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Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,

Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
It is rare to find a country where the people are not at daggers drawn with the aristocracy, or the nobles not divided among themselves...The inhabitants of two different localities will usually be on bad terms. Their hostility derives from disputes over water, woodland, or pasture. Each village wishes to expand its borders at the expense of another.
—Quoted from an eighteenth century Spanish General in Military Experience in the Age of Reason by Christopher Duffy

It's a sad (but exciting) Truth in Television that sometimes most of the time revenge triggers revenge, triggers revenge, triggers revenge... you know how that goes. When this happens on a large scale, we have War Tropes. When it happens on a more private scale and usually inside the same nation, we have the blood feud or vendetta.

If the families of the first perpetrator and victim are large enough and roughly equals in power and resources, this can go on for a long, long time. So long, in fact, that it's rather easy for them to forget what the original cause of their fighting was. A feud usually doesn't help the mental health of the individuals and the wisdom of their family culture. This can lead to three most obvious conclusions:

  1. The near extinction of one or both warring families. Feuding clans usually start with picking out the men of their opponents. When they begin to kill the women and children too, that's the sign that things are headed straight to hell and there will be no conciliating. Revenge by Proxy or Sins of Our Fathers are also bad signs.
  2. One family yields and flees the area. This rarely happens, because people are stubborn like that and it's also anticlimactic. Plus, the other family might just chase them.
  3. They make peace. Sometimes they even intermarry to strengthen their arrangement. This has been known to happen in real life, surprisingly enough. In real life, there was also a practice to pay blood money to appease the family of the dead and end this vicious cycle. This rarely happens in fiction, though.

Many depictions of Feuding Families show a Grey and Gray Morality, as the feuding parties are not evil but full of grief and rage, doing cruel things because of it.

This scenario offers possibilities to explore all these themes, like the cause of war and peace, hate and forgiveness, right and wrong, and family loyalty. Following Romeo and Juliet, there will often be a pair of Star-Crossed Lovers kept apart by the feud. This is a stock trope for any story about The Mafia or any other similar syndicates.

The origin of the feud is sometimes unmentioned or very vaguely explained, as in Romeo and Juliet or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Not to be confused with Family Rivalry, which is about something quite different.

In a Fur Against Fang setting, may result in a Vampire-Werewolf Love Triangle. See also Dueling Dojos and Small Town Rivalry.

Examples of Feuding Families include:


Anime and Manga

  • In Ghost Hound, the main and branch family, Komori and Ogami respectively, are at odds with one another, silently feuding despite two different generations trying to bring them together. Makoto and Tarou eventually overcome this.
  • In Naruto:
    • The Senju and the Uchiha clans are the two strongest clans of the Five Ninja nations and so fight each other before they eventually come to a truce and found Konoha together. However, the leader of the Uchiha clan - Madara - hates the Senju and even his clansmen for agreeing to the peace (supposedly) after he took his brother's eye for the power to use against the Senju and would eventually get revenge by helping Itachi massacre the Uchiha. Later, Sasuke swears revenge on Konoha for having Itachi kill the Uchiha, who were themselves planning to start a civil war.
    • It goes even further than that, apparently the ancestor of the Uchihas was the Cain to the ancestor of the Senjus' Abel, with the Sage of 6 Paths being the placeholder for God.
    • Even worse, Madara states that Naruto himself may be a descendant of the Senju clan, making him Sasuke's fated rival.
  • Basilisk, another Romeo and Juliet between feuding ninja clans who had been in a tense peace until given a reason. And anyone who didn't have a personal reason before, gets one.
  • The Tennos and Sanzenin families of Hayate the Combat Butler are said to have this kind of a relationship, hinted at being a rivalry of fortunes. What with only one person of child-bearing age each and both of them after the same guy, it's likely one of the families will die out, if not both.
  • The title characters of Noir end up taking a contract on an ex-KGB officer who had ordered genocidal purges on a specific ethnic group some decades before. It turned out that this particular incident was just the last atrocity committed between that ethnic group and the officer's ethnic group in a feud that had been going on for centuries. The ultimate cause of this feud was never mentioned.
  • In Wild Rock, although they avoid bloodshed, the lake clan and the forest clan have tense relations because their natural hunting grounds overlap. Thanks to Emba's prowess the forest clan is not getting much meat at all, hence Yuuen gets sent on a Honey Trap mission to convince Emba to give him some of his catch. In the end Yuuen's and Emba's genuine feelings for each other lead to the clans setting aside their rivalry and uniting, and Yuuen's and Emba's siblings get married.

Comic Books

  • Scare Tactics included a generations old feud between the Ketchums (a clan of werewolves) and the Knightsbridges (a family of ghouls).
  • Lucky Luke's episode "The Rivals of Painful Gulch."
  • A major plot point in Nikolai Dante is the feud between the Romanovs and ruling Marakovs. When this erupts into all-out war, Nikolai is forced to fight against his lover, Jena Marakov, due o conflicting loyalties.
  • The two big speedster families of The DCU, the West/Allen line and Thawne line. Bart Allen - Impulse/Kid Flash II - is an heir to both, and aware of it, but totally neat in he doesn't angst over his lineage like most other people (he doesn't really think or talk about it unless you insist on pressing the issue) and practically laughs at Zoom's "corrupted bloodline" rant.
  • The Raven and Heron kingdoms in Scion.

Film

Literature

  • Sean Russell's Swan's War books: The eponymous swan is the heraldic animal of both the feuding families, the Rennes and the Wills. Their feud lasts centuries and is partially fueled by an ancient curse, partially by the fear that if one of them stops fighting, the other will destroy them. Unusually, there seems to be no real hatred between them anymore and it's repeatedly stressed how profoundly battle-weary they are. In the end they make peace through marriage of their family heads and it seems the next heir to those posts will be a Renne-Wills.
  • The McCliverts and the MacBoons from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
  • Grangerfords vs. Shepherdsons from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It was pretty funny until Buck died.
  • In The Dark Elf Trilogy a feud between the Do'Urdens and Hun'etts leads to the downfall of both houses in the end.
  • The Montanas and Petrocchis in Diana Wynne Jones' The Magicians of Caprona.
  • Venezuelan novel Doña Bárbara averts this. While in the backstory is mentioned the long rivalry of the Luzardo with the Barquero. the protagonist, Santos Luzardo (a character so perfect he almost is a Mary Sue) ends the feud with Lorenzo Barquero, both of them the last of their family.
  • Dune. In fact, feuding families are so prevalent in the Dune universe that it has evolved into an art form. There's "Kanly," which is one-on-one combat, and the all-out War of Assassins, which is just what it sounds like. The rules are codified in the Great Convention, which sets out exactly who are the acceptable targets and what weapons or poisons are permitted. Noble families in the Dune universe accept the fact that you can be knifed in the back at any time as just another hazard of the job.
  • Discworld:
    • The feud between the Venturi and Selachii families has escalated to ridiculous levels; in social situations, should members of both families meet, their attempts at acting courteous involves conversations on which there can be no disagreement. Given their history, this has become "a very small number of things." Whatever started the feud is long forgotten, but is naturally assumed to be something tremendously huge, or else it would be silly to keep it up like that. To illustrate further just how far it has gone the aforementioned small number of things acceptable to talk about boils down to mentioning people are standing upright at a party and that the horizontal position, while not done for the social occasional, has its uses.
    • The various branches of the Ogg family:
      • They are also constantly mid-feud, a fact that has caused some people to try and feud with an Ogg, which results in the ENTIRE Ogg family turning on them.
      • Its noted that the main reason for Ogg family infighting is because Nanny Ogg deliberately provokes them into feuding with one another, mostly to relieve her boredom between supernatural crises.
  • The Starks and Lannisters in A Song of Ice and Fire. The only reason they are civil to each other is because Ned Stark's best friend Robert Baratheon married into the Lannister family. But once Robert dies (and it's strongly hinted at the his wife Cersei killed him), all bets are off and the Lannisters utterly devastate the Starks, though not without suffering some losses themselves. It's worth noting that Martin based this feud lightly on the Wars of the Roses.
  • In the Star Trek Expanded Universe:
    • In the novel Imzadi, two planets have been hostile--not open warfare, but anger and resentment--for generations, until a window into the past reveals the extremely trivial origins of the hostility. It's played exactly like Feuding Families.
    • In the Star Trek: New Frontier novel "Martyr," the Unglza and Eenza tribes of the planet Zondar had been at war for over 500 years, and Calhoun's arrival was predicted to usher in peace. Then in "Cold Wars" in the Gateways series, the Aerons and Markanians had been separated warring for the "sacred world" of Sinqay, with the Gateways recently renewing their hostilities, until the Excalibur and Trident actually return them to their "sacred world," now an uninhabitable black rock. Does This Remind You of Anything?, Israel and Palestine?
    • Q-in-Law featured a pair on massive space ships, literally making Enterprise the man in the middle, trying to provide neutral ground for the intermarriage. Since Q is around, it definitely does not go as planned. A case of Hilarity Ensues done well.
    • So to recap, Peter David really likes Feuding Families.
  • One of the Nightside books involves a Romeo and Juliet type situation where the couple persuade their families to call a truce and get married, only to both be murdered at the wedding dinner.
  • Kushiel's Legacy has a gradually building example of this. In Kushiel's Scion one of Imriel's reasons for sitting on the information that cousin Bernadette de Trevalion tried to have him killed is to try to end the Cycle of Revenge; his mother was responsible for the disgrace of her and her husband's families.
  • In The Godfather, Vito Corleone promises not to take revenge after the death of Sonny, as he is tired of the continuous cycle of murders. When Vito dies, Michael is free to eliminate pretty much every other Don who ever posed as rivals, plus a few traitors in his own family, leaving the Corleone's in sole control of the city.
  • Likewise, Mario Puzo's The Last Don begins with Don Clericuzio agreeing for his daughter to marry Jimmy Santadio, the son of his rival. Don Clericuzio then has Jimmy and Jimmy's family murdered on the wedding night.
  • The short story The Interlopers is about the end of such a feud.
  • Saki's "The Blood-Feud of Toad-Water, a West-Country Epic" satirizes such feuds.
  • In The 39 Clues, the fued is going on between different branches of the same family, but characters from different branches are only very distantly related. In the tenth book, there is also mention of another family who wants to gain Cahill secrets, hinting that if a second series is made, there will be a fight between the Cahills and Vespers.
  • The St. Cloud, Nast and Cortez cabals in the "Women of the Otherworld" series by Kelley Armstrong have vicious rivalries, and are almost incapable of uniting against a common enemy.
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The Shadow Kingdom", Kull's relations with his mercenaries are complicated by the inter-tribal feuds; even being The Exile does not help.
  • Fred Saberhagens Book Of Lost Swords:
    • In one of the books, two feuding families have been going at it for generations. One side even cursed the other so that female children are sometimes born as mermaids who cannot conceive. This all comes to a crashing halt when one side gets ahold of Farslayer, a sword which does exactly what it sounds like it should do. Most of the two sides are wiped out in one night.
    • To clarify: Farslayer is a magical sword, which can fly towards any target the weilder uses and slay it, no matter how far away. The catch is, one Farslayer hits the target, it stays there. Where it is free for the target's kinsmen to pick it up and retaliate. Rinse and repeat until there's no one left to aim at.

Live Action TV

  • Perhaps inevitably, The Beverly Hillbillies had one of these, after Sonny Drysdale refuses to marry Elly May in a first-season episode.
  • The Ewings vs. Barnes intergenerational feud in Dallas.
  • In the Charmed episode "Love's a Witch," Paige has to play mediator in a feud between two magical families.
  • There's an entire Super Sentai based around the concept, namely Rescue Sentai Go Go Five, wherein the Tatsumis, a family of rescue workers, battle the Saimas, a family of demons who cause natural disasters.
  • Justified:
    • The Bennet-Givens feud which started during Prohibition when a Bennet thought a Givens had sold him out to the cops and killed him in revenge. Almost a century later there are suspiciously few Bennets and Givens left in Harlan County. The women of the two families had kept a truce going for the last fifteen years since Rylan Givens and Dickie Bennet got into a fight during a baseball game and Dickie ended up limping for the rest of his life. After Raylan kills Coover Bennet the feud starts heating up again and it culminates with the deaths of Aunt Halen, Doyle Bennet and Mags Bennet. It remains to be seen whether Dickie Bennet will be able to come back and try to finish it.
    • Season two also had a Crowder-Bennet feud start up when Dickie Bennet threatened Boyd Crowder and Boyd robbed Dickie's dope deal to send a message as to who is in charge of crime in the area. The Crowders make short work of a Bennet attempt at retaliation.
  • Coronation Street has this as a stock plot, and for some reason it seems to keep happening to the Platts. First there was feud with the Windasses which ended when David got Gary sent to prison. Currently there seems to be a feud between the Barlow's and the Platt's which started when Tracy Barlow lied to incriminate Gail for murder, while she was serving time herself and trying to cut a deal. It continued when Deirdre tried to steal Audrey's(Gail mum) boyfriend, only to have him turn around and steal four grand from her stepson Peter's business. With it recently being revealed that Gail's son Nick was having an affair with Peter's wife this feud looks to be continuing for quite a while yet.
  • The Starks and Lannisters in Game of Thrones. As of the end of season one, they are at war.
  • CSI: NY had a first season episode with feuding circus families that led to a suicide pact.
  • The blood feud of American history - Hatfields and McCoys - just got its own miniseries on the History Channel.

Real Life

  • Real Life example: The Hatfield and McCoy feud. It was the inspiration for the Lucky Luke album The Rivals of Painful Gulch.
  • Real Life Comics example: The Aggie and Longhorns feud.
  • L.A. Banks's short story "Spellbound" has the two families practicing voodoo, making things complicated when the newest generations meet at college and fall in love.
  • More Real Life:
    • The Pazzi family and the Medici family of Renaissance Florence, Italy. The former is famous for their botched assassination attempt on Lorenzo and Guiliano de' Medici on April 26, 1478 after High Mass on the steps of the Duomo. To be fair to the Pazzi family, The Pope didn't like the Medicis either. Not many people did, except the people of Florence.
    • And thus, the inspiration for first arc of Assassin's Creed II. Only the main character is on the Medici's side.
  • The War of the Roses, with House York and House Lancaster. It likely inspired the War of the Lions in Final Fantasy Tactics, a war of succession between Duke Larg and Duke Goltanna. Their feud all but destroyed the kingdom of Ivalice, and allowed several other factions to sweep in and take power for themselves.
  • The a German branches of the House of Welfs and the House of Hohenstaufen in the 12th century. Not even marriage between them could end it, though both families where much too large and powerful to actually die out from a mere feud.
  • The Japanese have had a bunch of these. Several of which led to country wide civil wars. Most famously the Gempei war between the Taira (Heike) and the Minamoto (Genji) clans.
  • The Vikings of the Scandinavian lands were infamous for this. They would always fight each other for even the smallest things. The only thing that would make temporary truces was to invade England or France. It was only when Christianity came to the northern lands, and then the viking cheiftains took inspiration of the feudal systems in the mainland and reformed their turfs into united kingdoms, that the feudings ended.
  • In several Italian city-states one of the requirements of citizenship was to forswear vengeance as that supposedly now belonged to The Government which was supposed dispense it impartially. The fact that that had to be made explicit tells things about Medieval Italian culture.
  • In Korea, the Shims and the Yooms. The feud started in the mid 1700's and went on for about 250 years.
  • A more lighthearted version of this is from many British regiments. The British military system still maintains traces of the eighteenth century warrior fraternity air in an age of heavily bureaucratized warfare. Several regiments are traditional "enemies" and will continue their feuds with practical jokes and bar brawls.
  • Similar ritual feuds have been noted by anthropologists among low-tech cultures. As lethal weapons are sometimes used the proportion of ritual and the proportion of feud is debatable and in any case probably depends on the nature of the dispute.
  • Oddly enough potential feuding does have a positive(or at least less negative ) side effect in serving as a substitute for military and constabulary deterrence in places where The Government is weak. In such places a common custom is to pay blood-money for cross-tribal offenses weighted at the economic or political value of the person injured. This provides a face-saver that allows The Patriarch s of a given clan to settle the dispute without a feud, but the threat of feud remains a feature of local politics.
  • The Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach, located about 15 miles northwest of Nuremberg, is today considered one of the greatest laboratories for sociologists thanks to a local family feud that has since expanded to ridiculous proportions. It all started in 1924 when hometown boys Adolf "Adi" Dassler and his brother Rudolf opened an athletic shoe company which is today known as Puma. The Dasslers achieved worldwide fame when Jesse Owens ran in their shoes when he won several gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games. But the Dassler boys - the biggest employers in town - hated each others' guts, and their hatred for each other only grew worse during World War II. In 1948, the brothers announced to their workers that their hatred for each other had reached an irreconcilable point and that Adi was leaving to open a rival company – Adidas - on the other side of town, across the Aurach River. The employees then started choosing sides. After a quarter century, most of the people in town had relocated themselves to the side of the river that corresponded with whichever company they favored. Now the town - which had been united for over 900 years – is like a house shared by two pissed-off divorcees who refuse to move out after everything else has been settled. Except that instead of two people, there are about 24,000 people. Today, each side of the river has its own businesses, athletic teams, schools, etc. And if you wear Pumas on the Adidas side of the river, or vice versa, you probably won't get served at local businesses, you probably will be heckled, and you may be assaulted.
  • The clans of Scotland were known for this for a long time, though it died down after the country's acquistion by the United Kingdom, which served to unite many of them to rebel against a percieved common enemy.

Theater

Video Games

  • The Sandrals and Matales in Knights of the Old Republic. How their story ends depends on player actions... sort of.
  • The Kusanagi vs. Yagami feud in The King of Fighters. Although they both sealed Orochi, the Kusanagi got more recognition and fame, which provoked the Yagami to cut a deal with Orochi for the ability to wield flames like the Kusanagi.
  • As a game revolving around playing feudal houses in space, Imperium Nova features a mechanic called feud score that regulates family feuds. Feud score is created through spying, attempted assassinations, military attacks, insults, and other hostile actions. Attacking another house without the proper feud causes you to become a renegade and, theoretically, an instant pariah.
  • The Goodsoups and the VanSalads in The Curse of Monkey Island were feuding families both in the hotel business, but the Vansalads were eventually driven out of the Carribean.
  • The Montys and the Capps in The Sims is based off the Montagues and the Capulets, the reason why they started the feud was due to the Monty Patriarch lost a promising job as an associate with the Capps.

Web Original

  • In The Gamers Alliance, the Jardines and Mathesons are two powerful noble families, each of which controls one big city. They hate each other's guts and are often literally at each other's throats if given time. This animosity goes so far that if one of them joins a large faction like the Grand Alliance, the other will automatically oppose the alliance even if it means siding with a faction they would normally consider their enemy.

Western Animation

  • The Zhang vs the Gan Jin from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Their animosity is played for laughs, and in the end they're tricked into making peace by Aang.
  • Make Mine Music, from the Disney Animated Canon, had a segment titled "The Martins and the Coys" which featured the popular radio vocal group, King's Men singing the story of a Hatfields and McCoys-style feud in the mountains broken up when two young people from each side fall in love. This segment was later cut from the film's video release due to comic gunplay.
  • The Flintstones episode "Bedrock Hillbillies" has Fred inheriting a shack in the mountains and getting caught up in a longstanding feud between his ancestors and the Hatrock clan.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Martin and Coy, in the Bugs Bunny cartoon Hillbilly Hare.
    • The McCoys and Weavers, in the 1938 short A Feud There Was.
    • The McCoys and Martins, in the 1939 short Naughty Neighbors. The feud is broken up by a "non-aggression pact" (an allusion to then-looming World War II) signed by the respective heads of the families (Porky and Petunia Pig).
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