed him love or kindness" was a construct usually seen in the moods from "foul" to "murderously foul" and whom Tarvek himself defined as "terrifying". Oh, and his sister slowly died because their father tried to upload into her brain a copy of the insane lady he was infatuated with. And the level of abuse his distant cousin Violetta constantly piles on Tarvek from her introduction on was already adjusted for the discovery that he pulled her butt out of a big meat grinder not long before.

Tarvek: And how is it even possible you're on my side here?
Violetta: Oh, well, you know, family...
Tarvek: That means I should be looking for the knife in my back.

Agatha: She says someone's trying to kill her.
Violetta: Well, sure, she's one of my relatives.

      • Violetta honestly tries her best to eulogize a dead relative (minor spoiler, obviously). It takes a mental effort. Those not in the family are exchanging strange looks.
      • Martellus completely agrees with their sentiments (he's still glad to see Seffie, however... then again, she's not necessarily good for his health).
    • The Mongfishes aren't much better. Case in point: Lucrezia and her sister Serpentina. The daughter of her other sister, Demonica, whom we know as Zola and the rest of their clan working hard to subvert Lucrezia's minions and hijack her scheme - not because they disagree about the whole Zombie Apocalypse thing, they only want a good share of its fruits.
    • The Heterodyne family was known outside the town primarily for their bloodthirsty rampages (see "My vacation" picture in their castle). Armored toys in the nursery is a telltale sign, though little iron cages were used more sparingly. Bill and Barry gave the family a bit of an image makeover with their heroics. To their associates they are known for being as much of dangerous lunatics as other Mad Scientists, but not that much of control freaks, thus e.g. their creations Turned Against Their Masters much less often - there are many monsters who remain loyal for centuries.
  • The Masters Family in Chess Piece fit this rather well. Danny's cousins both seem to want to boink him. One is much younger and the other has tried poisoning him.
  • The bloodline-obsessed Jansen clan and the Calley family in Concession. Raj Jansen, the good ol' Evil Matriarch of the clan, had one of her nieces raped in order to carry on her bloodline, and ...Jesus Christ. Joel Calley is a Satanist with magical powers and one of the most massive and convoluted evil plans I've ever seen, because his brother Julian murdered Joel's twin sister Miranda when they were kids AND took over his late father's company rather than letting his mother have it. The aforementioned father was a religious douchebag, a "Well Done, Son" Guy and, possibly, an Abusive Parent. The only one who seems anywhere near normal is Lorelei Calley. Oh wait, she's tried to seduce several of Joel's friends (including his boyfriend, unsuccessfully). Never mind.
  • In Digger there's Grim Eyes, whose mother went insane and beat up her father, further encouraged by her aunt due to jealousy. When she was born, her mother started abusing her as well, and her father killed her in order to protect his daughter, resulting in his exile from the tribe and leaving her all alone. In short, the only member of her family who wasn't completely insane ended up leaving her. It's a wonder she grew up to be relatively normal and stable.
  • Drowtales, let us count the ways. First off, the Val'Sarghress ruling family—Quain has Mel locked up and possibly raped and stole her daughter to raise as her own, Laelle is dead and being used as some kind of creepy golem, Syphile hated herself and pretty much everyone around her. Her son is pretty much the only one who turned out alright, and given that drow society is matriarchal, this isn't really something for Quain to be proud of. The Val'Sharen clan is also screwed up: Snadhya'runes, Zala'ess, and Sarv'swati made a coup against Diva'ratrika, their own mother, and blamed their sister for it. During this, Zala'ess suggested they take Diva's dead body and hang it naked from the gate, and although her sisters vetoed the idea, it was on the grounds that there were too many chances to be seen rather than that it was distasteful. After forcing Sii'lice into hiding, they tainted Nishi'kanta by force. And the Vloz'ress clan: fronted by an insanely powerful sorceress with the mind of a child who likes to turn people into dolls and can swallow the auras of others, now led by Kiel, who is the equivalent of fifteen or sixteen, and pretty much tainted to the core.

Web Original

  • The Fiametta triplets from Survival of the Fittest v4. One (Rosa) is pretty much the poster girl for Looking for Love In All the Wrong Places, and has been known to hit on Anything That Moves, another (Frankie) regularly uses drugs, and the last, and the one male out of the three (Ilario), not only is heavily pressured by his father, but has to look after the other two in spite of actually being the youngest (albeit by a matter of minutes), and is somewhat neurotic as a result.
    • You can add to that mix a clueless stepmother with no emotional connection to the children whatsoever and a father who only really cares about his son, showing it by... insisting that he must perform well at school and more or less ignoring his daughters.
  • Sara Waite has one fucked up family. Let's see... Her daddy is Gothmog, Demon Lord of Lust and Perversion; her mother mutated into a freakish Deep One thing that drives Sara (then known as Michael) insane when (the then) he killed her; the Necromancer is her uncle; her blood-sister is the ultimate elvish Faerie Queen; her family tree includes several Great Old Ones; Tennyo, if actually part of the Mythos, is possibly a relative, and therefore Jade would be too (adopted); Sara herself is an omnisexual, tentacle-raping, part-demon, part-were, part-fey, part-Deep One, part-Great Old One, part-human who is supposed to destroy the world, but decided to Screw Destiny.

Western Animation

"I guess my dad didn't want to break the family tradition."

  • The Oblongs. Are they ever.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures has the Demon Sorcerers, Shendu's brothers and sisters. While Shendu was imprisoned in a statue, they were banished to a prison dimension and hate Shendu for never trying to release them (even before his imprisonment). They're not above annoying each other whenever.
  • The Patakis. Abusive father, possibly alcoholic mother, one daughter that pretends to be the perfect girl, but seems to be messed up on the inside, and another daughter that's overly grumpy, and, compared to the rest, looks like the Only Sane Man in this screwed-up setting. Not really big as a family, but quite big in name, though. It's the nearest of a really screwed up family one could see in a kids' show.
  • The Blakes from Scooby Doo Mystery Inc; not only is Daphne's mother committed on a regular basis, Daphne and her sisters once caught their father in the kitchen jay-bird naked gnawing on a can of soup.
  • The Lanes from Daria certainly qualify. The parents are never home, leaving major character Jane and brother Trent to fend for themselves. Speaking of them, while Jane is comparatively normal, she's still quite jaded, while Trent is a lazy burnout who's never worked a day in his life. The rest of the kids are even worse: Penny is bitter and spends most of her time peddling hand crafts, Wind is an over-emotional man who's been divorced at least 3 times, Summer is worn down by raising 3 out of control kids, and the rest of their family hates them, including an alcoholic, self proclaimed bum, and a grandmother who screams "What the Hell is wrong with you?" into Janes ear.
  • The Griffins in later seasons of Family Guy have become dangerously close to this trope.
  • In Adventure Time, Princess Bubblegum's family, from what we can tell, is pretty screwed up. We never see her parents, or hear about them, and it's implied that they set exceedingly high expectations for their daughter, causing her to become an adult way before her time. She's quite a young ruler- only eighteen, and she lamented about never being able to act like a kid. Thus, she turned out to be a perfectionist. Her son, Lemongrab, is even WORSE off than Princess Bubblegum. He was "the first of her experiments gone wrong," and it's implied that he's brain-damaged, due to a scientific error in his creation. He's a perpetually unhappy, sour, bitter, angry, isolated person who was stuck, by Princess Bubblegum, inside a castle outside of the Candy Kingdom walls- possibly to keep him away from everyone else. And they DESPISE each other. If you think about their family situation long enough, it gets very depressing.

Real Life

  • The Julio-Claudian dynasty was not only a big Real Life example, but they have also figured in the shows I, Claudius and Rome.
  • Then there's the Borgias. According to contemporary gossip - which may or may not have been based on fact - in addition to poisoning everybody in sight, Rodrigo (aka Pope Alexander VI) and his offspring were given to fratricide and incest as well as literally cut throat power politics. It is a fact that Cesare Borgia murdered his sister Lucrezia's second husband and had an affair with his brother Jorge's wife Sanchia of Aragon (the fact that Jorge was barely pubertal probably had something to do with this).
  • In fact, given the incredible network of intermarriages that was key to diplomacy in medieval times, European royalty as a whole can easily fit into this trope. Especially notable are the utterly screwed up relations between the English and Scottish royalty.
    • For some Swedish examples: The Bjälboätten) (English: Bjelbo) dynasty. First generation had the king falling in love with his brother's wife and getting deposed for it. Third generation had three brothers engaged in a complicated conflict ending with two of them starved to death and the third killed by supporters of the other two.
    • The Vasa dynasty, who tended to be either really competent, really crazy or, quite often, both. With juicy scandals like alleged wife-murdering, poisoning, random stabbings, castration of foreign dignitaries and stuff like that. Really, the Tudors have nothing on their Swedish contemporaries. Granted, the branch of the Vasa family which ruled the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth for two generations (Sigismund III and his two sons) seemed to be of the competent kind, behaving within the norms of the aristocracy of their times: Sigismund burned down his palace (and a part of Cracovia along with it) while playing alchemist, the elder son Vladislav was a legend among the whores of most major Polish and Lithuanian cities, and the younger son Casimir was infamous for his affairs with married women (regardless of social standing).
  • The Kennedy family all experienced tragic, terrible misfortune (assassination, accidents, medical problems, and at least one botched lobotomy) after JFK's assassination.
  • World War I was a feud between the European royal families, ALL OF WHICH WERE BLOOD RELATED! Yes, this does include the Osman dynasty (of the Ottoman Empire), which were related to the Habsburgs through the Byzantine house of Gonzaga (however, they were on the same side.) Not that the Osmans didn't have their own issues...
    • The Habsburgs - any family whose family tree actually bends back on itself, and generally resembles a bramble thicket, is hardly the most stable, but as monarchs they generally all loathed each other.
    • The descendants of Queen Victoria - Kaiser Wilhelm II was related to George, King-Emperor of the British Empire, who was related to the Czar... not to mention the hemophilia.
    • Hell, to many people, WWI was "The Great Family Food Fight".
  • The descendants of Richard Wagner, whose lives and fights for control over the composers legacy and the World famous Bayreuth Wagner Festival are truly the stuff of operas.
  • The German writers' family of Heinrich and Thomas Mann (and the latter's six children, three of which were authors too).
  • The O'Carroll Clan. After the death of Mulrooney O'Carroll in 1532, they got into horrific power struggles. It got so bad that, for example, one guy killed his priest brother while the latter was celebrating Mass for his family at Leap Castle. (The room is now known as the Bloody Chapel.)
  • Cleopatra (Julius Caesar's girlfriend) sided with the Romans against her own family members. All of her siblings were either assassinated or killed in battle. (Apparently if you were a ruler in Ancient Egypt and you had siblings, you either married them or had them murdered.) The '80's era British historical miniseries The Cleopatras examines not only this branch of the family, but also Cleopatra's equally screwed up ancestors.
  • The Angevins, who were actually nicknamed the devil's brood by people at the time. King Henry II of England spent most of his life fighting his sons and his wife for control of his empire, with his sons often taking time to fight each other. This didn't stop after his death either.
  • The Jackson family is perhaps the most infamously troubled of show business families. The most successful member (Michael Jackson) died at 50 after spending two decades in the public eye more for child molestation accusations brought against him, failed marriages, plastic surgery, etc. than his music despite recording the biggest-selling album ever. This says a lot about the problems of his siblings, save for Janet, who at least has a similarly successful career to go with her woes. Much of this can be laid at the feet of patriarch Joe Jackson and his abusive, greedy ways.
  1. He wanted to get his wife out of the horrible system