Cousins in Literature and Pop Culture

Posted by Rose Moore

While brothers, sisters, parents and children are all at the core of most of our favorite books and stories, cousins tend to get shunted to the side a little. But just because many cousins don’t live together or take center stage, that doesn’t mean that their connection is any less wonderful, as these incredible, unusual, and surprising sets of pop culture cousins prove.


Still from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Will and Carlton

It may have ended in 1996, but The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air may still be the first series to come to mind when people think of pop culture cousins—maybe because the line "You’re movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air" is ingrained in cultural memory (be honest, you sang it!). Will and Carlton (and Ashley, and Hilary) are cousins who often feel more like siblings, although Will rarely fits in with his much richer relatives. Seeing them connect, even when they are so different, is part of the heart and soul of the show. 



Still from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Chronicles Of Narnia: Eustace, Lucy, Edmund

While the most famous book in this fantasy series focuses on four siblings (Lucy, Edmund, Peter, and Susan), later books introduce a new family member: cousin Eustace. Eustace first appears in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when spending time with Lucy and Edmund. Peter and Susan have grown up and forgotten Narnia, but the younger cousins are still able to access this magical world through a painting, for a slew of new adventures.



The Simpsons: Ling and Bart/Lisa/Maggie

The first family of animation, The Simpsons, are definitely more focused on the siblings of Lisa, Bart, and Maggie, but fans may remember that they have a cousin named Ling. Selma’s adopted daughter, Ling may not spend much time with the Simpson kids, but she is much younger than Bart and Lisa, and given that the characters never age, it may be unlikely that this will change. However, it’s worth remembering that Ling is still part of this extended family, and if the Simpsons ever did grow up, we’d love to see Ling and Maggie become fast friends.




Game of Thrones: Robin Arryn and Arya/Sansa Stark  

A Song of Ice And Fire (and of course, Game of Thrones) is packed with complex family relationships, including more than a few cousins. Cersei (and Jaime, and Tyrion) Lannister are the cousins of Lancel, one of the Faith Militant, and this storyline exposes some of the seedier aspects of family relationships in Game of Thrones. But a slightly less disturbing cousin is Robin Arryn, cousin to the Stark kids. However, until the end of the series, Sansa is the only one of the cousins to actually spend time with Robin.


Marvel Comics: Mariko (Scarlet Samurai) and Shiro (Sunfire)

Most Marvel fans will associate Mariko with a much more famous character,Wolverine, who was one of her true loves in the comics. However, Mariko Yashida is a fantastic character in her own right, who was resurrected to become the Scarlet Samurai. Her cousin, Shiro Yashida, may be better known for his abilities as Sunfire, a mutant with plasma blast powers. 




Lord of the Rings: Bilbo and Frodo

Let’s not forget that first cousins aren’t the only kind of cousins to exist in pop culture! The two most famous Hobbits in all storytelling (Bilbo Baggins of The Hobbit, and Frodo Baggins of Lord of the Rings) are also cousins, albeit through their convoluted Hobbit family tree. Despite often being seen as Uncle and Nephew, Frodo is actually Bilbo’s second cousin twice removed, from the common ancestor of Balbo, the first Baggins to settle in the Shire.

Who are your favorite cousins in pop culture? Tweet @quirkbooks and let us know!