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"How is it that the best parents always have the most dickass relatives?"

Everyone has an uncle who they're not allowed to go camping with. For some reason, the brother and occasionally sister of the hero's father has a tendency to be evil. No one is exactly sure why, given that the two were raised in the same environment and it can't be In the Blood. Maybe simply because of envy, and because the uncle will stand pretty high in the succession row.

The concept stems far back to the medieval days, where the firstborn son is the prince, the secondborn son is the "replacement" (effectively The Scrappy of the royal order) if the firstborn happens to die, and the thirdborn... well, he's sent off to the church. Naturally, the secondborn won't grow to like his position, in turn making this trope a corrupted version of Middle Child Syndrome - though in most media, there's only two brothers in the first place (probably because, for most of the past century, most middle-class American families have had only two children).

This has a tendency to escalate to Cain and Abel, in fact, it almost always does. If he is from a royal family, which he frequently is, he is The Evil Prince. In those cases, he is usually the younger brother, with no children at all, while his older brother usually has at least one. He will usually end up killing his brother, thus triggering the hero's quest for vengeance. He may try to kill the hero by giving him The Quest for an Impossible Task; this is usually unwise.

A female equivalent is likely to be the Wicked Stepmother; she is unable to inherit herself, but her children can. When your mom and dad are the problem, see Evil Matriarch and Archnemesis Dad.

Can overlap with Cool Uncle (see: Evil Is Cool), in this case, the uncle himself might be a Freudian Excuse for the Start of Darkness or Face Heel Turn. He rarely is a Creepy Uncle, though.

Examples of Evil Uncle include:


Anime and Manga Edit

  • Richard Hellsing (has anyone noticed the symbolism?), the younger brother of Arthur Hellsing in the eponymous anime and manga, has had his own plans about what to do after his brother's death, especially about his own niece. Unfortunately he didn't account for some tidbits of family history...
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Satoko's uncle Teppei physically abuses her in Tatarigoroshi-hen and Minagoroshi-hen. Her aunt, Tamae, wasn't very nice either.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni gives us Kasumi Sumadera the Evil Aunt who's out for revenge against her niece Ange.
  • V.V. of Code Geass is very much an Evil Uncle.
  • Rido from Vampire Knight.
  • Kemono no Souja Erin has Damiyah, who is quite charming when he isn't coldly threatening.
  • It's revealed that Thorkell, considered a lunatic Blood Knight by his fellow Vikings, is actually Thorfinn's great-uncle.
  • Yashamaru from Naruto, or so it seems. He was ordered to pretend to be evil.
  • Raditz, the first villain that appeared in Dragon Ball Z. When his brother Goku refuses to help him exterminate the natives of other planets, he kidnaps Gohan, intending to use him as leverage over Goku and / or raise him to be a villain himself. Being the Starter Villain, he doesn't get that far.
  • While not the hero's Uncle, Joseph Gaul from Familiar of Zero is the uncle to a character named Tabitha. He has done some pretty bad things.

Comic Books Edit

  • In a short-lived '80s reboot Shazam! The New Beginning, Billy "Captain Marvel" Batson's arch-nemesis Doctor Sivana was revealed to be his step-uncle. This was undone a few years later. Note that back in The Golden Age of Comic Books, Billy already had an Evil Uncle, Ebenezer Batson, who kicked him out on the streets after his parents died; Uncle Ebe was restored in the '90s Re Boot that set the current canon.
  • In X-Men: The Hidden Years, a series that chronicled early, apocryphal adventures of the original team of X-Men, Angel's uncle is revealed as an anti-mutant bigot who hates himself for not killing Angel when he was a child.
    • Even originally, Angel's uncle Burt was a supervillain responsible for the deaths of both his parents on separate occasions.
  • Scrooge McDuck, of all people (ducks), have occasionally bordered on this trope, especially in Italian comics. While not actively malicious -- most of the time -- he thinks nothing of exploiting and downright abusing his relatives, using various threats such as removing them from his will, evicting them from their homes or even heaps of physical violence in order to get them to work for him for one-tenth minimum wage. In addition, he uses any trick or excuse to avoid having to pay them at all, and interestingly enough he almost always gets away with it.
  • Gar "Beast Boy" Logan was handed over to his uncle, Nicholas Galtry. Galtry was a vicious jerk who made it no secret that he was just after the money Gar's parents left for his care. The kid ran away and found Doom Patrol, and the Patrol had no problem telling the guy to pick on someone his own size and power level...
  • Darkseid's uncle Steppenwolf is pretty evil and he wasn't too thrilled about Darkseid's rise to power (not out of ambition but simply because he didn't like the idea of anyone being able to take anything from him), but Darkseid is worse. Much, much worse.
  • Swamp Thing's archenemy Anton Arcane more than fulfills this role towards his niece Abby.

Film Edit

  • Scar from The Lion King. He had no official children, but he did choose his successor: Kovu.
  • Hades from Disney's Hercules. The movie never mentions it, but Hades is technically Zeus' brother (Hell, most of the Greek gods are related), so he's Hercules' uncle and MAN, he's evil. He tries to usurp his brother Zeus, tries to kill Hercules lots of times, enslaves demons and mortals, and plans to rearrange the cosmos upon taking control of Olympus.
  • Sir Edgar from The Film of the Book Ella Enchanted.
  • Uncle Charlie from the film Shadow of a Doubt is one of the first major examples of a psychopath in cinema and a very creepy and Evil Uncle.
  • The Grand Duke from Rock-a-Doodle is an evil uncle to comic relief villain (and arguable scrappy) Hunch.
  • In Stardust, The Reveal is that the scheming and fratricidal Seven Princes of Stormhold were actually Tristan's uncles. They're not the primary villains, though. This is more obvious in The Film of the Book.
  • There's the obligatory Evil Uncle in Strange Brew, but that's really just because it's a humorous retelling of Hamlet.
  • In The Librarian 2, Flynn's Uncle Jerry is a lovely man who Flynn idolised growing up until The Reveal when he becomes a Smug Snake out for revenge and is revealed to have killed Flynn's father.
  • Frank from Hellraiser. First, he has an affair with Kristy's stepmother, making Kristy's father's marriage an unhappy one. Later, he causes the horrible death of Kristy's father. Not to mention that it's shown that the novelty of doing it with the stepmother had worn off for him... and he's shown to take very well to the idea of turning his attentions to Kirsty. Numerous times, he's shown trying to rape her, including a scene where they kiss.
  • Dastan's uncle in the Prince of Persia the Sands of Time movie. His ultimate goal is to turn back time so that he can let his brother die as a teenager and reign in his stead.
  • Uncle Sam, of course.
  • Michael Myers from the Halloween series tries to kill his niece Jamie in the 4th and 5th movie, and his nephew John in H20.
  • Jason Voorhees is upgraded into one in Friday the 13th (film): The Final Friday as he suddenly has more relatives and has to possess one them to return back to life properly. Oddly, when given the chance he ignores his niece and tries possess his grand-niece instead.
  • The Fallen is this to Opimus Prime in the second Transformers movie, although there might be a few greats in there, how many generations separate the two isn't made clear.

Folklore Edit

  • Hades as portrayed in the actual myths is gloomy and dark, but happy with Erebus, and he never had any problem with Herakles borrowing Cerberus for a little while. But he did abduct his niece and force her to marry him.
  • Older Than Dirt: Set, the Egyptian god of chaos, violence, and the desert, murdered his brother Osiris and usurped his kingdom. Then afterwards, Osiris's sister/wife Isis had to hide their infant son Horus from Set. When Horus gew up, Set refused to return the kingdom to Horus, leading to a long fight between them.
  • In Hindu Lore, the Avatar Krishna's uncle Kamsa was a kind fellow who loved his sister until he heard a prophecy stating that his nephew would overthrow him. This made him go berserk, imprisoning his sister and killing her nine children in succession as soon as they were born. Needless to say, the tenth child escaped and kicked his ass after he grew up.

Literature Edit

  • Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia from Harry Potter. Harry's bedroom for the first ten years of his life was the cupboard under the hall stairs. They were child abuse incarnate.
  • Subverted in Tom's Midnight Garden, with the Kitsons. Tom is bored and miserable, at first, when he must stay with his aunt and uncle, and he wishes they were evil so he could be justified in running away. The same book features an Evil Aunt in Grace Melbourne, who terrorizes and emotionally abuses her niece, calling her a monster and a charity-child.
  • Played horiffically straight in Sophia House, by Michael D. O'Brien. Great-Uncle Nicholas is a pedophile, who molests his six-year-old great-nephew, the protagonist. Also, a Creepy Uncle.
  • Miss Honey's aunt Trunchbull in Matilda, who not only abused her throughout her childhood, but also allegedly killed her father, Magnus.
  • Jason Compson from The Sound and The Fury. He is cruel to his niece Quentin (as well as to almost everyone else) and he has been stealing the money her banished, suffering, hard-working mother Caddy sent for her, without having even the excuse of being poor.
  • Miraz from Prince Caspian, and Digory's Uncle Andrew in The Magician's Nephew. Andrew gets slightly better, Miraz doesn't and dies Miraz only becomes one once he has his own son, though. Before that he was happy for Caspian to be his heir.
  • Duke Roger from the Song of the Lioness tetralogy, of the Cool Uncle variety.
  • In Stardust, The Reveal is that the scheming and fratricidal Seven Princes of Stormhold were actually Tristran's uncles. Although they're not the primary villains.
  • Wienis from Foundation.
  • Sometimes played straight, but more often subverted, in A Song of Ice and Fire, particularly in the case of King Joffrey. As far as most of the Seven Kingdoms are aware, Joffrey has a whole parade of Evil Uncles, including the usurping Stannis Baratheon, the "twisted little monkey demon" Tyrion Lannister who is eventually convicted of Joffrey's murder, and the bloodthirsty Jaime Lannister. The subversion is that none of them are actually evil uncles Stannis isn't really Joffrey's uncle since Joffrey wasn't fathered by Robert, Tyrion actually cares for his nephew, and Jaime is actually Joffrey's father. And while none of the three are saints, Joffrey is much more evil than all of them put together.
  • The Babes In The Wood were exposed in the forest by their evil uncle, and died there.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel First & Only, Gaunt's "Uncle Dercius" is not a real uncle, and does his best to look out for Gaunt. However, in the end, this was because Gaunt's father had died because of Dercius's cowardly flight from battle.
  • Tenris in The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness.
  • In the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, the Right Honorable Order of Wicked Step-mothers has a male auxiliary for Evil Uncles.
    • The one who appears in person is Prince Rupert of Meriambee, a Card-Carrying Villain who's really quite fond of his nephew Prince Jorillam but has to do something wicked to keep his membership in the Wicked Stepmothers' Travelling, Drinking and Debating Society (Men's Auxiliary). (Jorillam, by the way, knows all about this and constantly encourages his uncle to abandon him in the forest so he can have adventures.) So the solution is: abandoning him in the woods is not wicked, because he wants it. Send him to school instead!
  • Cutter Amberville in I'll Take Manhattan, who is really pissed off because he wasn't born first compared to his "perfect" brother. Thus, he proceeds to knock up his brother's wife, molest his niece a little, cheat on his own wife with her sister (causing her to kill herself), and that's what he gets up to before he starts re-enacting Hamlet.
  • In James Thurber's The 13 Clocks, the duke sets Impossible Tasks to the princes who want to marry his niece and kills many of them.
  • Jasper in Charles Dickens' unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood, who is the murderer, according to reports from Dickens' friends and relatives.
  • The uncle of Uhtred in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon novels stole his title and fortress.
  • In Lewis Carroll's Sylvie and Bruno, the Sub-Warden, Sibimet.
  • Inverted in Fate/Zero, where Sakura's adoptive uncle Kariya sacrifices his life in an attempt to save her from her adoptive father and grandfather.
  • J. Sheridan le Fanu's Uncle Silas.
  • Red's Uncle Richard in Juliet Marillier's Daughter of the Forest. He's so determined to get his hands on Red's land by marrying him to his daughter that he tries to murder his younger nephew, whom his daughter actually loves, then tries to murder the heroine when she foils his plans by marrying Red.
  • Laharl’s aunt Yasurl from the Disgaea novels wants him of the throne because he is half human. If Laharl don’t step down she would prefer him dead, so she tries to have him assassinated.
  • Thantos and Fredo DuBaer of Twitches. Fredo kills his brother Aron, who is father to the protagonists of the series, Alex and Cam. Thantos tries killing his nieces multiple times, and tries to marry their mother. In the movies (TV movies on the Disney Channel), there is no Fredo, it is Thantos who kills Aron, along with trying to kill Alex and Cam.
  • Goosefeather in Warrior Cats. Apparently. The whole scene was somewhat of a Mind Screw.
  • Judith's uncle Robert de Belleme from The Wild Hunt Trilogy.
  • Marina's aunt Arachne in The Gates of Sleep by Mercedes Lackey.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere an Autumn Tale, Lucian and Catarina's Backstory revolves about this.

Live Action TV Edit

  "You can't choose your family, Lothor, and I didn't choose you."

  • Zor-El in Smallville
  • Chuck's uncle Jack on Gossip Girl is definitely evil. He doesn't particularly mind if his seventeen year-old, newly orphaned nephew falls off the rooftop of a building and he delights in ruining said nephew's life a year later. He's even called Evil Uncle Jack by fans.
  • The Nennog of Maddigans Quest was this to Timon, Eden and Jewel; it's made clear from the start he wants them dead. Well, Eden and Jewel, at least...
  • The Tales from the Crypt episode "Fitting Punishment" centres around a homeless, orphaned teenager being sent to live with his miserly uncle. The uncle treats him as slave labour, cripples him for life during a beating, and then murders him after deciding that the boy is costing him too much money. Eventually the boy returns as a zombie and beats his uncle to death.
  • Count Federico, in the Doctor Who serial The Masque of Mandragora.
  • As of Season 4, Prince Arthur from Merlin has his uncle Agravaine, who's secretly working with Morgana.
  • The second-chance shelter cook was this in the NCIS episode "Restless." For starters, he took custody of his niece after her parents were killed in a car crash
  • Justin Morningway from The Dresden Files.

Music Edit

  • There is a German band known as Boehse Onkelz, which translates as... well, you know.
  • The Who's Tommy's Evil Uncle Ernie. When Tommy is ten, his evil Uncle Ernie molests him. When Tommy "wakes up" from his blind, deaf, mute coma-like trance when he's about 18 or 21, Uncle Ernie exploits the "miracle". Then when Tommy becomes a famous pinball player, Uncle Ernie exploits not only Tommy, but his fans, as well.

Tabletop Games Edit

Theater Edit

  • Creon from Antigone is a subversion, assuming it doesn't count as an Unbuilt Trope. He's certainly against Antigone, but neither of them are at all evil, simply torn between their obligations and loyalties.
  • In the Broadway musical, The Lion King's Scar believes that having heirs will make him feel complete as a king. It is in fact his guilty conscience about killing his own brother and exiling his nephew that makes him feel empty, but that doesn't stop him from hitting on Nala.
  • Claudius from Hamlet.
  • A rare evil aunt: Ursula from The Little Mermaid. This connection was cut from the movie, but it was restored for the Broadway musical.
  • Aegisthus of Electra probably counts, being a close cousin who became Electra's step-father after murdering her dad and marrying her mom. He also plans to seal her up in a cave.

Video Games Edit

  • Another evil aunt: Morgan Fey in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.
  • Lord Lundgren, younger brother of Lyndis's grandfather in Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken.
    • Radiant Dawn manages to subvert this with Queen Elincia's uncle, Lord Renning. He cares deeply for her, and wants her to take the throne.
    • In Seisen no Keifu, Levin has two of these to contend with, Maios and Daccar. Later on Blume is this to Tinny (though he isn't as cruel to her as Hilda was), and if you pair Lex and Azel with anyone, Danan and Alvis become Evil Uncles to their children.
  • Wilfred Hermeien. He is Marina's brother, making him Irina and Rush's uncle, who's willing to use Irina's power to control the Remnants of the world. Bonus points for seriously threatening to feed her to his pet Harpylia at one point, and pulling a knife on her at another.
  • X Wing Alliance, Ace's uncle Antan sides with the Empire.
  • Lara Croft gets one in Rise of the Tomb Raider. He attempts to steal Lara's inheritance out from under her, which sends her on a quest to find proof she's the legitimate heir.

Web Comics Edit

Web Original Edit

Fan Fiction Edit

  • Tabitha's uncle in Points of Familiarity keeps sending her on impossible missions to get her killed. She insists on not only surviving, but successfully completing them.
  • Some fanfics of Avatar: The Last Airbender suggest that Ozai might have had something to do with his nephew Lu Ten's death.

Western Animation Edit

  • Inverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender, where Zuko's father is the evil, younger brother who stole the throne, while his uncle is a genuinely nice, caring person. Zuko himself said his uncle was more of a father figure to him when he was Calling the Old Man Out.
  • This is however played straight with Korra's uncle Unalaq, chieftain of the Northern Water Tribe in The Legend of Korra.
  • The Shadow Master from the Double Dragon TV series. In one episode, Mrs. Lee, the mother of Billy and Jimmy makes an appearance. She reveals that not only is she their mother, but the main villain, the Shadow Master is none other than her brother, making him the twins' uncle.
  • Limburger from Biker Mice From Mars, although his nephew Marshall is even worse.
  • A reference in the tie-in comics indicate that Skeletor is actually King Randor's long-lost brother Keldor. This would make him Prince Adam/He-Man's uncle.
  • Cody's uncle from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward.
  • Hex in Ben 10 to his Dark Magical Girl niece Charmcaster.
  • In Batman the Brave And The Bold, Aquaman's first episode features his brother, who despite having rebelled against him in the past, is accepted back some years later. He immediately tries to usurp Aquaman's crown again.
  • Yet another Evil Aunt--Aunt Figg, from Tom and Jerry: The Movie.
  • In the animated "Fatman" segments of the Weird Al Show, Fatman had an Evil Uncle Frank who was intended to be a recurring villain.

Real Life Edit

  • Richard III deposed his underage nephew, Edward V, and had both him and his younger brother sent to the Tower of London where they later disappeared. Neither boy was ever seen again after 1483, the year that Richard brought them to the Tower. Wikipedia has a pretty balanced article on the Princes in the Tower here.
    • There's a lot of doubt about this version of history, as the Tudor era that came after Richard III was rife with propaganda that was meant to make Henry VII, who usurped Richard III as king, seem justified in doing it.
  • If Shakespeare's histories are to be believed, then the WHOLE of the Plantagenet dynasty was riddled with these, from John Lackland onward. It was worse because of "legitimacy"--uncles with a legitimate claim to the throne could claim that their equally-legitimate nephews illegitimate and attempt to take the throne. King John did just that with his nephew, Arthur...and killed the boy to boot.
  • The laws of primogeniture naturally pit uncle against nephew: power-- the estate, Crown, and/or money-- starts with the Eldest Son, then passes to his sons, then (if that son dies), reverts to the uncle of said youngster, the original younger brother. This happened with alarming frequency during the early Middle Ages, e.g. when the Merovingian king Chlothar had his young nephews murdered for a bigger piece of the pie. No wonder it has served as a theme for everyone from Shakespeare to Disney. To paraphrase the Discworld, Why do so many writers utilize this trope? Because those writers are very observant people.
  • The traditional Slavic system of the brother being higher in a succession than the son brought arguably even more war and violence than primogeniture, and is widely regarded as a main reason of various Russian principalities loss to the Mongols. Russian princes, who were all related, created a maddeningly complex pattern of successions and usurpations, and warred between themselves incessantly. In the result, their bitterness towards each other prevented them from creating a united front for the defence and led to the Mongols picking them one-by-one.
    • Even if there isn't the question of war and violence right away, the aforementioned system has another problem: very old Crown Princes. Saudi Arabia uses a similar system now, and the picture for the next decade or so isn't pretty: King Abdullah is 87 and having health problems; the Crown Prince, Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, is 83, has even worse problems; and the next two in line, Nayef bin Abdul Aziz and Salman bin Abdul Aziz, are 76 and 71, respectively, and while fairly energetic for their age...well, let's just say that "for their age" is a dangerous enough qualifier. Observers say that it is quite possible that this will lead to a fair amount of Cain and Abel among the next generation of the Al Saud, once their fathers' generation is all dead or incapacitated. (Talk about Royally Screwed-Up!)
  • Non-royal, genderflipped example: Maria del Pilar Pérez alias "Quintrala", a Chilean architect who was so utterly bitter because her brother-in-law administrated the family business and not her, that she ended up terrorising her own family via bullying, intimidation, shady businesses... and murders: her gay ex-husband and his boyfriend were killed mysteriously, then her niece's boyfriend was shot dead by a hit man that she hired to scare him and the girl off. The trial has been quite the sensation in Chilean media, which is following every single step of it.
  • Some years ago, a Reader's Digest article on children being sold into sexual slavery mentioned a girl whose own uncle sold her (She was eventually rescued, but was HIV-positive by then).
  • Tiberius, second Emperor of Rome, was certainly an Evil Uncle, although his backstabbing had a different goal. He was already Emperor when he (allegedly) arranged a mysterious death for his nephew Germanicus. Germanicus was immensely popular with the common people and the army, and the only real potential threat to Tiberius's rule, so it was less about killing his way to the top and more about consolidating his power. His big mistake, however, was taking in Germanicus's young son and teaching him everything he knew about evil. The boy, Caligula, learned a little too well, and Tiberius had himself a mysterious death right about the time his nephew was old enough to rule...