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Tropes and genres
Synonym(s)cest, 'cest, -cest
Related tropes/genresPseudo-Incest, Raised Apart
See alsotwincest, daddykink, kink, squick, fakecest
Related articles on Fanlore.

This article is about the fictional depiction of sexual activity between two or more characters who are closely related by kinship.

The exact degree of relation required for a work to be labeled incest (by the creator or by others) is a matter of debate - some use legal standards from their local area; some use specific degrees of blood relation (in which case, step-sibling sex would not be considered incestuous); some use religious or other social community standards.

An incest ship has all the emotional history of a friends-to-lovers ship, but all the turmoil and angst of an enemies-to-lovers ship.


Prevalence in Fandom

In some fandoms, incest fic involving a specific pair of characters is relatively common. In Supernatural, many stories are written about the brothers Sam and Dean; some stories include one or both men and their father. In Harry Potter, stories about sexual relations between the Weasley twins are very common, and sometimes tolerated even by people who refuse to read any other incest fic. Stories about Draco and Lucius Malfoy or the Black family are also fairly common. In the Wizards of Waverly Place fandom, the largest ship by far is between brother and sister Justin and Alex Russo. In the late 80s–early 90s, Simon & Simon slash between the two Simon brothers was not uncommon, though fairly stigmatized at the time. In the late 1990s Kung Fu: The Legend Continues had a mailing list dedicated to the intergenerational father/son incest pairing of the fandom, i.e. Peter/Pop slash.

Incest is also common in some RPF fandoms. Lord of the Rings actor Elijah Wood is sometimes paired with his sister Hannah, and Gerard Way/Mikey Way is one of the most popular My Chemical Romance pairings.

In slash fiction, these stories are more likely to explore concepts of devotion and family solidarity than the power-imbalance focus in many non-fannish incest kink stories.


  • Brothercest or brotherslash for the incestuous relationship between brothers.
  • Daddycest for the incestuous relationship between a character and their father.
  • Siblingcest or sibcest for the incestuous relationship between any siblings.
  • Twincest is the incestuous relationship between twins.
  • Wincest is another term for incest or twincest, e.g. "incest is wincest" (to describe something as "win" is to call it a good thing). It is also a term for an incestuous relationship between the Winchester brothers in Supernatural fandom.
  • Clonecest or selfcest (more extensively described on the doppelganger page) is used for literal clones or for characters multiplied via alternate universes, time travel, magic, replication superpowers, etc. Also used in some fandoms for crossovers pairing characters played by the same actor.

To name pairings, "cest" can be added to the end of the characters' last name, or a shortened form of their last name, e.g. Winchester becomes Wincest, Uchiha becomes Uchihacest, Petrelli becomes Petrellicest, Tam becomes Tamcest, and so forth. The "cest" ending can be added to a number of words to show an incestuous scenario or kink, as noted in the terms listed above. For example, selfcest being a pairing in which the character is paired with themself rather than being about actual incest.

Fandoms with significant incest pairings

Any fandom can have a one-off story. These are sources where one or more incest pairings are common in stories/vids/art of the fandom. In a few cases the information below is a spoiler for the original source material.


Sam and Dean from Supernatural are brothers and their love is the ultimate forbidden fruit, which makes them the biggest incest pairing in western media fandom (cover of the S/D doujinshi Sodom)

Avunculate relationship



See the list of twincest pairings in the twincest article.

Examples in fanworks


As incest has been a powerful taboo in most societies throughout most of history (although societies have varied in their definition of kinship), controversy is bound to arise over the fictional depiction of incest in fanworks.

Many fans refuse to read any of it, and believe all of it is sick and wrong.[2] Others see incest fiction as normalizing abuse and sexual assault and believe that repeated exposure to the genre and its greater acceptance in fandom creates an atmosphere where the abuse becomes tolerated in real life.[3] Still, some objectors are willing to allow themes of incest within fandom providing they are not written to satisfy kink and do not whitewash abuse.[4]

However, this seems to be much more restricted to focused relationships between siblings and parents/children, as in some countries, such as Brazil, real relationships between cousins ​​or uncles/nephews are relatively common. Because of this, many pairings seen as incestuous in certain countries may not have the same connotation in Brazil. However, even with this similarity between fiction and reality, not every Brazilian fan openly declares that they have read or written incestfic, due to its taboo.

Same vs. Cross-Generation

Others can accept incest fic among peers (siblings, esp. adult siblings) but not cross-generational incest such as parent/child:

I would like to state that I am a fan of incest pairings, and a fan of Gerard/Mikey in general. ... But my interest lies solely in fics featuring explicit consent and mutual desire.

I also believe that abuse, pedophilia, rape, and assault are all valid fictional topics, but they must be framed in an examining, empowering, or at the very least artistic context. This fic does none of those things, and I will allow for the possibility that the author intended for those things to be included, but personally I don't see a single shred of it.[5]


Incest is one of the most controversial topics in fanfic, especially in RPF.

Did I mention that I draw the line at RPS twincest? Actually, not only do I draw the line but, like Harold with his Purple Crayon, the line itself becomes a fucking huge wall that's got a door and the door has got a couple of thousand heavy duty locks on it. Like, remember the wall with the door that kept King Kong out on Skull Island? That one, but twice as tall and reinforced with a great, big NO on it.[6]

Slash vs. Het

There is a common perception in many fandoms that slash incest pairings are much more acceptable than heterosexual ones. Complaints and discussions of this pattern regularly turn up in anonymous forums like LOL meme and fandomsecrets. This same pattern has been observed outside of fandom as well.

In kangeiko's 2006 meta on fandom incest, they theorized that the popularity of m/m incest in comparison to m/f incest could be related to the prevalence of female writers in fandom:

Because the use of female characters in an incest fic would make the relationship uncomfortably close to what the writer herself understands.[7]

Kangeiko also highlighted the use of outsider POV and the prevalence of male character POV in m/f incest, while f/f incest is extremely rare in fandom.

This article or section needs expansion.

Could use examples/links.

Incest and antis

With the rise of antis and antishipping culture, claims of incest are often treated as a trump card against certain hated ships in shipwars, even when the characters aren't related in canon. Some examples include the arguments over Rey's parentage after Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out, antis' insistence on Shiro and Keith being brothers, or the backlash against Thorki after Thor: Ragnarok for being pseudo-incest.

In the Jonsa vs Jonerys ship war, in which both pairings share a blood kinship of a comparable degree (first cousins vs. aunt/nephew), objections raised against either ship tend to be more complex. For example, Jonerys shippers sometimes point out how Jon and Sansa grew up believing they were half-siblings, arguing that this makes the Jonsa pairing both sibling incest and cousin incest. Conversely, Jonsa shippers sometimes argue that Daenerys and Jon actually have a higher degree of consanguinity than the average aunt and nephew, since both were born into a dynasty that has traditionally practiced sibling marriage.

Why Incest?

What's the appeal? Why do fans read/write/draw/vid/etc. incestuous pairings? Sometimes it's because of the taboo, sometimes it's in spite of it, and sometimes the taboo is irrelevant.

There are many fans for whom incest pairings have a special appeal. Sistermagpie says about the attraction of brother/sister incest for her:

It's not about abuse it's about...finding your other half, I suppose. The yin-yang, the reciprocal self, the male version of the female self (I've not much thought about it from the other way round...I always made the girl the rescuer, I think). Unlike parent/child incest, it's not about power because the whole point is that the two people are completely evenly matched. They need each other.

Sistermagpie, 2004. [8]

Jana summed up an explanation of the historical and cultural taboos against incest by stating:

the point is incest is only stigmatized because it's a subversion of our neat, concise categories, the nice little boxes we put everyone and everything in. most people that enjoy hancest enjoy it because of the taboo aspect, though. which is absolutely fine. it becomes a sort of kink, if you will. i can get into that, too.

Jana, 2005.[9]

Explanations or justifications for including incest in a story can include:

  1. "No matter whether their canonical relationship is brotherly, these characters/actors are way hot and I want to envision them getting together!"
  2. "Those guys are showing some major subtext between them! They practically beg to be slashed!" (and given that slashy friends often say they love each other "like a brother" the conflation of family intimacy and sexual intimacy as types of emotional intimacy is a common cultural concept)
  3. "I've got a brocest kink already, and these guys give me a great excuse to air it out!"[10]
  4. "These characters' lives are already so fucked up, incest is a 'natural' continuation of this dysfunction (and perhaps, paradoxically, the least dysfunctional part of their lives.)" For example:
  5. Here's the other thing about Sam and Dean, the reason I think it's believable.

    They don't have a normal sibling relationship. They, themselves, are both completely dysfunctional in so many ways [...]. I think they're both tremendously lonely, and here's the thing - they're totally fucking codependent. [...]

    So - basically, neither of them can have romantic relationships with other people, they've been wrapped up in the other their entire lives, and they both are kind of in desperate need of someone to really love them openly and completely and without reservations.

    setissima, 2007[11]

  6. "It's inappropriate and that makes it more interesting." For example:
  7. "After much introspection (because I genuinely wanted to know), I realised that the reason I am interested in siblings sexxing one another in fiction is BECAUSE it is inappropriate. Because the other pairings I am interested in are for example superior officer/whatever officer (eg Lee/Kara), or Very Rich Person/Not So Influential Person (eg Lex/Chloe). It's that power play, that sense of "uh, we probably shouldn't be doing this" that often interests me. I'm not interested when it is unwilling or forced, but when it is is that delicate balance of power play and "in this situation, am I completely autonomous?" and all that, then I am really interested in a story and its characters.

    bantha-fodder, 2005[12]

  8. "It's beautiful that they love each other so much to break the taboo."
"What I like in incestual, and pseudo-incestual, pairings, is a feeling of safety. That they come from the same place and maybe are the only people who can understand each other. That they have always been together and always will be. I also melt at the idea of somebody being so in love that they would break the taboo — a la the Duncan/Veronica fakeout. Other people find it creepy that he would sleep with her when he thought she was his sister, but I found it kind of awesome that he was into her enough to ignore society's reasons not to. Which is all ignoring the whole "he was drugged" issue, but yeah.

hobviously, 2005[13]

Fans also may write incest pairings even though incest itself is not among their kinks:

What that means is, the sibling incest angle is neither a squick nor part of the attraction for me. It's a fact of that particular slash pairing that I have to deal with as a writer the same way I have to deal with them being two basically straight guys (as depicted on my television). It makes the pairing interesting for me in pretty much the same way that taking two basically straight guys and getting them together in a sexual/emotional relationship makes slash interesting to me. But I'd still be writing Sam/Dean slash if one of them were adopted or something, or if they were second cousins, or whatever. Incest is a factor; but it's not the defining factor for me.

Merryish, 2007[14]

A popular and memorable quote by peripheralsight summarized the thinking that fans were drawn into incest ships simply because that's what they were given by canon:

A wise friend of mine once said that the new trend of trying to defuse the homoerotic tension of the buddy genre by making the buddies brothers only leads the fangirls on to greater sins.

peripheralsight, 2007[15]

Evolution in fannish works that include incest

Some fans argue that as incest pairings have become more common in fanworks, that the way 'cest pairings are being written has changed. For example, in a 2010 dreamwidth comment, Zvi said, "cheery, uncomplicated, happily ever incest ... is new and strange."[16] Initially most or all 'cest stories made at least a nod to the fact that they were doing something considered wrong by society. More recently, though there are still plenty of angsty 'cest stories, many stories ignore incest issues altogether -- somewhat like historical aus that allow same-sex marriage with no one blinking an eye.

Incest in Alternate Universes

Some fans do write AUs where the incestuous pairings are not related. This is a sub-genre in Supernatural.

Less common is the AU that takes an unrelated couple and turns them into an incestuous pairing.[17] This is sometimes used for some ambiguously incestuous characters such as the Batfamily in DC Comics, where an AU might change it so characters were more closely raised together.

Season ten of Smallville introduced a canon AU where Clark Kent had been raised a Luthor and was sleeping with his sister Tess. However, fans had already been writing Clark/Lex Luthorcest AUs since a season two storyline that revealed Lionel's part in the Kents' adoption of Clark.

Canonical incest in Western fandoms

Some, usually minor, fannish sources feature canonical incest. Flowers in the Attic is probably the most mainstream example of incest between two biologically related siblings who were raised together. Another is Wiseguy: Mel and Susan Profitt, a brother and sister raised together, have a clearly implied relationship in canon which is later made more explicit when another character, referring to Susan's pregnancy, notes that the baby could very well be Mel's. In Blades of Glory, US figure skating pairs team of brother and sister Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg share an off-rink intimacy that lends a certain piquancy to their routines.

A tragic intra-generational incestuous relationship, fatal for both siblings involved, is told by J.R.R. Tolkien in The Children of Húrin, where the wedded couple Turin and Nienor turn out to be brother and sister. Both commit suicide. It is set in the Middle Earth universe.

George R.R. Martin's fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire and the TV show based on the books, Game of Thrones, includes brother-sister incest between Jaime and Cersei Lannister which results in three children who are believed to be children of (and thus heirs to) Cersei's husband, King Robert.

Robert A. Heinlein's World As Myth universe incorporated incest in several stories, both between siblings and between parent/child, particularly in the novel Time Enough for Love. In this universe, as long as the threat of a bad combination of recessive genes is averted, there's no incest taboo.

Sometimes the interaction between two characters in canon reads to the fans like romantic or sexual chemistry, but then TPTB reveal that the two characters are actually related, retconning the pairing to be incestuous. For instance, part of the plot of Veronica Mars, season 1, involves Veronica discovering that her ex-boyfriend Duncan may actually be her half-brother, causing Veronica to fear that she has unwittingly been in an incestuous relationship. Luckily, this turned out to be fakecest.

Similarly, in Heroes, several episodes after Peter and Claire met, viewers learned that he was actually her uncle. Rather than let their pairing be jossed, some fans continued to ship Peter/Claire anyway.

Star Wars is another well-known example: Leia kisses Luke on the cheek in Star Wars: A New Hope, on the mouth in The Empire Strikes Back, and is revealed to be his secret long-lost twin in Return of the Jedi, thus turning Luke/Leia into a rare het twincest pairing. Published in March of 1978, the first Star Wars tie-in novel, "Splinter of the Mind's Eye" by Alan Dean Foster, features several scenes with explicit sexual tension between Luke and Leia. [18]

Another canon pairing came to light in Marvel Comics' The Ultimates, written by Jeph Loeb. Previously, Wanda and Pietro's relationship had been a matter of subtext, but in issue #1 of the third Ultimates series, they were revealed to have had a canonical twincest relationship. [19]

Finally, stories that feature time travel may play parent-child attraction for laughs and/or shock value, such as in Back to the Future or Futurama.

Canonical incest in manga/anime fandoms

Incest or near-incest is a common theme in many manga and anime. Revolutionary Girl Utena features heterosexual sibling incest; in Ceres: Celestial Legend, a brother and sister are possessed by the spirits of dead lovers; in Neon Genesis Evangelion, a teenage boy obsesses over a clone of his mother; Saiyuki features several heterosexual incest pairings, including a twin brother and sister as well as a mother and son; and then there's Marmalade Boy, about two couples who decide to get divorced, swap partners, and re-marry, turning their children (one couple has a teenage boy, the other has a teenage girl) into double-step-siblings. Hijinks ensue.

The 2001 manga Koi Kaze features an incestuous romance between long-lost siblings. This is a much more dramatic take on the trope, with both parties dealing with the guilt over their feelings for each other and even considering committing suicide together. They choose to live, however, and stay together.

Incestuous romantic comedies have become more popular in recent years, examples being "Oreimo" and "I Don't Like You At All, Big Brother!!". These are less well-received, due to the overly comedic, sexualized, shallow portrayal of such risky relationships.

Canonical ambiguously incestuous pairings

Though the definition of "incest" at first seems quite clear and unambiguous, different cultures and time periods have radically different definitions for it, and the legal definition may differ from how people generally use the word in daily life. Moreover, some relationships may be seen as having incestuous overtones without involving incest in a literal sense. Examples of relationships that are often perceived differently in different contexts include those between first cousins, more distant cousins, relatives by marriage, and people with a foster or adoptive relationship. See: Pseudo-incest.

Many pairings within the Batman comics universe fall under this umbrella; pairings between characters who are not related and were not raised together may still be labeled "Batcest" if they are part of the "Batfamily" centered around Bruce Wayne, including relationships between the various characters who have been Batman, Robin, or Batgirl. The Killing Joke animated film was controversial for its decision to portray a canon Barbara Gordon/Bruce Wayne relationship. "Robincest" is the term for shipping Robins with each other.

Similarly, in The Royal Tenenbaums, two siblings who are only related by adoption have what is technically an incestuous relationship. In Lost, step-siblings Shannon Rutherford and Boone Carlyle appeared to have a tension-filled, typically bickering sibling relationship; it was later discovered that they had engaged in an intimate relationship at least once, and (it seemed implied) probably more than once.[20]

A sexual attraction between step-siblings Greg and Marcia is played for laughs in the Brady Bunch movie A Very Brady Sequel.

British fandoms, especially if they are historical, may feature relationships between cousins, which to American fans can seem incestuous. For instance, in The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer, the romantic hero and heroine are first cousins.

Step-siblings or adopted siblings falling in love is a fairly common plot device in anime and manga as well.

In the Darkover novels by Marion Zimmer Bradley sworn friends refer to each other as brother and sister ("bredu" and "breda") and the main affectionate term used by same-sex lovers is an especially intimate inflection of the same word ("bredhyu" and "bredhya").

In The Flash, Barry Allen and Iris West were raised together and later got married.

Further Reading/Meta

Fannish Links


  1. ^ "An incest ship has all..." Archived from the original on 22 Jun 2022.
  2. ^ WARNING: Possible Dolt Porn (formerly Fan Fiction) Discussion thread on TWOP
  3. ^ See Hossgal's author's notes to "Mother of Horses."
  4. ^ See Hossgal's author's notes to "Mother of Horses."
  5. ^ Why I disapprove, and why I will be neither ashamed, nor silent. LJ post by redsambuca, 14 May 2008
  6. ^ Some RPS Meta-Thinkiness by LJ user miriam_heddy, Jun 26 2008
  7. ^ Keeping it in the family: a question of fandom incestby Kangeiko, 29 December 2006. This meta was partially a response to this post, which resulted in wank in Supernatural fandom.
  8. ^ Incest! by Sistermagpie, posted 22 July 2004.
  9. ^ Hancest..yes Posted 6 May 2005.
  10. ^ Meta: Fandom - Slash - Incest - Wincest... by on_verra, 3 Mar 2008
  11. ^ DW post by setissima, 14 August 2007.
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ Merryish.Pondering the Sam/Dean thing. Posted 22 August 2007.
  15. ^ peripheralsight quote in layne67's DW journal, 2007-08-18
  16. ^ 19 January 2010 comment by zvi in her dreamwidth post "A whirlwind tour of fannish incest".
  17. ^ For example, Last Will and Testament by Speranza is a very rare Stargate Atlantis story where the popular slash ship turn out to be brothers. Certainly rare enough that the author felt the need to apologize.
  18. ^ Wookieepedia, Splinter of the Mind's Eye Last accessed October 10, 2008.
  19. ^ Doop, Ultimates 3 #1: Pietro and Wanda December 7, 2007. Last accessed October 9, 2008.
  20. ^ Lost, Season 1, Episode 13, "Hearts and Minds."