The Unfavourite

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
(Redirected from The Unfavorite)
And the father prefers his dog, Only Son.

"Wrong kid died!"

Dewey's fatherWalk Hard

The nasty end of Parental Favoritism. Where there's an Alpha wolf, there's got to be an Omega. When there is a first banana, there is a second banana. This is the person in the family who can't get a break. For example, this is the child who's the big let-down to their parents, the daughter that was supposed to be a son (or vice-versa), the child the parents had by accident when they'd already decided they didn't need another mouth to feed. But all in all, this is basically the kid who is always getting the short-end of the stick.

A regular line that may be entailed with this is a variant of, "Honestly, (insert name), why can't ya be more like (insert favourite's name)?"

Frequently, being The Un-Favourite is a Freudian Excuse for a character who's a particularly pathetic loser. If the Parental Favoritism was garden variety (or even a product of his/her imagination), PG-rated Wangst, this is probably being played for comedy, a weak excuse for being a failure. If the favoritism was particularly vicious, however, up to and including abuse, The Unfavourite becomes a more tragic character—most probably The Woobie. Sometimes, however, the Unfavourite is almost suspiciously well-adjusted.

A variant is where The Un-Favourite is actually highly successful and dutiful, but can never get the approval of his parents, simply because their sibling will always do "better" in their parents' eyes. ("Hey look, dad, I won the Nobel Prize for Physics!" "That's nothin' -- your brother won Employee of the Month at Shop 'n Go last April!"). The Un-favorite doesn't need to play second fiddle to an actual sibling, and can even be an only child. Un-favorites without a sibling are often unwanted or unexpected children and can even, in perhaps an extreme case, be passed over for the family pet.

The audience's attitude towards the un-favourite is often based on what age the character is. There's a common perception that an adult character should really have gotten over this by now and moved on, even if the viewers/readers empathize with them. A child character, on the other hand, is likely to get the audience's unreserved support.

Age notwithstanding, this is usually a character you sympathize with, because we're supposed to root for the disadvantaged; expect the favorite either to be rubbing their status in their sibling's face, be an Aloof Big Brother, or completely unaware of the situation. It is, however, completely possible that the character is interpreting some behavior as favoritism—and the other character also regards himself as The Unfavorite. (Cue Sibling Rivalry.) Also, another possible situation is that the favourite is indeed aware of the situation, sympathize with the unfavourite and may even start the "talk with the parents" scene.

And Heaven help the poor kid if the favorite child is dead. (Possibly having received the status of "favorite" by dying.) See also You Should Have Died Instead.

Can easily escalate into Cain and Abel. May be rooted in a Death by Childbirth. May cross over with "Well Done, Son" Guy if The Unfavorite wants some recognition. If the favorite of the parents isn't even a member of their family, it's a case of Why Are You Not My Son?.

Examples of The Unfavourite include:

Anime and Manga

  • Jun Manjyome of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, disowned by his brothers for his inability to live up to the family name.
    • Well, he was never actually disowned, just disliked a lot. When he dueled his brother Chosaku midway through season one, they both acknowledged at the end that he had grown up more than they thought, and in season four, it's implied that they either already have or will reconcile with each other, since Jun is insistent that he make it on his own in the Pro Leagues before he will join them officially. But during most of season one, definitely their Unfavorite.
  • Variation: In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Dark Magical Girl Fate is a clone of Precia Testarossa's deceased daughter, Alicia. Fate has Alicia's memories of Precia being a loving and kind mother, but Precia is abusive to Fate and sees her only as a tool for bringing Alicia back to life. The Lotus Eater Machine in season two reveals that Fate sees Alicia as the parental favourite older sister.
    • This is especially horrible in that most philosophers would agree that Fate is Alicia. Same body, same mind - so they're both copies; so what?
      • Fate herself, however, states that she is not Alicia.
      • In spite of their identical origins and memories, Precia claims that Fate and Alicia have very different personalities (This is confirmed in the Movie). Of course, Precia was more-than-slightly unhinged by Alicia's death, so it apparently never occured to her the Fate might have turned out more Alicia-like if it weren't for the, you know, horrible abuse.
        • It's also implied that a number of the early differences are in Precia's head. Since she knows that the clone isn't really Alicia, she starts seeing every tiny difference in behavior (even if it's just a one-off) as being proof that it's not really Alicia.
  • Hinata Hyuga from Naruto starts off as The Un-Favourite of her family, due to her apparent 'lack' of talent and how her little sister Hanabi apparently had it all.
    • Hiashi's disappointment in Hinata does not necessarily translate into favoring Hanabi, as earlier in the scene when he denounces Hinata as inferior, he expresses disapproval for Hanabi's performance in training.
    • Sasuke is neglected by his father, Fugaku, in favor of his talented big brother Itachi. The father praises Itachi frequently and refers to him as "my son". Later Sasuke brings home a report card placing him at the top of his class hoping his father will call him "son" too, instead Fugaku tells him to become like Itachi. The situation reverses somewhat after Itachi starts acting strangely and is suspected of murdering Shisui.
    • Gaara, because everyone in his family (and his entire city) is scared of him, or at least of the demon sealed inside him. He was conceived only to be a container for the demon and be a living weapon, and his mother died giving birth to him and his father, the Kazekage hated him because of this.
  • Seta Sōjirō from Rurouni Kenshin is a particularly tragic example of this trope. So much that his half siblings try to kill him for being an illegitimate child. He kills them instead.
  • Machi Kuragi from Fruits Basket is such an unfavorite that her parents automatically assume she attempted to kill her little brother, despite her (more or less believable) claim that she was just trying to keep him warm.
    • Practically anyone who is born as one of the Zodiac
    • The main character Tohru even gets this from her father's family mainly due to their dislike of her mother. Pretty much treating her like dirt when she is alone with them.
    • This is bizarrely inverted with Yuki's family. Ayame is the unfavorite, which means that he was more or less free to do as he wanted which led to him being a self-centered Jerkass in school, but ultimately meant he could move out on his own and start his own business. Yuki was the favorite (at least in the sense that his parents thought him more likely usable to get money and move higher in society), so he was forced to be Akito's playmate, was psychologically tortured, implied to have been hit by his mother for trying to avoid it, and was generally so screwed up that he couldn't interact with other people at all.
  • Somewhat averted in Digimon Adventure 02. Ken Ichijouji is revealed to have originally been the butt of this trope, but when his more-liked and more-talented older brother Osamu was killed in a car crash (after Ken thought and wished for that to happen) it began a chain of events that lead to him turning to the dark side, becoming more skilled than his brother ever was (thanks to evil powers), and becoming the series' Big Bad temporarily before joining the team.
    • In Digimon Frontier, it seems that Kouchi was his his father's "Unfavorite" as Koji was taken by his father when he left their mother and divorced and he re-married another woman. This causes feelings of anger, jealousy and betrayal in Kouchi.
      • Yes, but you have to remember they were babies at the time. Koji didn't know Koichi existed. It most likely they just that both parents just got a baby when they divorced
  • Subverted in The Prince of Tennis. Yuuta Fuji feels he's the unfavorite since his middle brother Shuusuke is talented, handsome and popular at their school, so he leaves and transfers into another school and its dorms. But that genuinely hurts Shuusuke, who really loves and cares for Yuuta and just didn't know what his brother was going through, becoming a huge Stepford Smiler out of the hurt he feels upon Yuuta abandoning him. It'll take more than a year to reunite them.
  • Subverted in Code Geass. Lelouch Lemperouge spends a good portion of his life believing that not only are he and his sister Nunnally their father's unfavorites, but that their mother Marianne was too, since she was the only Imperial Wife to come from common origins; only much later on does he learn that his parents practically fell in Love At First Sight, and by extension, Lelouch and Nunnally were practically his favorite children. Further, they both wanted Lelouch to help them with their plan to make the world a better place... Only that, since both parents were Knight Templar Parents * and* Well Intentioned Extremists , they thought that "making the world a better place" involved a huge Xanatos Roulette leading to an Instrumentality project. Oh, and "want Lelouch to help" meant "send them into a war zone". Though there was an immortal to help them, she never introduces her self, or, you know, has weapons or anything.
    • Further subversion: The apparent golden child who is the Emperor's right hand man and direct heir? The one man that Charles' seemed to actually fear, warning that the failure of his plan means that Schneizel's would now be in play.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00's second season, there's an unfavourite that doesn't even need a family (they got killed by terrorists several years ago) to feel this way. Lyle Dylandy thinks that several of the Celestial Being members expect him to be just like his deceased twin older brother, Neil "Lockon Stratos" Dylandy. Lyle doesn't like it, logically, so after taking up Neil's Lockon mantle he decides to downplay his own and considerable fighting and piloting skills to make himself look different from Neil.
    • Hong Long could be argued to be this. His father favored Wang Liu Mei, his little sister, and made her the head of the Wang family instead of him, Hong Long instead becoming a Battle Butler to his little sister. However, Mei never wanted the responsibilities of leading the clan and blamed Hong Long for "forcing" her to take charge. Hong Long, being an Extreme Doormat, would go on to serve his sister faithfully for years while she treated him like crap and bitched him out for a situation her selfishness had gotten them into shortly before he sacrificed his life to save her from Nena. For the second time that day.
  • Hell Girl episode 16 features a disturbing twist on this trope. The episode revolves around a pair of twin girls in a traveling circus -- one is praised and doted upon by the ringleader, the other is kept locked in a back room and frequently abused. Initially, the audience is led to believe that the Un-Favorite has summoned Enma Ai to exact revenge upon the ringleader, only to find out too late that the real target is the other sister. Ai takes the favorite girl to hell, then, giving the other twin her chance to be the favorite.
    • Season 3 features a boy who becomes his parents' unfavorite before the sibling is even born.
  • Played with in G Gundam. It's implied that, due to being much younger as well as Book Dumb, Domon felt inferior to his Badass Bookworm older brother Kyouji in the eyes of their father, The Professor Raizou Kasshu. Unlike other cases, though, Dr. Kasshu doesn't show deliberate cruelty towards Domon, who finds another father figure in his martial arts teacher Master Asia and leaves home to train with him... Fast forward 10 years and Domon finds himself with a Broken Pedestal of a mentor, a dead mother, a cryogenically frozen father, and an evil Aloof Big Brother who's become a wanted criminal...
    • Nope; when Raizo is exonerated and thawed out in the final episode, he tells Domon that he's proud of him and always has been, and Domon's being a fighter rather than a scientist like himself or Kyoji was never an issue.
  • In the Dragonball Z special it is revealed that Vegeta has a younger brother, who was exiled from their homeworld because he was too weak to be any good as a fighter (like Goku himself).
  • Also played with in Gundam Seed, with Ace Pilot Mu la Flaga. His father Al de Flaga was so peeved with Mu being a normal child instead of a perfect vehicle for his father's ego that he disowned the boy and cloned himself, the result being Rau le Creuset.
    • ...who is himself an Unfavorite due to his short telomeres giving him frail health and a limited lifespan. Adaptations of SEED state that Rau was abandoned by Al de Flaga when he was very young, once Al found out. This is part of why Mu empathizes with him very late in the series.
  • Abo Ozawa in the baseball manga Stripe Blue. His older brother Bantarou is the closing pitcher on a professional team that owes its recent success solely to him. Being that Abo is also a baseball pitcher, he has to work extra hard to stand out, even to his own parents, despite frankly having not very formidable skills.
  • Shinji Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion gets this so damn much. Even taken by itself, his relationship with his father is defined by Gendo's neglect and a cold-blooded insistence that he pilot a walking death machine under horrible conditions. But aside from that, Gendo has Rei, whom he treats as a surrogate daughter. Shinji and Rei become friends, but the fact that his father likes her better clearly bothers him. While Shinji is hard-pressed to get his father to even glance at him, many characters note on how surprisingly caring Gendo is to Rei. Asuka even points out to Rei, "You're Commander Ikari's favorite, aren't you?" while Shinji is still in the room. In keeping with the typical rules for favorites, Rei bears a close similarity to (and is a half-clone of and integral in the plan to revive) Gendo's dead wife Yui.
    • In actuality, while Shinji is the unfavorite and Rei gets something resembling affection from Gendo, his true favorite is his wife, and he's willing to (and planning on) using both of them to get her back. Rei seems totally aware that she's not really Gendo's favorite either, even correcting Asuka on the subject when she accuses her of it.
  • Played with in regards to Belarus of Axis Powers Hetalia, who thinks she's The Unfavourite of her older brother Russia because of their older sister Ukraine and Russia's subordinates, the Baltic brothers (Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia). This leaves the girl, well... rather unstable.
    • Canada might as well be invisible next to his brother America.
      • And let's not even talk about Sealand.
        • Nobody else does!
    • England is hated by his older brothers (Scotland, Wales, and most likely Ireland as well).
    • Roman Empire clearly loved North Italy more than South Italy; the Chibitalia chapter said that he took Italy with him when he had to run away, but was shown to have left Romano. This pattern continues throughout their childhood, with Romano at one point lamenting his status. It gets better when Spain picks up on the situation and starts showing him as much love as he can (Spain can be weird sometimes, but at least he's trying).
  • George from Paradise Kiss is the ilegitimate son of a rich, influential man and a former model. His father pays for his and his mother's expensive lifestyle, but has no actual relationship with them, and his mother is very vocal about how much she resents him because becoming pregnant ruined her modelling career.
  • Definitely Ageha from Papillon Hana To Chou: as an infant, her mother sent her to live with her grandmother in the country because she couldn't stop crying; her twin sister Hana/Kana (the translators kept switching) is popular and glamorous and steals her potential boyfriend; she's even screwed over by her only "friend". No wonder she's almost Driven to Suicide. Fortunately her relationship with her mom improves dramatically when they finally start talking to each other. Kana/Hana, however, is becoming uneasy with her sister's newfound confidence...
  • Asagi Ayase of Yotsubato gets far more than her share of crap from her mother. It's played for laughs, since Asagi tends to retaliate in kind, but at least one flashback has shown she's gotten this treatment for years.
  • Moroboshi Ataru from Urusei Yatsura is another only-child example of this trope. His parents are constantly lamenting the fact that he was ever born, in his presence. Played pretty much entirely for laughs.
    • They also wistfully mention how much they wanted a little girl, making Ataru the Unfavorite to a sister who doesn't even exist.
  • Sachiko in With the Light loves both of her children—autistic Hikaru and his unafflicted little sister Kanon—equally; it's her mother-in-law who plays unfavorites. Having Kanon to interact with and a hard time accepting the fact that Hikaru's not going to "get better" and be exactly like "normal" people means that she is more affectionate with the girl.
  • In There Beyond the Beyond, both of the kingdom's twin princes are named Virid Visette Viridian. The one who would eventually become the "Mad Prince" was left to be abused and forgotten in a cell, while his brother got to be doted on in the palace.
  • Inuyasha: Sesshoumaru feels that he's this. After finding out that his brother InuYasha inherited their father's legendary offensive weapon that he had wanted while he was bequeathed the healing sword that he disdained, events conspire to lead him to the realisation that his hard-earned extremely impressive offensive ability was only given to him so that he could master it for Inuyasha to take from him. This leads him to the conclusion that his father had been grooming Inuyasha to kill him. Getting over his daddy issues and learning that his father actually wanted him to be a Big Brother Mentor is a major part of his Character Development whereupon he settles for being the Aloof Big Brother type.
  • Seileiz, eldest of the three heirs to his country in Vampire Game, is also by far his mother's most hated. There are three reasons for this: he's adopted (as are his brothers), he's the Son of a Whore, and he's the illegitimate son of the king. The queen was willing to put up with the first two, but having a reminder of her husband's refusal to sleep with her running around really pissed her off.
  • In Nononono Nono's brother, Yuuta is like this. Both of them were trained by their ski-jumper dad to be ski-jumpers, hoping to go to the olympics. The problem is, Nono is the more talented of the two, but she can't go to the Olympics due to being a girl. Their father kept on pushing Yuuta to be as good as his sister.
  • Reina in Queen's Blade apparently suffers from this early on, being clearly the weakest between the three Vance sisters and not being allowed to leave the palace or do anything with her life. The justification for this later on is that Reina is the Generation Xerox of her mother, who died fighting in Queen's Blade, and her father was being overprotective for that reason.
  • Moe Shishigawari from Bleach was the only Fullbringer with whom Ginjo did not share Ichigo's stolen power, and Ginjo planned to kill him as soon as they were done, because he's potentially Too Powerful to Live.
  • "Genius kunoichi" Konatsu from Ranma ½, so much so that his life before encountering Ranma reads like a Japanese ninja version of Cinderella.

Comic Books

  • Loki sees himself as this, with a very "Thor was always the favorite!" outlook on life. Even though he's a total douche most of the time, most of what he does is done in an effort to gain the respect and adoration of Asgard and his father.
  • In the Spider-Man movies, Ultimate Spider-Man, and The Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon, Harry Osborn is a rare example of being The Unfavorite as an only child, with his father preferring fellow intellectual and friend Peter Parker to his own son. This is in contrast to the portrayal of Harry and Norman's relationship in the comics: originally, Norman was portrayed as a loving, but absentee father who tried to make up for his utter lack of time for his son, via spoiling him rotten. This in turn led to Harry becoming a drug addict, as he used his dad's money to avoid working, and spend his days partying and buying drugs from his neighborhood drug dealer. Of course years later, the relationship between Harry and his father was retconned into a "Kick the Dog" scenario to make Norman (then dead and buried, with Marvel dead set on not resurrecting him) an evil person who physically and emotionally abused his son throughout his entire life. When his son died, this led to Norman seeking out a replacement heir, ultimately settling on Peter Parker largely due to editor Bob Harras's demand that Peter and Norman's rivalry be changed to be more like Professor X and Magneto's rivalry, complete with Norman wanting Peter to join with him the same way Magneto is forever harping on Xavier to join forces and conquer humanity.
    • There was another period of Peter being the favored one, with Johnny Storm as the Unfavorite. While they eventually got over it and became buddies, for awhile, Johnny resented the fact that Peter seemed closer to his family than he was, due to Peter's shared scientific aptitude with Reed and ease at being friends with Sue.
  • The X-Men have a lot of this going on:
    • Emma Frost was The Unfavorite to her successful brother until he revealed he was gay. Then both kids were unfavorites.
    • Sam Guthrie's other siblings are all Unfavorites in comparison to him.
    • Charles Xavier and Cain Marko, stepbrothers, were both unfavorites to a degree.
      • Charles was loved by his biological parents and abused by his step-father, though not to the same extent as Cain was was abused by the same man, his biological father.
    • Alex Summers was Unfavorite to Scott in the eyes of Nathaniel Essex.
    • James Proudstar was Unfavorite to his brother John, who died heroically stupidly on his first mission as X-Man.
    • Deathbird is Unfavorite to her sister Lilandra. Lil's brother D'Ken was the Unfavorite, driving him to go nuts and steal the M'kraan crystal.
  • The Ultimate (man, family relations suck in this universe)Reed Richards, a bespectacled young genius, was never the ideal son his father wanted. It's shown in the first issue that his father showed more affection to Ben Grimm, the tough football star of the school, than to his own son. Fortunately the situation isn't visited often in later issues; what with Reed finding a new father figure in Sue and Johnny's scientist father and being faced with matters more important than getting paternal approval, such as cosmic mutations and alien invasions every other week.
  • On a planet where twins are the norm, Mekt Ranzz (Lightning Lord), older brother of twins Lightning Lad and Lightning Lass of the Legion of Super-Heroes, felt like he was everyone's unfavorite. Which is why he eventually became a supervillain who terrorized his younger siblings.
    • Felt is the key word, as it's never been revealed that his parents or his siblings treated him like garbage because he was a singular birth.
  • Vivisector in X-Statix. He's an only child, of course, but there's nobody in the world that Myles' father hates more than Myles himself. Why? Simple. His dad is a New England old money Ivy League college professor, and Myles is a gay mutant.
  • It wouldn't be too far off the mark to say that, in the Marvel universes (both 616 and Ultimate), every mutant born to mostly non-mutant families end up being unfavourites when their mutations manifest.
    • In the 616 timeline this actually would be quite an exaggeration. It seems to have been true of Bobby Drake (Iceman), but none of the other original five (Scott's parents were actually abducted by aliens before getting to see his and his brother's powers manifest), it was not true of Colossus, Storm (her parents were killed too early), Thunderbird I, Kitty Pryde, Rogue (she ran away from home before her powers manifested), Jubilee (her parents were dead before her powers manifested), and with reference to their human adoptive parents it was not true of Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, Nightcrawler or Gambit (who was actually preferred to his adoptive father's biological son).
  • Huntress has at times been considered so, among the members of the Batfamily, due to her supposed violence and unwillingness to work well with the others, and especially Batman himself, with whom she has a conflicted relationship.

Oracle, speaking about Huntress: And what about the least favourite daughter?

    • Also in the Batfamily, Jason Todd is even more the unfavorite.
  • Art Spiegelman, the Author Avatar of the biographical graphic novel Maus felt he always had to compete with his dead older brother, Richieu, who had died as a result of the Holocaust.
  • Bone has this with one of the primary antagonists saying "Mother always liked you best." before trying to strike her sister down.
    • This isn't the only time Briar mentioned this. She explains that her family treated her like an old, useless nursemaid and made her younger sister Rose the queen instead of her. The reason, according to her, is because nobody knew she was a Veni-Yan-Carni, a type of powering dreaming sorcerous born into the family line. It's possible she just neglected to tell them though, since Rose mentions she thought Briar's "dreaming eye" was blind.
  • In Adventures In The Rifle Brigade, Captain Hugo Darcy is a man among men and a true hero if ever there was one. He saved the entire world at the end of the first miniseries, and once called Erwin Rommel "a big nosed cunt" to his face. At the beginning of the first mini, he visits his parents... who are much more proud of his brother Bobby, a rank and file airman who has served without distinction thus far.
  • Kalibak in the DCU is Darkseid's Unfavourite. Even worse, his father's favorite, Orion, is the heroic Arch Enemy of the entire rest of his blood family and wants to kill them—but Darkseid still respects him more because he is, at least, competent about it.
    • Grayven has it even worse. Darkseid at least sees Kalibak as useful and loyal Dumb Muscle. Darkseid snubs Grayven at every possible opportunity since Grayven is nothing but Darkseid-lite. Grayven's Eye Beams are weaker than Darkseid's Omega Effect, Grayven isn't as strong as Darkseid, Grayven's a Smug Snake while Darkseid is a Magnificent Bastard of a Complete Monster...the only thing Grayven has going for him is his hair. There is literally nothing Grayven can do that Darkseid can't do better. Grayven's also pretty open about his ambitions to overthrow Darkseid. He's incompetent and disloyal.
  • Paul-Philip Ravage suffered from this quite a bit. Didn't help that his was a family of backstabbing businessmen, all of whom immediately began plotting his downfall when he started proposing actual solutions to pollution problems. And by the time he was winning his father's respect, he began losing his human form...

Fairy Tales

  • Many a Grimms' Fairy Tales heroine with a Wicked Stepmother and step-sister. Men sure had rotten taste in women back then.
    • Yet apparently every woman has wonderful taste in men...strange, isn't it?

Fan Works

  • In some Harry Potter fics, Harry is treated like this when it is mistakenly believed that his little/older sibling is the Chosen One and everyone either downright hates him or ignores him.
  • This is the entire premise of some Naruto Fanfiction. Often, Naruto's OC sibling is substituted for the jinchuriki, and Naruto's parent-inclusive life becomes inexplicably worse. One such example is this.
  • Star Trek has some interesting cases with Jim being the unfavourite compared to his dead father. His mother couldn't stand the resemblance between them and would often do nothing to stop his stepfather from beating him, neglecting him and traveling far away just so she wouldn't have to look at Jim.
    • In one story, after becoming captain, to get back at his mother from neglecting and allowing the abuse to happen, Jim donated a huge sum of money towards charities where children had been abused, naming it her, "for all the things she did when he was a kid". Afterwards, people went up to her, asking her "how does it feel?" for raising such a nice kid and how proud she must be.
    • For the record, there is little to no evidence for this in canon.
  • There is a very good Sailor Moon fanfiction called Misconception, in which time changes and another child is born in Chibi-Usa's place. Despite being (technically) an only child, the poor girl can never live up to her "sister's" memory. She spends over nine hundred years either ignored (with her parents desperately trying to conceive the daughter they really wanted) or treated as a terribly inferior replacement for Chibi-Usa, to the point that the senshi often forget that she isn't Chibi-Usa herself. When you find out that your (favorite) aunt is trying to undo time itself so that you're never even born just to bring back some other kid (and everyone else you know is completely on board with the plan, including your own parents) you know you've got problems.
  • Fanfiction often has Megatron jealous of his brother Optimus. Whether they are actually biological brothers or simply brothers by name depends on the author. For example, The Ties That Bind Us shows a young Optimus being injured by an ambush and his caretaker Ironhide had to carry him while telling Megatron to follow him. While understanding that Optimus was more serious condition, Megatron began to grow envious that he was always placed second place after Optimus.


  • The Lord of the Rings movies, especially the 3rd, hit this trope pretty hard for Faramir. It's text, not subtext, in his father's dialog. While Faramir is a grown character and, logically, "should've gotten over it by now", his father's scathing treatment of him makes it almost impossible for anyone not to sympathize. This factor, combined with some deleted scenes present in the extended versions, helps explain why Faramir initially decided to capture Frodo and the Ring, which is the opposite way he chose in the book. It's also notable that the favorite, Boromir, actually admires and defends Faramir, and is fed up with their father just as much as Faramir.
    • However, a good reason not to get over it: while in an ordinary family, grown adults are supposed to be independent of parents and get on with their life, this is a ruling family, and therefore Faramir will remain defined by his relationship with the present ruler for the rest of his life. He could not get over it, however much he might have wanted to, unless Boromir had become regent and treated him differently.
  • Film/Real Life example: Johnny Cash. As the movie Walk the Line showed, Johnny never could quite match up to his dutiful dead brother in his dad's eyes.
    • Spoofed in Walk Hard, where Dewey Cox's father shouts "The wrong kid died!" even in completely inapplicable situations.
  • The mother in Crossroads quite batantly tells her high school graduate daughter who she abandoned years ago that she was a mistake and that she never wanted to have her. She is remarried and has two sons.
  • Kevin McCallister in Home Alone seems to be this, as most of his relatives either ignore him, bully him, or regularly accuse him of being a troublemaker.
  • Nuka from Lion King II: Simba's Pride. The scrawny, barely a mane growing lion voiced by Andy Dick. Little cub Kovu gets picked over him to take on Scar's heritage (Kovu not even having been sired by Scar, though it's implied Nuka is, being the son of Zira, who was apparently one of Scar's mates. Everybody got that? Good. Moving along...), and gets treated unfairly by the lionesses just cause... just cause. This makes his death even more tragic, when he chases Simba up a dam, proclaiming he's doing it for his mother, and that this'd be his moment of glory, with a mad driven look in his eyes. Just before the footing gives away from underneath him, and he ends up crushed by a bunch of logs. His mother for the first time in the movie shows she actually does care and frantically tries to dig him out. He ends with a whimper. "Sorry... I tried..."
    • A deleted storyboard set continues with Nuka saying "I got your attention now . . . " and then expiring.
      • His mum not even warning him to be careful should have raised a red flag...
  • Gordie in Stand by Me, whose parents never forgave him for being the one to survive.
  • Conrad's mother in Ordinary People is pretty much incapable of loving him after he survived the boating accident that killed his brother.
  • Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham actually manages to play this trope compassionately without villifying the parents for it. This is arguably attributable to the fact that the Unfavorite in this case is mostly so by default, rather than actually being unloved or undervalued.
  • In Dead Poets Society, Todd is strongly implied to be The Unfavorite.
  • The Goonies. Played for laughs in how Mama favors Francis over Jake.

Jake: You always take his side, Mama. You always liked him better than me.
Mama: (Smacks Jake) That's right!

  • In Willard, despite being the strongest of the rats, Ben can never get the same level of affection as Socrates. after he decides to stop taking it Willard directly states "I hate you."
  • In Tower of Terror, Abigail feels this way toward her sister Sally, since everyone was going to something for her on Abigail's birthday. That thing was going to be Abigail's suprise birthday party.
  • In Ever After, Danielle gets the short end of the stick because she was the biological daughter of her deceased father. And before his death, it probably didn't help that he said "I love you" to Danielle and didn't say it to the stepmother, only increasing her jealousy of Danielle. Interestingly, the same thing happens to the youngest daughter who isn't as beautiful as her elder sister and isn't as cruel and snobbish, being more down-to-earth and kinder.
  • Albert in The King's Speech was this as a child, due to his stuttering. But this becomes subverted as when they became older, his older brother preferred a more carefree frivolous lifestyle while Albert was The Dutiful Son. His father George does approve of the adult Albert (though still frustrated by his speech impediment) and his last words were that Albert would be a better king than his brother, even though he didn't say it to Albert directly.
  • In the new Thor movie, Loki's Start of Darkness is a result of his jealousy over the fact that his father, Odin, has always favoured his brother Thor. It turns out that Odin chose Thor to succeed the throne of Asgard because Loki is adopted, and isn't Asgardian. Loki could never have ruled no matter what Odin's preference was. Odin's actual feelings towards Loki are left ambiguous -- it could be that he genuinely loves Loki as a son, or it could be that he only took the boy in to use as a political pawn.
  • In Gru's Flash Backs in Despicable Me show his mother treating him as The Unfavourite—even though he's an only child!


  • Jane Austen:
    • In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is her father's favorite, Lydia and Jane are their mother's, and Mary is almost universally ignored, but the second-youngest Bennet daughter Kitty is perpetually told to shut up and stop getting in everyone's way.
    • Similarly in Persuasion, plain, sensible and sensitive Anne is ignored and dismissed by her family while her beautiful but vain sister Elisabeth is admired by all.
    • Similarly in Mansfield Park, Fanny's mother only cares about her sons and babies her youngest daughter, but ignores her older two daughters. Fanny only realises this when returning for a much anticipated visit after years away from home.
    • In Sense and Sensibility, Mrs. Ferrars dotes on her daughter Fanny and younger son Robert, but doesn't seem to particularly like elder son Edward.
  • Cosette in Les Misérables is a truly extreme Tear Jerker example, who, after being put in the care of the Thenardier family (with her mother paying them all she can), is despised, terribly abused and forced to be the inn's servant at the age of five. In contrast, the real daughters of the Thenardier family are treated like little princesses. Gavroche, the other child of the family (a boy) fits this trope too, because he's so neglected that, as a baby, he's left to cry on and on with nobody paying any attention to him. He's later abandoned and lives on the streets.
    • Later subverted, at least in the musical, as the Thenardiers don't seem to show a shred of angst about Eponine's death.
  • Aral Vorkosigan got a bit of this from his father. His older brother had been one of the first casualties of Mad Emperor Yuri's Civil War, and his father sometimes acted as if the wrong brother had died.
  • Thomas Raith in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files. In Blood Rites, it is revealed that he is Lord Raith's only surviving son, because Raith always kills his sons when they are old enough to become a threat (although he keeps his daughters around him). Thomas is still alive only because he was clever enough to avoid his father's earlier indirect attempts to get him killed.
    • It's unclear how clever he is; while Thomas is smarter than he looks, we've rarely if ever seen him accomplish anything that's really extraordinary for his kind. However, Thomas is the youngest son, so that might be why he survived as long as he did.
      • It's also implied he's been using the Obfuscating Stupidity to keep his father from thinking he's a threat worth eliminating.
  • Roald Dahl's Matilda has parents that are completely unappreciative of her superlative brilliance. Her father cares far more about son Mikey, a total nonentity, and the mother is more interested in bingo.
  • Ebenezer Scrooge, of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol fame is heavily implied to be this, sent away to Boarding School for years at a time by his resentful father. In some versions (at least in The Film of the Book with Alistair Sim), it's explained that Ebenezer's father blames him for his mother's Death by Childbirth. His kind-hearted and beautiful younger sister Fan is kept at home and is the apparent favorite, possibly due to an implied resemblance to her mother.
  • In Teresa Edgerton's Green Lion Trilogy, Ceilyn. His parents were Kissing Cousins in a notoriously strait-laced segment of society, and felt that their marriage was all right only if it were platonic, so they were ashamed to have had him. Sometime after Ceilyn's birth, his father had a vision and felt that he and his wife had been absolved and blessed, so Ceilyn's younger siblings are beloved but he is seen as a reminder of shameful behaviour.
  • Taken to new and extreme heights of Southern Gothic in Gillian Flynn's debut novel, Sharp Objects; the narrator, Camille, is her Ax Crazy mother's Unfavorite, which is how she managed to survive to adulthood as nothing more than a self-harming, self-destructive alcoholic. Her more tractable younger sister died in childhood as the end result of their mother's Munchausen's by proxy, and her much younger half-sister is a sex-and-death-obsessed psychopath after thirteen years of the same treatment. Fun book.
  • Tom Holt has a tendency to do this - the most obvious example is the protagonist Malcolm in Expecting Someone Taller. Like all of Holt's male leads, Malcolm is a total git, and his parents unabashedly compare him to his super-perfect sister Bridget. Becoming the heir to practically unlimited power makes Malcolm immediately think that it was originally meant for Bridget. In fact, Malcolm's lack of self-esteem and desire to do good make him the perfect person to inherit said power; Bridget would totally mess it up.
    • Another example is Kevin Christ in Only Human, who's the younger brother to Jesus and the second son of God.
  • In Sharon Lee's and Steve Miller's Scout's Progress, Aelianna Caylon, despite being acknowledged as the foremost mathematical mind on Liad and the indirect saviour of many starship pilots, is The Unfavourite of her mother's children, and has been a target of her brother's abuse ever since they were children, when they overheard a conversation in which Aelianna was recommended to their mother over her brother as the best candidate for being her heir. Her brother was chosen instead, but has abused the position by taking out his resentment on Aelianna ever since; their mother refuses to recognize the situation.
  • In CS Lewis's Till We Have Faces, the king abused all three of his daughters impartially—until the youngest had to be sacrificed to the gods. Then he was explicitly abusive because he had lost her, being stuck with two unappealing daughters. Also, both Orual and her tutor the Fox heap praise on Istra while ignoring Orual's other younger sister, Redival.
  • Tyrion Lannister of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire: his mother died giving birth and he is a dwarf. No, not the fantasy kind. His father hates him, as does most everyone else. Interesting, however, in that the favorite, Jaime, is actually the only one in the family who truly loves Tyrion and will ever take his side.
    • Jon Snow is treated this way by Catelyn Stark. Although he is actually Ned Stark's bastard son, Ned treats him like all of his children. Catelyn, on the other hand, treats him coldly and at one point wishes to his face that a near-fatal accident had happened to him rather than to one of her own children.
      • Made more ironic by the fact that there's a significant chance that Jon isn't actually Ned's bastard at all, but was placed under his protection and the ruse was designed to hide his true heritage. At least some portion of the readership assumes Jon may in fact be the child of Ned's sister Lyanna and Prince Rhaegar (which would make Jon a rightful heir to the kingdom Rhaegar and Lyanna's bastard).
      • The Game of Thrones TV series apparently felt that Catelyn's constant kicking the direwolf made her too unsympathetic. Whereas in the novels, Catelyn's hatred of Jon endures long after he leaves to join the Night's Watch, to the point that she loathes all people born out of wedlock because they remind her of him, in the series Catelyn repents of her treatment of him, berating herself for "being unable to love a motherless child".
    • Also, Samwell Tarlly to his father Lord Tarlly.
  • Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series had Tris. She was disowned and disposed of by her parents, who sent her to live with various relatives who used her as a live-in servant while constantly berating and bullying her. Particularly strange was that she seems to have been an only child—it was when she was moved away from her own parents that she encountered a "sibling rivalry" situation (her cousins, who got preferential treatment from their parents—Tris' aunts and uncles).
    • It's noted that at least part of the reason why this happened is that Tris's powers - which cover control over pretty much all weather - were unknown and uncontrolled at the time...which meant that they tended to synchronize with her emotions. They thought she was possessed, and it terrified them - but Tris does still think they could have handled it better. Also notable is that no one in her family is ever mentioned to have tried to make contact with Tris after she becomes known as one of the youngest and most powerful mages of her generation. (At one point in the second series, she tells her student that her family would probably like to have her back for her powers, but that'd be the only reason. She doesn't say whether or not her family attempted a reconciliation between books, though.)
    • There's also Daja, whose whole culture banished her, after she was the only survivor of a shipwreck that killed the rest of her family, due to the association of a lone survivor being bad luck. She understands the reasons behind it, but it still upsets her until they bring her back in.
  • Josephine in Tim Powers' The Stress of Her Regard. She is the disturbed and unappreciated younger sister of protagonist Michael Crawford's wife Julia; their mother died giving birth to Josephine; the family says that they don't hold this against her but that Josephine holds it against herself. Josephine spent her youth coping with stress by becoming someone else; imitating a clockwork machine, or imitating her sister Julia (who charmingly made sure that people knew about this). Years after Julia's death, Crawford and Josephine are guests in someone else's home when Josephine slips into 'becoming' Julia for several days. Crawford then feels that he now knows Julia far better than he did when they were married - and doesn't like her much, and tries to help Josephine return to her own personality.
  • Ron of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter, feels like this, though it's not true (his family never shows him anything but the utmost unconditional love). Specifically he feels overshadowed by his five older brothers, and his younger sister because his mum supposedly wanted a daughter most of all, and his famous best friend, who his mum treats like another son. And, of course, Harry himself is constantly compared unfavorably to his cousin Dudley by his aunt and uncle; this becomes one of the ways the book shows Harry growing up, as "not being liked by parental figures" becomes less important than "war between good and evil".
    • Molly has shown some unfavorite sentiments toward Fred, George, and Ron. More than once she's compared the three of them unfavorably to their three older brothers. Later, when Ron is appointed a school prefect (like Bill, Charlie, and Percy), Molly squeals, "That's everyone in the family!" prompting George to quip, "What are Fred and I? Next door neighbors?" She also apparently didn't have much faith in Ginny becoming a prefect either.
    • Ron eventually gets everything he wants. In the first book we see that his heart's desire is to win the Quidditch Cup and be Head Boy, surpassing all his brothers: he does indeed win the cup and probably would have gotten to be Head Boy if he'd stayed at Hogwarts for his seventh year. As if Fate's trying to make up for it, he gets the girl of his dreams instead while his best friend marries his younger sister.
    • It's implied that Tom Riddle was one of these in his youth: the woman running the orphanage was glad to see the back of him. It's justified in that it's also implied that he was a Damien-esque nightmare even as a child.
      • Voldemort's mother, Merope, to such an extent that it stunted the growth of her magical abilities.
    • Sirius Black may be another example. His younger brother Regulus was 'the good son'. However, it's debatable whether or not Sirius took the 'unfavourite' role on himself by deliberately doing things he knew his family disapproved of, implying that he did not actually care whether or not his parents preferred him or his brother because he so deeply disapproved of their expectations and political views.
      • It's implied that most of this may have started after Sirius' acceptance into Gryffindor rather than Slytherin, like the rest of his family. A Nature vs. Nurture argument could be made here, but its apparent that most of his "misbehavior" was a reaction to his unfavorite status, which was probably due to his Gryffindor values. It's rather cyclic. His family hates him because he was a Gryffindor, he hates his family because they hate him because he's a Gryffindor and he hates them because he's a Gryffindor.
        • Except that Sirus was rebellious long before he got into Gryffindor. On his first train ride to Hogwarts he implies that he doesn't want to get into Slytherin.
    • And let's not forget Petunia's outburst about her sister in the first book.
      • Petunia implies that she herself held this position in the Evans family, especially after Lily's magical abilities are discovered. Though it's difficult to know just how much of this perception was due to her jealousy over Lily's powers, as we only ever hear her side of the story.
    • Severus Snape was revealed to have grown up with parents too busy fighting with each other to give a rip about him. Which is almost Greek tragedy-levels of sad, considering he was an only child.
    • In case there weren't enough examples from Harry Potter already (did Rowling have issues with this?), the Dumbledore family had this in spades. Ariana, the youngest member of the family, was mentally ill and required constant care and supervision to the partial exlusion of her older brothers out of necessity. Because of this, Aberforth seemed to wind up the unfavorite of the family, being neither ill like Ariana or a prodigal genius like Albus, and remains rather bitter toward his brother even when they're both old men (although for different reasons). Strangely, Albus himself seemed to feel like the Unfavorite as a boy, since he didn't think his mother gave him the proper attention he deserved due to his brilliance, and resented having to waste his time taking care of Ariana when he had many other ripe possibilities before him. As an old man, he admitted that it was all ego and he needed to get over himself.
      • According to the website, Rowling herself wasn't exactly the Unfavourite, but her parents labelled her "the clever one" and her sister "the pretty one", with no thoughts about whether either kid particularly wanted to be put in those boxes.
      • Heck yes, Rowling had issues with it. In the documentary "J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life" she says that when she was little, her parents told her she was supposed to be a boy, and when she asked if they had also been disappointed when her sister came along, they said no. She then went upstairs and cried. It is heavily implied they favored her little sister. About her father she had the following to say: "I was very frightened of my father for a very long time. But also tried - well, it's a common combination, isn't it? - I desperately tried to get his approval and make him happy, I suppose. And then there came a point quite shamingly late in life where I couldn't do that anymore." She hasn't had any contact with her father since.
      • There have been other issues between J.K. Rowling and her father, besides issues of favoritism. Both admit they became distant after JK's mother died, and there have been issues over finances and money where JK's father is concerned.
  • The Earth My Butt And Other Big Round Things is a great insight of being The Unfavorite. The narrator is a chubby, brown-haired, high-schooler with average grades living in a glamorous upper-class family of beautiful slim blond people.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's Return of The King, Denethor clearly ladles all the work on Faramir's shoulders partly because Boromir was his favorite. It is heavily implied that at least part of this is the immediate reaction of grief; Gandalf warns Faramir against doing anything rash, because his father loves him and will remember that.
    • Denethor himself was the Unfavourite to Thorongil/Aragorn's Favourite.

"Indeed [Denethor] was as like to [Aragorn] as to one of nearest kin, and yet was ever placed second to the stranger in the hearts of men and the esteem of his father." The Return of the King, Appendix A, J.R.R Tolkien.

  • Flowers for Algernon has a rather extreme version of this, Charlie's mother Rose preferred her daughter Norma to her son Charlie due to Norma having an average IQ compared to Charlie's very low 68. This made Norma a Spoiled Brat and left Charlie mostly confused and afraid of his mother who would beat him for perfectly natural things like having an erection as would any pubescent teen boy. Terrified he would do something to Norma. Rose eventually forced Charlie's father to have him taken away by threatening to kill Charlie if he didn't.
  • Jacob Have I Loved takes this to biblical proportions, as implied by the title. The protagonist is overshadowed by her twin sister from birth, first because of the latter's frail health, then because of her beauty and musical talent. The title comes in when she parallels herself to Esau, Jacob's older, less fortunate brother, and decides she must be God's UnFavorite.
  • Subverted in Dragonlance because Raistlin Majere appears to be The Unfavorite of the universe while his twin brother Caramon is well-liked by damn near everyone he meets; really, though, people don't like Raistlin because he's a Jerkass.
  • Jochi in the Conqueror books is disdained by his father, Genghis Khan, due to suspicion he was conceived as a result of Borte's rape by Tartars. In Real Life, this resulted in tension between Jochi and Chagatai, which in turn was part of the reason the great khan named his third son as his successor. In Real Life,
  • Outbound Flight features a minor character who hates his Jedi sister because, since she wasn't around to do anything less-than-perfect, he was forced to endure an entire childhood of "Why couldn't you be more like your sister? I bet she never [INSERT CHILDHOOD HIJINK HERE]."
    • Survivor's Quest has him, much older and as one of the main characters, realize that it wasn't quite like that.
  • In their mother's eyes at least, Anna and Jesse are clearly Un-Favorites in comparison to Ill Girl Kate in My Sister's Keeper. As Jesse says, he's the "lost cause," a guy that spends all his time in a filthy garage apartment doing drugs and drinking. The unfavoritism leads to him becoming an arsonist and causing his fireman father quite a lot of grief. Anna, on the other hand, was only born to donate blood to Kate, who has leukemia. It's scary how her mother seems to think of her not in terms of who she is as a person, but as the sum of the parts that could be used to help Kate. Their father, on the other hand, seems to think of all of them equally, though of course because of Kate's condition he has to put the other two in the back seat from time - especially Jesse, who started consider himself "invisible" within the family, since Kate and Anna are often the center of attention whenever Kate's condition worsens.
  • Prince Roger of David Weber and John Ringo's Prince Roger series is the Un-Favourite due to his resemblance to his father (and, to be fair, his complete lack of accomplishment compared to his fleet-admiral sister and senior-diplomat brother.)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid includes this but the role is split between Rodrick and Gregory, mostly because the favourite is obviously the much younger Manny.
  • Sookie Stackhouse was unfavorite in comparison to her Jerkass brother Jason, because of her telepathy making her too weird for their little southern town. Although their grandmother was loving, she was weirded out by Sookie's ability and only acknowledged it as a gift when it would be helpful or useful for Sookie to put it to use.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar books have Heralds Vanyel Ashkevron and Talia Sensdaughter, both very much the un-favorite child of their respective fathers (and in Talia's case, her father's various wives as well). Slightly subverted in Vanyel's case as he's his mother's favorite (although that mostly serves to make his brothers and cousins jealous), and he eventually reconciles with his father as well.
  • In The Dead and The Gone, Alex Morales is left to take care of his siblings Julie and Briana after an asteroid hits the moon. Alex very obviously favors Briana over the more whiny Julie, especially after Briana gets asthma. However, Alex learns to like Julie after Briana disappears and is soon found dead in the elevator.
  • In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Francie grows up dealing with her mother's favoritism for her brother Neelie. When he was born less than a year after her, their mother compared the beautiful cooing baby to the colicky, plain-looking little girl. She immediately knew she could never love them equally.
  • In The Westing Game, Grace Wexler's preference for beautiful daughter Angela is so extreme that she doesn't even recognize her younger daughter, Turtle, after a few drinks. Subverted in that being ignored is actually better for Turtle than having her life micromanaged is for Angela, who's so stressed by My Beloved Smother that she starts setting off bombs.
  • The Liavek anthologies had Nerissa Benedicti, who summed her situation up thusly: "I am the last of eight children, and any week-guest in the house can discover that everybody concerned wishes there had only been six." Nerissa ends up joining a religion of suicides at the age of fourteen. (Her brother Deleon, the second Unfavorite, ran away from home on his twelfth birthday.)
  • In the Agatha Christie book Sparkling Cyanide, Sandra Farraday. Sandra's mother explicitly says at one point that Sandra is the most difficult and least dear to her of all her children. Also from the same book, Iris Marle seems to be rather neglected compared to her beautiful, rich older sister Rosemary. Iris doesn't really seem to resent it, though.
    • Another Agatha Christie example is in Murder With Mirrors. Mildred Gulbrandson, the biological daughter of Miss Marple's friend Carrie Louise, is The Unfavorite as compared to Carrie Louise's adopted daughter Pippa, her stepsons Alex and Stephan, and later Pippa's daughter Gina. Poor girl just can't catch a break.
    • The end of the story, when Carrie Louise turns to Mildred for support and comfort and an earlier conversation between the former and Miss Marple implies that much of this 'unfavoritism' was Mildred's perception.
  • In J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury is the Un-Favorite of his family. He was the second-born twin, which apparently is bad luck in his world. His twin, Zsadist, is kidnapped by a nanny as an infant and sold into slavery. Phury is not directly blamed for this, but it is inherent that his birth and its bad luck was the reason. His family falls apart, and notes that he had to drag his father's drunken body inside as dawn approached so that he would not die. It was also noted that when he left to find his brother, no one noticed his departure, and he did not attend his parents' funerals. He finally finds his twin, who is being horribly abused and tortured by an aristocrat, and helps him escape. In the process, he loses the lower half of one of his legs and uses a prothesis. He vows that he will help his brother, which includes beating him up on several occasions at his request. He takes a vow of celibacy, and becomes a drug addict. He eventually finds peace with his parents while withdrawing from the drugs, but spends most of the series with some serious guilt.
  • One of the first things we learn about Stiva in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is that he hugely prefers his daughter to his son. For some reason this comes off as charming and honest in the original Russian, and cold and cruel in the English translation.
  • Annotations for Warbreaker reveal that, while there were legitimate tactical reasons that King Dedelin considered when he decided to send Siri to marry the God King instead of Vivenna, he ultimately was more willing to sacrifice his youngest daughter because he didn't love her quite as much as her older sister.
  • Conrad of Ordinary People is clearly the Unfavorite in the eyes of his mother, especially so after his brother, the Favorite, dies.
  • In Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler, Asha Vere is the unfavorite to her parents, strict Christian fundamentalists who don't seem to love her. Their other child, Kamaria, died in a bombing. It turns out she's adopted.
  • Claudia Kishi of The Baby Sitters Club often feels like this with her parents, due to her older sister Janine being a certified genius and good at academics. However, one of the Claudia books reveals that Janine also feels like the Un Favourite because Claudia is so pretty and popular.
  • In Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford series, Wexford's older daughter Sylvia, who comes off badly in his eyes (and Rendell's) even when she's been victimized. By contrast, the other daughter, Sheila, is an extremely successful actress who never does anything in the least bit wrong.
  • Washington Square's main character Catherine Sloper is this to her father, in comparison to her older brother... who died several years before she was born and doesn't appear to have lived long enough to be named.
  • In East of Eden, this happens twice via Generation Xerox. Charles and Adam's father preferred Adam, which led Charles to abuse his brother. It happens again with Adam's twin boys, Cal and Aaron.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere an Autumn Tale, Lindsey knows that her father is never proud of her, as opposed to her brother Peter.
  • Stephen Colbert's "I Am America (And So Can You!)" actually suggests making a conscious choice of who the favorite and unfavorite are, since it will happen anyway. On top of that, he also suggests using it as a Carrot and the Stick approach to make sure the children are well-behaved.
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's The Song of the Cardinal, the she-cardinal whom he kissed.

She had been hatched from a fifth egg to begin with; and every one knows the disadvantage of beginning life with four sturdy older birds on top of one. It was a meager egg, and a feeble baby that pipped its shell. The remainder of the family stood and took nearly all the food so that she almost starved in the nest, and she never really knew the luxury of a hearty meal until her elders had flown. That lasted only a few days; for the others went then, and their parents followed them so far afield that the poor little soul, clamouring alone in the nest, almost perished.

  • The Hon. Freddie Threepwood in PG Wodehouse's Blandings Castle series. As the seemingly unnecessary "second son" who's constantly piling up debts and having to be hauled out of London, he's not a big hit with his father Lord Emsworth, who'd do anything to get him off his hands.
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's A Daughter of the Land, Kate. Mary is clearly the Favorite, but the other sisters also had their share.

"I am not! But it wasn't a 'fool thing' when Mary and Nancy Ellen, and the older girls wanted to go. You even let Mary go to college two years."
"Mary had exceptional ability," said Mrs. Bates.
"I wonder how she convinced you of it. None of the rest of us can discover it," said Kate.

Live Action TV

  • No matter what Det. Goren from Law and Order: Criminal Intent does for his mother (including taking care of her while she's in the hospital) he still can't measure up to his brother, a homeless drug addict with an illegitimate son - or were there two brothers? Either way, Goren gets no respect.
    • One episode portrayed a wealthy family patriarch who had two sons, one favorite (talented, handsome, successful), the other un-favorite. The un-favorite son married the patriarch's favorite daughter-in-law (dutiful and responsible), while the favorite son married the un-favorite ("total screwup"). The favorite son is murdered, and the un-favorite is the prime suspect. Ironically, the favorite daughter-in-law planned and executed the murder; the "screwup" in-law was in on the plan but chickened out. The ending implies that the patriarch has already picked his favorite and un-favorite grandsons.
  • An episode of Law and Order SVU had the detectives visit a doctor who has a huge portrait of him, his wife, and his two daughters, a doctor and a lawyer, in his office. Later, they discovered the doctor also has a son... who was working as his janitor. Three guesses who turns out to be the violent rapist they're searching for.
    • Not to mention the woman who murdered mothers as a nurse in order to "free their daughters" of the pain of caring for them. Particularly depressing at the end when she is seen watching old films of her mother playing cheerfully with her brother while she plays alone in the background.
  • Played for laughs with GOB of Arrested Development. Despite being the eldest son, GOB is loathed by both his parents for his often idiotic behavior, and as such is extremely jealous/admiring of his younger brother Michael, the family "favourite".Averted in that Michael hates being the favourite and GOB seems happier without any responsibility
    • Lucille lampshades this in the pilot: "I don't care for GOB."
    • Even when Lindsey is revealed to be adopted Lucille mentions she still loves Lindsey as much as her other children and even more than GOB.
  • Kara "Starbuck" Thrace of the new Battlestar Galactica was The Unfavourite and apparently an only child. We learn that Starbuck's mother Socrata was in the Colonial military and Starbuck joined up largely to win her approval. When she graduated Viper school and earned her commission, her mother berates her for not being first in her class, despite managing to become an officer rather than an NCO like Socrata was.
    • Not quite a straight example. Socrata was bastardly and abusive to Kara because she knew Kara had a special destiny and didn't think she was trying hard enough to live up to her natural ability.
  • Jan Brady of The Brady Bunch.
  • Curious example on Dirty Sexy Money. In a first-season episode, matriarch Letitia says that Brian and Jeremy are their father's unfavorites; considering the fact that Jeremy is a drug-addicted layabout and that Brian isn't Tripp's biological son, this makes sense. But after learning about Brian's illegitimacy, Tripp starts liking him more, giving him a company job and calling him 'son' for the first time in the series.
  • Possibly the example most familiar to American TV viewers, Robert from Everybody Loves Raymond. With the slight reversal that Robert is actually the elder brother himself.

Marie (to Raymond): "You can never turn your back on talent."
(Turns her back on Robert and walks out the door)

    • Robert was originally going to be cast as shorter then Ray and being forced to literally look up to his younger brother. The actor being taller took the gag from funny to hysterical.
  • Firefly. Despite making her brother look like a idiot child, River Tam's parents are clearly more invested in Simon's medical career. The lack of concern over her cries for help from the Academy is particularly damning...
    • Unlike his parents, Simon Tam is still a sympathetic character due to the fact that he does admit to her superior intelligence, albeit somewhat grudgingly in his younger years, abandons aforesaid medical career and status as the 'beloved child' to help her, and in the flashbacks seems to show her more affection than the parents did.
    • The parents' investment is more in their lives as wealthy, law-abiding supporters of the system; naturally it's easier for them to deny everything than admit that the government is doing evil things to their daughter. Even Simon had moments of resentment at having to give that life up.
  • Lorne in Angel. When he visits home for the first time in years, his parents say "We ate the wrong son."
  • An interesting example in Frasier: both Crane brothers considered themselves to be The Unfavourite, though in reality neither was. Though this gave birth to a destructive competiveness between them and rendered them utterly incapable of working together for any length of time, they both concede in one episode that their competiveness motivated them to excel academically and professionally.
  • Monica on Friends is treated like this by her parents, while her brother can do no wrong (the reason given in the show is that they thought their mother was barren, which means that Ross was their "Miracle Child," and by the time Monica was born, the amazement was over.) Possibly why she is so screwed up. Interestingly, Ross actually calls them out on it a couple times.
    • Though when her dad realises that they've been doing this, he gives her his Porsche to make up for it, so, you know, "every cloud".
      • Of course, he gives her the Porsche after he destroys all her childhood memories by using the boxes they were in to protect said Porsche from water damage. That silver lining only came after a flood.
    • Also when Ross' daughter Emma is born his dad congratulates him on his first child, completely forgetting that he has another one, a son named Ben from his first marriage. So there's also an unfavorite grandson.
  • Chuck Bass on Gossip Girl is a strange example, as he is an only child for two-thirds of season one. Sadly, once his step-siblings Serena and Eric move in, he still obviously takes a back seat to everyone else.
    • Also Blair, who is an only child but continually overshadowed in her mother's eyes by Serena and later even Jenny. Heartbreakingly.
  • Mohinder Suresh of Heroes is his father's Un-Favourite, as compared to his Ill Girl older sister Shanti. This is due to having been conceived expressly in order to be a cure for her, but born too late; Chandra half-hated him for the failure, half-didn't want to get emotionally attached again.
  • Nathan Petrelli of Heroes could also be said to be the Unfavorite of his family. Angela actually told Peter he was her favorite compared to Nathan. Especially since it's later revealed in season 3 that Nathan was the only one in the family to be born without powers and had to be given powers via a formula.
    • Although Arthur Petrelli does claim that Nathan is his favorite, but given that he previously tried to have Nathan killed, the truth of this statement is debatable.
    • And Angela's claims that Peter is her favorite are somewhat suspect given that Angela spent the whole of Season One helping Big Bad Linderman manipulate things so that Peter would become a living bomb and Nathan could eventually become President of the United States, allowing The Company the defacto ability to rule the world.
    • And also in the first season, when Angela tells Peter he's her favorite, she goes on to add that she knows it never looked that way when he was growing up, as he often ignored while his parents focused on Nathan. In "Six Months Ago", Peter also mentions having never gotten along with his father and being unsurprised that he wanted nothing to do with his graduating from nursing school. The Petrelli parents ignoring Peter while he was growing up, leaving Peter to turn to his big brother every time he needed help, seems to form the crux of the brothers' unusually close relationship.
    • Apparently this has been retconned or reverted, because Angela begins to treat him with respect in season four. It culminates in her horror when she discovers that Nathan has had his throat slashed open by Sylar. She even closes his eyes as a sign of respect for both him and for the dead. She goes so far as capturing Sylar, burning a dead shapeshifter who looks like Sylar in order to throw off suspicion, getting shapeshifter Sylar to turn into Nathan, and then having Matt Parkman alter Sylar's memories and personality to actually BECOME Nathan Petrelli. Creeeeepy. It's implied at the brief part of season five we're shown that Sylar's personality is resurfacing.
    • The Graphic Novel "Truths", it's revealed that the only reason Nathan was given powers synthetically was because Arthur felt that powers had been given to the wrong son. This mostly stems from his belief that Peter is too soft-hearted. Moments before his death though, Arthur expresses pride in the fact that both his sons are willing to do what needs to be done, so Peter may no longer qualify. At least not from his father.
    • You know what? The Petrelli parents are just fucking horrible people if you think about their cumulative actions for more than five minutes.
  • In Judging Amy, one episode feature a large, loud, and boisterous family who did not know what to make of their youngest(?) child, a quiet, apparently unathletic, and introverted kid. Apparently, forcing him into dog piles and over-enthusiastic games of football constituted abuse so the family had to learn An Aesop about different personalities.
  • An episode of Lois and Clark featured the mother of a deceased criminal known as "Bad Brain Johnson". To try and get her attention, her Un Favourite second son built a fully functional mind control machine, to offer her the whole world as a gift. Not only was he met with equal disdain as usual, but not even the machine at full power could force her to tell her son she loved him.
  • Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf is a powerful example of an Un-Favourite. His brothers were all high-flyers in the Space Corps; Arnold was a technician, the second lowest in rank on a mining ship. While he's a comedic character, some of the abuse he goes through would reach Woobie standards, and goes a long way to explaining why Rimmer's such a git. Unfortunately, it's still difficult to side with him, given the frequency with which he uses his screwed-up past as a carte-blanche excuse for being a jerkass. In some of the darker moments of the books, the tragic side does become clear.
    • Not least in the story which shows just how small the difference in history between him and Ace Rimmer (what a guy!) is.
    • There are several scenes in the show which give Rimmer a more sympathetic POV. Curiously, a deleted scene in Series 6 shows that his brothers all ended up screwed up in later life, making Arnie perhaps the least screwed up of the lot ultimately. Another source of his angst is in Series 2, where he laments that he just wanted his father to congratulate him on something, but will never get the chance now.
  • There's a bit of this buzzing around Lore, from Star Trek: The Next Generation, who considers Data the favourite of their father. The "older brother" of the two androids Noonien Soong created, Lore (who has emotional awareness, while Data didn't), went a bit off the rails and was deactivated (but not before he was able to call a giant life sucking entity to the colony where he was built in order to destroy it). During his first appearance in Datalore, Lore spends a lot of time convincing Data that Lore was the second of the two built: to "perfect" the mistakes Soong made with Data (turned out it was the other way round. Lore terrified the colonists, who petitioned Soong to make one less human). The whole favouritism thing comes to a head in the episode Brothers when discovering that Soong has spent the last years of his life perfecting an emotion chip for Data without the "faults" that Lore's had. Lore deactivates Data, takes his place, steals the emotion chip and murders their father before leaving.

Lore: You didn't fill Data with substandard parts, did you? No, that honour was bestowed upon me. You owe me, old man. Not him. Me.

  • Supernatural: Even though Dean's Daddy issues are a lot more obvious, you could say that both of them fit this trope. The only affection Dean ever gets from John is when John is possessed or about to die, a regrettable incident that happened when he was 9 gets hung over his head for 17 years. And as for Sam, he's disowned when he wants to be normal, John actually blames him for his brother's impending death in In My Time Of Dying and he gets two utterly dismal goodbyes while Dean at least gets an apology and a smile. And the worst thing? He told Dean that he might have to kill Sam if he goes bad, and Dean thought he had to basically commit suicide (just not right away) because John gave him an order and he failed and, as shown by Long Distance Caller is still devoted to his father. Oh, John. You might have been a good man but you failed at being even a halfway decent father.
    • Lampshaded by the Yellow-Eyed Demon who tells Dean that even though John argued and yelled at Sam a lot, it was 'more concern than he's ever shown you.'
    • Strange version: Lucifer regards himself as this, but Gabriel points out that they all know that God loved Lucifer more than any of the other angels, more than Michael and more than Gabriel himself. The reason Gabriel believes Lucifer hates humans? He felt that God cared about them more and would demote him to this trope.
  • In an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun, it's revealed that Mary's sister Renata was the favorite of the Albright family:

Mary: The minute she was born, my life changed. I mean, she was showered with attention, she was given everything, she was supported endlessly and I had to stand by and rinse out her things!
Nina: [astonished] Wow... so you're the good sister?

  • Young Dracula: Despite being the child that most takes after him, Ingrid is consistently ignored and humiliated by her sexist father.
  • One of the most famous routines of the Smothers Brothers involved them arguing about which one their mother loved most. Tommy, despite being older, gets the worst of the unfavorite treatment. While his brother Dickie got a bike, Tommy got a wagon with only one wheel. And instead of getting a dog, Tommy got a chicken.
  • Carmen in The George Lopez Show. Her mother, her father and her grandmother like her brother Max more.
    • It's not so much that they like Max more, he's just a lot easier for them to deal with compared to Carmen, as her problems were usually a lot more serious then Max's. Angie herself calls George on this in the episode "I Only Have Eyes For You" after George punishes Carmen more harshly then Max and she accuses him of liking Max better.

Angie: No! It's just that he's easier right now. I know she's a handful, but you can't dismiss all her problems as teenage drama, you have two kids and you should be treating them equally.

    • In rhe later seasons it actually was the opposite. Carmen's problems were much more serious than Max's were, and he felt unloved and ignored.
  • Archie on Monarch of the Glen.
  • Eunice on Mama's Family.
  • On Charmed, Chris seems to be not just the Unfavorite of his father (for complicated backstory reasons involving an alternate future), but of the universe in general: his brother is the Chosen One by virtue of being the first child born between a Charmed One (a trio of Chosen Ones in their own right) and a Whitelighter. Chris is...the second such child, which is apparently less impressive in terms of destiny, and winds up with a bit of inferiority complex as a result.
    • Later, when they already know he's the Kid From the Future and she's already pregnant with him:

Piper: Damn, this was easier with your brother. The Force Field blocked about everything...
Chris: Hey! You used a force field with him and not with me?!
Piper: Oh, no, no, that was his, not mine.

  • In Veronica Mars Cassidy Casablancas, the younger of two sons, was clearly the unfavourite as the victim of bullying by his father and the 'favourite', his elder brother, as the dad and sibling had competitions to see who could make him cry first. This character would also come under the All of the Other Reindeer umbrella.
  • In Dallas, JR Ewing's Freudian Excuse was that Jock and Miss Ellie were constantly comparing him to Bobby and finding him wanting.
  • A Played for Drama example from Mad Men. Justified in-universe in that Don was the bastard son of a whore being raised by his father's widow and family.
  • Poor, poor Purple Parrots. Legends of the Hidden Temple seemed to put the shortest, slowest players on Purple Parrots, to the point where, in challenge wins, they are dead last. This has caused them to be a minor case of Base Breaker: you either don't like them, or you support them as the underdog.
  • On Boy Meets World, Eric is implied to have become this in later seasons. Though it is Played for Laughs.
  • In Victorious, Trina is implied to be this. How much? After getting her wisdom teeth removed, her parents went on vacation for the sole purpose of not wanting to take care of her.
  • In the episode of Leverage "The Snow Job", despite being the one that practically runs the crooked business, his father clearly favors the older fun loving air head son.
  • Un-favourite pets appear from time to time on the various Animal Planet Heroes shows, when an irresponsible owner takes excellent care of one dog/cat/horse/whatever, while allowing another to starve in the yard without shelter or medical care.
  • Oh god Skins loves this one; Chris became an unfavourite when his brother died, Freddie is constantly passed over for Karen, Katie's mum has always favoured her over Emily, and in Gen 3 the Nick and Matty situation is... complicated.
  • The Big Bang Theory has poor Leonard. As stated by Leonard:

"If you'd like to took at the relationship between nurturing and growth, I'd like to point out that my brother is 8 inchs taller then me"


  • The premise of the song "Better Version of You" by Paul and Storm is the parents informing The Unfavourite that his unborn sibling will be the favourite.

Newspaper Comics

  • When his older brother Chad is visiting from college, Jeremy from the strip Zits seems to fall into this.
    • This wasn't helped by early depictions of Chad, which gave him a gleaming, perfect smile, the rest of his head unseeable, atop a perfect body to go with the notion that he could do no wrong. More recent depictions make him Jeremy with a beard.
  • April from For Better or For Worse was the Black Sheep and completely ignored by almost her entire family (the main exception being her grandfather). The fact that she's regarded by much of the Hatedom as being the strip's Only Sane Man is probably very much related to this fact.
    • Making this even harsher, creator Lynn Johnson admitted that the Patterson family was based on her own, and that April represented the second daughter she wanted but never had. Apparently that went out the window, since as noted above, April is often the victim of Informed Wrongness.
  • Peter Fox from FoxTrot tends to be this in the Fox Family.
    • All three of the Fox kids do crazy things. Peter, being the oldest, tends to draw more attention since his zany antics include things like driving like a maniac, skipping homework, playing a guitar loudly and badly, and wrecking the house by throwing a football around indoors. In comparison, Paige's obsessive shopping, Jason's scientific screw-ups, and their mutual back-and-forth teasing is kind of small potatoes.


  • New York baseball has two teams. The Yankees, perennial playoff contenders, 27 time world champions, rich as all hell...and the Mets.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40,000 backstory has strong vibes of this in the Primarchs. With a few exceptions the vast majority of them defected because of their father's disapproval and/or withering apathy (but not Horus, who was the star and the Emperor's right hand man for most part). In the words of Roboute Guilliman, "The Emperor was a great scientist, a great leader, but a terrible father".
    • On the tabletop itself several armies could lay claim to this. The long suffering Dark Eldar went ten years without receiving an update. Now that they have a new rulebook and set of models the mantle passes on to the Witchhunters, though their chances of getting an update are looking grim. With the Sisters of Battle, for a while it was bad enough that a fan wrote The Steadfast Pewter Sororitas story, and it was regularly remembered. To put it in perspective, this happened while GW gave reasons to be accused of blatantly using "cheese" as a marketing strategy (updating different factions in turn into a Game Breaker/"easy mode", to the point of being restricted in non-"official" games, so that the newbies would buy related materials - and presumably the older players a reason to buy something else).


  • The Broadway show Next to Normal features this trope spectacularly with the song "Superboy and the Invisible Girl" after it is revealed that the son has been dead the whole time, died when he was eighteen months old, but the mother, and possibly the father, hallucinates him throughout the show as a perfect beautiful shining son, leaving the living daughter a wreck.
  • Happy Loman in Death of a Salesman.
  • Elphaba in Wicked was blamed by her father for her sister's condition and their mother's death. There's also his words upon seeing Elphaba for the first time. "Take it away. TAKE IT AWAY!"
    • Somewhat justified as the opening song reveals her mother was cheating with another man, so Elphaba wasn't even his to begin with. He may have suspected that considering that she was green.
      • Not that he knew that. His rejection was pretty much purely a reaction to her "deformity".
      • This a change from the book, where they had a fairly good (though not close) relationship.
  • In The Lion in Winter, Richard is Henry's Unfavorite. John is Eleanor's Unfavorite. Geoffrey, poor guy, is the Unfavorite to both.
  • The title character of Sophocles' Electra is neglected and abused by her mother and step-father. She loathes them both and isn't terribly hesistant about letting it be known. Orestes is also the unfavourite, but has been in exile since childhood so it's not as obvious.
  • In The Taming of the Shrew, Baptista obviously prefers Bianca to Katerina. Either this is because of Katerina's Hair-Trigger Temper, or Katerina's anger issues are a direct result of having been The Unfavorite to begin with.

Video Games

  • This is the motivation of the Big Bad of Drakengard, Manah. Her mother showered her brother Seere with love but abused Manah, finally culminating with abandoning her in a monster-infested canyon for a cult to take. After that, she decided that the only way she could make her mother love her was if the gods themselves loved her. And since God Is Evil, this entails being infused with their power, ascending to the head of the cult, taking control of The Empire, and destroying the world. All at no older than six years of age. The moral of the story: don't abuse your children, or they'll destroy the world.
  • Beat in The World Ends With You typically sees himself as The Unfavorite of his family, especially compared to his younger sister Rhyme. As a result of being unable to live up to their standards, he stops trying at school altogether, which Neku notes is at odds with the Hot-Blooded personality he demonstrates.
  • In Silent Hill Homecoming Alex's younger brother Joshua is clearly the favourite of his parents, to the extent that Alex tells his mother to "stop pretending you care about me" at one point when she tries to apologize to him. It's later revealed that Alex's parents had to choose one of their children to be sacrificed to Silent Hill's god in order to keep it from destroying Shepherd's Glen. They chose Alex and, knowing he was doomed, purposely remained distant with him to make the inevitable sacrifice easier.
  • The titular Bastard of Kosigan, whose situation at home was so uncomfortable for him that he ran off and became a mercenary after his father (the only person defending him from his uncle's abuse) died.
  • Hawke's younger brother Carver in Dragon Age 2 sees himself as this, despite little evidence to support his claims. A classic case of Younger Brother Syndrome. Carver's uncle Gamlen is also one, since his parents made his sister their sole heir, despite disowning her after she eloped with an apostate (illegal) mage.. The game compares the two of them on occasion.
  • Liquid Snake from Metal Gear. He was so much of an unfavorite of his clonedaddy Big Boss that he swore revenge against his 'superior' twin, commandeered a walking nuclear death-tank, and held the world for ransom for the remains of Big Boss. Talk about family issues.
    • Interestingly, in the ending of Metal Gear Solid Ocelot reveals that he was actually the superior twin, even though he'd always believed otherwise, making this something of a subversion.
      • Actually, Ocelot uses Recessive and Dominant... which doesn't mean inferior or superior. It's just inherited gene prioritisation.
      • Also, technically, it's not just Liquid, but pretty much ALL of the Les Enfants Terribles children who were UnFavorites to Big Boss, as he hated the project, especially when it was performed without his consent. In fact, the project was the reason why he broke away from the Patriots and eventually attempted to overthrow them.
        • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty had Fatman, who was neglected by his parents, and apparently, even though he built a nuclear bomb at Age 10, and was rather famous (or infamous) within the bomb trade for this feat, he was hated within his own school.
  • Though it may not be confirmed as we never see his parents,Nozomi Suemitsu aka the Gourmet King from Persona 3,he constantly in his older and less rotund bother's shadow
    • Persona 4 takes this trope a step further with Kou Ichigo. It's revealed that he was adopted as a child because his adoptive parents though they couldn't have any children of their own...until they actually do. When they do, Kou feels that they've literally cast him to the side now that they have a "real" child.
  • Flora, in the Professor Layton series, seems like this sometimes because the Professor keeps trying to leave her at home when he goes on investigations, but allows Luke—who is younger—to tag along. Although the Professor's reasoning is good (he's unwilling to take a young lady into dangerous situations), it seems a bit wince-worthy, especially since Luke is only the Professor's apprentice and Flora is his actual foster daughter.
    • Although it's arguably justified by the differences in Flora and Luke's backgrounds. Luke, as the professor's apprentice, is used to solving puzzles and hazarding dangerous situations. Flora has not had that sort of experience, and also is implied to still be recovering from the trauma of her dad first trying to pass off a robot as a replacement for her mother, then being raised by Ridiculously-Human Robots after her father's death.
  • In F.E.A.R., it turns out that the Point Man was the unfavorite grandchild of Harlan Wade, as he did not possess the same Psychic Powers of his brother, Paxton Fettel.

Visual Novels

  • Sakura in Fate/stay night was The Unfavorite for blood family, leading her to be given away to another family. Then her adoptive family's treatment of her was somewhere south of "holy shit" on the abuse scale. Can't blame her for going batshit on them all.
    • Though technically, her adoptive family treated her like that because she was the favorite of the family head, and was trying to make her the rightful heir of the family. Granted, said head was completely insane and her adoptive brother abused her out of spite for making him the unfavorite. Oddly enough, he initially raped her because the head's treatment meant that she actually needed magic infused semen to survive... later on, though...
  • Subverted in Tsukihime. Shiki really was the unfavorite of Makihasa and upon being wounded was promptly disinherited and kicked out. However, that's because not only were they not related - therefore making Shiki incapable of becoming the Tohno family head - Shiki was the son of the guy whose family he just killed off. He was kept around to take care of SHIKI (Makihasa's favorite) if he happened to Invert.
  • Shion Sonozaki, though much of her ill treatment comes from Onryu, her cruel grandmother. It doesn't end well for her as she becomes Shion's first target in the Cotton Drifting and Eye Opening chapters.

Web Comics

  • In what could potentially be the best example of this trope, Jimmy in the Chick tract "Unloved," as his parents refuse to attend his high school graduation, constantly tell him he's inferior to his sister, criticize his choice of a wife for having kids (and she later leaves him with all his money) and disown him after he asks to borrow money. Strangely enough, while his sister always does better in their eyes, they don't even bother to attend her wedding.
    • Generally, any character in a Chick Tract who converts tends to become the Unfavorite of the world at large.
  • Roy Greenhilt from Order of the Stick. His father's epitaph reads "Devoted Husband - Mighty Wizard - Passable Father", and his ghost keeps showing up to harass Roy about his choice in Character Class.
    • Although it turned out his father wasn't likely the favorite either.
      • Eugene harasses Roy chiefly because he doesn't get to go to Lawful Good Heaven until Roy (or another Greenhilt descendant) fulfills the blood oath Eugene made as a younger man. The middle Greenhilt is then supremely incensed when he learns that he's Lawful Good Heaven's Unfavorite because he abandoned the oath for other pursuits.
        • Eugene's unfavoritism was well in place long before his death. In On the Origins of PCs, a still-alive Eugene tells Roy all about the Blood Oath solely so that Roy can relate it to favored Julia when she gets old enough to do something about it.
        • To add to the above comment, Eugene only starts pushing Roy into finishing the oath because it gets passed down to the eldest, I.E. Roy. So when Roy died, it got passed to Julia, until Roy was brought back to life.
  • Wally from Zebra Girl is a subversion—while he's at the bottom of his pack of werewolves (and explicitly referred to as the Omega), and constantly teased and berated by his pack-mates, Doyenne, the pack leader, confides in Jack that she feels he has the most potential out of any of the pack, and derides the others as brutish murderers who use their animal sides to excuse the evil in their all-too-human hearts. Of course, in her next breath, she matter-of-factly states how she's going to have to kill them...
  • Rayne from Least I Could Do claims in one strip that he was locked in a cage and fed newspaper as a child. His friends know it's BS, but Mick remarks "his stories amuse me so."
  • Played with in Narbonic. Dave's brother Bill is actually a pretty boring, ordinary guy, but Dave is stubbornly convinced that Bill is cooler, better looking, and otherwise superior to him in every way. There's no indication whether this is related to parental favoritism.
  • Dominic Deegan: Miranda Deegan has pretty much disavowed any knowledge of her oldest son Jacob. Her reasons aren't entirely unjustfied, though; Jacob took up necromancy after one of her oldest enemies attacked her home and gravely wounded her youngest son, Gregory, whom Jacob would use as a guinea pig for several horrible experiments - one of which almost killing Gregory in the process. And, uh...yeah.
  • Liquid Snake, in the AU Metal Gear Solid fancomic series "Les Enfants Terribles." Solidus gets this treatment too, but to a lesser extent.
  • Black Mage from Eight Bit Theater, apparently
    • Red Mage too, although technically that was entirely concocted and implanted in his mind by Thief.
  • Riff from Sluggy Freelance is the Unfavorite to his stepbrother (who is apparently his mother's new husband's son). When said stepbrother asks if he is better than Riff, his mother tells him that it's not nice to "rub it in". Riff is thus somewhat pleased, albeit humiliated, when Bun-bun and Kiki's attempt to stand in for him at a party with a mechanical look-alike fails and results in him getting disowned.
  • Mizuna of Adventurers!! thinks she's one of these, bringing up how she was always compared with Karashi when younger. When she mentions this to Karashi, the latter says that the comparisons were always favorable; eg. "Mizuna is so much more advanced than Karashi was at her age!"
  • Isaac Jenner from Demonology 101, both in the eyes of his father and The Powers That Be. This is his primary reason for his numerous attempts to murder his brother Gabriel.
  • Monette of Something*Positive was The Unfavorite of her biological father (we're not quite sure where her mother is in all of this). When her father gained custody of her and her sisters, he dropped her off at her grandmother's house. While Grandma was on vacation. Grandma also kept pit bulls. And her father tied raw steaks to her head. Oh, and did we mention that at the time she was less than a year old? Of course, being Something*Positive, this is generally played for laughs; however, it's given genuine emotion when her father visits her for Thanksgiving at the MacIntire residence in Texas. His ill treatment of her is what prompts Faye and Fred to adopt her and make her their daughter.
  • In Instant Classic, when Author is born, he has an unexpected twin brother. His parents are dismayed, the father going so far as to name the boy Xauthor, declaring him to be the evil twin at birth and treating him accordingly through his entire childhood and early adulthood, despite him not doing anything remotely evil until he snaps due to being told he's evil for YEARS He's also got a goatee.
  • What Birds Know has Dores, stuck in the shadow of her brother Ian. Her family completely fails to recognize her talents, seeing her instead as a lazy, irresponsible and ill-tempered brat. Her mother is by far the worst about this, to the point that when the parents are worrying about their daughters taking several days too long to return from their errand, she argues against sending help, muttering that she'll just ground Dores later, and freaks out when Ian volunteers to help. "This is not going to happen!"
  • Ann "Bootsie" Khoeler in Friendly Hostility; her parents praise her brother for doing so wonderfully at college, and continue to praise him when he reveals he sold her as a slave to cover his poker debts.
  • Concession: Joel's father preferred his older brother Julian and left him the entire company in his will. While the author claims these implications were just meant as gags, there are hints that his mother would have preferred a daughter; Joel's twin sister Miranda died when they were young, so it's possible he feels his mother would rather he had died. According to Joel, the situation is even worse; he was so traumatised by the death that he was put in a mental hospital. While there, Joel became convinced that their older brother Julian had killed Miranda and their parents thought Joel had done it. Understandably, he's severely messed up by the time the main storyline starts.
  • Brisbane of You Say It First is one of these. We never see his parents, but hear that they seem to hate him. They didn't attend his wedding and the fact that all they did was sign the card Brisbane's brother added to his gift is treated like a huge step in repairing the relationship. He also sadly told his wife that she would be able to meet them, but he wouldn't be allowed to be there.

Web Original

  • Survival of the Fittest has Lyn "Laeil" Burbank. While actually a niece rather than a daughter, her uncle and aunt still give her the same unfavorite treatment, treating her like something that just has to be tolerated, while lavishing all their attention on her Jerk Jock cousin, Anthony, who regularily makes her life hell. Once she's on the island, though, it isn't long before she gets bloody revenge on him.

Western Animation

  • Zuko of Avatar: The Last Airbender: "My father says [my sister] was born lucky -- he says I was lucky to be born..."
    • Azula, Zuko's little sister, is also an example, at least in her own mind: "My own mother...thought I was a monster." She tries to laugh it off at the time, but this perception of her relationship with her mother contributes heavily to her Villainous Breakdown in the series finale.
      • Except in her own mind her perception of her mother says that she always loved Azula. And in an earlier flashback she told Zuko to play with Azula, so it's not like she thought Azula should be shunned.
        • Ursa did love Azula. She was simply concerned about her budding little sociopath of a daughter. We see nothing in her onscreen behavior that says she thought Azula was "a monster". Can't help but wonder where the kid got the idea. Perhaps Ozai told her a few stories about "what your mother said when you weren't around" so he could guarantee that he was Azula's Well Done Daughter Guy. Also, it's possible that "perception" was saying what Azula wanted it to say, not what she believed the real Ursa actually would say, and she knew it, which is why she got so upset. Word of God pretty much confirms this
    • Ozai himself, father of both of the above, used to be this too. After his older brother Iroh's son died, his father ordered him to kill Zuko to let him know what it feels like. To put this into perspective, though, Fire Lord Azulon only ordered this after Ozai tried to use his nephew's death as an excuse to steal his brother's birthright, and after he openly scoffed at Iroh's grief for his lost son causing him to abandon the siege of Ba Sing Se. Still...ouch! Let's face it, that whole family is a mess.
    • The series implies that Mai's parents treat their younger son Tom-Tom much better than her. When Mai was a little girl she was forced to be stiff and rigid at all times, never showing any emotion in case it damaged her father's political career (leading into her emotionally-stunted teenage years). By the time Tom-Tom was born, her father was already a governor and given control over an entire "colony" (said colony being a conquered Earth Kingdom City), so they're free to be more expressive and affectionate with him.
  • Helga Pataki from Hey Arnold! is the poster child for this trope, with her prettier, more intelligent, and away-at-college older sister Olga. Ironically, Olga herself says she'd rather be the Unfavorite: her parents' excessive attention and ridiculously high expectations (especially Bob's) push her into a permanent neurosis and becoming an Extreme Doormat.
  • Rugrats played with this a couple times. In one episode, Angelica convinces the twins Phil and Lil that every family has a Favorite and a Reject; each one spent the rest of the episode convinced that they were the Reject, and mistaking normal parental behavior as signs of this, until, in the end, they make up and decide to be Rejects together (and Angelica even decides to become a Reject). In another, Angelica's parents are going to have another baby, and she has a horrible dream about being rejected in favor of it (until it grows gigantic and tries to eat her).
    • Don't forget this was quite the plot point of the first Rugrats movie. After Dil's birth, Tommy felt abandoned by his parents and attempted to return him to the hospital with the help of his friends, only to later grow fond of Dil and accept him.
    • I remember one episode after the movie where Tommy starts to feel like the unfavourite out of his friends after Angelica teaches them how to cry and fake injuries to get attention from Tommy's parents, but Tommy won't do it. The parents are fussing over the other kids, but Stu does take a moment to apologise to Tommy and say he's glad there's nothing wrong with him. It's kind of sweet, but also sad.
  • An example of the second variant is in Metalocalypse: Pickles, the drummer of the most famous and successful band in history, lead singer of the (arguably) other most famous and successful band in history, apparent college graduate despite being an alcoholic since he was six, is still second in his parents' eyes to his brother, an ex-con who lives in their attic, sponges off everyone he knows, is responsible for destroying Australia, and works for the company Pickles owns.
    • Further expanded in Fatherklok, where Pickles' father straight out calls him trash.
  • Sometime between the original run of Family Guy and the current series, Meg Griffin went from mildly ignored to outright hated by the rest of her family (caused in part by the running joke that Meg may or may not be the result of an affair Lois had behind Peter's back, which in turn cost her a chance to become an Olympic swimmer. Lampshaded in that the show itself has pointed out her unpopularity via doing an entire episode around the family being the subject of a reality tv show. In the episode, the people filming the Griffins point out that Meg is the least liked member of the family, resulting in her being replaced with an attractive actress. And this episode was before the Uncancelled portion.
    • You could go on for days about the Comedic Sociopathy Peter and Lois inflict on poor Meg. Lois in particular; she tried to steal Meg's boyfriend in one episode, couldn't even say "I love you" to the girl on her own wedding day, and tried to get her to kill herself.[1] In one memorable episode, Meg calls them and Chris out on how they treat her like shit despite being disgusting, horrible excuses for human beings...but then goes right back to being their punching bag after seeing that without her as a common "enemy", the family would collapse in on itself.
  • Dr. Doofenshmirtz on Phineas and Ferb. His mother preferred his younger brother Rodger, while his father preferred the family dog.
    • It didn't help that his father named their dog, "Only Son."
      • Or that both his parents somehow managed to be absent for his birth.
    • Hints from the show and Word of God imply that Candace may possibly feel like this trope, but the Flynn-Fletcher family actually averts this trope, with the parents treating their children and stepchildren equally.
  • In Wolverine and the X-Men, Magneto rules Genosha with his two daughters, Polaris and the Scarlet Witch, by his side. Quicksilver, meanwhile, is back in the US running the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants until he's "proved himself" to his father.
    • In X-Men: Evolution, Magneto basically dumps Wanda in an insane asylum when she's 8 or so. His reasoning was that unlike her brother, her powers would have eaten away at too much of his time. Later when she comes after him wanting revenge, he decides to have a psychic alter her memories to make her less likely to come after him. He still never visits her though (Unlike her brother, who was given a cell phone so they can keep in touch).
    • Which of the twins are The Unfavorite changes with the medium and writer.
      • Though generally it doesn't really matter who is less loved because Magneto is almost always a terrible father to both of them, regardless of writer or medium.
        • To be fair to him, in the original continuity, he didn't even meet them until they were almost adults, and didn't discover that they were actually his children until even later.
  • In the Animated Series of Disney's |Hercules, one episode centered around Phil, Herc's Satyr Mentor, coming to terms with his mother always raising his brother (a door-to-door shoe salesman) onto a pedastal. At the end of the episode they learn she was doing it on purpose to keep him from getting a big head, and the brother always got the same treatment.
  • It depends on the writer, but each of The Simpsons kids has, at one point or another, been treated as the unfavorite. Lisa's most often made this (what with Bart being a hellion, Maggie an infant in need of constant care, and the whole family being average or stupid except for her), which is spoofed in the "Sherry Bobbins" episode. She sings, "I'm getting used to never getting noticed!" But there's also the running gag of Homer forgetting Maggie exists ("We have three kids!" "Marge, the dog doesn't count!") and while strangulation does technically count as giving Bart attention...
    • In one flashback episode, the parents meet with Bart's school counselor to try to help him be less miserable in school, only to discover Lisa is a prodigy and immediately write Bart off.

Homer: Face it, Bart's six. His life is over. Lisa is the wave of the future!

  • Lifeline from the G.I. Joe series is a latecomer to this trope, having become the Unfavourite of his all-pacifist family when he joined a military organization. Never mind that he's a field medic who never carries weapons or participates in combat, the fact it's soldiers he saves is enough to earn him the permanent silent treatment from his relatives.
  • Hank Venture from The Venture Bros. While in the first season Dr. Venture seemed equally neglectful towards both sons, the following ones made his Parental Favoritism towards Dean more and more apparent. This has become especially prominent in season 4 after the clone slugs were destroyed and Brock left - Dr. Venture wised up and decided to be more fatherly, but only towards Dean.
    • In a recent episode, when tricked into thinking he's been kidnapped along with the boys, Dr. Venture even tells the kidnappers to torture Hank but not Dean. Later he explains that he suggested that because Hank could deal with it while Dean, the more immature of the two, would take it way too seriously. He also explains that the reason he's so hard on Hank is because he reminds him of himself when he was younger (after hearing this, Hank doesn't quite seem to know how to feel about it). Also it should be mentioned that being his dad's favorite is probably screwing up Dean worse.
    • In truth, it frequently zigzags between the two of them. Dr. Venture seems to prefer Hank in an adventuring context, and Dean in a scientific context. Needless to say, he's not the greatest father.
  • As indicated by the page quote, Hank Hill is the Unfavorite of his two brothers. His older brother, an illegitimate child born of Cotton Hill's affair with a woman in Japan, gains a surprising amount of affection since his mother is perhaps the only person Cotton ever genuinely loved. His younger brother Good Hank was born when Cotton was in his seventies, and at the right age to appreciate having children. Meanwhile, Hank was born in a bathroom in New York, not Texas, and Cotton never quite forgave him for failing to be a native Texan, hating him literally since the day he was born. Being saddled with a Jerkass father like Cotton affected Hank well into adulthood and left him with his uptight, close-minded personality.
  • Before Evil Con Carne was cancelled, and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy became their separate series, one episode involved a father, his older and younger sons, and their pet weasel accidently finding themselves trapped on Evil Con Carne's island. Needless to say, the father had a less than favorable relationship (on his part) with his older son, whom he showed was willing to allow being potentially tortured by Con Carne and his cohorts when forcing his obedience. This is of course played for laughs. He even entrusts the pet WEASEL to drive the boat away from Con Carne's island to safety.
  • Saranoia and Carl from the show Yin Yang Yo are both the unfavorites to their parent(s). It caused Saranoia to go quite insane while Carl has yet to go down that road, he's just very lonely and desperate.
  • In Pepper Ann, Nicky is convinced she's the Unfavorite, though a lot of it is circumstantial (and the fact that people other than her parents really do tend to favor her sister). For example, when they were kids, the exercise equipment was put in Nicky's room... because it was either put it there or in her sister's room, and they feared the sister, who has very weak arms, would be much more insulted by it than the surprisingly-strong Nicky.
  • A large part of the plot of the first Franklin movie, Franklin and the Green Knight, is Franklin worrying that he'll become this when his new baby sister is born. This worry is only increased when everyone fawns over the upcoming baby during a baby shower. Later, this fear is soothed when he meets an armadillo with a baby brother who tells him that his parents have enough love for both him and his brother. Franklin's friend Snail has a similar fear - he worries that Franklin won't have any time for him once the baby is born. Oh, and Franklin's worries being soothed turns out to be reasonable, as there is no evidence in the fifth and sixth seasons of the show (both of which feature a version of Franklin's new sister, Harriet, that is able to talk and walk), that either child is treated as a favorite.
  • An episode of American Dad has Stan trying to get rid of his annoying Chinese in-laws by convincing Francine that they prefer their birth daughter Gwen to her. She really starts believing it when they find the parents' will and discover that everything goes to Gwen. But even after being thrown out, Francine's father comes back to save Stan from a burning building, and he explains the will by saying that Gwen is an Asian Airhead who needs all the help she can get, but Francine is intelligent and can take care of herself, and married a good man, so they don't worry about her.
  • Sugar Mama on The Proud Family tends to favor her son, Bobby over Oscar, despite the fact that Oscar is clearly the more successful of the two. Then again, Oscar is the Butt Monkey of the series. It's later revealed that Sugar Mama went through the same thing with her sister, Spice.
  • In an episode of The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Jonny is trapped in a hallucination where he thinks he is the unfavorite and that his father prefers Jessie. This ends when his father punches the hallucination's lights out.
  • A rather weird example with Uncle Ruckus in The Boondocks. He was The Unfavorite to his father, yet the favorite to his mother.
  • In Camp Lazlo, there are strong indications that Edward is this in his family.

Real Life

  • A lot of kids have suspicions that they might be this.
    • That being said, in all likelihood there are probably a number of Unfavourites in the big bad world.
    • A recent[when?] study—yes, an actual, academic study—indicated that most parents do, in fact, have favorites. Equal treatment or attempts at same aside, most people are people and just relate more to one kid or the other, and therefore prefer to spend time with him or her and pursue their shared interests. In order to have a favorite/unfavorite dynamic at least two siblings must exist. Therefore, all other things being equal (though perhaps this is unrealistic), you have exactly a 50% chance of being the favorite. Doing the math to figure out what the actual probability of being the favorite assuming there must be at least one favored and one non-favored for larger sets of siblings is left as an exercise to the reader.
      • It's entirely possible to have more than half of the population the "unfavorite" if families have more than one child, or even if they have only one seeing as how you don't actually need siblings to be an unfavorite child.
  • A lot of families do have these, particularly if they were hoping for a child of a certain gender. For example, if a family wanted one boy, one girl, and the firstborn was a girl so the second one was supposed to be a boy, but turned out not to be, then there would likely be a great deal of resentment against her.
    • In any case, in families that are poorer, oftentimes when they have one child, they'll be able to afford new clothes and such for that child, but when the second one comes along being able to afford to take care of both will undoubtedly be harder, so the second child ends up with a lot of hand-me-downs from their older sibling, which can lead to them feeling like they are loved less, particularly when they're at an age when they can't really understand financial issues.
  • According to the history... Date Masamune, despite being the rightful heir of the Date clan and quite liked by his father, is The Unfavorite for his mother. Thanks to him plucking his eye out, she has deemed him unworthy to inherit the clan and favors his younger brother. This has gotten so bad that at one point his mother tries poisoning his food just so he'd die and his brother could take over. Masamune's response? Kill his brother just so his mother can see him rule, like it or not. After his father's death, he ends up banishing his mother to her home clan (his allies, which also goes on to be one of his most trusted allies in Sekigahara).
  • Wilhelm II, the last emperor of the German Empire, was despised by his mother (who even openly refused to write him birthday congratulations), as well as his grandmother, Queen Victoria. This may have been a major contributing factor for him to grow up to be arsehole enough to declare war on two of his closest cousins (George and "Nikki").
    • Wilhelm felt very close and dearly loved his grandmother Victoria, who died in his arms. It would seem she got along better with him than with her son, the Prince of Wales, who appears to have been her least favourite child. This may have contributed to the deep antipathy between Edward VII and Wilhelm II. And it was George V who declared war on Wilhelm, not the other way around.
      • A lot of the bitterness between Wilhelm and his mother can be put down to Bismarck's political maneuvers. Victoria, Princess Royal/Empress Frederick, was a liberal, as was Wilhelm's father. Bismarck saw that when the Crown Prince came to the throne he would be ousted and so set to work distancing the oldest surviving children (Wilhelm, Charlotte and Henrick) from their parents and succeeded. It backfired on him eventually but the damage couldn't be undone. When Bismarck saw the writing on the wall for him he went to Victoria and tried to get Wilhelm to keep him but she just replied that there was no chance of that since there was no relationship between herself and her son. Bismarck had seen to that. It also stopped Wilhelm from listening to the liberals and pushed him into the arms of the military and while he was the favourite of his grandparents it did nothing to stop his ego from getting too big and being a major factor in starting WW1. He apparently tried to bully his relatives and did nothing to endear himself to them which wouldn't make him popular in anyone's family. Even with historial revision there's very little evidence that any of his outer family liked him.
  • Lindsay Lohan's siblings Cody (aka Dakota), Ali and Michael Jr. are apparently this to their father.
  • In certain cultures, daughters.
    • In some countries, it is common for women to have abortions if the child is the "wrong gender."
      • This has actually gone so far in mainland China as to have started to flip the preferred gender—used to, sons were preferred because they could continue the family line. Now, however, Gender Rarity Value has kicked in: it's become rather expensive to marry off a son.
        • It's possible to get permission to have a second child.
          • Or if you are rich enough to not care about fines/state taxes/additional expenses/etc., as many as you can afford.
          • Chinese traditionally favored large families, and in relation to this trope, gives a bigger pool to choose the Favorite or Heir from. You sure as heck don't want the least qualified running things in the next generation.
  • As shown in her book Chinese Cinderella, Adeline Yen Mah was quite obviously the Unfavorite of her entire family despite being very intelligent, simply because her mother died giving birth to her and thus she was considered "unlucky". Her stepmother hated her most of all (though she also clearly favored her own two children over her stepchildren) because she stopped the stepmother from hitting the youngest sister. The rest of the book details the various circumstances the poor girl finds herself in, as everyone shoves her one way and another to get rid of her.
  • In a supremely Irony-filled example (as chronicled in Freakonomics), there's the case of Richard Lane, who named one of his sons "Winner" and another younger son "Loser". "Loser" ended up becoming a police officer in New York City. "Winner" became a career criminal. Yeah...
    • Though the father claims he didn't give Loser's name because of this: apparently he enjoyed the book end effect.
  • David Pelzer, author of A Child Called It, was this until he was removed from his family. His mother took out her rage on him, resulting in one of the worst cases of child abuse in California history, and took care of the other children. Sadly, her anger didn't end when Dave was removed from the home...she started abusing his brother Richard when her favorite target was gone.
  • Urban Dictionary: Middle Child Syndrome - "it is a known fact the youngest and oldest are treated differently than the middle child for the oldest is the first child aka favorite and the smallest is the baby aka the last child known for getting whatever they desire because they are the "baby". Middle Children sydrome includes neglect, forgotten dates, and sometimes in bad cases forgetting they even exist."
  1. She left a bottle of sleeping pills and an Emily Dickinson book next to Meg and said "Whatever happens, happens" in a bored tone of voice