Blood is thicker than water, but to be honest there’s no circumstance in which being thicker is better… except in sandwiches, and we all know that blood doesn’t keep us from conflict. In fact fighting in a family is often more brutal than a standard grudge match, there’s always history, and the feelings get hurt long before the bruises show.
So far as storytelling goes there’s rarely more bitter rivals, or more hated nemeses than a parent or sibling. Join us as we take a look at games, films, television, literature and more to find the Top 10 Family Feuds.
10) Inuyasha & Sesshomaru – Inuyasha
The poster boy of the hit anime Inuyasha has a brother, who is incredibly flamboyant in his attire. Whilst the primary antagonist really is Naraku, Sesshomaru is in himself an incredibly dangerous antagonist, or at least an anti-hero. He doesn’t like his little brother, not one bit, same as how he didn’t like their father. With that said, it doesn’t make him a bad guy – As a demon, Sesshomaru doesn’t seek out the power of the jewel – Rather he views other demons seeking the shards to be weak.
Inuyasha is very hot-headed, which makes him a perfect rival figure to his older brother. Sesshomaru is very cold and calculating – However, when they have to, they absolutely do get on the same page. Whilst they bicker and fight, there’s enough family behind them to continue to work together to get rid of Naraku. Sesshomaru really will not admit that’s the case though, it just so happens that Inuyasha and crew are there.
9) Luke & Anakin Skywalker – Star Wars
We surprised ourselves with how low in our list this came, and our reasoning is simple. While Luke’s story is steeped in the monomyth, the ultimate hero to fight for the light against an empire of darkness and oppression, and Anakin is completely given over to the power the darkness brings, let’s not forget that in the end, Anakin not only reaches out to his son and asks him to join him, to be together, ultimately it is for love of his son that Vader turns on his master.
Oh sure, there’s the whole “hand” situation. And the killing of Kenobi, but he was quite literally asking for it and had it coming after the lava thing. Did you see the spread Vader put out in Sky City? Did you? That’s effort put in, a real olive branch that Han Solo just- oh yeah, and the Empire killed Luke’s Aunt and Uncle. To be fair though, Anakin’s never really been a Dad before, he’s still getting used to things like “not dismembering your son”.
8) Thor & Loki – Marvel
Loving brothers turned bitter rivals by the bumbling efforts of a father better suited for war than fatherhood. Maybe if Odin had actually trusted Loki with things like – I don’t know – the truth, then the whole issue of him desperately attempting to prove himself to Odin through conquest might not have become a problem.
The end result leaves these brothers on opposite sides of a war that has barely even begun, seating Loki firmly as the villain who has – as of the end of Thor: Dark World – finally seized the throne of Asgard and usurped his father by way of revenge for now loving him enough. Thor remains unhappy about being opposed to Loki and keeps trying to reach out to him, and who knows? Come Ragnarok we may learn that it’s not too late.
7) Elan & Tarquin – Order of the Stick
Where do we begin with this Father/Son rivalry? Probably with the evil twin brother and villainous counterpart to the bard Elan. Where Elan went off to live with his mother and was taught the power of narrative in pursuit of the hero’s ultimate victory, General Tarquin educated Nale in the narrative ways of villainy, and the many years a villain can enjoy in luxury before being gloriously bested by a hero of worth, and being immortalised in stories for evermore.
Tarquin rules an empire behind the scenes, toying with lives without a care in the world, until he sees his son playing back-up to the so-called main character. In an effort to put Elan in the driving seat, he kills the evil twin (the one he raised), attempts to kill the entire cast of heroes, frames Elan’s father in law, and stabs through Elan to kill off his boss. Elan’s response? No final showdown, no taking charge, but being the best damn support character he can be, and leaving Tarquin in the middle of nowhere without a satisfying conclusion to their story.
6) Dante & Vergil – Devil May Cry
I had to do a double take on Dante’s twin brother’s name, as I thought it would be Virgil, as it is in Dante’s Inferno, but alas it is Vergil. Whilst Dante embraced his human side, Vergil represents the devilish side of their bloodline. Twin brothers who represent the yin and the yang; the good and evil; the light and dark. But, whilst these two fight it out, they weren’t always like this. No, it wasn’t until their mother passed away did Vergil start to embrace his devilish side.
Dante is hot-headed and aggressive, allowing his emotions to get the better of him without sparing a thought. Meanwhile, Vergil is cool, calm and calculating, repressing any feelings and emotions he doesn’t need (or want). To Vergil, emotions and humanity is weak. Dante and Vergil have fought together and against one another, in truly thrilling faahion.
5) Heihachi, Kazuya & Jin – Tekken
The ultimate story of father, son and grandson, who just can’t stand one another. In one game, Heihachi sends his precious family to space. In another game, Heihachi kicks his precious family into… space… Huh. Basically, Heihachi just wants to start off his own Apollo programme, just so he can send his family to space. He just wants to see them both die, but in Tekken 7, we finally understand why he would be so evil.
Truth is, Heihachi’s wife, Kazumi, had the Devil Gene inside of her. She turned on Heihachi, trying to kill him, so he had to defend himself and in the process had to kill her. As such, he was afraid the Devil Gene would be passed on – and it was. He threw his son off a cliff but believed he wasn’t yet dead, so Heihachi started the King of the Iron Fist Tournament, a sure fire way to get his son, Kazuya, to come and fight him. Without this intense family feud, we wouldn’t have Tekken at all.
4) Vash & Knives – Trigun
Okay, hear me out on this one… Vash the Stampede and his brother Knives Millions aren’t human – They are plant-like humanoids… W-when I say this is a good series, I mean it, but from a description perspective, it’s kinda hard to make sound good! Still, Vash and Knives are twins, with Vash being ever so slightly older. Their adoptive mother, Rem, taught both flora-boys about compassion, peace and love.
After learning about another plant called Tesla who died to humans experimenting, Knives started to view humans differently – He felt as if he couldn’t trust them, as he had seen the trouble humans had caused. Knives still loved his brother, so asked Vash to join him against the humans – But Vash believed in what their mother taught them. Vash and Knives were soon embroiled in a bitter rivalry, with Knives sending mercenaries after Vash. But as any loving, compassionate person would seek to do, Vash just wants to help Knives see the error of his ways and to live in harmony with the humans.
This might be one of the earliest anime to use this strange kind of narrative, but it certainly wasn’t shy about making you remember all those shots of the beautifully drawn guns.
3) Azula & Zuko – Avatar: The Last Airbender
Two siblings driven to the brink of insanity trying to prove themselves to their father, Phoenix King Ozai, and earn his love, his respect, and perhaps one day, his crown. The difference lies in which side of the brink each one fell. While Zuko travelled with Uncle Iroh and was counselled daily in temperance, control and measured thought, Azula spent her time with her friends, driving herself in pursuit of greater and greater power. She was the first of her siblings to learn to bend lightning, and he was the first to learn firebending from the true masters.
In the end there is no glory in their final fight, and Zuko is forced to use his sister’s madness against her, provoking her to greater extremes of desperation. By this point Azula has driven her friends away, lost everything she needed while gaining everything she wanted, but it left her a chained animal screaming fire to the sky, and Zuko the firelord… eventually. In between, the competition between them is one of the most explosive, and leads to more destruction than even their father can muster.
2) The Baratheons – Game of Thrones
We had so much to pick from in Game of Thrones, but I think it’s fair to say that no family was more torn apart and so very different than the Baratheons. Joyful and boisterous Robert, dour and rational Stannis, and impetuous and caring Renly. Three brothers could not be more different, argue more, or give less of a damn about the death of the others. When Robert died, Stannis and Renly turn on one another, with Stannis resorting to dark measures to “deal” with his younger brother.
Just to build on how madly jealous a Baratheon can get when someone tries to take what they think is theirs, let’s not forget that Robert ordered every heir and bastard with blood ties to the Targaryen family exterminated, a habit his “son” Joffrey picked up when he ordered a culling of all his illegitimate half-siblings. You’ll be hard pressed to find a family who despises one another more.
1) Scar & Mufasa/Simba – The Lion King
The legendary retelling of Hamlet with lions keeps wriggling its way to number 1 on our lists, and richly deserving of every spot. Funny how desire to be king has a tendency to make one a bit murder-y.
Was anyone not moved by the stampede scene, in which beloved brother Scar casts Mufasa to his death from a cliff and into a veritable river of angry and confused wildebeest? Who doesn’t relive the trauma every time they see the image of Simba trying to wake the body of his father, as Scar creeps up on him to drive him into exile and seize Pride Rock for himself? And let’s not forget the bonechilling moment when Scar whispers “I killed Mufasa.”
Simba, to his credit, tries to show Scar mercy, gives him the option to simply flee and never come back, spitting his words back at him like venom. But Scar can’t even except exile with grace, trying again to eradicate his brother’s bloodline. His bloody end is richly deserved, especially as it comes at the hands of former allies.
The winner always gets the last word, and ultimately that’s all you can fight for. When fists are done flying, and we’ve all given up poisoning, burning, backstabbing, frontstabbing, beating each other up and having one another trampled by wildebeest, there’s always time for a last minute snide remark. Here’s our verbal knife-twist, our Honourable Mentions.
Shane, Stephanie & Vince McMahon – WWE
Anyone who has ever watched pro wrestling will be aware of the insanity in the McMahon family. It’s a strange household that must have rituals for passing the peas, by applying choke holds and arm bars. Though they are a family, the number of on screen feuds they have all had with one another is simply unfathomable. They’re not list worthy, due to how hard it is to understand why they started yet another feud with one another, but they needed some love… because they ain’t getting that from one another!
From storylines of Vince pitting Shane and Stephanie against one another, to straight up berating them on live television, the bridge between reality and kayfabe (keeping character) is getting more and more blurred. But hey, without this power trio literally getting in a ring together and fighting out their differences, the WWE might be a very different place indeed.
Dexter & Dee Dee – Dexter’s Laboratory#
In Dexter’s Laboratory, lives the smartest boy you have ever seen. But Dee Dee blows his experiments to smithereens! The Cartoon Network classic, Dexter’s Laboratory, was about an incredibly short, grumpy, ginger child called Dexter and his pink wearing, happy-go-lucky, blonde, blue eyed older sister Dee Dee. Whilst there was a good amount of sibling love between them, there was also a lot of hate, albeit mostly one sided hate from Dexter.
In fact, he likely would admit as much! He wasn’t her biggest fan, as she used to find her way into his secret lab and just mess around. Explosions, breaking machinery, dances, you name it and Dee Dee was capable of doing it, even if she was oblivious to what she was doing. Many episodes focus on this intense rivalry, showing Dee Dee as the loving sister who was, unbeknownst to her, a constant target of Dexter’s crazy contraptions.
Now now, don’t be angry. Shake hands and make up or I’ll make you all go to bed without anything to eat. It’s a truce for today but who knows what rivalries may spring up tomorrow, after all a Family Feud never really goes away. Not to give you something new to fight about, but while you’re here you might as well take a vote on what Top 10 we bring together next.
What squabbling siblings did we miss? Did we skip your favourite fight between parent and child? Are their cousins, aunts and uncles, ancestors and descendants that we simply ignored? What would you have done? Argue with us all you like in the comments section, or on our Facebook, Twitter and Reddit pages.