Say you’re a villain. You’re up against a team of heroes and you need a quick way to rattle them. What do you do? Well, the sure-fire way to get everybody worked up is the threaten that
character, the one that everyone feels like they need to protect. Congratulations, you’ve just found Everyone's Baby Sister.
When a Big Bad
sets this character in their sights, it immediately becomes personal
for every other character involved. Everyone's Baby Sister is most common in works where some of the characters do jobs that regularly put them in harm’s way and that exacerbate their protective instincts, and some of the characters work in safer environments where they’re not supposed to be at risk of physical harm. A team
composed of law enforcement officials and scientists or analysts is common here. This character will typically be a younger character who is not usually in any sort of physical danger and, thus, may appear physically smaller and weaker than the other characters. Other characters will feel protective of this character because of a combination of their older age, superior physical strength, and sometimes their occupational responsibility. When something happens to a character and even the Jerk Ass
is unsettled by it, you have a winner.
Sometimes these characters inspire this reaction because they’re impossible to dislike
. Other times, the character really isn’t very likeable at all; it's just that the other characters feel responsible for him or her. Because main characters tend to be the Action Heroes
, this character is more often a supporting character than a lead. By coincidence or design, these characters are often Adorkable Teen Genius
types (or early to mid twenties genius, as the case may be), though this is certainly not a prerequisite. These characters also tend to be fan favorites
, though this, again, is by no means, necessary. What’s important here is the reaction of the characters, not of the audience. It is not unheard-of for a Scrappy
to fit this trope.
Compare and contrast The Chick
, The Heart
, The Cutie
, and the Tagalong Kid
Note that this character does not actually have to be anyone’s sister, and a character who is someone’s sister is not guaranteed to fall under this trope.
Anime & Manga
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex has Togusa for Section 9. Partly because he's the team's only non-Cyborg member and partly because he has a family. This can be seen best in the episode "One Angry Man — TRIAL", where trying to drag Togusa's name through the mud leads a Domestic Abuser and his lawyer to suffer an unfortunate car accident.
- Casca in Berserk. When she's surrounded by enemies, the rest of the Band of the Hawk shows up to rescue her citing the fact that she's the only girl (as opposed to the fact that she's the team's second-in-command with only two people able to beat her in combat). Later on, Schierke fits this role (like when Guts starts a Bar Brawl when a drunk gets too close to her), as Casca has regressed to a childlike state due to the events of the Eclipse.
- In Runaways, Molly and Klara fill this role, to varying degrees - Molly is everyone's baby sister, but Klara is more of a little sister to Nico and Karolina, while Chase and Victor treat her more like a Ladette. Oddly enough, the baby sister aura even seems to affect other people in the Marvel universe - for instance, during Secret Invasion, Speed of the Young Avengers literally went out of his way to keep Molly and Klara safe during a battle with the Skrulls.
- On NCIS, the best way to make something personal for the entire team is to threaten Abby Sciuto.
- Of all the characters who were gravely injured over the fourteen episodes Firefly filmed, Kaylee's injury was, by far, the most personal for the rest of the characters, to the point where Mal was ready to throw Simon out of the airlock.
- Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons, of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. both qualify as this trope. The other characters' reactions to their lives being threatened far in "F.Z.Z.T." and "Beginning of the End" exceeds what we've learned to expect when Coulson, May, Ward, and Skye risk their lives.
- On Once Upon a Time, Henry is the only character that could have gotten Emma, Snow, Charming, Regina, Rumplestiltskin, and Hook on a ship to Neverland together. This may be more a factor of his age and the fact that he's related to almost the entire main cast than any actual likability.
- Law & Order tends to do this with the Assistant District Attorneys. We've only really seen it played out with Claire Kincaid and Alexandra Borgia on the original series and Alex Cabot on Law & Order: SVU, but it did play out with all three of them.
- Despite Ollie having an actual sister, this role goes to Felicity Smoak in Arrow instead. She's the only non-combatant on the team, and Ollie and Diggle go to great lengths to ensure her safety and keep her hands clean.
- In Darths & Droids, Ben's little sister Sally is initially brought to the group because he's forced to baby-sit her, but she quickly gets integrated into the game as Jar Jar Binks (and singlehandedly makes the character enjoyable.) In the early strips when she was young, the GM and players tended to be protective of her, cheering her on and giving her extra chances at failed dice rolls.