Big Brother Instinct

"Big brothers... you know why they're born first? To protect the little ones that come after them!"
Ichigo Kurosaki, Bleach

One very common way to establish that a male character is a Nice Guy (even if the niceness is hidden under a gruff exterior) is to give him an instinctive desire to be a big brother to smaller, younger, weaker, or female characters. These other characters may be truly younger siblings, or they may be completely unrelated, or even older, but the feeling is the same; acting as their protector. Female examples exist, in a smaller proportion that has been increasing steadily.

The Big Brother Instinct serves to explain fan attraction to Moe tropes and devices can be an emotional, rather than sexual, response. There seems to be something inherently comforting to an awkward male about being looked up to by a younger girl for support. Therefore, Moe can be wish fulfillment about taking a "big brother role" instead of about being a Love Interest.

If both characters are male, the older (or in the case of twins, the physically stronger) brother will usually act as the younger/smaller brother's protector, to the point of treating him like a child, even when the younger brother is fully capable of protecting himself. This behavior can come across as loving and nurturing or as condescending and smothering. If the older brother goes to extreme, morally questionable lengths for the sake of the younger sibling, then they are a Knight Templar Big Brother.

Compare Mama Bear, Papa Wolf, and Promotion to Parent. Contrast Big Brother Bully.

Has nothing to do with the TV show Big Brother. The 1984 meaning of "Big Brother" is covered under Big Brother Is Watching.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Quicksilver is protective to the point of jealousy when it comes to his sister the Scarlet Witch. This is taken further in Ultimate Marvel.
  • The Mighty Thor: Thor treated Loki this way in early flashbacks to their childhood; however, it only aggravated Loki's already raging inferiority complex, putting him on the path to villainy.
    • However, after Loki accidentally brought about the near-total destruction of Asgard, was killed in a last-ditch heroic sacrifice to save what was left(that may have been part of The Plan) and reincarnated as a kid with only his childhood memories, he appreciates this protection a lot, since the only reason most people in Asgard haven't killed him yet is because they know Thor would go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on them and the city if Loki is harmed.
      • Kid Loki seems to be similarly protective of Thor. During the Fear Itself event, he engages in dark dealings and agrees to restore the Ragnarok Cycle all to save Thor from being killed by The Serpent.
    • Thor has always been like this towards Loki even when the latter was a villain. For better or for worse, Thor sees Loki as his responsibility. Thor will always foil Loki's evil plots and step in to save him from worse threats.
  • X-Men:
    • Has this with Wolverine being a Big Brother Mentor to the younger heroines, including Kitty Pryde, Jubilee, and his Opposite-Sex Clone X-23.
      • Gender and age-inverted with X-23 herself, who in Wolverines #1 is shown to have become highly protective of her older "brother" Daken after his healing factor was shut down at the end of The Logan Legacy by Siphon, and tells him to stay back while she deals with any members of the Wrecking Crew they come across.
    • Though they can find it hard to get along, Cyclops still tends to treat Havok this way, insisting on carrying his coma-ridden brother into the X-Mansion despite the presence of a wheelchair and being so protective and interfering that they're mistaken for a couple in an issue of X-Factor.
  • Batman: Between Nightwing and (adopted) little brother Tim Drake - one issue had Tim believed to have been killed by the Joker when a mass Arkham escape was in progress. Nightwing then beats the Joker to death with his bare hands, it didn't help that the Joker decided to bring up how he had also killed Jason Todd (another one of Nightwing's adopted little brothers). The Joker was just lucky Batman was around to revive him.
    • Catwoman tends to be a female version of this whenever she acquires a female tag-along who's too old for this to be considered Mama Bear.
    • Dick and Batman's biological son Damian, who eventually softens up to Dick, though he probably wouldn't say it out loud to Dick.
    • Dick's relationship with everyone he knows, him being on both ends. Be they a Titan, Leaguer or a Bat, Dick will make sure to get you messed up for harming them. Be they a Titan, Leaguer, or Bat, they will make sure to get you messed up for harming him. As Jason Todd found out, even if you're his brother, you do NOT hurt one of the other brothers.
  • Occurs with (intentionally invoked) Unfortunate Implications in American Born Chinese: When the Chinese boy Jin starts to date his classmate Amelia Harris, an Anglo friend strongly urges Jin to stop, saying he wants her to "make good choices."
  • In a Star Wars Tales series, mercenary Darca Nyl comes across a mentally handicapped GIANT of a man and his petite sister fleeing from pursuers. One night, while camping, the girl is set upon by a huge and vicious predator. Darca knows that he can't reach them in time to save her, when the man leaps at the beast with a large rock in his hands. Several minutes later, the creature has long since stopped moving and he keeps smashing at it with the rock.

    Films — Animation 
  • An American Tail: Fievel tries to ward off the Cossacks' cats for this reason.
  • Brother Bear: Kenai hates bears, and finds Koda REALLY annoying, but would still go through anything to protect him.
  • Fly in Help! I'm a Fish, who's pretty caring when it comes to Stella, his little sister. Case in point: When it seems like searching for her in starfish-form in the ocean via boat is hopeless, he doesn't hesitate to drink a potentially dangerous potion and dive in, in order to continue searching.
  • In The Prince of Egypt, Ramesses's first reaction to his little brother killing a man in front of multiple witnesses is to declare him innocent. When Moses returns after years of being gone he is ready to give his brother a high position and wipe away the crime. That didn't work out.
    • There's also Moses's biological brother Aaron, who tries to protect Miriam when they first encounter Moses, who at this point is still considered Egyptian royalty and therefore a threat to them.
      • Miriam herself goes into protective big-sister mode with Moses: Right at the beginning of the film when she follows baby Moses' basket down the Nile, and then later when she steps in to save Moses, who is no longer a royal and is about to be the focus of a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown at the hands of mob of angry Hebrews led by Aaron.
  • In Joseph: King of Dreams (a kind of Spiritual Sequel to Prince Of Egypt), Joseph's many older brothers plan on having this when their baby brother is born. Unfortunately, a whole lot of Parental Favoritism sours that, leading them to sell Joseph into slavery in Egypt and tell their father he was killed by a wolf. At the end of the movie, it's revealed that the brothers feel immense guilt over what they did and are very protective of Benjamin, to the point where, when Joseph tries to arrest Benjamin for a crime that wasn't committed, all of the brothers offer themselves up in his place. This moves Joseph enough to forgive them all.
  • Disney's Robin Hood has the titular character acting this towards Skippy and the other children. After the Sherif takes Skippy's birthday present (a gold coin his family saved for him), Robin Hood comes in to cheer Skippy up and gives him a bow and arrow and his hat. Later on, when one of Skippy's sisters struggles to catch up with the escaping villagers from Prince John's castle, Robin Hood doubles back to get her.
  • In Toy Story 3, Andy is a kind brother to his sister, Molly, despite their light bickerings. When she had trouble lifting a box, he immediately went to help her. And at the end, with Bonnie, who is a Shrinking Violet. He kneels down at eye-level to her, introduces all his toys to her, and played with all his toys one last time with Bonnie before he left.
  • Jack Frost in Rise of the Guardians acts much like an older brother to all the children around him. It makes sense as what led to him becoming a guardian was him sacrificing himself to save his little sister from drowning.
  • The title character of Wreck-It Ralph is this towards Vanellope. At first he wants nothing to do with her, especially after she steals a medal that he believes will earn him the respect of those he works with. As the two spend time with each other, and seeing they are Not So Different, Ralph becomes protective of her.
  • Dash of The Incredibles has a little brother instinct towards his sister Violet. Four words: "DON'T! TOUCH! MY! SISTER!"
    • Violet fully reciprocates.
  • Big sister example in Frozen: Elsa loves her little sister, Anna, dearly. When she accidentally struck her with her ice powers when they were little, she locked herself in her room and didn't play with or speak to Anna anymore. Elsa shut her out because she was terrified of hurting her sister or anyone else with her powers again. She continues to have this attitude throughout the majority of the film's events.
    • The film also gives an inversion with the same pair. Anna is quick to speak in defense of Elsa when everyone else thinks the latter is a monster (or the duke does anyway) and at the climax, she makes a Heroic Sacrifice by jumping in between Elsa, and Hans's sword. When she turns out to be alright, her only explanation for why she did it is that she loves Elsa, and the tone she says it in makes it sound like something Elsa should've expected rather than be surprised about.
  • Eventually Courtney of Paranorman gets to be this way, to the point where she'll throw herself between an oncoming mob and her little brother.
  • Tadashi in Big Hero 6 for his younger brother Hiro. Later on, the rest of Tadashi's friends, especially GoGo, look after Hiro after Tadashi died.
  • Strange Magic: Marianne, whose instinct is strong enough that she's willing to single-handily storm the castle of the Bog King to rescue her kidnapped sister. Its not strong enough to prevent a romance from blossoming between her and the Big King though.
  • Scowler from the Walking with Dinosaurs movie eventually does this. When he sees Patchi return after kicking him out of the herd, he quickly warns him to keep away from the attacking Gorgosaurus and get to safety.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Doom, the Staff Sergeant John "Reaper" Grimm fiercely protects his sister Samantha from a group of mutant monsters.
  • In The Search, Steve, an Army engineer in occupied Germany after World War II, takes in a frightened, starving, mute refugee boy.
  • Labyrinth promotes big sister instinct. The entire movie revolves around Sarah trying to rescue her baby half-brother from the Jareth. The manga sequel has more of this than the film, though.
  • The Blind Side: With only a split second to act, Michael instinctively saved adoptive little brother SJ from being seriously injured or killed during their car accident.
  • The Godfather
    • Sonny Corleone launches into one of the most epic No Holds Barred Beatdowns in film history against his brother-in-law after he finds his sister with a black eye. The enemy family Barzini later uses this instinct against Sonny by paying Carlo to deliver a savage beating to his wife in order to easily set up an ambush for Sonny.
    • Michael gets his turn when he has Carlo whacked in the finale, avenging his older brother and ending his younger sister's torment. Subverted when Michael has Fredo assassinated for working against family interests.
  • X-Men:
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine:
      • For all his (many) flaws, Victor Creed really loves his little brother Jimmy. It's best illustrated in the Civil War part of the opening montage, when Logan is shot and they are (at the time) unaware of their healing factors, Victor's expression says it all.
      • Kayla appears to be willing to do anything to keep her sister safe.
    • X-Men: First Class:
      • Charles had this for Raven, being very concerned for hiding her mutant form in public and telling her directly that he didn't want anything to happen to her. However, his relationship with his foster sister deconstructs this phenomenon because it caused him to become overprotective to the point where he denied her the chance to embrace her true appearance and be proud of what she was, as well as caused him to ignore her very obvious crush on him. This in turn made Raven turn to Erik as a mentor/love interest and eventually join him in his cause against humanity.
      • Darwin develops this for the younger mutant recruits, especially when Shaw attacked the CIA base. Unfortunately, this only gets him killed by Shaw when he tries to protect Angel from him.
      • By the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Erik had already begun to view Charles as a brother figure. When the Blackbird spiraled out of control, Magneto used his body to shield Xavier from injury, and he immediately halted his attack on the American and Soviet naval forces when Charles was shot.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
      • When the younger Charles sees Mystique again for the first time in 11 years, he caresses her hair and shoulder as a gesture of comfort while telling her that he will keep her safe among other soothing words. When Magneto then points a gun in her direction, Xavier stands in between the barrel and his foster sister, and Erik later has to use his power to change the bullet's trajectory so that it won't hit Charles in the head. Despite their estrangement, Xavier is willing to die for Raven to save her life.
      • Peter Maximoff is seen playing with his little sister. He's even willing to sit down and watch television with her, which is heartwarming considering how hyperactive the guy is.
  • House of Wax (2005): Nick possesses the instinct quite strongly, which makes his behavior towards his younger sister, Carly, look filled with Incest Subtext.
  • The City of Lost Children: One for Denree and Miette.
  • Star Wars: He's only the big brother by about six or seven minutes, tops, but Luke Skywalker definitely qualifies. He's all redeeming and peaceful and unflappable in the face of evil despite a million reasons not to be, but all bets are off when the Big Bad makes an impotent, hinted threat towards his sister. Suffice to say, he doesn't react well.
    • Han Solo to Luke Skywalker. Despite always calling him "kid" and having doubts about Luke's plans, Han becomes fond of Luke early on and often goes out of his way to protect or rescue him. In "Empire Strikes Back" he risks his own life by going out into dangerously low temperatures to find Luke after he doesn't return to the rebel base.
  • Seen in West Side Story when Bernardo interferes in his sister Maria's budding romance with Tony. Double Subverted in that Tony is the only decent member of the Jets, genuinely in love with Maria and with good intentions... but then he ends up killing Bernardo in a fit of rage over the death of his friend.
  • Éomer to Éowyn in The Lord of the Rings. He was furious that Wormtongue was following his sister. For that matter, Éowyn didn't want Wormtongue anywhere near her, either.
    • In the extended edition, there's also a scene where Éomer finds an unconscious Éowyn after the Battle of Pelennor Fields. He holds her and cries, before getting her medical attention.
  • Peter Garret in Vertical Limit climbs up K2 to rescue his sister, Annie.
  • The titular character of Ginger Snaps is an interesting example — her protectiveness towards her younger sister is essentially, a snarky sense of humour aside, her only redeeming quality, and that's pretty messed up. They have a suicide pact ("Out by sixteen or dead on the scene,") and her gradual case of lycanthropy worsens, she starts killing people if she thinks they even looked at Brigitte the wrong way. She's enjoying killing more and more, so this trope becomes more of an excuse in the end. However, Sam could be seen to have a genuinely altruistic Big Brother Instinct towards Brigitte, as he gives her an awful lot of help, carrying a fair amount of risk, with no benefit whatsoever to himself. Although some people interpret it as him having a romantic interest in her.
  • Becca from The Descent is very caring and protective towards her sweet little sister Sam, and to a lesser extent, the rest of the less-experienced caving group. Also, it's fairly subtle, but Beth displays Big Sister Instincts towards anyone in the group who needs it — she's constantly looking after the emotionally fragile (due to the death of her husband and child) Sarah, she gives her jacket to Holly after she breaks her leg and helps her stand and walk (along with Sam, The Medic) and she goes back to help Juno in the crawler fight, even though she doesn't like Juno much.
  • Aussie horror flick Black Water is actually rather sweet in spots due to it's use of this trope. Initially, we have both Grace and her boyfriend Adam towards Grace's shyer, more panicked sister Lee. However, Lee turns out to have a Little Sister Instinct herself. You see it emerging slowly throughout the film, but once Grace is injured, Lee is willing to face down crocodiles if it means she can get her sister out of there and to a hospital. Turns out she's just much braver for her sister's sake than she is for her own.
  • Trampled on in Wishmaster. As soon as the Djinn threatens Alexandra's sister, she states point blank that she'll kill him if he harms her. Amused, he shows her his true face to show how little threat she poses to him, and she can only respond with a terrified "oh my god".
  • A fairly central motif throughout The Proposition. Charlie's motivation throughout the entire film is to protect his younger brother, Mikey. To do this, he may need to kill his older brother. The oldest brother, Arthur, wants nothing more than to protect both of his younger brothers.
    • Averted, though, in the Spiritual Sequel, Lawless. After Jack gets brutally beaten by a Corrupt Cop, his older brothers basically tell him that he has to learn to fight his own battles.
  • The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec: The whole movie revolves about Adèle's quest to cure her sister, who got injured during a friendly (albeit competitive) tennis match between sisters.
  • A somewhat disturbing and sweet take on Michael and Laurie in Halloween (2007). It's shown very clearly in the beginning that Michael loved his baby sister. Even though he murdered just about everyone in the family, he left her alive. This also applies after he breaks out of the mental institute and seeks her out. Unfortunately, when he does meet up with her, he's practically a mute and he's killed all of her friends.
  • Big Sister Instinct is one of Ree's main motivations in Winter's Bone. She is shown to be constantly worrying about how she'll provide for her younger brother and sister if they lose their house.
  • In Resident Evil: Afterlife, Chris Redfield is this to his younger sister Claire.
  • Like in the comics, Pietro Maximoff acts as this for Wanda in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The minute she is taken out by Hawkeye, he carries her off to safety and furiously promises to murder him for her sake.
  • A very dark version in Cafe Setareh: Khosro hates his sister's abusive husband so much that he picks a fight with him and unintentionally kills him, which directly and indirectly leads to all of the characters' lives falling apart.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Apollo from Classical Mythology despite being the younger twin he tricked his twin sister Artemis into killing Orion because he feared this was one guy she could give up her vow of chastity for.
  • To the great surprise of those who watched the movie Troy, Agamemnon in the original Classical Mythology and The Iliad has this in spades where Menelaus is concerned. Paris fucked with Menelaus, Agamemnon will make Troy burn.
    • Speaking of Troy, Helen of Troy was once kidnapped by the hero Theseus (according to some accounts, at the age of seven) because her beauty was so great he wanted to marry her – her brothers Castor and Pollux got her back, though.
  • More "little sister instinct". A very devoted Italian woman named Angela Merici was grieved when her older sister Gianna Maria died without rites, and prayed ceaselessly to make sure her soul would be at peace. One day, she received a vision telling her that Gianna was in Heaven with the saints. In gratitude, Angela devoted the rest of her life to teaching, religion and service to the poor, founded the Order of Ursulines and ultimately became *Saint* Angela Merici. Ah....
  • Happens in a couple of places in the Bible. One passage in the Song of Solomon goes "We have a little sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister on the day she is spoken for?"
    • When Shechem (the man, not the town) rapes Dinah, Simon and Levi make sure Shechem (the town, including the man) pays for it dearly. Jacob isn't happy about this, but they still don't feel they did anything wrong.
    • When Tamar, a daughter of David, is raped by her half-brother Amnon and thrown out, her full brother Absalom sent his servants to kill him.
  • Castor and Pollux were half-brothers. Castor was the son of Leda and her husband, the King of Sparta. Pollux was the result of Leda being seduced by Zeus, but it hardly mattered to them. The brothers were inseparable heroes until they were defeated in battle. Pollux, being a demigod, went up to Olympus, but was unhappy because his brother was in the mortal underworld. so Pollux marched down there and refused to leave unless Castor went with him, presenting the Gods with a tricky conundrum. Long story short, the brothers became the constellation Gemini.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The Hardy brothers, Matt and Jeff. Matt as the older brother, both in story lines and Real Life, often plays this role (when he's not this, he instead is the Jerkass).
  • A group of GLOW villains kidnapped Little Fiji to lure her older sister Mountain Fiji out of the arena to ensure Mountain Fiji wouldn't get another victory.
  • Punk is clearly fond of those he considers his little sisters, in Kayfabe and in Real Life. During his Chicago Street Fight with Chris Jericho, his opponent proceeded to taunt his little sister who was sitting ringside. She promptly slapped him in the face. When Chris tried to go after her, Punk pretty much lost it and beat the shit of Jericho, including putting him through the Spanish Announcers Table with a flying elbow.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/stay night, Heaven's Feel route, Shirou states that he wants to save Ilya just because the "older brother protects his younger sister". In the route's end, Ilya herself does a Heroic Sacrifice to save Shirou, who actually is her younger brother.
    Ilya: "You said an older brother protects his younger sister, right?... Yeah. I'm the older sister. So I have to protect my younger brother."
  • Yuuya towards Sakuya in Hatoful Boyfriend. Sakuya claims that Yuuya has never once acted like a brother to him, but this couldn't be further from the truth as not only does Yuuya sacrifice his life to save Sakuya's in the Bad Boys Love route, but he reveals that he kept Sakuya's egg from being thrown away on his cruel stepfather's orders and killed his stepfather's own offspring so that Sakuya could take its place and live a life of luxury. For that matter, the sacrifice was done with no thought at all for his own self-preservation. He turned his back on the attacker to focus completely on protecting Sakuya.
    • Just in general Yuuya seems to have this instinct for a lot of characters, even an older teacher at some point. He'll Take The Bullet or patiently talk someone through things and let go of one of his hard-kept secrets to help them. Yuuya wants to protect and help lots of people, it's just that Sakuya takes priority. Some fans call him "everybirdie's senpai" for this reason.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Lana Skye from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney comes across as an Aloof Big Sister to Ema, but as it turns out, she's been acting as a reluctant accomplice to Gant for years, all to protect Ema from the Awful Truth: that she accidentally killed Neil Marshall during the SL-9 Incident. However, Gant actually staged the scene to frame Ema and killed Neil himself, all so he could manipulate Lana's protective instincts and blackmail her into forging evidence for him whenever he saw fit.
    • In Justice For All, the third trial reveals that Acro had this for his little brother, Bat, which was how he ended up confined to a wheelchair. When he saw Bat getting his head chewed on by a lion, he ran in to save him and was attacked as a result.
    • In Apollo Justice, Apollo shows signs of having this for Trucy. When she's grabbed by a threatening intruder in the courtroom during case 4-2, he follows after and, when he finds her alright, he cries and shouts how he's going to press charges on whoever did it (he's not too happy to find out Trucy faked the kidnapping herself). He is also shown accompanying her to various places, even if he himself isn't very interested (like Klavier's band concert). Bonus points for The Reveal that he really is Trucy's big brother!
  • In the School Days sequel of sorts Summer Days, Kotonoha's reaction to seeing her younger sister Kokoro in very... compromising situation with her prospect boyfriend Makoto is grabbing a golf club and hitting the culprit upside the head. Too bad Kokoro intercedes in Makoto's favor.

    She manages to play it much straighter in Summer Days. When Kotonoha finds out that Kokoro has been sexually abused by both Makoto and his friend Kyouichi is to... grab her father's katana, murder both Makoto and Kyouichi, and set the building where this took place on fire before getting to safety with poor Kokoro.
  • In Little Busters!, Riki begins to feel this way towards Komari in her route when she confides that she feels sad that she keeps seeing a non-existent older brother in her dreams. Later, it's revealed that he did exist and felt this way towards her, too, in spades. On the flip side, Komari also tries to be a big sister towards Rin and Kud, though it doesn't always work out – in the test of courage, if you take both Kud and Komari, the two keep switching roles with one always scared and the other trying to act cool and comfort them.
    • Rin, Riki, and Kyousuke all play with the trope a bit. Kyousuke definitely dotes on Rin, but he also worries that she is too dependent on him. Rin herself is open about her lack of respect for him, almost always calling him by his first name and refusing outright to call him 'oniisan' or 'oniichan', but it's also clear that she deeply relies on and admires him. On the other hand, Riki has an admiration for him so strong it borders on the romantic...to the extent that in one scene Kyousuke admits that he thinks both Rin and Riki are cute and Riki worries that Kyousuke 'only' sees him as a little brother. However, like for Rin, Kyousuke is implied to also be worried that Riki relies on him too much, and in Rin's route he seems to be trying to challenge Riki into standing up to him and facing him as an equal. However, ironically, when he tries to break their dependence on him he does it in a way that seems to cement his position as the authority, assuming he knows what's best for them and manipulating them against their wishes.
  • CLANNAD: A female-female example. Harass Ryou, and her twin sister Kyou will throw a huge book straight to your face and kick you while dazed.
    • Youhei Sunohara is the series' Butt Monkey most of the time, but mess with his sister Mei and he'll do an Offscreen Teleportation to kick your ass.
    • Tomoya also seems to have this going for him, despite not having any siblings. Whenever Mei calls him Onii-chan, he becomes overly excited and is willing to do whatever she wishes from him.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Satoshi was like this toward Satoko before his disappearance to the point of murdering their abusive aunt brutally, even though he was usually calm and gentle, since he was under the influence of Hinamizawa Syndrome. A year later, Keiichi and Shion take up the position with Keiichi taking it in the completely wrong direction while Shion plays it straight, but only after screwing up. Big Time. Satoko actually starts calling them "Nii-Nii" and "Nee-Nee".
    • In one of the PS2 arcs, implied to be the way that Minagoroshi-hen could have gone, Shion goes exactly the same way as Keiichi.
  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Battler behaves this way both towards his actual younger sister Ange and to his little cousin Maria. He bonds with Maria early on in most of the arcs despite not having seen her in six years, and is very protective of Ange. After Ange reveals her identity to him and performs a Heroic Sacrifice, Battler snaps out of his funk and goes up several levels in badass and sets his mind back on track to defeating Beatrice and making it back home to her.

    Web Comics 
  • Declan towards Violet in Chrysalis, even though they aren't related by blood.
  • Vinnie, the werewolf from Skins. He looks out for the irresponsible happy-go-lucky vampire, Rabbit and acts as a kind of substitute big brother. He's known Rabbit since they were orphaned in the last occult war.
  • El Goonish Shive: Elliot's Chronic Hero Syndrome appears to have given him a Big Brother Instinct with respect to Ellen despite the fact that his "little sister" is actually his Half Identical Twin / Opposite-Sex Clone.
    • Occasionally Elliot has this towards Tedd, like here and here.
    • Grace's brothers also have some of this in them, though they don't show it nearly as much as Elliot does towards Ellen. Even though Damien scared them shitless, Hedge tried to subvert the orders concerning her as much as he could without being killed.
    • Ellen has shown she's just as willing to stand up for Elliot when he's threatened/hurt as viceversa. In her other life, this trope is more or less how she befriended Tedd.
  • Dominic Deegan tends to act this way toward his cheerful, overly optimistic little brother Gregory. Was kind of justified when the comic started because Gregory was infected with a necromantic taint that was slowly killing him, but it was removed early on and now he's perfectly healthy while Dominic is missing a leg.
    • Played with between Dominic, Gregory, and their older brother Jacob. Jacob spends significant amount of time and parts of major plot-lines trying to maim his little brothers for his own advantage, though he claims there's no emotion involved and it's just part a convenient part of his plans rather than malicious. And yet, he immediately does far, far worse to those who hurt them first.
  • Arthur from Wiglaf and Mordred has got a bad case of this for his little brother Mordred — so much so it tends to get in the way of his evil villainy. His staff often enjoy pointing out the brother complex he claims doesn't exist.
  • Most of the cast, but particularly Jason, behaves this way toward their younger friend Anna in Something*Positive.
  • It would be unwise of you to mess with Bear's younger sister Patches.
  • Clark from Gold Coin Comics really shows this side when Tonya, his sister, runs into trouble...
  • Homestuck: Equius is extremely protective of his moirail, Nepeta. In fact, this is the first thing that shows us that maybe he's not that bad a guy.
    • Also, the thought of his twin sister dying is one of the few things that manages to unnerve Dave.
    • Similarly, John did not take it well when he found out that Davesprite had broken up with his sister Jade.
  • In Sakana, it's Taros personal Berserk Button whenever someone threatens or talks bad about his little brother Jiro, and is always there to care for him and cheer him up when he has a problem.
  • Sam from Bittersweet Candy Bowl, as well as his brother Jordan, both towards their younger sister Lucy.
  • Roy develops this for Elan, though it (understandably) takes a while, and he still denies it.
    • Roy actually did have a little brother, (key word here being did), and Elan has a living twin brother but has been shown explicitly thinking of Roy as his brother instead.
    • Roy has a literal little sister, for whom he feels the same protective need (despite crazy morality differences). Proof? He went to rescue her from villains, knowing fully well that it was a trap all along.
    • Redcloak kicks some ass via this trope in his Trope Namer Origin Story.
  • In Lackadaisy, Viktor is violently protective of Ivy. To the extent that every boyfriend she wrangles is pounded to the point of a full body cast. This is particularly noticeable when you contrast it with how he reacts to others, which usually tops off at Vague Irritation at best.
  • Aiden in Winters In Lavelle has this towards his little sister, Kari. It's even been said by Keshii that the main reason why he dislikes Ashton is because he can tell that Ashton has a thing for his sister.
  • Kat in Gunnerkrigg Court once punched a psychopomp just because these guys made Annie very sad. Later she hates Annie's Disappeared Dad, for the same reason.
  • We're introduced to Elon of Ears for Elves when he's searching for his younger sister Myari after she's run off into the dangerous forest. He gives her a severe talking-to, but has her best interests at heart.
  • In Frankie And Stein, Frankie and Adam seem to have this relationship. They haven't really known each other that long, but Adam is very concerned for her, and her current crisis.
  • Dumbing of Age: Sarah is a cranky, tactless misanthrope who would mostly prefer everyone else just leave her alone so she can study...except where her roommate Joyce is concerned.
  • Jae Gu of Girls Of The Wild has been raising his siblings since their father's death and mother's abandonment of them. Needless to say, harming them is his one and only Berserk Button. When they got sick suddenly, he carried them barefoot to the hospital, leaving footprints of blood by the time he gets there. After finding out they had gotten food poisoning off of tainted sushi someone gave them on purpose, he walked, feet still bleeding, all the way to the person's school and attempted to beat them down with a chair for what they did.
  • Larima of Pacificators fame thinks she's protecting her younger sister Taffe, but, really, it's the other way around. (Oh, and it annoys Taffe.)
  • In MYth, Hades is a heartbreaking example. He destroyed the bond he had with his little brother Zeus in an attempt to make him strong enough to be king of gods.
  • In Sticky Dilly Buns, Dillon and Jerzy briefly go into what Dillon later calls "mother hen mode" when Andy presents a rather disconcerting gift to Ruby during a dinner date.
  • Jamie from Distillum has heaps of it towards Rob.

    Web Original 
  • Broken Saints: Heartwarming Orphan Shandala, the heroine, is looked after by her adopted parents' son as if she were his own flesh and blood.
  • Dimension Heroes: Rob displays this trope towards his fellow Dimensional Guardians, reasoning that as leader, he's responsible for their safety.
  • Decembersville: Nutty Jimmy is like this to his sister, Sarah. As illustrated here.
  • Rob Walker will be the first to admit anything that didn't work out in a Critic-episode, but if you go too far and insult Doug instead, he will make you sorry.
    • In character terms, while The Other Guy is a Big Brother Bully when the Critic is alive/sober/lucid, he'll always show how much he cares when nobody else is around.
    • They're not related but in Demo Reel, after Donnie (Doug) gets kidnapped, badass stoic Carl (Rob) tears down the forest looking after him and makes sure he's okay when he returns.
  • Quite a few ponies in Equestria Chronicles
  • The Other Kind Of Roommate has Terry showing this for Beth. It's treated as cute and protective before it gets controlling, and is explained as the reason they broke up.
  • Red vs. Blue has Agent North, with such a trustworthy, older-brother instinct that he gets assigned Theta, the AI fragment composed of Alpha's innocence. He's the only one in the program qualified to take care of a being of pure innocence.
    • But seriously, watch seasons 9 and 10. The dude lives and breathes trust.
    • Blue team. Sure, Caboose is an idiot. But he's their idiot.
    • Wash eventually develops it for the Reds and Blues. In the flashback, he tried to mimic North's, but CT wasn't buying it.
      • As of season 11, Wash especially has this in regards to Caboose, trying to keep him from getting overcome with depression after Church leaves and, in season 12, making sure Freckles is okay after getting captured by the Feds.
  • In Worm, this is a major part of Grue's makeup – in fact, his trigger event came when he was defending his little sister from his mother's abusive boyfriend.
  • The web documentary F*** Kayfabe: Wrestling with Labels – Cianan and Matt have this towards Bobby. Bobby jokes that himself and Pete both think of the other as their little brother so they decided to be twins instead. Bobby has this for Kev and even refers to him as "my little brother" in the Special Thanks at the end.
  • In the Noob webseries and comics, any enemy bothering Gaea has a decent chance of having Golgotha show up for a serious beating, regardless of her location when the bothering started. A variation in that Gaea is a Dirty Coward rather than weak and Golgotha's protectiveness is simply stemming from their history as Childhood Friends.

    Real Life 
  • Robert "Bobby" Kennedy had a raging overprotective little brother instinct towards his big brother John. Apparently, his fury could scare the shit out of anybody if they tangled with John. Especially if it was LBJ (Lyndon B. Johnson).
    • LBJ was no slouch, either. He was a master at cajoling Congress into doing whatever he wanted because, damn it, he was LBJ. The fact that Bobby could match him and actually make him back down is pretty amazing.
  • Especially during their early years together, actor Dean Martin was very protective of his partner Jerry Lewis, who was still in his teens, had an emotionally abusive childhood and dropped out of high school due to anti-semitism. One night in an Atlantic City bar, some mobster's mook demanded to know of Martin why he had teamed up with "that f&*%$/g kike"note ; Martin's answer was to grab hold of the mook and slam him across the bar straight into a shelf of glasses.
  • James McNeil, age 17, saw his autistic ten-year-old brother climbing to the top of a 120-foot electrical tower. Though fearful of heights he climbed after him and held him in place until a rescue crew arrived. The story is described in the November 1997 Reader's Digest.
  • 9 year old Malik Medford recently rescued his brothers from a car thief.
  • Another inversion, an 8-year-old boy was killed after wounding a burglar who was attempting to rape his older sister.
  • A real-life inversion: in 2002 Christopher Vince, aged 12, died after pushing his 16-year-old brother Ben out of the way of a falling branch.
  • In a real-life example of big sister instinct a nine-year-old girl risked her life to push her five-year-old sister out of the way of an oncoming truck.
  • This 11-year-old, who protected his younger sister from a carjacker.
  • Members of a fraternity are supposed to develop this, as the house is set up for a big brother to look after a little brother (pledge).
  • A 12 year old Florida boys saved his four siblings from a fire.
  • On an unreleased Chappelle's Show "Charlie Murphy True Hollywood Story" the older brother of comedian Eddie Murphy tells how he had to be let go as head of security for Eddie's entourage because he got carried away with beating up anybody within earshot who would talk smack about his little brother. Going so far as to physically threaten a man paralyzed below the neck who wouldn't stop loudly cussing out Eddie in a restaurant!
  • A rather heartwarming example on the British clip show You've Been Framed (heartwarming for the show anyway). A little girl of about seven is decorating a Christmas tree with her toddler brother. The tree starts to fall over, and realizing that it's going to land smack on top of her brother, the girl pulls it towards her so that it lands on her instead, with her brother only getting hit by the mostly harmless branches.
    • The show also has an example of Little Sister Instinct. Two kids walk up a driveway on Halloween, and a plastic skeleton pops out of a fake grave. The elder brother cries and runs from it, terrified. His little sister looks between him and the fake skeleton before walking up to it and repeatedly punching it until it breaks.
  • MMA Example: The students of Cesar Gracie, namely Nick and Nathan Diaz, Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields, are very protective of each other. To sum up
    • Nick threw in the towel after Nate took a vicious head kick against Josh Thompson, to try and get the referee to stop Thompson from inflicting punishment
    • Nate threatened to quit the UFC after Gilbert Melendez was in a contract dispute, out of solidarity
    • The Diaz brothers and Melendez fighting with Jason Mayhem Miller after he interrupted Jake Shields. Notable because Melendez and Nate Diaz are two full divisions lower than Mayhem, and Nate wasn't even a Strikeforce fighter, and could have been kicked out of the UFC for it.
  • Colin Farrell has a Little Brother Instinct towards his older, gay brother
  • In the few chronicles that survive from the period, William Adelin, the only son and heir of King Henry I of England, is described as having died during the White Ship disaster because he was trying to save his illegitimate half-sister Maud from drowning. He apparently rushed out of the dinghy he and his friends were lowering out of the wreck, trying to find her. He never did.

Alternative Title(s):

Big Sister Instinct, Little Sister Instinct