Offing the Offspring

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"I am your father! I brought you into this world, and I'll take you out!"

Dr. Cliff Huxtable (an obstetrician) to his son, on The Cosby Show

Some parents would go through Hell and back to protect their kids. Some even take it just a tad too far at times. Sometimes way too far.

And then there's your parents.

They don't love you. Really. They don't even like you. Truth is, they'd really rather you didn't exist at all. Sometimes, they will actually go so far as to take a personal hand in this. The motto of this sort of parent is "I brought you into this world, and by God, I can take you out of it again." Talk about your Parental Issues.

Generally, only one parent of the pair feels this way (otherwise you probably wouldn't exist in the first place, or wouldn't have lived long enough to feel bad about the situation.) But the other parent may be dead, or vanished, or simply not strong enough to offer protection. If the other parent is actually protective, there will likely be major fireworks when he or she finds out what the spouse intends to do with the sprout.

There are several subtropes a murderous parent may fall into:

"I Need A Spare Bedroom": The child is blameless (or at least not guilty of anything deserving of death); the parent just wants to dispose of the child for some reason. Maybe there's a prophecy about the kid coming back and killing the parent and the parent figures "It's me or them"; maybe the parent has to keep a pact made with a dark power in which the child's life is the price; maybe you've been born into a family of power but Mom and/or Dad likes your younger sibling better and wants you out of the way of their ascent into power; maybe you were born as an unacceptable nonconformist; maybe the parent would rather see you dead than with someone he didn't choose for you or believes that you've stained the honor of the family in some fashion; maybe the circumstances of your birth are to blame, maybe he thinks You Should Have Died Instead of some favored sibling or the other parent; and/or maybe the parent is just... plain... evil. And doesn't like you.

The Bad Seed: In this scenario, the parent actually does love the child, at least a little, but there's something seriously wrong about that kid. And someone has to do something. The parent feels responsible for ending the reign of terror their evil offspring is about to unleash, but if someone has to take the child's life, the parent wants to be the one.

The Choice of Abraham: The parent loves the child. The child loves the parent. But some other overwhelming force is demanding a sacrifice. Maybe God is testing Abraham. Maybe the Greeks will rebel against Agamemnon if he doesn't bring his daughter Iphigenia to the sacrifice as he promised. Maybe the Nazis are making Sophie choose. Regardless, no one wants this, but it's going to happen anyway.

In the worst case scenario, your entire species will be like this, in that case you get Abusive Alien Parents.

Sadly, there have been many cases of real-life parents—both mothers and fathers—who murder their own children.

For the inversion/opposite of this trope, see Self-Made Orphan and Patricide.

This trope goes back to Greek Mythology with Hesiod's Theogony, and even further to the Mesopotamian creation story Enuma Elish. Has nothing to do with The Offspring.

As a Death Trope, Spoilers ahead may be unmarked. Beware.

Examples of Offing the Offspring include:

Anime and Manga

  • Pictured above: In all continuities of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Asuka's mother Kyouko, driven by grief (and highly insane by other motives) over her husband cheating on her with her doctor, hangs herself and what she believes to be Asuka, a red-haired doll. The scene above, with Kyoko directly trying to strangle a little Asuka, is from the manga only; in other media, it's not mentioned directly. Oddly, despite the fact that all main characters have parental issues, this is the only example in the series of a parent that is actively trying to kill their kid.
  • Naruto: Gaara's father the Kazekage ordered several assassination attempts on the kid. This is a rather warped form of a Bad Seed strike, as it was due to Gaara's having a monster inside him which was his father's fault in the first place (he suddenly decided Gaara was too dangerous), he was a nice kid, though lacking self control, until people started trying to kill him and one of them was his caretaker and the only one who showed some degree of caring towards him, his uncle Yashamaru. Who, again, did it in orders of the Kazekage.
  • Pacifica's parents in Scrapped Princess tried to kill her because of a prophecy that she would destroy the world. It didn't work.
  • Fermet in Baccano! in the name of science tests the regeneration abilities that came with the elixer of immortality. He does this by repeatedly murdering his young charge, Czeslaw Meyer. This continues for upward of 200 years.
  • As part of the Wham! Episode in Ayashi no Ceres Aya's mother suddenly turns on her out of equal parts belief that it was Aya's fault that her husband was dead and her son Aki was gravely injured (due to Aya's Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday unlocking powers that targeted her for assassination) and manipulation on the part of the family head. She ends up seriously injured and in a coma.
  • Elfen Lied contains a subplot of Chief Kurama feeling conflicted about his daughter Mariko and her massively destructive powers, repeatedly attempting to end her life but never really succeeding. In the anime series he ends up blowing them both up, using the bombs implanted in Mariko's body, while in the manga he survives until the end and manages to more or less move on.
  • Appears in Death Note, when Chief Yagami decides that if his son Light is Kira, he'll kill him, and then commit suicide. But it was all an act, arranged by L, to prove both Light and Misa's innocence - L had calculated that Kira would be willing to kill his own father to survive, and that Misa would be willing to kill anyone to save Light... the only reason it doesn't work is that neither of them are actually Kira at the time.
  • In Dragonball Z, Paragus tries to do this to Brolly when the Restraining Bolt he put on him stops working. Alas, it doesn't work and Brolly becomes a Self-Made Orphan after getting revenge on his old man.
  • It's hinted in Code Geass that Empress Marianne's murder was planned by either the Emperor of Britannia or one of his consorts trying to kill Lelouch and Nunnally. In the end, the culprit was the Emperor's older brother, who tried to kill only his sister-in-law. The rest was a part of a Gambit Roulette from both of the Royal Couple.
    • It's also hinted that Charles himself has little regard in killing his children, or at least in letting them die, or see some of them dead. This is noticed with Clovis, and then Euphie. He gives Lelouch and Nunnally in the hands of the Japanese as hostages and leaves them for dead. What goes around comes around however, when first Lelouch, then Schneizel, try to kill him.
  • In Princess Tutu, The Raven threatens to eat the heart of his daughter, Princess Kraehe to sustain himself—and it's implied that he actually attempts to, and she barely escapes. Of course, it turns out he kidnapped her as a baby, and she isn't his actual daughter. He still raised her abusively and made her believe she was his child.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, this is mixed with Mercy Kill. After Takiko Okuda aka Genbu no Miko returns after being Trapped in Another World, she falls ill and everyone thinks it's either cancer or tuberculosis inherited from her deceased mother... but her dad Einosuke knows that she's being devoured from the inside by Genbu. He kills Takiko with this own hands to spare her from more suffering, and is then Driven to Suicide. This is played diferently in the Genbu Kaiden prequel: Takiko had become an Ill Girl due to tuberculosis, and would be sacrificed to Genbu if she didn't die of her Incurable Cough of Death, so she ultimately returned to the book to die in her own terms. It's a thing of time to see how this will develop in the end.
    • In Genbu Kaiden there's also Takiko's love interest, Prince Uruki of Hokkan. He was prophesied to kill his father, the Emperor's brother, so his mother sent Uruki away to save her child. Later, Uruki's ward was killed by an assassin sent by his dad, who wanted Uruki to die; he tried to fulfill the prophecy, but failed and not only he had to flee to Kutou, he was deeply embittered until Takiko came along.
  • Rumic Theatre has one tale in which a young girl gets control of a bunch of demonic creatures who want her to feed them meat. Her first kill, which brought them to her, was justified (he was trying to rape her), but then she starts to kill things for less noble reasons—the dog down the street barked at her, for example. Her mother finds out about the creatures and the girl's total lack of remorse over the killings, and tries to kill her. Fails, though, as the girl's panic summons the creatures to kill her mother.
    • In The Laughing Target, another girl moves in with her cousin due to her mother's death. Guess how the mother died? And for worse, the igrl is a crazy Yandere who wants to fulfill her and her cousin's Childhood Marriage Promise at all costs...
  • Lady Oran/Oreadia of Faeries Landing does, to some degree, love the children she had with a human man when she was trapped on earth. However, she continued to resent them, as they were a constant reminder of her relations with a human, which was considered taboo in the faerie's world. As the volumes went on, Oran's plan is unraveling, most likely with the desire to kill her daughter Fanta.
  • Angel Sanctuary's Kato might fit the trope, as his father despises him (cause he's not his son, but another man's) His mother doesn't care that much either. They don't try to actively kill him, but at least name him 'tragic accident'. Also Setsuna's mother despises him. Oh, and Kira tries to make his father hate him, though all effort is in vain. And of course God hates all his children.
  • Gantz' later child member Takeshi is abused and killed by his parents, or at least stepfather, Though, with muscle rider he finds a way better person to look after him.
  • One really over the top version happens in the Mobile Suit Gundam novel Hathaway's Flash. You can't get it worse when you're a very high-ranked Federation officer who condemns a certain rebel leader named "Mafty" to death... and then you find out it's your eldest son when you've already signed the death warrant and can't do anything about it. Holy Diabolus Ex Machina, indeed.
  • In Kino's Journey, after Sakura/Kino questions the necessity of undergoing an operation to "become an adult", her parents and the community decide it is right and proper to kill her.
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler, it's less Offing The Offspring and more Selling The Offspring's Organs To The Yakuza Very Nice People To Pay Off A Gambling Debt. Of course, since the Yaks had no problems taking his heart and other vital organs, it would have ended the same way...
    • They were only going to take one of each organ, though! I mean, he's got two kidneys, two lungs, two hearts...

Hayate: I don't have two hearts!

  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni plays this one hard. Dying head of the Ushiromiya family, Kinzo, decides that no one is fit to succeed him and decides to sacrifice them all in a magical ritual instead. Subverted: Kinzo was already dead, and later events suggest that he actually did leave a will naming his eldest daughter Eva as the new successor. The murders were not his intention.
    • Accusations of this fly around a few other times too. Notably, in the third arc, Jessica accuses Eva of it, and in the fifth arc, Erika accuses Natsuhi of it. Although there is no confirmation or rejection of the first accusation, the second one has been pretty much confirmed to be false.
  • Gambino of Berserk, Guts's adoptive father and a mercenary captain, hated Guts ever since his lover Shisu died from the plague shortly after picking Guts up from the corpse of his mother, which is considered bad luck. After losing his leg in battle, his hatred for the kid intensified, until one night he came into Guts's tent and tried to murder him, telling him that he should have died. Guts had to kill him in self-defense, and then flee the camp to escape the wrath of Gambino's men.
    • Before that, Gambino rented him for a night to another soldier, without telling anything to Guts, so he was raped with his father's consent at about ten.
    • After the Eclipse, Casca miscarries her and Guts' child due to the horrible trauma she suffered as a result of the events of the Eclipse. Seeing that the fetus was corrupted with evil as a result of Casca being raped by Femto, Guts disowns it and immediately tries to kill it, but Casca intervenes and the child disappears at daybreak.
  • Angelica from Gunslinger Girl was taken in by the Social Welfare Agency after her parents tried to kill her to collect on her life insurance, with her dad running the poor little girl over with his car and trying to make it look like a hit-and-run incident.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Father indulges in this when he captures Greed and melts him down for his Philosopher's Stone.
    • In the 2003 anime version, King Bradley kills his adopted son Selim by first choking him, then snapping his neck. Mind you, he was a homunculus and only adopted the kid for appearances' sake. Amusing, considering that in the original manga, Selim is one of the homunculi and actually outranks Bradley.
  • While he was still in charge, Lordgenome of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann did this repeatedly when he grew tired of his daughters. Then he'd get new ones. And then one of the abandoned girls, Nia, was taken in by the Gurren Brigade.
  • In Loveless, Ritsuka's mother Misaki is convinced by Nisei posing as Seimei to kill him. This on top of the fact that Misaki is physically abusive to Ritsuka, has been completely nuts for years already, and is so delusional that she believes that Ritsuka's not really her son anymore.
  • Miharu Shirumaku's Freudian Excuse in Speed Grapher. It happened repteadly, as her Stage Mom tried to kill her and herself more than once. The last one was a drowning attempt that got Mrs. Shirumaku dead and left Miharu both mute and traumatised.
  • Discussed in Cardcaptor Sakura, when Sakura is attacked by what seems to be her Missing Mom Nadeshiko's ghost. The methods said apparition uses are different: in the manga she tries to drown Sakura in a nearby lake, and in the anime she drives her to the edge of a cliff and makes her fall off it. In both circumstances Yukito rescues her. She tries to confront the ghost to learn why is her "mother" doing this, it tries to kill her again, and it turns out it's The Illusion Clow Card - it takes Nadeshiko's form because Sakura had been missing her. During said confrontation, Sakura recalls something Yukito told her ("if it was your mother, she wouldn't put you in danger") and sees through the Card's tricks, then seals it away. And Sakura's real mother? Her spirit actually SAVED Sakura in the first encounter, and is seen watching over her later..
  • Shaman King when Yoh's mother Keiko gave birth to both Yoh and Hao, his father Mikihisa immediately tries to kill him, but Hao was able to escape when he had full control over the Spirit of Fire.
    • Played differently in the anime. The one who was about to kill baby!Hao was the grandfather Yohmei, but deep down he really didn't want to kill either of the babies (and the others weren't happy either) and hesitated for a second. That allowed Hao to take control of the Spirit of Fire, almost kill everyone, and run away with said spirit.


  • Child Ballad #20, "The Cruel Mother", is about a girl who kills her two babies born out of wedlock, the children's spectres coming back to haunt her. The song also goes under various names such as "Down by the Greenwood Side" and "Bonny Greenwoodside".

Comic Books

  • Legion of Super-Heroes villain Universo got tired of having his evil plots thwarted by his son Rond (who was possessed of a natural immunity to Universo's hypnotic mind control) and arranged for Rond to die quietly in the hospital after suffering an "accident." Only Rond's secret possession of a Green Lantern Ring kept the plan from working.
  • The Young Justice villain Will Harm was such a vicious kid that he was responsible for killing Secret, his own sister. His parents lived in fear of their lives until his father snapped and shot him. Unfortunately for them, this was part of Harm's Batman Gambit to be a major baddie.
    • Also in Young Justice, the Jamaican crime boss Baron Agua Sin Gaaz was a cruel man who murdered his own daughter - granted, this was an accident that occurred when he killed her husband, his intended target, but he never showed any remorse for it, even showing confusion as to why the heroine Empress - his granddaughter - saw this as a reason to hate him.
  • Usagi Yojimbo: the unnamed mother of wicked moneylender Atsuo. Finally unable to tolerate her son's evil, she tricks him into sending his bodyguards away and stabs him in the back. She then begs Usagi to kill her in turn.
  • In Immortal Iron Fist Fat Cobra was forced to kill the hundreds of children he had over the years who got together and tried to kill him, and was pretty much horrified finding out (years of booze and fighting also made him forget about most of his past so there was a chance that he didn't know it was his kids at the time). Upon learning this, he burned the biography that he'd commissioned.
  • Spider-Man: Curt Connor's Super-Powered Evil Side The Lizard kills Curt's son Billy. The Kravinoff family arranged the whole awful situation in order to "kill" Curt Connor and put The Lizard in control for good. And it worked.
    • During Dark Reign, Norman Osborn brought his son Harry, Peter Parker's best friend, into his Dark Avengers... so he could later have him killed to gain public sympathy, and by extension, support, hitting an all-new low even though it was long-established that he was a Complete Monster.
  • The Hulk's Greenscar persona - that is, the one that first appeared during Planet Hulk and World War Hulk - really, really, really wants to kill his son Skaar as he blames Skaar for feeding his mother's spirit to Galactus, killing her off for real(it looks like, anyway). Skaar is equally intent on killing him for abandoning him on a savage planet (Hulk thought he was dead). In the end, they manage to settle things without killing each other.
  • In an issue of Wolverine a group of former victims or friends and families of some of Wolverine's Mook Horror Show battles, collected and trained a group of his unknown offspring to be used as enforcers, the Mongrels. He is then informed of their lineage after he had already killed them and the entire group was dead.
  • In The Sandman Morpheus kills his son Orpheus (now a disembodied head) at the latter's insistence. This is after he coldly abandoned him to his fate for millennia. His guilt over this and for the killing is one of the reasons Morpheus subconsciously chooses to die in the end.

Fan Works


  • Star Wars, with Darth Vader and his son Luke Skywalker, though after learning he's his son he really didn't want to kill him until Return of the Jedi, and his last-minute Heroic Sacrifice was because of Luke.
  • Curse of the Golden Flower: Says one editor: "If there's something out there that has a higher rank in the fratricide, patricide, and incest scale... I don't want to know."
  • Clash of the Titans features Queen Cassiopeia being forced to sacrifice her virgin daughter Andromeda to the Kraken, due to having slighted the goddess Thetis in her own temple.
  • In Austin Powers (the first one at least), Dr. Evil reveals that he is actually trying to kill his son Scott, for undisclosed reasons (apparently, he's not evil enough). He reveals this in family therapy nonetheless.

Scott Evil: I just think, like, he hates me. I really think he wants to kill me.
Therapist: He doesn't really want to kill you. Sometimes we just say that.
Dr. Evil: No actually the boy is quite astute. I really am trying to kill him, but so far unsuccessfully. He's quite wily, like his old man.

  • In It's Alive, new father Frank not only joins, but leads, the vigilante mob hunting his newborn baby, which is a mutated, murderous monster. Subverted when Frank finally confronts the sobbing infant... and his paternal instincts kick in.
  • The Reaping: In the town of Haven, there is a cult that follows a whole religion based on killing every child born after a couples' firstborn. They then hang their bodies up in mass graves.
  • This is half the entire premise behind the horror film The Omen, since the kid in question is the ultimate Bad Seed, the Antichrist.
  • The Eraserhead baby is killed for one of the first two reasons. It's hard to say which.
  • In The Ring, either the father (Japanese) or the adoptive mother (American remake) kills the child because of the terrible and dangerous power she has. Especially poignant in the latter version, where the Morgans couldn't conceive on their own and desperately wanted to love Samara, who drove them mad with uncontrollable psychic visions.
  • Happens in The Good Son, to the audience's sorrow. The "good" son Henry kills his younger brother by drowning him, builds a crossbow with which he shoots at a cat and hits a dog with, drops a homemade scarecrow onto the street from an overpass causing a lot of car crashes, throws his sister onto thin ice during a skating trip (she gets away), and pushes his mother off a cliff. And while the mother is holding the two children, the "good" son and his cousin Mark, to prevent them from falling to their deaths, but only has the strength to pull one of them up. She drops her evil son in order to help Mark. More horrific, the "good" son is played by that kid in Home Alone.
  • In The Quick and the Dead, the Kid, whose entire character arc was about trying to please his father Herod, is heartlessly gunned down when the two of them duel.
  • Walk Hard: Dewey Cox's father tries to kill him after stewing for decades over Dewey accidentally cutting his brother in half with a machete and repeatedly telling him "the wrong kid died!" This culminates in Dewey's father accidentally cutting himself in half, causing him to forgive Dewey after discovering just how easy it is to cut someone in half with a machete by accident.
  • In Shutter Island it turns out the protagonist's wife killed their children, and he was so traumatised by this that he invented a whole new delusional reality to deal with it.
  • In the Transformers Film Series, Sentinel Prime was a Parental Substitute to Megatron and Optimus and ended up trying to kill Megatron throughout the war. In Transformers: Dark of the Moon, he spent most of the movie trying to do this to Optimus.
  • In The Usual Suspects, Verbal tells the "only story he believes" about Kayzer Soze. That coming home and finding his wife and daughters violated by killers from a crime syndicate, he kills all but one of the bad guys and then kills his own family. He lets the last bad guy go to tell the others he's coming for them.


  • Taras Bulba, where the main character kills his youngest son Andrei after he has a Face Heel Turn and sells himself out to the Polish - possibly the modern origin of the "I gave you birth, and I shall kill you" quote.
  • Averted in Orson Scott Card's Tales of Alvin Maker. Alvin's father confesses to Talespinner that he's been having compulsions to try and kill Alvin (Talespinner walked in on a scene where Alvin's father was clearly getting ready to run his young son through with a pitchfork, for no reason whatsoever, and interrupted it.) Alvin's father admits he has no idea why he would be having urges to kill Alvin, whom he loves, but he can't seem to stop them. Talespinner counsels him to arrange for an apprenticeship for Alvin in a town quite a ways away from home, because he thinks it's likely that Alvin's Dad will eventually lose control and try to kill the boy. Alvin's Dad takes this advice and Alvin survives.
  • Another Orson Scott Card story, Hart's Hope, plays the trope straight. The evil Queen Beauty kills her infant child in order to acquire enough power to wreak havoc on the resident gods, and she conceives a second child in order to kill him and get more power.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Samwell Tarly's father is so disgusted with his fat, timid son, that he takes the boy out into the woods and threatens to cut out his heart unless he "takes the black" (vowing to serve as a soldier at a distant post and renounce all claim to family, land, and title) and clears the way for the favored son, Dickon, to inherit the Tarly name and lands.
  • In Stephen King's Carrie, the title character's mother was an insane religious fanatic who believed that her daughter was the spawn of the devil because of her telekinetic powers, and tried to kill Carrie once when she was a baby. When Carrie comes home to confront her mother during her telekinetic rampage after being pushed too far at her prom, she tries to kill Carrie once more, putting a knife into her daughter's shoulder before Carrie telekinetically stops her heart.
    • In IT Beverly's father tries to kill her and chases her halfway around town in order to do so. 'Course, he IT was using him, but It didn't put all of the thoughts in his head. Some of them were always there. "I worry about you, Bevvy. I worry a lot."
  • In The Dresden Files, book version, Lord Raith, the Incubus head of the White Court vampires, adopts this attitude toward all of his male children: once they get old enough to be a threat, he kills them. The girl children he forces into sexual slavery to him. Not a nice guy. He meets his match when he tries to kill off his youngest adult son, Thomas, who happens to be the half-brother (on the mother's side, obviously) of Harry Dresden, hero of the series. Thomas enlists Harry's help in bringing his father down, and then control of the White Court is handed off to Thomas' big sister Lara, who turns the tables on Daddy by seducing HIM into sexual slavery to HER instead.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Shards of Honor, the ancient and ruthless Barrayaran Emperor Ezar gave the nod to an invasion of Escobar he knew could not be won (thanks to a tech breakthrough by Escobar's ally Beta Colony) as a smokescreen to blow up the flagship containing his Ax Crazy son Crown Prince Serg and politically wreck the expansionist factions that supported and hoped to manipulate him. Contains a bit of Deliberate Values Dissonance, as he could have assassinated his son in any number of ways, but by orchestrating a war for Serg to die in, Ezar allowed him to die in the heat of battle, the most honorable death a Barrayan can have while also taking out Escobar's supporters, who would be left intact if he was simply assassinated.
    • There's also the fate of "mutie" infants (genuine or suspected) among traditionalist country folk, and historically among all Barrayarans during the Time of Isolation.
  • Averted in The Bad Seed: Christine Penmark discovers that her seemingly perfect young daughter Rhoda is a sociopath, and knows that if Rhoda isn't killed, she will grow up to be a very effective murderess. After witnessing Rhoda killing a man firsthand, Christine finally gets the resolve to attempt a murder-suicide with her daughter... except Rhoda survives. Christine, the only person in the world who knew Rhoda's true nature, doesn't. This was bowdlerized in the movie by having both Christine and Rhoda survive the attempt, but with Rhoda dying soon after by being struck by lightning while attempting to hide further evidence of her true nature.
  • In Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, Titus kills his daughter Lavinia in what he believes to be an act of mercy after she is raped and mutilated. It was Values Dissonance even when written.
    • He also kills one of his sons in the first scene, for pretty much no reason beyond a slight difference of opinion.
  • The YA novel The Grounding of Group 6 concerns a school that offers parents the service of quietly...disposing of their unwanted offspring.
  • In the V. C. Andrews novel Flowers in the Attic, Corrine tries to poison her four children when her father's will states that if she had any children with her first husband who was her half-brother, then her inheritance would be forfeit. She manages to kill her son, Cory, and hide his body in the attic before her other children escape. She later claims that she was poisoning them in an attempt to make them sick, so she'd have an excuse to remove them from the attic one by one. Yeah, right.
  • In Stephen King's The Dark Tower/The Gunslinger, Roland must choose between his goal of The Dark Tower and a child he loves as a son, Jake. Of course, Roland chooses his obsession, the tower. It's ok, he comes back.
    • To be fair, Roland was completely torn between the two, not being able to choose, until Jake tells him to let go because the Tower was more important. But then again, Roland didn't hesitate after being told this...
  • In the Drizzt books (indeed, in Dungeons & Dragons in general), the Drow elves traditionally sacrifice their third-born sons to their goddess, Lloth. The superfluous ones seem to be sold into slavery. Drizzt himself was going to meet this fate until one of his brothers died in battle around the time he was born, thus fulfilling the sacrifice requirement and allowing Drizzt to live.
    • Moreover, Drow consider killing of physically imperfect offspring to be their duty. Because they so proud and love beauty. So it's case of "demerits as an extension of merits".
  • And if you think Lolth or her Drow are nasty... Mad beholders in Dungeons & Dragons are extremely xenophobic: each considers its phenotype ideal and "pure", and destroys others for any difference. Their own offspring as well as strangers. This also means whole race is embroiled in constant war between different breeds, as beholders are very flexible species, they are very capable of spotting minor differences and most are mad (thanks to crazy matriarch deity).
  • The Warrior catsC' series has a "bad seed" example: Brokentail, villainous ex-leader of ShadowClan is poisoned by his mother, Yellowfang. The mother in question regards this act as her atonement for having brought such an evil cat into the world.
  • In one version of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion (found in "The Shibboleth of Fëanor," The Peoples of Middle-Earth) Fëanor accidentally kills one of his sons, who was attempting to desert him (though Fëanor found out after he'd killed him.) He "[hides] his own dismay."
    • Eöl deliberately attempts to murder his own son Maeglin for running away from home, and ends up slaying his wife instead. He's not sorry at all.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's Chessman of Mars, the jeddak O-Tar—a Royal Brat and Dirty Coward—has clearly evil intentions toward his son A-Kor, imprisoning him. One of his men, under orders, repeats rumors, among which

they blame you for your treatment of A-Kor, whom they all believe to have been murdered at your command.

  • In Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, a knight kills his daughter because men who intend to rape her have got her declared the maidservant of one of them.
    • This is based on the legend of how the office of tribune was established in Rome: after a patrician had a beautiful plebian girl falsely declared his slave so that a friend of his could rape her, her father stabbed her to death, roused the army to overthrow the patricians involved, and instituted the office of tribune, and then went to her grave to stab himself to death.
  • Rose frequently tries to kill Charlie throughout most of Flowers for Algernon. She says it is mercy upon him, and she doesn't want his sister to suffer. This certainly justifies constant attempts on his life and limb whenever he makes a minor infraction (going in his pants). Let us remember he has an I.Q. of about 50, meaning he doesn't know any better. She even stabs him in the neck for accidentally seeing his baby sister naked. Had it not been for his father, Matt, he'd be dead or in Warren State (which he eventually ended up in) a long time ago. She quite literally lunges at him with a knife when he was 30 just because he looked at his sister. Shockingly, no attempts to return the favor were made.
  • Aunt Sissy in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn saves a young woman from this fate. Her father had locked her in the basement and given her starvation rations after finding out she was pregnant out of wedlock. He hoped that she would miscarry or die in childbirth and relieve him of the burden.
    • Katie also says that if the day ever comes when she has to live on charity, she'll wait until her children are asleep, seal the apartment and turn on the gas jets.
  • In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo kills Ikemefuma, who was pretty much his adopted son by that point. The death had been ordained by the tribe's oracle in a deliberate retelling of the Abrahamic legend (notably, Okonkwo's oldest biological son later changes his name to Isaac).
    • The book also frequently brings up the practice of parents abandoning baby twins to die in the forest, since the Igbo believed them to be evil omens.
  • Morgan Sloat, perhaps contrary to what you might expect, loves his son a great deal in The Talisman. Morgan of Orris, however, could care less. It causes some issues between the two. Eventually Sloat is either taken over or corrupted by Orris into seeing his son as nothing more than an obstacle, at which point you can mostly consider Sloat dead.
  • In The Satanic Verses, Rekha Merchant pushes her children ahead of her when she commits suicide by jumping off a building.
  • In Ship Breaker, alcoholic drug-addict and Archnemesis Dad Richard Lopez attempts to kill his son, Nailer, in a Knife Fight when the latter opposes his decision to sell Nita's organs on the black market. Luckily the fight goes against him, and it's Richard who ends up dead.
  • In Warrior Cats, Yellowfang does love her son despite the things he's done, but she kills him so that he can no longer cause harm to other cats.
  • In Septimus Heap, Queen Etheldredda killed her own daughters so that she may be queen forever. Subverted, since she doesn't manage to kill Esmeralda, who eventually succeeds her after her disappearance in Physik.
  • In Selma Lagerlof's Thy soul Shall Bear Witness!, main character David's much abused wife, having crossed the Despair Event Horizon due to all the Domestic Abuse, decides to kill their children and then herself in Christmas's Eve. David, who has been subjected to a huge Break the Haughty that included his own temporary death, manages to prove her that he has changed for the best, so she changes her mind.
  • Played straight in Tanith Lee's Snow White adaptation White as Snow where the princess's mother, not her stepmother, is trying to kill her.
  • In Tales of Kolmar, Lanen's father promised to sacrifice her to demons before she was even born. That promise netted him the Farseer, a Magic Mirror like item. Lanen's mother immediately stole the Farseer and ran away, leaving the father wracked with pains in his leg. In Song in the Silence Marik finds Lanen as a grown woman and wants to finish what had been started. He hesitates but that leg pain was more convincing than the thought of familial loyalty.

Live-Action TV

  • Heroes: A lot of the Heroes have Parental Issues, but Evil Matriarch Angela Petrelli takes things to a whole new level. She is perfectly willing to sacrifice her youngest son Peter for "the greater good" by letting him blow up in Season One; in Season Two she gives another Hero explicit instructions to "put a bullet in his brain" in order to stop him taking a course of action he has been tricked into by the Big Bad when there were plenty of non-lethal options available. Also, according to her husband, she tried to kill her infant son, who grew up to become Sylar, because she had a dream about his future. Not a lot of positive maternal feeling going on there. On the other hand, when that same husband threatened to kill Nathan, Angela tried to kill her husband. I guess we know which kid she likes best.
    • Third seasons main villain, Arthur Petrelli, isn't much better; Arthur was disappointed his first son Nathan did not share Arthur's genetic evolution, so he had Nathan subjected to an experimental process when he was an infant, and Nathan later developed the ability to fly. But when Nathan became district attorney and began investigating Linderman, Arthur was concerned Nathan would interfere with his long-range plans, so immediately decided to have him killed. Same with his younger son Peter, when he got in his way. Arthur didn't seem to have any remorse about any of these decisions, but actor Robert Forster played Arthur so stolidly, it was hard to see any feeling or motivation behind anything Arthur did.
  • 24: In season four, Behrooz's father tried to kill him. Also, Philip Bauer tries to kill his son Jack on a rooftop but ultimately backs down, successfully kills his other son Graem, and severely endangers the life of his grandson Josh. He is truly the Anti-Family Man.
  • Reaper: Sam's parents traded the soul of their first born (Sam) to the Devil to save his father from a fatal illness. They tried to get out of it by simply deciding not to have kids, but...get real.
  • In the HBO series The Sopranos, Tony Soprano's mother Livia and his uncle Junior put out a contract on his life.
    • And let's not forget the original Livia from ancient Rome, who poisoned her husband, grandson, and just about everyone else who got in her way. She also arranged the death of her son Drusus, who was politically opposed to her. (This, at least, according to I, Claudius.)
  • In Angel, "Guise Will Be Guise", a man wanted to sacrifice his virgin daughter to a demon for continued power. Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for her) he wasn't sufficiently protective and she'd long since escaped his scrutiny and lost her "purity." Many, many times.
    • Cordelia's "roommate," a ghost named Dennis, was killed by his mother for dating a girl she didn't approve of.
    • When Angelus and Darla murdered Holtz's wife and infant son, they turned his young daughter into a vampire specifically so he would be forced to kill her himself.
    • Connor wound up killing Jasmine, his daughter. (Well, a Physical God who manifested in this world as his daughter, anyway.) Angel seems to like this trope.
    • There's also a prophecy that Angel will do this to Connor. Whether the prophecy is accurate and the steps certain characters take to try to prevent or cause it mark a major turning point in the show's over-arching plot.
  • Waking The Dead had a "bad seed" example in an episode that was grim even by the show's standards. The killer was a psychopath who enjoyed drowning women. He didn't opportunistically kill them either—he captured one of the victims, put swimmer's nose clips on her and drowned her by pouring water into her mouth. He delighted in the fact that the police couldn't catch him despite knowing that he was responsible...and that they were powerless to stop him killing again. However, his mild-mannered father finds one of his trophies: a necklace belonging to his last victim. Realizing his son is a monster, and that the police are helpless, he drowns his adult offspring in the bath (apparently, dad wasn't immune to a bit of poetic justice) to stop him killing again. Then he waits for the police to turn up and arrest him for murdering his son.
  • The Law & Order episode "Smoke" has a variation: The parents have one son who is deathly ill and no money to cure him, while an older son is singled out by a famous comedian/pedophile as a likely prospect. Knowing full well what will happen to the older son, the mother agrees to let the comedian do whatever he wants to the boy—in exchange for money. Worse, this is not discovered until years later, in the wake of the death of the comedian's adopted son when he's dropped from a hotel window during a fire...supposedly because he was trying to save the infant from the smoke and he lost his grip.
    • Another episode featured a woman who adopted a little girl whose emotional issues were too much for her to handle. Her solution was to exploit an allergy of the child so that her death appeared to be an accident during therapy. She tried to justify this by stating that she was in her thirties and deserved a life of her own. Jack McCoy shot back with "Your daughter was nine years old, what did she deserve?"
    • Then there was "Mother's Day", where in an example similar to the Waking the Dead one above, a mother kills her full-grown son after finding out he's a rapist and a murderer. She ends up going on trial and pleading for a reduced sentence based on the fact that she couldn't bear to see what her child had become.
    • In another episode, "Mother's Love", a woman named Virginia shoots her college-aged daughter to death... but as an I Cannot Self-Terminate scenariom since said daughter was drug-addicted and conmpletely broken in all senses, and she asked her mother to release her from her suffer.

"I looked at her, it was so hard. Those little lines of blood in her eyes, her hands full of holes. My baby... It was so pitiful. She gave me the gun. She begged me, 'Mama...put me out of my misery. Do it for me...please.' I...I gave up. I gave her what she wanted. I killed my baby."

  • Let's not forget "Raw" from Law and Order SVU, in which a rich white couple adopts a black young boy...and then set him up to be killed by white supremacists to collect the insurance money.
  • Twin Peaks: Laura Palmer, killed by her father Leland while Leland was possessed by the demon spirit BOB.
  • Lost: To keep him from exposing a con, Locke's father Anthony tries to kill him by pushing him through an 8th-story window. Locke survives, but is paralyzed.
    • Also, in "Maternity Leave," Rousseau suggests to Claire that, if Aaron has "the sickness," Claire ought to kill him.
    • Then, in "The Variable," Eloise sends Daniel to the island, knowing he'll go back in time to 1977, where she herself will shoot him.
  • Played with in The 4400 third season finale when Richard stabs Isabelle with the syringe he (and everyone else, audience included) thinks is the only thing that can kill her, but she just loses her powers instead.)
  • Torchwood: Children of Earth" has two: John Frobisher kills his daughters in a Senseless Sacrifice and Jack Harkness sacrifices his own grandson (not his own child but still his offspring) in order to defeat the 456.
  • On Law and Order: Criminal Intent it is revealed that Goren's Arch Enemy Australian serial killer Nicole Wallace first victim was her own 3 year old daughter
  • Ziva's father in NCIS may or may not have actively been trying to get her killed, but it sure seems that way. Plus, he should be included either way since he ordered her to kill his son, her half-brother Ari, though he was a terrorist and deserved it.
  • Catherine Willows had to deal with a couple of these on CSI. One was a borderline insane woman who murdered her 13-year old daughter because she thought the daughter was hitting on her adult boyfriend. The other woman was much more cold-blooded, simply murdering her 7-year old daughter so she wouldn't have to deal with the responsibility, and would be free to run off with her boyfriend.
    • Catherine also dealt with the case of a couple who killed their infant son because he was exhibiting signs of Tay-Sachs disease, a disease which previously took the life of their older son. However, their second son didn't have Tay-Sachs and was exhibiting symptoms due to incidental and accidental gardening chemicals poisoning. His parents killed him because they didn't want to go through another experience like that of their first child.
  • A Bad Seed example occurs in the pilot episode of Hamish Macbeth of all series. Not quite a straight example, however, in that the parent didn't seem to attack him with intent to kill; her son had just taken a swing for his pregnant wife, she pushed him away from her and he overbalanced, the back of his head meeting the corner of a packing case.
  • CSI: Miami: A guy hires two carjackers, a surveillance photographer, and buys a new (sabotaged) car in order to cause a Convenient Miscarriage and possibly (or accidentally; it's not clear) frame his son for it because he didn't want "another parasite" screwing up a perfectly good childless marriage like the first one did.
  • In Season 10 of Smallville Earth-2 Lionel Luthor takes this trope and runs with it. He allowed his adopted son, Clark Luthor to murder Earth-2 Lex. He later tries to beat Clark Luthor (actually our Clark in disguise) to death with a belt, and may have had Earth-2 Tess executed, when they betray him. After making his way to Earth-1, and failing to gain control of Earth-1 Tess or Lex's clone, Alexander, he has Tess kidnapped and tries to cut out her heart to power Lx-0, his perfect clone of Lex. This last stunt results in his death at Tess' hands; with his last breath he allows Darkseid to highjack his body in exchange for bringing the real Lex back to life.
    • During the Season 3 finale, the real Lionel may have had the real Lex poisoned. It's never confirmed either way, as the culprit could just as easily have been Season 4 Big Bad (and Lionel's Distaff Counterpart), Genevieve Teague.
  • In The Breakout Kings season finale, the drug lord Carmen Vega reveals she ordered the hit to kill her son, believing him to be ruining her empire while she was in prison.
    • In a reverse, the criminal Mars kills his mother when escaping from prison.
  • Invoked in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when Will needed to take a children's music course in order to graduate. When Miss Basson told him he mightn't be able to graduate he told her "Miss Basson, this is my mother - the woman who gave me life - and if I don't graduate, she's gonna take it back!"
  • Luther. A former Royal Marine Commando given life in prison for the manslaughter of a police officer orders his son (also a former commando) to go on a killing spree of police officers, saying he'll order his son to stop if he's given a reduced sentence. He's got no problem with the fact that his son will likely be killed by anti-terrorist police in doing so.
  • A Bad Seed example appears in the Quantum Leap episode So Help Me God". The mother killed her son with a shotgun while he was strangling his black girlfriend whom the mother adored. She became unhinged with guilt afterwards. The black girlfriend willingly took the rap for her and tried to plead guilty to murder at her trial. That's when Sam leaped into her lawyer and mucked things up by pleading "Not Guilty". The truth isn't revealed until Sam calls the mother as a witness to the stand, though it's just as much of a shock to him as it is to the rest of the courtroom (he only called her to the stand thinking she could confirm that the shooting was an accident or self-defense). Disturbingly, she is so far gone that she still believes her son is alive.


  • "The Rake's Song" by the Decemberists fulfills this trope—if the rake's wife hadn't died giving birth to their fourth child, he'd probably have killed her too, quite happily. As it is, he poisons one child, drowns the second, and possibly beats the third to death. All because he didn't like having to take care of kids, and would have preferred the single, unattached life. And this turns out to be a colossally bad idea, because they come back to haunt him while he's busy trying to abduct Margaret. Sucks to be him.
  • The video for Martina McBride's Concrete Angel features a boy who has a crush on his cute next-door neighbor. Sadly, the girl is heavily abused and later beaten to death by her abusive mother.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • The Greek god Cronus ate all of his offspring alive except Zeus, because one was prophesied to overthrow him.
    • His father Ouranos shoved Cronus's siblings back into the womb, and Zeus himself ate one of his many consorts when she was pregnant with Athena, who was prophesied to be greater than Zeus himself. That one backfired, tho.
  • Quite a few fathers of Greek heroes tried to Screw Destiny by ordering their children killed, or attempting to do so themselves:
    • Oedipus' parents pierced his feet and left him on a hill to die, to preven thim from killing his father and marrying his mother. Then he was adopted, creating a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
    • Perseus' grandfather Acrisius locked the newborn and his mother Danae in a trunk and set them out to sea, since it was prophesied that kid would kill him when he grew up. With a little help from the Gods, they arrived to an island safely, and Perseus would grow into one of the most famous heroes of Greek myths.
      • Later, Perseus would find himself with another of these cases: Cepheus and Cassiopeia, who offended the Nereids and had to sacrifice their daughter Andromeda to a sea monster, either their kingdom would be destroyed by it. Perseus fell in Love At First Sight with her, went Knight in Shining Armor and told them that he'd kill the monster if they let him marry her. They did, Perseus killed the monster, and he and Andromeda got hitched.
  • Lots of Greek heroes (and no, it's not sarcasm) kill their kids. Agamemnon kills Iphigenia for the sake of the victory of his city (and for the sake of not being murdered by the combined armies of Greece). As Larry Gonick put it:

Narration: Torn between duty to brother, love of daughter, sympathy for wife, and fear of army, Agamemnon tricked Clytemnestra into bringing Iphigenia to the sacrifice.
Clytemnestra, visibly angrily walking away: You haven't heard the last of this, boy!
Agamemnon, running from the altar, arms open: But Clytemnestra!

    • It's one of the reasons some authors have explained the hate Clytemnestra feels for him after the return victorious of the war. Sure, both of them had lovers (Aegystus and Cassandra, though she gets leeway since she was Agamemnon's slave and war spoil) and he was a hero, but he freaking killed their girl.
    • And before that, Atreus, Agamemnon's father, killed two of his brother Thyestes' sons and fed them to him. And before that, Tantalus tried to feed his son Pelops to the gods, and was condemned to an Ironic Hell for it.
    • Phaedra, second wife of Theseus, has sexual arousal for her stepson Hippolytus and after declaring (raping in some versions) it to him she feels so ashamed and fearful that he might tell his father that she accuse him on raping her. Theseus believed her and cursed his son asking Poseidon to kill him, Poseidon is his bud and so he causes Hippolytus's horses to go wild and drag the poor guy to his death...
      • Some versions, including Euripides's tragedy Hippolytus, say that Phaedra's lust for poor Hippolytus came as a curse from Aphrodite, who got pissed at Hippolytus scorning her lust for him because he was a Celibate Hero and a devoté of Artemis. Some of these also give the poor guy a more or less happy ending: to not lose her most loyal worshipper, Artemis asked her nephew Asclepius to revive Hippolytus and then took him to Latium (Italy), where he changed his name to Virbio and lived the rest of his new life in peace.
    • Heracles famously was driven insane by his stepmother, Hera, which led to him killing his children by his first wife, Megara (as well as Megara herself). The myths vary on how many children, but the best known account is that of Euripides's play Heracles, which describes three sons.
  • In his Metamorphoses, Ovid tells the story of Queen Procne of Thracia. Her husband, King Tereus, rapes Procne's younger sister, Philomela, and then cuts out her tongue so she can't tell anyone. Philomela weaves the event onto a tapestry, which she shows to Procne; Procne, in a fit of anger, kills Itys, (her son by Tereus), and serves him to his father for dinner. (Yum!) Thereus realizes what happened, tries to kill both sisters, but the gods intervene and resolve the drama via transforming the three into birds: Procne became a nightingale, Philomela became a swallow, and Thereus was turned into a hawk (or a hoopee).
  • When Meleager was born, the Fates predicted he would only live until a brand, burning in the family hearth, was consumed by fire. Overhearing them, his mother Althaea immediately doused and hid the brand. When he grew up, Meleager killed his uncles Iphicles and Eurypylus (Althaea's brothers) in an argument; Althaea was so pissed that ran back to the house, retrieved the brand from it's hiding place, and put it on the fire, killing her son. Then, she killed herself.
  • In Irish Mythology, It was predicted that Balor, King of the Fomorians, would be killed by his grandson. He din't have a Grandson, so he locked his daughter Eithlinn in a tower to prevent any potential grandchildren being born, preemptively killing them. This unfortunately didn't work, as locking the pretty daughter in a tower is a way of ensuring the hero will find her.
  • In the Slavic fairytale "The Twelve Months", a mother tries to get rid of her stepdaughter by sending her to find flowers or fruits in the winter. She discovers the twelve month brothers, who can change the seasons. When the mother and daughter try to find what she found, January turns the weather against them, with fatal results.
  • Niobe's seven sons and daughters were killed by Apollo and Artemis after Niobe cruelly mocks and humiliates their mother Leto, respectively, and Niobe herself was turned into a weeping rock/statue.
  • Averted in The Bible, when God orders Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. It's only a test, however; an angel appears and grabs Abraham's hand just before he can go through with it. It's also a sort of Chekhov's Gun in that God has already explicitly said to Abraham that Isaac will be the son through whom his descendants are counted (Genesis 21:12).
    • Played straight when David and his army kill David's rebellious son Absalom (who was actually David's heir apparent until he decided to speed things up). This does not resolve David's succession crisis.
    • Played straight when Jephthah made a promise to God that he would give Him the first thing that came out of his door to greet him as a burnt offering if God would give him the victory over his enemies. And, as it turned out, the first thing that did greet Jephthah when he came home from his victory was his only daughter. "And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed. and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year." (It's speculated that he didn't exactly kill her, however, but had her locked away and die unmarried. Which, for many women in that era, was certainly A Fate Worse Than Death.)
  • Older Than Dirt: The Mesopotamian god / Eldritch Abomination Apsu tries to slaughter all of his descendants, including his immediate offspring, in Enuma Elish. After they kill him in self-defense, his mate Tiamat picks up where he left off, even though she's the one who tried to stop Apsu and then warned them of his attack. She also ends up killed by the younger gods.
  • In the original edition of Grimms' Fairy Tales, Snow White's and Hansel and Gretel's own mothers tried to have them killed. This was Bowdlerized to a Wicked Stepmother in the second edition, but the father still cooperates in Hansel and Gretel.
  • Evil Mothers-in-law are fond of accusing their daughters in law of this, as in "The Six Swans" and "The Twelve Wild Ducks".
  • In "The Lassie and Her Godmother" and "Our Lady's Child", this is regarded as the most plausible explanation for the heroine's newborns disappearing. Both accusations turn out to be wrong, the heroine is saved by divine intervention (since a big, yet babies-unrelated mistake/sin was the cause for the newborns being taken away by the Virgin Mary in the first place) and gets to be reunited with her kids. Also, in the first tale a mother-in-law is involved, but in that case it's more about believing said rumors, and she repents once the girl turns out to be innocent.
  • In "Daughter of the Skies", the heroine's father threatens her life if she doesn't tell what happened to her children because he is afraid she is doing this.

Tabletop Games

  • The Emperor killing Horus in Warhammer 40,000. One of the more justified examples, as Horus at that point had just led a daemon-empowered invasion of Terra, ripped the Imperium apart in civil war that had claimed trillions of lives, corrupted half of his brothers, killed one of his brothers who remained loyal to the Emperor, consorted with daemons, destroyed multiple planets, laid siege to the Emperor's palace and was at that moment trying to eviscerate the Emperor. As with everything, when Warhammer 40,000 justifies a trope, it doesn't do it by halves.
  • Commonly done by drow in Dungeons and Dragons, as drow parents know that if their offspring become strong enough to off them, they will. That's how strongly their Social Darwinist nature is. Lolth herself murdered her own daughter (or rather, tricked the high priestess Halisstra into killing her) in the third novel of The Lady Penitent series[1], an act that caused Lolth to truly cross the Moral Event Horizon in the eyes of fans.
  • In Planescape, Broken Reach is a city on Pazunia known for being the commerce center of the Abyss (that means its a huge Black Market), ruled by a powerful succubus named Red Shroud. She does not kill her offspring, but she does sell them at the city's slave markets before they fully mature, seeing them as threats to her power. Fall-From-Grace from the game Planescape: Torment was a victim of this. It is strongly hinted that Shroud's own mother (Malcanthet herself) got rid of her this way, and it is no secret that Shroud desires to overthrow her mother and gain her title as Queen of Succubi.


  • In Dorothy L. Sayers' The Emperor Constantine, Constantine's wife tricks him into killing his son by his first wife.
  • The Greek play Agamemnon describes the eponymous character's murder by his wife as vengeance for sacrificing their daughter to allow his armies to go to war with Troy. The play contains one of the more horrifying moments in Greek literature, as it describes Iphigenia (Who is typically believed to be twelve to thirteen years old, if that) begging for her life along the lines of "Daddy, please don't!" before being killed.
  • Electra, based on later events of the abovementioned story, has Iphigenia's murder in the background, but more importantly features the threat of Electra being sealed up in a cave to die. Clytemnestra's excuses about Iphigenia ring a little more hollow here.
  • Titus Andronicus cuts down one of his sons at the beginning of the play in a fit of anger when the latter defies him.
  • Medea is the Trope Codifier, at least when it comes to women. After being scorned by Jason in favor of a more politically advantageous fiancee, she kills said fiancee and then murders her two sons, both to keep them safe from being abused as fugitives of the law and/or prisoners of the fiancee's father, and as one last spite to Jason.

Video Games

  • Pokémon Black and White: Ghetsis implies that he was planning to do this to N once the whole Team Plasma goal is realized.
    • There's also the fact his signature Pokemon seems raised in order to defeat the Legendary Dragons. He certainly didn't expect you to get one, but planned on having N get one. Why else other than this trope would he need such a Pokemon?
    • Some fans have latched onto N's one-letter name as an implication that at some point there were children A-M.
  • The John Woo game Stranglehold had Wong ordering Tequila's partner Jerry to kill Tequila and Wong's daughter Billie, whom Tequila loved. He did it both because Damon Zakarov threatened to force Billie to reveal everyone connected to her father's Dragon Claw syndicate in a court of law to keep her daughter Teko alive if Wong wouldn't hand over Hong Kong to him, and because Wong would rather see his daughter dead than with the cop who gunned down his messed-up son Johnny Wong from Hard-Boiled. As if intimidating his daughter into breaking up with Tequila on pain of death eighteen years ago while she was still pregnant with Teko wasn't reason enough to hate Wong, this cold-hearted betrayal lays bare Wong's evil in a serious way, and leads not only to a showdown between Tequila and Jerry, but also sets the stage for the final showdown with Wong himself.
  • And let's not forget the power-hungry Queen Brahne from Final Fantasy IX, who didn't love her daughter Garnet and only wanted the powers of the eidolons that Garnet had, even going as far as to try to kill her once she had them (the fact that Brahne had been manipulated by the evil Kuja towards this end didn't do much for poor Garnet's state of mind after the battle with her). It is later revealed that Garnet is Brahne's adopted daughter, after the real princess died very young.
    • Honorable mention goes to Garland attempting to repossess his creation, Zidane's SOUL once it becomes clear Zidane is no longer willing of carrying out his original purpose.
  • Toni Ciprani's mother orders a hit on Toni in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, though she eventually rescinds. Given allegations that Toni is an Expy of Tony Soprano, this may be a Shout-Out.
    • This relationship was shown in Grand Theft Auto III, with Toni going on Chatterbox and whining that his mother never seems to appreciate him. And when he's out, his mother tells the main character how worthless he is, even though the man is a capo to the Leone family. Don't know about the Soprano comparison since GTA 3 came out in 2001 and I always thought The Sopranos was a few years after that.
      • Sopranos started in 1999, so it was likely a shout out
  • In Fire Emblem, King Desmond tries to kill his own son Zephiel by hiring assassins (which you have to stop). Aside from jealousy and just being Royally Screwed-Up, Desmond hates Zephiel for being a child from an unhappy Arranged Marriage and the one to inherit his throne. He would rather have his beloved child with a mistress inherit, but little cute Princess Guinevere is both younger and, well, a girl. Zephiel's mother Hellene doesn't help the situation by using this as a big Take That against her husband.
    • In Fire Emblem: Sword of Seals, which takes place twenty years after Fire Emblem, you find out that Desmond got what was coming to him. After barely surviving his father's attempt to poison him, Zephiel faked his death and stabbed Desmond as he looked into his coffin. This was lampshaded in the epilogue of the prequel, when Eliwood and Hector are discussing the news of Desmond's death, along with their suspicions when they had heard that Zephiel had been the one to die only days earlier.
  • In the final episode of Odin Sphere, it is discovered that King Gallon arranged for the murder of the son whom he exiled for marrying a common woman. As a royal secret, there was a prophecy that Gallon would be killed by someone of royal blood, presumably of his own family. His exiled son left resenting Gallon, and thus Gallon feared he would return to kill him one day, so he had him killed first. Karma got him in the end when his grandson Oswald destroyed him with the Belderiver.
    • There's a lot of this going around in Odin Sphere. King Odin allowed his scheming top general to arrange for the execution of Velvet, his daughter by a deceased mother and the one child he is implied to actually love. Velvet had single-handedly rendered their victory in a war pointless, and the general threatened to call his leadership into question if he did not punish her. Also, the news that he'd had a daughter with the princess of their nation's greatest enemy wouldn't have gone over well with his subjects. He's perfectly okay with punishing Gwendolyn for giving him an out, though; but he does come to realize a little bit just what kind of a daughter he's been ignoring the whole time.
    • The worst is probably King Valentine, who strangled his own daughter to death with his bare hands when he found out she had given birth to his enemy Odin's children.
  • This is Gau's backstory in Final Fantasy VI. His mother died in childbirth, and his father, driven mad by the accident, threw him out on the Veldt to be eaten by the monsters. They didn't.
  • When Metal Gear Solid's Psycho Mantis first developed his psychic powers, he read his father's mind and realized that his father wanted to kill him. He responded in a reasonable and mature fashion by destroying him and burning the entire village to the ground.
  • In Castlevania 64, an evil witch named Actrise sacrificed her own child in a ritual to obtain eternal life.
  • Silent Hill: In addition to all of the instances of attempted Human Sacrifice, Travis' mother becomes convinced that Travis has been replaced by a demon and attempts a murder-suicide.
    • And the immolation of Alessa.
    • And let's not forget in Silent Hill Homecoming where the basis of the plot is that the four founding families of Shepherd's Glen had to periodically sacrifice their children, in a set, and rather painful manner. It's only when the Shepherds fail to make their obligation does all hell break loose.
  • It's an odd version, but in System Shock 2, SHODAN calls the annelid horror that she created her "children", which became disobedient and rebelled against her. Eventually she does succeed through her "avatar".
  • One of the more convoluted and fucked-up examples on this page would belong to Prototype. Long story short, the Supreme Hunter was created when Alex Mercer injected fellow Plaguemaster Elizabeth Greene with a combination of a sentient cancer he had earlier been infected with and his own DNA. In a metaphorical birthing scene, she immediately spits it out for a boss fight so she can get away. The result is, after Alex finally kills Greene later in the game, the Supreme Hunter tries to kill and absorb him. Alex ends up hacking it to death with the Blade.
  • World of Warcraft has High Overlord Saurfang trying to kill his son, who has been raised by the Lich King as a death knight. Deathbringer Saurfang merely laughs at his father's attempt and begins choking him with his death knight powers.
    • Going back further in the Warcraft mythos, Kilrogg Deadeye, chieftain of the Bleeding Hollow orc clan, was known for having killed several of his sons and even a couple grandsons who challenged him for control of his clan. He's still painted as one of the more sympathetic members of the old horde, which says something.
  • In Mass Effect 2, your asari companion has spent hundreds of years hunting her serial killer daughter. With your help, she can finally catch up to her and finish the job.
    • Miranda's father is implied to have done this to her older sisters, and in the third game tries to kill Miranda, and depending on your choices may or may not succeed.
    • In Mass Effect 3, Samara is once again forced to kill one of her daughters after they escape from the destruction of the Ardat-Yakshi temple. Her code states that an Ardat-Yakshi cannot be allowed to survive outside the temple even though Falere is not evil like Morinth. This time, however, she is unable to go through with it and unless Shepard steps in will Take a Third Option: Suicide.
  • In Legacy of Kain, Kain has Raziel, his eldest vampiric son executed for a seemingly petty and pointless reason. When Raziel gets better, he hunts down Kain's other five children and kills them. It turns out that Kain planned all of this in order to make Raziel strong enough to complete his destiny. So he killed one son and used that son to kill the others.
  • In The House 2, it turns out that the family that lived in the house had a daughter by the name of Alrena. Alrena was born severely disabled, and the couple poisoned her and stuffed her body in the safe because they didn't want to see her suffering any more (see Real Life notes -- families actually did this in the past). Alrena wanted to live, no matter what, and she was not happy about what her parents had done to her. After trying to "start over" with an adoptive daughter and killing the maid that they hired because she had found out too much, they eventually couldn't deal with the guilt of what they had done any longer and killed themselves.
  • An option in Dragon Age: Origins that, if you choose to fight the Connor-inhabited abomination directly, you can have his mother Isolde put him out of his misery.
    • There is also Flemeth, of whom the local barbarians say that she eventually hunts down every one of her daughters to eat their hearts. She actually has a new daughter ever couple of decades only for the single purpose of stealing their bodies when her own grows too old. By the time she gets to Morrigan, she should be through one or two dozens of them.
  • In Gungnir, there was a prophecy that Emperor Wolfgang III's successor would kill him, and so he ordered all of his children murdered. As these things tend to go, it didn't work: His wife, who was pregnant at the time, didn't tell him and had her daughter Alessandra raised in secret. Rumors also popped up about one of Wolfgang's sons escaping into the ghettoes, and so he had all children that age in the ghetto massacred--which still didn't work, as the general he sent to do this had ulterior motives and spared the boy.
  • Mamiya Shinzo kills his son and then commits suicide in one ending of Kara no Shoujo. Type two, but kind of his own fault.

Web Comics

  • Unicorn Jelly - Chou's father forms an anti-nonhuman cult and tried to kill his daughter after she is transformed into crystalline-human hybrid.
  • Dominic Deegan - The first major story arc involves Croona Travoria's gamble on driving her youngest daughter Luna to suicide while a royal knight is visiting, since a generous compensation package is given to the family should a family member die while a knight is visiting. Instead, Croona is killed by said knight. She does get some measure of revenge, as she leaves Luna nothing in her will.
    • It's later revealed that some of the other children in Callan born with tusks due to an Orc curse were killed when they were born as well.
  • YU+ME: dream - as part of the huge reveal halfway through the story, Fiona finds out that her mother not only killed herself, but tried to take Fiona with her instead of letting her be raised by the woman who stole her husband.
  • Girl Genius - Lucrezia/The Other has tried to off Agatha several times, and was responsible for the death of Agatha's older brother, who died as a child during the Other's attack on Castle Heterodyne.
  • Homestuck: While she didn't do the deed personally, Betty Crocker, aka Her Imperious Condescension did order her great-granddaughter Jane's dreamself to be killed, and is heavily implied to be behind the multiple assassination attempts in the real world. Luckily, thanks to Jane's Life powers and GCAT respectively neither works.
  • Drowtales: Though the child is adopted, Quain'tana Val'Sarghress winds up doing this to Syphile. While the threat had certainly been there before, it's only once Syphile tries to pull the Self-Made Orphan routine (and promptly gets curb stomped) that Quain finishes her off. Also subverted in that Quain actually seems proud for the first time that she actually had the guts to try and kill her, even though she failed.
    • Zala'ess Vel'Sharen wanted to do this after Yaeminira the adopted "protector twin" of her daughter Vy'chriel killed Vy'chriel, but Zala's own sister instead forced Zala'ess to adopt her and take Vy'chriel's place. Zala later gets her wish when she has Yaeminira killed via a Uriah Gambit.
    • And a subversion occurred with Val'Sharess Diva'ratrika, who was extremely angry at three of her daughters for willingly tainting themselves and says that she seriously considered killing them, but ultimately couldn't do it. Considering that said daughters later betrayed her and had her killed, she probably wishes she'd just done it.

Web Original

  • In The Gamers Alliance, every Distreyd Thanadar tries to kill his children when they're about to come of age; if he doesn't, said children will kill him to take his place as the high cleric of Mardük. This is also a twisted way for every Distreyd to ensure that only the strongest of his children survive and kill him off to carry on his legacy as the next person to hold the name of Distreyd Thanadar.

Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Fire Lord Ozai tries to flash-fry his teenage son Zuko when the boy starts mouthing off to him. Granted, it was treasonous talk of the worst kind, but Ozai seemed tickled pink that he finally had a good excuse to just kill the boy, who he never seemed to like much anyway.
    • The fact that Ozai was prepared to kill off his then 10-year-old son on his father's command in order to remain in Azulon's good graces fits the trope even better. Of course Ozai's wife Ursa got wind of it and Ozai ended up Fire Lord the next morning, but that is beside the point.
    • The fact that Azulon ordered his grandson's death in the first place (so Ozai would know what it feels like to lose a kid, no less, after he made unsavory comments about his older brother Iroh's loss of his son and heir) fits this as well.
  • Family Guy: Lois wants to kill Bad Seed Stewie but can't bring herself to do the deed, so Peter does it for her. It doesn't stick, though.
    • In another episode, Peter says "I made you and I can destroy you" to Chris... but then discovers that he had put the explosives in the wrong baby.
  • This was the last thing Trigon tried to do in Teen Titans.

Real Life

  • There are numerous instances of untreated post-partum psychological issues leading to infanticide. The condition can be used as a legal defense in some countries and states.
    • One of the best-known modern cases in the US was Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children (the youngest of whom was seven months old, the eldest seven years old). She had schizophrenia and post-partum psychosis, and also claimed she was saving them from going to hell.
  • Infanticide is the usual birth and population control method by primitive cultures. The killed children are usually eaten, providing thus extra protein for the survivors.
  • Older Than Feudalism: Queen Athaliah of Judah, who almost succeeded in snuffing out the whole line of David.
  • Many children with disabilities (most commonly autism and cerebral palsy) or fatal illness have been not only been killed by their parents, but in many cases the parents themselves are seen in the media and by supporters as sympathetic and admirable for their actions, as they claim to do it it after crossing the Despair Event Horizon and because they want to spare their kid from more suffering or don't believe that they can get the kid the proper care to live a comfortable life. Examples include Robert Latimer, Danielle Blais and Karen McCarron.
  • In Roman culture, there was the practice of exposure. After a child was born, the father could either chose to claim it as his, or to refuse to (if he suspected that it wasn't his, or simply didn't want to deal with it). The child would be left alone and outside, often in town squares. While most were picked up and taken as slaves, undoubtedly many did perish.
  • Mary Ann Cotton did this for nearly her entire life. She'd get married, kill her husband and children, then collect the insurance money. Then find some other guy. Rinse, lather, repeat.
  • Although the son was already an adult, Marvin Gaye died after being shot by his father, Reverend Marvin Gaye, Sr. after a fight.[2]
  • In Chile, one of the most heartbreaking and recent cases has a hairstylist named Jeannette Hernandez killing one of her two kids and seriously injuring the other with a hammer... to "punish" her husband (who also was her Victorious Childhood Friend until then) over a supposed infidelity.
    • A similar case is Mary Ann Brough; the motivation (to "punish" the husband) was the same, though he was the one who accused her of cheating. She slit the throats of their six children, then tried to kill herself.
  • Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, aka Guzmán "El Bueno" ("The Good One"). While defending the city of Tarifa, which was under siege, his son, Pedro Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, was kidnapped by their enemies. They told him they would spare the life of the kid if he submitted the city. He answered by sending his own dagger, thus winning that epithet from the habitants of the city.
  • Isabella Nardoni was choked by her stepmother, and then thrown out a window by her father. One of the biggest media circuses ever seen in Brazil.
  • Marybeth Tinning, Waneta Hoyt and Wendi Scott, all affected by Münchausen syndrome by proxy. Meaning, they either killed or tried to kill their children (adopted or biological) to gather attention and sympathy to themselves and the kids. Scott killed one of her two children. Hoyt killed all five of her biological children; she also had an adpted son, who stayed alive. Tinning killed seven of her eight biological children (one died from meningitis) and one she adopted.
  • Supposedly, the gay guy who wrote Desperate Housewives was inspired for this series when he read a story about a mother killing her four children, asking his mother whether she could imagine having done this, and she answering affirmatively.
  • Unfortunately for people who grew up watching The Land Before Time, Judith Barsi, the original voice of Ducky, was killed by her father three months before the film's release.
  • Jennifer Hudson's nephew, Julian King, was found shot to death in a white SUV days after his grandma and uncle were murdered. Julian's stepfather, William "Flex" Balfour, has been charged with the crime.
  • This occasionally gets combined with (claims) of Too Good for This Sinful Earth. John List claimed to have killed his wife & children because he 'didn't want to see them go to Hell' when he was eventually found.
  • Ivan IV of Russia, popularly known as Ivan the Terrible, struck his son Ivan Ivanovich on the head with his scepter during a heated argument, accidentally killing him. This also had a nasty side-effect of ending the Rurik dynasty's 700+ years rule in Russia, since his second son and successor Feodor died childless and his last son Dimitri was killed soon after his father's death.
  • After Hitler's suicide, Magda Goebbels, the wife his Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, poisoned their six children, before killing herself along with her husband. This is recounted in the film Downfall.
  • A man in Michigan took it upon himself to execute his teenage son after the boy confessed to molesting a small girl.
  • Both Diane Downs and Susan Smith allegedly killed their children[3] so they could pursue romances with men who didn't want to be fathers. It's not clear why neither woman chose to simply allow their children's fathers to have the kids. Both fathers expressed the wish to have gotten custody rather than dead children.
  • Julie Schnecker, who shot her 13 and 16 year old children for "being Mouthy Kids."
  • Chhouy Harm, a Cambodian immigrant living in Seattle, attempted to kill her daughter and succeeded in killing her son-in-law and two granddaughters before killing herself.
  • Shantaniqua Nykole Scott, the teen mom who tried to smother her son to "make her life easier".
  • Anjette Lyles killed not only one of her daughters, Marcia, but also two husbands and a mother-in-law. All for the life insurance money she got each time.
  • Margaret Garner was an escaped slave who, in 1856, murdered her two year old daughter and attempted to murder her other children to prevent them from being returned to slavery. Dubbed "The Modern Medea", there was debate, then and now, over whether or not she was justified in mercy-killing her child. Her case served as the inspiration for a major plot point in the novel Beloved.
    • During the persecution of Jews in eastern Europe brought on by an unofficial crusade (led by a monk between Urban II's call to crusade and the sanctioned departure time of the First Crusade), there were similar stories of Jewish women killing their children to avoid their dying a worse death or being forcibly converted.
    • Similarly, as the Spanish and the Portuguese conquered America and enslaved the natives, many women either killed their children or got abortions so their kids wouldn't end up under the rule of the conquerers.
  • In ancient Roman times, the Pater Familias, meaning the male head of the household, was legally in charge of his wife and any unmarried children. This meant that the Pater Familias could disown his children, sell them into slavery, or even have them killed. Although this last power was rarely exercised, and eventually made illegal, there were stories of father's executing their sons for treason. In addition, it was considered his duty to make sure no sick or deformed babies were allowed to live. These babies would be abandoned outside and would often be picked up and sold into slavery or just left to starve.
  • Historically—and even currently—this is often Truth in Television on account of Heir Club for Men and related things. In many cultures, including Ancient Greece and Ancient India, female babies were liable to be killed, chiefly because of the burden they placed on the family (besides years of eating the family's food, the cultures that practiced this kind of infanticide tended to have the bride's family pay the dowry). Today, the same concerns are leading many in India and China to abort female fetuses after ultrasound; the Chinese have a double incentive on account of the one-child policy.
  • Julia Maesa, grandmother of the Roman emperors Elagabal and Alexander Severus, had the former and his mother - that is, her daughter - killed.
  • Many animals will do this, particularly insects. Special mention goes to the Praying Mantis. A few birds of prey kill the runt of their brood to supply food to their stronger children in harsh climes.
    • Male bears are known to kill cubs to weed out potential competition for mates. They're why the female bear is a Mama Bear, and why that trope's Spear Counterpart is not Papa Bear, but Papa Wolf.
  • One of the disappeared children shown in the Runaway train video by Soul Asylum was a young girl who turned out to be a victim of this. Her parents were in a bitter custody dispute, and her mother preferred to kill and then bury the girl in her backyard rather than to risk "losing" her.
  • Date Masamune was has nearly became a victim of this. His mother hated him because he lost one eye (of smallpox), and when he was 23—5 years after he succeeded as the daimyo—he was nearly poisoned to death by said mother, who wanted to put his little brother to the position instead.
  • Herod the Great had no fewer than three of his own sons put to death for allegedly plotting against him.
    • Same to Constantin the Great.
  1. Eilistraee actually survived, although exactly how is not clear; she was not the only presumed-dead character who was discovered alive after the Sundering.
  2. there's some evidence that Gaye Sr. was acting in self-defense, but at this point we'll never know
  3. Downs tried to kill all three she had at that time, two survived. She later gave birth to another, promptly given up for adoption