|Scales of justice|
|Note: Varies by jurisdiction|
|Assassination · Child murder|
Contract killing · Felony murder rule
Honor killing · Human sacrifice
Lust murder · Lynching
Mass murder · Murder–suicide
Proxy murder · Lonely hearts killer
Serial killer · Spree killer
Torture murder · Feticide
Double murder · Misdemeanor murder
Crime of passion · Internet homicide
|in English law|
|Note: Varies by jurisdiction|
|By victim or victims|
|Familicide · Avunculicide|
Filicide is the deliberate act of a parent killing their own son or daughter. The word filicide derives from the Latin words filius meaning "son" or filia meaning daughter and the suffix -cide meaning to kill, murder, or cause death.
In some cultures, killing a daughter who is deemed to have disgraced the family is a common occurrence (see honor killing).
A 1999 US Department of Justice Study concluded that between 1976 and 1997 in the United States, mothers were responsible for a higher share of children killed during infancy while fathers were more likely to have been responsible for the murders of children age 8 or older. Furthermore, 52% of the children killed by their mothers were male (maternal filicide), while 57% of the children killed by their fathers were male (paternal filicide). 61% of children murdered under the age of five were murdered by their parents; filicide is the third leading cause of death amongst American children five to fourteen years old.
Sometimes, there is a combination of murder and suicide in filicide cases.
Known or suspected filicides
- Ivan IV of Russia (Ivan the Terrible) killed his son and heir to the throne.
- Peter the Great of Russia had his son tortured to death, being present at several of the torture sessions and allegedly participating in some of them.
- Josef and Magda Goebbels poisoned their six children near the close of the Battle of Berlin, before committing suicide.
- Ptolemy XII of Egypt had his daughter Berenice IV and her husband beheaded in 55 BC. This was after she had dethroned him and poisoned her sister, Cleopatra VI.
- Professional wrestler Chris Benoit killed his seven-year-old son Daniel, along with his wife and himself, on June 23, 2007.
- Motown singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye was shot to death by his father on April 1, 1984.
- Judith Barsi, the voice of Ducky in The Land Before Time, was shot to death by her father at the age of ten on July 25, 1988.
- Andrea Yates killed her five children on June 20, 2001.
Filicides in religion, myth and fiction
- In the Hebrew bible, Genesis 22:1-24 is a story in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah.
- In the book series Warriors, Yellowfang kills her son Brokentail. It was a mercy killing because Brokentail was blind and sustained very bad, permanent injuries. Yellowfang killed him with a heavy heart to end his suffering. Brokentail had also plotted with Tigerstar to lead a band of rogues to kill Bluestar.
- In the 2007 film Stephen King's The Mist, the main character, David Drayton, murders his son to save him being slaughtered by vicious creatures.
- In the PS2 God of War (video game) series, Kratos is tricked, by Ares, previous god of war, in the series, into killing his own child and his wife. Kratos decides to get back at Ares for doing so, as well as for what Ares did to Athens.
- In the PS2 sequel to God of War (video game), God of War II, Zeus kills Kratos, though the protagonist changes events in time and prevents this from happening, making it attempted filicide.
- Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare - Title character kills his daughter Lavinia. This is an attempt to restore her honor after she was raped, her hands were amputated, and her tongue cut out. Titus previously kills her attackers (then apparently puts pieces of the men's dead bodies into a pie that he serves their mother), marking this play as Shakespeare's most gruesome.
- La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) - This Hispanic American folktale tells of a woman, Maria, whose husband is unfaithful. In her rage, she throws their children into the river, where they are drowned.
- In the Medea of Euripides, Medea kills her children, in retaliation for being abandoned by her husband, Jason.
- In The Bacchae, also by Euripides, Agave kills her son Pentheus while possessed by Dionysus.
- Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter, Iphigeneia, to the goddess Artemis in Aeschylus' The Oresteia and in Euripides' Iphigeneia at Aulis.
- Orchamus, a king in Greek mythology ordered his daughter Leucothea buried alive upon learning that she was in love with Apollo.
- In the HBO series Oz, white supremacist Schillinger has his son killed by providing him with poisoned narcotics while he is in solitary confinement.
- In the video game Castlevania, a witch named Actrise relishes the memory of sacrificing her child to the Devil in return for eternal life.
- In the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, Cuchulainn unwittingly kills his son Conlaoch when Conlaoch arrives in Ulster and, under a geis from his mother, the warrior queen Aoife, refuses to give his name to the king. Cuchulainn recognizes his son by a golden ring only after he inflicts a mortal wound with his magical spear, the Gae Bolga.
- In the 1990 film The Grifters, con artist Lilly Dillon unintentionally kills her son while trying to take his money.
- In the 1987 novel Beloved by Toni Morrison and the 1999 film adaptation of the same name, Sethe murders her two-year-old daughter to save her from being returned to slavery.
- Hercules of Greek mythology killed his wife and children in a fit of rage induced by Hera
- In the Fox Network show Justice, a woman is tried and convicted of shooting her son, who threatened to reveal the mother's drug dealing business.
- In the Fox Network show 24, Graem Bauer (Paul McCrane) is killed by his father, Phillip Bauer (James Cromwell) before he can reveal Phillip's involvement in the nuclear attacks against America in Season 6.
- In the V.C. Andrews novel Flowers in the Attic, Corrine kills her young son Cory and then tries to kill her other children (including main character Cathy) with arsenic in order to get her parents' inheritance.
- The 2007 film Before the Devil Knows You're Dead ends with a scene in which the character played by Albert Finney smothers his son (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) with a pillow after Hoffman's character confesses that he was responsible for the botched robbery that resulted in his mother's death.
- In the story line of Alternative Rock band "Coheed and Cambria", Coheed is tricked into killing three of his children, Maria, Matthew, and Josephine. His son, Claudio, manages to escape.
- In the Death Note anime, Soichiro Yagami threatens to kill his son, Light, but the murder attempt was simply an act (using a revolver loaded with blanks) to determine whether or not Light was the notorious serial killer, "Kira".
- In the Family Guy episode, Lois Kills Stewie, Peter and Lois Griffin kill Stewie. Also, Peter kills Meg in a flashback cutaway, but this incident is non-canon.
- In the "evil" endings of The Suffering video games, Torque murders his two sons and wife.
- In William Styron's novel Sophie's Choice, the title character is ordered by a Nazi to choose between her two children, telling her that the one she chooses will live, the other will die.
- In the director's cut of the 2005 film Kingdom of Heaven, Sibylla of Jerusalem poisons her son Baldwin V to spare his suffering when he is diagnosed with leprosy.
- In Silent Hill: Homecoming, several cult members sacrifice their children. Also, in one of the endings, Alex Shepherd is murdered by his father.
- In Silent Hill 3, Harry Mason mentioned in one of his notes he left behind in Silent Hill that he considered killing his foster child Heather/Cheryl at one point in his life.
- In the Septimus Heap book series, the third book Physik has the character Queen Etheldredda who killed her own daughters so that she will have unparalleled control over the kingdom and no one can be her successor.
- In Kathryn Lasky's book series Guardians of Ga'Hoole, Nyra, evil queen of the Pure Ones, tries to kill her son Nyroc (later Coryn) after he left the Pure Ones. However, Nyra's close ally, the Striga, kills Coryn in book 15.
- Lucius Junius Brutus, one of the founders of the Roman republic, famously condemns his sons to death who were conspiring to overthrow the newly established order. See Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy, Book I, Chapter 16 and Book III, Chapter 3.
- In The events of Soul Calibur IV, Ivy was attack by Cervantes De Leon, who biologically is Ivy's father, Cervantes cosumed most of Ivy's soul and thought to have killed her. but Ivy used an artificial soul to save herself.
- In Horace Walpole's 1764 novel, The Castle of Otranto, the main protagonist Manfred, a usurping prince, murders his daughter Matilda.
- On the finale of the TV show Alias, CIA agent Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) is nearly killed by her mother and former KGB agent, Irina Derevko (Lena Olin) during a desperate fight on a Tokyo rooftop. Sydney kicks Irina onto a glass ceiling where she falls to her death.
- In the Bandai Namco series Tekken the character Heihachi Mishima attempted to kill his son, Kazuya Mishima, several times by throwing him off a mountain cliff at the age of five, and throwing him into a volcano years later. Heihachi also attempted to kill the protagonist, his grandson Jin Kazama, by shooting him, although he survived the gunshot.
- On the CBS TV Show Cold Case, there have been several episodes where Filicide has occurred.
- In Galerians, Dorothy kills any of her Galerian children who dare to defy her, with the most notable disobedient Galerian being the protagonist Rion.
- In Bayonetta, Balder, the last Lumen Sage attempts to sacrifice his daughter Cereza/Bayonetta to the goddess Jubileus.
- In Code Geass, Charles makes a last ditch attempt to strangle his son Lelouch after Lelouch used his geass to disentegrate him.
- In The Simpsons, Homer tries to strangle his son Bart, but this is mostly done in a humorous effect.
- In the Devil Summoner video games, Raidou Kuzunoha the 14th learns that the Tsukigata family sacrifices their daughters to the deformed Tento Lords in order to acquire more luck locusts.
- Prolicide is the killing of offspring.
- Infanticide is the killing of an infant from birth to 12 months.
- Patricide and matricide are the converse of filicide: the killing of a parent by his or her child.
- Fratricide and sororicide refer to the killing of one's sibling.
And as for non-familial killing terms from the same root:
- Regicide is the killing of a king or ruler.
- Tyrannicide is the killing of a tyrant.
- Homicide is the killing of a human.
- Genocide is the killing of an ethnic, religious or national group.
- Suicide is the killing of oneself.
- Deicide is the killing of a god.
- Uxoricide is the killing of one's wife.
- Friedman, S., H., M.D., Horwitz, S., M., Ph.D., and Resnick, P., J., M.D.. (2005). Child murder by mothers: A critical analysis of the current state of knowledge and a research agenda. Am J Psychiatry 162:1578-1587