The Family That Slays Together

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While it's not uncommon for some people skilled in a trade to pass it on to their children, sometimes the only thing a parent is skilled at that he can teach to his kids is murder, Cold-Blooded Torture, and any other heartless criminal deeds you can think of. This will usually result in raising an entire clan of Complete Monsters, and when the kids are old enough, the family collectively and regularly adds to a rising body count and a growing criminal file.

This is basically Siblings in Crime but with the parents (and maybe a few other extended relatives) having a hand in the villainy, as well.

Usually, The Family That Slays Together consists of at least one parent (if it is only one parent, it's usually the father), and at least two children of blood relation to the parent. If a mother and father are both present in the story, it's possible for the family to have only one child join them on crime sprees. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, or cousins may be among the ranks as well from time to time, especially when family inbreeding is suggested.

One common variation involves an Outlaw Couple kidnapping a child or a group of children for the duo to raise as they would their own kids (typically, this either results in Stockholm Syndrome, which is rare, to betraying or outright killing their own kidnappers, which would be more common).

Very often, this trope might overlap with Cannibal Clan, especially in the horror genre. Sometimes, they are also Professional Killers.

Compare: Overlord, Jr.. / Daddy's Little Villain where a single descendant of a Big Bad seeks to follow in his footsteps. In the Blood is related if the kids pick up on their parents' evil habits without having been directly exposed to any of their criminal behaviors and/or it's a persistent trend throughout the generations. May also be a Badass Family, though Your Mileage May Vary, depending on how "badass" you think violent crime and other felonies are.

Contrast Mama Didn't Raise No Criminal.

Compare and contrast: All forms of the Generic Ethnic Crime Gang, particularly The Mafia and The Irish Mob.

Examples of The Family That Slays Together include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Pa, Link, Fink, Mean Machine, and Junior Angel (a.k.a. The Angel Gang) from Judge Dredd. Pa Angel was apparently so committed to making sure that he raised his kids to be nothing short of Complete Monsters that when his son Mean turned out to actually be extremely gentle and nice, he got him surgically modified with cybernetic enhancements to give him a more bloodthirsty disposition. After the deaths of Pa, Link, and Junior, Fink and Mean Machine sought vengeance as Siblings in Crime. The movie adaptation with Sylvester Stallone saw The Angel Gang adapted as a Cannibal Clan.
  • In X-Men, when The Brood attack New Orleans, they target the children of the local thief and assassin clans for assimilation, giving this trope as their reasoning: Since they are preparing an invasion they need soldiers, so hosts with the right instincts are very desirable.
  • Mad Scientist Doctor Sivana and his children, Georgia and Thaddeus Jr., from Captain Marvel.
  • The Kravinoffs in Spider-Man: The Gauntlet.
  • The Roarks from Sin City.
  • Evan Dorkin's The Murder Family. A not-so-wholesome sitcom family who do Exactly What It Says on the Tin. To a sitcom audience soundtrack, no less.
  • The Daltons from Lucky Luke, with the family matriarch Ma Dalton who occasionally helps her sons escaping the Cardboard Prison du jour and planning some of their crimes. Of course, given that they're in a very family-friendly title, nobody's really at risk of getting killed.
  • Franco Belgian Comics Les Cranibales is, of course, about a Cannibal Clan living in a modern french city. It's actually an all-ages series where the situation is Played for Laughs.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Frailty has this. However, two of the family members were legitimately called by God to destroy demons (seriously) while the other one becomes a straight-up Serial Killer, and his first victim is his own father (who was one of the ones called by God).
  • The Fratellis from The Goonies are never actually seen killing anybody, but have stuffed a corpse in the freezer at their hideout, and Ma Fratelli has no qualms with forcing the kids to walk the plank.
  • The Firefly family from House of 1000 Corpses and its sequel The Devil's Rejects is a strong contender. Also a Cannibal Clan.
  • Subverted in Natural Born Killers where it's hinted that Micky and Mallory end their killing spree after they decide to settle down and have kids.
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is built on this; they're also a Cannibal Clan.
  • Wedding Slashers involves a daughter trying to escape one of these and start her own life. Suffice to say, her relatives aren't pleased.
  • Timber Falls had a family of backwoods religious fanatics who abduct couples and force them to concieve, due to the only female member of the group being infertile.
  • Mother, and her sons Ike and Addley, from Mother's Day. There's also Queenie, Mother's woods dwelling sister who is just as murderously insane as the rest, but hates her relatives.
  • The Strangers, presumably.
  • The murderous family from Frontiers was headed by an insane Nazi war criminal. They are also cannibals, for some reason.
  • Seed of Chucky, though Glen(da) isn't really into it like his/her parents are.
  • The cannibals in Wrong Turn films.
  • The premise of the horror film The Hamiltons, and its sequel, The Thompsons.
  • The Angel Family in Judge Dredd.

Dredd: Cursed Earth pirates, murderers, scavengers. And, of course, scumbags.
Dredd: [Later, to Fergie] l forgot to mention it. Your new friends, they're cannibals.


Legends And Mythology[edit | hide]

  • While it turns out that Real Life Kate "Ma" Barker wasn't actually the leader of her sons' criminal gang, she still carries reputation in a lot of (fictional) stories about her life and serves as the popular inspiration for just about every fictional portrayal of family gangs lead by the maternal figure. You can find more information about her at That Other Wiki
  • Sawny Bean, the leader of the Scottish Cannibal Clan of legend, who is believed by some to have been executed for the mass murder and cannibalization of over 1,000 people sometime around the 14/1500's.
  • Loki's family in Norse Mythology, which includes Loki, god of mischief, chaos, and destruction; Fenrir, Big Badass Wolf and harbinger of the apocalypse; Jormungandr, the Midgard Serpent; Hel; and Fenrir's sons, Skoll and Hati.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn includes a Family Feud between two families who routinely kill members of the other family and teach their children to do so too.
  • Invoked by Terry Pratchett in regard to the Agatean Empire royalty - one has to be a murderous bastard to survive the court intrigues and as a result, some features get reinforced every generation.
    • In Hogfather, Medium Dave and Banjo were apparently brought up to be criminals by their mother, who is fondly remembered for her ruthlessness by other criminals.
    • Although a bit more civilized about it than most examples, the Selachii noble family of Ankh-Morpork have a long-standing tradition as Assassins. The Boggis family is equally well-embedded in the Thieves' Guild, though Ankh-Morpork thieves generally avoid killing their victims (because the Assassins' Guild considers that to be trespassing on their bailiwick, and because it's hard to rob someone again in the future once they're dead).
  • The Grissoms from Friday the 13th: Carnival of Maniacs killed for fun, and sometimes food.
  • The book series has Dexter training Cody and Astor in the ways of serial killer killing.
  • An instance of this shows up in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with Gottfried and Martin Vanger.
  • Tigerstar and his son Hawkfrost in Warrior Cats. For a while it looked like Tigerstar's other son Brambleclaw was going to join them, but he decided against it.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Family of Blood and the Family Slitheen from Doctor Who.
  • In one episode of Supernatural Sam and Dean are investigating a murder, and they discover that it's a crazy redneck family that has been hunting people for the ultimate hunting experience. This extends to the little girl, and once the dead wife is mentioned there is a distinct note of 'this is you guys if you were evil cannibal rednecks who didn't know there were real monsters to hunt.'
    • Also true for the Winchesters, and other hunter families, although less with the homicide. SA Henriksen, who spends a season and a half on a quest to catch Dean, thinks they are this, straight-out. A hunter mentions this phrase in episode 3x01, just before kissing his wife.
  • Averted in Scoundrels, which is about a family of criminals who decide to go clean after the father gets a long prison sentence.
  • The Criminal Minds episode "Bloodline" is about a family (a mother, father, and young son) who kill a family to abduct their daughter as a future mate for the son. Gets very creepy when it turns out that this is how the family continues; they've been doing this for generations. And then at the very end of the episode, it turns out that the family has other branches, and the last shot of the episode is another similar set (mother, father and young son) preparing to kill some other people.
    • "Open Season" had brothers who hunted people for sport, having been taught to so by their uncle, a paranoid psychotic who had died some time before the events of the episode, leaving them continuing as Siblings in Crime.
  • The Torchwood episode "Countrycide" has an entire rural Welsh clan of vicious cannibals.
  • The infamous X Files episode "Home".
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Rita Repulsa, her brother Rito Revolto, and their father Master Vile during part of the third season. Much campier than most examples on this page.
  • The Luthors of Smallville. Patriarch Lionel Luthor is a Corrupt Corporate Executive version of the Rags to Riches story, and tries to raise his son, Lex, to be every bit as devious, cunning, and unethical. Lex in turn mentors his illegitimate sister, Tess Mercer, who he successfully transforms into The Baroness. And that's without taking into account their bastard brother, Lucas, who managed to become a sociopath even without daddy's involvement, or Lex's numerous clones, who cover the board from Enfante Terrible (Lx-15) to Axe Crazy Evil Old Folks (Lx-3). In the Alternate Universe of Earth-2, the family stayed together, and by adding adoptive son Clark "Ultraman" Luthor to the family, transformed LuthorCorp into a Mega Corp version of The Empire.
  • In one episode of The Unusuals, an entire extended family (all the way to third cousins) go on a crime spree together. It turns out they're raising money for the patriarch of the family to get a kidney transplant.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • The White Sheep of the Family, by L. du Garde Peach and Ian Hay, is a comic play about a family of master thieves (father, mother, daughter and son) whose life of crime is threatened when the son falls for a police chief's daughter and decides to reform his ways.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Grand Theft Auto games, the leadership structure for a number of the Generic Ethnic Crime Gangs are rooted in family ties, especially in GTA IV. Unsurprisingly, a lot of them murder people. The most notable example being the McReary Family, the backbone of Liberty City's Irish Mob. Both the family matriarch and patriarch have had ties in running the gangs criminal activities, and their sons Derrick, Gerry, and Packie are all violent criminals. It seems the only people serving as an exception to the family violence are Kate and Francis, and yet Francis is a Dirty Cop and asks the player to kill Derrick. Kate is the only one in the family without a criminal record.
  • Ace Attorney came painfully close to having an unwilling version. Morgan Fey asks her daughter Pearl to channel a certain spirit at a certain time, trusting Pearl to obey without asking. The spirit was Dahlia Hawthorne, another of Morgan's daughters, who would have used Pearl's body to murder her cousin Maya Fey. Dahlia would be at fault...but legally, Pearl would still be a murderer. Did we mention Pearl is nine?
  • The Ax Crazy Hall clan from Dead Rising are a trio of zealous survivalist snipers, a father and two sons.
  • The Fallout series contains a wide variety of examples. In the third installment, the Lone Wanderer can discover an inbred Cannibal Clan as well as the an example of the Outlaw Couple variation, called "The Family" that gets their nourishment from human blood; they can be convinced to drink it only from blood packs and cease killing other people, if so desired.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The titular family in Strange Little Band are the protagonists of the story, but being very much antiheros this trope applies. Especially in the climax.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The back story of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker involves The Joker and and Harley Quinn having kidnapped Tim Drake and having had him brainwashed and tortured for the sake of modeling him as their own son, dubbed "Joker, Jr.", and effectively becoming one of these families. It didn't work.
    • Batman Beyond also has the Royal Flush Gang, a family that makes their living on crime; however, they have an aversion to killing people.
    • The Mayhems, another family of robbers, from "The Eggbaby".
  • In one episode of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, "Adventures in Squirrelsitting", Fat Cat ponders the possibility of raising Cammy and Binky as his own criminal successors... but then decides it'd be too much trouble and tosses them into his Death Trap.
  • This is what happens in The Simpsons with Sideshow Bob in "The Italian Bob",rather than shun him,his wife and baby help him kill the Simpsons. Exaggerated in "Funeral for a Fiend" when even Bob's brother and parents help him try to kill Bart, too.
  • An episode of Martin Mystery featured a family (consisting of a father, mother and daughter) who made routine sacrifices to an Eldritch Abomination, and in exchange they recieved Immortality and a comfy home in the being's realm.
  • The Slaughters, a family of poachers, from Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Venture Bros, appropriately named "The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together."


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The Bloody Benders were an entire family of serial killers who murdered at least 11 people between 1872 and 1873 before going into hiding and never being seen again.
  • While the Benders became subjects of legend, The McVees may never have existed at all.
  • Gordon Stewart Northcott, his mother Sarah Louise Northcott, and his heavily abused nephew Sanford Clark, perpetrators of the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders.
  • In medieval times of war, particularly bad ass families not only slay and stay together, they often manage to climb up the social ladder all the way to becoming Kings/Queens over the bodies of their fallen enemies and establishing empires. Empires they keep within their family's possession by slaying and staying together...
  • The trope name used to be applied to Charles Manson and his "Family".