Anti-Nepotism

<I just... It's really complex, you know? I have to work against the stigma of stealing a starship and getting away with it, then I have to deal with being Tanis's daughter. Half the time I can't tell if I'm being judged by one of those two things, or by my actions.>
Cadet Cary Richards, Aeon 14: The Scipio Alliance

Nepotism is a longstanding practice whereby people with personal connections to authority figures are elevated in position regardless of, and often despite, their actual level of competence. The practice is so well-known, and so commonly hated as a form of corruption, that some honest authority figures have been known to swing too far the other direction to avoid any possible appearance that they might be unduly favoring their own kin and friends.

While on the one level Anti-Nepotism generally shows the practicer's bonafides as a Reasonable Authority Figure and/or Honest Corporate Executive, it's hard on the people on the receiving end. They may feel their own ambitions are being stifled by their powerful relative, breeding resentment. Or they may become increasingly desperate to please the relative and take greater and more dangerous risks. Or it might just be fodder for grumbling to their friends but not significantly affect their personal relationship to their powerful relative.

A Defied Trope form of Nepotism. See also "Well Done, Son!" Guy. Compare Limited Advancement Opportunities, where out-of-universe concerns prevent a character from getting deserved promotions.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Lucky Luke: The 20th Cavalry Regiment is headed by a colonel whose son is also in the regiment, and is punished for just about every single thing he says by the colonel to avoid any accusations of nepotism. The son finally snaps back at the colonel, who is stunned that his son is finally a man. Of course, old habits are hard to break, and at the end of the story, the son is punished for speaking out of turn (that is, saying "Goodbye, Luke" without asking Permission to Speak Freely).

    Literature 
  • Aeon 14: After their daughters Cary and Saanvi steal a ship to "get in on the fun" of the Battle of New Canaan in Orion Rising and are both nearly killed ramming an enemy carrier, Tanis and Joe Richards (respectively the then-governor, and the Commandant of the Intrepid Space Force Academy) promise to put the two of them through the wringer as cadets. In The Scipio Alliance Cary spends a couple pages complaining to their friend Jill and A.I. half-sister Faleena about the treatment.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, Miles Vorkosigan is an agent of Imperial Security with a public persona as a low-ranking military officer assigned to courier duties. When people ask why he has such a low rank when his father is the Emperor's most trusted advisor, he tells them that it's because his father is the Emperor's most trusted advisor and also a rigidly honorable man who bends over backwards to avoid the appearance of favoritism.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In later seasons of Blue Bloods Jamie Reagan starts to feel increasingly that his father, Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, is making life difficult for him in an attempt to avoid the appearance of nepotism, noting that most of his academy classmates have already made detective while he's still a (increasingly decorated) beat cop.
  • The George Lopez Show: In one episode, Ernie complains to George about not naming him "Employee of the Week", and George reminds him that he can't because it will make everyone think it's because he's his best friend.
  • Station 19: Andy is more than qualified to be a fire lieutenant and has had exactly the same training and background as Jack, who was promoted to the role months prior. In the first episode, she is pushed to question why she hasn't got the promotion herself and the Chief, who is her father, explains that he was deliberately holding her back for several reasons, one being that he doesn't know if he has a bias with her or which way it would sway.

    Video Games 
  • In Act 3 of Dragon Age II, Aveline, who is the Captain of the Kirkwall Guard by then, is accused of "coddling" her husband Donnic, also a guard, by allegedly assigning his unit to the safest patrol routes. To disprove these allegations, she asks Hawke, the Champion of Kirkwall by that point, to accompany her on a nighttime patrol inspection, so they can interview the guards personally and later vouch for her fairness and strict adherence to the law.

    Real Life 
  • Helena Bonham-Carter has said that Tim Burton always made her and Johnny Depp be above-and-beyond in their auditions, to make sure that they definitely earned the part, so they could all feel comfortable refuting that they got the parts because of their relationship and friendship. Obviously, they still got all the parts.
  • Nicolas Cage, who was born Nicolas Coppola, deliberately changed his name legally because he didn't want to appear that he was exploiting his relation to his uncle Francis Ford Coppola in order to get a part in one film he was directing.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AntiNepotism