Created By: Xzenu on November 3, 2011

Servant Sibling

Two brothers or similar grow up together, but one is the other's servant.

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Rolling Updates * Needs More Examples

Bob and Bobby grow up together as brothers, by blood or otherwise. However, Bob is recognized as the true heir and gets all the status, while Bobby gets treated as a servant. This dynamic can be based in three different ways:

  • A) Servant Secret Sibling: The patriarch slept with his wife to produce the heir, but secretly he also slept with his maid - thus producing a bastard child who's true father is kept secret.
  • B) The Cinderella Syndrome: The servant is known to be a close relative, but not as close as the heir. For example, a Wicked Stepmother may favor her own child while the father may be too ineffectual to do anything about it.
  • C) Petty Favoritism: It's simply a matter of the parents strongly favoring one of their kids over the other, for one reason or another.

Since Type A is usually a pretty big reveal, expect unmarked spoilers.

Examples, Type A

  • The Kite Runner is built on this trope: The first part of the story is about the two brothers growing up together as brothers without knowing that they actually are brothers. The turning point is The Reveal, after which the protagonist spend the rest of the story trying to make up for the past and rescue a child that he now know to be his nephew.

Live-Action TV
  • Law & Order: SVU use this as tragedy fuel in a story involving three thirteen years old kids, two of them turning out to be victims of this trope. It turns out that the servant brother has known for a long time, and built up a lot of inner turmoil over it.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • November 3, 2011
    For now, I'll simply use a soft split between the three types. Two issues to discuss:

    • Is soft split enough, or should we do a hard split?
    • Should Type B examples be included at all? On the one hand, I guess almost all such examples are also examples of Wicked Stepmother. On the other hand, this does not go both ways: Most examples of Wicked Stepmother is not also this trope. So I'm leaning towards allowing it. Anyone know a type B example that is not also an example of Wicked Stepmother? That would settle the issue neatly. :-)
  • November 3, 2011
    Oh, and are there any examples of Type D: Masquerade? Where the brothers (or sisters) pretend to be master and servant for some reason.

    Anyway, Type C should be split into individual favoritism and gender favoritism.

    This make me definitely lean towards keeping it a soft split, so we can easily add more subtypes without adding new pages.
  • November 3, 2011
    Example, whichever way you go with this.

    • In Yu Gi Oh, the Ishtar family supposedly needed a male heir to continue their legacy as tombkeepers. What luck, a male Doorstop Baby, Odion arrived. Only, the father, let's call him "Hank", makes no secret of his utter disdain for the child, who is now the family servant. Then a baby is born, only Ishizu is a girl, and thus nobody cares. Finally, baby boy Marik is born, and Hank, since it would be in bad taste to kill Odion, pawns him off as servant to Marik. To Marik, Odion is his friend and brother first, then servent. When Hank eventually dies, Odion has to go into full servant mode to keep Marik's evil side at bay.
  • November 3, 2011
    I'm not terribly fond of the working trope name, which isn't too catchy and also has rather narrow implications--the non-dominant sibling isn't necessarily a servant, right? He's just treated as one. But if you wanted to emphasize that treatment, you could go with "Subservient Sibling" or something like that. The names of the subtypes could use some tweaking too. "Servant Secret Sibling" is a tad awkward on the tongue. But anyway, here's an example--maybe Type B? Or C, but I don't know how Inu Yasha and Sesshomaru's father treated each of them. It will need some filling out, 'cause I last saw the show about a hundred years ago and I only remember the barest details.

    • In Inu Yasha, the title character is half-demon whereas his older half-brother, Sesshomaru, is full-blooded. Sesshomaru is Lord of the Western Lands and treats his younger brother with complete contempt.
  • November 3, 2011
    Hmmm. I read the title and laconic and thought of in the sons of Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter in The Attenbury Emeralds. The boys are educated together, but despite this Bunter himself doesn't feel his son belongs in the same social class as Wimsey's, and he tries to maintain the distinction.
  • November 3, 2011
    Not sure if this counts:

    • In Drowtales, "protector twins" are servant children used to give the children of nobles a chance to experience life with a similar - age sibling, since amung the long - lived drowolath it's not uncommon for natural siblings to be several decades apart. If the natural child dies, the protector twin will often be given their name and title. It's not uncommon for protector twins to die at the hands of their siblings or stepmothers as a preventative measure.
  • November 4, 2011
    I'm torn on whether biological non-relatives should be included or not. The whole point is that the brother treated as a servant actually IS a brother. Yet I included "blood or otherwise" in the first draft of the description, and this seem to open up for including all and any servants. Maybe if we make no-blood-relation as a subtype of it's own, with rather strict guidelines for it. Hmm.
  • November 4, 2011
    In the play Bombidy of Errors, (based on Shakespeare's The Comedy Of Errors, and performed in rap) the two sets of twins are really quintuplets, but the Dromios still serve the Antiphiluses.

  • November 4, 2011
    You have more categories than actual examples here.
  • November 4, 2011
    • On the Vocaloid "Aku No" Saga, Rin Was chosen to be the future queen, and separated from Len, it took len a while to len to be able return to her, and apparently by the time he did, rin had forgotten all about her past, however len stayed next to her as her servant, up to the moment the people raised against her(and even Beyond that). there is some ambiguity between versions, such as if rin really forgot len, and even that the posibilidy that the twins were the product of some affair
  • November 4, 2011
    @Frank75: Early Development Phase, as mt first reply indicates. Didn't bother to add Harry Potter and Cinderella, since I don't yet know if they'll be included in the definition or not.
  • November 4, 2011
    ^^^^Do you mean quadurplets? Or is there a fifth sibling that comes into play?
  • November 4, 2011
    ^quadruplets, sorry about that.
  • February 4, 2012
    @Frank75: I'll look through the categorization. Promise.
  • February 5, 2012
    Berserk: Serpico learns he's Farnese's half-brother when her father comes across the medallion he gave his mother. However, he'd been her servant for a while before, as she'd saved him from starvation more or less on a whim (he was kept because all her other pages had fled).
  • February 5, 2012
    • In Arthurian legend, Guenevere and the False Guenevere are a Type A (the False Guenevere is the daughter of King Leodegrance and his seneschal's wife). They're also identical, which makes hiding this fact harder than in most examples.